Spring Colors   Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I have a little something special this week. All of my library pieces are from Basho's  The Narrow Road to the Far North, including both his poetry and his prose. It is from a beautifully bound and printed book, "A Haiku Journey" which includes Basho's complete piece, additional haiku, illustrated with beautiful photographs  by Dennis Stock, and introduction and commentary by translator Dorothy Britton.

The book is a first edition published by Kodansha International Ltd. of Tokyo in 1974. It was a great find last week at one of my Half-Priced Book Stores.

My pictures are from 2010, an excellent year for wildflowers here in central and coastal Texas. Wildflowers this very dry year will be sparse, but even if they weren't, I doubt I'd spend a day looking for them as I did these. In fact, I doubt I'll ever do that again, these pictures about as good as I ever expect to get.

In addition to Basho this week, there is, of course, me. Here's what we have for you, the two of us.

no promises
from the narrow road to the far north
from the narrow road to the far north
the universal shadow
from the narrow road to the far north
I hate writing about the weather again
from the narrow road to the far north
my poem for today
from the narrow road to the far north
what the field mice have to say about it
from the narrow road to the far north
the first short sleeve shirt of Spring
from the narrow road to the far north
again today
from the narrow road to the far north
morning before the night things sleep
from the narrow road to the far north
and so:
from the narrow road to the far north
from the narrow road to the far north
don't  expect any hot-diggity dancing
from the narrow road to the far north
when our magic twanger of inspiration fails

Here's my first  for this week.

no promises
the moon
a slight  silver thread
hanging like a fisherman's hook
in a flat  black sea
high banked
clouds  dark on the
eastern horizon
muzzle the morning
not  a day
to  promise  rainbows
or sugar  treats within  shaded
garden walls

I explained in my introduction about my library poems this week, all coming from the narrow road to the far north, by the haiku master, Basho. This version, from the book a haiku journey, includes both the haiku and Basho's introduction to each haiku.

Here's the first note from Basho's journeys.


     The passing days and months are eternal travellers in time. The years that  come and go are travellers too. Life itself is a journey; and as for those who spend their days upon the waters in ships and those who grow old leading horses, their very home is the open road. and some poets of old there were who died while traveling.
     There came a day when the clouds drifting along, with the wind aroused a wanderlust in me, and I set off on a journey to roam along the seashores. I returned to my hut on the riverbank at the end of summer, and by the time I had swept away the cobwebs, the year was over.

     But when spring came with its misty skies, the god of temptation possessed me with longing to pass the Barrier Gate at Shikawa, and the road gods beckoned, and I could  not  set my mind to anything. So  I mended by breeches, put new cords on my hat, and as I burnt moxa on my knees to make them strong, I was already dreaming of the moon over Matsushima.
     I sold my home and moved into Sampu's guest house,  but before I left my cottage I composed a verse and inscribed it on a poem strip which I hung upon a pillar:

          This rude hermit cell
              will be different now, knowing Doll's
                  Festival as well

Here's my first old poem of the week, this one, as all others, from 2012


slender, silver crescent
of a moon tonight, the first
sighting in a week, clouds blown away
to show her thin-shining face,
stars,too, bright companions
all around her, the dark  overcast
of a week  ago surrendering, until,  first,
last night's fluffy washboard and,  finally
tonight, pristine clarity lit by this frail moon
and this multitude of other homes' suns, pinpoints
that shine both on me and on faraway fields and mountains
and meadows with the full force of their  atomic life,
such is all of this
I share with places  and beings I suspect
but cannot imagine

it  is a grand and glorious thing,
this universe of mine,
laid out, in my grandiloquent presumption,
on this early morn for  me  to

it is hard to be humble
when you know
you are part  of  such  a thing
as all of this

Next from Basho's travels

Setting Forth

     On the twenty-seventh day of  the Third Moon, the dawn sky was misty. There was  a wan  moon, and in the faint morning light  I could just make out, in the distance, the summit of Fuji, and nearby, the tops of the cherry trees of Ueno and Yanaka,  Would  I ever see these sights again, I wondered, feeling rather forlorn.
     My closest friends, who had been with us since the night before, came on the riverboat to see us off. We disembarked at a place called Senjy, and my heart was heavy at the thought of the miles that lay ahead.  And though this ephemeral world is but an illusion, I could not bear to part from it and wept.

          Loath to let spring go,
              Birds cry, and even fishes'
                  Eyes are wet with tears.

     I composed this verse as a beginning to my travel diary, and we set off, but our feet dragged and we made little progress. Our friends stood on the road and watched until we were out of sight.

Sometimes it's interesting a truism and a metaphor everyone knows  and turn it upside down just to  see  what  falls  out.

the universal shadow

we live  in the universal
of  God's dark forces

our only ally, the light
of Lucifer,
the snake who taught us
to be human -

over magic;
over ignorance

this is where
we find
our greater humanity...

no new  pope
will ever help us
in our search,
for dark  never
concedes  willingly
to light

which  must  shine
ever stronger  in its
if the shadow  of
God's dark face
is to ever
from it's dominion
over us

God damns the light,
so we must
and protect 

Further along in the travels of Basho.

from Nikko

     On the first day of the Fourth Moon, we paid our respects at Mount Nikko.
     In olden ties, the name of this mountain was written, "Ni-ko," using the Chinese  characters  for "two" and "wild," but when Saint KuKai built a temple here, he changed the characters to "Nik-ko," meaning "sun" and "light." He must have foreseen what was to come a thousand years later, for now the august light of Tokugawa rule illumines the whole firmament, and its beneficent rays reach into every corner of the land so that all the people may live in security and peace.
     I was filled with such awe that I hesitated to write a poem.

          O holy, hallowed Shrine!
             How green all the fresh young leaves
                  In they bright Sun shine!

Actually, it'd be kind of nice  to have some weather around here,  especially if it  had some  rain in it.

I hate writing about the weather  again

I  hate to write
about the weather again,

but there's  so  damn  much
of  it

rain in the desert,

in unsnowy places,
record heats

and record colds
and tornadoes blowing

and twisting
and pound good green

and main streets  and playgrounds

and  thistles
and shamrocks


that's a music program
on NPR

and they don't do tornadoes

just bagpipes
which are the next worse

thing to  twisting and blowing

closely edging out

and good night irenes
and battle hymns of the  republic

experiences to be avoided
at  all  cost

unless it's Flaco Jimenez
doing conjunto and Tex-Mex

and German, Polish, Mexican

you see

even in  the realm of accordions
there  are  gradations

of good and

which  is not  the case
with  tornadoes or bagpipes

and, jeez, I really hate all this
writing about

the weather again
even  if  there  is so damn much of it

Basho's journeys, a life of traveling.

more from Nikko

     I knew someone  who lived in a place called Kuroane in the Nasu district, so we decided to cross Nasu Moor. We took a short cut in the direction of a village we could see far off in the distance, but before we reached the village, it began to rain and night came on. We  spent that night at a farmhouse and the next morning started off again across the moor.
     We came upon a horse  grazing. Nearby, a man was cutting grass and we inquired the way. Although he was a rough country fellow, he was not lacking in kindness.
     "Dear me!" he said, concerned. "This moor  is crisscrossed with paths, and a stranger could easily go astray. Take my horse and when he will go no further, send him back"
     He lent us his mount. No sooner had we set off when two children came running after us. One was a little girl who said her name was Kasane, which meams "Manifold." It was such an unusual and charming name that Sora composed the following lines:

          Were she a flower,
              She would be a wild, fring'd pink,
                  Petals manifold.

     Before long we reached a small hamlet of a few dwellings, and so, tying some money to the saddle,, we  let the horse go to find his way back.

This is another new one from last week.

my poem for today

I'm going
to fix the back fence
today, and the latch on the gate
up front,  and pull some weeds from the places
where weeds are not pleasing
to the eye

might sit by the fire
as I burn some old fence
in my chiminea,
drink coffee or some hot chocolate
or maybe a beer
as I watch the flames
eat away at the
when the fence boards were new,
long  before they were
and pitted with holes
and cracks
and long before I became a factor
in their eventual fiery

and wonder about my own
and burn what fires will I
could be hell
I'm bound for some say or maybe
the center
of a new star  that shines
at night
behind a bright October moon...

and I'll probably take the do
for an extra walk
at the park,
think some more of the fires of hell
and of stars
new bright, their fires fed to  bursting
as my soul and other atomic
remains drift in
to become an  eternal part
of  unending destruction
and rebirth

and probably then
set  aside the fires,
the only sane response
to contemplating the end of  it
which was me,
and take a nap instead and read a silly book
and prepare  some pulled  port and hot French bread
for dinner

and go  to bed early
and maybe dream a little,  maybe
pick up where  I left off
in last night's

all that,
I think, will be my poem
for today

me being me
together with me
all day

sitting by the fire
that will  consume us all
one  day,
like  a dare to the inevitability
of fate

Further along the Basho trail.

Sesshoseki,  or "the slaughter stone"

     We returned to Kurobane and from there we went to see the Slaughter stone of Nasu. (According to legend, when Lady Tamamo, loved by Emperor Konoe was  found to be a fox in human guise and was put to death, her fox-soul turned herself into this noxious stone.)
     The lord's caretaker, my friend Joboji, let us horses for the excursion. The man leading my horse asked me for a poem. What an artistic request for a stablehand to make, I though and composed the following verse for him.

         Turn across the moor,
            O horseman, for i hear
                A cuckoo singing there!

     The Slaughter Stone was in a mountain niche where there was  a hot spring. The stone's poisonous vapors  were as yet unspent, and bees and moths lay dead around in such heaps that one could not see the color of the sand beneath.

The view from an alternate reality.

what the field mice have to say about it

the field mouse
see grandeur
in the spread wings
of the hawk

I think not

the field mouse
sees sharp  talons
and the flesh shedding 
that means death
to field mouse kind

there is not majesty
in the bloody
of himself
or some other brother
he would say

only dull and unimaginative men
see magnificence in such as

Next from Basho.

Saigyo's Willow  at Ashino

     The  poet Sigyo's  weeping willow that grew "Where pure, crystal waters flowed" was in the village of Ashino. There we found it, still growing on a bank between ride paddies.
     Lord Ashino  had often urged me to see this willow, and I used to wonder about it. And now,  there I was, actually standing in the shade of that very tree!

          One whole paddy field
              Was plated ere I moved on
                   From that willow  tree!

Suggesting a terrible  summer is  ahead, it was 95 degrees a couple of days ago, a new record for that date. And no rain, extending an already awful drought, probably at least until next fall.

All one can do is make light of it.

the first short sleeve shirt of spring

I'm wearing
this short sleeve  shirt
it's supposed to hit
90 degrees

my wife
bought the shirt
for out so who is built
like a linebacker
and I'm not, a difference
between us
of some inches across the
chest and shoulders
that she has never really
so the shirts she buys
are usually too small  for him
but perfect for me
so I end up with them
whether I like them
or not

as with this  shirt...

a green-blue checkerdy thing
that looks like a tablecloth at  a St. Patrick day picnic
for the old folks home, a shirt  that
look at me, I'm an
old coot setting-out from the home
to play shuffleboard
or horseshoes with all my old fart friends in ugly shirts
just like mine...

I'd like to be wearing
one of my Hawaiian shirts today,
but they're all packed away
for winter
and WalMart won't get its new  season  supply
of Hawaiian shirts
for a couple of weeks
but I recognize the requirements of reality
so that's why I'm wearing this
shirt that makes me feel like
Shuffleboard Sam, an  old guy
content to spend his days pushing pucks
from one end of a concrete strip
to the other,
instead of a good, flowery
Hawaiian shirt
that makes me want to pick coconuts
at a quiet beach where pretty girls in dental floss bikinis
hang out all around like coconuts
fallen from their trees and  waiting for me to
pick up, whispering  in their small, pink  ears  all about
the wonders of gerontological
sex,  the extreme, lustalicions quality
which makes up for its

the difference in shirts is obvious,
there being hardly ever smooth-skinned girls
in dental  floss  bikinis
hanging around the shuffleboard crew
in their checkerdy shirts
at the old folks

More Basho.

The Shinobu Mottling Stone

      The next day, we went to the village of Shinobu to see the  stone against whose rough naturally patterned surface textiles had been mottled long ago by rub bin fonds of shinobu, or hare's foot fern, over the cloth.
     In a tiny hamlet  at the foot  of a distant hill, we  found the stone, half-buried in the earth. Some village children came and told us that the stone used to be at the top of the hill, but people going to see it kept pulling up barley to try their hand at rubbing, and the farmer's were so annoyed that they dislodged the stone and set it rolling down into the valley. The children said the stone now lay face down. Their story was quite probably true.

          Those hands transplanting rice
             Were printing cloth in olden days!
                  Did they look as nice?

One of the things I have  learned as  I've grown older  is that it is  important  to keep your ambitions in check.

again today
I didn't 
fall out of love
again today
and   I didn't
all the secrets
of life
again today,
but I don't despair
which is one of the
secrets of life
I did  learn again
I  didn't win
the lottery again
or grow taller
or thinner
or  braver
or smarter
once again
of those  things
did  I  do 
didn't out box
the reigning heavyweight
world champ today
ad neither
did  I win the Indianapolis
of those things
did I do again today
I didn't  submit a plan
for world peace
again today
and watch, grateful
tears of joy
in  my eyes, as  my plan
was adopted
unanimously, winning
of  all the varied  diplomats
and dignitaries
they all,
of all the varied nations
on this  small ever-spinning earth,
gathered in a circle
singing kumbaya, dancing
together, Arab and Jew, Shite
and Sunni, evangelical and atheist,
young and old
white and black,
of  healthy body
and interminable pain,
broad minds
and narrow minds,
witty and half -witted,
tall and short, fat and  thin,
thieves and suffers  from theft,
murders and the murdered arisen,
all together in tripsichoric
in death grip entangled,
in forgiving and forgetting,
mercy plead, mercy given,
and all  the oppressors of all the masses
and all the masses,  dancing, all,
in tearful acceptance
of  forgiving and forgetting,
mercy plead and mercy given
I didn't  do that again
but  I have  still  a few  days  left,
who knows
in the meantime,
I did write a poem
again today,
another entry in the log
of a good-time-Charlie's
at a day that counts
for better than
nothing-much to brag about
again today

Basho, like many hermit-poets of his time, spent most of his life traveling, living simply and humbly when he was not.

Obanazawa, or "Pampas Vale"

     At  Obanazawa, we visited a man called Seifu. Although  he  was a rich man, he did not have a coarse manner or vulgar mind. He often went to Kyoto and he knew what it was like to travel. So, he insisted we stay with him for several days to rest from our long journey, and he showed us all kinds of hospitality.

          What a cool summer breeze!
              Here, I make myself at home,
                 Rest, and take my ease.

          Come into the  air!
             Crawl from 'neath the silkworm shed,
                Dear toad, croaking there

          Ladies' power puffs
             Came to my mind when I saw
                 Rouge-flowers in bloom.

          Girls who tend the trays
             Of silkworms, look just like those
                Of the ancient days.

It can be a little scary walking all alone on a dark and stormy morning.

morning before the night things sleep
a sky-mugged
the street cloud-
tangled and flat
under night-cicle
and dank
slippery to  the touch
and quiet
as breath held
till  near bursting
in memory shades
of haunted forest,  black,
trees heavy, low,
and reaching
familiar paths
by mythic shadows
of childhood horror
the low creak
of trees
in sinister
before the night things

Basho's were not all fancy hotels and room service.

Shitomae-no-Seki or "Passwater Barrier"

     The road to Nambu went on, invitingly, even further north,  but we  reluctantly turned and retraced our steps to Iwate Village where we spent the night. the next, passing poetry's Oguro-zaki, "Small Black Promontory," and Mizu-no-Ojima, "the Islet in Midstream," we raced Passwater Barrier. When Yoshitsune's wife gave birth as they fled north together, this was where the newborn babe first passed water. We had come by way of the hot spring at Naruko (Crying Baby).
     We planned to cross over the mountain into Dewa Province. Ours was a road used by few travellers, and the gatekeeper regarded us with much suspicion, but finally allowed us to go on.
     Night overtook us in the mountains, but we found the house of a border guard and asked for shelter. A storm marooned us there for three days, and our mountain sojourn was a miserable one.

          Fleas and lice did bite:
             And I'd hear the horse pass water
                 Near my bed at night.

Apparently there was a last one day in April last year when I felt quite silly, or desperate, often the same thing.

and so:

I see a fella running down the street
flames leaping fiery from his feet

and then:


that's the  reason  I don't try to rhyme
in my poems cause once I get two simple rhymes
in a row, I'm done

by the way, is that  street/feet thing
one rhyme or two)

I don't even  know something as  simple
as that...


thinking about putting the poor poetry bizwacks down
and writing a great novel
like Dostoevsky
but pulling that many words
from just my head is ochen pesky

tiny poems
with just a very few words


"the moon settled
into  a sharp-hawed marsh of lunatic
as I
screamed at the metaphoric
rending  of flesh
and sinew
Feodor forgive me,
and he did, saying, as the moon bubbled
and burped marsh gas
like a diesel truck
idling at Mary Jo's
Gas and Squeeze
similes -


Essential beggars,  Basho and his companion venture on, rarely knowing what they will encounter next.

Tada Shrine

     At Komatsu,  we visited Tada Shrine. There we saw the helmet of the warrior Sanemori and a piece of his brocade armor robe. They are said to have been given to him by Lord Yoshitomo of Minaoto,when Sanemori served with the Genji clan.

It was no ordinary helmet. From  its  peak to the turned-back ear flanges, it was embellished all over with chrysanthemum arabesques in gold. The crest was  a dragon's head, and the helmet had proud and graceful fla, gilded  "horns."
     When Sanemori  was killed in battle, Kiso Yoshinaka sent Jiro of Higuchi to offer these relics to the shrine. All  this is vividly recorded in the shrine's chronicles.

          What a tragic thing:
             "Neath a mighty warrior's helm
                 Grasshoppers chirruping!

Another dark poem from last week, though this one, being ultimately about life isn't so dark in the end.

in a shaded
evening grove
white shadow
white shadow
pale tide
corpse worms
life in the process
of rebirth

There is an epilogue to Basho's. written by Soryu,  a scholar-priest who prepared the final draft for the original addition. Rather than use that here, I have the final of Basho himself as he completes his journey.

from Ogaki

     And now, though I have not yet recovered fully from the fatigue of my journey, it is already the sixth day of the Ninth Moon,  and I wish to go to Ise Shrine to see the ceremony that takes place only once every twenty-one years, when the Deity is transferred to a newly built shrine.So I shall set  off once more in a boat and go to see  the "wedded rocks" on Futami-ga-Ura shore where the clams are delicious, but now,  alas,

          Sadly, I  part from you;
             Like a clam torn from its shell,
                I go, and autumn too.

One must always do one's best to achieve hip-ness. At  least  that's what I was thinking when I  wrote this last  year.

don't expect any hot-diggity dancing

three young women,
great each other
with squeals
and smiles and hugs
and little hot-diggity

used to  be
when  I  was  a kid,
men didn't hug,
even if they were related
and never squealed
or did hot-diggity

men in San Antonio
upon both greeting
and leaving,
except they don't call it
a hug,
they call it an abrazo
which is Spanish
for hug me  and pound me
on the back and go hardy-har-
har with a big smile in your
(but no squealing, ever,
and no hot-diggity dances
unless there is a sombrero

younger men
have taken to hugs,
modified abrazos without mustaches
and with less vigorous back pounding
(but still no  squealing
or hot-diggity dancing) and it seems
to be catching on - just yesterday
I saw two  older,pin-striped business squires
engage in the act right outside the coffee
shop as they departed from a business
meeting,  but that  may be a false reading
since it may be only pin-striped business squires
who have their business meetings at coffee shops
instead of the conference room on the 37th floor
who go in for the hugging and pounding, but
I've always been one for coffee shop  meetings
myself and I feel no  persistent urge
to  hug and pound,  though I did  hug my father-
in-law a couple of weeks ago when he  was  leaving
after a couple  of days of visiting, so maybe I'm slipping
into the hug and pound culture (or full bore abrazo
in his case,since he is  Mexican and has a mustache)
or maybe  not, since I, personally, look silly,
a bit  Ichabod Craneish,  in  fact
with a mustache, and  prefer not
to  present  myself in that manner, so  the furthest
I'll ever go with non-fathers-in-law
is a quasi-abrazo, where upper lip
are not de rigueur, and a fifteen  second,  minimal-pounding
hug qualifies as having done one's humanistic
duty to be open and welcoming to one's fellow
but it may take a while since to this date
I do  not recall ever hugging a non-relative human
of the male spectrum but I have hugged
the other kind who don't have
(not counting Aunt Tildy)
and don't  take well to pounding
so  maybe I could  ease into hugging
men by starting, at first, doing it just like I hugged
Aunt Tildy, with vigorous pounding added to the mix...

so  I'll  see how it works out
and if I should happen to see you and you are male
and I hug you,  please know  that I mean nothing
of an untoward nature to ti, I'm just trying
to adapt to the cultural shifts and the developing
ethos of the new  male in the feminist society
and have no  desire to demonstrate
by my clumsy attempts
at with-it-ness

just don't expect any hot-diggity

(and by the way, ninnyhammer
is and entirely new word for me and I wanted
to  use it even though it doesn't exactly
but I'm used to that)

There is much more to Basho's book and many journeys that I couldn't include here, many more haiku and many more prose observations. In addition, the book that has the whole piece, A Haiku Journey, also includes some individual haiku, illustrated by beautiful color photographs. I can't reproduce the photos here, but I can include the haiku.

          A mound of summer grass:
             Are warriors' heroic deeds
                Only dreams that pass?

          In this hush profound,
             Into the very rocks it seeps:
                The cicada sound.

           The autumn wind blows through
               Little Pines - a lovely name -
                  Bush clover and pampas too.

          How hot the sun glows
             Pretending not to notice
                An autumn wind blows!

          There we did begin
              Cloistered in that waterfall
                 Our summer discipline.

Here's the last  from me  for the week.

Sometimes, you know, you just have to go with what you've got.

when our magic  twanger of  inspiration fails

was thinking
I'd hold  off  on writing  this poem
until some inspiration
stumbled by

but there's the whole issue
of the new ice age
as carbon buids up in the atmosphere
and the magnetosphere
reverses it's spin and the whole world turns
upside down
and all  the other stuff
and appropriate  doomsday

and I  didn't want to end up
dangling upside down,
my participles frosting over
while waiting for said inspiration
to  poke its head,
like Phil whatshisname groundhog,
out its hidie-hole
and present me with the inspiration
to write an A-Number 1 poem
so I thought,
defunct magic twanger of inspiration  be damned,
let's just write the sucker
and see how it turns

and  speaking of ice  ages
I read about the people  who do discovering
discovering a camel fossil
in the arctic,left over from days
when it was cold, but not yet
arcticky,  a camel 9 feet tall
which scares me even more
than dinosaurs because I've never  met
a dinosaur, but  I do have  some experience
with camels, nasty, vicious,  ugly beasts, spitting
and biting without forewarning
and the idea of  a  pack  of 9-foot camels
wandering in my neighborhood
would certainly make me want to move

and I'm thinking
that's maybe what happened
to that ice man, that fella from olden  times
they found encased in  a  glacier
when it started melting,
poor fella, was just minding his own business
when  he ran  across a rampaging  herd
pf  9-foot camels  and said,
holy shit, look at that rampaging herd
of 9-foot camels and, fearless warrior and hunter
that he  was,, found  the better part  of valor
in running away but slipped on the  ice
and fell into the glacier
last known victim of  rampaging  camels
before they fell into the glacier
themselves  and shrunk
into  the regular-sized, though equally vicious
camels that we've  come to  know


just my opinion
of course

That's it for the week.

All the usual cautions apply. All material included in the post remains the property of those who created it. My stuff, though mine, is available for your use if you want it. My only stipulation, please give proper credit to me and to Here and Now.

My next book, New Days and New Ways, is being edited and proofed with an expected publication date of mid-summer. Thinking about an audiobook after that.

In the meantime, I still have these books to sell.

And here's where I sell them:

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


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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Just a Little, Just Once   Wednesday, March 20, 2013

No anthology, just a random bunch of stuff from my library and interesting, I hope, photos.

it's true, cowboys are born and not made

Laura Kasischke
Miss  January
Poem Ending in Lines from Jarrell

the world turned upside down

Mickey Mouse was a Scorpio

I had no idea

Guillaume Apollinaire
At the Sante

weathering the storm

Seamus Heaney
Turpin Song
The Border Campaign

just a little, just once

Frank O'Hara
aus einem April

celebrate the light

Andrew Hudgins
An Old Joke

a wonderful place to grow up in

Alex Stolis
Kate Moss tires of the runway
Peter Dougherty reads to Kate  Moss from The  Book of the Dead
Kate Moss flies first class  to Paris
Blackouts and Epiphanies

I watched the stars
forwarding address

Ku Sang
series Eros I through Eros  IV

sunshine after a stormy night

Short  pieces from the Aztecs

how many ways to describe...

Jim Carroll

dead  yet

Phillip Levine
coming close

what I remember best

Rabindranath Tagore
Day's End

one or the other and sometimes both

John Philip Santos
Muneca de San Angel

trimming your beard: a step-by-step tutorial

Proving no good story can't be made better with a few strategic lies, I have this.

It's based on a true event. But the truth of the story is, it only took me two times, not ten, falling on my ass to give up on my barrel-racing dreams, plus, I continued to ride the horse for another two months, just not barrel-racing.

This  all happened while I was in Peace Corps training in New Mexico in 1964.

it's true, cowboys are born, not made

the barrel races
at the rodeo and thought,
by golly,  that  looks like fun

so I decided to do some of it

I pulled my cowboy boots
out of the closet,
dusted them off, and drove
down to the stables on the Southeast
and told the fella there I wanted to do some barrel-racing

he said,
we've got the barrels,
do you have a horse and I said, no, thought I could use on of yours

ever ridden?
he asked, and I said sure, lots

which was true
except I didn't think to mention
that all the horses I rode were old, broken-down and slow
which maybe I should have
he said, I'll let you use Vulcan,
a little fiery, but an experienced rider like yourself
ought to be able to handle him just fine...

a huge, fire-snorting brute of a horse was Vulcan,
but a damn good barrel-racing horse,
a champion at the game,
got around all three barrels lickety-split,
by himself after the first
cause his full speed 90 degree turn around the barrels
left me some many degrees short...

ten times I tried,
no time did I stay on the horse after the first barrel,
as each time, the horse, old Vulcan, made the turn
and I didn't, ending up on my ass in the dust, the horse,
having made all the barrels, looking back at me
trying to figure out where I had gone

I took the horse, mighty Vulcan, back to the stable guy,
damn fine horse, I said,
a real champion barrel-racer, and thank you for letting me ride him
and for the introduction to the fine game of barrel-racing

but I think I'm going to take up tennis
instead, or
maybe badminton or chess

The first poems from my library this week are by Laura Kasischke, and they are from her book, Lilies Without. The book was  published in 2007 by Asusable Press.

At the time of publication, Kasschke, recipient of many honors and awards, had published four novels and six  books of poetry. She taught at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Miss January

On Friday, I fell - wearing

boots without treads, fell
from the great stupid height of myself. The boots

of a girl in a magazine, in a blizzard, on me. Or

you might say I leapt

from the cliff of myself,

while across the road a farmer
making peace with emptiness in a field
called out to me, and

my son, amused
and afraid at the same tie, asked, Mom,
are you okay?

Of course, I was fine.
Be mirrored, the sky,

below me,  below

the snow
and the dirt
and the seeds
of the pre-
Colombian flowers,
I could hear her clearly:

A woman
in sturdy shoes,

with a broad back (my
new paragon, my

ideal) walking
steadily, chained
to a wheel.

Poem Ending in Lines from Jarrell

This morning, a dead mouse
under the kitchen counter. It had

a postcard of the cosmos in its eye. I was trying,

simple, to take the garage out, but

screamed when I saw it  and  slammed the cupboard shut.

By noon, the light
in the living room
is irrationally bright. The candy dish is full
of small, hard pleasures. I live

in a quiet suburb. The jets

make childish sounds
in the sky. My

book on the couch is a bird in a pond
pushing itself somewhere with one bent wing...but I've

seen snapshots of my own child, wide-eyed , with his

whole life before him, a pinprick

of light in his eye
like an exquisite diamond viewed
fro a dizzying height.

And I've been blinded by it:

If only you knew there was something else, that
a thimbleful of what
you'd been

would continue to exist.

If only you could rise
from death
as you once rose from  sleep, as a child,

and walk through the rooms  at night,  fingering
the things
in the deep blue light, thinking, Who

was my mother before  she was my mother, my
father, the clock? Ticking. The television, off.

this is the imagination's light.Outside,

the trees anesthetized. And the stars
mass silently in the sky.They

said, "Here are the maps";
we burned the city. The people

are punishing the people - why?

Here's an old piece from last year.

the world  turned upside-down

the world
turned upside-down
on the wet parking lot
pavement amid flattened flashes
of passing trucks and buses and
twelve-year-old Buicks
carbon particulates
oh dinosaur friend of mine
oh  ancient tree and brush and flower of min
how good it is to see you again
to this world you left behind
you are
with revenge on your mind

in the non-ancient world
of right-this-minute
the mousy guy with grey hair
and grey Thomas Dewey
and shirt and tie and Mr. Rogers sweater
has taken his regular place
which is standing at  the hostess station
waiting to be directed to his regular place
by the window - never goes there
without being directed, always waits
every morning to be directed to his  booth
like the Great Grand  Duke Fitzwillie
being announced at the Royal Ball - so unsure
I suppose that he dare not move without direction -
but that's not  me, if I know where I want  to go
I go and everyone  else can either
let me go on alone, lead me from behind
or just fuck off

begging for permission
or asking for forgiveness
I'd  rather have something in  my life
worthy of forgiveness
because the world's  upside-down out there
with flat-streaming buses and trucks
and 12-year-old Buicks
belching dinosaur
and if I don't do something about it
who should I be waiting for
to stand up to the task
the Great Grand Duke Fitzwillie
I  don't think so
follow or
etcetera etcetera
(instead of that impolite word again)

got  places to go
things to

Next, I have this poem by Sapphire, from her book  American Dreams published by Vintage Books in 1996.

Mickey Mouse Was a Scorpio

the night was no light,
he came in
light cracking the night
stuck in the doorway
of  dark
deep  hard.
my father,
lean in blue & white striped pajamas,
snatches my pajama bottoms off
grabs me by my little skinny knees
& drives his dick in.
i scream
i scream
no one hears except my sister
who becomes no one cause she didn't hear.
years later i become on one cause it didn't happen
but it's night now & it's happening,
a train with razor blades  for wheels
is riding thru my asshole
iron hands saw  at my knees
i'm gonna die
i'm gonna die
blood, semen & shit gush from my cracked ass.
my mother, glad not to be the one,
come in when it's over to wash me.
she is glad glad,
satanic glad
she brings her hand up from between my legs &
smears shit, semen & blood over my mouth,
"Now she'll know what it's like to have a baby,"
    she howls.
drugged night so black
you could paint with it,
no moon    no stars    no god.
the night stick smashes my spinal cord,
my legs
bleeding bandages of light
fall off.
let me go
let me go
don't tell me about god & good little girls
i want to live
i want to live
my cells  crack open like glass
the bells are tolling for me
my name disintegrates in the night
God's a lie
this can't be true.
mother is house (we have a nice house
California ranch style)
brother is the nail
we drive thru your heart
do it
do it to her, brother.
mouse is in the house
running through my vagina
& out my nose.
saucer-eyed bucktooth child
Betsy Wetsy
brown bones
Tiny Tears
that never dry
hickory dock
the mouse fell off
the clock
the farmer takes Jill down the well
& all the king's horses
& all the king's men
can't put that baby together again.
crooked man
crooked man
pump-kin eater
childhood stealer

I've always been an idea man.

I had no idea!

it's that feeling
of discovery, the new idea,
the concept that will finally explain
love, life,
why a woman can't be
more like a man,
and you shout

then run across a story
in a National Geographic magazine from 1957
that shows your new idea,
the breakthrough insight that will explain
all that has puzzled mankind
since you don't know 
the great concept,
that high point of all the intellectual discoveries
your inquiring mind has ever
searched through
the swirling dark of ignorant night to

all that...

scratched on a cave wall
some 37,000 years

well, hell,
you think,  why didn't anyone ever
tell me that

Here's a poem by Guillaume Apollinaire, one of my favorite French poets and contemporary of my other French poet, Blaise Cendrars. Both considered themselves French, though neither were French born, both served in the first world war and both were seriously wounded.

Apollinaire was born in 1880 and died in 1913 of Spanish influenza in 1918. (Cendrars, born eight years later, lived until 1961. Both centered their lives around the young artists and writers of the Modernist movement in Paris. Apollinaire, along with Matisse, gave cubism it's name. His publications range from poetry to erotic novels to literary criticism.

In 1911 Apollinaire was arrested and jailed in the Sante on suspicion of aiding and abetting the theft of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. He was released a week later after it became known that the thief was a Russian friend to whom he gave shelter. While in jail, Apollinaire implicated his friend Pablo  Picasso who was know to  talk about the need to burn down the Louvre. Picasso was also  released without charges being filed.

I guess if you're thinking you may be facing the remainder of your life at Devil's Island, you can be  forgiven for hyperventilating over a week in the hooskow.

This poem about his time in this notorious French prison is recounted in the collection of his work, Alcools, published in 1995 by Wesleyan University Press. The poems were translated from French by Donald Revell.

At the Sante


Before entering my cell
Myself made naked
I heard ululation
Guillaume what have you become

I am Lazarus entering
Not exiting the tomb
My roundelays farewell
Farewell to time ad farewell girls


I am not what I am
           Any longer
I am number fifteen
           in the Eleventh

Sunlight filters through
           The panes
Across my poetry the light

It dances  on the page
             I hear
Someone stamping


Like a bear in a pit
I pace all morning
Turning  always turning
The sky is as blue as shackles
Like a bear in a pit
I pace all morning


How bored I am between the walls
              Surrounded by whitewash
Parsing my words a fly patrols
               the paper I write on

What will become of me O God you know my pain
              You gave it to me
Pity my arid eyes my pallor
               My shackled chair

And pity all poor hearts that beat in prisons
                And may Love my one companion
Pity above all my failing reason
                As despair moves in


As slowly as a burial
Hours pass

You will mourn the tearful
Hour ended so quickly
As every hour ends


I hear the noises of Paris
A convict without horizon
I see nothing but hostile sky
And the walls of my prison

the day is ending lighting
A lamp in prison
And I am alone with you
Beautiful light Beloved Reason

                                      September 1911

Another from early last year.

weathering the storm

the night

shakes the roof
simultaneous with the strike
of blue-white flash down the street,
all around,
rain pounds the ground
like marble hammers, ice
in the form of pressure pitted
hail slaps the roof
and the window by my bed

the creek rises, almost to my fence,
15 fe3et about its normal

the morning

still falling
hard, streets, aflow
to the curbs, but
no thunder
no lightning
no hail,  a wet
but quiet interlude

I  wear  my old
given to me free,
no immediate charge,
46 years ago, January 11, 1966,
second day of basic
still as good as the day
I got it,
than this storm, stronger
than any storm
for 46 years

I hate it when my clothes
better than I do

Next, I have two poems by Irish poet Seamus Heaney,winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature. The poems are from the book Electric Light, published in 2001 Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Turpin Song

The horse pistol, we called it:
Brass inlay smooth in the stock,
Two hammers cocked like lugs,
Two  mottled metal barrels,
Sooty nostrilled, levelled.

Bracked over the door
Of the lower  bedroom, a ghost
Heft that we longed to feel,
Two  fingers on  two  triggers,
The full o you hand of haft.

Where was the Great North Road?
Who rod in a tricorn hat?
Bob Cushley with his jenner?
Ned Kane in his pony and trap?
The thing was out of place.

When I lift up my eyes at the start
Of Stanley Kubrick's film
A horse pistol comes tumbling
From over the door of the world
And it's nineteen forty-eight
Or -nine, we have transgressed.
We've got our hands on it
And it lies there, broken in bits.
Wind blows through the open hayshed.
I lift up my eyes with the apes.

The Border Campaign

                                  for Nadine Gordimer

Soot-streaks down the courthouse wall, a hole
Smashed in the roof,  the rafters in the rain
Still  smouldering:
                              when I heard the word "attack"
In St. Columb's College in nineteen fifty-six
If  left me winded, left nothing between me
And the sky that moved beyond my boarders' dormer
The way it would have moved the morning after
Savagery in Heorot, its reflection placid
In those waterlogged huge pawmarks Grendel left
On the boreen to the marsh.
                                             All that was written
And to come I was a part  of then,
At one with clan chiefs galloping down paths
To gaze at the talon Beowulf  had  nailed
High on the gable, the sky still moving grandly.

Every nail and claw-spike, every spur
and hackle and hand-barb on that heathen brute
Was like a steel prong in the morning  dew.

Some wait for  inspiration; some search for it. I'm a searcher.

just a little, just once
letting my hair
all long and un-
ruly and my beard too
and my eyebrows
flaring out over my forehead
lie the spread white wings
of a crane gliding over  Oso
it's Tolstoy
I seek to channel,
the great  novelist, the Russian master,
the greatest of them all, Tolstoy,
with his cold, winter eyes
and great heart pulsing
beneath his thick fur robes
for love and for his people and foe
his land, and I'm thinking
if I can get the look
maybe some of his genius
will wear off on me
as well - just a little,
a slight kiss on my forehead
as his spirit passes,
just enough for one tiny little
just a little of his

Here are two poems by Frank O'Hara, from his  collection Meditations in an  Emergency. The book was published by Grove Press in 1957.

Aus einem April

               We dust the walls,
               And of course we are weeping larks
falling all over the heavens with our shoulders clasped
in someone's armpits, so  tightly! and our throats are full.
       Haven't you ever fallen down at Christmas
           isn't that what the tree means? the pure pleasure
of making weep those  whom you cannot move by hour flights!
           It's enough to  drive one to suicide.
And the rooftops are falling apart like the applause

of  rough, long-nailed, intimate,roughened-by-kisses,hands.
Fingers more breathless than a tongue laid upon the lips
in the hour of sunlight, early morning, before the mist  rolls
in from the sea; and out there everything is turbulent and green.


Whole days would go by, and later their years,
while I thought of nothing but its darkness
drifting like a bridge against the sky.
Day after day I dreamily sought its melancholy,
its searching, its soft banks enfolded me,
and upon  my lengthening neck its kiss
was murmuring like a wound. My very life
became the inhalation of its weedy ponderings
and sometimes in the sunlight my eyes,
walled in water, would glimpse the pathway
to the great sea. For it was  there I was being borne.
Then for a moment my strengthening arms
would cry out upon the leafy crest of the air
like whitecaps, and lightning, swift as pain,
would go through me on its way to the forest,
and I'd sink back upon the brutal tenderness
that bore me on, that held me like a slave
in its liquid distances of eyes, and one day,
though weeping  for my caresses,would abandon me,
moment of infinitely salty air! sun fluttering
like a signal! upon the open flesh of the world.

Again,  from last year.

celebrate the light

it is said
by the people
who are presumed
to know
such things
that we creatures
of the light and all that is apparent
to us make up less than five percent
of the universe -
the rest is dark matter
mysterious and unseen, swimming
in a roiling sea of dark enigmatic energy
unfelt by us

(as far as we know
but there is
so much
we do not know)

I read this yesterday
and determined today to fight
the dark and celebrate
the light

I'm not sure how to do that,
the dark being absent from any means
of our knowing and the light

how does one rebel
against the unseen
and forever unknowable...

how does one celebrate
that which cannot
be embraced...

but I do what I can

I smile and not to all I meet
on  the sidewalk
and wave with a friendly
thumbs up
to the cars who pass
and  the unseen
and shake hands
with all I know and say
to  all I don't,  making a friend
of all kinds
present in the light...

I know
the dark will be fading
all around
as the light casts
a widening

it is a faith,
I know,
and I seek to sustain it

Next, a short poem by Andrew Hudgins from his book, The Never-Ending,  published in 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Company. At the time of publication, Hudgins, born in Texas in 1951 and raised in Alabama, taught at the University of Cincinnati. He was runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 and a finalist for the National Book Award in 1991.

An Old Joke

They'd rushed so close to her, their stones
were pelting one another. Christ
pushed roughly through the crowd and shouted,
Let him without sin cast the next stone.
The crowd paused, thinking. Then out of nowhere,
out of the shuffling,  silenced crowd,
one stone flew, hit the woman. She dies.
And  in the joke I started out to tell,
Christ  looks into the crowd and howls,
Goddammit, Mother - that's not  funny!

But I  have sinned enough to understand
it wasn't she, not Mary. It was the man
who still had  love's scent on his flesh,
love's fragrance on his  hands, as he selected
one stone, weighed it, thought twice, three times
then threw - and baffled Christ, who thought
it was his  perfect mother, correcting him.

Here's another from a couple of weeks ago.

a wonderful world to grow up in
a baby when FDR died,
I grew up in the culture of Harry Truman
and Ike, when politicians didn't lie,
and mother's loved their babies and
dads didn't cheat on moms and taxes
were where they were meant to be and
cigarettes were good for you
and gas was going to last forever
and sell for 19 cents a gallon through
eternity and priests
didn't rape children and popes didn't
protect priests who raped children
and children wore blue jeans rolled
up at the ankle, a broad white stripe
about the legs at the ankles and
workingman dads work khaki pants
and khaki shirts
and sometimes Bermuda shorts
with short white socks and thick-soled
work shoes and women wore hats
to  church on Sunday and dads
wore their only suit on Sunday,
double-breasted, bought
in 1947 after the war
when a man could feel good about
dressing up  on Sunday in his
blue suit and white shirt
and necktie and shiny dress
shoes, like the suit, the only pair
in his closet, and little kids
went to little schools where they
worked on the ABC's and arithmetic
and cursive and were graded
on penmanship  and learned to read
stories about a little girl
in China who  wore
red shoes and little trains
they knew they could climb
the hills, and did it, by golly,
just like little white children
can do great things
if they just don't give up,
by golly
a wonderful world
to grow up
and the fact that most of it
was lies
doesn't  make  me miss  it
any less

Next I have  several short poems from my poet friend, Alex Stolis, from his chapbook Savage Beauty, published last year by Scar Publications. The central, often only, character in this series of poems is the model Kate Moss.

Kate Moss tires of the runway

She is tired of stars, the sun, the boring moon.
Prefers sand, silt and mountains;

cool streams for bathing. Wishes for a wayward
breeze to dry her hair;

dyes it brown then blonde then back again.
Her body feels a shimmer

of light, she can feel the shape of his heart
in ever beat of her own.


There  is the anticipation of road trips
mixed with the leftovers from last night:

albums gone sleeveless,
bra  ad pants,
loose change and dishes in the sink.

Curtains shimmy to the pop and hiss
of Exile on Main Street.

The skyline breaks at  the same time side one
skip-bumps to a stop.

The open window is a promise, the asphalt

Everything but sin burns at the right temperature.

Peter Dougherty reads to Kate Moss from The Book of the Dead

There is a dead bee on the sill. I want to believe it died
of old age. Want to believe a breeze will blow in 5the room
that will have power  to heal my wounds. I am your sculpture
with chipped mouth, glazed eyes, ready to listen, ready
to have the bits of my life swept under your bare feet.

Kate Moss flies first class  to  Paris

She likes the colors.
Likes that they're with clouds.

And come from rain.
The wind is pure of eye and graceful.

Thunder arrives on schedule.

The earth is illuminated and hungry.
She feels a chill;
wonders if she is real.

Blackouts and Epiphanies

She watches
a piece of the sky fall to earth.

It's picked up by a bird.

She feels what a warm breeze might feel like
if she were outside,
if she were in her sundress,
if it were a day in June.

A child pulls a red wagon across the street.
Desire is a memory.

The horizon is a crooked line.

The child's mother runs into the street
takes the child's hand, leads them back
to the house.

There is a flash of silver in the bird's beak
as she lands in the nest.

The wagon tips.
The child begins to cry.

Here's a couple of shorts from last year.

I watched the stars
watched the stars
last night,
in the black and bottomless sky,
below them
the moon
silver bright
through  the hours
of  deepest night
fell asleep last  night
beneath a canopy of sprinkled stars
forwarding address
I'm wearing my
today, the one with flowers
with a name I don't  remember but which
persons of a Hawaiian persuasion
would recognize immediately
no birds,
which I consider a constitutional;
but then I'm only
the forwarding address  of Spring
not the one  who runs
the show

Here is a four-poem series by Korean poet Ku Sang. It is from the collection of his work, Wasteland  of  Fire. Published by Forest Books in 1989.

The poems were translated from Korean by Anthony Teague.

Born in Seoul in 1919, the poet also lived in North Korea  and has the distinction of having been imprisoned for his writings and political activity by the governments of both the North and the South.

Eros I

A torso like a ripe peach.

A butterfly fallen
drunk  in ecstasy on a flowery tomb.

A tongue with the perfume of melons.

A seagull plunging
into blue waves that flash white teeth.

In a gaze fixed on the distant horizon.

A roe deer
drinking at a secret  spring in a virgin forest.

Abyss of Eros,
beauty of original sin.

Eros II

The purring cat's
deceitful, mysterious face.

Venus' neck
spun about with hempen locks.

On breasts of velvet
the imprint of a hawk's claws.

An hour-glass navel.

Buttocks the smooth bottom of a wooden bowl,
secret flesh of tree-trunk thighs.

The narrowing rapids of a rendez-vvous,
a grassy bank aflame on a spring day.

In primitive darkness,
beneath an azalea-cliff blanket
a naked woman
on a foaming, lapping wave-white sheet
joins her arms
like the cords
that criminals are bound with


the cooing of doves.

Breath-taking moment, oh, mystic ritual!

Eros III

I draw in empty space.

That face,
that voice,
that smile,
those thighs,
but  that love
cannot be drawn.

Things drawn in the heart
may not be given form.

Eros IV

With the same hand
that caressed her naked body
I stroke my grey beard.

Passions faded into pale silver...

that loving, riding the bucket,
has been drawn up to the heavens.
Henceforth, all those times and places
are one with Eternity.

We finally had some rain, didn't last long but it was hard enough to wake me up at 1 a.m. to watch it come down.

And a beautiful day after.

sunshine after a stormy night

in the sunshine
after a night of pouring rain

the air cool and dry

the sun making it hard to see
my laptop screen,
reminding me how it looks
like the windshield on a 49 VW I had
that seemed to collect bug-splats
from every bug in a fifty foot radius of the
highway, reminding me how much
I need to clean my laptop  screen, though much too late for the VW
long since turned back into pig iron, a pre-toaster or grand girder
off a mighty skyscraper, though it chugs along still
in my memory, my old
VW I'm talking about  now,
which reminds me how hard it is
to remember such a beautiful day
as this day I sit in, cool and dry, in the sunshine
escaped from from a stormy night

Here are a couple of  poems by Jim Carroll, from  his book, Void of Course, published by Penguin Books in 1998.


The wide Mojave sky dark
And vain as my heart tonight
Walking back by the feel
Of the blacktop under foot

What's that desert fragrance
That lights the 4 A.M. sky
With a shampoo green glow?

Is that a coyote eye

Or a tail reflector that bumped loose
From an old English racer?

Which are popular on the reservation
But never last long

There weren't made for this landscape


One morning if she were
Beside me waking
The gull-shaped air sulks
Through the window

Her  bridal breath thawing out my ear
That was the year Winter kept repeating
Like a devious cassette

All this diligent rage  this bent vanity would be left  behind
Then I'll sort out the memories like fish-tank rocks across a carpet

I'll see the penitential  birds
Of  prey descend on night and my life
                                            Above the lone  eucalyptus

I learned the rules  of my corruption in the country
I loved  it there the light  like tender flesh
I remember  logs green paint chips everything was  freshly knit

                       Was later knighted by the queens
Of here and there and  in  time
Chose the one had the vail  the vows
                                                            Which failed

The lifting another blanket
I uncovered a simpering cunning child
Who over years inserted  longing like opals in my kidneys
Until I sweated her  away like addiction
Inside the dolphin-colored room
And finally I faced an untutored sky

No longer
Messing about with the mysteries     but meditated instead
On love itself here  as gone as will be willed again

2012 again, early in the year.

how many ways to describe...
how many ways can you describe
a sunrise red and raging
through early morning
a green pasture,
a herd of deer
and their long shadows
the sleepy-eyed
hell-bent to crack
his daily egg
of labor,
the waitress
at the diner, coming
in for her morning shift,
feet already sore,
smile  still
in the making,
thick-wrapped against  the too-early
chill of a night like a horse
skittery and
not yet full broken
any ways
to  describe the fade
of pale night  shadows,
the moon, white like a button,
in decline, big sister sun
still but a hint of the fierce light to come
soon, the full force of its
exploding atomic pile still
banked by the blazing
horizon, our world afire
on it's  eastern margin,
again, again,
as day life stirs and night life
how does
one describe all this again,
the magnificent everything again,
like yesterday,
like the day before,
like tomorrow, we hope,
but cannot know...
is this one way?
if not,
I'll try again tomorrow

Next I have something a little different from The Steel Cricket: Visions  1958-1997, a collection by Stephen Berg, widely known as a translator and poet in his own right. The book includes both categories of poems. It was published by Copper Canyon Press in 1997.

For this post, I have chosen some short pieces from the Aztecs.

Who would have thought the Aztecs would be so into flowers, although, considering their environment, flowers must have been everywhere.

which flower
should I believe in
born here
O first one
which gift
in the place where both sides are


with ropes of flowers
our flowers are braided together
beautiful is your word
you breathe it here O first one


open your heart like the flowers
I want to live near your heart
you hate me you prepare my death
now I am going to your house
you should cry for my tears
you should own my sadness
Oh, my friend but
I am going I am going to your house


so many wings come here
dripping honey
and speak here
in your house Oh


it is so hard
to  live like this!
no happiness on the earth
for me


we live on earth
here we  are
over  there  ones without bodies
in your house
here home between
a little while only


only with our flowers can we find  pleasure
only with our sons does our sadness dissolve


until today my heart was happy
I hear this song I see a flower
if only they would never  wither


in god's house
I was born for nothing
for nothing I am leaving the  earth


do  you exist do you really exist
sometimes I have gone looking for you
Oh for whom do you live
do you exist do you really exist
this is what we say
don't break our hearts again


I begin to sing
I lift high
the song for you
through whom everyone lives


and something a  little different from the rest - a different face of the Aztec

on  the edge of war near the bonfire
we taste knowledge

This doesn't qualify as much of a poem, but I read about the subject and thought it was amazing and worthy of commentary.

The scientist studying this is primarily interested in what is usually called "near death" experiences (white light, etc), but which he thinks should be more properly called "after death" experiences since they occur after what is commonly considered dead. He is interested in study of these experiences and considers the extension of time after death for successful resesucitation that is gained by extending cell  life after all else is dead an opportunity for extended study of those who have the experience.

dead yet?

cell death
is what happens
after  every other part
is dead

and it turns out
that you can delay cell death
by as much as hours
so that those other dead parts
can be brought back
to life

cheat death?

well, yes, it
can be
and has been done -
eight hours
and brought back to

and the walking
will soon be

From What Works Is, a collection of poetry by National  Book Award winner Philip Levine, I have the next poem.

Levin is known for his poetry's attention to the working man and woman, but in this poem seems patronizing one such working woman. He seems to see the woman as a victim. I do not. Having spent more than thirty years helping people desperate for work, I think I know the mind of the woman better than the poet. Her question is not, as he suggests, why do I have to work so hard, but, instead, her question is more likely to be, am I getting properly and fairly paid for the hard work I do, and if I'm not, what can I do about it.

The book was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1997.

Coming Close

Take this quiet women, she has been
standing before a polishing wheel
for over three hours, and she lacks
twenty minutes before she can take
a lunch break. Is she a woman?
Consider the arms as they press
the long brass tube against the buffer,
they are striated along the triceps,
the three heads of which clearly show.
Consider the fine dusting of dark down
along the upper lip, and the beads
of sweat that run from under the red
kerchief across the brow and are wiped
away with a blackening wrist and
in one odd motion a child might make
to say No! No! You must come closer
to find out, you must hang your tie
and jacket in one of the lockers
in favor of a black smock, you must
be prepared to spend shift after shift
hauling off the metal trays of stock,
bowing first, knees bent for a purchase,
then lifting with a gasp, the first word
of tenderness between the two of you,
then you must bring new trays of dull,
unpolished tubes. You must feed her,
as they say in the language of the place.
Make no mistake, the place has a language,
and if by some luck the power were cut,
the wheel slowed to a stop so that you
suddenly saw it was not a solid object
but so many separate bristles forming
in motion a perfect circle, she would turn
to you and say, "Why?" Not the old why
of why must I spend five nights a week?
Just, "Why?" Even if by some magic
you knew, you wouldn't dare speak
for  fear  of her laughter, which now
you have anyway as places the five
tapering fingers of her filthy hand
on the arm of your white shirt to mark
you for your own, now and forever.

Here's a piece I wrote early last year about a couple of days in mid-winter, 1964.

what I remember best

I remember best
is not the hard climb around
rocks in the early stages, or the
harder climb as we reached the steep
mid-level range of the mountain, or the
December cold or the waist deep snow as
we pushed toward the crest, or the slow walk
though snow-topped trees to reach the clearing
where we would spend the night on the ground, in a
bed of fallen

our last night on the trail

what I remember best is waking to the scent of pine and coffee,
boiled over a morning  fire, water from melted snow,  freeze
dried coffee from our packs,  the air,  thin, cold,new,
distant from oppressive desert-city smog below,
and the sky, diamond blue and clear, the air
the cold, the sky stirred in my memory
even these fifty years later by every
cold, clear, blue-sky morning
that finds me here,
so far so  long

and the hike back down the mountain, a long
line of us down the mountain,  spaced
yards apart  as we walk, each of
us seeking a solitary place
as the sad weight of
communion done

Next, I have a piece by Rabindranath Tagore from the book Selected Poems. The book was published by Penguin Poetry in this edition in 1994.

Tagore (1861-1941) was prolific and innovatory as a poet, novelist, dramatist, musician, painter, a leader in India's nationalist movement and intimate of Gandhi, and widely proclaimed as India greatest writer of the 20th century.

The  poems in the book were translated by William Radice.

Day's End

Day's end has come, the world is darkening -
       It  is too late for further sailing.
On the bank, a girl                             I ask her with a smile,
        "On whose foreign shore am I landing?"
She leaves without a word,                her head bowed,
         Her full water-jar overflowing.
                  These steps will be my mooring.

On the forest's thick canopy shade is falling,
        I find the sight of this country pleasing.
Nothing stirs or moves                       neither water nor leaves,
        Birds throughout the forest are sleeping.
All I can hear                                      is a bracelet on a jar
        Down the empty path, sadly tinkling.
            I find this gold-lit country pleasing.

A golden trident  of Siva glitters,
         A distant temple-lantern glimmers.
A marble road                                    gleams in the shade,
         It is sprinkled with fallen bakul-flowers.
A row of roofs                                    lurk amidst groves,
         At the sight, my travellers heart quivers.
               A distant temple-lantern glimmers.

From the king's far palace the breeze brings a melody,
        It floats through the sky, a song in rag Puvi.
The fading scene                                 draws me on -
        I feel a strange detached melancholy.
Travel and exile                                  lose their appeal,
        Impossible hopes no longer call me.
               The sky resounds with rag Puvi.

On the forest, on the palace,night is descending -
        It is too late for further sailing.
All that I need                                     is a place for my head,
        And I'll end this life of buying and selling.
As  she winds her way                        she keeps her eyes low,
        The girl with the jar at her hip, overflowing
                 These steps shall be my mooring.

Stray thoughts early in the morning.

one or  the other and sometimes both
the yellow light
of new day
overtakes the
new gray light of dawn
the daily transition
from dark
to bright realities
some choose the one;
some the other
choose different
every day
I'm one of those
this morning I go
but the dark
may pull me in again
I live a life
of sometimes
and sometimes dark
a person like
of the night and
the day
a creature
like you
of moods and dispensations
today I join you
I repeat myself,
for the bright being bright
needs no saying
only  the dark assumes
a need

My last poem this week from my library is by John Phillip Santos and is from his book, Songs Older Than Any Known Singer,  published in 2007 by Wings Press of San Antonio.

Santos recently returned to his hometown of San Antonio after twenty-one  years in New York. A freelance filmmaker, producer, journalist and writer, his work focuses on issues of media, culture and ethnic identity. A former executive producer and director of new program development for Thirteen/WNET, he also produced over 40 documentaries for CBS and PBS, two of them nominated for Emmy Awards.

Santos was the first Mexican-American Rhodes scholar to study at Oxford where he earned degrees in English Literature and Languages. He also earned degrees in Philosophy and Literature at the University of Notre dame. He is a recipient of the Academy of American Poet's Prize at Notre Dame and the Oxford prize for fiction and, at time of publication, was a Visiting Fellow  at the Watson Institute for  International Studies at Brown University.

His 1999 family memoir, Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Muneca de San Angel

Working the squeezebox behind the wheel
watching a western in his small room in coatepec
she was  partly of that world, tropical and ancient
and her laughter was all tamarind and mischief

(Blood clotted with mixiote and chile)

From a fatherless clan, left to the streets, taken in
by pirates, petty thieves, slick-haired vatos
who separate decent folk from their money

Hawking tamales by the ruins
where all I can offer her is the way back
how to find the centripetal center
past the turning vastness
of avenidas, plazas,  perefericos.
A woman whose breath was pure ether
of another woman's whole chemistry.

Walk a lament without words.
Let it rotate slowly through the four houses
of blood, breath, bone and song.

Waking to bugles when la guardia came out
to raise the colors, and the streets still full of haze.

The viejo of ninety years, pariente
in denim jacket, turning over dirt
on his third wife's grave,  sinking from heavy rains.

He dreamed with us, praying all along:
Machete. Vanilla. Honey and ash.
Totonac. Olmec. Mexica. Chichimeca.
Tzopantepec. Xicochimalco. Ixhaucan.
Ayahualulco. Jalapa. Zempoala. Cholula.

Rotating, turning slowly, toward the next eclipse.

I try to include some educational content in every Here and Now post.

Here's this week's.

trimming your beard: a step-by-step tutorial

step 1.

shampoo your beard thoroughly,
insuring that  any temporary residents
are evacuated

step 2.

dry your beard thoroughly,
blow dryers are helpful in the stage
of the process

step 3.

adjust your electric beard trimmer
to the appropriate setting
to  insure the length beard
you want

step 4.

run the electric trimmer
over all portions of your beard,
making sure to reach those parts
not easily accessible

step 5.

to insure an even beard length
after completing the initial trim,
trim a little more off the right side
of your face
to  match the length on the left side
of your face

step 6.

trim  a little more off the left  side
of your face
to match the length on the right side
of your face

step 7.

trim a little more off the right side
of your face
to match the length on the left side
of your face

step 8.

trim a little more off the left side
of your face
to match the length on the right side
of your face

step 9.

repeat the above sequence
27 times

step 10

rinse your razor in warm water

step 11

shave the remaining
from your face

step 12.

congratulate yourself
on having
achieved an even trim

That's it for the week.

All the usual cautions apply. All material included in the post remains the property of those who created it. My stuff, though mine, is available for your use if you want it. My only stipulation, please give proper credit to me and to Here and Now.

My next book, New Days and New Ways, is being edited and proofed with an expected publication date of mid-summer. Thinking about an audiobook after that.

In the meantime, I still have these books to sell.

And here's where I sell them:

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


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


at 10:47 PM Anonymous Marie Gail said...

Nice work as usual, Allen. The black-and-whites are stunning.

at 10:13 PM Blogger mittens said...

Love the site, the simplicity of it, and the content. Your blackand whites are most evocative, and your own poems (which at this hour did not get the read they deserve) are in some cases most poignant and in other had me in gales of laughter. Loved the barrel rider.

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