Black and White Are Colors Too   Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In October, 2009, we took a trip through the South and down the Blueridge Parkway, taking along the way some of the most beautiful fall-color pictures I have ever done. I've used those pictures here before. This week, I took some of those most beautiful fall-color photos I've ever taken and turned them into the starkest black and white photos I could. Go figure.

They did come out kind of interesting though, the beauty of lines and shapes replacing the beauty of color. That was the plan, anyway. And because, black and white are colors too.

My anthology this week is the flag of childhood, poems from the middle east, selected by my favorite San Antonio poet Naomi Shihab Nye. The book was published by Aladdin Paperbacks in1998.

Nye, whose father was  Palestinian and her mother, American, lives in San Antonio, but travels the world, including the Middle East,  frequently.

My old poems this week are very early "relationship" poems, some published, some not.

I was, by the way, a very bad tuba player, which was a good thing in that it gave me lots of time to listen to the music, which, if it did nothing else, made me a lover of classical and most other types of music.

And, as usual, in addition to all of that, my own new poems and poems from my library.

Before I move on to the stuff of the week, I received this email message from one of my San Antonio poet friends and occasional contributor to Here and Now, Margaret Mayberry - an invitation to other San Antonio poets on behalf of the San Antonio Poet's Association.Margaret invites new members to join the group. Annual dues are $25 and the group meets at Bethany Congregational Church on the corner of Panda and Pilgrim. She says that they  have monthly contests, good food at their monthly meetings and fellowship with fellow poets. She specifies that they do the kind of poetry that you might read to children or mothers - no "slam" or "rap." (Though I maintain that Dr.Seuss is the best rapper ever and just right for kids - only need to add some beats.)

And, moving on here's  what I have for you this week.

The lot  I got:

that kind of morning

Hanan Ashrawi
From  the Diary of an Almost-Four-Year-Old  

flying a kite with katie
imogene gets away clear
five minutes in the fire  with fiona

"Unsent Letters" 1-3

I wait for rain

while  a bald  man burns

Nazim  Hikmet
Optimistic Man

Jorie Graham
Little Exercise

heigh ho

Kemalettin Tugeu
Mr. Ahmet's Shoes

Gladly, in pursuit of his dream girl

Basho, Buson & Issa
Three Haiku

small talk

Muhammad al-As'ad
A song

Quasim Haddad
All  of Them

at the end

Demetria Martinez
We Talk About Spanish

they'll know what we mean

Fadwa Tugan
Enough for  Me

Fawziyya Abu Khalid

Gokhan Tok

rules of silence

Zbigniew Herbert
Chinese Wallpaper

I'll  wait to see what Jesus does

Yhudit Kafri
White Jacket

lying with  my lover on the beach at midnight

Kenneth W. Brewer  
At the Surface

the creature lives

Sohrab Sepehri
    from The Sound of Water's  Footsteps

in the soup

to rant, to scream, to kick some  ass   

 I had a couple of nights last week when, after a period  of several  weeks of sleeping  poorly, I  really slept well. A good night's sleep increases the loveliness of the world multifold.

that kind of morning

walking early,
cool but moist air
blown  from the coast
where heavy rain yesterday
followed the gulf's arc from Brownsville
and into Louisiana, pinto beans to red beans and  rice,
but none for us here, yellow and red on the radar
up  into the coastal plains while the hill country stayed dry

despite the damp that clings like  a wet t-shirt,
a good morning  for  dog-walking
as the worst of summer gives way to the first cool
of autumn, creeping ever so slow,
over the hills,  the heat of the day delayed
until noon or sometimes later

after three months
of walking half our regular circular  morning route,
we do it all today, feeling the cusp of season change,
hoping by our effort to push it over
the edge...

we encourage  ourselves,  I feel i in myself
and in the dog's  gait, pushing with me

and then a full moon
the clouds
and dark night becomes bright in the glow
of the new moon

it is remarkable
to feel one seasons
and  a new one rise...

it was  that kind of morning

Here's the first poem from this week's anthology, The Flag of Childhood, Poems from the Middle East.   The poet is Hanan Ashrawi. Born in Nablus in 1946, Ashrawi is a Palestinian legislator, activist, and scholar. She was educated at the American University in Beirut, where she received an MA in Renaissance Literature and textual criticism. Denied re-admittance by Israel to her home on the West Bank she was offered and received a full scholarship to the University of Virginia  where she earned her doctorate in English and Comparative Literature. 

In addition to being a well-know voice for  Palestinians and the Palestinian cause, she established, after being allowed to return to the West Bank in 1973, the English Department at the University of  Birzeit, teaching, chairing the department and serving as Dean of the Faculty of Arts.

From  the Diary of an Almost-Four-Year-Old

Tomorrow, the bandages
will come off. I wonder
will  I see half a orange,
half an apple, half my
mother's face
with my one remaining eye?

I did not see the bullet
but felt the pain
exploding in my head.
His image did not
vanish, the soldier
with a big gun, unsteady
hands, and a look in 
his eyes
I could not understand.

If I could see him so clearly
with my eyes closed,
it could be that inside our heads
we each have one spare set
of eyes
to make up for the ones we lose.

Next month, on my birthday,
I'll have a brand new glass eye,
maybe things will look round
and fat in the middle -
I've gazed through all my marbles,
they made the world look strange.

I hear a nine-month-old
has also lost an eye,
I wonder if my soldier
shot her too - a soldier
looking for a little girl who
look him in the eye -
I'm old enough, almost four,
I've seen enough of life,
but she's just a baby
who didn't know any better.

 Here, from my old poems for the week, are two poems in a series I did tied to women's names in the poem titles.

I wrote the first of the three poems in 2001. It was published in a favorite journal of mine, eclectica, in 2002, and then, in 2005-2006, I included it in my first book, Seven Bats a Second.

flying a kite with katie

and dives
and loops the loops,
a blue and white kite
against  a blue and white sky

beside  me,
brown on brown,
with white teeth
flashing in laughter
at the glory of the day

she holds the string,
pulls as the kite begins to stall,
lets loose when a gust of summer wind
lifts the kite and takes it toward the clouds

and I hold her,
not so tight, she says,
this is hard to do, she says,
back off so I can concentrate, she says

and I back away
as a great flurry of wind comes,
billows her dress against her back and legs
and she seems to fly like the kite a way from me

The second  in this series was written in 2002 and  published that same year in Scope Journal.

imogene gets away clean

comes and goes
in a swirl of sex and musky intrigue
leaving men of every age
to twist
in the vapors
of her libidinous wake

imaginings burn
like a fever in their softened
made irrelevant
by the lower conscious
that hangs between their legs
like a divining rod
as those very night fantasizes
that have nurtured the growth
of a thousand fancied dissatisfactions
pass in the flesh

comes and goes
leaving a path of wreckage
like a summer storm
across the green and golden
pastures of well-ordered lives

she leaves behind
like the wind leaves behind
a broken tree, like a flood
leaves behind sodden fields

unaffected untouched

imogene gets away clean
every time

Here's another of the series. I had a lot of fun doing these, though they did get less interesting as I went along and finally I just quit doing them.

This one I wrote in 2001 and it was finally published in The Muse Apprentice in 2004.

five minutes in the fire with fiona

under the table
          her leg
          against mine
          up and down

reaching for a paperclip
           her hand
           brushes mine
           long red nail
           leaving a trail
           of fire a scar

peering intently
           at the paperclip
           turns it over
           her fingertip
           slowly over
           the rounded
           end tongue
           pink against
           her  lip in

           does she
           sneak a
           at me...

I hear my name called...

for the third time
I realize
and look to the end
of the table past
the double rows
of staring eyes

yes sir
          I ask

your report
          he says

we're waiting
for your report

a low laugh beside me
           like a whisper
           like a breath of
           warm air in a
           frigid room

           she said


           was it just


First  from my library this week, I have the first three pieces from an on-line chapbook by my poet friend, Anonymous. The title of the chapbook is Dead Letter Office, originally published in 2012 by Rain Dog  Press. This new edition is by Philistine Press.

Unsent Letter #1


There's a mallard and his mate outside my window. The rose bushes
have been uprooted, ready to be replaced. Across the street the police
are in the process of arresting a woman. Her husband (boyfriend) leans
against the building like he's seen it all before. It's difficult. I think I'm
ruined. I'll take my chances in slivers; not brave enough to flat out ask
and too smart (afraid) to blow it all by being honest. If you were here
I couldn't fake it. But you're not. You're a handwritten letter; an untold
story. Tomorrow, the landscapers will be back.


Unsent Letter #2


Now, there is nothing but dirt.They took the trees, bushes;
even part of the sidewalk.The police are gone.The flashing
red and blue a quiet promise of their return. I want to tell you
stories. I want to find one more way to turn the truth. I want
to be subversive. I'll confess my crimes. I'll take my chances;
tell you what you think you already know. I do plan to post this
bundle of letters. Maybe I'll redact them. As if they were sent
from a war zone or some Eastern Bloc country before the wall.



Unsent Letter #3


Sometimes I no longer believe you're real; this letter
will sit in the dead letter office. Unopened and unread
until one rainy day, a bored  employee will wonder who
it was meant for. They'll open it, read it aloud; create
their own narrative. I wonder will the be able to see
the curve off our hand, the spot on your wrist I used
to kiss; the freckle on your rib. On my window ledge
a petal, used to be a rose. It's a stamp that's fallen
off an envelope; one more letter unable to be delivered.


The day after the last poem, celebration in that  poem premature.

I wait for rain

it did not rain
last  night, or the night before
or the night before,
two and a half months that it did not  rain
the night before...

like yesterday,
heavy rain on the coast,
sweeping across the plains,
then stalled and disappearing from the map
just fifty miles or  so
from the hills that are my drying  dusty

but like in horseshoes
close is not enough...

I think of 1952, I was
eight years old

Ike had gone
and the war was about to be over,
meaning my brother,
gone two years,
would be home soon,
any day,

every day
my mother watched the dirt road
that led to our tiny town's
bus station,
while I fidgeted and squirmed
in my desk at school,
imagining him, waiting for the end of school,
waiting for me like  we  waited
for him

until one afternoon
about five,  I was doing homework
and Mom was putting the finishing touches
on dinner, putting  an  extra plate
on the table as  she always
did,  we heard the whistle, the song
he always whistled on his way home from school,
and looking down the dusty road
we could see him coming,
still in uniform,
duffel bag resting on his shoulder

he was home again...

like the rain
that will sometime come,
not last night
or the night before,
but maybe tonight or the night after,
some night,  like my brother
coming home
from the war, the  rain will come,
and like with my brother's return,our
impatient waiting
will be rewarded in the  cool wet
of dreams
dreamed until at  our doorstep
they stop
and become real...

I  waited for my brother;
now I wait for rain


I had a lot of fun with this one too. It was written in 2000; published in  Avant Gard Times in 2001.

while a bald man burns

three gulls circle
a bald man burns
in the fierce island sun
I trace gargoyles
in the sand
with my toe
you pretend to study
the book in your hand
three gulls circle
in the fierce island sun

Next from this week's anthology, The Flag of Childhood, I have a short  poem by Turkish poet, playwright and memorist, Nazim Hikmet. Born in 1902 in what is now part of Greece, but then part of the Ottoman Empire, where his father  served in the foreign service. He  grew up in Istanbul, he left and went to Moscow after the first world war during Turkey's occupation by the Allied powers. After Turkey regained its independence in 1924, he returned home but was soon arrested for working on a leftist magazine. He escaped back to Moscow, then returned to  Turkey in 1928, beneficiary of a general amnesty. He remained there for ten years, until arrested again as a communist. Again he escaped  to the Soviet Union where he lived until his death in Moscow in 1963.

Known as Turkey's first modern poet, he is considered one of the great international poets of the 20th century.

His poem was translated by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk.

Optimistic Man

as a child he  never plucked the wings off flies
he didn't tie tin cans to cats' tails
or lock beetles in matchboxes
or stomp anthills
he grew up
and all those things were  done  to him
I was at his bedside  when he died
he said read me a poem
about  the sun and the sea
about nuclear reactors and satellites
about the greatness of humanity

Due to  a very unusual confluence of events this past week, I'm nearly a day and a half behind my normal  schedule for posting, meaning  that for  my next library poem I'm using one of the very few (maybe the  only) short poem in the book,  Overlord, by Pulitzer  Prize winner Jorie Graham. The book, published in 2005 by HarperCollins, speaks of the Allied invasion of Europe in  the second world war through the eyes and voice of those who were there those first days and weeks.

It's a wonderful book, and I'm thinking of coming back to it for the longer poems that I don't have time to do this week.

Little Exercise

The screen is full of voices, all  of them holding  their tongues.
Certain things have to be "undergone," yes.
To come to  a greater state of conscientiousness, yes.

Let the face  show itself through the screen.
Let the organizing  eyes show themselves.
Let  them float to the surface of this shine and glow there.

The world now being killed by its children. Also its guests.

An oracle - a sniper, a child beater, a dying parent in the house,
so so overfed it cannot hold a root  system in place?
Look - the slightest wind undoes the young crop.

Are we  "beyond salvation"? Will you not speak?
Such a large absence - shall  it not  compel the largest presence?
Can we not break the wall?
And can it please not be a mirror lord?

I wore cowboy boots,  almost exclusively, for at least 40 years. Nowadays, it feels good to put them on again, but not for long and especially not  if I plan anything more than a little walking. Seems I still have the cowboy boots, but the cowboy feet are long gone.

heigh ho

my cowboy boots today

left my sloppy old slip-ons
at home today;
wearing my cowboy boots instead...

not for any particular
cowboy reason

don't imagine I'll be getting along any little dogies today
and surely don't expect to be pushing
any red-eyed  devil herd through Bushwhacker Gulch

almost certain I won't be sitting
cookie's campfire
eating beans and bacon,
listening to him over in the chuck wagon
busting them pots and pans

won't  be  pushing past the swinging doors
at the Last Dollar saloon,
pulling tail feathers off  high kicking floozies,
but will  be saying
"Howdy, ma'am"
to the floozies cause I'm naturally cowboy-polite,
and also to any highfalutin ladies
I might see, and bronco-
busting cowgirls ad the pretty-little-library-lady
with high-swept hair and sweet little  lips
and deep blue eyes and a virginal
air - I'd be
mighty lucky
to  see that,  but I doubt I will

and I'm not packing iron
so I expect I'll be OK at he shootout corral
and won't  have any need to visit  boot hill
either prone or standing

if I see any injuns
I'll just say
and if they say
I'll just tell'um
that's the way it is in the movies,
and I"ll say it with great  respect
because they'd be real Indians and all I know
about real Indians
is what I  learned at the 25 cent movies
60 years ago
and I  ain't a cowboy,
not  even the singing kind
like Gene or Roy

and though I'm  wearing cowboy boots
today don't mean I expect
to  have a cowboy

it's just
it's  nice  here, riding the range on my  drugstore saddle,
feeling like THE MAN

it's like heigh
ho, you

Again from  The Flag of Childhood, I have a poem by Kemalettin Tugeu.

Born in 1902 in Istanbul, Tugeu was a very well known and prolific novelist, screenwriter and poet. He died in Istanbul in 1996. Based on a very bad Google translation from Turkish, this is all I can say about him with any certainty.

His poem was translated by Yusuf Eradam.

Mr. Ahmet's Shoes

He'd spare his shoes and wouldn't  walk in them
Every evening he'd clean them for the next day

He'd knock at their bottoms and listen to the sound
He'd say this is pure French leather

His shoes had a special brush and cloth
He'd always keep them clean inside and out

Every evening as soon as he got home he'd put on his
His only concern in life was his shoes

He'd set out with a bismillah and walk the asphalt roads
He knew that this shoe  nation would rot in snow  waters

The shoes took their place reserved next to the door
Poor Mr. Ahmet  would put them side by side

He'd say, "These shoes will last for so many more years."
He'd  say so but unfortunately his life did not last that long

They did not throw his shoes away
Nor did they sell them to anyone as the shoes had great

Okay, so this poem is not high literary art. It happens sometimes. Just don't stand in front of the fan.

The poem was written in 2000, then published a couple of months later in The Melic Review.

Gladly, in pursuit of his dream girl

in pursuit of his dream girl,
was not a boy easily discouraged.

inept in the skills of the chase, he forged ahead
with the good-natured resolve of the blissfully

     Gladly Abracadably
         he would say
     the man of mystery and magic.

He had a line for every girl. 

      How's the weather up there?
           he'd ask the tall ones, or,
       Let me help you out of that hole,
           if they were short

lines for the big ones
                    small ones
                    bright ones

lines for every day and time,
multilingual, multicultural,
lines for almost every one

   what he didn't have
         was a line that led
              any of them to give
                  him the time of day.

So, it finally came, one night, at a disco called

          We're Way Too Cool For You

 when he was just about to give it all up.

        It's no use, he said to himself,
                   looking forlornly
                   at his glass of
                   Diet Slice.

In a world of bar-b-que banquets,
       he sighed,
it's baloney and beans for me.

At this very moment, the very moment
     as it would happen,
of Gladly's final surrender to the despair
     of the formerly
that he felt a tap on his shoulder and heard
     a tentative giggle...
was that really a giggle he heard, 
     a feminine giggle,
a friendly feminine giggle he heard...

     Shirley Prestowhirly,
          she said
      looking for magic and dreams

 Next, I have three Haiku,  one each by Basho, Buson, and  Issa, the three masters of the form. They are from the anthology, The Sound of Water,  published by Shambhala in 2000. I exercised great restraint by doing only one poem from each poet. For me, with these poems I am like I am with Walt Whitman.  Once  I  start I don't want to quit.

The poems were translated by Sam Hamill.

from Basho

Gray hairs being plucked,
and from below my pillow
a cricket singing

from Buson

The late evening  crow
of deep autumn longing
suddenly cries out

from Issa

In the midst  of this world
we  stroll along the roof of hell
gawking at flowers

I've been married approaching  40 years now. Cannot imagine how it would have been to have spent all those years with a person like the one in this poem, a new breakfast observational from last week.

small talk

old man, beard and pointy, waxed mustache,
sitting in the booth in front of me with his youngish wife...

never stops talking

professorial in tone, analyzing each bit of food
on his plate, where it came from
and how much it should have cost compared
to how much he's paying for it, and
how much the restaurant pays
in staff costs and electricity and rent and how much less
they could have charged for his breakfast
and still made a profit
about the liquid in his ear and how it's
sloshing from one side
of his head
to the other, and how their hotel
here compares
to their hotels elsewhere
and how the drivers here compare
to the drivers in other  places
and the weather
compared to the weather
in other places
and the liquid in his ear
that's sloshing from one side
of his head
to the other and
on and on
on some more,
a 45 minute monologue
during which his wife speaks not once
as far as I can  tell
and I wonder about living with this
pointy mustached narcissist,
listening to him through
all her waking
and I want to stop as I pass their booth and pat her on
the shoulder
and say, never fear, dear, he has to run out
of words
or breath someday, with any luck,

he does, look
me up, I don't hardly
at all

Next, two short  poems from this week's anthology,  The Flag of Childhood.

The first of the two is by Muhammad al-As'ad.

I can't find a photo of the poet, the bio in  the book says he was born in 1944 in Palestine and lived in a village near Haifa until his family moved to Iraq after becoming refugees in 1948. He has worked as a journalist in Kuwait and has published poetry, criticism and an autobiography. At the time the anthology was  published, he lived in Cyprus.

His poem was translated by May Jayyusi and Jack Collon.

A Song

When we remember things
One string rings out.
Woman alone
Plays on all the strings
With one stroke
Because she is the entire homeland.

The second poet is Quasim Haddad, a Bahraini poet whose poems have been translated  into several language,  including English, German and  French.

This poem was translated by Sharif S. Elmusa and Charles Doria.

All of Them

Everybody said it was useless
Everybody said,  "you're trying to lean on sun dust"
    that the beloved before whose tree I stand
        can't be reached

Everybody said, "you're crazy to throw yourself
      headlong into a volcano and sing"
Everybody said that salty mountains
      won't yield even one glass of wine
Everybody said, "You can't dance on one foot"
Everybody said there won't be any lights at the party
That's what they all said
but everybody came to the party anyway.

This old poem was published in 2002, never sent anywhere, never published anywhere. Except for here, now.

Trying to  remember where Bob Hall Pier is . Can't remember.

at the end

at the end of Bob Hall Pier
gulf winds
blow up
a briny
the Texas
at mid-day
with early 
fog that
on a
bone froze


The next poet from my library is Demetria Martinez, from her book Breathing Between the Lines, published by The University of Arizona Press in 1997. The poet is a poet, novelist, journalist, teacher and activist. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico she earned her BA at Princeton University in 1982.

We  Talk About Spanish

Not in Spanish
Dream with dictionaries
Marrying out to whites
Damn good black beans
But so what?
Damn good politics
But so what?
Oh there  were times
Like in the orange groves
Outside Phoenix
My task was to mark charts
To ask the guatemaltecas
When was your last period
And so on as they lined up
At the trailer to  see a doctor

And that night in Harvard Yard
A North Vietnamese
Soldier-poet tested
Spanish he learned in Cuba
It worked
We found a third way
His voice a high wire
I crossed over to him
Fearless as a spider
If we didn't know  a word
We filled in the blank
With a star
It is a light
That  years later
I try not to curse

This next new poem from last week (I wrote it on the anniversary of the Washington march) is sure to offend some, maybe many. For which I cannot apologized since I know no way to honestly talk about offensive people without laying their offense out for all to see and being offensive myself in turn.

they'll know what we mean

so now
the crazies are saying
they want to

not so clear as to why

possibly because
a Kenyan...

or maybe because
he's a socialist, or maybe
a fascist...

or maybe
a Moslem, possible, as are most of that kind,
a Jihadist...

not to mention, of course, his war on
Christianity, burning churches,
hanging Episcopal preachers from every high tree,
gotta  stop this man, they say,
before the collection plates run dry
and we have to put all the priests to work
at daycare centers
to  earn their daily bread and water...

because of his war-mongering ways...

(not sufficiently war-mongering for their tastes,
hasn't started even one decent war
in five years)

could be because
of his budget-busting, deficit reduction success,
a clear and present danger
to their pretensions...

or maybe because of that Obamacare
healthy Americans, babies and mommas
and grandma and grandpa, the whole caboodle,
healthy and alive...


I imagine we'll hear all these reasons
even  though
they haven't got around  to tell them to us yet...

but the real reason,  the one they'll never tell us
the truth of their deep, dark heart----

well,  hell,
he's a NIGGER,

but can't be  saying that,
they'll warn
their followers...

so let's just say he's a
incompetent War-Monger
excessively competent Deficit-Buster
Socialized Medicalizer...

we can  say all that,
but we don't need to say the other
cause everyone who
will know what we really
 without saying


Next, I have three short poems  from this week's anthology.

The first is by Fadwa Tuqan, a Palestinian born in 1917 in Nablus, where she still lived when the anthology was published. Taught by her brother in her  early years, she later graduated from the University of Oxford. The poet died in 2003.

Her poem was translated by Salma Khadra Jayyusi and Naomi Shihab Nye.

Enough for Me

Enough for me to die on her earth,
be buried in her
to melt and vanish into  her soil
then sprout forth as a flower
played with by a child from my country
Enough for me to remain
in my country's embrace
to be in her close as a handful of dust
    a sprig of grass
             a flower

The next short poem from the anthology is by Fawziyya Abu Khalid.

Born in Saudia Arabia in 1955, the poet grew up in Riyadh, studied sociology in the United States and has taught at the Girls' College of King Saud University. Her first book of poems was published when she was eighteen.

Here poem was translated by Salwa Jabsheh and John Heath-Stubbs


Without paper or pen
     into your heart I reach
Listening is more poignant
     than any speech

The last of the three short poems from the anthology is by Gokhan Tok. Born in 1972 in Ankara, Tok graduated from the sociology department of the Middle East  Technical University and works at The Turkish Foundation of Science and Research.

His poem was translated by Yusuf Eradam.


You never  hear it
but at breakfast the sweetest talk
is between the jam and the honey.

I wrote this next  poem in 2003. It  was picked up and published very late  that year after all the places who usually published my stuff showed no interest. I thought it was a very effective piece of work and included it in Seven Beats a Second.

the rules of silence

cold and silent
as a winter night,
a glance, sharp
like the crack
of breaking ice

          sorry I'm late
          I say

          she says,
          I'm listening

          to what?
          I ask,
          I don't hear anything

          I wouldn't think you would,
          she says,
          I wouldn't think so

and she turns her face
to the table, to the cold perfection
of the little squares she draws,
little squares, stacked atop
little squares, pages and pages
of little squares  on little squares

I think of the warm summer night
I just left, the winking fireflies,
the summer sounds of children,
laughing, playing in the early dark,
the sounds of neighbor children, laughing,
playing in the warm summer night

          she says,
          I'm listening

and I listen with her

My next library poet is Polish poet Zbigniew Herbert with two short poems from the collection of his work, Elegy for the Departure (and other  poems), published a year after his death in 1998.
Born in 1924, he was  a poet,  essayist, drama writer and moralist. A member of the Polish resistant group during World War II, he is  one of the most  known and translated poets of  the  post-war period.


     Designated in the guide by two stars (in reality three are
more), the entire principality - the city, sea, and a  piece of sky -
at first balance looks wonderful. The  tombs are whitewashed, the
houses opulent, the flowers fat.
     All the citizens are guardians of souvenirs. Because of a
small inflow of  tourists there is little work - an our in the
morning, and hour in the evening.
     In the middle, a siesta.
     Red as an eiderdown, a cloud of snoring hovers over the
principality. Only the prince is not asleep. He rocks to sleep the
head of the local god.
     The hotels and boarding houses are occupied by angels who
have taken a liking to the principality for its warm spas, serious
customs, and air that is distilled by the labor of pens polishing

Chinese Wallpaper

     A deserted island with the sugary head of a volcano. In the
middle of smooth water,  reeds and a fisherman with a pole.
Higher, an island is spread out like an apple tree with a pagoda
and small bridges, where lovers meet under the blossoming
     If that was  all, it would be a nice episode; a history of the
world in a few words. But it is repeated into infinity with
thoughtless, stubborn exactitude: volcano, lovers, the moon.
     One cannot make a greater insult to the world.

From last week, a kind of down day. Didn't want to do  anything,  the second such day. The first day I just took the day off from the world. This day,  the second, I  decided to at least demonstrate that I was alive by stringing a dozen  or fewer words  together.

I'll wait  to see what Jesus does

going  spit-spat
on the sidewalk

may be our rain
for today

maybe not

just like
this might be my poem
for today


I'll see what God
has in mind for the rest of the day...

see what Jesus does
then follow his

My next poet from the anthology is Israeli poet, writer, editor and translator Yhudit Kafri. Born in 1935 in Kibbutz Ein Ha Horesh, she has received awards for her poetry, children's books, memoirs, and biographies.

The poem was translated by Lami.

White Jacket

The white-wool knit jacket
With a decorative pin
Which my grandpa and grandma sent me from Kovel
When I was two
And it was sent to the communal storeroom
And I never wore it, not even once,
My God,
Grandma and Grandpa  were murdered there
A whole Jewry destroyed
And I search throughout my life
For a white-wool knit jacket
Which my grandma knit for me and decorated
With a pin
And went down to the post office and sent it
In a package which my grandpa had packed lovingly
A small white hand-knitted jacket
For a little girl of two
All my life
And cannot find it.

(In communal Israeli settlements, kibbutzim, of the thirties, clothes for all the adults and children were kept in and distributed from a central storeroom.)

I could have used  this next old piece  several weeks when I posted a bunch of old poems from the coast., but I don't think I did. I wrote it in 2001 and it was published later in the year in The Green Tricycle.

lying with my lover on the beach at midnight

the beach was best at midnight,
when the day trippers were at home
nursing sunburns, or in a bar,
honky-tonk dancing in gritty flip-flops.

the beach was best at midnight
when its beauty was  ours alone,
when its sand gleamed in white moonlight
and stars spread across the gulf sky,
a blanket of lights across the bed
of soft tropic night; when the surf,
breaking against the shore in ordered rows,
was the only sound in the airy silence.

the beach was best at midnight
when we lay together on a sandy towel,
enveloped in the star-lit whisper
of the rising, falling  waves.

 The last poem from my library is by Kenneth W.  Brewer, from his book Sum of Accidents. The book was published in 2003 by City Art of Salt Lake City.

Brewer was born in 1941 and died of pancreatic cancer in 2006. He was educated at Butler University, Western New Mexico University, New Mexico  State University and earned a PhD from the University of Utah where he taught for many years. Author of eight books of poetry, he served as Poet Laureate of the State of Utah.

At the Surface

I have hard talk
about the edge of the universe
from a physicist
whose imagination
skips past his tongue
directly to paradigms
on a blackboard -
the adventure of chalk-talkers
over the sermonist  of the mount.

and I have heard
that some fish communicate by sonar
at a depth of ocean
where  we cannot breathe,
where the sun dissipates,
sweetens the darkness
like a cup of tea.

And in Russia
a few infants swim
from the moment of birth,
from the watery depths of birth
in a pool with dolphins
who nuzzle them like midwives.

Alternately, I cup my ears,
dog-paddle, push my lips outward
to the edge of that
bubbling surface I cannot  see.

Every three months I get up  very early and have  blood drawn for a bunch of different kinds of analysis. A week  later, I go to  the doctor and she reviews the lab's findings, and say. okay, see you again in three months.

I would consider this a large waste of time,  except that it  seems to work. I am still alive.

the creature lives

close encounter with my

our regular  quarterly meeting
during which
sharp objects  are  thrust
into  my unwilling parts
and my bodily fluids are hijacked
for analysis
to affirm that,  yes,
the creature
and might continue
thus,  at
until the next pincushion
party three months

lying there bleeding copiously,
my thoughts turn to the
ancient past
60 years ago,
in the little town where I grew up,
it  didn't seem strange
to me
that the town pharmacist
would recognize me,
just a kid, ten years old,
on sight

 after all,
everyone knew everyone,
he just happened to have a little extra
insight of the physical
of everyone,  their health and hygiene habits
and which sixteen year olds
buying rubbers when they were fifteen
and which of those
passingly knowledgeable of how
to use them...

nobody knows nothing
about nobody
(unless  they happen to work for the NSA,
which I almost did
another story having nothing do do with this)

yet, still,
in a city of a million and a half,
all the pharmacists and pharmacy aides
where I go to  get my prescriptions
both my name and my face
when I walk in
and usually know what I'm due
to  refill

thinking about this familiarity
to me
that I might be  over-medicating

but then,
is is true, the creature does
still live

My last poet this week from the anthology, The Flag of Childhood, is Sohrab Sepehri. Born in Iran in 1928, he is considered by many to be one of the most gifted poets writing in Persian. He has published many books and is also a painter.

The poet died of  leukemia in Tehran in 1980.

The poem was translated by Massud Farzan.

Every week I do this I hope to run across at least one poem that blows my mind. This is that poem for this week. As I read it, one name kept running through my mind - Walt Whitman. I find very many shadows of him in this piece.

from The Sound of Water's Footsteps

I am from Kashan...
I am a Moslem
my Mecca is a red rose
my prayer-spread the  stream, my holy clay the light
my prayer-rug the field
I do ablutions to the rhythm of the rain upon the
In my prayer runs the moon, runs the light
the particles of my prayer have turned translucent
upon the minaret of the cypress tree
I say my prayer in the mosque of grass
and follow the sitting and rising of the wave...

I saw  many things upon the earth:
I saw a beggar who went from door to door
singing the lark's song
I saw a poet who addressed the lily of the valley as "lady"...
I saw a train carrying light
I saw a train carrying politics (and going so empty)
I saw a train carrying morning-glory seeds and canary songs
and a plane, through its window
a thousand feet high, one could see the earth:
one could see the hoopoe's crest
the butterfly's beauty-spots
the passage of a fly across the alley of loneliness
the luminous wish of a sparrow descending from a pine...

I hear the sound of gardens breathing
the sound off the darkness raining from a leaf
the light clearing its throat behind the tree...
Sometimes,  like  a  stream pebble, my soul is washed clean
   and shines
I haven't  seen two pine trees hate each other
I haven't seen a poplar sell its shadow
the elm tree  gives its branch to the  crow  at no charge
where there is a leaf I rejoice...

I wrote the next poem in 2000. After several years and several trips around the world it was finally picked up by mitachondria in 2004, then included, along with one or two other poems of mine, in a small anthology they published a while later. I have it somewhere in my bookcase, but can't find it now so can't give any more information, like publication date.

in the soup

what's that fly doing in my soup?
                                     she said

the back stroke
              I said

And there you have it,
       of our relationship

she found flies &
I laughed them off


she invited a


to sit down


and I was in the soup                          

As if Republicans in Washington weren't  bad enough, our Texas lowlifes are particularly stupid and/or morally bankrupt. And Texas Democrats are useless, generally rather  feel good about themselves than do anything about it.

Reading the daily newspaper is enough to drive one mad.

to rant, to scream,  to kick some ass

it is my job
to write a poem this very minute

but after
reading today's newspaper
piled on newspapers  from the past several weeks

I don't want to write a poem...

I want to  scream,.
to  rant,
to  register  my discontent
with suitable
impolite action,
to raise hell,
to be offensive,
to shout  obscenities,
to kick some ass,
to get into a bar fight with a pool cue
and a busted beer bottle as my
weapons of choice,
the one
for  severe  blows about the head of  the subjects
of my rage
and the second to
castrate those same evil,political motherfucker lowlifes
so  that there is no  possibility
that the scourge they bring can  be biologically reproduced...

that's what I want to do,
a rant, a scream, a waste  of time
for me and for any reader
so unfortunate
as to stumble across it this early
beautiful day
rants should be restricted to crazy people...

which am not,
though greatly tempted
by this insane, paranoid time
to join the crowd
of loose
roaming like rabid  dogs
the plains and woods and mountains high
of my country...

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, specifically these and specifically here:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBookstore, Sony eBookstore, Copia, Garner's, Baker & Taylor, eSentral, Scribd, eBookPie, and Kobo (and, through Kobo,retail booksellers all across America and abroad)


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


Post a Comment

May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
November 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
April 2013
May 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
September 2013
October 2013
November 2013
December 2013
January 2014
February 2014
March 2014
April 2014
May 2014
June 2014
July 2014
August 2014
September 2014
October 2014
November 2014
December 2014
January 2015
February 2015
March 2015
April 2015
May 2015
June 2015
July 2015
August 2015
September 2015
October 2015
November 2015
December 2015
January 2016
February 2016
March 2016
April 2016
May 2016
June 2016
July 2016
August 2016
September 2016
October 2016
November 2016
December 2016
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017
April 2017
May 2017
June 2017
July 2017
August 2017
September 2017
October 2017
November 2017
December 2017
January 2018
February 2018
March 2018
April 2018
May 2018
June 2018
July 2018
August 2018
September 2018
October 2018
November 2018
December 2018
January 2019
February 2019
March 2019
April 2019
May 2019
June 2019
July 2019
August 2019
September 2019
October 2019
November 2019
December 2019
January 2020
February 2020
March 2020
April 2020
May 2020
June 2020
July 2020
August 2020
September 2020
October 2020
Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Poems Niederngasse
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
The Blogging Poet
Wild Poetry Forum
Blueline Poetry Forum
The Writer's Block Poetry Forum
The Word Distillery Poetry Forum
Gary Blankenship
The Hiss Quarterly
Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
Lawrence Trujillo Artsite
Arlene Ang
The Comstock Review
Thane Zander
Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet