Remembering Winter   Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My photos  this week were taken in the hill  country north of San Antonio and were taken in December, a couple of years ago. As summer finally begins to wind down this year, I  look forward to fall and winter drives in the hills.

My anthology this week is African American Poetry 1773-1927. The  book was published by Dover Thrift Editions in 1997.

My old poems this week will be from 2007-2008, not that old, but good years for my poetry in my opinion. There may be more old poems than usual. (See below.)

And as for new poems, there may be none.

As a  good poem-a-day soldier, I have written my poem every day, knowing that, as we poem-a-days know, the daily poem will not always be a winner. The solution to a lousy poem one  day is the writing of a better one the next day.

It being mid-week as I write this,  the problem is that so far this week, the daily poems have been uniformly lousy, to the point I don't want  to post  them here. So, maybe there will be more old poems then usual in this post.

And that all works out to this:

happy 7/11 day to you

Phillis Wheatley Peters
 On Being  Brought from Africa to America

Audrey Hepburn

Walt Whitman
from Song of  Myself


George Moses  Horton 
George Moses Horton, Myself


Dennis Cooper
Two Acquaintances   

Saturday inventory

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Bury Me in a Free Land

bits and pieces from a Tuesday morning that seems like a Monday

 Jessica Helen Lopez 
That Following Sunday

pecheuw, pecheuw

Claude McKay
The Harlem  Dancer
 The Tropics in New York

the last
squirrel for sale, cheap
over it
a zero-sum world

Susanna H. Case
Looking for Meteors - Willlcox, Arizona

 two  consecutive days of intermittent rain

Jean Toomer
Her Lips Like Copper Wire  
      my excuse       

 I start the week with an old poem, a 9/11 poem written in 2011, ten years after the fact, and possibly offensive to those who like to feed off the misery of others.

happy 9/11 day to you

there are those  who suffered
deep personal loss on this day,
those who will remember
on this day every year, not
the event, but the loss
of a mother, son, father,
daughter and on this day
they will think of  that loss,
not of politics or revenge,
but  of picnics, Christmas Eves
around a glittery tree of lights
and shiny balls, of birth days
when lives began,
of birthdays that ended
on that day

the will grieve

while the rest of us,
hanger's-on to  their
grief, turn the day into
a fetish, television pictures
of grand towers falling,
gray, dust-covered people
stumbling through smoke,
men and women leaping from
high smoke and fire - television
pictures that grab hold of our
heart and soul and titillate,
like the latest death and dis-
memberment feature at the
cineplex - what a great show,
and every year we want more
of it, like the Christmas movies
we watch every December
cause it just wouldn't be the same
without old Scrooge and wide-eyed
Jimmy Stewart
every year on this day, the towers
fall again, the gray ghosts stumble
through the smoke  again, the high

what a show! what a show!

and ten years from now
9/11 Day sales at JC Penny's
and Walmart and 9/11 lunchboxes
for school children and 9/11
action figures, firemen and terrorists,
cowboys and Indians,
and those whose loss was real
and direct will  suffer again,  grieve
again while the rest of us
at the 9/11 Day Festival of Stars,
last hurrahs by old movie stars
we barely remember

and lost  to the funky haze
of history trivialized, the thousands
of our innocents murdered
become re-enactment props
for an afternoon in the country,
forgotten, hidden behind the TV
images played again on the jumbo
screen at the 9/11 Day America's Bowl in

as we debase
the memory of our innocents
no event, no memory,
no mention  at all
of the hundreds of thousands
of  innocents  we murdered
in response

 My  first poem  form this week's anthology, African-American Poetry -1773-1927, is by Phillis Wheatley Peters who lived from 1753 to 1784. It is the first poem in the book and, to modern sensibilities, possibly the most shocking poem I've ever posted in "Here and Now."

Wheatley-Peters was the second African American poet and the first African American woman published in the United States. She was purchased by the Wheatley family of Boston when she was seven years old. They taught her to read and write and, seeing her talent, encouraged her poetry. She was  emancipated upon the death of her master and died in poverty in later years after her husband was imprisoned for debt. She had three children, all  of whom died  at birth.

On Being  Brought from Africa to America

'Twas mercy brought me from my pagan  land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there's a God, that there's a Savior too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
"Their color is a diabolic dye."
Remember Christians, Negroes, black as Cain,
May be refin'd, and join the angelic train.

 Here's another old poem, this one from 2008, a tribute to a beautiful woman usually overlooked those of young and not deserving.

Audrey Hepburn

she was

but we were
adolescent  boys
in a time of

First from my library, Walt Whitman, the master  of all of us who write, the one who should be known to all who ever  seek to write.

from Song of Myself


These are the thoughts of all men in all ages and
   lands, they are not original with me.
If they are not yours as much as mine they are
   nothing, or next to nothing.
If they are not the riddle and the untying of the riddle
   they are nothing.
If they are not just as close as they are distant they are

This is the grass that grows wherever the land is and
   the water is,
This is common air that bathes the globe.


Walt Whitman, a kosmos, of Manhattan the son,
Turbulent,fleshy, sensual,  eating,  drinking and
No sentimentalist, no stander above  men and women
   or apart from them,
No more modest than immodest.

Unscrew the locks from the doors!
Unscrew the doors themselves from their jambs!
Whoever degrades another degrades me,
And whatever is done or said returns at  last  to me.

Through me the afflatus surging and surging, through
   me the current and index.

I speak the pass-word primeval, I give the sign of
By God! I will accept nothing  which all cannot have
   their counterpart of on the same terms.

Through me  many long dub voices,
Voices of the diseas'd and the despairing and thieves
   and dwarfs,
Voices of cycles of preparation and accretion,
And of the threads  that connect the stars, and of
   wombs and the father-stuff,
And of the rights of them,the others  are down upon,
Of the deform'd, trivial,flat, foolish, despised,
Fog in the air, beetles rolling balls of dung.

Through me forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil'd and I remove
   the veil,
Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur'd.

I  do not press my fingers across my mouth,
I keep as delicate  around the bowels as around the
   head and heat,
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.

I believe  in the flesh and the appetites,
Seeing, hearing, feeling, are miracles, and each part and
   tag of me is a miracle.
Divine am I inside and out, and I make  holy whatever
   I touch or am touche'd from,
The scent of these arm-pits aroma finer than prayer,
This head more than churches, bibles,  and all the

- and, as  always with Whitman, I could go on and on and on some more -

Here's an actual new poem from last week. Not so much better a poem than the others, but an honest one.


where's the joy

where's the rush,
blood  set to rushing
in anticipation
of the new
new life,
new love, new
challenge, new marks
on my personal calendar of
done and

the age of knowing
each day's the best it's going to get

making the best of it

setting aside memories
of the time when each day was a step
toward a better day


it's what  we do

that fella on the park bench,
gray and wizened,
feeding the pigeons, naming
the pigeons
after friends gone, remembered
in the red feet and strut
of birds that gather round his feet


it's what he's doing

Next from this week's anthology I have a poem by George Moses Horton, who lived from 1797 to 1883. A slave in North  Carolina for 66 years, he published150 poems in three volumes from 1829 to 1865. His subject included his  bondage, love, religion, nature, the art  of poetry and the Civil War.

George Moses Horton, Myself

I  feel myself in need
     On the inspiring strains of ancient lore,
My heart to lift, my empty mind to feed,
     And all the world explore.

I know that I am  old
     And never can recover what is past,
But for the future may some light unfold
     And soar from ages blast.

I feel resolved to try,
     My wish to prove, my calling to pursue,
Or mount up from the earth into the sky,
     To  show what Heaven can do.

My genius from a boy,
     Has fluttered like a bird within my heart;
But could not thus confined her powers to employ,
     Impatient to depart.

She like a restless bird,
     Would spread her wings, her power to be unfurled,
And let her songs be loudly heard,
     And dart from world to world.

Here's an old poem from January, 2007. It seems strange how life unwinds that I was, when this poem was written and am today, less than ten miles from where these  events occurred.


on this day
forty-one years ago,
newly shorn
and uniformed
in the middle
of another
losing war,
I was in
my fourth day
of learning
the arts of combat,
which seemed
at that early
to be mostly
about getting up
in the very dark
of morning,
and marching,
always marching
in god-awful winter
to places we did not
care to go

many of us
would soon learn
more advanced
and  terrible
while others,
like me,
would find safe
in specialties
that involved
neither shooting
nor being shot

of the they-only-stand-and-wait
brigade, we
honor  those
who fought
and those
who fight now
and thank
we are not

I have two poems  now from my library by Dennis Cooper, novelist, poet,  editor, critic and performance artist. The  poem is from his book, Idols, this edition published by Amethyst Press, originally published by Seahorse Press in 1989.


He fell, like
falling down stairs
from Dylan
to  Leary
to Buddha
to  Christ
to jail
and landed head first
in a hospital,
weak and violent
when he  was sixteen.

Now all that he does
is talk about
how he feels,
when he's up and down
or in between.
Every thought in the open.
I like him but
I end up propped
in my hand trying
to look interested.

But tonight he's yakked so  long
and hard
in my room
it is all out.
He lies back
on the couch
with no power
to stop me
when I open
his tired mouth
and eat from it.

Two  Acquaintances

Jeff suspends the bowl of blue water
between four fingers,  lifting
for is girlfriend to  drink.
He's going Oriental.

Scott moves the saxophone
from his mouth to his girl's
and she makes the lightest noise
so he'll scold her  too nicely.

Two young American men
on their way to marriage.
Temporary friends.
New blue jeans. New shoes.

San Francisco's where they're heading,
to be jazz greats. But L.A.
is where they'll end up , working in record shops,
paying a hundred bucks a copy
for Miles at the Regent.

For now, they hang around my place
trying Coltrane for size,
growing out of their boy's haircuts.
I am less ambitious, by far.
One hand casually drapes their waists;
with the other I conceal my hard-on.

Here's another new, not-so-bad poem from  last  week.

Saturday inventory

in the old days
I'd be at the office
on Saturday, reading mail,
getting ready for Monday...

not especially smarter
than anyone else, but starting
late, always ready to work harder and longer
than the younger guys...


having breakfast at my lap top,
trying to come up  with something
to  mark the day...

not so different
than before
after all


I suffer from
idle hands syndrome,
the workshop
set for mischief, but these days,
coming up dry,
you can only tear the tag off your mattress once,
then what?


when I was a kid
I had a Dick Tracy hat
I wore all the time, then
Hoppy and Lash La Rue and the Cisco Kid
showed up at the Saturday afternoon
and I wanted a cowboy hat
and then I saw an old Hoot Gibson movie
and I wanted a really, really big cowboy hat...

never got a really, really big cowboy hat,
but when I was grown up
living in a cowboy town, I got a regular
cowboy hat,  didn't look like Hoppy or the Lone Ranger
or Gene or Roy or even  Dale..

just looked like some kind of  fool
wearing a big hat


I think I invented
colored dress shirts while I was in college...

one day,
as happened sometime,  I  wanted
to  wear a tie to class -
it was a very nice tie,  red and blue, skinny as a string
as was the style at the time, but still
colorful and pretty...

but I didn't have the required white dress shirt
as was the custom to wear with neckties
in the very proper fifties

so  I got nicely starched and ironed blue shirt
out of my closet
and wore it with my skinny red and blue

and it was a sensation,
people I didn't know telling me how cool
did I  look with my blue shirt
and skinny red and blue  tie...

withing weeks men's clothing stores
were featuring
colored dress shirts to wear with
skinny ties -

one of many instances in my life
that  demonstrate
my life-long reputation as an  innovator


I was also responsible for eliminating
those  stupid little  tassels
on men's  dress shoes,
once all the rage
now rarely

I'm particularly proud of
that one

I've used this next poem from the anthology in the past. I use it again because it is to me a very powerful poem. The poem is by Frances Ellen Watkins  Harper who was born in 1824 and died in 1911. A rare breed of poet even today, she earned financial independence and nationwide acclaim with her poetry, essays and public readings and lectures on behalf of racial equality, women's and children's rights, Christian morality and temperance.

Bury Me in a Free Land

Make me a grave where'er you will,
In a lowly plain, or a lofty hill,
Make it among earth's humblest graves,
But not in a land where me are slaves.

I could not rest if around my grave
I heard the steps of a trembling slave:
His shadows above my silent tomb
Would make it a place of  fearful gloom.

I could not rest if I heard the tread
Of a coffle gang to the shambles led,
And the mother's shriek of wild despair
Rise like a curse on the trembling air.

I could not sleep if I saw the lash
Drinking her blood at each fearful gash,
And I saw her babies torn from her breast,
Like trembling doves from their parent nest.

I'd shutter and start if I heard the bay
Of blood-hounds seizing their human prey,
And I heard the captive pleading in vain
As the bound afresh his galling chain.

If I saw the young girls in their mother's arms
Bartered and sold for their youthful charms,
My eye would flash with a mournful flame,
My death-paled cheek  grow red with shame.

I would sleep, dear friends, where bloated might
Can rob no man of his dearest right,
My rest shall be calm in any grave
Where non can call his brother a slave.

I ask no  monument, pound and high
To arrest the gaze of the passers-by;
All  that my yearning spirit craves,
Is bury me not in a land of slaves.

I wrote this poem in 2008. At that time, after  my second retirement, I went  back to work on a contract by contract basis with a company that wrote and scored mandated state assessment tests for students. Mostly I worked with reading and writing tests. It was an occasionally interesting, usually boring job. I  worked as a team leader, overseeing the work of a team readers scoring tests. Sometimes I worked preparing  scoring  keys for tests that would be administered by the client state. I don't remember what that job was called.

The keys, once developed, had to be approved by higher mucky-mucks, which usually involved standing around waiting for approval before we could either go home or edit keys not completely approved.

These little bits were written during this waiting period, which explains some of the references.

bits and pieces from a Tuesday morning that seems like a Monday

green lichen
on bare
over brown
grass gathered
in the  cold forest
like boy scouts
at  camp

on a foggy day

seen from my
high place
tree tops
in cotton swirl

the hive
with low voices
all eyes tight
on computer screens

ever now and then
loud laughter
as something seen
in a child's writing
the room

a thermos top
and brown coffee
open like

green winter rain
anticipates spring

too soon

work done
wandering  halls
for  approval

will  write a poem


 Next from my library, a poem by Jessica Helen Lopez, from her book, Always Messing with Them Boys. The book was published by West End Press of Albuquerque in 2011.

Lopez is a three-time member  of the City of Albuquerque Slam Team and the 2008 National Champion UNM  LOGO Slam  Team.  She is also a member of the Macondo Foundation, an association of socially engaged writers.

Lopez has a number of poems in the book I'd really like to use here, but they're just too long.

That Following  Sunday

The carpeted halls  of the church
sign and moan under the weight
of my sex, the musk of wax
and wails from beneath veiled hats

The pews complain and hold
back the pantyhose women,
pressed perms and palms
their prayers play to bet
a god to forgive such thoughts

The skin beneath the clothes
stowed away to smother the
heat between legs under
the mounds of Sunday's best
rippled silk, heavy hosiery and
the crushed kerchief

I avert my eyes
in the holiest of angles
position my gaze to
seem chaste
the thick velvet
tapestries breathe
as I fall to thoughts
of Eve

While my mother mumbles like
the Madonna, she shoulders me
into the corner pew, bullies me
to my knees makes me
heavy with Jesus
as she loses herself to the coupling
of  faith she prays
for my salvation

The candles sweat
we eat bread
as I remember
like a lost wallet, a forgotten slipper
my virginity remains
in the tangle of sheets
the folds of duvet
and the twist of sex
pillowcases bloodied
by the scarlet letter of
my favorite lipstick
long black hair
coiled on his lumpy mattress
we burned incense and
it smelled like Sunday

And that sordid bible
the dubious note-
that sordid bible!
thick and black and
gilded golden pages
it lay like an empty canoe
on his nightstand
when he undid
my nightshirt
and I let him
and I helped him
that empty eye
socket that stared
the one that taught
me all the signs
I ever needed to know
for many lifetimes over
and over
and over

naked truth
the oddity of beauty
that up-close and
stolen look
small and shriveled
in a heap of hair
the apple of the buttock
the fermented fruit that I invited
to create the gorge
that became the thigh

And I
cross myself
hope to know
we can't all be Mary
and I regret nothing


 Okay, another new not-so-bad poem from last week with only the slightest scent of desperation.

pecheuw, pecheuw

by my rough estimate
I figure there are at least 75,000
Mexican restaurants
in San Antonio,
and only about 5 or 6 that distinguish themselves
from all the others
and it takes eating a lot
of lousy Mexican food to find them

catching up with  Mexican restaurants
are Chinese, Thai, Korean, and Vietnamese,
numbering about 50,000
but I only go to one of them,
the one with the great pad Thai

I've only found three German restaurants,
two closed recently and the survivor is downtown
where parking cost as much as a meal...

one  of the ones that closed
was source of my favorite bratwurst
with red cabbage and the best oven fries in the western hemisphere

it was owned and run by a woman
with a German accent
who always set up front
smoking cigarette after cigarette,
a GI bride I  always assumed
it was just the way I always saw her

nice woman,
always said hello,
killed by the cigarettes is my guess
because she always had that
of a cigarette-smoking-person,
gaunt and shrouded
in smoke,
death always looking over her  shoulder...


reminds me
of the booth in front of me, a kid,
maybe 4, maybe 5,
going pecheuw, pecheuw,
as he points his finger like a gun
at his big sister

the question,
how do all boys seem to know at birth
that finger guns
pecheuw, pecheuw?

is it perhaps

born to finger-shoot
big sisters
and other interlopers
into the joys of boy-morning?


and why such a deep philosophical
and mystical query
in the middle of a Sunday morning

because the kid is now pointing his finger
and going
pecheuw, pecheuw
at me
and I haven't done a damn
thing to deserve it,
at least, as bad
as his big sister does
every day

Next from the anthology, two  short poems by Claude McKay, a native of Jamaica. Born in 1890 and died in 1948, McKay traveled widely throughout the world, publishing along the way several volumes of poetry, four novels, an autobiography and a history of Harlem.

The Harlem Dancer

Applauding youths laughed with young prostitutes
And watched her  perfect, half-clothed body sway;
Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes
Blown by black players upon a picnic day.
She sang and danced on gracefully and calm,
The light gauze hanging loose about her  form;
To me she seemed a proudly-swaying palm
Grown lovelier for passing through a storm.
Upon her swarthy neck black,  shiny curls
Profusely fell; and, tossing coins in praise,
The wine-flushed, bold-eyed boys, and even the girls,
Devoured her with their eager,  passionate gaze;
But looking at her falsely-smiling face,
I knew her  self was  not in that strange place.

The Tropics in New York

Bananas ripe and green, and ginger root,
    Cocoa in  pods and alligator pears,
And tangerines and mangoes and grapefruit,
    Fit for the highest prize at parish fairs,

Set in the windows, bringing memories
     Of fruit trees laden by low-singing  rills,
And dewy dawns, and mystical blue skies
     In benediction over nunlike hills.

My eyes grew dim, and I could no longer gaze;
    A wave of longing through my body swept,
And hungry for the old, familiar ways,
     I turned aside and bowed my head and wept.


Here are some poems from 2007. They're short, so here's several.


October blue
gives way
to November

and you can
the tides
of an old

the last

fog on Apache
lost in overcast
streetlights like
splash and pool
on the path
we walk alone
as if always
and forever

we are the last

squirrel for sale, cheap

there is a
in my kitchen

I saw him/her/it

in a corner
of the cabinet
in fear

I don't know how
got there but there

I also don't know
I"m going to get
the creature

Jimmy Carter's
killer rabbit
I'm hesitant
to try to do it

but I can't find
in the yellow pages

over it

to work
first day
of a three day

not so bad

really exciting
but not so boring

when I first
I'd get restless
 after a couple of months
get a little jealous
of all the people
passing me
on the highway,
to work

but that was almost
ten years ago
I'm mostly

it's a zero-sum world

when I was
I celebrated

every new thing

I know that
for each new thing

thing is lost

From my library, I have a poem by Susana H. Case, from her book, The Cost of Heat. The book was published in 2010 by Pecan Grove Press of San Antonio.

Case lives in New York City and is a professor at the New York Institute of Technology. Her work has appeared in many journals and she has published several collections of poetry.

I don't remember this book  or using the poet's work before, so I'm thinking this must be one of my purchases at the second-hand book store that got lost in the shelves of my library and overlooked. Case has what seems to me a unique voice and I think I'll have to  read several more of her poems before it settles in.

Looking for Meteors - Willcox, Arizona

Local cop, dark blue cruiser,pulls
into the closed-up-tight strip  mall
where we're parked. But,

we're not grinding sweat against rough fabric.
Nothing  like that since  morning,
after the Best Western,

in the yellow plastic sign:Pool!
Sliding off my underpants, a plain room, framed
renderings of horses. Your slick smile,

talking dirty. Mixing me up with the town slut,
from the Dairy  Queen, her stale yellow hair.
You and I

have seen too many cheap movies
starring small town corrupt cops, maybe this one.
You start the engine, escape past the dried-up Playa

for a fountain view of the Perseids.
On the highway median, a great horned
owl caught in our headlight chews a carcass.

Swivels her head,
her swift appraisal,
yellowed eyes.  Meteors,  their brief

rushed lives train behind. Burning up
is easy in summer. On my back or in the car
- falling through the sky with you.


Here's another new piece from early last week. I  like it better now that  I  did when I wrote it.

two consecutive days of intermittent rain

two  consecutive days of
intermittent rain
and it's a greener, happier world,
people smile, animals smile
as animals do, with a meow or a muted woof
as with my dog and cat
crossing the bridge with me
over Apache Creek in the early,  early morning,
stop and nuzzle, nose to nose, cheek
to jowl, until cat, encouraged by two
consecutive days of intermittent
rain, rolls on her back, presents her soft
furred belly to the dog's long
and drooly tongue...

a first after a year
of shared morning walks -

perhaps a solution
to the world's constant troubles,

consecutive days of intermittent rain
and bellies, white, black, brown, yellow, red,
haired or hairless,
taut or presented in fleshy rolls,
exposed for community
licking, circular licks, a daisy chain of communal licks
and the world becomes a softer, greener,
happier place

The last poem this week from the week's anthology, African-American Poetry, 1773-1927, is by Jean Toomer who lived from 1894 to 1967. Toomer was a poet and a novelist and an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance.

Her Lips Are Like Copper Wire

whisper of yellow globes
gleaming on lamp-posts that sway
like bootleg licker drinkers in the fog

and let your breath be moist against me
like bright beads on yellow globes

telephone the power-house
that the main wires are insulate

(her words play softly up and down
dewy corridors of billboards)

then with you tongue remove the tape
and press your lips to mine
till they are incandescent

I wrote a really lousy poem this past Monday. It was supposed to be my poem for the day. But it was so  bad, I trashed it,  sealed it away in an envelope labeled "open upon the even of my death by falling meteor" - figure it'll be the end of the world and the lousy poem won't look half bad in comparison.

I posted this piece instead.

my excuse

wrote a poem
this morning
so bland and boring
going to save  it
to  read
to my grandchildren
at night
when they can't get to

not going to read  it
to anyone
in the morning
when people need to get up
and get on their way
to working
us all
into a new round
of prosperity

and wide awake
as is required
to make it in this world
and certainly
not drive to continued
by that bland and boring
I did today

world commerce
and all the intricate working parts
of our global
economic system
could well
on my keeping that poem
under wraps

my excuse
for not posting a poem today
and I'm sticking
to it

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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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