Taking Back the Day   Sunday, November 25, 2012

Still struggling with font issues,despite computer repairs, convincing me, finally, that it's host issues not me or my computer. Decided to say to hell with it. If you can read the post, my work is done.

Other than that, computer problems  finally resolved, I'm back. This has been the longest break in "Here and Now" ever, except for one three-period when we were traveling on the west coast and i  was relying on hotel computers.

So this post was begun three weeks ago. One of the few things I could do with my old temporary replacement horse and buggy Apple was email, so I've been emailing myself material to post now.

Also during the down period we took a little drive in the county and took some petty good pictures. They are featured this week.

My old poems this week are from a selection of poems I'm considering for my next book. The book, tentatively titled New Days, New Ways, is a  selection of poems  from 2011.

Having so much time to work on this post, I have lots of poems. Here they are:


I hear things


Anna Akhmatova
Lot’s Wife




Stephen  Dobyns
Can Poetry Matter


it  is a day


Evangelina Vigil
evening news


all brothers to all brothers


Sara Patton
Trebled Spine
Searching for Stones
I See Grass In All Its Complexity


alas, I might have known  him


like the mist


Lowell Jaeger
Ernesto De Fiori’s "Soldier"


it’s easier to imagine old then to remember young

Kim Ly Bui-Burton
Look at Me


Robert Wrigley


Eileen Stratidakis
A Need for Armor


Gary Metras
Vanishing Point


jeez, I am one


Raul Salinas
Emergence of a Poet (self-realization)
To My Woman
Sola Se Masturba


sustained by the memory


Gu Cheng
One of My Springs
I Can Breathe Like the Green Grass


squashed armadillos and other mythic creatures of the Texas plain


Maureen Seaton
When I Was Straight


J.P. Hollerith
Chelsea Creek




Arthur Munoz
"Hey, Kid“
Social Gathering
23rd Street
On F Street


stuff about stuff


Lester  Paldy
The Throw
Ordinary Things


signs, signs, everywhere are signs


Marcos McPeek Villatoro
While Voiding
When I Die


a cold day
if I wasn’t doing this on purpose…


finding soul


this I will remember

I wrote  this poem about the time my compute was about to crash.

I hear things
on my side,
ear pressed against my pillow,
and I hear the slow breath
of the universe
in the eternity of its dark -

it’s the refrigerator,
says my

dearly beloved,
you left the door open
and it’s running

false premise 
I think,
as I walk down the hall
to extinguish
the light at the end of the universe,
the fallacy of thinking
of separation, things apart
instead of things together making 
a greater thing, like the refrigerator, a part
of the greater one and all, 
it’s running hum
a part of the universal breathing
of the universal one
in the universal

it’s mid-fall
and the leaves are half-fallen
and I hear the one of all
I never hear
when enveloped in the cocoon
of spring and summer green…

in the train I hear it,
the steel and diesel breath
of all together,
I don’t ever know where this train is,
but I hear it at night,
in the clear, cold air, as it passes, 
it’s mournful call, the clickity-clack
of iron wheels on iron
rails, iron on iron, clickity-clack,
clear sounds in the night
from I don’t know 
but everywhere…

and closer to home,
from the expressway several blocks away,
the roar of early-morning
gladiators of daily commerce
off to daily arenas
where the show must go on
no matter the beautiful
no matter the soft bed and warm spouse
left behind, like cloitus-interuptus, life’s verdant garden
set aside while the other show
must go on,
paying its dues
to the all
of all

I hear things ,
the squeegee squeegee of sneakers
on wet sidewalks, 
kids walking to school on this dew-damp
morning, backpacks rustling, 
the high voices of children walking together,
like new stars

I hear things,
my own heart kathumping, kathumping,
good news that steady kathump -
the doctor yesterday said it sound good;
I think it sounds wonderful,
kathump, kathump, 
good morning to you, Madam Lung,
Mister Liver, and all you other gizzardly
organs of my morning
and you, too, you feets and toes,
all the rest of you, all those parts Whitman enumerated
that most of us don’t usually like to think of,
good morning to all of you
on this kathumpy kathumpy day…

and good morning to you, too,
my readers -
I know you’re there,
you, like me, a part, also, of the universe’s 
midnight sigh,
the deep breath
of a new dream starting,
because I can hear you reading,
because on this kind of sun-shiny, splendorfic-morning day
I can hear almost 


The Russian poet Anna Akhmatova came up the other day and I pulled out the one book of hers I have, Anna Akhmatova, to find a particular poem. Since I had the book out I decided to use a couple off her poems in this week's post.

The book is bilingual, Russian, with English translation by Judith Hemschemeyer. The book was published by Zephyr Press in 2000.

Lot's Wife

Lot's wife looked back from behind
and became a pillar of salt.
Book of Genesis

And the righteous man followed the envoy of God,
Huge and bright, over the black mountain.
But anguish spoke loudly to his wife:
It is not too late, you can still gaze

At the red towers of your native Sodom,
At the square where you sang, at the courtyard where you spun,
At the empty windows of the tall houses
Where you bore children to your beloved husband.

She glanced, and paralyzed by death pain,
Her eyes no longer saw anything;
And her body became transparent salt
And her quick feet were rooted to the spot.

Who will weep for this woman?
Isn't her death the least significant?
But my heart will never forgive the one
Who gave her life for a single glance.

February 24, 1924


The round hanging lanterns,
Lit early, are squeaking,
Ever more festively, ever brighter
The flying snowflakes glitter.

And, quickening their steady gait,
As if sensing some pursuit,
Through the softly falling snow
Under a dark blue net, the horse race.

And the gilded footman
Stands motionless behind the sleigh,
and the tsar looks around strangely
With light, empty eyes.

Winter 1919

Here's the poet's conundrum - how to say what he wants to say without inciting the word police.

As  it should  be. For if writers aren't  willing to protect the sanity of the word, who will.



are creatures of the word

and are often stymied
by social convention that sets

certain words
off-limits, you know, the words

that made us snicker
in fifth grade,

usually having to do
with bodily functions and/or body parts

best not shown in public -
for example,

there is what Whitman called
the "man-root" -

the polite word to use in mixed

assuming, of course,

you have need to refer to the body part
in mixed company at all,

is penis,
but I tell you, that is such a

limp dangly
little word - no man really wants

to claim it
for his, you know, his whachamacallit,

(see the problem, right there
it is, trying to talk around the whole thing

when some simple little word
could make it clear we’re not talking about

a man’s ear, or his nose
or his left elbow


some might call it
prick -

though I, personally,
don’t like that, sounds too aggressive

for a passive kind of guy like me,
and besides, it’s developed all sorts of negative

connotations. like, for example,
no one wants to hang around with a prick

and neither does anyone want to get pricked
no matter how tiny the prick is that does the pricking


if we were Irish,
I suppose we could all have our individual names

for it,
like Lady Chatterley's gardener, John Thomas,

I believe,
was his preference, but it does seem to me

it wouldn’t solve the problem
since we couldn't be sure what anyone was talking about,

assuming, perhaps,
the conversation was about another person

of whom
we had not had the pleasure of acquaintance,

and, possibly more destructive to social tranquility,
there could be endless argument

between man and spouse (or other interested party)
as to whether it would more appropriately be named

Big Willy
or Wee Willy Wilkins -

a discussion
which would do no good for anyone


many nowadays
seem to prefer cock, that, at least,

is what I see and hear most often,
and I have to say

I kinda like cock myself,
such a proud, manly word,

cock of the walk, cock-sure, cock-a-doodle-do,
wake up and smell roses, or something,

and, of course, no man ever wants
to go off half-cocked…


so, setting aside such obviously
unacceptable proposals

as trouser lizard
and one-eyed snake that ate Milwaukee,

and, while always, certainly, being available
to other suggestions, for the time being

perhaps we can just put a cork
in the discussion and leave it at cock…

in the meantime, possibly tomorrow,
someone will address the similar conundrum

regarding those attributes
most usually attributed to the ladies

The next  poem is by Stephen Dobyns. It's from his book, Pallbearers Envying the One Who  Rides, published Penguin Poets in 1999. It's a difficulty book to describe, except to say it is a series of poems about about the life and musings of a semi-mythical character name Heart.

Can Poetry Matter?

heart feels the time has come to compose lyric poetry.
No more storytelling for him. O, Moon, Heart writes,
sad wafer of the heart's distress. And then: Oh, Moon,
bright cracker of the heat's pleasure. Which is it,
is the moon happy or sad, cracker or wafer? He looks
from the window but the night if overcast. Oh, Cloud,
he writes, moody veil of the Moon's distress. And then,
Oh, Cloud sweet scarf of the Moon's repose. Once more
Heart asks, Are clouds kindle or a bother, is the moon sad
or at rest? He calls scientists who tell him that the moon
is a dead piece of rock. He calls astrologers. One says
the moon means water. Another that it signifies oblivion.
The girl next door says the Moon means love. The nut
up the block says it proves that Satan has us under his thumb.
Heart goes back to his notebooks. Oh, Moon, he writes
confusing orb meaning one thing or another. Heat feels
that his words lack conviction. Then he hits on a solution.
Oh, Moon, immense hyena of introverted motorboat.
Oh, Moon, upside down lamppost of a barbershop quartet.
Heart takes his lines to a critic who tells him that the poet
is recounting a time as a toddler when he saw his father
kissing the baby-sitter at the family's cottage on a lake.
Obviously, the poem explains the poet's fear of water.
Heart is ecstatic. He rushes home to continue writing.
Oh, Cloud, raccoon cadaver of colored crayon, angel spittle
recast as foggy euphoria. Heart is swept up by the passion
of composition. Freed from the responsibility of content,
no nuance of nonsense can be denied to him.Soon his poems
appear everywhere, while the critic writes essays elucidating
Heart's meaning. Jointly they form a sausage factory of poetry:
which he critic encloses in a thin membrane of explication.
Lyric poetry means teamwork, thinks Heart: a hog farm,
cornfield, and two old dobbins pulling a buckboard of song.

This poem I wrote the day before the election. Feeling mostly confident, but not certain.

it is a day

the topic
of the day
is the election
of course
and, even though
I have nothing to say
about it
I haven’t already said
in the weeks and months
leading up to this day,
it continues to intrude
into anything else
I try to think
about -
no fresh blue skies
today, no pretty girls
in sunlight walking,
no deep
or humorous observations
on the vicissitudes
of life,
no love notes
or reconstructed memory -
just this damn

I have seen
many elections
and I do not recall
any one that more clearly 
the moral and practical
divides between us,
or the choice more clear
between honor 
and dishonor,
and indecent,
and blind pig rooting

it is a day
when we will find out
what kind of people
we are and
I am hoping 
that at the end of the day
I will not be shamed
by the answer

My next poem  is by Evangelina Vigil, from her book Thirty an' Seen a Lot, published by Arte Publico Press in 1985.

Vigil was born in San Antonio in 1949.

A poet, translator and television personality, she studied at Prairie View A&M University, St. Mary's University in San Antonio, University of Texas at San Antonio and graduated from University of Houston, where she teaches. She was assistant editor of Americas Review  and is the host and producer of Community Close Up: Viva Houston, which airs Sundays on ABC-KTRK-TV in Houston.

evening news

there's people enduring severe hardships
without nutrition, clothing, medical attention
in India
In Haiti
and in San Antonio's West Side and
they're struggling, too, with
unemployment, economic exploitation and
there's people who in hidden ways are
resisting sophisticated
twentieth century capitalism and
economic and political world control by
those few who
own the bucks, the oil
and the labor, where
we're weakest porque
tenemos que hacer por la vida

but there is unmistakable confrontation
these are the times of war and
a great number are
methodically patiently working weaving their way around
that human ugliness and basic human depravity shrouded often by
greed and racism
and not unlike indios surrounding
the enemy
instinctively but
all this that's going on in
South America
Central America
and in the purple mountains of Mexico and
in most places is difficult for
us to conceive sitting here comfortably
before our television sets I
don't believe the media even covers
it you'd have to go to the source I'm
sure and I sigh, sing, cry and shout it
is damn hard making it as a Chicana in the U.S.A. so
acutely aware of all the psychological
violence we must face ever day, you know, personal and
remote, and my mom
is so broke but that's
nothin' new and her life-long friend from
los San Juan homes just lost her fifteen-year-old boy
in a Saturday nigh special gun
battle, the name of the game, cops
vs. minority youth in the urban housing projects (this
time it wasn't glue) but that's nothin'
new neither and meztizo youth
these days, a lot of them
they're taking to putting back on their red bandannas, makes
them look like who they are
si ti fijas
and, warrior-like, almost
they gather
like the tribes of Saltillo and
converge in the urban centers of the world you
can catch them penetrating their vision through what's going
on and through the present for they
must nurture their tomorrow, ya son hombres y mujeres
and since I became unemployed sure
have missed exquisite meals at restaurant along
the riverwalk on day-long glassfuls upon
glassfuls of fine wines at joints en el mercado where
I always see viejitos with indio eyes concealing ancient knowledge
they look down or away, their weathered leatherbrown
pushing wooden carts or carrying wrinkled up brown
paper bags with their mandaos in 'em or Mexican
ladies with Mexican style shopping bags bought in Reynosa pa'
echar todo cheap, obtrusively bright synthetic plastic bags made
in Japan and bought at Kress and Mexicans
do all the dirty work in this city, si
te fijas, and they also make
up the whole wino scene, si te
fijas, and
"there are thousands of nice-looking brown women in this town!"
a friend I hosted once exclaimed, tirando un grito
as punctuation, to which I uttered
an aside: many taloneandole with Iranians and
other foreign-exchange dudes and military types who
cooped up in barracks and training in
anticipation of fringe benefits as soldiers stationed in S.A,, are
horny as shit and prize a good piece of brown ass and
gots the bills to pay for it, 'sides; plus it's
part of the healthy economy I'm
so broke but that's an old story - that's what I said to myself this morning I'm
tired of the same old thing but I'm not,
not really, for it's not quite
the same old thing and I
peer through my left mind's eye for
a glimpse into my future and it scares
me 'cause you know I
can't see it imagine
if one could but
life is this

Here's another book possibility from 2011.

all brothers of all brothers
it’s true,
I talk to my animals…

even Reba
who can’t hear me,
but she can see my lips move

and know
she’s on my mind, like the blind cat
knows she is not alone in the dark

when I stroke her head as I pass,
like the friendly nod
I exchange with people

I pass on the street
because we all need to know we are not
alone in the dark -

such an acknowledgment
of our shared passage we should
pass on to the creatures around us -

balm to repair the primordial weld that has bound us all
since creation, the weld that is separating now
as all become remote from the others…

if you believe in God, remember he created us all
as part of his plan and it is not our place
to redraw the blueprints of his creation;

if you do not believe in God,
remember instead
that we are all creatures at base

of common offspring, basic elements
that give us,
as our relatives,

the snake, the bird, the fish in the ocean
the lion in the field, our neighbor
across the fence, the daffodil growing

wild as any creature on the meadow,
the earth beneath our feet
and the stars that shine overhead,

all brothers of all brothers
in our most basic

The next poems are by Sarah Patton and are taken from her book, The Joy of Old Horses. The book was published by Scopcraft Press in 1999.

Trebled Spine

Sparrows, like grass,
have won the world
without resorting
to gunfire,

common leaves
orchestrate light's score.

That the dog
cannot bear
to be alone

is what we've done
to her,

and what we've stolen
from the dead
is a tribal gathering
in my wilderness.

Speak to me
of the little deaths,
trebled spine
of the whipping fish,

of the little murders
that go unpunished,

and stippled spine
of the thrusting trout,
of sorrow
rocking grief
against the dark
in a cold season.

Tell me
how the bones sing
and the fever
will not break.

Searching For Stones

You wait until
they're grieving
before your search,

until their despair
of being heard,

that mother's cry
Michelangelo released,
shakes the canopy
of the sky.

You know they're
bellying down there
in fallow fields,

sometimes sapphire
when wet
and the sun
their star,

but more than mauve
or green and copper
with artful holes
like eyes

or moss-dressed
when dredged
from a stream
where trout twist
like desire
come alive,

and you pry
you pry, you pry.

I See Grass in All Its Complexity

I think
of butterflies
stealing salt
from a crocodile's eye,

of violets intact
in wind but broken
by the wild light,

I see grass
in all its complexity,

desire's long pilgrimage
back to dust

Fly with me,
beautiful long-boned bird
unfolding from salt marshes

I've seen it all,
finches and flowers,
blood-red tulips

soaking a bandage
of white wall,

night wound
into its depth
like a sleeping cat,

caught in my eye,
the scales of light balancing roses

until every rose
was weighed for glory
and new measure found.

This is a new one, couple of weeks ago, a sight on my way to breakfast.

alas, I might have known  him

splotch of
on the pavement
in the lane 
as i pass

high speed
morning run
wet splatter
passed too fast
to make out

think i
torn shredded
shattered bones
in the street
like a flag
for help

i can't say
i saw all that, 
maybe only

red puddle
of something 
is all i saw

of the anonymous

This is another new poem, written specifically for the photo above. I  took the picture, long range, telephoto lens (with shaky hands), colors very dim in the dim light, and didn't expect it to work. But it did and created a photo I'm very proud of.

like the mist

fairies of the pastures

sprites of the high, growing

pixies of November

like the mist
of first

they drift,
small and brown,
almost hidden in the bright morning sun,
quiet spirits drifting
high swaying grasses
that roll 
in the wind
like dry ocean waves

and then are

Next I have a couple of shorter poems by Lowell Jaeger. The poems are taken from his book War on War, published in 1988 by Utah State University Press.

Although I found reference to a number of the poets journal publicans, I could find nothing in the way of a comprehensive biography. Considering that he seems widely published, the lack of biography surprises me.

There isn't even any kind of biography included in the book.


She got her mascara
painted on like oils.
Got plaid tennis shoes
with red laces tied in knots.
Got a ticket for someplace far.

She dance like she be cool,
humming in the bus depot
so me and my new baby, one cop
and maybe twenty old ladies
be an audience she ignore.
Won't sit on the plastic seats, just
stand, be looking mean,
smoking on a plastic stem
half the size of my arm.

She got tattooed blue jeans,
red ink and black ink and blue.
Got a black beret with three gold stars.
A leather jacket. Silk scarves.
Got a button too,
she post it on her chest -
I'm not weird, it say

you are.

Ernesto De Fiori's  "Soldier"

"So it's not just string alive; it's saying human that's   

                                                                   -George Orwell

This bronze man stands hairless as a worm
on his little pad of stone with no place
left to go. Earlier he woke with his face
in his hands and his hands in the faceless warm
mains of the not-so-lucky all around. Their sap
he wiped on his sleeves and scraped it beneath his nail.
Then he picked his way p this knoll, leaving a trail
of first his khaki shirt, his dog tags, his steel cap,
then his right boo, left boot, underpants and all
until in the gray break of day he stands
the last man left when war is done. His hands
don't want to touch a thing. His bare feet forever stall.

Some days his swollen sockets ask, What have we done
Some days his lips half sneer, We won.

This is a poem from 2011, a book possibility. I go to the doctor every three months, first for blood work, the a week later, for my four and one half minutes with the doctor. It's a mostly old folks practice, so I see  lots of old people.

it’s  easier to imagine old than remember  young
at 67, I’m
not the oldest person
in the doctor’s office, more
of a sophomore senior, a little older 
than the spry and fresh-faced freshman,
younger than the junior seniors,
but not nearly as old as the senior

like la viejita,
shuffling in from the cold,
a little round dumpling
of a woman
all wrapped in a coat and cloak
and red knit tam,
moving slowly to the receptionist
on fat feet
overflowing pink house shoes

 she thinks she remembers
a time
when she was proud of her
slim, dancing feet,
her delicate hands, long proficient
her black hair streaming well past her shoulders,
the fire in her eyes
in flickering candle light

she thinks she remembers
this, but she’s not sure -
she might be thinking of the pretty girl
on the novela that comes at 3 o’clock
week day afternoons

she says in Spanish
to the receptionist, I can wait.

But tell the doctor not too long,
she says

Porqu Dios me espera,
and he will not  wait forever.

Next I have three poets from the anthology, Passionate Hearts, the Poetry of Sexual Love, published by New World Library in 1996.

The first of the three poets is Kim Ly Bui-Burton.

Bui-Burton is a Vietnamese-American poet and librarian who has lived on the Monterrey Peninsula since the early 1960s. A graduate of the Literature/Creative Writing program at UC Santa Cruz with an MLIS from San Jose State University, Kim’s poems have been published in numerous anthologies and journals. She is the Director at the Monterrey Public Library and the 2010 President of the California Library Association.

Look At Me

you answered when I held you
with my arms and sex,
when I said you could come, when
I asked what you wanted.
Look at me.

The soft of you belly tightened,
pushing curve against sway,
my tongue pressing
the gray whorls of hair
hiding you thick and beating heart,

I opened my eyes to you
intent, warm
blue-eyed familiar
holding tightly to my arms;
you were almost there.

Your body lifted mine
with each rising breath,
keening, gasping
and when you came
I looked deep

in the wet and darkening irises,
caught the sweet of your sperm
between my legs,
met your fierce
and shining gaze,

- look at me -
you whispered and I did.
I did.

Robert Wrigley is the next poet from the anthology.


It is first that angel at which you sleep,
canted, neither on your back nor your side
but in between. The baby, fallen asleep at last,
must let go his latch, and your nipple
gummed these months to impossible softness
slowly oozes one sweet delinquent drop.

But sweet as it is, I don't take it,
because it is not this richness I crave
but its ghost, glimmering silver in the light of candles,
dried by my breath softly blowing...

Thus, when the baby is tucked in his cradle,
i lick my lips and kiss your milk-anointed breasts
until my mouth is glazed with purest sugar,
then knead each nipple, one additional drop to dry,
and begin, all down the trellis of bones,
to paint your skin with invisible roses.

And finally, this short poem from the anthology by Eileen Stratidakis.

A Need for Armor

polished now
from love's steady

you feel you way
toward warm familiar

inner pools

you too
have outgrown
the need for armor.

And because I really like it, here's an extra poem from the anthology.
This one by Gary Metras.

Vanishing Point

Staring, you look for clues.
Where is the evidence, the proof.

In you stare I watch myself gazing,
enamored, at skylines,
or blinded by a pine cone in hand.

Love, when it stays, is traceless.
Whose hand stretched first offering is no matter.
The bodies press together in their many ways.

The one coarse piece of cloth drapes us both
and softens on the curves of out bodies
and our lives as well.

When two people walk far enough into the distance
they merge.

This is a new poem. It's about that day you wake up, brush your teeth, look in the mirror, and recognize, "oh, crap, it's happened to me too."

jeez, I am one

a poet
writes a poem about
and I think,
my god, it’s true
it’s not just me - it happens
to all of us…
and this
turns my mind
to olden things and olden times,
like I used to always hear
the old codgers
talk about
and, oh jeez, I am one
fifty years
last May from high school graduation
and how does one not wonder
who’s dead and who
made it,
and fifty years
from the Cuban Missile Crises
when I’m pretty sure, or so it seemed
at the time, I heard the President
of the United States
tell me to kiss
my civilian ass good-bye,
and one year away from
fifty years
since that same president
fell in Dallas,
and all these things that shaped my life
in ways still important today,
such import things,
like the world war that I was born
near the end of was important
to my parents and others,
like my uncle
who was in London during the blitz
and would talk about it
after a beer or several for the rest
of his life, those things
close enough
to my time so that I grew up
thinking I was part of it all as well,
a Veteran of that great war
by proxy…
until now,
these times, when history
is whatever happened to the current Brittany
last week or whatever the current
re-invented daily in the Council
of Right-Wing Crackpots…
my time,
I guess there’s probably a couple of pages
in the history book, mainly about
the stuff that doesn’t
really count,
no mention of the important things,
first fumbling-sex
in the backseat of my parent’s 49 Chrysler,
driving along the arroyo
with our twenty-twos, drinking beer,
shooting at the cans
as we emptied them,
the parties where we kissed
under chinaberry trees…
even though no one wants to hear
about any of that,
the remembering is, at least, another
good reason
to write a

Next, I have several poems by Raul Salinas from his book Un Trip through the Mind Jail y Otras Excursions. The book was published by Arte Publico Press in 1999.

In lieu of a traditional biography, I have this obituary which appeared in the San Antonio Express News (republished by Wings Press)upon the poet's death in 2008.

Pioneering Chicano poet Raúl Salinas, who sometimes called himself "the cockroach poet," died Wednesday (Feb 13) in Austin. Salinas had been ill for a few years. This week, complications from liver disease caused irreversible internal bleeding. "He had a lot of people wh loved him," said his wife, Elida.

Although he published four collections, including the landmark "Un Trip Through The Mind Jail," Salinas was a Beat-tradition performance poet whose words were better heard than read.

He infused his work with jazz and hip-hop, recording two spoken-word CDs: Un Poetic Jazz Viaje con Friends ("A Poetic Jazz Trip with Friends") and "Beyond the Beaten Path.

Author Sandra Cisneros called Salinas a "bridge poet," linking artistic media and generations. "He was really about bringing poetry to communities that don't normally get poetry," she said.

A fierce fighter for human rights and social justice, Salinas was closely aligned with advocacy organizations for indigenous peoples. He tirelessly taught writing clinics for at-risk youths in juvenile
detention facilities and community centers nationwide.

"He was loyal and trusting, and around the country he was outright beloved by many," said Bryce Milligan of San Antonio's Wings Press, which published Salinas' last collection, "Indio Trails," almost tw years ago.

Born in San Antonio in 1934 —he would have turned 74 on March 17—Salinas got into trouble with drugs as a young man and served 11 years of prison time from 1958 to 1972 at such tough institutions as Huntsville and Leavenworth.

Prison ignited both his social outrage and his literary ambitions. The jazz he heard growing up in a neighborhood northeast of downtown San Antonio would inform his prison poems and writings.

His collections include "Viaje/Trip," "East of the Freeway" and the aforementioned "Un Trip Through The Mind Jail." That poem, says San Antonio poet and playwright Gregg Barrios, "is our (Mexican Americans) 'Howl,' our 'Song of Myself.'"

"He was an icon who goes back to the beginning of the Chicano movement," said Ellen Riojas Clark, a professor in the division of bi-cultural bilingual studies at the University of Texas at San

Barrios speculated that Salinas spelled his name in lower case becaus he was "a poet of la plebe, the people."

For the past few decades, Salinas has nurtured writers of all ages and run a small book shop in Austin, La Resistencia, or Resistance Bookstore.

"He left us an amazing legacy of conviction," said Rosemary Catacalos, director of the San Antonio literary organization Gemini Ink.

Emergence of a Poet

look at me

              Soledad 6/19/59


Giver of life;
though she never did -
for in her white-flowered world
enveiled in silvery silks,
all time was lost,
and so was life -
at least for one.

Nevertheless, she faced her world
all dress'd in black, each night,
and when  the dawn had laid
it's blanket of mist upon the ground,
i saw her still;
wide-eyed and unabashed.
While about her

                                                      Soledad 7/9/59

To My Woman

i know your are lonely,
though you're not within my view;
for loneliness is that suffering
which you've been subjected to.

Lonely nights of burning thirst
your ravaged soul must bear,
and its sole consolation
will come from one lone tear;

But do not week, O' lonely woman,
for surely you have known
that in my darkest hour,
i too, am alone.

Sola Se Masturba

               she masturbates
              she flails in
                                 Orgasmic Dimensions
           at shadows of past (no) lovers

En su erotic imaginacion    
         there seems no need for
         sexual/visual aids.
Nada mas que remnants
        (ebritas del ayer)
                                  of days & nights sin lagrimas,
frustrated fantasies
         un Dedo,
& much mechanical manipulation
                    she grasps/
                                           embraced lover-finger
while torrential tears
        of Passion             
                         play a dirge
drowning could've (and would've) been rucos
                         like wasted seed
               into a musty book.
I feel for her

                                                           14 de agusto de 1973
                                                           Seattle, Washington

Another book prospect, a pretty good prospect, I'm thinking, from June, last year.



sustained by the memory

I was a tree
and before that
a flower
and blue
ever in the wind

and before that
a wind-born weevil
in a loaf of bread
at the day-old bread store
on the corner of Madison
and Monroe

 and before that
a grain of wheat
that made the flour
that made the bread
that my weevil-self
dined on

 and before that tiny gem
of wheat
I was the rich
that grew the wheat
from a small seed
in my worm-enriching

 and before I was the worm
of earth
I was a nitrogen bubble
that fell from an exploding
to prepare the womb
that grew the wheat that
made the flour
that fed the weevil
that hatched from an egg
in the shelter of the blue overhanging
that grew first beneath the tree
that was me
before the me of this old man
so tired so tired

 sustained by the memory
that once I was a

The next two poems are by Gu Cheng, modern Chinese poet, essayist, and novelist. The poems are from his book Nameless Flowers. Gu was born in 1956 and died by suicide in 1993, after attempting to murder is wife. She later died in hospital.


One of My Springs

outside the wood window
lie my furrows
my yak
my plow.

a squadron of suns
comes shining through the fence slats
sky-blue flower petals
begin to curl

the frightened dew
wets a field of  memories
startled sparrows
look to the heavenly pole

I will work
choose seeds from in  dreams
let them glint in my hand
and cast them on water



I Can Breathe Like the Green Grass

I can breathe like the green grass
on a high river bank,
fathomless pool at my foot
black as a catfish back.

The river clears as it glides
toward distant sands
whose smooth undulations
lure the sunlight to rest.

There green shimmering woods
mark the wind’s every move
and wind tossed little flowers
wear flapping purple scarves.

The ants, carrying grains of sand,
are unworried by love
and the easy bees sing
songs for the flowers.

I can breathe, like the green grass,
my soft drams to the spring.
I hope to sing so many songs
that this smile never  fades.


Here's another book prospect from 2011.

squashed armadillos and other mythic creatures of the Texas plain

I know people
who are so far out
on the right fringe of ideology
they make Genghis Khan
look like a daisy-smoking, fire-spitting,
girly-walking socialist liberal anarchist freak;
people who are like black holes,
every circling
rightward into another dimension
where the rules of everything from gravity
to the basic laws of mechanics
and motion
are altered; where sunshine shines up
from the earth to the sun;
where dry rain falls
from arid skies;
where Glen Beck makes sense and
Sarah Palin
is a rocket scientist ;
a place where
tennis balls
and clouds never break to the left -

that kind of people,
people for whom I am a kind of token lefty
among their circle of other true

on the other hand,
I know other people so reflexively left wing
they take forever to get to the supermarket because
they won’t make right turns
and can only go places they can get to
by making a series of left-turn boxes,
moving squared block by squared block
closer to their goal…

from their perch
high in the clouds of gooey-gooey
they bemoan my troglodyte tendencies,
my insistence on evolutionary theories of
gradual things-getting-betterism;
my understanding that government is a creature of the people,
including people
who care more about their next paycheck
than they do about
academic theories of the casual effects
of meat-eating on
interpersonal relationships between
prairie grasses and endangered insects,
people who want things to work
and don’t care
if a few cockroaches get stepped on
in the process…

who my left-winger friends
care about
only after they’re a hundred years dead
and can be re-configured
as working class heroes
instead of just-plain folks living
just-plain lives
they found rewarding in their own bourgeois way…

my left-winger friends
for whom
I am a kind of token rightist,
good at parties
for the amusing of their ivory-tower friends
who luxuriate in the dirty words
they were too prissy to use
before - like
I’m a mean motherfucker
they say,
now pass the brie
and hold the ammunition…

I often feel like the squashed armadillo
a former Texas politician
was the only thing ever in the center of the road -

white stripe
ahead, white
stripe behind, it’s a uncomfortable
way to live in these times

Next, I have a couple of poets from the anthology, Not for the Academy: Lesbian Poets. The book was published in 1999 by Onlywomen Press, Limited.


The first poet is Maureen Seaton.

At the time the anthology was published, she had published four books of poetry. She was winner  of the Iowa Prize for Poetry and a Lambda Literary Award. She had been the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council grant, an NEA fellowship, and other awards.


When I was Straight

When I was straight I dreamed of nipples,
my dreams were crowded with cleavage and yin,
I read a book that said if you are fickle

about sex, note your obsession in dreams
then do the opposite in real life. This
made sense, my boyfriend said, although it seemed

oddly like a game of  Exquisite Corpse
to me. We’d make love, I’d dream of figs
that drizzled pink, and sometimes I’d lapse

into madrigals (meaning: of the womb), big
leap from the straightforward sessions in bed
of linearity and menthol. Legs

would cross and uncross in my dreams, heads
fall back with me at the throat, I  adored
the winged clavicle, that link between beast-

bone and scapula. Straight as gin, I  poured
myself into pretense and fellatio,
you could count on me of bold orgasms, for

trapeze art and graceful aerobics, oh
there is no  lover like a panicked lover.
Once I dreamed of abandoning the Old

Boyfriend Theory of Headache and Blunder-
buss. Believe me, I said, this will hurt him
more than me, but the dream laughed! Torture

me, I thought, now that even my id
has turned against me, there is nothing fragile
here to lose, exquisite truth, and I did.


My second poet from the anthology is J.P. Hollerith.

Hollerith was born in Canada, and, at the time the anthology was published, had lived in England for 18 years. She is a widely published poet in England and, under another name has published short fiction and a novel in the United States.


Chelsea Creek

Through the blank evening of the river bank
No one existing (save the emblematic office women
One to a window), we passed flats homely as a hotel,
To the place where the still-living creek joins the river,
And watched the light on the angular faces
Of the smallness of everything.  A helicopter provided
One parabola of noise in the muted evening.
I said I’d never fly in one of those; when they fail,
It’s the worst death of all, falling and terrified.
You said most people die terrified. I pushed that back to you.
But I do die terrified, every day, imagining
Trying to get used to, without you, some life
That wasn’t falling forward nothingness.
Sitting on a bench with no thought, no sound,
The light falling from the windows to the ground. 

Here's another poem from the past couple of week that I couldn't  do anything with until now.


the size of walnuts,
a bumper crop due to last year's
wet winter,
millions, falling from trees, snap,
crackle, popping on cars and roof tops
like hailstones, the early, dark morning 
like a combat zone, nature’s
artillery, unexploded 
nature’s bounty
on my driveway, fracturing
with a woodsy crunch
when you step on them, a bushel basket
of them already swept up
while they continue
to fall…

the wombs of an oak forest
in nutty envelopes
across the landscape
and I don’t know what to do
with them, an offense,
it seems,
to do nothing with this much
life-potential, like spitting in the eye
of the mother who made them,
precious life, the essence
of universal purpose,
for what other reason for stars
and all their elements
if not to incubate living things

(some say there is no purpose
to it all,
is just is,
but I say there is a purpose
if we make a purpose
and so I say
is the purpose)

and that will be the universe
in which I choose
to live my

so I will continue to sweep up
the grand-could-be-might-be-oaks
from my driveway
and I will dig a hole in my back yard,
a big hole, by the fence
and near the
where thirsty roots can expand
and grow 
and I will fill the hole
with swept-up acorns and cover them
and water them this summer
and maybe 
have at least one more oak take its place
among the great and beautiful 
inventory of life, so that should I live
another five hundred years 
I can come and sit beneath its wide-spreading
and enjoy the deep shade
which from my acorn


Next, I have another San Antonio poet, Arthur Munoz, with several
poems from his book, From a Cop's Journal & Other Poems. The book was
published by Corona Publishing in 1984.

The only information I have on the poet is from his book jacket.

Born in Los Angeles in 1924, Munoz moved to Texas with his family. He
completed high school in Corpus Christi. Then after two stints in the
Marine Corps, serving in both World War II and Korea, He attended
Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M - Kingsville) and, briefly, St.
Mary's Law School in San Antonio. After 23 years as a patrol officer,
investigator and homicide detective, he worked as an investigator for
the Texas Department of Human Services, ending his work career as a
Poet in the Schools with the San Antonio Independent School District.

"Hey, Kid"

It was always
"Hey, Kid,
I need a shine."

In his pockets he carried
his extras:
rags, cans of polish,
and a brush.
In the home-made box
one of each
plus water for that spit shine.

He worked the street
like a pimp works his girls,
From the cop shop to the bank
to the basement bettors,
he walked it all -
the business man
in tennis shoes and jeans,
barefoot in the summer.
He played the street
to his tune
a real con,
banking all on his knowledge
of shoes, blacks, two-tones, whites,
and browns
in their seasons.

The ten-year old rascal
had money
and he loaned it for a fee
to waitresses, winos,
gays, or whores.
To him they were all the same:
just pay me.

Sunday morning he was dead
behind the M.P. depot.
No one knew where he came from
and no one knew where he went.

Social Gathering

A drunk sleeps in the alley
his flaccid body
forgetful of purpose
his mind lost to yesterday.
and next to him
children play
The Drunk Game!
Falling, staggering,
mouths foul with laughter -
a rehearsal without script
for their piece of the pie?

The drunk wakes up
and grins at the children
then, swollen with need,
turns his bed into mud.

The children shout, point,
mimicking shame,
then leave,
the fun being over.

At dinner that night
they report
on what the "dirty drunk" did.
The grownups laugh
the children smile,
and think of tomorrow's game:
Playing Dead.

Headlined the evening paper.

23rd Street

There used to be fences
on 23rd street
a forest of pickets
catering to resident flowers,
and trees
who’s branches wove
the sunrays into welcome shade.

Now, paint peeling,
they lean and lie
on each other
trying in vain
to keep out the weeds
and the shoving of time.

On 23rd street
the city is dying.


What little difference
in yesterday's paper
and a beaten man
when you see both
at the mercy of the wind,
crumpled in a doorway.

On F Street

On the old bed
lies a woman,
her hands
on her tired thighs.

Haloed by the neon flashings
coming through the window
from the street,
she waits.

He leaves

She places the money she has earned
on the dresser -
less some change, set aside
to buy candles in the morning
for the Lady of Sorrows
whose image hangs on the wall -
the sighs
and goes to sleep.

Another  from 2011.

stuff about stuff

I got people
trying to tell me stuff
about stuff
they don’t know no stuff

regular stuff, like
revealed religion and secret rites of Masons
domestic and international politics
Siberian cookware
the birth and death of stars
tax laws regarding home office deductions
the circulatory system of the human being and other mammalians
the secret socialist agenda of Barack Obama
the sex life of the Cantonese termite
and weight loss
made cheap and easy
amidst a bevy of buxom blonds in

stuff like that

and I don’t believe
people ought to be telling me stuff
about stuff
they don’t know stuff about

having an opinion,
it seems to me, ought to be predicated
on knowing stuff about the stuff
one is opinionating about

though I don’t like to be rude
from now on
instead of politely listening to people
about stuff they don’t know stuff about
I’m just going to tell them
that if they don’t have the right stuff
they should just

stuff it!

The next two poems are by Lester Paldy, from his book Wildflowers at Babi Yar. The book was published by Night Heron Press in 1994.
Paldy is Distinguished Service  Professor  at the State University of New York at Stony Brook  where he has taught since 1967, with occasional leaves  to serve on US arms control delegations in Geneva and at the U.N.

I have used poems from his book several times, usually receiving a note of thanks from him, which I hugely appreciate.

The Throw

The moist peach pit
sticks to my hand
but the clump of woods
is close enough
for an easy toss.
At seventeen I could throw
from deep  center field
to home plate on the fly.
Now, with my arm drawn back,
a shoulder tells me
that seventeen
was a long time ago,
and instead of catching some
imaginary base runner in mid-stride,
I walk to the edge of the field
and throw the pit underhanded
into the brush.
It’s smooth parabolic flight
is satisfying enough for me now,
calling back that time
when the outfield
seemed small
and the world  still  stretched
beyond my dreams.


Ordinary Things

We spoke of  such ordinary things
on those  winter mornings
when I guessed at the weather
and scraped frost from the windshield
while you, always  practical,
thought ahead to lunch,
drew your scarf
close against the cold,
and warned me of passing cars.
They were such ordinary things
but they mattered
to us then
in their own ways,
for we both knew
without every saying so
that words could go
only so far.

Here's another poem from the past couple of  weeks.

signs, signs, everywhere are signs

saw a early multi-legging
woolly caterpillar
crossing the side walk
this morning
while I was walking my dog…

a sign of something
but I don’t remember what...

probably not a sign of the
though I know some who would probably
interpret it that way, being
the kind of folk who stumble over ten to fifteen
signs of the apocalypse

but I don’t want to make fun
of such folk

(though actually I love making fun
of such folk, big fat sillies
that they are)

but, really, we should all be prepared
to read the signs
all around us,
like Davy Crockett could read the signs
of the big bar he killed
when he was only
and look how he turned out

(well, actually he turned out dead
just a few blocks from where
I write)

maybe a better example would be
like Tonto reading the signs
when surrounded with hostile
redskins, recognizing 
the signs
as a prudent reminder
that he too 
was off the redskin persuasion
and that kimo sabe meant “this dumb-ass white guy
ain’t with me…

signs all around us,
we just have to pay attention to the important information
they provide us, like -

when the burly fella
at the end of the bar calls you a
sarsaparilla sucking sissy
it is almost a sure sign
that you’re about to get your butt kicked
since any burly fella
at the end of the bar who calls you a
sarsaparilla sucking sissy
is probably not the kind
to listen to a thesis (however well presented)
on the evils of alcohol,
alcohol being just as bad for you
as tobacco and chocolate bon bons

(all of which are likely to be important
to the burly fella's life style)

the one eating your lungs
and the other eating your heart
just like alcohol eats your
liver, but like I said,
the signs are that you’re going to get
your butt well-kicked 
before you get even half way through
your informational, so best you read the signs
that suggest you find a back door and exit it
most posthastely…

there are lots of signs,
as I said, that can help you in your daily
life travels, some more important
than others, for example, high
on my top ten list of signs
to watch for
is the one above…

but I’m sure you have your own
just as important,
you just have to stay aware
if you want to benefit from their

for me,
I would just like to thank
the multi-legging woolly caterpillar
or reminding me
about the importance of signs

The next two poems are by Marcos McPeek Villatoro, from his book They Say that I Am Two. The book  was published in 1997 by Arte Publico Press.
Villatoro was born in 1962 in San Francisco. His mother is from El Salvador , his father from the Appalachian Mountains of east Tennessee. He lived the first three years of his life in the Mission District of San Francisco, until his family moved to his father’s hometown in Tennessee, where he spent most of his life until 1980. In August of that year he moved to  Iowa, where he attended St.  Ambrose University as a seminarian for the Catholic Church.

In January 1982 he  left the seminary and married his wife.

After graduation from St. Ambrose University, McPeek Villatoro entered the Masters Program in English Literature at the University of Iowa . He graduated in May 1985 and in November of that year he and his wife moved to Nicaragua  with the nonprofit program Witness for Peace, where they reported war atrocities near the Hondoruan border.

In 1986 the couple moved back to the United States, where they worked in an environmental education camp in the Tennessee Smokey Mountains . In 1988 they joined the missionary program Maryknoll and  moved to Guatemala and worked there until 1991.
That same year Villatoro worked as administrator and fundraiser for the Glenmary  Co-Missioners. The couple moved to northern Alabama, where his wife worked as an advocate of the growing migrant farm community.

In 1996 he was accepted into the Iowa Writer’s Workshop where he graduated with an MFA in 1998.

That same year he was hired as the Fletcher Jones Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Mount St. Mary’s College. He teaches literature and writing.

The two  poems I’m presenting this week appear in the book in both Spanish and English, the English version translated by the poet.

While Voiding

The young man who grew old with whiskey
went outside.
He watched the stars that laughed
in a silent sky.
He thought, “I’m alive. At least I’m
He soaked the same ground
from yesterday and the day before.
He breathed crisp air
and made himself a drunken promise:
to  breathe, sometimes slowly,
other moments panting,
but to breathe with
lungs that longed to fill themselve4s
with the laughter of stars.

When I Die

When I die,
please  sneak into the box
a copy of
One  Hundred Years of Solitude.
Place it upon my chest.
Put a fifth of Johnnie walker Red
snug in one arm.
You can slip my grandmother’s rosary
in a coat pocket
and a photo of my lady
between my fingers.

Thus I’ll be ready
to  strut around, boasting about beauty;
to finger, finally, the little black beads;
and to thumb through the book on
the forgotten borders  between
life and death.

Then, in the afternoons,  I will
crack the seal,
and offer a round to anyone interested.
While the glasses click together,
we’ll split our sides laughing
over the smiling dead
that continue kissing the earth.

Here are two more  new poems from my  computer exile period.

a cold day

limp by green-browning
under gray overcast

a dim day,
a walk by a slow-river
in an empty
park day,
a day
of not-much
a day for naps,
a day for Irish stew, for cornbread
and maple syrup, a day
for sitting
by your chiminea with your new
dog, warming your hands
before the
flames lying slow
on hesitant embers…

hot chocolate
in a ceramic mug,

a cold
if I wasn’t  doing this on purpose…
I wasn’t doing this on purpose
I’d complain
the abuse…

dry wells in the desert

I should either move
to more hospitable climes
or learn
to drink sand…

here I am again,
same time
same station

into the world’s driest
and expecting
and bubbling creeks
and gentle waves on sylvan lakes…

as I said,
if I wasn’t doing this on 

And this is another new poem from the past couple of weeks. I have a bunch of them. I think it's going to take another couple of weeks to use them all.

Or, it may be I have enough surplus to be more selected. What a novel idea that is!

finding soul

in the dark
through the quiet-sleeping

the dogs in the house
on the corner
are quiet, sleeping, counting cats

or whatever 
when deep in early morning 

dreaming -
my own dog, seven days 
mine, learning
how to walk alone, without

two other dogs
hitched to her, shoulder
to shoulder, and over these seven

has learned the pleasure of 
all manner of interesting things

along our regular early morning
route, stopping to listen, 
standing still to sniff the air,
rather than her doggedly 

determined, head straight-ahead,
quick-paced walk
of the first couple of days;
not dog then,

dog now,
not like the morning runners I see,
pushing ahead, eyes
focused, not on the night

that passes, or the stars or moon
or neighborhood rustle,
or the wind in the trees, the snap
of acorns falling on cement 

driveways, eyes focused
not on the glories
of the morning
but on their own internal pain

the obsession
that pushes them along these
streets before the light of

illuminates their quest
for stringy-muscled legs
and a flat stomach
and eternal

this eternal life
they seek
of morning-pain…

it is not human
to run
when not chased,

for humans must have soul and 
it is not such purposeless, self-centered
running that creates soul
in a man

but a morning stroll
amid the quit rustle-bustle
of early morning,
the quiet sipping of the still

glories of dark,
the dark and quiet
where the dog is learning,
seeking, with me,

her own
as I seek to keep my own

And finishing up now, this long overdue post, with one last new poem.

Some things from that afternoon a couple of weeks ago now stand out, will always linger in my memory - the moment when all the tension of life left her head as I held it, and this.


this I will remember

this I will remember
after most is

lying on her side
on the table,
after nearly 20 years
with us...

halfway out the door,
having borne 
and said the goodbye
I had stayed
to say...

the vet
who ended her life
and her pain
standing over her,
stroking her lifeless side,
honors her
with his own small gesture
of farewell

and, because of that
he will be my veterinarian

And so, that's it, back again, and now done  again.

Nothing's changed - everything in the post belongs to the people who created it. My stuff is mine, too, but you borrow it. If you do, please properly credit "Here and Now" and me.

And I'm still allen itz, owner and producer of this blog, and purveyor of fine books made by me.

Go here and buy them all - they're cheap.

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony eBookstore, Kobo, Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, and eBookPie.


Places and Spaces

Always to the Light

Goes Around, Comes Around

Pushing Clouds AgainstWind
And, for those print-bent, available
at Amazon
and several coffeehouses in San Antonio

Seven Beats a Second

Short Stories
Sonyador - The Dreamer



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Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Poems Niederngasse
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
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Camroc Press Review
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