Return Postage Guaranteed   Wednesday, June 05, 2013

I have my regular cache of new poems this week and old poems from my most recent poetry book,  Places and Spaces.

Places and Spaces is a book of five extended travel poems, bookended by  short introductory poem and a short closing poem. The five long poems are each way to long for "Here and Now" so I'll just extract a few lines from each.

A quick look though my library didn't present  to me  any anthologies I wanted to do this week, so all the poems  that aren't mine  this week come from my  library.

These are them, plus mine.

exquisite child
the storm that became us all

from God on the Hill - Temple Poems from Tirupati

spring  storm
home court

Paul Guest 
 Regarding Your Application for Many Imaginary Positions

yes, we have  none  today

John Updike
Bird  Caught in My Deer Netting

from On the Cusp of Confederate Winter

Grace Paley
Having Arrived by Bike at Battery Park

from squirrels

Sharon Olds
Sunday Night in the City

from  Ruidoso

Lucille Lang Day

Liar's Club

Terry Borst
It Was Love at First Sight

from To the Rockies

Shah D.  Patel
The Rule

stumbling  on the way

Suni Freeman
For My Grandfather

from Sleeping with  Andy Devine

Yuan Hung-Tao
Saying Goodbye to  the Monk Wu-nien

I can hardly wait until October

Jack Kerouac
The 101st Chorus

too hot

from Silver City and Beyond   

Lorenzo Thomas
Lifelong  Learning


I start this week with two new poems, written on successive days, the second an elaboration/extension of the first.

exquisite child

she's a tiny
young woman,
five feet or less,
and slight,
like a sprite
dancing in the forest,
like a cat, she
purrs, likes to rub herself
against every man

as blameless as the cat
she reminds me of...

what an exquisite child
she must have
a doll
not built
the rough hands
of little boys -

innocence and beauty
in a world
that honors neither,
uses both
for ugly

the storm that became us all

meant to write a poem
about an imaginary woman,
a woman from  True Detective
magazine, not the big-breasted
blond  over-flowing her skimpy dress

but the other one

the dark-haired one,
like Theda Bera of silent movies

full of dark possibility,
who seduced from a lost-child face
in a can-be-yours-for-a-price
a price most men are always
willing to pay


but, with
the poem's first lines complete,
a child sits in  the booth
across from me, a young girl,
maybe ten  years old,
a very pretty girl in a child-girl
way, open eyes, ready smile,
telling stories to her  younger brother,
wise and bright, and somehow
merged in my mind with the vamp
I invented, the two together
becoming a new
in a different  poem
from the one
I started

a story of


thunder outside,
strong winds,  another storm coming,
a reminder  that Eve,
seeker of wisdom
brought the storm that  became
us all

Tallapaka Annamayya, who lived at the hilltop  shrine of Tirupati in South India in the fifteenth century, is said to have composed a song. a day for the god of that temple. The book, God of the Hill, Temple poems  from Tirupati is a collection of many of those songs, translated by Velcheru Narayana Rao and David Shulman.

Following are several of those songs.

You needn't come any closer.
Just ask me from a distance.
Did I ever say no to you?

Don't  stand beside me and beg.
The flower  in my hair might fall on you.
You don't have to squeeze my hands.
The stones in my rings might hurt you.

                        You needn't  some any closer.

Don't  take on your lap  and stroke me.
The musk I dabbed on my ears might stain you.
You don't have to hold me to make me say yes.
You might be scorched by my sighs.

                          You needn't come any closer.

You embrace me, you coax me:
you'll  have sandal all over you,
straight  off  my breasts.
You made love to me, god on the hill.
Now you're drowning  in my passion.

                           You needn't come any closer.


Anyone with love
would become like him.

He's addicted to both his  wives.
That's why he needs four hands.
He's done it thousands of times
in all kinds of ways.
No wonder he has so many forms.

                          Anyone would become like him.

He especially likes love after quarrels.
That's why at times he turns his face away.
He's handsome beyond compare. Playful, too.
Notice his long  fingernails.

                          Anyone would become like him.

Because he likes pleasure to  last forever,
he's come to  live on this solid mountain.
Bound to life in this world,
he lives inside everyone.

                            Anyone would become like him.


It's not easy to see you.
We're human and you're god.

Thank  god for  demons.
They pester the gods, and then you want to help,
so you come down to earth, and we get to see you.

                                   It's not easy to see you.

It's even good when goodness fails.
The wise appeal to you,  and you come  down
to bring  goodness back. Then  we  get a chance
to serve you.

                                   It's not easy to see you

If you ask us, you devotees
are better than you. You're always with them,
wherever they are, god on the hill.
They tell your stories, and we  listen,
over and over, so  we have you.

                                  It's not easy to see you.

As I said, I'm featuring  this  week pieces from my ebook of travel poems. I begin  with  these two poems, the  introduction  and the  closing poems  to the five poems that  make up almost all of the book.

spring storm

dark as the devil's black
as we race to clear skies

home court

there is pleasure
in  travel
but comfort
in routine and everyday

i'm back,
second table from the rear,
by the window,
back to the river,
looking out on the corner
of Martin
and Soledad,
San Antonio, Texas

in the slow lane
for a  poem
in all the old familiar places

I  know I've used this poem before, but it's so funny, every time I pick up  the book, it seems to fall open to  this poem. The book  is  My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge, published in 2008 by HarperCollins. The poet is Paul Guest.

Regarding Your  Applications for  Many Imaginary Positions

Regarding your applications for many imaginary positions,
such as  Glorious Leader of the Lutheran Jihad,
which you were good enough to explain
would pay no  salary and convey no health benefits
or eve obligate us to acknowledge you
as a fellow human  being,we wish to  thank you
for every assurance your tendency
toward unfettered rage is in you past,
and that a movie like A Clockwork Orange
or the good parts of Saving  Private Ryan
would give us an idea of how you'd wasted
the best years of your life. All of us
nodded when we  say ourselves in you
and your poignant cries for help
even as we forwarded them to the  legal department.
We trust you don't  mind.
We  appreciate you  seemingly robotic sense
of initiative and  attention to  detail,
to say nothing of the shockingly candid
photographs of you in bed with your girlfriend,
though we  respectfully suggest
there are very few women who enjoy
what the professionally shot set
appears to show you doing,
and further  we have reason to believe
you picked her up on Ninth Street
behind the weird carwash
one  night when the desperation was too much to bear.
That is why it gives us pleasure
to say we have found someone else
who  best seems to  fit our imaginary needs
at this time.  Not only do we wish you luck,
we  wish you would stop  burning effigies across the street.

yes, we have none today

and  astronomically
I believe that
it  is true
we have no  bananas


and probably many more days
to come
since the decline in power
of the guarantors
of  our bananas, the despots,
and banana barons
of Central America

I believe  it is true
that  this is why the lyric

bird bird
bird is the  word
bird bird
is the word
has been rummaging around in my brain
for  at least three  weeks
and also the probable cause 
for my inability to remember
if the bird  in question
is part of actual song,
or a jingle for Thunderbird wine,
or a song  lyric
transposed to  Thunderbird wine
by those of us who drank
too much too often
of the bird
waking on subsequent mornings
with a thunderbird
of a headache

which is the likely reason
some of us learned no algebra
in algebra class, what brain we had  available
at  the time concentrating
on our algebra teacher's exceedingly fine
legs, disgusted with ourselves
at  how in our post-Thunderbird stupor we were lusting
after veritable ancient, 40, at  least,
but damn fine legs
and a nice ass
as she, with her back to us,
scribbled nonsensical  numbers and letters
on the blackboard, as if we were to pay any attention
to those numbers and letters and the totality of algebra
with that ass staring us in the face...

which is why it took me ten years
to finish college,
pining for the long-legged past
all my subsequent math teachers
warty old men with barely any ass at

and maybe even why I continue
to attempt
to be a poet, being as how our English teacher
was  87 years old with varicose legs
and a droopy ass (what could be seen of it),
leaving  nothing for us  to  do  but read
the classic canon of fine
"Silas Marner," et. al.
while writing deathless lines of  poetry and prose
to  which, of course, she never extended
any hint of appreciation near the extent we though it

which probably explains
Faulkner was a drunk
and Hemingway pulled a shotgun
on himself

all of which proves
how complicated and interconnected
is the world and the universe
of birds
and wines
and teachers
and, of course,  bananas
of which we have none today

Next, something  a little unusual, a poem by John Updike,  from  his  book of poems, Endpoint, and other poems. The book was published Albert A. Knopf in 2009.

Bird Caught in My Deer  Netting

The hedge must have seemed as ever,
seeds and yew berries secreted beneath,
small edible matter only a bird's eye could see,
mixed with the brown of shed needles and earth -
a safe, quiet cave such as nature affords to the meek,
entered low,on foot, the feathered head
alert  to what it sought, bright eyes  darting
everywhere but above, where net had been laid.

Then,  at some moment  mercifully unwitnessed,
an attempt  to rise higher, to fly,
met by an all but invisible limit, beating wings
pinioned,  ground instinct denied. The panicky
thrashing and  flutter, in daylight and air,
their freedom impossibly close, all  about!

How  many starved hours of struggle resumed
in fits of life's irritation  did it take
to seal and sew  shut the berry-bright eyes
and untie the tiny wild knot of a heart?
I cannot know,discovering this wad
of junco-fluff, weightless and wordless
in its  corner of netting that deer cannot chew  through
nor gravity-defying bird bones break.

This next piece  is  from very early on in On the Cusp of Confederate Winter,  the first of the five extended travel poems that make up my ebook, Places and Spaces.

 Each of my travel poems is essential a daily journal of where I went and what I saw. This trip was a long loop from San Antonio, through Arkansas, Tennessee, a touch of Kentucky, and West Virginia to Columbus, Ohio, where I picked up my wife at the Columbus airport. (I like to drive; my wife doesn't, so typically I take off several days ahead with my dog and then she flies to where we meet her, about halfway.)

After I picked up Dee up at the airport, we spent a day in Columbus, then went back through West Virginia to Roanoke where we spent two days, then started back south on the Blueridge Parkway. When the weather got too bad on the Parkway, we headed home through, again, a sliver of Kentucky, the through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and, through Houston, back to San Antonio.

It  was a great trip.

...Dallas to Little Rock
on  I-30

     a pick-up
     pulling a horse trailer,
     alone in the back,
     one horse,
     a palomino,
     golden mane and tail
     and eyelashes
     in the wind,
     brown eyes watching
     as I pass

Temple, Belton,Waco,
where dull  people
to  get duller

     a hawk
     slips slowly from the air
     to land on a fence post,
     sees all  with yellow eyes
     that view all that moves
     as potential

Red Oak, 
little town before,
now just a raggedy
little spot on the road
on the poorer  fringe
of the ever-spreading Dallas

     I stopped once for dinner
     in  Red Oak,
     heading home  from a 
     in Dallas 25 years ago,
     a wonderful dinner
     and served
     by a little old lady
     no more  than four  feet

where snooty
go to get snottier,
and even more right-wing

     xurbs follow  I-30 to the
     a paved-over world,
     the only grass  that
     in the cracks
     in the concrete

I like it
because saying the name
makes my mouth feel good
and the only reason
to say it
is when you're passing
through  it

     orange sky
     like mist
     through a forest
     of orange leaves


where a line down the middle
of the street
in a business district
one state from the other -
appealing to my dislike
of lines and boxes
and borders
that don't mean anything

     lakes and ponds
     and waterfowl,
     a crane passes over the road
     long neck outstretched
     wings spread
     a dark shadow
     a nearly dark sky

dark dark
in Arkansas

     red sky
     in my rearview,
     the road like a tunnel
     though the dark,
     tall thick forest
     on either side

Hope behind me,
Little Rock ahead...

Now, something else a little  different, a poem by Grace Paley, from her book,  Leaning Forward, published by Granite Press in 1985.

Having Arrived by Bike at Battery Park

I thought I would
sit  down at one  of those  park department tables
and write a poem honoring
the occasion which is May 25th
Evelyn      my best friend's birthday
and Willy Langbauer's birthday

Day! I  love you for your  delicacy
in appearing after so  many years
as an afternoon in Battery Park right
on the curved water
where Manhattan was beached

At once arrows
straight as Broadway were driven
into the great Indian heart

Then we came from the east
seasick and safe the
white tormented  people
grew  fat in the
blood of that wound.

Here's another new one from last week.

from squirrels

stalking  a nut
in the middle of the busy parking  lot

silly squirrel
ripe for squashing


dog almost caught
a squirrel
in the park last week...

missed the squirrel
only  because
I, holding on  to  her leash,
wasn't fast  enough

close enough
to raise the existential query
in her  face,
up  against a first-time ever
event - i.e.
what does one do with a squirrel
if one catches it


squirrels barking at us
from the trees
as we pass through the wooded
area of the park, knowing
they were safe, telling
the world about it - arrogant
little bush-tailed rats,  Bella  would climb
the trees to get them, has tried,
but can't


ducks and geese
and egrets
and all  other manner of water birds
along the river - in the water,in the trees,
waddling on their webbed feet
along the bank - Bella,
consumed by the squirrel wars,  has no interest
in them, does she  just not  see  them,
I wonder, or does she understand
that those  without wings
shouldn't waste their time chasing
those with (unlike cats, who with feline cunning,
catch the winged ones anyway - and if you've ever
watched a cat stalking, you might consider
that some form of hypnotism might be involved)

or,  it could be Bella
has chased the slower more  inattentive fowl
and just  doesn't like the taste of


a small turtle scrambling
across a concrete apron as the water goes down
in Apache  Creek - such an odd  mixture
of flippers running and flippers swimming in the inch deep water
before plunging, with a slow  turtle sigh,  back
into  deeper waters...

Bella didn't see - wonder how she  would store
in her canine mind such an odd


she pushes me into the street  to avoid the mud near the curb; doesn't
to  get her feet  dirty

since it's five in the  morning, pre-traffic time,
I  allow  her to follow her dainty
way  -

a small risk to avoid mopping the floor


mud just dirt with a dash of water,  dirt  again and easily swept when dry

except in politics when it may never  dry or ever be swept away

Next, three short poems by Sharon Olds. The poems are from  her book Satan Says. The book  was published by University of Pittsburgh Press in 1980.

Sunday Night in the City

Hand in hand,  we lie  on the bed,
our long legs crossed like folded
wings,  our long feet touching the
footboard in shadow, carved like  a headstone
with grapes. Your hair is ruffled,  dark
as black walnut, curled like the tendrils of
vines. Your right hand is in my right
hand. My left hand is in your left.
Arms linked like skaters, we lie
under the picture of farmland: brush
dark and blurred as  smoke, trees
lifting their ashen fish-skeletons,
and central to it, over us,
the calm pond
silent as if eternal.


Coming in off the dock after writing,
I approach the house,
and saw  your long  grandee face
i the light of a lamp with a parchment shade
the color of flame.

An elegant hand on  your beard. Your tapered
eyes found me on the lawn. You looked
as the  lord looks down from a narrow  window
and you are descended from lords. Calmly,with no
hint of shyness you examined me,
the wife who runs out on  the dock to write
as soon as one child is in bed,
leaving the other to you.

                                           Your long
mouth,flexible as an archer's bow,
did not curve. We spend a long moment
in the truth of our situation,the poems
heavy as poached game hanging from my hands.


The mist  is blowing across the yard
like smoke from a battle.
I am so tired of the women doing  dishes
and how smart the men are, how i want to
bite  their mouths and feel their hard  cocks against me.

The mist  moves,over the bushes
bright with poison ivy and black
berries like stones. I am tired of the children,
I am tired of the laundry, I want to  be  great.

The fog pours across  the underbrush in silence.
We are sealed in. The only way out is through
fire, and I do not want a single
hair  of  a single  head  singed.

Next,  a few lines from Ruidoso, the second of the five long travel poems in my ebook, Places and Spaces.

This was a trip I made on my own, with my dog. I had known someone many years before who was from Ruidoso and I had always been curious about the place. I made a loop to Ruidoso then around central and south central New Mexico.

I was disappointed with Ruidoso (in fact, I barely mention it in the poem), but, for me, the getting there is always a bit of a disappointment to me, being more interested in the journey than the destination.

...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
to 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 he white grass desert
from Tularosa to Carrizozo,

a desert so unremarkable
I have to stop three times before
Reba finds something interesting
to pee on

my quiet travel companion
is bored,
sleeping in the back, head
between her paws

     a spike of interest
     as I pass the Oscuro Bombing 

     but nothing blows up

     the Spanish word for dark or

     maybe something did blow up
     and I just didn't

I skirt the Valley of  Fire...

...on the road
by 6:15

     the sky 
     clear overhead,
     but all  around
     dark clouds
     lightning flashing
     within the clouds,
     blossoming pools of
     soft white light through dark

strong  winds from the north
and a morning chill
in the air

     in the east, a  small
     break  in the clouds,
     like a knothole in a fence,
     and through it the peach-orange
     of the rising sun

still too  dark
to see anything
but the sky

     no le hace

home bound
i have eyes for nothing
but the road ahead...

Lucille Lang Day is another poet from my library this week, with a poem from her book The Curvature of Blue. The book was published in 2009 by Cervena Barva Press.

Day, whose work has appear widely in addition to her four books and three chapbooks of poetry, received an M.A. in English and M.F.A. in creative writing at San Francisco State University. In addition, she obtained and M.A. in zoology and Ph.D in science and mathematics education at the University of California at Berkeley. In addition to founder and director of Cervena Barva Press, she is also the director an interactive children's museum in Berkeley.


The hills are quilled with saguaro cacti
rising from roan soil, some straight
as green telephone poles, others with arms
curving upward, mocking surrender.

Teddy ear cholla looks soft
as a stuffed toy, but sprouts barbed spines;
rufous hummingbirds dip to bright
red tubes at the tips of ocotillo.

Deer mice, desert shrews, gopher snakes
and rattlers hide in the earth
under barrel and pincushion cacti,
all fishhooks and claws.

Horned lizards savor ants
as dust devils hundreds of feet high
spin over mesquite, hedge nettle,
desert rue, creosote and yucca.

This suffices: if my dreams are dashed,
I want to be like the desert - harsh
beauty teeming with life,
proud and prickly in my lack.

Another new piece from last week, thinking  about a very interesting discussion I heard on National Public Radio (that happens a lot there).

liar's club

 there are two kinds
of  reality,
I've  learned,

the reality we live
as we live it

and the reality we

and the reality
of the lived moment  is lost
the moment it  passes

leaving the reality remembered
only approximation and

our memory
does not remember all
it seem,
but just the embed moments
in a strobe light's
of passing reality,
filling the shadows between
with elements of desire
and fear...

this is why you and I
never remember things
as they were, and
sometimes remember things
that never were at  all

as a poet
I sometimes try to recreate
the past,
knowing as I do, much of the past
i recreate


it is  our brain
that  is  the storyteller,
we just transcribe
the  story
it tells us today

swear on a bible
if you must,
but know  as you do
that we are  all still liars in many of
our best moments

The next poem is by Terry Borst, from the Winter  1977 edition of the Berkeley Poetry Review.

It  Was Love at First Sight

sitting in the box
by the turnstile
in the library

were the finest finger
nails in town

painted danish blue

accentuating two complementary
cornflower blue eyes

she fluttered her long lashes
& said thank you
to admirers
a thousand times that day
i/ll bet

i/m in love with her fingernails

i want to chew on her delicious fingers
& lick the polish off

i/m in love with you
marry me
we/ll be happy together
we/ll have a dozen kids
& they/ll all wear
danish blue fingernail polish
be as pretty as you
& i will die fulfilled

i didn/t propose just then

it was the wrong time

i was checking out
a book by james tate

another dippy poet
she would have thought
they/re so impulsive
the town/s overrun with them

what color will she try tomorrow

lavender      seagreen      jetblack

i will lie away
at night

Here are two excerpts from To the Rockies,  third of the five extended travel poems in my book, Places and Spaces.

Our destination this trip was Denver. As has been our custom, I went ahead with our dog, then picked Dee up at the Denver airport. After several days, Dee flew back to San Antonio, and I drove home, passing through some very beautiful parts of Colorado I had not been to before.

In the first we are on our way to Denver; in the second we have reached our destination and, after staying a couple of days, have turned around and are heading home.

...but there's  plenty of time

     after about  40 miles
     i look behind,
     a long, straight road
     gradually rising

the wind is blowing hard
again today
and like most of yesterday
it's blowing hard against me

     little twisters cross brown fields
     on both sides of the highway
     most throwing up clouds of dust
     that move with the wind, but one, 
     a smaller one, forms a perfect funnel,
     about five feet across, keeping
     its  shape up to a hundred or more
     feet above the ground

     a tumbleweed the size of a beach ball
     blows in front of me,
     seems to pace the car for several seconds
     then crosses the road

green fields,
perfect circles, planted
to fit the path of the irrigation sprinklers
that circle
circle, circle
spraying their water around ad around
like a merry-go-round whose horses
spit as they pass

     the perfect circles of irrigated green
     laid across the landscape
     of dry and duty brown, the part
     that lives or dies depending on the rain

passing through the little derelict towns
that break the tedium
of grey highway
behind and ahead...


...a turn south,
and a faraway view of the  Rockies,
like billowy white clouds,
white like fresh laundry
hung in the sun to dry, hugging
the horizon instead,
growing taller into the sky
as we approach for one last

     twelve bison
     in a line across
     a snowy slope
     each following the tail
     of the other -
     at the head of this
     strung-out regiment, a bull,
     the leader,
     knows where to go
     and when to go there

     and two or three miles
     down the road
     elk scatter among
     a stand of pines,
     pushing aside the snow
     and pine needles
     to graze

canyon wall
reaching high above me...

Here are two short poems by Shah D. Patel. The poems are from Poetry, October, 2007.


Pain trains an undisciplined mind.
I will end yours if you end mine.

Little feet, little feet are playing
Hopscotch among the landmines.

Hope has worked miracles before.
If yours didn't, how can mine?

I could have learned to welcome night,
if only you had been mine.

How dare you put words in God's mouth,
Shail?  Why not. He put ashes in mine.

The Rule

Discipline,  Free will
Doesn't mean freewheel.

But what about Eros? Let
Eros harrow whom he will.

I have sipped my sip
And poisoned the well.

I am well pleased with my thirst.
I know my thirst no evil.

You'll die of thirst, Shail.
If the salt sea wills.

I wrote  this  piece last week.

I'm usually pretty laid-back, not normally a hater, but I knew I hated this guy after only about fifteen minutes watching him.  It  wasn't so much the way he was treating the waitresses, but the arrogant  sneer on his face, his obvious enjoyment  at what he was doing that caused my reaction.

stumbling on the "Way"

I didn't like
the fat
who was here
a couple of days
kept his  hands
over  his bulging belly
like he didn't want
it to get

changed tables
three  times
before he found
sufficiently clean
for his taste;
found fault with everything
the server  did,
sarcastic,  smiling all the
creepy smile, like a child
one wing, the the other
from  a captive
so much fun,
the fat boy thinks,
next, maybe
that yellow tabby that sits
on the porch of the old lady
next door,
more fun than flies
because flies
are mute
and you cannot hear them
scream, not so cats
who yowl with each slice
of the knife,  each
poke of the stick,each
flare  of butane,
so much fun
to have a


my diagnosis - the fat man,
a narcissistic psychopath,
pulling the wings
probably an element  in a
psychopathic sex

I  didn't  like the
fat man,
an asshole,
I might have called him
before my essence was moderated by
finding the Way...

but, may the Masters forgive me,
I  still like the  pure clarity of  it


This poem, a fond remembrance, is by Sunil Freeman. The poem is from Freeman's book, That Would Explain the Violinist, published in 1993 by Gut Punch Press.

For My Grandfather

After the serious part we went downstairs,
as you'd planned it, and told Lem Freeman stories,
recalled  your ninety-nine years,
warmed ourselves before the embers of the flame
which burst from the backwoods of South Carolina.
It was a great roast, you'd have loved it.

Liberal Southern Baptist preacher, professor
and fiddler, who pondered reincarnation
and Darwin, held interracial study groups
in your North Carolina home in the 1940s,
and faithfully turned your radio to Jesse  Helms,
'cause he was so dumb it was funny.

This whole crazy family is a thundering echo of you.
I once suspected I was your favorite grandchild
but now I think a few of us hoped we were -
and that's the way it should be.

Next, I have a couple of excerpts from sleeping with Andy Devine, fourth of the five long travel poems  in my ebook, Places and Spaces.

As I said earlier, all of my travel poems are written daily, as I travel. This trip was to Lake Tahoe and back, a long drive, five states if you count Texas. But lots of fun, it being my first time to drive across Nevada, a much wider state than I thought it would be.

As usual the dog and I left several days early, then met Dee in Reno. We drove together from Reno to Lake Tahoe, spent several days (in very lousy weather) then drove home together, catching I-10 in California, the the rest of the way through Arizona and New Mexico, a different route than the one I had taken through those states on my way earlier.

As I said, I love to drive, but this one a bit harder that usual because of bad weather and snow, driving in which I have not experience.

...strong winds pushing across me,
fight me,
steady pressure
pushing me toward the

     whip across the road
     in front of me,
     chasing the wind,
     never catching it

     i've  known people like this
     blown always
     by capricious
     never finding

     i see a buffalo
     in its shaggy brown
     eating green sprouts
     between red boulders

that's buffalo,
not bison,
Bison Bill is too  ludicrous
to consider...

...and on a roadside sign,
"Mojo's Gourmet Coffee"

just in time

     i find Mojo's
     and a skinny barista with more 
     lots of folks have skin,
     and in the corner
     a little group of cowboys
     sitting at a round table,
     some just listening,
     two singing
     and picking their guitars -
     country ballads, Marty Robbins
     and the like, and some of their

     "I once loved a  girl  in
     Albuquerque," sang one

     "I wanted to be a cowboy," 
     sang the other

     as i was leaving,
     "but i was always afraid of

the end of the day
and my stop  for the night
in Kingsman,
getting close now to Nevada

my hotel is on
Andy Devine Trail...

     ...snow clouds
     over mountain peaks
     on both sides of me

     like buttermilk
     over hot cornbread

     light snow
     dusts desert stones
     and plants
     with points of silvery

     the snow falls
     and soon  they all
    support white 

     they all disappear
     under the white sea

     a herd of horses
     twenty or thirty of them
     chase and play

     in a field of snow

past Hawthorn
my route begins
to  take me into new mountains...

Running against time constraints this week (I took a day off), I'm sticking with just one poem this week from the anthology, Pilgrim of the Clouds (Poems and Essays from Ming Dynasty China).

The poem I've selected is by Yuan Hung-Tao, who lived during the Ming dynasty that ruled from 1368 to 1644. Yuan was born near the end of the dynasty in 1568 and died in 1610.

I like  the matter-of-fact,  day-to-day nature of classical Chinese poetry, as exemplified by the close of this poem - practical, good-natured advice, one colleague to another.

Saying Goodbye to the Monk Wu-nien

Each five years we meet
then grieve when we must part.
It has taken only three farewells
for fifteen years to pass.
I recall how I tried to study meditation with you
but I was like the yellow poplar
               which grows for a while
                                 the shrinks again.
A hundred times I heard you lecture
but my mind remained a tangled knot.
I was like a man born blind
who has never  seen red or purple -
try explaining the difference to him
and the more you speak
                  the more confused he'll get.
I can't bear to leave you now
but it is impossible for us
                   to stay together.
It is October - the river winds are blowing hard;
please let your hair grow back in
                    to protect our head from the cold.

I  ran across a job  possibility that, though I've been completely retired (except for the poetry) since I  turned 65 five years ago, I think  I  would have really enjoyed, a director position in Veterans services at  a state university. Having worked to one degree or  another with  veterans' issues beginning in 1971, it  seemed a natural fit  for  me.

Then I thought about it too  long.

I can hardly wait till  October

Clint said once,
"A man's got to know
his  limitations.

that  was right before
he shot  the bad
who  had failed to recognize
his limitations

Clint never said
a man would always be happy when learning
his limitations

I am not happy today

a return to real life,
a job,  a worthwhile endeavor
I know I would

I understand the job
too well, and,
as I considered  my limitations
last night,
it became clear to  me
I don't,
have the mental discipline
or physical stamina
to do the job the way
I'd  like to see it

understanding that
bothers me,
but it's
that single word,
that bothers me most

like if I went to the doctor
and she said,
"well, I have some bad news
for you  - you'll never
play the piano
again," but since
I never  played the  piano
in the first place,
it's not like I've lost  something  precious
I used to  have...

there is  no lose; there is  no

but in this case
there is a
loss -
a no-more what used to be

we expect  these loses
when  we age, but always something
we'll deal with next week,
never a thing to face


or maybe,
I tell myself,
it's not age at all,
maybe it's that damn humid
outside the window,
out of me all
the best of me

I'll get it all back
when winter winds
blow again

maybe I'll get back
to Mr. Eastwood when mountain fresh days
blow through the hills,  when cold air  braces

maybe, I'll  tell  him, we  all have our seasons.
Clint,  and limitations
that  come
and go
with them...


I can hardly wait
until  October,  when the old me
will rise again


that's what I tell

Next, by Jack Kerouac, I have one of the numbered series in his book, Mexico City Blues.

101st Chorus

We strove to go to  movies
And re-discover the happiness
        of the baby -
We built up towers of prayer
         in ivory and stone -
Roused denizens from their proper
         rat warrens -
         "Simplificus the baby,
         what hast thou thought,
         should he be serried
         and should  we be clobber
         the agent of the giant
         in the picture?
                 or let him guess?
                          I say, let's
                          let him guess

Then he'll come crying
     & sneaking thru the tent
         looking for the showing
               of proud discontent,
                     the circus of mirkus,
                          pile it  on thick,
                          - befriend -
                          it's a show to go to the movies
                          but a blow to the baby be"

It's been a really bad start  to  the summer in San Antonio, not  so  much the heat, but the humidity.

too hot

too hot
for hair, so I cut  it
all off, down 
to skin level

no more morning

to the problem of
how to hide my
bald  spot

wife says
it makes me look younger

I think it makes me
like a pink buoy
in the Houston ship channel


in the  wake

whatever it looks like,
it's just   too  damn hot for

This is from Silver City and Beyond, the last of the extended poems in my book of travel poems, Places and Spaces.

I had seen the Silver City road sign on the highway many times. I knew it was some unknown number of mile out there somewhere, but hadn't paid  a lot of attention, except that the name reminded me of towns in the western paperbacks I read  by when I was ten or so.

Then  I read somewhere that  it  was developing as a  little  artsy  town,  so I decided to check it out. Turned out that  the  only thing I found truly exceptionally was the best coffeehouse I had ever visited to that time. Not  wanting to waste the seven hundred or so miles I had already driven, I decided to make a big loop  up around northwestern New Mexico to see what I hadn't seen, then through Albuquerque (which,  though nothing like it was in 1964 when I went through  Peace Corps training at  the University, still,being  the  first place I ever saw a mountain,  has a favored place  in my heart), then back  to Texas through areas of southeastern New Mexico I hadn't been to before.

It was the last  trip I made with my dog and constant travel companion, Reba, who, with me,  investigated the highways and  byways of  20-25 states over the course of several years. It was after this that she developed arthritis and couldn't travel because of the pain, the same pain that  eventually became  so severe and so constant that it took over her mind and we were forced, after nearly twenty years  with us, to the mercy of putting her down.

...558  miles
and one time zone

San Antonio
to El Paso

a long day's  drive
in the country

     stone-wrapped hills
     to  long-stretched fingers
     of pink Chihuahua Desert

     blue sky, blue on blue
     on deep  ocean blue sky,
     to jagged clouds
     dark and sharply racing

and little towns along
the way

Segovia Senora Saragosa
Sierra Blanca
and Van Horn

all pass

the miles and  hours
and skies and hills
and deserts
and all the little towns
pass quickly

     on the ridge
     a line of  dead trees,
     oak blight killing scrub oak
     all around

     reminding  me of a picture

     I once saw
     of a lone tree,
     bare and burned,
     among the ruins at

     these trees like that,
     bare limbs
     reaching up,grasping
     at the sky

     in the pasture below
     a mare and her foal eat grass
     generous and green

the roadway
blasted through stony hills,
in the rock walls on either side
of geologic time...

     near the top,
     a woman and a man passed,
     nearly human,
     and down here, by my feet
     a fish
     crawled awkwardly
     from the sea...

...going  down now,
still on  the dirt-rocky-rough road,
but believing an  end was in sight
and a herd of  deer
cross the road  in  front of me

     a very large buck
     and 25 to 30 doe and fawns,
     fluffy white and brown stub-tails
     in the wind,
     all together as a group,
     coming down the mountain
     in great  bounds, over the road,
     then back up
     on the other side
     winged creatures
     who, through  fate or folly,
     lost their wings
     but still try to fly, almost
     with each great leap

passing through a burned out

portion of forest,
pine and aspen  tall  and limb-less
black as  the coal
they have become while still they
reach for the sky,
i stop and listen to the wind,
all around deep-forest quiet but
for the wind
passing through these  poor

ghost whispers...

The last  poem from my library this week is by Lorenzo Thomas, and it's taken from his  book, Dancing  on Main  Street, published by Coffee House  Press in 2004.

Lifelong Learning

One day my Dad
Whatever else we were in life
We should be rich

I don't like being poor
He said, I don't  like
Getting up  at 4 o'clock dark
Day after day
a subways to somebody's job
To put 3 dollars ever week
into a Christmas Club
And after  scrimp and save and all

What  came
The end of every month
The same rob Peter
To pay Paul

There's got to be a better way
"Direct mail"
was the road  we chose
To riches

We sent away for
Mailing lists, ordered a crate of doohickeys
Printed 1,000 flashy ads
Return address embossed
The name we picked
Would sound to suckers like we'd been
In business for a century

"Purveyors of fine doohickeys"

We didn't  do so well
Of course
A small fortune in stamps  was lost
By Christmas
No cash  left to shop
We did the best
With  what we'd got:
Doohickeys  went  to  all our friends.

What never broken never mends

Here's my last new poem for the week. We've had wonderful  rain  beginning near the end of April, then  through  most of May. It  has  turned the world green, bringing our aquifer that we depend on for just about all our water near high enough to pull us out of rationing for the first time in several years.  Two feet short of the mark, and, as the drier part of the summer begins, it  seems that's about as  close  as we can get.

This  last  rain was a couple of days ago. A storm like this, still  something to celebrate.


from the north
from nowhere, massive
front of yellow and red on the radar

a contradiction in rain, falling
like poured from a bucket,
but with no force,
no urgency,
no wind...

but with massive lightning
across the sky,
spider webs of light
stretching from horizon to horizon,
some like brilliant lances
spearing  the ground
all around,
one striking a light pole
about thirty yards from me,
sparks and very bright light,
then, on the other side of the road,
an even brighter light,
an electric transformer blown
and it's  the brightest light I've ever seen,
blinding, white light,
overwhelming the dark
the promised light Revelation,
the sun exploding,
all our worries burned away,
within the charred ash
of our remains

and it's all over now...

As usual, everything belongs to who made it. You're welcome to use my stuff, just, if you do, give appropriate credit to "Here and Now" and me.

And I haven't mentioned it lately, but I'm allen itz owner and producer of this blog.

And diligent seller of books as well, specifically these and specifically here:

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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