River Run   Wednesday, August 07, 2013

The paradox of San Antonio, dependent almost solely on it's aquifer for the water stored deep below the city in limestone caverns, is that, though almost always in a state of water rationing, much of its daily life is centered around the rivers and creeks and lakes in the city or nearby. The most prominent is the San Antonio River which, born from springs within the city,  passes through  the city, becoming an  integral  part of several large  city parks, creating the city's Riverwalk as it winds through the center of the city, past the five missions that are the reasons the city exists in the first place, through rough wooded and cultivated miles to eventually flow into San Antonio Bay on the Gulf of Mexico. And other rivers either
born or passing through the near countryside, the San Marcos River, the Guadalupe River, the Nueces River, the Blanco and others, all flowing eventually into  the Gulf.

And not just the rivers, but also  the creeks that wind between hills through out  the city, most usually dry except when it rains, when they become flooding rivers themselves, but not all. Like Apache Creek,  three short  blocks from my house, and the small no-name creek behind my house, fed by a spring somewhere in the hills above my house, with constant running water, despite droughts, in the 20 years we've lived beside it, ending as its water  feeds Apache Creek.

So this week, I feature with my photos the waters of San Antonio and and countryside around, oases in a land of constant dry.

My anthology this week is The Wind Shifts - New  Latino  Poetry, published in 2007 by the University Press. I haven't gone deep into this book yet, but I'm  looking forward to it. Those poets who led the renaissance in Hispanic poetry are mostly my age or older. I'm looking forward to enjoying he new generation as much as I have enjoyed the old.

Most of my new poems this week have in common memories of growing up and later living on the Texas Gulf Coast. I return to that them with my old poems, written in the late 1990s, shortly after I had, after a 30 year recess, returned to writing when I retired for the first time. For a while then I was writing poems that were part of what I though of as a Corpus Christi series. There were poems based on memories from the 15 years I lived in Corpus Christi, a city of about a quarter million then and now, on the coast. It seemed at the time and now as well as some of the best years of my life, both personally and professionally. I  like to think I'm a better poet now than I was then,  but I still like the poems for the memories they refresh.

Here's what I have for you this week:

a new story

Sheryl Luna
Learning to Speak   

Watching the Lexington Bought to  Final Berth

Simon  Armitage
In Clover
Draw in the Arctic Circle

waterfront property

Lidia Torres
Listening to Her 

rain on gray water

Diane Clancy
Kemo Sabe    

these southern breezes

David Hernandez
St. Mary's Hospital


Jack Myers
Club Fighters


Rosa Alcala
The Sixth Avenue Go-Go Lounge

Sunrise doesn't  always mean you see the sun
sunrise from 6-E

Nick Carbo
Little Brown Brother 

nights on southern beaches

Carolina Monsivais
Writing the Circle of My Life by Remembering My Grandmother

the moon rising
Welcome Home

Yusef Komunyakaa
Starlight Scope Myopia

remnants of the beginning fading to the end

Francisco Aragon
Bridge over Strawberry Creek

Harbor Bridge

Wendy Cope
Emily Dickinson
At 3 a.m.

finding his own way home        

I did a whole series last week and a few poems the week before based on my experience of being a taxi driver for several months.

Time to  move on

 a new story

I don't remember
the first day I drove a taxi
and I don't remember
the last, it was, still is,
just a thing in my life...

for a long time I did not
drive a cab,
then for a few months
I did
and then did not
and have not for many years
and never will again

it was something
I had fallen into
in the middle of a  year
drifting and lost,
for money, the only other civilian option,
driving a truck
for an ex-girlfriend's father...

from a great
and ultimately failed
adventure, I went back to school
in January,1965, as bored
with it as I had been before
I  left, doing what I had  to do
to  keep my draft  deferment,
facing a summer
when I knew I had to make
some money so that I could
return to college
whether or not,
there being  no real
for a young man in 1965
but military service
which I did not

so I drove a cab,
barely making enough money
to drive my beat-up,
'49 Chevy
to work, not making
enough money to
return to school, facing
certain draft...

then an
a  chance to work for a small
newspaper in a small
town further up the coast...

but after just a few months
of doing that,
the draft notice I had been
running away from, one way or another,
since I was 18

as finally,
the reality of those war years
caught up with me and, mid-January 1966,
a month and a few days
before my 22nd birthday,
I began military service
on a day I have not forgotten,
sleepy and tired after an early morning
bus ride from Houston to Lackland Air Force Base
in San Antonio,
where I met the Drill Instructor,
thin and stringy and tough
who, in a South Carolina drawl,
tagged me, standing out
as the oldest in a group
of 18 and 19 year-olds,  as the
"big'un" and
Big'un I was for six weeks...

a memorable day,
the day a new story began

The first poem from this week's anthology,  The Wind Shifts, New  Latino Poetry, is by Sheryl Luna, inaugural winner of the Andres Montoya Poetry  Prize, awarded in 2004 by the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame. A native  of El Paso, she holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas.

Leaning to Speak

I forgot how to speak. The old man with a gray
beard eyed me, waiting for Spanish.

Years of English rumbled something absent, forgotten.
The Tigua Indian Village, men at the corner bench eating

tamales, Indoors, tables  with white Formica,
floor-tiles peeling. In the steam of cilantro and tomato

children sit cross-legged and sip  caldo de res.
Men smoke afterward in faded jeans and t-shirts lightly rise

around their pecs in the wind . It is how home is all
that's left in the end. The way we all return forever exiled.

History in mud houses and shady river-trees. Canal water
drifts. Children poke crawdads with dry branches. I  spoke

Spanish broken, tongue-heavy. I was once too proud
to  speak Spanish in the barrio. He waits for my voice.

His eyes generations. My brown skin a scandal on the hard streets
of El Paso. But, everyone loves a resurrection. Mauricio on a red

motor bike; Bob,  a green-eyed white war hero, spits tobacco.
The sunlit desert and its gold light falling upon us. Quiero

aprender espanol, I whisper.  he smiles. Blue hills
in the distance sharpen in an old elegance; the wind
hushes itself after howling the silences.

The Lexington was a smaller aircraft carrier of great reputation and achievement. When its time came to be put to rest, it was taken to Corpus Christ as a permanent exhibit and tourist attraction. It was placed at the mouth of the harbor, under the Harbor Bridge and next to the Texas State Aquarium. I watched it brought in and put in place from the Corpus Christi Art Museum directly across the harbor. It was a big event, watched by thousands and I had the best seat in the crowd.

This poem was published back then in a little eZine called The Green Tricycle. A very fine journal that published a number of my poems.

Watching the Lexington Brought to Final Berth

Though small for her class, she dwarfed
the tugs that surrounded her,
three on each side to keep her on course
and two astern to push her to her final berth
between the art museum and the state aquarium.
Stormy weather and the limited maneuverability
of her dependent condition made the narrow passage
at Port Aransas risky, so she had been held in the gulf
for several days, her last days in an open sea.
On this day, under a sky blown cloudless
by the strong winds that sweep the Texas coast,
thousands of people waited to greet her,
cheering her at first sight on the horizon,
wondering at her size as she drew  closer.
She was massive, bigger than they had imagined,
like city block of buildings painted navy gray,
afloat in the choppy bay, pushed through the waves
by tug boats the reached barely midway to her hull.
Delicately, she was turned by the tugs, then pushed,
stern first, into the sandy cradle made to hold her safe.
Not beached, yet not at sea, alive and whole, she was resting,
resting, at last, off a quiet beach in Texas.

My first two library poems this week are by Simon Armitage, from his book Kid,  published  by Faber and Faber in 1992.

Armitage was born in West Yorkshire in 1963. He was winner of one of the first Forward Prizes in 1992, and a year later was the Sunday Times Young Writer  of the Year. He works as a freelance writer,  broadcaster, and playwright, and has written extensively for radio and television.

In Clover

This winter six white  geese have settled near the house.
This morning as she polishes the furniture
and peers across  the river to their  nesting  place

she finds the gaggle floating off downstream, and there
instead is one white egg sat upright in the sand.
The geese, distracted with a crust, are unaware

as Rose, her eldest, in ankle  socks and sandals
cradles the egg in the lap of her pinafore
and picks a safe way back across the stepping-stones.

She cracks the contents on a bed of cornflower
and paints policemen on the empty halves of shell
to  sell as plant-pot-men in next month's flower show.

Later, the six white  geese  will crane  their necks to smell
the fine egg-pudding cooling on  the window-sill.

Drawing the Arctic Circle

The last blizzard softens into sleet.
A certain heat gets under the shingle.
Glaciers rupture with  the echo of metal.
Pack-ice is putting out to sea.

Arctic poppies bend in the breeze.
Bones sweat in the Eskimo middens.
Kelp slackens back to the meltwater-streams.
Atoms glitter in the solar wind..

Helen, you are the sweetest sister.
It's kind of you and Tom to offer.
Greenland is much as we imagined.
We've brought enough Scotch  to sink the Titanic.

The  stars seem almost  close enough  to touch.
God help us both if this is summer.
The sun shines all day and all night
but it has no warmth, no  light, no color.

The beach, can't hardly abide it at all anymore, but it wasn't always that way.

waterfront property

I grew  up 30 miles from the southernmost tip
of South Padre Island,  swam
on the white sand beaches
of the Gulf of Mexico
in the days
when only a long,rickety bridge
could get you there,
and before the bridge,
on Boca Chica beach,
a few  miles  from Brownsville,
where the "little mouth"
of the Rio Grande  River emptied
into the

in later life
I lived for fifteen years
within sight 
of Corpus Christi Bay,
a short causeway  drive or ferry ride
to Mustang Island and the northern end
of  Padre Island, the long and slender finger
that  stretches along a third or  so
of the Texas Gulf coast

as a child
there was hardly a week
in the summer
that didn't include a drive to the beach

in later years I came to hate
the intense sun and sand ad salty wind
and would not go unless
I had to...

except in the winter, on nights
when  the beach
is lonely and bare and cold
and it is yours and mine
alone but for small creatures
that  scuttle
across  wet sand...

the stars overhead,
the dark  tide coming  in,
whitecaps rising and falling
in pale moonlight
like foaming surrender flags,
the sound of surf on hard-packed sand,
not a roar, not like the high surf
of Atlantic or Pacific beaches,
but a dark and constant murmur
of Gulf  waters
coming home to the lands
they once, so many million years ago,
covered with their  salty and tiny
shells still  found upon the highest mesas
to the west,
all of us living on beachfront property,
not a matter of where,
but of when

southern beaches at night
when  above the quiet surf,
the only sounds,
the quiet beat of my heart
in hushed rhythm
with yours

or in winter times, sharing a blanket
when north winds
and sand is pushed  back
to the sea
and the island moves, gently driven
in tiny increments of sand,
one direction
by day;
another  by night

Next from the anthology, I have Puerto Rican poet Lidia Torres.

Torres has one book A Weakness for Boleros, and publishing credits in numerous poetry and literary journals. She was born  and lives in New York City and is a graduate of Hunter College and New York University. At the time of publication she worked with inner-city students in an academic intervention program.

Listening for Her

I clean my mother's body
abandoned long ago by its brain cells.

She allows me to mover her  libs,
unfold her skin,  yielding

like an infant. Prying into the deepest
places, she cooperates  sensing that

this is good.  The body does
what it must then we are left

to clean up.  Work that she no longer
comprehends. As I wrap  the diaper

around her waist, I feel her
lumpy belly, first home

to ten children she patiently
cleaned and wrapped.

My reflection meets here.
"Scucha, she says.

And I listen and listen
gazing into the mirror with her.

Listening as I did at fourteen,
five sisters in one room.

Our legs outgrowing the bed frames.
Escucha,  we would say in the dark,

as she shuffled past the door.

This is a little more recent poem, written in 2003. After initially retiring in San  Antonio several years earlier, I returned to Corpus Christi for a year to work for the local United Way agency, commuting home to San Antonio each weekend. For that year I had an efficiency apartment across the street from Corpus Christi Bay where I could watch mornings like this from my window. Alone all week every week, it would be fair to say I would sometimes get a little lonely.

I have tinkered with the poem before posting.

rain on gray water

the day begins
in the light shadows
of dawn,
a wind blowing strong
against the tide,
whipping up a surface froth
as it pushes toward the open gulf

there's a small squall
about a mile out
like a curtain across the bay,
rain falling hard on gray water,
with choppy waves churned
by the wind and its counter-tidal push

I'm watching the day begin,
waiting for the sun to rise
over the squall and isolate the storm,
like a gray stain on the orange ,
the red fabric of the climbing sun

blue skies will come today
the sun will come
and the curtain of rain will fall
and wind and tides will turn
and the bay and beaches will sparkle
in the white summer light

but I will spend the day alone,
a shadow in the light

Here, from my library, is a poem by Diane Glancy. It's from her book,  Lone Dog's Winter Count, published in 1991 by West End Press of Albuquerque.

Glance is a Cherokee poet and playwright, born in 1941 in Kansas City, Missouri. She received a BA degree from the University of Missouri in 1961, a MA in 1983 at the University of Central Oklahoma, and in 1988 an MFA from the University of Iowa. She began teaching in 1989 at Macalester College in St. Paul Minnesota.

 Kemo Sabe

In my dream I take
the white man
slap him
until he loves me.
I tie him to the house
take his land
& buffalo.
I put other words
into his mouth
words he doesn't understand
like spoonfuls
of smashed lima beans
until his cheeks
Chew now, dear
I say.
I flick his throat
until he  swallows.
He works all day
never leaves the house.
The floors shine
the sheets are starched.
He wipes grime
from the windows
until clouds dance
across the glass.
He feeds me
when I'm hungry.
I can leave whenever
I want.
Let him struggle
for is dignity
this time
let him remember
my name.

 Here is another round of beach memories.

these southern breezes

I have given too little notice
to the moon
and the stars
and the sky with clouds,
like foam in a
blue-high river,
with the morning wind,
a southern wind,
passing over the coastal plains
from the gulf
and as I feel it fan over me
in the early near light
I can smell the salt, hear the gulls...

long ago now
I left that place but on a morning like this
I can imagine
I'm still there,  licking salty lips,
mine and yours,
brushing sand from your shoulders
and legs
and secret places
where no sand should ever go

but it does
and so there is the pleasure
of the shower,
rubbing soak-slick against each other

back to back
to belly...

these southern breezes
in summer do
take me

Next from this  week's anthology, I have a poem by David Hernandez.

Winner of the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry for his 2006 book, Always Danger, Hernandez has published three books of poetry and has appeared often in literary and poetry journals. At the time of publication, he lived in Long Beach, California.

St. Mary's Hospital

This one cradles his broke arm and sings to it
a lullaby of moans. This one's all wrinkles ad bones,
flopped over and armrest as if put to sleep.
This one gets up even though she says her legs
are numb, two bags filled with sand, and shuffles

toward the receptionist. My body's half ache,
half dizzy, a teaspoon of glass whenever I swallow.
Two hours until the intercom says my name,
I float beside my wife like a balloon tethered
to her wrist, through double-doors and into Room 1.

There's a gurney. I lie across it. The doctor
strolls  in with his white coat, his white teeth,
and peers into the sick cave of my mouth.
Tonsillitis, he says. A nurse brings  her pinprick,
the antibiotic's blue inferno. An unbeliever,

still I think of Jesus, a handful of mud in his palm
fluttering into the wings. How I'd love to see him now,
robe skimming across the tile floor, hands loaded
with healing. To  witness a bone  unbreak itself,
the elderly woman jolted back to good health,

her new heart an apple polished against his sleeve.
My throat cured, his touch a necklace I'd wear outside
where the healed are shellacking their bodies
with sunlight, where St. Mary is vanishing
at the end of the lot, one skyward brick at a time.

This is another early poem, appearing in the eZine, Tryst, (another very fine journal that published my work at the time) in 2002. I then used it in my first book, Seven Beats a Second, in 2006.


the bay is flat
      so still
that underwater currents
can be seen on the surface
     like smoky streaks
     on an antique mirror
     so still
     like time
and the earth's rotation
have stopped
     and the sun
has stopped overhead
     and the light
is sharp and clear
normal humid heaviness
and off-shore
     a small fish
and slaps the water
     with a crack
that starts a small wave
radiating out in a circle
     motion on the bay
from a small, jumping fish
     the only motion
spreading across the bay
     to the gulf
small,  leaping fish pushing
against the Gulf of Mexico
and the Atlantic beyond
in universal waters
     an anti-tide
     a nibble-surge
against the moon's orbit
and the rightness of all
there is and used to be

Next from my library, here's a poem by Jack Myers, from his book One on One Poems, published by Autumn House Press of Pittsburgh in 1999.

The poet, born in 1941 and died in 2009. He was a Texas Poet Laureate and director of the creative writing program at Southern Methodist University, where he taught for 30 years, and also a faculty member of Vermont College's low  residency MFA program.

Club Fighters

When mother lost it
and turned inside-out
with anger, she'd hit me
with whatever came to hand,
her hand, a broom, a brush,
whatever domestic weapon
an unhappy housewife used
to clean things up
around the house.

But I was a survivor too.
I could add things up, roll
all those terrifying, mantric blows
into one death-defying punch,
then figure, proudly, if this were
real life then I'd be dead.

I said let me do it for you, mother,
I'm good at this. Watch how
I don't blink. This is how
a boxer trains, staring down
barrages in a corner,
welcoming punishment
into his body
like nourishment
while he goes somewhere else.

I felt like a punch drunk fighter
who never throws a punch,
a journeyman who, night after night,
guts it out while everyone
in the house screams like a mob
of angry mothers, "Do something!"
meaning, do something else.

Well, I'm doing it for you, mother,
I'm beating myself up, putting in
my solo, unconscious appearance
to honor your unhappiness
with e and everything else.
Maybe I'll be cleaning the house
when it begins, but it begins
with a feeling that's immense,
then ends gradually and vaguely
and badly, with e standing there
in the absence of ruins,
feeling I am someone else.

 I keep telling myself I should not waste  my time on all the possible contentions on Facebook. But how is it possible to allow such ignorance  to abide unchallenged.


 I  have
that every time
I respond to some bit of stupidity
on Facebook
my own IQ drops four points

and I just did it

I hear brain cells
like gravel on a country road

but I can't quit and go home
after my latest
into la la land,
I've forgotten how to turn off this

Rosa Alcala is the next poet from my new Latino poetry anthology, The Wind Shifts.

Alcala has a MFA in creative  writing from Brown University and a PhD in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Widely published in poetry and literary journals she has received numerous honors and awards. At the time of publication, she was a assistant professor in the Bilingual Creative Writing Department at the University of Texas at El Paso.

The Sixth Avenue Go-Go Lounge

       (with thanks to Peter Ramos)

                    in language

of sentiment

and the girl who
a fluent you
a little sense
into your lap

four bucks later
you think you've
made some progress -


finally means something

El Bombero w3ears a paper thin nightgown
once belonging to his wife

and  tries to kill Paulie -
with an ax handle

Can't blame
everything on
paint fumes
you little fuck

You can't get up for this sort of thing every time

And cut rate
like blow jobs
Union Dye
Frost Kwik
the Sixth Avenue Go-Go Lounge
is not
post industrial
post  colonial
post modern

it is no sadder
than most things

it's not a text
to be read
                                                                                                      No European Sports


dancer  to drinker
the inflated
of migration

of memory

You cheap bastard

Paulie, half-
a smashed thumb

I can make you that
But it won't taste
like you remember

The Sixth Avenue Go-Go Lounge
making no apologies
for your future

Package Goods.
Open Christmas Day.

 Here are two different Corpus Christ poems, written about two years apart - two kinds of sunrise on the coast.

The first poem was published in the eZine, Hawkwind, in 2006.

Sunrise doesn't always mean you see the sun

On the Texas coast in January,
sunrise doesn't always mean you see the sun.

Sometimes it means on the world changes
from darker haze to light.

On those chill mornings,
when there is no wind to stir the mist,

fog wraps the bay
in the uncertainty of an ocean cloud

settling lightly on the ground
like an old dog

in high and prickly grass.
On such mornings

the sounds of the everyday world
arise from unseen sources

and become mysterious and obscure,
like walking blindfold

through a familiar house
or over-hearing the intimate talk

of friends; that which you thought you knew
becomes hidden and strange.

There are secrets in these hanging mists,
secrets that pass unknown on clearer days.

The second piece is about another kind of sunrise. It is from the year I went back to Corpus Christi, living on the bay.

sunrise from 6-E

the sun is a red-orange smudge
on the horizon, rising
over bay waters black with night,
waters shifting,
with a hint of daylight,
to a dark blue
that will come and go in minutes
before washing out in full sun
to a light frothy green,
a watercolor mixed too thin 

around the crescent shoreline,
hotel lights line the far side of the bay,
beacons to the gulf, showing he way
to the high arch of Harbor Bridge lights
that frame the narrow channel

sailboats rest in their berths,
while bay shrimpers begin
their working day, the lights of both
swaying with the gentle waves
of the protected marina, pinpricks
in the fading cloth of night

Next form my library, I have a poem by Nick Carbo, from his book, El Gropo McDonald's, published in 1995 by Tia Chucha Press of Chicago.

Carbo was born in 1964 in Legazpi, Allbay in the Philippines. He received an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and has served  as Resident  Poet at Bucknell University and Writer-in-Residence at The American University.

Little Brown Brother

I always wanted to play part
of that puckish pubescent Filipino boy

in those John Wayne Pacific-War movies.
Pepe,  Jose,  or Juanito  would be smiling,

bare-chested and eager to please
for most of the seamy jungle scenes.

I'd be the one who would cross
the Japanese lines and ask for tanks,

air support, or more men. I'd miraculously
make it back to the town where John Wayne

is holding his position against the enemy
with his Thompson machine-gun. As a reward

he'd rub that big  white hand on my head
and he'd promise to let me clean

his Tommy gun by the end of the night. But
then, a Betty Gable look-a-like love

interest would divert him by sobbing
into his shoulder , saying how awfully scared

she is about what the "Japs" would  do
to her  if she  were captured.  In one swift

motion, John Wayne would sweep her off
her feet to calm here fears inside his private quarters.

Because of my Hollywood ability
to be everywhere, I'd be under the bed

watching the woman roll down her stockings
as my American hero unbuckles his belt.

I'd feel  the bottom  of the bed bounce off  my chest
as  small-arms fire explodes outside the walls.

And now here's another new beach poem.

nights on southern beaches

on southern beaches,
lying flat
in the low wet
of a new rising tide, surf
low and lowly rumbling
as it takes back the beach
under a full yellow
rising with small waves
from the water

in my little pop-up camper,
towels to dry
and each other,
a bottle of wine,
and a narrow bed
where we lie  together

we smell
of gulf water
and the swimming fish
and beach-crawling
that feed in it

of the close sea
arms encircled
bodies tight
each against the other
as the yellow moon

Next from the anthology, here's a poem by Carolina Monsivais.

At the time of publication, Monsivais was a PhD student in the Borderlands History Project at the University of Texas in El Paso. She earned degrees from the University of Houston and New Mexico State University and has taught Literature and Creative Writing at New Mexico State University and at El Paso Community College. She is an activist in the areas of domestic violence and sexual assault and has worked with survivors in Texas, New Mexico, and Juarez, Mexico.

Writing the Circle of My Life
by Remembering my Great-Grandmother

In Mexico, earth is reopened
so loved ones will be buried
together and their stories won't
be forgotten

Many sow  stories like seeds,
which grow against the loss
of memory

Nana is buried in our family
collective grave log with
stories of relatives she never
told me about

When I write,  I fall into gaps
where her stories
should be

I am fighting now
for the memory of Nana,
searching for reasons why
she and her  daughters

all chose to weave cocoons
around themselves using strings
of silence

Here are two more old poems from my Corpus Christi days.

I used the first one in Seven  Beats a Second.

The second one, published in the eZine, Horsethief's Journal in 2001, is about my return to Corpus Christi for my second one-year tour, checking out an apartment, finding a place right on the beach. Which, at first, seemed like a good idea - until  I actually saw the place.

the moon, rising

ripples of wind
ruffle bay waters
like a lover's hand
soothing tangles
of her beloved's hair

gentle winds

quiet waters

bright stars war
in the cool
autumn dark

the moon,
of the night

Welcome Home

It's early morning and I'm looking for this
apartment that was listed in the classifieds.

(On the beach, the ad said.
half a block from the Sea Shell Motel,
lovely view of the bay at sunrise.)

Through fog so thick I could run over
a dozen geezers reading their free
USA Today in the lobby of the Sea Shell
Motel and not know it until my insurance
premiums went up in the next quarter.

But with the humidity so high
all my car windows were are so smeared
with condensation inside and out
that I can't see the fog and I figure
what the hell and don't worry about it.

I'm looking for Bushnick Street
and all the street signs are lost somewhere
in that thick fog that I can't see anyway
because of the goddamn humidity

until I finally give up and
turn off my air conditioner
and open all the car windows
thinking that if I get the smeared
windows out of the way maybe
I can see through the fog enough
to at least figure out where I am.

But that doesn't work either
and all I do is let in a black cloud
of starving mosquitoes
that settle on my face and arms
like a cactus blanket, greedy little
vampire bugs nipping a hundred
little nips, sucking my blood, leaving
wet red splotches as I frail my hands
around, slapping myself silly at seven
o'clock in the gulf coast morning.

And I' reminded of all the things
about this place I haven't missed.

My next poem from my library is by Yusef Komunyakaa. The poem is from the anthology Unaccustomed Mercy - Soldier-Poets of the Vietnam War. The book was published by Texas Tech University Press in 1989.

Komunyakaa was born in 1947. He grew up in Bogalusa, Louisiana, before and during the Civil Rights-era. He  served in the US Army from 1968-1971, including one year in South Vietnam during the war. He worked as a specialist for the military newspaper, Southern Cross, covering actions and stories and interviewing fellow soldiers and publishing articles concerning Vietnamese history. He earned a Bronze Star during his tour in the war zone.

He began writing poetry in 1973 while at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and earned an MA in writing at Colorado State University and an MFA in creative  writing at the University Of California at Irving. He taught at the Indiana University from 1985 until 1997, when he became an English professor at Princeton  University. He is currently a professor in the Creative Writing Program at New York University.

Starlight Scope Myopia

Gray-blue shadows lift
shadows onto the ox cart.

Making nigh work for us,
the starlight scope brings
men into killing range.

The river under Vi Bridge
takes the  heart away

like the Water God
riding his dragon.
Smoke colored

Viet Cong
move under our eyelids,

lords over loneliness
winding like coral vine through
sandalwood & lotus,

inside our lowered heads
years after this scene
ends. The brain closes
down. What looks like
one step into the trees,

they're lifting crates of ammo
& sacks of rice, swaying

under their shared weight.
Caught in the infrared,
what are they saying?

Are they talking about women
or calling the Americans

beau coup diencai dau?
One of them is laughing.
You want to  place a finger

to his lips & say "shh."
You try reading ghost talk

on their lips. They say
"up-up, we go," lifting as one.
This one, old, bowlegged,

you feel you could reach out
& take him into your arms. You

peer down the sights of your M-16,
seeing the full moon
loaded on an ox cart.

Here's another new poem from last week - not  exactly a beach poem but still about the elementals.

remnants of the beginning fading to the end

walking Boca Chica Beach
one morning I found a conch shell
as big as a bucket,
white spiral outside, inside
pink gloss, as if polished by a diligent housewife,
a doorstop
at our house until I don't remember when,
along with a flat, crescent-shaped rock
found atop a stone-strewn hill
on a great-uncle's ranch in the hill country,
large enough
within its crescent borders
for the shell to fit, also used as a doorstop,
taken from my mother's house
after she passed on
in her eighty-second year...

after all the years holding doors
against the wind and inattentive children,
lying now in my garden
with rocks from everywhere
we've been, midnight-black lava
from the Valley of Fire in New Mexico,
red granite from central Texas hills,
the granite used
one hundred and fifty years ago
to build the state capitol,
used more recently for my
parent's gravestone,
grey granite from Missouri,
round water-smoothed rock from the Animas River,
pock-marked rock from Big Bend, peppered
with the small shells of creatures  dead
some million and more years,
rocks  like Dali-clocks,  liquid looking, like melted was
with smooth holes in and out,  limestone
from the creek behind my house...

the essence from this planet
I have in my garden, the rock from which all earth came
and the remains of creatures
who lived on it in its seas, a steadying thing
to know  I have touched and carried with me
and placed between the living flowers in my garden,
the basic elements of all we have ever known,
my garden,
bright in the sunlight
with multiplied life, the stones
amid the colors, remnants
of all things that began
here, still now and from their beginning,
slowly, as in the cycle of all tings,
advancing into the dust of
once again and

in my garden

My last two poems from this week's anthology are by Francisco Aragon

Born in San Francisco after his parents immigrated from Nicaragua in 1950, Aragon is a poet and editor. He studied at the University of California at Berkeley and New York University and earned an MA from the University of California at Davis and an MFA from Notre Dame where he currently directs the literary division of the Institute for Latino Studies.

Bridge over  Strawberry Creek

   " ...a la belle etoile..."

The path off the West Crescent that turns
briefly into the small
wooden bridge, and above it a canopy of leaves
- crossed and recrossed

through the years, never pausing once for a peek
over the edge - the surface
blooming with concentric rings it's
beginning to rain

or water-striders skating around a stagnant
section of the creek.

And then I choose my place that morning
at the open window - redwoods

framed against June's day blue - it wasn't
the wind in the trees which
if I closed my eyes, had me on a balcony
in Sitges those summer nights

listening to the Mediterranean breathe
but rather the fact
of her voice, Madam Boucher's - meaning&sound
meshing in a phase. I'm 12

and lying on a bed of chipped wood, warm
snug in the bag
facing the stars, my head sifting
the day: a morning hike, a dip

in the Russian River before lunch, before
the door-less stalls, the dank
cement on the soles of my feet, the towels,
the soap, the rich lather

lacing his chest

Portrait with Lines of Montale

A patch of town-sick country

The old shop window shuttered and harmless
An odor of bruised melons oozes from the floor
Among wicker furniture and a mattress
Mildew like grass sprouts as well
The delicate capillaries of slime
Signs of quite another orbit

The  ungraspable gorge
Sentiments and sediment
Where my carved name quivers

His laugh is jagged coughing

                                                    for my father

They say, and it is usually true, that a picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, since you can't stop in the middle of the bridge to take a picture, you're stuck with the thousand words.

The old piece was published in 2000 in The Horsethief's Journal.

Harbor Bridge

As you cross the high, arched crest
of Harbor Bridge after  sundown,
the city is sketched before you
in lines of light flickering
through the humid air
and the dark Texas night.

On one side, the soft  swells
of Corpus Christi Bay lie in darkness,
broken in the  distance
by the lights of Aransas Pass
faintly shining like ghosts
of shipwrecked Spanish sailors
buried with their  golden ships
beneath the island's silver sand.

On the other side, chain-link fences
and bright security lights
dot the port like cages
of high-intensity glare, reflecting
off the water and dark freighters
berthed along the channel.

Alongside the port, refinery row hugs
the river's soft turns,
a glittering crown with thousands
of white lights that follow
the tangle of twisting pipes, lights
that climb the fiery stacks
reaching into the sky
with fingers of red and blue flame.

Straight ahead, the city unfolds
in a river of light, a luminous flow
pouring from the tops
of bayfront hotels ,
through the downtown streets,
along the seawall,
across the marina and the quiet waters
of the protected inner bay,
then south, gleaming  bubbles
in a moving tide,
along the tree-lined curve
of the shoreline's crescent arc.

Streetlights, porch lights
and the moving lights  of cars
drifting home on suburban  streets
are spread across the black horizon
like fallen stars.

The blue lights of Padre Island Drive,
glowing like fine gulf pearls,
strewn in a line through the city,
across Oso Bay and into the distance,
ending on the far edge of sight, mixing
by the whispering gulf surf
with the  yellow sine of a sub-tropic moon
as reflections on pale island sand. 

Last this week from my library, I have two fun poems by Wendy Cope. They are from her tiny book, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, published by Faber and Faber in 1986.

Cope was born in 1945 in Kent (now in London). After  graduating from St. Hilda's College she worked for fifteen years as a primary school teacher. In 1981 she became Arts and Review Editor for the Inner London Education Authority magazine. Five years later she became a freelance  writer and was television critic for the Spectator Magazine until 1990. She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2010 Birthday Honors.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson
Liked to use dashes
Instead of full stops.

Nowadays, faced with such
Critics and editors
Send for the cops.

At 3 a.m.

the room contains no sound
except the ticking of the clock
which has begun to panic
like an insect trapped
in and enormous box.

Books lie open on the carpet.

Somewhere else
you're sleeping
and beside you there's a woman
who is crying quietly
so you won't awake.

I want to get off the coast  theme next  week, but I have one coast poem left over, so I'm finishing up the week with two new poems.


Washington Beach,
over from Matamoros
on the Mexican side of  the river...

sand-salted gills  gasping,
a shark,
five and a half feet long
at least, leather-looking skin
battleship-armor gray,
just caught by a surf fisherman
who is back in the surf
still fishing, evidence,
if the daily headlines are not enough,
as to why this creature dying on the sand and its kind,
great eating-machines of the sea,
driven by blind hunger,
living for nothing
but the next scent  of  blood in the water,
have lived in their deeps
for millions of years, while we find our end
soon if not sooner, we the fishermen,
with the arrogance of innocence
and assumptions of immortality, splashing back
into the surf
where this drying monster
just swam,

our place  on the smorgasbord
of extinction

finding his own way home

old man
on the beach,
walking the water's edge
on Mustang Island,
a week's growth of whiskers
and spikes of gray hair
jutting out from his red  gimme cap,
set at  a jaunty angle

tennis shoes
tied together by their laces
hanging around his neck,  his bare feet
splashing through water
as the tide
the foaming remains
of surf up onto the wet sand,
then back

he's here
most every morning,
rain or shine,
with his dog, a black lab mix
he calls "Rough" -
finds his day
on this early beach,
purring surf,
squalling gulls overhead,
 squeak and squeal of rigging
on the sail boats at the marina
as tidal  waves softly rock their hulls,
all the sounds of sunrise...

then with the sun rising,
the morning sounds
as a fog bank settles in
and the old man on the beach
walks into the gray swirl
and becomes a ghost
walking, another sailor
lost  from the Spanish galleon
sunk just offshore and
from the warm, salty depths

finding his  own way
slowly home

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


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