76 Trombones   Wednesday, May 08, 2013


My daily coffeehouse being right on the parade route, I had a front row seat at the Battle of the Flowers parade, one of eleven parades associated with Fiesta here in San Antonio.

I took a couple of hundred pictures - the trick for this post was to pick just a few that illustrated all  the parts of a parade, the floats, the pretty girls, the horse companies (this being Texas, there were about fifteen of them), the bands (as an old tuba player, a plentiful representation of tubas was required), reminders that this is about Fiesta in a bi-cultural city and, of course, the spectators, often the most entertaining aspect of a parade.

I haven't had time to process all I saw yet, so there's no parade poems. Maybe later.

I do have poems from anthology I like. The anthology, Crossing the River, Poets of the Western United States, was published by The Permanent Press of Sag Harbor, New York in 1987. It was edited by Ray Gonzalez. It includes many of my favorite poets, as well as some good poets I wasn't  previously familiar with, so you can be sure I'll be coming back to in in future posts.

Also,  as is usually the case,  I have additional poets from my library.

All together, this is what I have for readers this  week.

Jack Heflin
Good News
winter postcards
Annamaria Ferramosca
I Watch Water
above it all
Rosemary Catacalos
post-it note
tiny bites
red grill
Julianne Seeman
the Poet Considers the Man in Her Kitchen
a Sunday talk show on NPR
Naomi Shihab Nye
When the Flag Is Raised
Monday morning
Ursula K. Le Guin
II. Aruba
III. the Coup  de Grace
VI. The Silence of the Mountain
X. Nobody
ever  the disbeliever searches for belief
Jim Simmerman
Ricky Ricardo Drinks Alone
sun after rain
Brigit  Pegeen  Kelly
Distractions of Fish and Flowers in the Kill
Jimmy Santiago Baca
approximately excellent
David St.  John
center of the universe

Here's my first poem after returning from our mountain drive-around.


outside,  Bella asleep at my feet
after her regular  morning portion
of turkey sausage

deer graze on the meadow
across the way,
breakfast al fresco, just like me...

a sense of  contentment,
rare for me,
slows the world
to an acceptable  crawl,
time passing
an old man's desire
satisfied, moments stretched,
each long moment
more  time
before the call comes
to wrap it all  up and return
to my former  self
as dust of this  earth, to the day
I will fly again
to the sky, to the moon, to the stars
that were the first mother an father
to me, virgin birth,
as we all pass through the birth canal
of infinity before finding
a resting place
in our birth mother's womb,
and we are born and for years, too few for some,
never enough for any,
we rest in our animate form until the call comes
to fly away again, to burn and be reborn

the randomness of life and death,
coming from accidental collisions
all  around,
returning in time,
to those same mysterious
corners from whence
we came

Here's my first poem  from the anthology of the week,  Crossing the River - Poets of the Western United States.

The poem is by Jack Heflin, a graduate of the writing program at the University of Montana in Missoula. A frequently published poet, he teaches at a small college in Monroe, Louisiana.

Good News

Somewhere north of Redwing, Minnesota
our train bridges a snow-crusted secret
whose waters go unspoken till  spring.
Ahead, the tracks lead over a marshland
and above the bluffs
I watch a last shield of sunlight
break into roses over the frozen cushions
of cattails dimpled with snow.
An eagle, dreaming of spangled trout,
floats southward on a freezing wind.

As if it had  been waiting all day
darkness  wades into the valley
delivering the same moon,
thought tonight it is only the torn edge
of an envelope  that one has  opened
and read good  news.

I've talked to no one for twelve hours
but if I spoke  now, I  could say nothing wrong.
Huddled around red fires lighting the river,
the shadows of fishermen grow into
the shadow off forests back of the ice.
Curled and rocking I listen to the low talk
of the mother and child behind me. Her voice
is the snow thrown upward past my window.
It's no  a bird, love, it's the moon.

First this week from my first eBook, Pushing Clouds Against the Wind, I have several short poems.

winter postcards
white horse
on a white field
enclosed by a white fence
i am blinded
by the
on white paper
bright red
like an apple
on a bed of snow
blue eyes
under clear
on cut
a pewter
roll across the floor


Here are two poems from my library. They are by Italian poet Annamaria Ferramosca and are from her book, Other Signs, Other Circles. The book was published by Chelsea Editions in 2009. It is a bilingual book, Italian and English on opposite pages,  translated by Annamaria Crowe  Serrano.

Originally from Puglia, Ferramosca lived in Rome at the time her book was published. She is the author of four poetry collections and is the recipient of many awards, including the Premio Internazionale Forum, The Hague, 2003, and the Paremio Astrolabio in 2006.


Will it be enough to pic up the thread again. Ariadne,
after the drunkenness, and keep walking?
Will it be enough  to feign deafness
if time  dulls that boom
to a hum?
"Follow the thread - you say -
and continue your dance

Naked, as if you were being reborn, and even
drunk, as you are, deadening memories"

The thread slips away, without an anchor
of benevolent stars, and gets entangled
Maybe I've always been dressed
in a tenuous plan that wavers

If you find me, don't say it
My name
has taken refuge in a dovecot

I Watch Water

I watch water. I  learn
how  to evaporate,
how exuvia are abandoned.
The pile lies in a corner:
the salt of the earth (water is ironic)

The wise god of water
was undulating like a snake
nurturing the reeds
together with the fish
And a man too, unawares, was leeching off him.
It's a technique that only a god can master,
but which leaves no room
for plastic perversions.

How knowledgeable water is
when it coveres the forehead
in beads of fear,
before we commit,
before we speak.

Here's another new thing from last week.

above it all
a storm last night
left the streets
glistening in new day's
light,  the air sweet and cool...
the sun  rises red
and orange...
from the heights, the buildings
downtown poke through
thick white fog, like tall Indians
wrapped in white  blankets
and about it all, still, the moon,
bright and round
against the blue morning sky,
its mountain peaks,
dark like lakes,
shadow the

My second poet from the anthology, Crossing the River - Poets of the Western United States, is Rosemary Catacalos.

Catacalos was a 1984 recipient of the Texas Institute of Letters Award and, in that same year, received the annual Dobie-Paisano Fellowship. At the time the anthology was published, she was Literature Director at the Guadalupe Arts Center in San Antonio, but is no longer listed on their staff.


I am drunk and alone again
in your house,
this place with so many mirrors.
You have gone for food,
leaving me helpless against
these reflections on all sides.
Everywhere the air
is covered with our imprint,
with what is forbidden
and also what is not forbidden.
I can only give in
and try to write this.
A stranger arrives
and sits in the next room
wondering why I won't speak.

All I have ever
been trying to do is speak.
It's just that sometimes
I'm an angel
with far too many names.
They clog my lungs and tongue
with  their possibilities.
They keep me in a room apart.
The set me spinning into mirrors.
They names you call me by.
Sister. Lover. Teacher.
The names others
have given me.
Our Lady of the Miraculous Hands.
Our Lady of the Tainted Corners of Time.
Our Lady of the One Word
     We all Know But Cannot Say.
Mother of the ferocious Teeth.
Mother of the Six Seeds of Spring.
Mother of Hearts Waiting
     By the Sides of All Roads.
Ariadne of the Treacherous Thread.
Ophelia Who Died for Our Sins.
Phoenix. Venus.
Even just plain Demetres' daughter.
I have answered
to all these names and more.
And there are others still to come.

I suppose there is no reason
to say these things.
Except this house
is so full of mirrors.
And a stranger has  arrived
and sits in the next room
wondering why I won't speak.

Here are some more short poems from Pushing Clouds Against the Wind, my first eBook. The poems were  written over  a couple of years, years when, it seems I often wrote more shorter pieces than I do  now, not, I'm afraid, because I have more to say now than I did then, but because it just takes me longer to say it.

The short poems  include barku (a for I invented) and a  series I called "Post It  Notes." As  well as just regular  old short  poems  of no particular style or description  beyond short.

i love
in little
flashes of
sticky note
in twos
and threes
i  listen
i write
tiny bites
at  a shell-white
takes tiny
spits them
with  every
crowd murmurs
in a large room
of stories
into  random
word  pieces
lonely whistle
in the dark
little bird
sun lies low
behind  scrub branches
yellow jigsaw
at end of day
red grill
red grill
on a field
of brown leaves
autumn come
and almost gone  with summer
the long wait
for spring

Next, I have a poem from another anthology in my library. The book, North of Wakulla, an  Anhinga Anthology, was published in 1989 by Anhinga Press. An anhinga is a bird native to warmer climates. Maybe you knew that, but I didn't.

The poet is Julianne Seeman. Living in Seattle at the time of publication, she was winner of the 1988 Anhinga Prize for Poetry.

The Poet Considers the Man in Her Kitchen

I would have preferred sleep
dreamless, without words,
a soft grey blanket to slip my
heart into,

but there your are in my kitchen
and the sound of your voice
in the dark space behind
the drone of my typewriter.
At the counter, my french chef knife
in your hand, you methodically
slice tiny slivers of rhubarb
you have just picked
from my garden.

Red juice stings the cuts
on your fingers, and you say
you will have to add a great deal
of sugar. I should have

known  better the first time.
Any man who makes a woman pies
when he should be building
a house or writing a book.
And the way you handle that knife
at the edge of your skin
like you know what you're doing,
the way your voice measures

the air. But love is something
else. And this is my kitchen. You
are just another man, and
of course, I am a liar. "Smile,"
you say. "You work too hard.
Try the rhubarb."

Sometimes I get bored with the simple stuff I usually write an want the challenge of writing something complicated in poetic form.

a Sunday talk show on NPR

a Sunday talk program
on NPR:

is there a single universe,
our own,
or is our own ust one
of many,  part of a multiverse,
many universes, an unending supply
of universes,
as far as our limited  capacity
can  tell,
all different,  our good fortune to be in one
with rules that allow our  stars
to shine, our planet  to  circle
its own bright sun, our earth to provide
means for us all and all we know

could there be others
so  fortunate?

surely so,  even as some
even today
are sure it was all made for us,
it cannot be so, for
in an unending supply of possibilities
there is bound to more of us,
not just the human us,
but the us of all

we are not so special
as to the one
and only


and the scientists ask,
in this multiverse,
were there  simultaneous,  inter-dimensional
big bangs across a space and time
so vast as to be a mystery
even to gods were
there some,
creating all universes
at once?

(does "space" and "time" exist
only in our own
neighborhood,  or  do the rules
of such exist across all

or did  it all begin
with a single  universe,  a matriverse
from whose womb
all  universes  were born?


one scientist
that this is all unknowable,
that there are truths that are and will always be
beyond us

the other  scientist
all is knowable,
the all-known built as each part of it
becomes known,
and we will, he says,  finally,
know it all


this one, more philosopher
than scientist,
all  is knowable  but that doesn't mean
we  will be  long enough
to  know  it

in his  70 decade,
this one  says
he learns  a little more each day
of the mysteries
of the heart,
knowing when his time comes
many mysteries
will remain

just  as he  knows
that  all  the mysteries of the universe
remain to be known
and  that  we  will know as much
as can be learned
when our time in this grand scheme
of things is done...

but,  still, all is knowable,
and, with the unbelievably vast
possibilities,  some day, some  creature
in some place and time we cannot know
will  know it all

and,  as the ancients foretold,
all known, all will end

From  the anthology, here's a poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, another San Antonio poet, my favorite, in fact.

When the Flag is Raised

                                         For Judith McPheron

Today the vein of sadness pumps
its blue wisdom through this room and
you answer with curtains. A curtain lifts
and holds itself aloft.

Somewhere in Texas, a motel advertises
rooms for "A Day, Week, Month, or Forever."
The melancholia of this invitation
dogs me for miles.
Sometimes I  lie in bed reading biographies,
traveling one paragraph three times
to feel its graceful turns and glides.
Naturally all other lives feel
more solid and trustworthy
which is the great stupidness
of my kind of animal.
Nothing is ever the same because
no one else is there either.
I go to the sink, splash water on my face.
In the morning sailors in sailor suits
park their cars in front of my house
and march around the block.
It is like we love on different shores.

More than anything I honor how some voices
raise a flag, even if the sinking country
will stay whole. when we reconsider
our own vanishing measures of air,
when the great loser of the heart
subtracts another odyssey stitching itself
a new garment of pink skin,
the flag is above us, waving without urgency,
waving like the word "remember"
triggers the tongue.

I will remember how I woke with your voice
filtering other voices, steadily penetrating
the walls, saying, Traveler, saying, Take Note,
so I was packing the small bag from the beginning again
as if any one could use it.
Now it was breath and needle,
the impeccable fine print of leaves.
We were leaving the grip of silence behind us.
There were so many people we needed to see.

Here's another poem from Pushing Clouds  Against the Wind.

I am currently on my my 83rd 30-day sequence of daily poems. And it's no easier now than it was several years back when I wrote the first one.

Monday morning

10 a.m.

nowhere to go
and i decide
to write my poem
for the  day
but wait
i'm not desperate
enough yet
and eureka
i think
there's my poem
all about it
philosophical cultural
psychological ramifications
and so on
but that goes  nowhere
since it turns out
i'm still not desperate
enough to write
even  about desperation


Here are a couple of short poems by Ursula K. Le Guin, from her book Incredible good fortune. The book was published by Shambhala Publications in 2006.

The selected poems are from a section of the book titled, Notes from a Cruise (Port Canaveral  to Astoria  via the Panama Canal April and May 2003).

II. Aruba

Twenty by six flat miles wide.
Fancy hotels, resorts and such.
What grows that hasn't  halfway died
is scabbed and spiky to  the touch.
The Spanish,  French, and British tried,
gave up, and left it to the Dutch
to  slave and mine and process  oil.
There really wasn't much to spoil.

III. The Coup de Grace

The frigate  bird with forked tail
and the majestic pelican
soar, and flash down from full sail
to persecute the fishy clan.
The beauty of their greed I hail,
their splendid difference from Man.
No clumsy primate feeds his face
in such a stunning act of grace.

VI. Antigua: The Silence of the Mountain

A long,long line slants  up the sky,
half seen half guessed;  through milky haze
it draws the eye and draws the eye
higher and higher still,  amazed
that silent earth can  raise so high
a pure geometry of praise.
But churches bowed and towers broke
the last time the volcano  spoke.

X.  Nobody

You put your glass down anywhere.
It vanishes.  The dirty dish,
the sodden towel, disappear.
Fulfilment of the housewife's wish,
the husband's bland assumption - here
nobody has to do the wash.
Nobody, here, is brown, and young.
He smiles, and speaks a foreign tongue.

Here's another one that was a little more complicated  to write. No more fairies frolicking in buttercups,  at  least for  a while.

ever the disbeliever searches for belief

the scientist

there is no God

and the  philosopher

there is no God.
but do we no,  in our  search
for all knowledge and  final  truth
and approximation of God

what is God
but the alpha and omega,
the perfect final
of all,including truth

you search, the philosopher adds,
because you believe
that there is an end to all
knowing -
your  belief and your  search for the truth
that is all truth
no  different than that
of the Hindu holy man sitting
cross-legged on a mountain peak
contemplating his  way
to the One  at the center of the All,
or, the monk in his  cell
flagellating his  bloody back
because he  thinks  pain will  clear the  pathway
to the presence of God,  or,
the Methodist minister  who  does good works
because he thinks God notices
those who do good
and seeks desperately that notice

like yours, all of them a search for the God
of final things, like
the Greeks search for God
through the creation of ideals,
gods like men,
like gods, the ideal of creation


this one

there is no God
except the one who exists
as the most basic craving  of  our humanity,
the one who urges our rational  self
to disbelieve  so as to protect
the truth of  our
that essence which spirits away
to other realms  when  our rational self

Next from this week's anthology, Crossing the River, Poets of the Western United States, I have a poem by Jim Simmerman who, at the time of publication, had been awarded fellowships from the NEA, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and Bread Loaf. He  taught at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

Ricky Ricardo Drinks Alone

I-yi-yi-yi! look at the moon
floating up there like a teaspoon
of sweet cane sugar or the head
of a conga drum. Someone said
the man in the moon is an old
Cuban fisherman who sold
his boat for enough bay rum
to sail out of his body one
soft Havana night, and half
the time I think it's true. Laugh
if you like, but I have watched
his eyes fix upon the thatched
hat of a woman who waits
each night by the dock for her  late
sailor to return , only to
see the morning paint a blue
and emptier harbor, only to turn
slowly toward home, across  fallow
tideland. Her  long yellow
dress made her loo, from
a distance,like a canary, come
to  sing the forests  back.

has  become of the rain that cut
through the night like maracas? And
of the flower monger whose hand
was a warm garden on my neck? And of
the sails that hovered like  doves
on the horizon? and of the clop-
clop-clop of Lucinda? I want to stop
the moon with a bray sometimes. I
want to bray so sweetly it will fly
backward, like an empty bottle
over my shoulder. Bray until
I am back on the beach with my
father, learning to tie
a bowline, mend a net. There
was a song he sand - I remember
how the surf beat  out time, though
the words, the words...Low
tide left me shells shaped like
pink fans. Luck was the bright
bit of glass  I found one day. Keep it
close, he told me. Memory is a ship
in a bottle. The bottle breaks.

And again,  from Pushing Clouds Against the Wind.

sun after rain
blue  sky
in puddles
on fresh-washed
dry heat broken
sun after rain
like  a smile
on the

The next poet from my library is Brigit Pegeen Kelly.The poem is from her  book, Song, the 1994 Lamont Poetry Selection of The Academy of American Poets. It was published by BOA Editions, Ltd.

Born in Palo Alto, California in 1951, at  the time the  book was published Kelly taught in the creative writing program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and in the Warren  Wilson College M.F.A. program for writers. She is recipient of numerous awards and honors.

Distractions of Fish and Flowers in the Kill

People fish the kills here. Black,  the kills, with shade.
Moist with shade, and the graveyard odors, the graveyard hush.

The hush of weedy distracted flowers, grass flowers, brush flowers.
Flowers of savor, and those of ill repute.

And beyond, there is always the Island beckoning, to destroy or save,.
The lure of the Island, though there is nothing on it

But fireweed and gravel, and between here and there the water
Is deep, the water is deep between.

Fireweed grows where things have burned. The day
Squats with its magnifying glass. The boy in blue shorts squats

On the stones burning ants with his glass, and fireweed, which is not
The color of fire, grows in profusion. Fireweed is purple,

As in shrouds, as in to destroy or put an end to.
This we  understand. This thing on our hands we would be free of,

One  crime or another, the plotted errors, all the dumb-show passages
We play over and over. The unrhymed passages

That call up the chief complaint: Chiefly the wind's fault. Chiefly
That of the Boy Actor...

The water's lights go off and on and the Island beckons.
There seems to be many hands waving.There seems to be many voices saying,

Jump now, before the fire gets you, the heart fire, the brain fire.
We are holding the sheets, holding the bedclothes.

And yes, the air is full of white stuff: feathers or grave wrappings:
Something broadcast wholesale to the wind. But the warm water

Shackles our ankles, and the wrong ideas are firm
In the body: the idea that harm can hasten

The coming of good. That rain can make a lasting forgetfulness That non-
Swimmer's reckonings that weaken the ankle. Poor

Lily-white ankle, dreaming it will step forward
As if for the first time.

Back  to the fairies in the buttercups.

music doth sooth the
savage breast,
the musician says
and musicians get
all  the girls
especially the drummers...
I never  noticed any
says the tuba player
even played the bass drum
in a parade
and still couldn't get a
there you go

My last piece this week from the  Crossing  the River anthology is one of my favorites, Jimmy Santiago Baca, another of my favorite poets.

Baca, widely published, lived on a farm south of Albuquerque when the book was published,  writing poetry, raising cattle, and selling fruits and alfalfa. The poem I selected is part of a longer piece Baca's 1986 book, Poems Taken from  my Yard.


Adobe brick.
Mix sand  and water as mortar.
Palm  it on,lay the adobe down,
smooth out the overlapping mud,
then let  it dry.
The simplicity of this type of building,
becomes music,
a heavy melody of whispers of my hands
in mud, my fingers hushing,
until slowly the mud dries and my fingers scratch-rub
out designs, niches for  santos,
horno to keep pan warm  -
I  stand back after days of work
to appraise my sculptured figure -
like Rilke in front of a Grecian statue -
I live inside this one,
part of  its blood-mud, I move slowly
inside its body like a dream.
A man will  cook in here, sleep in here,
will stare outside into the world
at  others staring inside.
Life inside of life -
closed but waits until its time
to blossom - and who can envision
     the soft-sparkle  of  beauty
in the blossom,
before the eye and heart sees it?
Who knows what poems will come
     from this little adobe casita?
Who lingers inside this adobe casita?
What  will I blossom into?
Like a seed, I crouch  in my work,
nestled in this carved and dried earth.
The drowsy sleep that  absorbs
the dormant fields this time of year,
absorbs me -
I am creating myself in this mud and adobe.
The sun, when I walk outside,
buzzes down on me like a honey bee,
taking sweetness from me,
then in a huffy swirl, buzzes across the fields,
through the bare elm branches.
And as I hose myself off,
hose off  the scatters of mud from my face and arms,
I  see in my head
a newborn child being washed off by a midwife,
as I let water run down my arms.

From Pushing Clouds Against  the Wind. This one was written while we were remodeling and repairing rental  property, wrecked by our last  tenant, that we hope to, and  eventually did, sell.

approximately excellent

was another day
at the money pit

laying down
kitchen tile this time

it is said
to be a very precise
this tile-laying thing

and i'm not
known as  a person
of frequent

of  an approximation
type guy

but i put that old tile
and now my knees hurt
and my....
without bothering to  name
all the  various  parts
just say
hips  down

and it may be
even  precisely
that an  individual
of a perfectionist bent
who insists
on a true northerly
might find fault
with the trueness
off the line
of y

but another person

another person
of a more approximistic
willing to drift
his orientation
a  degree or two
or even three
north northeasterly
could very well look
at how my tiles
line up

and find it quite

in fact
that person
knowing that the lowest
bid for this work
was 965 dollars and 37 cents
would almost certainly
that the free  work
done  today
was in fact


Last this week from my library, I have this sad and beautiful poem by David St. John. It is from his book, Study of the World's Body, published by HarperPerennial in 1994.


                                                                          for my son

The way a tired Chippewa woman
Who's lost a child gathers up black feathers,
Black quills & leaves
That she wraps and swaddles in a little bale, a shag
Cocoon she carries with her & speaks to always
As if it were the child,
Until she knows the soul has grown fat & clever,
That the child can find its own way at last;
Well, I go everywhere
Picking the dust out off the dust, scraping the breezes
Up off the floor, & gather them into a doll
Of you, to touch at the nape of the neck, to slip
Under my shirt like a rag - the way
Another man's wallet rides above his heart. As you
Cry out, as if calling to a father you conjure
In the paling light, the voice rises, instead, in me.
Nothing stops it, the crying. Not the clove of the moon,
Not the woman raking my back with her words. Our letters
Close. Sometimes you ask
About the world; sometimes, I answer back. Nights
Return you to me for a while, as sleep returns sleep
To a landscape ravaged
& familiar. The dark watermark of your absence, a hush.

I've watched the composition of the  American workforce change over the 40 plus years I was part of  it. Particularly as it concerns women, I think the change is irreversible, not like WWII when women joined the workforce to replace the men  off to  war, then returned to home duties  when the men returned.
center of the universe
you've seen them
in the early morning
professional women
in suits, high  heels, and two hundred dollar
business breakfast,
in their ambition to be
all that someone told them
they ought to be
have no  chance
in this new world rising,
making its stealthy way,
redundancy becoming irreversibly
as each new generation of women
moves the center of the

I haven't included my standard caution in a couple of weeks,  so  here it  is.

All  material included in this post remains the property of those who created it. My stuff, likewise, but you're welcome to use it if you want. Just be sure to include proper credit to  me and to "Here  and Now."

And I'm still selling books 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

(I'm approaching the time I never thought I'd see. That is, the time I run out of copies of my first book, Pushing Clouds Against the Wind. The only available copies at that point will be through my publisher on Amazon. In the meantime, I'm still selling them cheap at several coffeehouses in San Antonio until there are no more.)



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