Black Hearts & White Hats   Thursday, February 21, 2013

I usually write  this introduction last, since I  usually don't know for  sure  what I'm going to do  with the post. That's  true  also this week.

And with  the  post  done,  the only special thing  I can think of are some poems by my poet friend 
R.D. McManes.

While Mac is  special, I have some other good things this week as well.

As follows:
the poets' creed must be  obeyed
Elizabeth Alexander
Manhattan Elegy
more about skin
Nanao  Sakaki
November  Song
spice for the morning
R.D. McManes
generational recycling
no  going back
the literary they
Munch finds  his scream
Brenda Cardenas
Poem for the Tin-tu-teros
Chekhov's8  qualities  of cultured people  -  #8
Stephen  Dunn
Visiting the Master
blank page before me and  i must fill  it
Octavio  Paz
tussling with Tannhauser
Stanley Moss
Munich 2010
Down River
sixty percent chance of  looking like rain today
Semezdin Mehmedinovic
an unscientific answer to the mystery of the disappearing ancients
Marsha Pomerantz
Cow in a Galley
What  To Do in a Musical Emergency 
as good an  explanation as any
Jose Emilio  Pacheco
For You
A Farewell  to Arms
Happy Birthday

Here's my first  poem for this week. I wrote it  last  week.

the poets' creed must be obeyed

a bright
and sun-shinealicious

a blue  sky
so blue it hurts
as only the most intense
can pain the retinal
unprepared for such
bluesy intensity

a light breeze
that seems to whisper
names of women I don't  know
but would like
to meet

71.75 degrees,
the perfect temperature
designed by the Great  Mildred
in the sky
for human comfort

pleasant  people
happy people, I can tell
by the way the sun
slips  lovingly off their face
to  puddly cuddling
at their feet

a  perfectly beautiful perfect

no day for poets
to be laboring over verse
in the gloom of shadow  walls
and ceiling alight with
the most intense fluorlescensity,
mercilessly illuminating
our sallow poet
and skinny poet arms
and knobby poet

but we do what we  must,
for  it is the poets'

whether we feel like it  or
unwrite poems  require out
for  it is after all called
a  creative  art,
after all,
requiring creative  artists to  create
on even the most

and so I must
and so  I

---- was
a dark and stormy
I write creatively

The first poem from my library this week is by Elizabeth Alexander, from her book Body of Life. The book was published in 1996 by Tia Chucha Press of Chicago.

Alexander was born in New York City and raised in Washington D.C. She has degrees from Yale University and Boston University and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. At the  time of publication, she was on the faculty of the University of Chicago.

Manhattan Elegy

I left behind a mother, father,
baby brother, town-house, door bell, family-
sized gallons of two-percent milk, for
my grandmother's apartment near
the United Nations, her apartment
building with elevator, incinerator
chute, intercom with buzzer,
deliveries from Gristede's. There I had
a godfather who took me out to lunch,
great-aunts who took me to tea,
a great-uncle who took me to the Museum
of the City of New York, and a grand-
father who took me on the IRT.
I was the only child in all Manhattan.

My grandmother loved the Museum
of Modern Art, Matisse's revelers,
the red parlor with goldfish.  She loved
the rough-cut oil of "Starry Night" and Monet's
lily ponds, took me after to a hotel
dining room just like in "Hello, Dolly!"
where the violinist asked for my song,
and I didn't have one, and how, she said,
could an eight-year old lady not know
a serenade? She took me to Broadway
and home on the cross-town bus.

The U.N. tulips reminded me of Holland,
my eight-year old idea of Holland, like
in Mary Poppins when "Canada"
was grasshoppers and roses in white snow,
a beautiful word. I watched my grandmother
summon friends to come see me from the pages
of her red kid address book: Dorothy
and Kay, Mae, Phyllis, Helena and Eddie,
Lucille, Louise. Venetian blinds, taxi-
cabs, milk by the quart, lamb chops and water-
cress, brass candle snifters. Permit me
to sing this kaddish for New York,
New York, my city of adults.

I continue with 2012 poems that might be in the book after the next book.

Here's the first for this week.

more about skin

not just the bag
you carry yourself
around in -

it is an essential
the wrap 
that holds together
all the requisite parts
in all their proper places,
and processor
of the natural sun-baked nutrients
every body needs;

it is a sociological
and cultural mark of genetic
or light,
a mark of long-dust
ancestral origin, less so now
in the modern world
of connectivity
in all things, a melding of skin
to the universal toe
of coconut-butter swirl;

it is a tactile
and visual  affirmation
of the essential  elements
of art and pleasure
that affirm us,
the soft  slide  of skin on skin
in moments of  passion,
the round curve
of a woman's breasts and ass,
the probe of a nipple
aroused in a moment  of anticipation
the impatient skyward thrust
of an erect penis,
the tender pleasure
as your fingers caress a baby's cheek,
the rough hard calluses
of a cowboy's hand,
the soft tickle of pasture grass
on bare feet, the pain sometimes of parts
abused or inflicted,  such pain
as important to the pleasure of skin
as all the softer sensations -

many things is skin,
soft and smooth or hard and rough,
the most human of all beauty,
much more
than the bag  we carry ourselves around

Next, two poems by Nanao Sakaki from the collection, The Poems of Nanao Sakaki,  published by North Point Press of San Francisco in 1987.

Sakaki, who was born in 1923 and died  in 2008, was a Japanese poet/storyteller who lived a good part of his life after World War II wandering in Japan and in the United States. He lived an extremely interesting life which I leave to my readers to investigate.


The plants
Given life by minerals
Then give life to animals.

And animal called man...
A man, you,
Stand with legs, eyes, nose & nipples.

A puppet, you
who work so hard
with two hands & a head.

When your naval starts laughing,
you are a song.

November Song

In a November night
Under the kerosene lamp light
Around the clear flame of oaks in the open fire pit
We chatter and peel persimmons.
Tomorrow we will hang the naked fruits
Under the eaves for drying by sun, wind and frost.
      ---Something running through darkness,
          Is that gushing wind or shower?


The past is now.
Three hundred years ago
A Japanese potter named Kakiemon or Persimmon Jack
Tried so hard to catch the jewel light
Of persimmon in November sun,
Forgot to eat, to sleep, to talk.
Three years later he was able to bring out
The gorgeous color n his ceramic


The  past is now.
Five years ago
An eighty one year old Japanese lady
Jumped into a nearby river
And finished her life under the November Sky.

      ---Beyond the old lady's reach
          There hung hundreds of flaming persimmon fruit
           Backed by heavenly blue
           In the dazzling sunshine.

      ---With her family and her friends
           Sitting around the open fire pit in November nights
           She chatted and peeled the fruits
           All her life for eighty one years.

       ---Now living by herself
           She can make dried fruits no more
           She can present the sweet jewel to friends no more.
           Missing the cheerful work
           No pleasure to live off
            No treasure to share
            The old lady sank into the river.


Stormy November night.
Something running through the darkness---
Is that gushing wind or shower?
Around the fire pit we chatter and peel the fruits.

To  chickadees, black bears and men
The tree offers cool shade in summer
Bittersweet cakes in autumn.
Botanists call the tree
               "Diospyros Kaki"

                "The flame of God"
Very bitter in the beginning
Very sweet at the end.
Is this the food of life
Or of the light of life?
botanists call the tree

Here's another new poem about one  of those events you see that are never explained.

spice for the morning

hang from the trees
by their reversible toes,
on the scene 
as it unfolds

stop their peck-pecking,
look  over  their shoulders,
gather in a circle
and murmur quietly,.
conversation among  the coven,
dance a little,
stomp their pink
to  a fowlish beat,
play a guessing game
they call
training guesses
as to the meaning of it all

we all, diners and staff,
gather at the large windows,
wondering,with  the birds
and squirrels
what it all means

as five  police
a black and white
of the black-hats,
short their prey
nose to nose  to  nose to  nose
to tail
at the other end 
of the building,
the black and whites,
the big Fords that
police agencies of all kinds
have  preferred
for years, automotive sharks
prowling the waters
of every city street, the man
and his car, together
no  more,
the  car discontinued
by its maker,
only one here today,
the single,  lonely
lost to the ages
gathered with five SUV's,
the new order of things  dwarfing
the old,clustered
the old sedan  alone and lonely
like granddad
on his failing farm,
pushed aside
by his city-slicker grand kids
who  consider the farm
like a buzzard
considers the bloody heap
spread flat in the middle
of a country road...

springing equally
from the doors of the old
and the new

the most officers
I've ever  seen at a single place that  didn't
except  for  the police station,
of course,
where they have their donuts
shipped in
from a nearby Krispy Kreme

they scatter
as quickly as they came,
leaving the old Crown Vic behind,
the aged guard
at the entrance of  a gated
of faded McMansions,
for  more than they were worth,
deserted, abandoned,
their fate like the planned fate
of granddad and
his farm,
granddad,  the gate guard
protecting from imaginary threat
that  which used to be his,the minimum
wage job, the most he's gotten
out of the old  farm
in several

and the squirrels
return to gathering their nuts
and the pigeons
return to their own  singular  path
of peck-pecking
and the rest  of us
to our biscuits and gravy
and corporate  hatchery
eggs  over easy
and pancakes and waffles
and oatmeal
and coffee buckets,
at  our plates,like the former
chickens at their  bucket
of feed
and none of us
know what  just happened
but it did put a little spice
into an overcast
Monday morning, almost
as much fun
as being  back  on the farm
when  it was making

Here are several  poems by my poet friend, R.D. McManes, of Kansas.

Mac is the author of seven poetry books and has had over 190 poems published in 60 worldwide poetry publications. He has been a featured speaker and conducted poetry workshops and copyright presentations for the Kansas Author's Club.

generational recycling

we are the generation
with a failing grade
somehow we have fallen beyond
the wildest expectations
excuses are our normal responses
lamenting our future status
history will not be kind

we didn't fit, didn't click, didn't fix
didn't care, didn't worry
about this world or this time
oh, we  pretended
to save those or change that
everything  was important
in retrospect, only self-greed
only self-worth stands out

we hid behind our failings
curtains drawn to block the light
hoping those who follow
will no see  or comprehend
what we have done
the complexity and depth
of our cover stories
soars to unheard of heights

today's false truths fall
on tomorrow's deaf ear
the fires we have started
are cold forgettable ashes
scattered on the eternal  winds
between unforgiving gray shades
this is our big legacy
all  we have left to give
worn our promises
and a newly labelled
recycle can on every curb

no going back

there is a time
when life slowly walks
through each day
barely a baby's pace
almost always a crawl

each day's  rewards
or punishments
pays off in praise
or  swift swats
perceive and believe
justifiable actions
by an older generation

in the evening
we  say prayers
by our bedsides
the night's stars
shimmer silent
behind white curtains
while we dream

of being grown
without a care
never realizing
without childlike
there is
no going back
to  yesterday

the literary they

you know who they are
the true blues,the blood reds
in a gray literary world
composers whose words fall
effortlessly on empty pages
splashed articulate colors
between hallowed covers

those who make the big list
titles followed by best seller
prize winner, fellowship  of
everyone thinks or pretends
they recognize the words
understand the intent

that night
the reading lamp  stays lit
long after words begin to  blur
to keep them company
when they are  alone
the latest  thriller
the newest  romance
sounding out the words
until they fall asleep

somewhere another genre
sits on a discount shelf
volumes of dusty poems
no one reads them
except a lone critic
and he smiles with delight
another poet to  consume
lightly roasted over a fire


beautiful music
behind the words
a thousand tomorrows
the words still dance
in  yesterday's mind

half-forgotten tunes
loud in the clearing
imagination's horizon
beyond the tallest trees
tilted to an open  sky

i look for a spot
to s it and reflect
in external silence
the internal rhythm
never misses a beat
not a single note falls

no  meaning
to understand
no  point to  make
greatest hits spin
and for a moment
nothing else exists
me and their songs
etched inside

Two more from 2012.

Munch finds his scream

dark nights
& darker days
cover both the sun
and the moon

I dream
mechanical spiders
sssifty sssifting
from an open

and it  seems
that which mattered
matters least

it  is dark
at  the end of the tunnel


of  someone who could have been
fifty years ago

how foolish it is to be  thinking
of someone who could have been
fifty years ago

has not time
for could-have-been;
deals only
with was and is -

only baseball
that allows more than one  swing
at  life...

there is nothing more to  say

The next poem is by Brenda Cardenas, from her book, From the Tongues of Brick  and Stone. A small collection of  poetry, it was published  by Momotombo Press in 2005.

Cardenas holds an  MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and has twice received  Illinois Arts Council finalist awards n Poetry. She teaches Creative Writing; Composition; and Latin American, U.S. Latino/a and American Literature at Wright College in Chicago.

Poem for the Tin-tun-teros

This for the tinbaleros,percussioists,  tin-tun-teros,
those who tap  with spoons on their stoves
with pencils on their desks
with nails and knuckles on tables, beds, their own heads
with fists against the walls
and fingers on the spines and curves of their lovers, dancers.

this for the congueros,  drummers, bongoseros,
those who never rest
with their staccato heels always hammering the skin of the floor
stomping in their dreams filled with maracas, guiros and claves,
these dancers with steps so smooth
and hips that move like their high hats and snares.

This for the timbaleros,  percussionist,  tin-tun-teros.
They are bad asses with their cymbal storms
their games of sticks that fly like wings. How scampish
their tricks that won't let us work or sleep
only dance and sing, sing and dance
some sometimes move the earth a little.

This is the last  in my series on Chekhov's eight  qualities of cultured people.  I don't like it,  but you can't have a series about 8 somethings and stop  at number 7 something, so it's what I have. If I ever put these eight pieces together to make a single piece, this one will  be stuck in middle somewhere, certainly not the last in the piece.

Chekhov's 8 qualities of  cultured people - #8
They develop  the aesthetic feeling in themselves
gets an
in himself
at least
he likes
a lot
the warts
getting to
a problem

Here's a poem by Stephen  Dunn, from his Pulitzer  Prize winning book Different Hours, published by W.W. Norton in 2000. At the time of publication, Dunn taught at Richard Stockton College in New  Jersey.

Visiting the Master

Don't follow me, I'm lost,
the master said to the follower
who had  a cocked pen
and a yellow pad.

But I live for art, the follower said.
I need to know some of its secrets,
if not the rules.

I'm lost, said the master,
I ask only for your forbearance
and a little help with the rent.

the follower  realized he'd  caught
the master at a bad time.
I'll come back next  week, he said.

He knew the master had  told  others
that over  a lifetime
the word autumn should not be used
more than fiver or six times,
and that  only a fool
confuses activity with energy.

The follower came back the next week.

The master said, go away.
It all begins elsewhere, apart from me.
Both sunshine and shadow,  these days,
oppress me. A good woman
is hard to keep.

The follower thought he understood.
You mean, he said,  privation
is the key?

Oh, return to zero, the master  said.
Use what's lying around the house.
Make it simple and sad.

From early 2012, I guess you could call this a  tribute to one of my former, now defunct, coffeehouses. It was operated by a church and closed under mysterious circumstances. I  think maybe some of the more  conservative  people at the church grew concerned about all  the unchurchly people  who drank their coffee.

It was the only coffeehouse I've ever adopted as day-home that  actually made a profit.  Which is why it was such a surprise when it closed (with less that 2 weeks notice).

I sit by the window

I sit
by the window
so I can smile at  all the  people
who  pass
and enjoy the smiles they return
to  me

I sit by the window
so I can hear the conversations
all around, passing toward the window light,
reflecting off the glass
and to my ears

I sit by the window
so I can enjoy the paint salesman
working his phone, a rainbow conversation
of gloss and matte
as he talks to painting contractors
about the colors to be displayed,
all the regular colors of a Crayola box
and new colors I never heard of,
or maybe just new names

sit by the window
so I can hear the attorney
talk to her friends,
always her men friends she has coffee
with nearly every day,
the businessman, the artist,
the musician,
and the novelist,
telling stories in Spanish
and English,
a modishly-clad free-spirit woman,
I can tell,
long black hair.
dressed in elegant black
to match,
her late  thirties,maybe older,
with the light fresh laugh of a girl
twenty years

I  like to hear them talk
and I like to listen to her laugh

I sit by the
so I can watch the young students
from the college down the street
and the high school boys and girls
from the Catholic school down the street,
uniformed and fresh
and alive with after-school freedom

I sit  by the window
to enjoy the artists and musicians
and filmmakers
who meet here to talk about their latest
art, and the teacher  from the private school
who meet to plan their lessons,
and the politicians and social activists
and community volunteer who meet here
to conspire their ongoing insurrections
and the mothers
with their babies
and the old men with their crosswords
the city planners
in their pin-striped suits
and the hobo
questing freedom
and quarters from bridge to bridge
and the churchly do-gooders
their good-doings
and the man in the corner
who reads his worn bible,whispering
to God
the things for only God
to  hear

I  sit by the window in this place
where I spend my day,
alive with the life around me,
my mind
and my heart
with the stories around

Next, I have  this poem by Marilyn Hacker. The poem is from her book (her seventh), Winter Numbers. The book was published in 1994 by W.W. Norton.

A Note Downriver

Afternoon of hungover Sunday Morning
earned by drinking wine on an empty stomach
after I met Tom for a bomb on Broadway:
done worse; known better.

I feel muggy-headed and convalescent,
barely push a pen across blue-lined paper,
scowl at envelopes with another country's
stamps, and your letter.

Hilltop house, a river to take you somewhere,
sandwiches at noon with a good companion:
summer's ghost flicked ash from the front porch railing,
looked up, and listened.

I would grouse and growl at you if you called me.
I have made you chamomile tea and rye bread
toast, fixed us both orange juice laced with seltzer
similar mornings.

We'll most likely live in each other's houses
like I haunted yours last July, as long as
we hear rivers vacillate downstream. The say
"always"; say "never."

I wrote this piece last week.  I first wrote a poem with this title many years ago, probably in the late sixties. I remember I had just read a short story by Harlen Ellison titled I have no mouth and I must scream. It was a great Ellison story, basically summed up in the title. The story and the title, which has stuck with me all the years since, but, at the time, I was most fascinated with the rhythm of the story's title and tried to duplicate that rhythm with a title of my own.

So that's where this title came from. The new poem has nothing at all to do with  the old poem.

blank page before me and i must fill  it
blank page
and i must fill
with shadows
of you and me and all
who pass, shadows where
truth always lies
(those who claim
to have
stumbled across
the truth
for there is no
over shadows
truth always lies)
before me
and I must
behind the shadows
where truth
in the
for you and
to find
behind the
where all the truths
of truth
for you and me
to find
in the shadows
or our final

Here are some short poems by Octavio Paz, from his book Configurations. First published in 1965, my New  Directions edition was published in 1970.

A number of translators contributed  to the book which is published in both Spanish and English. The  poems I chose for  this week were  translated by Charles Tomlinson.


Cold rapid hands
Draw back one by one
The bandages of dark
I open my eyes
I am living
                 At the center
Of a wound still fresh


My steps along this street
              In another street
In which
              I hear my steps
Passing along this street
In which

Only the mist is real


The cold lips of the night
Utter a word
Column of grief
No word but stone
No stone but shadow
Vaporous thought
Through my vaporous lips real water
Word of truth
Reason behind my errors
If it is death only through that do I  live
If it is solitude I speak in serving it
It is memory and I remember nothing
I do not know what it says and I trust myself to it
How to know oneself living
How to forget one's knowing
Time that half-opens the eyelids
And sees us, letting itself be seen


It is the awaited hour
Over the table falls
The lamp's spread hair
Night turns the window to immensity
There is no one here
Presence without name surrounds me


If  it is real  the white
Light from this lamp, real
The  writing hand, are they
Real, the eyes looking  at what I write?

From one word to the other
What I say vanishes.
I know that I am alive
Between two parentheses.


My hands
Open the curtains of your being
Clothe you in a further nudity
Uncover the bodies of your body
My hands
Invent another body for your body

From 2012, probably not a candidate for the book after the next book,  but brings back pleasant memories. I  love Wagner, the power and the solemn  beauty of his Ring music.

tussling with Tannhauser

to my coffee house
yesterday afternoon,
some very boring thing on NPR
drove me to the classical music station

in time for
Wagner's most sublime,
his overture to "Tannhauser,"
listening in the car,
the repeated refrain,
the sweet cry of French horns,
then passing around the orchestra,
through the low brass
and back around to the French horns
before  slipping
down the register
to  where the low brass arrives again
for the  final say,
huge and ponderous,
like th earth turning
on  its axis,
the grandeur
of the planet's regal orbit,
thunderous grieving
as it seems to tear itself  apart,
where it splits atwain,
its howling, fiery,
with  a roar like the universal

slipping then again
to the dark  side
of the moon...

and I am transported
to time
more than fifty years  past  when
those of us in the bass section
looked forward every year
to the chance to play the piece again
it was one of the few times
we were given official
to  "blow our guts out"

and we did
by God,
I wish I could have that much fun
again today

Here are a couple of poems by Stanley Moss, from his book,God Breaketh Not  All Men's Hearts Alike, published in 2011 by Seven Stories Press.

Moss was born in New York City and was educated at Trinity College and Yale. Publisher and editor of Sheep Meadow Press, a non-profit press devoted to poetry,  he makes his living as a private art dealer, primarily in Spanish and Italian old masters.

Munich 2010

     to Hans Magnus Enzenberger

I was pleased to see a one hundred-year old  oak
and then lindens that survived the air raids.
Now the city seems to me lyrical, the smoke
of yesteryear blown God knows where.
Now my sixty-five years are toast and marmalade,
are sweet and sour.  The dead not here or there,
the living are here and there, have made the grade,
while grandma and grandpa fell down the hill
with another sixty million not Jack and Jill.
Thou shalt not kill is a bitter pill
to swallow. To be human is not human.
We must learn to choose the better part  of human,
go back to kindergarten waking and sleeping.
Laughter is human, so is weeping.

Down River

     to Zhou Ming

She remembered her dad's kissing-her-everywhere game,
her  puppy pushed off the bed, not much about her  old flame.
She could see his pointed eyebrows, heard, "No rain,
no rainbow." She remembered her Uncle James had a game
off pretending to throw his granddaughter out the window.
Why did she remember that, and what did that have to do
with the forced upon her pleasure and pain
of her dad's finger-inside-her game?
She banished herself for his smell and saliva on her pillow.
Smells can lie, but saliva's true as rain.
What she could not remember they would do again;
he was there, sure as hyacinths are blue.
She buried his ashes under a weeping willow
and went down river in a boat she could not row.

The drought in this area - we are being reminded it never  really left.
sixty percent chance of looking like rain today
sixty percent
of looking like rain
so  far, weatherman's
right on
quick  spurt
of rain
like the cloud
over a shower
light sheen
over parking lot
where pavement
and crackly
like papyrus
from east-ways
walk slow
you want to get
fast walkers
like my
may never know the rain
in Colorado and New Mexico
none here
to visit
Colorado and New Mexico
next month
to crunch then
through remainders
of snow drifts
no snow drifts
but we do have
dry rocks
from millions of
years ago
steamed out
by the sun burning
brighter no
as it edges every day
the dark that will come
over all that  remains
weather reports
for end
of days
but for sure not days
for picnics
under cinder-turning
as the economist
told me about making predictions,
say what and say
when, but
say the two
it will rain
the world will end
in a nova-flash
to mark earth's
both predict
absolute assurance
and we must
sixty percent chance
of looking like
rain today
all about
which way the wind

Here are three pieces by Semezdin Mehmedinovic. The poems are taken from his book, Sarajevo Blues, published by City Lights Books in 1998. The poems in the book were translated from the Bosnian by Ammiel Alcalay.

Mehmedinovic is one of Bosnia's most prominent poets and writers. He wrote these poems during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, from Sarajevo, when he stayed throughout the Serbian siege, and was active through the war in the city's resistance movement.


In the evening we wait for
the moment forms open:
the sky still in darkness
from the radiance of earthly things -
and then the buildings become like models
blackened by the shadow of their surfaces
and torrid sky appears
as the moon begins to shine amidst the war -

That instant everything -
and my son looking out th window -
cast a divine smile
on the domesticated power of the elements


S: Harun, come on, get into the house, it's grenading


He's a hero, says the soldier in fatigues, pointing at the kid
kneeling on the parquet floor. Killed a Chetnik, he says The
boy put the ammunition belt and the old M48 down on the
floor: he smiles, completely carried away, as he plays with
plastic cars and makes the sound of an engine. On Vraca,
he says, after agreeing to tell the story, my friends took some
shots with a Kalashnikov and nothing. Then I let go twice
and the Chetnik just rolled over. My rifle kills at ten miles,
he said, scratching his forehead with a toy car.

Here's another  from last  year, probably not fodder for the book after the next book.

But still,  the book  might serve as an application for my own series on the Discovery Channel, my own ancient astronauts series.

an unscientific answer to the mystery of the disappearing ancients

a dark night
high atop a mountain

the closest  I've ever been to the night sky

and the stars
deep  and bright
in the clear, dark sky,
seen this night
more than  ten  thousand feet
above earth smog
and lazy-drifting surface fog

and I feel
like a space  creature,
visitor from one of those bright
sharp pricks of light above,
marooned, perhaps, on this muddy bog
of a tiny world in a flyspeck system
on the poor side of the galactic tracks
of the universe

a space creature,
struggling in its last days
to get here,
high above the stark below
for one last look at  his brilliant overhead

the Anasazi, natives
of this dark-night under wide-open sky region,
their disappearance a mystery to those
who have never seen  the stars
from here, the  stars those  ancients saw,
an impenetrable mystery
to those who never felt the power
of the heavens seen
through this tiny mountain air, who don't understand
the draw of home, who don't  understand  that  though
they are called the first peoples
they are really the last peoples
of their kind, gone

leaving us
in our dark-caved fears

Next I have two poems by Marsha Pomerantz. The poems are from her book, The Illustrated Edge,
published in 2011  by Biblioasis.

Cow in a Gallery

Thicker  slices than you'd ever think,
no pink lights in the meat  case.
This is me with precision  plastic pins holding
hide and all under utter incandescence,

me here, continuous through all interruptions,
through people crossing through my spine,
my only straight line.
This is my spleen, this is my underwater liver

that, eating slow, I worked so hard to grow.
These  are my mutabilities of brown, my surfaces
absorptive in all senses, my anus urging wonder
in ever-new directions.

I'm doing this for you, consumer:
only you can get out of this
something like alive.

Feed me, please,
your possibilities,
and i will fatten you.

What To Do  in a Music Emergency

When your car rolls into Harmony Lake,
pretend to hum along. Charm a window open;
swivel out. Swim under the rickety wave  where
notes dock. Pull yourself up through a gap
in the planks - between, say, Boy and Does.
See sun plink the water like  a toy piano.

I  was a child under  a chair once,
rising between  a man's thigh, propping my
elbows on his knees.
                                     sing. There is no  reprise.

Here's another new one from last week.

as good an explanation as any

the wind blows

trees do the shimy-shum,
rolling and roiling
like hula

bushes, closer
to the ground, satisfy themselves
with a little buck
and wing

across the parking lot

the sky
ripples, clouds
like waves
of whipping cream in a slow
mix-master twist


it's supposed to be a very nice
San Antonio early-spring
long-sleeve-cool and sunny
and I don't know what's going on,
why the wind is blowing
so this morning;
why the sky seems in some kind of
white clouds in an atmospheric

when I was younger
we used to say the wind blew in Texas
because Oklahoma

as good an explanation as any
I can  come u
this morning

This the last poem this week from my library. It is by Jose  Emilio Pacheco and it  is from his book City of Memory, published in 1997 by City Lights.

Pacheco, born in 1939, is a novelist, poet, essayist and translator. He lives in Mexico City and is the winner of the  Jose Asuncion Silva Award for the best book of poetry  to appear in Spanish from 1990 to 1995.

This book is bi-lingual, with translation from Spanish by Cynthia Steele and David Lauer.

For You

Not a bottle  at  sea nor vampire's flight,
more like a torn  scrap of paper blowing  toward you
     in the street, the poem.

It's one or the other, you trap  it or  let  it go by,
read it or  throw it in the  trash.

The wind blows where it will:
putting it in your hand or steering it  toward

It's  a  miracle  that  your eyes  linger
on a scrap  of paper in the street.

Do with  it  what you will.

A Farewell to Arms

One afternoon they arrived from a city up north,
or  maybe from central Mexico.
I couldn't say for sure
after the lies of so many years,
that fiction we  call  memory,
forgetfulness that invents.

Maria Elvira, Ana,  Amalia: names of another time,
nearly identical sisters,
all three of them lovely,
all three our erotic and romantic
preteenage dream.

Out of  vanity or shyness
they never looked at us.
We vied for their attention:
bicycle  stunts, scaling and balancing acts
on cornices and railings,
hand games, ball games, boxing matches,
- all of it to no  avail.

With all hope lost, Marco Vargas
somehow  managed to win their friendship.
And one night the Armas sisters' mother
invited us over.

Pate  sandwiches,Munder cider,
two hours of  chatting  right in the long  room.

Marco and I
left more in love than ever with Ana,
Maria Elvira, and Amalia.

And the next day
all three of them went back to where they came  from:
their father  killed  someone
or got an  important promotion.

We never saw the  again.
That one night was our farewell  to arms.

Here's another old poem, in my head for years and years before I finally wrote it down early last year, the kinds of thing you think of when yet another birthday approaches.

I fell
into thinking of time
this morning,
like falling
into a deep well
thinking ob my brother
who died in 1996
who would be 78 today,
of my girlfriend in 1962, old as me now,
and her bedroom
parents gone for the night,
50 years ago,
of playgrounds,
of fast cars,
of hot nights and cold mornings
on mountains,
of beaches at night
when a cold winter wind blows,
of the things
I wanted
and never got,
the things I got but never
wanted, of the math teacher
with great legs,
of the English teacher
who never believed I could write,
and the other English teacher
who believed
I could,
of  drill sergeants
and old Russians and
pretty girls who might have said,
and the ones who said, no,
and the ones
I should have never asked,
and desert winds
and the Hindu Kush behind
blowing sand,
and the suicide
on the roof, talk me down,
he said
or buy me another beer,
and the fella
who walked like a girl
and sang dirty songs while the band
played and played,
and my first bag of marbles
and first ice cream sandwich
and first bicycle
and first bb gun and first
and first kiss-off.
so  many things,
like falling into a deep  well,
once in
so hard to get out
thinking of the long and short corridors
of time and life,
of my father dead
more than 30 years and my mother
dead nearly 20,
and my brother who would be 78
if alive today

My birthday poem.

happy birthday

happy birthday
to me -
my 69th today

I don't always play
the odds
but I usually know them
and odds are that with a modicum
of average-Joe
i should make it
to 75

(all bets off  after that)

75 minus 69
6 years - 2,191 days
(counting one leap year day)

2,191 days
2,191 poems
to  write before
the last day whistle

this is the first
one -2,190
to go

That's It.

Everything belongs to the ones who made it.

If you want my stuff, take it. Just properly credit "Here and Now" and me.

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog.

I have books for sale. Here's where they are and where you can get them.

They're cheap, which is the whole idea behind ebook publishing. Plus, Bookbaby informed me last week that they've added a new distributor, Scribd

Scirib is the world largest online library, with conversions if over a billion pages of written works into web pages. They can be accessed from any web-enabled mobile device.

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

still reputable places all


Places and Spaces

Always to the Light

Goes Around Comes Around

Pushing Clouds Against the Wind

And, for those print-bent, available at Amazon and select coffeehouses in San Antonio

Seven Beats a Second

Short Stories

Sonyador - The Dreamer



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Return to Grapecreek Road    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pictures from one of favorite little roads in the hill country.

My anthology for the week is Everywhere is Somewhere Else, published by Plain View Press in 1998. Since Plain View Press is and Austin publisher that has done several anthologies of Austin poets, I initially thought this was another one o those. Turns out it includes poets from all over.

The rest o the post is normal stuff, a little shorter than usual.

Here's the line-up.

man walking dog

Valerie Bridgeman Davis
The Preacher

Cynthia Cruz
The Going Home Song
Strange Gospels
Ohio Darling

C.P. Cavafy
December 1903
At the Theater

Chekhov's 8 qualities of cultured people - #8

Valerie Bridgeman Davis
Death by Sleep

I have a secret
the woman weeps

Leonard Cohen
Time Slipping, the Dark Lady

Gail Teachworth

sullen sun

Michael Blumenthal
Civic Leaders

all is lost, alas

Bradley Earle Hoge
A Dog Contemplating a Stoplight

alive, alive-o

Living Near the Great Buddha
Mountain Village Fog
Field of Wild Flowers
Autumn Rain
Insects Chirping in the Morning

winter waits
I will take pictures today

the fine art of avoidance

Here's my first poem for the week, about my morning routine, which I share with a couple of four-footed friends.

man walking dog
poor little buds
showing on the trees
in the still-dark
by several weeks,
is the young
who are sacrificed
in every season
in the culvert
damn, look at the
big squirrel
let's chase
shadow gray,
sometimes follows
sometimes leads
sometimes waits patiently
for dog to take care of her
cool morning
until we get to Apache Creek
stretching in both directions, "Wind
Tunnel Creek"
they ought to call it
no longer
now it's cold
half-way across the footbridge,
the gurgling and rippling
of water
cascading over limestone
on the corner
start to bark when
we're still half a block away
three dogs
three different barks
little bark;
big bark;
bison bellow
it we pass early
they still sleep
we pad quietly
on soft little cat,
dog, and human feet
so as not to wake them and pass
fog settles in
the way home
crossing the bridge
on busy Evers Street
as out of place
as a tiger under Broadway
but she is self-possessed
and does not care
for the opinions of others
she is a cat
after all
turning the corner
we cross the yard
of the house
that has been vacant
for six months,
saving 57 steps
some day the house
will sell
and we will be 57 steps healthier
every morning
our first morning walk
dog jumps into the back of the car
and I toss the newspaper into the front seat
goes to her spot on the porch
and waits to be fed
her morning
neighbor tom
until I throw a rock
to chase him away
but I will leave
and tom will return
and steal so more
cat waits
she'll get hers
when I come home at noon
and tom is off
settles down
as we drive off to breakfast
she knows a reward,
a piece of turkey
sausage and another walk
is coming
after I finish my breakfast
knows she has things under
for she is an accomplished

This is the first poem from my anthology. The poet is Valerie Bridgeman Davis.

Davis grew up in Alabama and moved to Texas in 1981. She earned a BA degree in 1986 from Trinity University in San Antonio and an M.Div. degree in 1990 from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. At the time the anthology was published, she was working on a Ph.D. in religion at Baylor University, worked as a professor at Huston-Tillotson College, as part-time chaplain for Hospice Austin and as pastor at Banah Full Community Church.

The Preacher

That preacher, she said,
and I knew she did not know I was she;
she having seen no icon or likeness
to which to compare this stranger,
but whom she sincerely wanted to impress
with knowledge of he preacher to come.

Can string some words, she said,
and I dropped my head
to listen intently for the oncoming praise
given behind my back
not ever intended for my face,
since people don't compliment you
so as to help you stay humble.

I mean can talk! she said.
and I said ummmmmmm, to egg her own
determined to milk the moment
of all affirming in it
and hear the conclusion of a good word spoken,
however unintentional.

Just then Deacon Crane
ruined the moment with an introduction
and as I walked away from my benedictory sister
she said, but I'm not impressed.

My first library poet this week is Cynthia Cruz, with three poems from her book The Glimmering Room. The book was published by Four Way Books in 2012.

Cruz was born in Germany and raised in Northern California. A recipient of fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, as well as a Hodder Fellowship from Princetown University, she is the author of one book and publishes her poems frequently in journals like The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The American Poetry Review.

The Going Home Song

I'm going home

To my trailer parked
In the car lot
Covered in father's dust.

What you call reparation,
I call animal.

The American dream
Is piss-stained, anyway.

I've got my father's power

And he got his
From dreams.

Come and take me

If you want, you can
Bury me, singing

In father's military garb,with no
Ribbons or badges. His mother's

Dresses: rainbow-list red and blue
Wool, bear hide,saved
Thread,spots,and sinew.

That there

Is the tree we blessed.

With Wonder Bread and

Strange Gospels

Billy is dead.

They found her
In a car in the lot behind the Mab.

Chinatown street corners
At thirteen in Redd Kross
Tank top and silver-glitter platforms.

Billy's dead.
But I carry her
Black fur
Bear in my arms -

Ohio Darling

O dream star, Atari
Wonderland,black-haired, almost

Child. Christ-
Like saint, and ancient

Bewilder, your eyes
Are not broken.

You can still see. We

Are unacceptable. Except for
Criminal. And you

Got me.
Real good.

You have no idea.

Here are three poems by Greek poet C.P. Cavafy from his Collected Poems published in 1992 by Princetown University Press, with translation by Edmund Keely and Philip Sherrard.

Cavafy, born in 1863, lived a quiet and relatively uncloseted life as a gay man in Alexandria until his death in 1933. Although he lived in obscurity, with the first collected edition of his poetry not published until after his death, he is considered now to be the most important figure in twentieth century Greek poetry and his poems as among the most powerful in modern European literature.

December, 1903

And if I cannot speak about my love -
if I do not talk about your hair, your lips, your eyes,
still your face that I keep within my heart,
the sound of your voice that I keep within my mind,
the days of September that rise in my dreams,
give shape and color to my words, my sentences,
whatever theme I touch, whatever thought I utter.

On the Stairs

As I was going down those ill-famed stairs
you were coming in the door, and for a second
I saw your unfamiliar face and you saw mine.
Then I hid so you wouldn't see me again, and you
hurried past me, hiding your face,
and slipped inside the ill-famed house
where you couldn't have found sensual pleasure any more
than I did.

And yet the love you were looking for, I had to give you;
the love I was looking for - so your tired,
knowing eyes implied - you had to give me.
Our bodies sensed and sought each other;
our blood and skin understood,

But, flustered, we both hid ourselves.

At the Theater

I got bored looking at the stage
and raised my eyes to the box circle.
In one of the boxes I saw you
with your strange beauty, your dissolute youthfulness.
My thoughts turned at once
to all they'd told me about you that afternoon;
my mind and body were aroused.
And as I gazed enthralled
at your languid beauty, your languid youthfulness,
your tastefully discriminating dress,
in my imagination I kept picturing you
the way they'd talk about you that afternoon.

Here's my next to last poem in the Chekhov series.

Chekhov's 8 qualities of cultured people - #7
If they have talent they respect it. They sacrifice to it rest, women, vine, vanity...They are proud their talent.

(Facebook version)

I'm the gol-darndest punkin pie-
eater you ever did see

and it ain't easy

you have to suffer
for your art
or you can't call yourself
any kind of

don't let anyone
tell you punkin pie-eating
isn't no art

it is,
by damn,
and I'm an artist at it
and at 438 pounds no one can say
I haven't suffered
for my art

I've been thinking 'bout
my artistic endeavors to pecan pie-
eating, but I don't know...

it being a different milieu
offering different kinds of aesthetic

it's all them little pecan pieces
you got to chew up; punkin pie, hell,
you can darn near swallow
one of them things

I'm thinking I might outht'a stick
to the art I know, you know like that Van Gogh
guy, wasn't no good at all
on the tuba
and the Spanish guy who drew
all them funny pitchers
of screwy women
could barely
his way
through chopsticks
without embarrassing
his whole family (all them wives)
and the whole Spanish

Normally I would use a second poem from a poet when doing anthology, but the twist on this one spoke to me. It is by Valarie Bridgeman Davis.

Death by Sleep

I know of a woman
who died of gang violence
in her sleep - a bullet
ripped past the safety bars,
landed in her skull.

A drive-by bullet
gone astray, looking
for another target.
Bullets don't come
with names, though.

She died instantly,
the corner said.
She never felt a thing.

But she did feel it,
felt it coming
for years, felt
the horror growing
every day.

Waited for this bullet.
Expected it for her son.
Died, anticipating.

Here are two poems from early in 2012, the first, looking forward to the near future and my 68th birthday, especially appropriate since it will post three days from my 69th.

The second, an observation from a funeral which seems to at least partially confirm the observations of the first.

Both poems are possibles for the book after the next book.

I have a secret

I mentioned
Ma and Pa Kettle
in a crowded room
and not one knew what
I was talking about

as in a couple of weeks
I complete by 68th and begin
mu 69th year on this earth,
a reminder of the things I know
that those still struggling with the
challenges of youth
do not

important things
not restricted to Ma and Pa Kettle
and the Bowery Boys
and Boston Blackie

important things,
i can see,
for better or worse,
the string of my life fraying
and know the string that fray will someday

an epiphany
denied to the young of 28
or 38 or 48 or even
who never notice
the string of life
they traverse
in the humdrum of their daily
until the day
its sorry state is made clear to them

until then,
death is an unfortunate event,
affecting others,
never them in all their glorious

not that they ever think in those terms

and immortality,
issues, like the price of potatoes
in Cambodia,
that just don't apply to them
no matter how many they see
laid out cold and still in a box,
no many how many they follow
with their eyes as the unfortunate
are lowered into the earth, no matter
how many losses of those they know and those they love
they experience in their lives -

the idea of one day it might be them lost,
them cold and still,
their physical essence beneath a mound of fresh-turned earth

an abstract
like the collision of galaxies in a faraway star system

the relevance of death to all living creatures,
the inevitability of decay's deconstruction,
is the shock that comes unbidden
on a birthday like the one I have coming,
the unwelcome candle that flutters and dies

this flesh and blood recognition of the fate
of our own flesh and blood
comes only with the fatigue of age,
it cannot be imagined before the dues are paid -
innocence must be lost
before the loss of innocence can be known

this is when
like me, begin to face
the all we still want to do
and the uncertain time we have to do it

the woman weeps

the woman weeps

the coffin lowered slowly into the open grave

women all around weep as well,women
who have sat where the weeping woman sits
and women who someday will

the men watch, knowing
there is a box waiting for them
and a hole being dug
a little deeper
each day
to contain it

Here's a poem by Leonard Cohen, fro his collection, Book of Longing. The book was published in 2006 by ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins.

First of All

First of all nothing will happen
and a little later
nothing will happen again
A family might pass by in the night
speaking of the children's bedtime
That will be the signal
for you to light a cigarette
Then comes a delicate moment
when the backwoods men
gather around the table
to discuss your way of life
Dismiss them with a glass of
cherry juice
You way of life has been over
for many years
The moonlit mountains
surround your heart
and the Anointed One
with his bag and stick
can be picked out on a path
He is probably thinking of what
you said
in the schoolyard 100 years ago
This is a dangerous moment
that can plunge you into silence
for a million years
Fortunately the sound of clarinets
from a wandering klezmer
drifts into the kitchen
Allow it to distract you
from your cheerless meditation
The refrigerator will go into
second gear
and the cat will climb onto the
for no reason at all
you will begin to cry
They your tears will dry up
and you will ache for a companion
I will be that companion
At first nothing will happen to us
and later on
it will happen to us again

This was my poem-of-the-day for February 14th.

this is not a Valentine Day poem

it being February 14th,
this poem should be a Valentine,
but I'm no good at that lovey-dovey
smoochy, smoochy stuff,
so this is not a Valentine Day poem

this poem is about...

well, I'm not sure yet
what this poem is about
but I'll work it out as I go

while I'm thinking about
what kind of poem this is, I'm
also thinking about how we met -

a work-related romance, you
a counselor for a job training program
and me trying to find jobs
for young, minimally-educated draftees
just returning from the Asian jungle, their pre-draft
employment mostly in the fields or standing
on street corners smoking
funny cigarettes -

no pull for these guys, no big-wheel daddies
in Washington, no college
or pro-football coaches,
no deep pockets
to buy a slot in the Texas Air National Guard

but no, this is not that kind of poem
either -

my guys
had none of those advantages,
drafted at 18, then
home after a long tour of
VC sappers and every kind of poisonous insect
and lizard and fungus rot that ever lived
in a jungle

and they weren't interested
in the only kinds of jobs they were qualified for
so I found training slots for them,
meeting you, visiting you daily
(all for official purposes of course)
ending with more young Veterans in training
than anyone else in this very large
and sometimes great state...

and that makes me think of our first date -
you,, 22, a flower of youth waiting,
me, 32, the two of us
separated by my extra ten years
of been there, done that living,
hesitant, finally making the phone call,
a movie (something with Liza Minnelli and
Burt Reynolds and someone else
that I remember nothing else about)
and fries and a malt at the Sonic Drive-in
near where you lived,
and I picked up my dog at my parent's house
on the way home, warned her, Sam,
I said, things might be changing

and I could go on and on about my great
pal, Sam, but this is not that
kind of poem later

which reminds me of the first time
I told you I loved you
and you said you would have to think about it,
which I did not find encouraging...

reminding me of the first time

wait, this is certainly not that kind of

remembering when we met
with our parents to ask for their blessing
(young Hispanic girl living at home - weddings
do not happen, easily, without parents' consent),
your translated for me, and I don't really know for sure
what you said, but it worked out, since 36 years later
they haven't said "no" yet...

and remembering the arrival of our child,
adopted, a 24-hour pregnancy,
called at 10 a.m. one morning to be told there was a baby
for us to pick up the next day, same time, meeting
at our favorite restaurant that same day
to decide on our new son's name,
Benjamin or Christopher,
walking the baby aisle at Target that night, trying to figure out
what our baby would need, and our family
that came up to be with us the next
day to be with us for the adoption ceremony,
and I remember them living right after
and our moments of panic
when we realized we were
with our baby we didn't know anything
about just two days before...

I remember lots of things like that,
and more,
and if this was a Valentine Day poem
I'd probably write about all of it...

but this is not a Valentine Day poem,
so I won't...

Next, I have two poets from this week's anthology, Everywhere is Someplace Else.

The first poet is Susan Bright, author of fourteen books of poetry and editor of Plain View Press which published the anthology. A poet, publisher, activist and educator, she has been recipient of Austin Book Awards and honored by the Texas Senate for her literary and community work.

Time Slipping, the Dark Lady

could pack a great deal into a small space, one life,
for instance, could hold marriages, divorce, children
war and again war,betrayal of every kind, friends gone,
new life kicking up its' heels, as if there would always
be hope. Time slipping she could find her way into
another instant,someplace less grueling,as if sudden
there was a reason to continue, besides the obvious.
Time slipping there were moments she could have
said, This is why I exist, or I am glad to take this breath.
Time slipping she could possibly be mistaken for
the beautiful and proud woman she had been once,
graceful and joyous and not aggrieved almost to stone.
Times slipping she could become on of a thousand
women, invisible, fluid,ever present and finally essential.

The second poet from the anthology is Gail Teachwoth. At the time of publication,Teachworth was President of the Florida State Poets Association and the Sunshine Poets of Crystal River, Secretary of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies and her local amputee support group. Her work has appeared in many well known journals.


This china bowl is chipped and old,
the lone survivor of a set
that Grandma used to have and hold.
Its story isn't over yet.

The lone survivor of a set
passed down to Mother, then to me.
It's story isn't over yet,
antiquity, its destiny.

Passed down to Mother, then to me
as if it were a treasured thing,
antiquity its destiny,
more precious that a diamond ring.

As if it were a precious thing
that Grandma used to have and hold,
more precious than a diamond ring;
this china bowl is chipped and old.

Here's a couple of my old poems, from early last year, prospects for the book after the next book.

Two poems, different moods.

sullen sun

a sullen sun
through urine-yellow mist

slithering through high grasses,
winding around wet-hanging trees
like a snake in the garden

the morning
and darkly

a morning

another one
to add to all the ones

a morning

victory over dark conclusions
one more time


at my back yard,
thinking of last summer

the drought,
bare dirt everywhere

a fair winter of rain,
and weeds are mid-calf high,
some kind of sticky vine
in the flower beds, easy to pull up
but even the smallest sprig
left behind spreads again in a day or two
like sin on a Saturday night

it's all
very green,
hugely, lushly green
and if you squint your eyes
all you see is the verdant expanse
of green

life is often
like that, sometimes
you just have to squint your eyes
and take what you can get

Here are two poems by Michael Blumenthal, taken from his book, No Hurry, Poems 2000-2012. The book was published in 2012 by Etruscan Press of Wilkes University.

Blumenthal is the author of seven previous books of poetry, a novel, and a memoir. Formerly Director of Creative Writing at Harvard, he is currently Visiting Professor of Law at the West Virginia University College of Law. He lives alternatively in West Virginia and Hungry.

Civic Leaders

So much virtue in a single room!
The very walls tremble
with the thought of it.
Just think: the weight
of all that goodness!
Ad such beautiful denials!
Yet everywhere, even here,
life has it's way:
somewhere beneath the table
a living hand
reaches out
in search of a knee.


Paris, May 2005

Let's just say I seem to be enjoying these three chicken drumsticks
far more than the young man doing sit-ups just across the lawn

beside his girlfriend here at the Jardin de Reuilly is enjoying himself:
After all, he's huffing and puffing, and I'm sitting here,devouring

my chicken, basking in the spring sun, but now he's rolling over,
it's push-ups he's doing, push-ups right on top of his girlfriend,

and the push-ups are getting slower and slower, just as my chicken
is disappearing, and, before long, the push-ups stop altogether, he's

merely lying there on top of her, and he seems,even from a distance
much happier then when he was doing push-ups, then he suddenly

sits up,looks up at the heavens, and stares (with an expression
of pure longing) over at me. Oh, he seems to be saying,

I sure wish I had some chicken.

Sometimes a poet just has to step back and punt, like me, last week.

all is lost, alas
I have this poem I wrote
that is not a very good poem at all
but as a poem-a-day-poet
I have to either post it or write another poem
it's like spending your last $8.99 on a shirt at WalMart,
not realizing how ugly it is until
you get home
but you have to wear it because
you paid for it
I'm thinking
that surely is a pretty peach-colored sky
to the west, a reflection
of the sun cresting the horizon
to the east, and I'm thinking
so what
this peach-colored sky thing
happens every day so how is that better
than an ugly shirt from
I'm thinking well
look at the pigeons
peck pecking on the pavement
in the parking lot
isn't that worth a nice poem
but I'm thinking
what's the big deal
about pigeons peck
on the pavement in the parking
lot, has anyone ever seen
a pigeon not
on something
somewhere, so
I'm thinking
look at that big bus
passing on the interstate
taking someone somewhere
while I sit here peck pecking on my computer
like a pigeon
and, besides, I'm thinking
who cares about buses going somewhere,
last time I was on a bus back in 1967,
I got off in Atlanta
and flew the rest of the way
to my destination
and I bet buses are no better
than they were then,
and that was
I'm thinking
look at that huge oak tree,
bet it's full of
but I'm thinking, I've done squirrels
recently and aside from their bushy tails
they're basically rats
in trees
and who wants to read more about
in trees
I'm thinking
now I'm stuck with two lousy poems
and I'm going to have to post
one of them
for my poem-of-the-day
and I'm thinking
I wrote a really good poem
I wonder what's happened
since then
that leaves me with two lousy poem
that I have to choose from
the glory of the day before
all lost
like Richard
who lost his horse
and ended up buried in a parking lot
with British pigeons
right over his head

Next from this week's anthology I have two poems, both by Bradley Earle Hoge. At the time of publication, Hoge was an at-home dad for his three sons and a global change scientist at Rice University.

A Dog Contemplating a Stoplight

A teacher of mine once asked, if a dog
looked at a stoplight would it comprehend
its meaning. And are we, like the dog, not
limited in our knowledge? I contend
not at all, because human consciousness
creates its own reality, setting
quantum attributes into existence.
We are capable of understanding
our universe. He then argued that we
cannot know a quantum particle's place
and properties simultaeously
so cannot prove that they exist. I say
fear not, for every possibility
exists within its own reality.

Red Dog

As I travel back home to a dark and bloody ground,
I reminisce an Appalachian song:
O will there be red dog in heaven?
(Is it on earth that heaven is found?)

Where will these red roads through Appalachia lead?
Will our future from the past its lessons read?
O will there be red dog in heaven,
Or have the mountains truly begun to bleed?

Like the red dirt tinged tears in a wise man's eyes
Running down the crevices of his faces' lines:
O will there be red dog in heaven,
Or are the mountain's red roads blood from wise men's lives?

Ma constructs endless roads from strip mined land
Where Gaia had built the mountains by time's hand.
O will the red dog in heaven,
And who is the greatest architect, earth or man?

This poem is about my old dog, Reba, who, after nearly 20 years, we finally had to put down. My new dog, Bella, is good dog, loving, smart, and obedient. But Reba was an extraordinary dog, a saint among canines, a combination of Einstein and Gandhi.

Reba inspired many poems, as I'm sure Bella will, too. In fact she already has, our morning walks inspired at least one of the poems this week.

But this one is about Reba, another prospect for the book after the next book.

alive, alive-o

I was walking
my dog yesterday
(this being another dog
poem so all you cat people
and snake people and gerbil people
and lizard people and bird people
and cricket people and centipiggler
people can just accept
that it is not, except
maybe indirectly, about you
and your choice of furred, finned,
scaled,or feathered creature)

this is a dog poem
about Saint Reba about whom
I have spoken before
and our walk yesterday
down by the creek, still high from
several days of rain, scrubbed
by fast-running water all the way to its
pale, flat limestone bottom, the water
clear as freshly Windexed glass

and i was walking across
a little dam that holds the water
from passing too fast
further down the creek bed,
a tiny little dam about a foot
and a half across and
instead of doggedly following
me, Miss Reba decided to go
around me which ended her up
asplash in the creek

white-eyed panic
at first as she dog-paddled furiously,
then a gradual relaxation of her eyes
as she found sufficient purchase on the bank
to allow a sloshy clamber out of the creek
with the realization that
this splash-splash thing
even at 40 degrees is fun
and she climbs up the bank
jumping and running and leaping
about, let's-do-it-again, let's-do-it-again
as clear in her leaps as if she were yelling at me over
her shoulder, let's-do-it-again

and when I finally got her home
and dried off, she,
this old lady who can hardly
get out of her bed in the morning
because of all her aching bones,
was running circles in the back yard,
alive, alive, alive-o
like she was six months old again
with vim and vinegar
and life, a-live-o

like a good morning swim
to get the old

Here are several short poems by Rengetsu. The poems are taken from Lotus Moon, The Poetry of Rengetsu. The book was published by White Pine Press in 2005. The poems were translated by John Stevens.

At the age of thirty-three, Otagaki Nobu (1791-1875) renounced a world that had meant mostly tragedy for her - the deaths of two husbands and three infant children - and was ordained a Buddhist nun, taking he name Rengetsu, which means "Lotus Moon." In 1832, she began to make pottery which she inscribed with her own waka (31-syllable classic poetry) which she sold to support herself. The combination of beautiful poetry, calligraphy and pottery were as highly prized in her day as they are now.

Maybe as you read some of these you might imagine them written in elaborate calligraphy on the side of a pot or vase.

Living Near the Great Buddha

My night: autumn chill,
A steady drizzle
Of cold rain, and
The flicker of
Lonely shadows.


Amid the
Crimson maples
Mountain chestnuts
Ripe with burrs:
The munificence of autumn!

Mountain Village Fog

Overgrown kudzus vines,
Not a visitor for ages;
Along the hedge
Autumn fog wells up
In the mountain village.

Field of Wild Flowers

Rather than cutting them down
To spread out or gather up,
Let the wild flowers of autumn be
And enjoy the field
Just as it is...

Autumn Rain

The sun sets,
And the shadows deepen
Around the pines of Irie -
Lonely memories
In the autumn rain.

Insects Chirping in the Moonlight

From a crack in the wall
Of my mountain hut:
Katydids announce themselves
And moonlight too
pours in.

Here are two more possibilities for my book after my next book, both from about this time a year ago.

winter waits

just a trip and a fall
and no winter yet

oh, we've had some chilly nights all right
and one or two almost-cold days,
but of the sharp cut of winter
we've seen no sign

well, sure
the leaves let loose their hold
on the branches of drought-burnt trees,
but it was habit only, their sap fooled by the genetic history
of their kind into believing that, the required number of moon cycles being complete
it was time to head for the warm moist of their below ground roots

saps to history

unnoticed by them, the refusal of mountain frost to leave its crested home
for the lower regions where trees wait, naked, bare branches like lovers' arms
extended - sap sleeping soft and warm at the root, all above unrequited

frost lying in snowy crags, lying in wait for an early spring buffing
when well-slept sap begins to rise,
bring early buds
to bloom

then, at last, the canny, coldest winter winds will pounce, nature
making the fool of nature
and us as well

I will take pictures today

as I was sitting
day edged away night,
light creeping
the scene
like an old dog
easing tentatively around shadowed

the wind blows
hard from the north,
picking up
as light overcomes dark,
like the sunrise was sucking
all the cold
from the mountains
against the back of my neck
like icy spider
pushing hard for a leap
to the next
of their sky bridge
to morning light

the north wind
will ease
in an hour or so
as the new cool air
settles over the city
and it will be a bright
and lovely day,
a bridge,
like the spider's silk
between past winter and advancing spring

I think
I will take pictures

Here's another poem from last week.

the fine art of avoidance

a cool,
bright, glorious day,
the kind of Saturday morning
that pulls all the weekday slug-a-beds
up and out, off to their favorite breakfast restaurants
for a dose of fried chicken and pig
product with maybe a bowl of grits
and a short stack...

crowding out all of us who
so rise every day, those who threaten
chicken progeny and hog parts
on a daily basis

including those like me who perform
their daily ritual attack
on fowl and swine beasts
while writing their poem
of the day...

crowding us (meaning me, specifically)
out, sending me, before my poem is written,
to my normal coffeehouse where I am designated
Resident Poet, so-called because
I'm a poet and I'm always there, a joke,
but it gets me a reserved table, and a pointing-out
to coffee customers who express even passing interest
in my book, presented for sale
by the cash register, an all-together beneficial
arrangement as it has contributed
to the sale of a couple of books a week,
giving me some hope that someday
in the foreseeable future I will create
sufficient space in my closet
for a couple of new
the old shirts ready for retirement
and replacement,
and I can feel that fine moment
have to sell a few more
books, maybe in time for the Hawaiian shirts
they have at WalMart every

all this
to explain
why I am not writing from my usual
post, but here at the coffeehouse/music academy
which is my home away from
most of every day

and I tell you all of this
in support of my thesis that a poem
is in part a product
of the environment in which it is
and I am quite sure that, even
had I not told you, you would have sensed
that this poem was the product
of an alternative creative
to my normal poetic presentation
at least
I hope you would sense that
if you didn't
this would have been
an extended wasted exercise,
meaning I should have avoided this poem
all together
and just posted that lousy poem
I didn't post yesterday
but which I suppose some day
will have to expose its mongrel self
to the world, since, as this poem
so well illustrates
my facility at the fine art
of avoidance
is fading
and I'm running out
of ways to avoid
posting it

That's It.

Everything belongs to the ones who made it.

If you want my stuff, take it. Just properly credit "Here and Now" and me.

I'm allen itz, owner and producer of this blog.

I have books for sale. Here's where they are and where you can get them.

They're cheap, which is the whole idea behind ebook publishing.

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

still reputable places all


Places and Spaces

Always to the Light

Goes Around Comes Around

Pushing Clouds Against the Wind

And, for those print-bent, available at Amazon and select 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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Gary Blankenship
The Hiss Quarterly
Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
Lawrence Trujillo Artsite
Arlene Ang
The Comstock Review
Thane Zander
Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet