Central Mountime Time   Wednesday, May 01, 2013


We  spent last week driving around southeast New Mexico, so, for me, another week with time for only  a  short post.

I have the poems I wrote along the way, along with an old poem from Places and Spaces, my book of travel poems, as well as poems from two books I bought from Cloudcroft,  New  Mexico, our base at night. It was a small bookstore filled with books stacked, as far as I could tell, randomly. Off season, like much else in Cloudcroft it  was open only a couple of days a week, not  including the day I was there. But a fellow from the small  newspaper next door (apparently the owner of both the newspaper and the bookstore) saw me and came over to open up for me. I'm very happy he did, because I  am enjoying  very much both of the books I bought.

I also have  photos (more or less)  from the trip. As  described in  my last  poem, when I loaded our rental car,  I forgot my camera in my own car. This left  me using my cellphone camera which it turns out I'm not very good at. My photos  this week  are all  the photos I had  left from my cellphone after several mishaps, not much in the way of pictures, but what I have and since I always have pictures,  here they are.

Here are the poems for this  week.

dry oasis
Ann Newell
short poems from Mount Gassan's Slope
passing through
Tavikki Ansel
dust the color of water
Ann Newell
short poems from Mount Glassan's Slope
visit historic Sierra Blanca and other diversions
Tavikki Ansel
Three Ducks
the best of the day
Tavikki Ansel
From Stone
are you sure real photographers do it this  way?
from  Places and Spaces

My poem from our first day on the road, the usual first day to El Paso.
dry oasis
an hour late
as we are  always
behind every careful plan...
a hundred times
this way I've driven,
this time
the hills and the mountains
and the plains are green,
and even the desert,
even the Chihuahua Desert
reaching its parched hand deep
into west  Texas,
is for a while green, until the sand
wins out and strong blowing
winds between Van Horn
and Sierra Blanca create billowing dust storms
closing the sky,
whirlwinds,  leapfrogging across
the desert, not little diablitos,
but full grown swirling diablos, the width of
a car or a small truck, circling
and blowing
we are  across the dusty plain
between the mountains and rise again
to higher ridges, rocks piled on upon another
to make a mountain
where winds still blow, but dust
is left behind...
many more miles
ahead -
always more miles ahead
when you leave from San Antonio
to cross into another state,
a day's drive in any direction...
we pick up the hour we lost
as we cross into
Mountain Time and this day's drive
begins to wind down, until, finally,
riding into the orange sunset haze
that welcomes us to El Paso,
we pass through heavy city traffic
to the western edge of the city
where we will spend the night,
as desert dark falls on our
dry oasis for the
As I explained above, I have only  two books from my library this week.
The first book is Mount Gassan's Slope is by Ann Newell. The book was published in 2002 by Red Moon Press of Winchester, Vermont. The book is a shift from what we normally expect of a book of Japanese form poetry, which is poems in English translated from Japanese. We have the reverse in this book. The poems were originally written in English by Newell, then translated to Japanese by Kinichi Soto. Both versions are included on each page. Newell refers to the book as "one book in two languages." The two languages approach is carried throughout the book, including both the introduction and the preface at the beginning and the poet bibliography and acknowledgements at the end.
under the moon
my little white pony
crying out the New Year
watching the empty swing
swinging the old lady
stands bent swinging
fencing off his yard
my neighbor's plum tree
blossoms on my side
old church
new bell
pregnant girl
swollen lilac buds
on the desert
dried skull
splits the moon
a fly
s t r i d i n g
under the moon

The day before, a full, hard day's drive - day two, an easy hop through Las Crurces to Cloudcroft. Passed through the White Sands Park, not that impressive until you see the vast expanse of white from the mountains.

passing through

Cloudcroft, New Mexico,
in the Sacramento Mountains
at 8,600 feet

a village of 700 hardy
New Mexican souls

the village itself,
paced along Burro Blvd.,
two blocks long,
a block off Hwy 82,
lined with old stone buildings,
faux cow town facades
built with stressed pine,
giving the village a
Dodge City look

Our hotel,
a long history
with many famous guests,
at least one president, Pancho Villa,
Clark  Gable, Al Capone,
and it's own ghost, Rebecca,
a beautiful red-haired chambermaid
murdered by an unfaithful lover,
roaming the halls at night
looking for a new love -
the fanciest place in town,
except that since we have a dog
the fancy place billets us in the less
fancy alternative they keep
for dog people,
strangely familiar, this place,
we are the only guests,
both thinking
of Jack Nicholson in "The Shining"
as we settle in for the

5:30 a.m.
at the beginning of our first full day,
all the hardy souls
still abed, the dog and I
walk the deserted village's two blocks
in the pre-dawn dark
the dog does her duty,
pee, poop, three choruses of Suwanee River,
and we are ready
for coffee
at Burro Brew,
then a day of driving
mountain roads,
going nowhere, just looking,
just passing through
until we return tonight
and pass through the other direction

Here's this week's second poet from my library, as explained above, a new acquisition.

The poet is  Tavikki Ansel and her book is My Shining  Archipelago, published in 1997 by Yale University Press as part of their Yale series of younger poets.

Ansel grew up  in Mystic, Connecticut.  She received an A.B. fr9m Mount Holyoke College and an M.F.A. from Indiana University.


the breach rocks where he drops me off
     in the morning - and the lawn
and my bed, where I sleep after fishing
     all night, my chest
and stomach flat on the mattress,
     rise and fall, like a line
on the fathometer's spool of turning
     paper. My eyelids - I close
my eyes and see the red gloss
     of the compass in the cabin.
When I wake, everything will be still:
     my boots at the door, the lawn
fresh with light, upright cedars,
     horizontal stretch of sea.


In the cabin we drink coffee, pale hands
     cupped around mugs, below us the net
tears into mud. When the winter
     flounder leave, their window panes
come into the bay. their grey backs
     speckled with color, bodies
so thin I can see bones through
     skin. I pick through them
with a nail on the end of a stick,
     save the largest, shovel the rest
back over the side. Some have been pressed
     against the mesh of the net, flesh
like a child's palm, bruised and soft.


I have tried many times to take
     this photograph: white door frame,
view beyond: green lawn,
     sea wall, clouds above breakers,
but I can never focus the inside
     and the outside, the kitchen
darkens and the cedars blur. Ink flushes
     onto my hands when I cut the squid
into squares; it comes clean in the water.
     On days when I do not fish
I walk the island. In a sumac bush,
     a mockingbird flutters like a scrap
of torn curtain.


When I was a child, they would bring up
     eels from the river by the house:
buckets full - they did not begin or end,
     twisting around themselves in a circle
continuous and winding; I still think
     some morning I will wake up
and everything will be clear to me:
     squares of light on the ceiling,
the wallpaper, the curtain in dotted
     Swiss, and I will say, "this
is my life." The knotted fringe stilled
     in the breeze.

Another day; more forests, more mountains

dust the color of water
slowing rising from the east,
like a long-sleeper stretching,
gradual lightening, making black
silhouettes of the tall trees
on the crest across from me
early morning drive
up the mountain to Sunspot
and the Solar Observatory -
old and obsolete now,
underfunded by the government for years,
highest-bid university
will own it in two years,
or it will close
on the western edge
of the  Sacramento Mountains,
from the first scenic overlook
we can see the desert
and beyond the desert, White Sands
stretching across the horizon
like a massive snowfield in winter
beyond the sands
the next mountain chain smudges
the edge of blue skies
Bluff Springs,
the beautiful spring and waterfall
few claim to have seen -
we, we committed  to  being among
those who have seen it,
committed to washing our feet
in the cold spring water,
take the proper turnoff from the highway
to Sunspot, a small pave road
leading to a gravel road and another sign
pointing us in the right direction, and we drive,
stirring up  massive clouds of dust
behind us, doing our part to maintain
the haze that fills the valleys
between mountain ridges, until,
a fork in the road, no sign to suggest
which road to take, so, being Democrats,
we go to the left, travel smaller
and smaller gravel roads,
not sure where  we were going,
not knowing if Bluff Springs was ahead
or another closed gate,cattle guard
after cattle guard rumbling beneath our wheels,
waking our dog in the back, normally
contend to sleep between stops...
a national forest sign, Bluff Springs Trail,
two  and a half miles,
lowlanders, we, both willing to walk
two and a half miles in the
mountains, not so sure we could walk
the two and a half miles back
we are, still,
and probably forever, not
among the few
who have seen Bluff Springs,
and washed their feet in the cold spring water
in the village,
a barrel of plastic flowers
in front of the bank,
bright in the sunshine,
barrels of dirt and flower  pots
filled with dirt or dead and brittle vegetation
all along the village  storefronts...
spring coming late this year,
green still struggling
to break through its winter crust,
someone at the bank
fights back, not willing to wait longer
for the real thing
plastic flowers?!
it seems they do not capitulate
to the whims  of overdue nature,
willing to foreclose on spring
if it doesn't make it's seasonal
green payment on time
they are bankers
after all
an afternoon drive to Tularosa
through the Lincoln National Forest
and the Mescalero-Apache reservation,
tall pines on either side, until,
climbing up the mountain side,
stretches of burnt forest, broken, black tree trunks,
half laying on the ground,  some  still standing,
new trees from an earlier fire, green and growing
yards from each other, not like tight-packed
natural forests where new trees grow from
the seeds of earlier generations
still standing...
fire is a cleanser of all things,
eventually making room for new
and more hardy life -
but fire is such a fierce beast, oh so
ugly in the cleansing
walking in early evening from the grand lodge
to our less grand dog palace,
a quarter mile down hill, tall pines
on either side, through the pines
to the west, a view out from our higher place
to smaller peaks, also tree-covered, that eventually
slip slowly to the desert below, a haze covers
the lower  elevations, a light bluish color
I first too for a high mountain lake...
high winds,
everywhere dust, on the car,
on my shoes, dust drifting from the desert
high in the mountains, dry,
drifting dust
that I first take for water

Here are a few more short poems from Ann Newell and her book of Japanese short form poems, Mount Glassan's  Slope.
biting into an  apple
lightning  splits
the summer heat
sound of a train
still in the distance -
midnight rain
in the rain -
lovers holding hands
and one umbrella
outside the missile range
and old tree dropping walnuts
on a tin roof
morning glories
filled with rain -
grandmother's tea cups
at the hearth
a cricket settles
on my breast


Starting home.

visit Sierra Blanca and other diversions

for four days, returning south
mountains in the rearview,
desert ahead...


between Alamogordo
and El Paso,
like a sheet of bubble-wrap,
soft, peach-colored sand
with tufts of desert
at the top of each mound,
desert gnomes,
their pink balding heads
from the arid wasteland


La Senora restaurant,
El Paso,
enchiladas, red,
the taste of New Mexican
enchiladas, infiltrating Tex-Mex through the

young woman
carrying her baby,
behind, carrying all the
that travels with a young family
and their babe-in-arms, the
young husband and father, the baby, sitting
at the table facing me,
looks at me,
breaks into a wide, toothless smile,
the father turns to me,
wants to make sure I saw it,
"ain't it something," his look says,
"ain't it the goddamdest thing"
you ever saw"


the sign on the highway
says "visit historic Sierra Blanca" -
so we do...

three old churches
and an old man tending
his goat
by the highway

and we've visited historic
Sierra Blanca


the day sets on us
in Van Horn, just inside the
central time zone, officially back
in Texas

El Capitan Hotel,
grand old hotel, restored
several years ago at a cost of
several million

(a transom over the door
to our room Dee had never seen one,
and had to be introduced
to what it was and what it was far - another
of the hazards of consorting with younger women,
so much to be explained)

El Capitan Hotel,
Van Horn's oldest and finest,
about the only thing
in the only town
with a hundred miles in either


on the patio by the fountain

(the dog drinks
from the fountain, is startled
by the large red koi
swimming under her nose)

a flavorsome step back
in time, the room comfortable,
the beds soft and inviting,
a quiet town...

a good night's sleep and

cat, I know,
will be waiting in the
driveway, missing for a week
her morning walk with
her dog

might say hello
to me

Next, another poem from Tavikki Ansel and her book. My Shining Archipelago.
I like this poet and am pleased to have found her.
Three Ducks
She won't look
when the boys  kill the ducks
until her cousin twirls
the drake's head, left, right,
left, right, a head
without a body. This is her mother's
country., The rustle
in the reindeer moss was a lizard
coming out to sun.
There are more flowers here
than anywhere else. Forget-me-nots
are sky blue, baby blue,
like a scorpion's tail
they curl around her finger.
She is sorry
for the ants she's killed.
The wagtail that nests
under the porch is territorial.
she shot a .22 once, hit
the target her brother couldn't.
The electric fence is smooth,
then the sting. They quacked
when she brought them soaked
breadcrumbs every morning.
Her brother is sixteen
and won't swim naked
with them anymore. Her mother
reads to them from
The Wizard of Oz, there's a cupboard
of human heads, jabbering,
a pot of meat glue.
At night it is light.
Dragonflies perch
on her bare  shoulders. She hates
her mother and brother
when they laugh at her. On the cliff
are two pines, one
has a branch around the other.
She hides from everyone
on the outhouse roof,
watches the path
and the orange-barked trees.


And the journey ends, home, the best part of travel.
the best of the day
after four nights
in hotels,
my shower at home
is a shower fit for kings
and princes, its warm, pulsating
spray melting away miles
and nights
on unfamiliar beds
a good hot shower
in a home you call your own,
it is, along with a familiar street
and the flowers at the front
door, blooming, roses, red,
sunflowers, yellow, and the orange
plant of whose name I have
not a clue, the flowers, and the street,
and the cat waiting in the
and a hot shower under
a strong and muscle massaging spray,
that is the reward of travel,
the returning home...
the best of this long
except for the woman
at the rest stop in Sonora,
walking her cat, black as desert night,
on a leash in the pet poop
that was the high point
of the day,
this woman walking a cat...
but the street and the flowers
and my old cat
who walks with us, also, but on her own,
following or leading, as she wishes
and the hot shower
in the bathroom in my house...
all that was pretty damn good
as well

This being a short  post, I have room for only one more library poem. For that poem, I return to Talvikki Ansel and her book My Shining Archipelago.

Because I like her a lot.

From Stone

coming into  an empty room  I find
you  crying,  you want
the green chair, the chair
you  remember being born on. What
can I do  to console  you?
I would do anything for you. today

I thought of Senefeler
discovering lithography:
the door open
to the cobbled yard, the laundress
sticks in her head,  asks
for a list, he scribbles
on a piece of limestone: two shirts
three trousers,  a waistcoat and hose -

why should the swish
of water on a flat rock,
a leather  roller matted with ink
express anything I feel now?
Untouching,  four birds
on a neighbor's chimney -

autumn: an overcast sky,
from the  bluff only the sound
of waves on sand;
a distant pole, a bird, a swallow
wrapped around its heart.

In  the 16th century,
it was thought that swallows
spent winters in the bottoms
of lakes. Who wouldn't 
reach for that? Solace
of blood and feathers, ensconced
in clay.


On board you fashioned me a clever
workbasket -s scrimshaw clothespins,
a spool with our ship  sailing
along the rim above the coiled thread,
a pie crimper shaped like a horse-
fish, for me to run
along the edges of the pies.

In all  our innocence,  we  prepared
for this - scurvy,  the disease when the skin
stays pinched. Five barrels
of pickled limes, and precautions
from my father the doctor.

Five months into the voyage
I would lose my two chickens
off the Cape of  Good Hope,
and within a year, you
from the rigging. First the cart-
wheel spinning...

And regrets for opportunity lost.
are you sure real photographers do it this way?
one of those
who takes everything
but the kitchen sink when I travel,
even for short trips
made me think,
about 500 miles out
on this last trip, planned
in my mind as a chance to get new photos,
that I must have left my camera
in that kitchen sink
I didn't bring
because I don't have it in the car
which means,
after a return to my routine
walk with dog and cat,
then breakfast and another walk
early this morning,
my day thus far has been
spent learning way more than I ever wanted
about how to download photos
from my cell phone,
which, it turned out to be, my camera of record
for the journey,
and what I've learned primarily is
that, since the 1962 debacle
that was the Edsel, nothing
ever works
the same way
and, second that it is best to download
each picture
as you take it instead of waiting
until your memory is full
and you have to down fifty at once,
only one at a time...
fortunately though,
it turns out that I'm a very bad
cell phone photographer so at least half the photos
will be deleted instead of downloaded
leaving me time,
I hope,
to go to the parade this afternoon...



 I'm going to finish this week with a selection from one of the five extended poems in my book of travel poems, Places and Spaces.

This short extract is from third poem  in the book, "Ruidoso." This was from a trip several years ago in the same general area as where we were last week, except I never got to Cloudcroft on the earlier  drive-around.

...crossing Apache Pass,
7,700 feet, another day
of climbing almost unnoticed
but for the temperature change,
one degree
for ever 500 feet

     a soft stealthiness
     to the climb
     for those familiar
     with the more rugged horizons
     further north

passing Mescalero -

     across the road
     from the Tribal Center
     2 Apache boys
     King of the Hill,
     over and over each other
     in the rose-colored dust

stylized art
on  concrete  abutments
along the highway tell
the tribe's

which of the stories
do the boys

     the down slope
     from  Mescalero to Tularosa
     opens up between wooded
     mountain sides
     to the desert below,
     desert grasses so dry
     they are white
     in the morning sun,
     like sand,
     like a wide  ribbon of  white sand
     between the mountains

I had thought to do a mountain drive,
but a third of the morning
is spent crossing the white grass desert
from Tularosa to Carrizozo...


Another short post, but still there are 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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