Street Walking   Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My photos this week demonstrate that it is possible to take pictures  in or very near downtown San Antonio without producing pics of either the Alamo or the Riverwalk. Except that, there is one picture that I liked so much that I went ahead and got my feet wet.

My first new poem for the week is about time I spent on Pakistan's Northwest Frontier in the mid 1960s. All of my old poems this week are of the same time and place. The difference is that the old poems were all written in 1999, some of the first poems I wrote after my return to writing in 1998. Most of the poems were published between then and 2002.

My anthology this week is one I've used often, Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native America Poetry, nearly 400 pages of excellent modern poetry.

All of the above with a selection of poetry from my library, which has grown to substantial proportions since I began my weekly posts of Here and Now.

Which, put together leads to this for the week.


Lance Henson
near twelve mile point


Maria Luisa B.Aguilar-Carino
Picture-Taking in Besao 

not even in Paris

Duane Niatrum
Drawing of the Song Animals    

summer night
blackout at  the oasis

Jimmy Durham
A Woman Gave Me a Red Star to Wear on My Headband  

I saw her smile

David Meltzer
from Blue Rags

the voice

Alyce Sadongei
Poems come to me in the night

Kabul Reflection

circus came to town

Anita Endrezze
the Language of Fossils


from The Kanginshu

my only friend

Louis (Little Coon) Oliver
Empty Kettle
The  Horned Snake

familiar conversations

Victor Hernandez Cruz

a gaggle of English teachers

Wendy Rose
Throat Song:  The Whirling Earth  

Morning Song

Joyce Stutphen
Potato Meditation

my friendly drug dealers

But, before moving on to this week's post, notice, for your enjoyment, of a new poetry blog just begun by my San Antonio poet-friend, Rod C.  Stryker.  

Rod is a poet, author and art  photographer and, I believe, a native of San Antonio. He is also founder and chair of San Antonio's Sun Poetry Society, and author of two books of poetry, Lucid Affairs, published by Sun Arts, and Exploits of a Sun Poet, published by Wings Press.

His site will include both new and old poems which can be read at:      

My first new poem is a response to something somebody said  that reminded me of the year I spent on the Northwest Frontier of Pakistan while serving in the U.S. Air Force. My year there spanned 1967-1968. It was a time of flux in the country, a long-time military dictatorship  being overthrown with, over the years since, not always positive results. My exposure to the country was very limited since we were restricted to our base, because of the unrest in the country, for most off the time there. My views consequently limited to imagination and the slivers of reality I saw outside our compound.


two days in Karachi,
a very large city,strange in the way
cities  caught in cultural flux
often are, like cities in Mexico
along the border where beggars
wear Dallas Cowboy t-shirts
and thrice-removed, knock-off LeBron James
tennis shoes liberated
from some one's  trash bucket

a city in flux,  Karachi,
a carnival in the parking lot
beside our hotel,  no  different
from any carnival I've ever seen
anywhere I've ever lived, the same rides,
the same midway, the same food, culturally adjusted,
 and women  on street corners, lone walking as if
with Mohammad's wives, the "Mothers
of the Believers," and the other  on her way
to a record  store for"Sgt> Pepper" the Beatles record
sweeping the world in 1967,
or  at least,
the world as she would prefer it,
and the fantastic,psychedelic-progenitor-art painted
buses and golf cart taxi cabs, and the clatter of a great
vibrant city breathing, living, eating, defecating
its way to the 20th  century


then a short flight to Lahore, near crash-landing
on its ultra-short  runway, and, breath caught,
another flight to the frontier, to Peshawar,
the Hindu Kush a distant shadow on the desert horizon,
and a short bus ride
to  our unacknowledged base  between
tribal areas and the dusty town, our home for a year

passing crowded streets seeming unusually silent,
hundreds of silent young men
squatting on curbs, on bridge rails,  the makings
of the revolution that was  coming
unbeknownst to us,
20th century innocents
in a land on the cusp  of another kind of flux,
leaving the 19th century,  finding new meaning
and purpose in the 15th


the dusty road between where we lived
and where we worked
a centuries old caravan stop, where the camels
were  allowed to eat and drink
and caravan merchants
haggled with the innocents  for pieces of  their

I bought an oil painting of a desert sheik,
bearded under his dark turban,
like the old  men
we paid  to clean  our rooms
and make our beds and  shine  our
the tribal elders who never looked us in the eye,
who addressed us according to colonial protocol as
it they spoke at all...

our contribution to the

First from this week's anthology,  Harper's Anthology of  20th Century Native American Poetry, are two poems  by Lance Henson. The book was published by HarperCollins in 1988.

Henson, born in 1944, is a Cheyenne raised near  Calumet, Oklahoma. He is poet-in-residence for more than 300 schools in Oklahoma and other states.

near twelve mile point

for my grandparents

at times the heart looks toward open fields
and sees itself returning

orange pall of sun
the low hymn of trees

in the garden
a north wind blows over dry stalks of corn
birds gather there
scratching over the echoing footsteps

your names
have become the dark feather

to whom the stars sing


north of my grandfather's house
shadows of first winter storm walk
the fields toward the north canadian

without a word
the pregnant dog I have tried
to be rid of for weeks
has gone

in the house my daughter
has disappeared into dream

her small trembling hands
flower into a cold wind that smells
of the moon

My first new poem this week was inspired by memories of the year I spent on Pakistan's Northwest Frontier. That's the first poem I've written based on that experience in a long time.

But I did write poems about that early on after I returned to writing. This poem, for example, was written in 1999, less than  a year  after I took up poetry again after a 30-year recess. It was published by The Horsethief's Journal that same year.

I need to repeat the caution I mentioned in connection to the new poem. For reason mentioned earlier, my direct experience with the country and it's people offered me only a small slice of reality. But it was enough that I could expand with my imagination with what I saw, being truthful, I hope, to what I did not see.


with a long stick
the shepherd gently guides his flock to pasture
set aside for this season's scant substance

woolly bearded like his sheep
and stringy,
he talks to them as they walk


he puts the flock to graze and rests himself
in the meager shade of a sun-stunted tree

in the distance
bleak and barren mountains rise and fall
in the sandy heat-haze of the
intervening desert


The first poem from my library this week is by Maria Luisa B.Aguilar-Carino from her book Cartography - A Collection of Poetry on Baguio, published by Anvil  Publishing in 1992.

Born in Baguio City in the Philippines, the poet  is associate professor in the Creative Writing Program in the English at Old Dominion University.

Picture-Taking in Besao

The toothless  elder crouches
In the doorway's shadowed skirts.
He is afraid the strange, black
Metal amulet hanging heavy
From the stranger's neck
Will  pleat his  soul and paper his breath.
The children say it does not hurt;
They laugh to see how he persists
In holding converse with the ether
Of ideas from a trackless land.
"You live in the hollows
Of your cheeks. Come dance!" they mock.
But no - it is enough for him
To sit within the doorway's shadowed frame
And feel the grim and brittle outlines
Of his soul press strange
Reassurance round his bones.
A wild bird, plumage red,
Connives to catch his  rheumy eyes
As it commits its body
to the wrinkled sky.

Here's another new poem last week inspired by someone else's poem.

not even in Paris

was thinking about
writing a poem about
rain in Paris
and the wet reflections
of passing cars
on the Champs Elysee on a late afternoon
in April, 1967

but April,
my breakfast  server,
who I often think of as Alice
because I know  so many Alices
and she's the only Alice,
on this early morning bone-dry August
of 2013
just brought my third pot of coffee..

too much coffee
or too little sleep
maybe both, countervailing winds
stirring my innards
left feeling

canceled plan
for lunch with a friend -
lots of  laughs
and good food

of entering into a warm and lasting relationship
 with my pillow

love my pillow...

would marry my pillow

but not sure
if  legal  in

not  even legal in Paris...

Next from the anthology I have Duane Niatrum, the anthology's editor.

Born in Seattle in 1938 of mixed Native American descent, Niatrum is a member of the Klalam tribe. After serving in the U.S. Navy,  he earned a BA degree from the University of Washington and an MA from John Hopkins University. He complete his work on a PhD at the University of Michigan in 1997.

Drawings of the Song Animals


Treefrog winks  without springing
from its  elderberry hideaway.
Before the day is buried  in dusk
I will trust the crumbling earth.

Foghorns, the bleached absence
of the Cascade and Olympic mountains.
The bay sleeps in a shell of haze.
Anchorless is the night,
the blue-winged teal dredges for the moon.


Thistle plumed,
a  raccoon pillages  my garbage.
When did we plug its nose with concrete?
Whose eyes lie embedded in chemicals?

Dams abridge  the Columbia Basin.
On the rim of a rotting barrel,
a crow. The imperishable  remains
of  a cedar man's salmon trap.

Deer crossing the freeway -
don't graze near us, don't trust our signs.
We hold your ears in our teeth,
your hoofs on our dashboards.

Shells, gravel musings from the deep,
dwellings from the labyrinth of worms.
Crabs crawl sideways into another layer of dark.

a husk of winter and the wind.
I will dance in your field
if the void is in bloom.

A lizard appears, startled by my basket
of blackberries. In the white
of  the afternoon we are lost to the stream.
Forty years to unmask the soul!

As I mentioned somewhere else, most of the year I spent in Pakistan we were all restricted to the base because of political unrest downtown.

Our entertainment opportunities were limited. We could sit by the pool and crisp ourselves. Or we could go see a two-year old Disney movies (didn't know they made so many Disney movies). Or we could drink.

Most of us chose the drink option.

This short piece is about one of those nights. It's probably good that you didn't know this at the time, but, about a half hour after this little scene I was  probably due to report for the mid-shift, doing my duty to protect the country from the godless Communists.

Good thing the  godless Communists were occupied elsewhere at the time. Their excursion into  Afghanistan, one of the things we would have been watching for didn't come until some years later.

The poem was published in a short-lived but very interesting eZine, Experimentia.

summer night

platt kerplatt kerplatt
tennis ball sounds far-lit court
drunker than I thought

Here's a second short piece, written, like the one above in 1969 while still in country, and very, very bored. This one was published in Hawkwind in 2002.

blackout at the oasis

listen now...

it's quiet

the sound of a thousand air conditioners suddenly stilled
and our island is one with the desert-blowing night

Born in 1950, Ramona Lofton, better known by her pen name, Sapphire, is the next poet from my library. On her own after her parents separated, Lofton dropped out of high school and moved to San Francisco where she obtained her GED. Later she went on to earn an MFA at Brooklyn College. She worked in various jobs before starting her writing career, working as a performance artist as well as a teacher of reading and writing. She is openly bisexual and known for the grittiness of her poems and, most recently, for the movie Precious, which was  based on her first novel, Push, based in part on her own life, including being raped by her father when she was eight years old.

This week's poem is from her collection, Black Wings & Blind Angels.

humpty dumpty heart

my heart leaks knowing
since you shot my sheets
with light,
lifting me out my skin
past sky.

i look for  your tongue in light
& listen to tales of a new daughter
apartments, mortgages, wife;
knowing i was just a blurred night -
black, whited-out & lost.

out of the  blue you call back the years
like a movie reel rewinding,
after six deaf years i hear
you want to come over.

the silence  of  blind rooms
goads me  to balance
humpty dumpty like
one more time the weight of light.

& i would,
but for the bleeding yolk
that lies in cracked knowing -
once it's eaten
it's over.

Another new poem inspired by someone else.

I start each new day facing the commitment I've  made to write a new poem every day, often with a blank mind, with not a poem idea to save me. It's always great then to be  in the company of other poets whose ideas push me into an idea of my own.

building that fence

to  thinking about my fence
this morning...

the fence
I'm rebuilding five or six boards at a time,
nailing up the new boards,
sawing each old board
into  six pieces about a foot long,
a chance
to strip  down and get some sun,
a chance
for an hour of exercise each afternoon,
proving my mettle, defying
the worst heat this little corner of  summer hell
can manifest,
a chance to do some productive work
with my sweat and effort...

I look at my new fence
as it progresses
and acknowledge I am not a carpenter

and do not care

I look at  my new fence
and see not  all its jags  and jigs and jumbles,
all its lack of  level and square...

what I see is my chiminea,fire fed through the winter
with all the little twelve inch lengths  of wood
I have sawed during the worst part  of
a summer afternoon,
and I see the fire, and
sitting beside the fire,
my dog at  my side, a cup of coffee or chocolate
in my hand,
admiring my fence...

what a goddamn great fence
I'll  be saying to
what a goddamn great job I did

    Next from the  anthology, I  have a poem by Jimmy Durham.

Durham is a sculptor, essayist, performance artist and poet. Born in 1940 in Arkansas, he is a Wolf Clan Cherokee. He received a BFA from the Ecole des Beaux Arts while living in Switzerland in 1973. During the 1970s he was a member of the Central council of the American  Indian Movement and was founder and director  of the International Indian Treaty council. After years living in Europe and Mexico, he  currently lives in New York City.

A Woman Gave Me a Red Star to Wear on My Headband

We say that a loon, most graceful and dark
Of all water birds, sings a song
That makes stars fall onto its back,
And that is why a loon has those white spots.

The people sing for change.

In the history of my people it is found
"in 1833 stars fell," in a list of great events
Such as,  "In 1814 we won a battle against
The soldiers."

The people remember the changes.

It is know that we collected the iron
Of meteors and made of it knives like birds,
And impress into the red hot knife blades
Patterns of  stars. Star knives  from that time
Are displayed in museums of the Americas, but
The Americans know  nothing about the patterns.

The people  search for changes.

The Comanche chief Quanah followed the cult
Of Waterbird Dreamers, and in his old age painted
Stars on his roof. A  Comanche friend of mine
Goes  all over the hemisphere
Collecting what he calls "indigenous red stars."
Woven  into the blankets, painted on leather, spoken of
In stories, thought of -

The people prepare for changes.

I spent Easter 1969 (maybe 1968, a long time ago), in Afghanistan, taking several days of rest and relaxation in Kabul. During those several days, I saw more of Afghanistan than I saw of Pakistan in a year. And was impressed. This was before the generally benevolent and progressive king was ousted and sent into exile, replaced by a Soviet stooge, who was in turn replaced by the Soviet army which marched across the border and took direct and bloody control of the country, before being replaced by corrupt warlords who were ousted by the Taliban who in turn were replaced by....what, I don't know, but whatever, it is a great tragedy to go through all the death and disaster to end up with it, not yet as good as what was originally turned away.

It was a nice place, with camels resting along dirt roads that started not too far from a fairly rickety downtown. But the people were friendly and open to foreigners, with children in their school uniforms walking past the AID house were we stayed, singing both coming and going.

At a bookstore downtown I bought one of Mao's original, plastic-bound "little red books" (still have it) - this the time of the cultural revolution in China, when a person might have thought things in a country couldn't get much worse than that. Little did we know the obscenity coming to this poor little country next door.

The poem was written in 1999 and published a couple of months  later in the eZine Alchemy.

I saw her smile

I saw her smile
in the primate house
at the Kabul Zoo.

The monkeys swung and played
behind their bars, cool
in the high Afghan air and made us laugh.

In her delight,
she dropped her veil.

    for one

we stood face to face.

with flashing ebony eyes
and a shy, bewitching smile,
she brought the silken curtain
of her  beguiling modesty
again between us,
joined her family and walked away.

Content in her conquest.

Next from my library, a poem by David Meltzer, from David's Copy - The Selected Poems  of David Meltzer., published by Penguin Books in 2005.

Born in 1937, Meltzer is a poet and musician of the Beat Generation and San Francisco Renaissance.

from Blue Rags

Invoke. Invoke.
Invoke. Invoke.
It begins to look  Swedish.
Or German.
Her  blond hair.
Her black hair.
Roots of her blood.
Perfume of cups.
Inner white thigh.
Soft silk hidden from the sun.
Teeth. Tongue.
Prospects of song.
Invoke. Invoke. Invoke.
Her bite.
Against night.
Pulls sheets apart.
Spine tangle. Knots & eyes,
Paper Japanese mask.
Her tongue pushes through.
A hole in the center of air.
Poems in her hair.
Blood of her mystery.
Bloom of her history.
In her stars we rest.
In the dark.
Her body opens.


You do.
The hoodoo.
You do it. In the dark.
Or in the bright hot.
Palms & corked polly.
Scorched parrots.
Rum bubbling on the dirt floor.
Each cloud overhead a loa.
Shadow of your prayer.
Wicker knots.
Drums unhinge.
Each loa wandering until you voice it.
You do the hoodoo.
We do it. Apart. In the dark.
Or in the bright hot.
On or off the page.
A yellow horse tiptoes the veve's curls.
Your sunglasses frame a falcon.
Rum bumblers drown in jewelry.
Oceans dumbfound the dancers.
But humble souls in white abide.
Hold the sun above their pure minds.
Humble souls in white clouds.
Darken as you leave the shrine.
Black-winged rooster ducks behind an oil drum.
We turn each other inside out.
You do that. We do that. Hoodoo.

Here's another new poem from last week, another observational from my morning breakfast cafe.

the voice

four men
in a booth two down from me

mostly in Spanish,
dominated by the oldest in the group,
white  hair, furrowed face,
under a white cap...

an old-time radio announcer voice
from the cays when prospective announcers
were required to take voice lessons, just like a diva
at the opera, to develop the deep, from the chest voice
that says, "listen to me, for I have something
to  say"

a leader voice  that says, "follow me, for  I know
the way"

it's what they call a "command voice"

I have one
but I can  only use  it in short  bursts,
not like this guy,
who is commanding even when talking about the weather
or asking the waitress
for an extra portion of apple jelly

Alyce Sadongei , Kiowa and Tohono O'odham (formerly known as Papago), was born in 1959 and is a poet, writer and editor. She graduated from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon where she received a BA in communications. She has served as director of an arts  service organization and training coordinator for the Department of Public Programs at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.

Poems come to me in the night

Poems come to me in the night
pressed compacted air
it  is you against me
do you want me to tell you how it feels?
your smell is clear
I can see through it like sun on water
you are a list of words
fair skin
a smooth body the dips and curves
blue veins under the white skin
makes me think of
things white like snow
and the crests of ocean waves
you roll like a wave of water
onto me
a slow stretch
rising peaking receding
your thoughts are dreamy
unable to grasp the back of a chair
always surfacing and slipping
back into soft dreams
of green scenery
pastel landscapes

In introducing my last old poem I talked about how I had enjoyed my few  days in Kabul and how friendly and open it was to us, American military on leave.

But, on the last day there, the weather turned very cold and damp, which fed my imagination in dark ways. Or maybe it was a premonition of the times to come.

This poem, written in 1999, was finally published in Hawkwind in 2002.

Kabul Reflection

It's mid-afternoon
on a cold and dreary day,
in a city lost in the last millennium.

Rows of mud houses hang over the rickety city
from the surrounding brown slopes
like a thousand bleary eyes
from the mountain's unforgiving core.

In the faded club room
atop the Spirazan Hotel,
I drink cheap Russian vodka
and watch the mountain
watching me,
never blinking.

Premonitions of bloody despair
and mountain revenge
follow me to my fitful sleep.

The story of a week-end sleep-over, new from last week.

circus came to town

two jealous ladies
in the house

Bella and her cousin, Ayla,
my son's dog
who we are babysitting
while he takes a weekend in Houston

the queen
not so willing to  share her  throne
or the attention of her
a juvenile of two modes,
sleeping and leaping,
wanting to  play
with her ball, with Bella's toys (oh, my),
both content if they can sit
on the couch with me,
Bella, golden as an African lion,
to the left,
Ayla, like a big  black bear,
to the right,
my lap
in contention

no grandchildren,
so no one to
but a couple of big smelly dogs
who welcome me
with kisses,
one of my left cheek,
the other
on my right...

a full and happy house -
even Mama cat showing
sitting on the front porch,
looking through the window,
watching the antics
of Dr.Doolittle
his canine circus

From the anthology, here's a poem by Anita Endrezze.

Of Yaqui and European ancestry, she is a poet, writer and artist.She was born in Long Beach, California in 1952. She earned an MA from Eastern Washington University. Her work has been translated into seven languages and published in ten countries.

The Language of Fossils

Vantage, Washington

This desert is a plateau of light
small diggers live in the soft stone
tongues of ancient beasts.

Calcified waves still-flow under
the sulfur-bellied marmots
and badgers claw at the salty star
fish that tremble  into dust.

These stone logs are only weathering
time, friend, waiting
for the Cascades to become ash
and the ocean's green winds
to transform the sky
into acres of ferns.

What will we become?
Cool shadows in the red
mineral belly of the earth?

Fossils speak the language of Ginkgo:
vowels like flat stones
with carbonized wings
of leaf and beetle
and consonants like a bone
caught in the earth's throat.

rhino pillowed in lava
layers of basalt bone
calcite dolomite pyrite
strata of chalky diatoms
agate      flint      chert

What language is my passing
shadow? My name is lost
off the Columbia's cliff:
immersed in silica and water
it will become an opal
with a woman's soul.

An arrowhead whispers flight!
All the dark birds,
but one,
rush from the river
leaving only the stillness
of their language.

This, and one other, are my first published poems. They both appeared in 1971 in ARX, a long-gone print journal out of Austin.

The other poem was about the young wife of a soldier in Viet Nam. People cried when I read it. Even though it took me 30 years to finally get around to it, that was when I decided to, sometime in my life, get serious about writing poetry.

But nobody cried over this one.


I awoke one morning and there was a


marching single-file
across my back yard

they were


all the trade goods
piled on their backs
made the clatter clang clatter
that had awakened me


then they went their way
and I went back to sleep

I have several books in my library published by White Pines Press of Buffalo,  New York. They are small, beautifully illustrated books of Japanese poetry.

I have several short poems now from one of those books, Simmering Away - Songs from the Kanginshu. The Kanginshu is a volume of poems which appeared in Japan in the early 16th century. The authorship of the poems is unattributed.

The  poems in the book were translated by Yasuhiko Moriguchi and David Jenkins.

Morning sounds of
          cloth being beaten
          reach me
                    pat pat
 the grief of parting
                    pat pat
           reaching back 
          the sound of
tears upon my pillow


How frail
the knot that binds -

a half-bow
in a sash
of sky blue


My tears
        rain falling
        all night long
         the plantain leaves
my pillow
         by my window


The moon has  set
beyond the western tower

our time together
did not even last as long
as the cherry flowers

      so weak
our bond was so weak
and my heart burns
       like the dying flame
       in the lamp

how hateful
to see myself like this!


Who is this
        (you naughty boy!)
that hugs me tight
and bites me,
a married woman?

         but it's fun
         we're in full bloom
                  at seventeen
                  we're in full bloom
                  at seventeen

but nibble gently -
if your teeth leave marks,
then he will know


How  I envy
this my heart
            always with you
            night and day


The plum  blossoms
are manhandled
by the rain
the puffs of willow seed
by the wind,
           and always,
           our world
           by lies  

As I've mentioned before, I write a new poem every morning to post on the Blueline poem-a-day forum. Usually I have no poem-idea in mind and often find what I'm going to do through inspiration I get from reading my fellow poets' poems.

And then sometimes, my fellow poets haven't gotten around to posting their poems and I'm left on my own. This is a report from one of those days last week, intended to be  satiric, but almost nobody got the joke.

my only friend

not so many poems to read
this morning
with not so much to  plunder

alone to find my own pith and vinegar

on this desert
this lonely desert

stars falling
dark moon rising

oh this  lonely desert

prickly pear cactus
my only friend

its morning embrace

Louis (Little Coon) Oliver, born in 1904, is my next poet from this week's anthology, Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry.

Oliver, a Creek Indian,  was born in Oklahoma, at the time, still a part of the Indian Territories. A member of the Golden Raccoon Clan, he traced his ancestry to the Indian clans who lived along the Chattahoochee River in Alabama. He earned a high school diploma, which alienated many of his tribe who accused him of "selling out to the white man."

While living with the Cherokee in Oklahoma in the early 1980s, he became involved with a  writing group which set the course of his life until he died in 1991.

Empty Kettle

I do not waste what is  wild
I  only take what my cup
     can hold.
When the black kettle gapes
and children eat roasted acorns
it is time to rise-up early
     take no  drink - eat no food
     sing the song of the hunter.
I see the Buck - I chant
I chant the deer chant:
My arrow, no woman has ever touched,
     find its mark
I open the way for the blood to  pour
     back to Mother Earth
          the dept I owe.
My soul rises - rapturous
     and I sing a different song,
          I sing,
          I  sing.

The Horned Snake

The snake snatched
   its single horn clipped
      for strong medicine,
to be used on a warrior
      or a chief who,
facing a volley of death
      from bullets
would be brave, unflinching

When moon looked the other way,
and stillness - stark-naked
      made ears  ring,
the snake bobbed up from
      the wildest of springs
      - gave its horn
        to the medicine

This is another old  poem, written in 1999, and, after a very long rejection history, published in 2001, once again by the eZine Hawkwind.

familiar conversations

shepherds graze their sheep in the hot afternoon  sun,
while, in the village center,
men visit an open-air barbershop

they rest between mud walls,
in the generous shade of a large banyan tree,
as their hair and beards are trimmed.

the indistinct murmur of their low voices
is a whisper in the sun-baked silence
of the dusty street...

the familiar conversations of men and their barbers
drifts through the village
on the weak desert breeze

Victor Hernandez Cruz is a Puerto Rican poet born in 1949. In 1969, he became the first Hispanic to be published by a mainstream publishing house when Random House published his poetry book, Snaps. In 1981, Life magazine recognized his as one of America's greatest poets.

I have two of his poems this week from his book Red Beans, published in 1991 by Coffee House Press of Minneapolis.


sparkling from pentecostal
Coming as if a mouth
Up from
Calle San Lazaro del Medio
Timbal and maraca with
tambourine inviting San Pedro
Horse to gallop
Through hair and flesh
Like needles of chill
Pulling down Jehovah
with a singsong
those beautiful faces that
I saw bopping a wooden church
Gone was the whole place
With white dresses - guayaberas
of grace
Out towards doubtless space
I threw myself in with that
and kneeled next to a picture
of Maria with a child
In her arms
A maternal embrace
Taking care of you.


The revelation of the revelation
The secrets offered in rhythms
The truth of heaven entering through
Yourself runs into yourself
Through a crack of understanding
As if Falcons landed on a
shoulder of your thoughts
With a letter from your guardian
angel -
Like Caribbean mambo dancers
The whirling dervishes go off
spinning into the arms of light
Across a floor of endless squares
and circles
Calligraphy brushed into tiles
Painted inside the names of God

Usually I write my daily poem at my breakfast restaurant. This one I wrote a little later  than  usual at my coffeehouse (IAMA - International Academy  of Music and the Arts) where I can hear music while writing and where I am  designated "resident poet" as affirmed by a piece of notebook paper thumb-tacked (their paper; my thumbtack) to the wall by my designated table.

I wonder if I should include that in my resume.

Probably not.

a gaggle of  English teachers

every Monday morning,
in the coffeehouse, early,
a gaggle
of retired English teachers,
my age or maybe a little older,
high school teachers,
though from they way they talk
it seems very clear they regret
all the universities' loss by their pedagogical absence

(the one struggling with removing the trash can lid,
looks at me,
"you'd think someone with a PhD wouldn't
have such a problem with trash can

skinny, with malnourished hair,
toenails like a badger
and a thin, reedy, whiny
that wold drive me nuts after ten minutes
in a classroom, talks the most -
says Fuck this & Fuck that
a lot
in that English teacher voice,
like she's fallen into a Norman Mailer novel
and can't get up,
and it's all I can do
to laugh out loud,
thinking back nearly 60 years,
imagining old Mrs. Buck,
my 115-year-old high school
English teacher
saying Fuck this & Fuck that...

and thank god my English teacher days
are far behind me

Next from this week's anthology, here's a poem by Wendy Rose.

Born in 1948, Rose  is a Hopi/Miwok poet, anthropologist, artist and social scientist.

Throat Song: The Whirling Earth

      "Eskimo throat singers imitate the sounds
      the women hear...listening to the sound of
      wind going through the cracks of an igloo...
      the sound of the sea shore, a river of
      geese, the sound of the northern lights, while
      lights are getting the old
      days the people used to think the world was
      flat, but when they learned the world was
      turning, they made a throat-singing son
      about it.
Inuktitut Magazine, December 1980

I always knew
                       you were singing!
As my fingers have pulled your clay,
as your mountains have  pulled  the clay of me,

as my knees have deeply printed your mud,
as you winds have drawn me down and dried the mud of

around me always the drone and scrape of stone,
small movements atom by atom I heard like tiny drums...

I heard flutes and reeds that whine in the wind,
the bongo scratch of beetles in redwood bark,

the constant rattle that made
of this land a great gourd!

Oh I always knew

you were singing!

And here's my last old poem for the week, written again in 1999, and, after numerous rejections, rescued as before by Hawkwind in 2002.

The installation where I served for that year in Pakistan was a peculiar kind of American base. It was originally established to monitor the path of our U-2 spy planes as they crossed the Soviet Union. When one of the was shot down, the U-2 program was discontinued and the American presence was turned to other duties. Neither the U.S. nor the Pakistani government acknowledged our presence and the American flag was flown nowhere on the base. Our security was entirely in the hands of Pakistan's army who had  outpost around our facility and who patrolled the walls. None of us were armed. In fact a funny story is that while I was there, a security drill was called, then cancelled, because the officer with keys to the gun cabinets was on leave. I think we were probably all safer that way. We were a peculiar kind of soldier on a peculiar kind of base.

The end of the story is that the old government was eventually overthrown and the new government tossed us out of the country, which everyone I knew was greatly in favor of, since because of the closure, many of us were released from active duty some months earlier than we would have otherwise.

Although I will admit that I have always assumed that some of us stayed somewhere else, out of the public eye and with the agreement of the new government, which had made its point.

Morning Song

It was early in the morning
in a place for  away...

A path twisted along the red brick wall
that separated our oasis
from the desolate desert all around.
As I walked past that part of the wall
adjacent to the  sentry camp outside,
the men of the camp began to wake and stir.
A soldier began to sing
a plaintive morning song of his region.

The sound was strange to my ears
but soul-stretching,
ad so in accord with the morning
that it seemed a natural part of the sun's rising.
Another man joined in with a flute
and its high clear whistling,
with the deep, soldier-voiced singing,
pierced the early hour, seeming to
reach through the cool, morning air
all the way to the mountains on the other side of the desert,
just as it breached those walls
to move me.

Here's the last poem this week from my library. It's by Joyce Sutphen, winner of the 1994 Barnard New Women Poets Prize. The poem is from her book, Straight Out of View, published in 1995 by Beacon Press of Boston.

Born in 1949, Sutphen is currently serving as Poet Laureate of her home state, Minnesota, and is a professor of English at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. She holds degrees from the University of Minnesota, including a PhD in Renaissance Drama.

Potato Meditation

Tonight I am the potato peeling woman.
I standby the porcelain sink,
looking into the farm yard,
at its gray silt heart,

At fence posts and barbed wire,
at bodies, black and white,
moving around the watering tank,
moving under the carrot-colored moon.

White mountains of cloud rise
over the shoulders of the shadowed woods.

I take up a potato and skim its skin away,
remembering how, with Easter's first
full moon, we went along the loamy furrows
dropping a chunk of potato, the eye cast up

To the heavens before we buried it deep.
Then, when the green unfurled, we mounded
the dirt around each plant, making
an expectant hill, a pregnant swell

Of  sloping earth and waited the summer
to see what came from the field's cool womb.

Potatoes, small as marbles,
grew  fat under the thickening  canopy.
Stalk and leaves, each green roof sent life
to  the mysterious brood nursing at its root.


 Now, putting an end to the  week, my last new poem.

the rectitudinous poet faces his greatest challenge

I cheated
I should say,
I was going to cheat

I wrote a poem last night
that I was going to post today
as my fresh-from-the-poetical-birdcage
of the innards of my oatmeal
"poem for the day"

but though I intended to cheat,
I will not carry through
with my nefarious plan because
upon further consideration,
it's a really lousy
and if I'm going to cheat
it's going to have to be for something
worthy of the gods,
subject of intense and deeply appreciative discussion
at their Thursday night
poker game,
a poem so intense as to make Zeus
forget his ace-high straight
as he ponders the intricacies of my linguistical construction
and moral and philosophical

the poem I wrote last night
is not such a poem
so I'm going to dump it, it  being
material suitable  only
for that old flushable  file,
itself a major
in human creativity many years past,
and there it will go, spiraling down in a whirlpool of
poetic  poop, bringing
down the toilet's creative
like a Republican entering a room
diminishes the net intelligence of the room...

I'm going to write and actual new poem
for today's "poem of the day"
 beginning any time now...

and you will be amazed at my
rectitude and

any time now...

the musical

no, wait, that's not

This picture, taken several blocks  from my house, showing downtown San Antonio  where all the other pictures this week were taken.

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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