Travelogue    Monday, October 14, 2013

I'm back  from my two  days in Santa Fe, which, the way I travel, took six days - two  days going, two days there, two days coming  back. It's slower than hoping on a plane, but, as explained, in my first poem this week, it's worth it to me.


My anthology this week is Twentieth Century Latin American, a bilingual anthology of  poets from all over  Latin America.;Part of the Texas Pan American Series, it's a huge book with many poets and I will return to it often.

Both my new poems and my old poems this week concern visiting Santa Fe. The old poems are from an earlier trip in 2011. The pictures from the last post were from that same trip. We had a lot more time in 2011 so we were able to go on to Colorado and several nights in Durango,  a little city I like very much.

Life always drawing your attention, it's easy to forget the obvious some times. The obvious this time is the the extensive effect on the culture and history of the Southwest,  especially in New Mexico and Texas where it is embraced and integrated into every day life.

Thinking of that, all my library poems this post are Latino, making this an all Latin issue, except for me, and even  I  have a kind of honorary status among the tribes.

Here are this weeks poets.

learning my place

Olga Oroszco
To Make a Talisman

Raul Salinas

"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"

Jorge Luis Borges 
Houses Like Angels

long way, passing  fast

Alberto Rios
Mr. Luna and History

a day off in Durango

Gabriel  Zaid 
Song of Pursuit 
 Furious Clarity
Mortal Practice

I've been this way before, I think

Luis Cabalquinto
For Emmanuel

Carlsbad to Santa Fe

Vicente Huidobro

a door slams

Gary Soto
Pompeii and the Uses of our Imagination

daytrip to Ouray

Alfonso Cortes
Space Song 

too few

Juan Gehman

daytrip to Telluride

Catherine Tufariello
 Plot Summary

the problem, my children

Delmira Agustini
The Ineffable

Durango to Albuquerque

Gabriel Gomez
Murmation of Starlings

fog and romance

bench-sitting, people-watching

Alberto Rios
The Impossible Still Life

a soft beginning

Claribel Alegrai
We Were Three

mountains and towns

Tino Villanueva
Not Knowing, in Aztlan

homebound, Albuquerque to Fort Stockton

Nancy Morejon

the winding-down part

back to routine

I wrote this a couple of  days before we began our trip, a response to those who are so continually surprised that I don't fly whenever I go someplace.

learning my place

I will leave on Saturday
for some time in the

I will not fly,
after you've seen the other side of clouds
once, that's it, not much else to see
from 40,000

I will  drive
as I always do because any journey
if not as much about the getting there
as the being there, seems
a waste of my
and having not  so much
of that one-time gift
I will not waste
any of  it

I will drive
since only by driving can one stop
along the highway
in Utah
to introduce one's self and one's young son
to three bison, to see,
and  smell them
(an important part of the bison experience)
standing  by the
fence waiting for I don't know  what...

like the cowboys in Nevada,
sitting in the back of the coffeehouse,
singing the old cowboy standards,
and songs of their composition;
and the herd of cattle somewhere in Arizona
who came rushing to the fence,
all twenty-five off them,  when I stopped to take
their pictures, expecting, I guess
to be fed; like the goats
near Little Rock,  with
deep brown eyes and long, stringy beards
who thrust their heads through the fence
so  that I could scratch their broad
foreheads; or the llama,
with it's little topknot
of hair right at the top of its head,
posing for me, reminding me
for all the world of the pictures of the Beatles
in 1963, especially Ringo,that same wide-eyed
look - this sight, on a tiny two-lane
a little west  of  Comfort,Texas;
or the palomino in the horse trailer,
eying me with fiery eyes
as I passed;  or the three cows
on a hill,  silhouetted
against a setting sun;
or the dark horses, crossing  a snowy field;
or the elks huddled under a tree
in a snowstorm; or deer jumping across
a muddy road as if with wings...

this, all of this,
seen at dirt  level,where the world is, not in the air
where it isn't , those passing above at
nonhuman height and
nonhuman pace
none of it...

so much more of the world
I know as I pass through it,
seeing it from the ancestral vantage
of my kind...

like the golden dome of the state capitol as I pass
through Charleston,West Virginia; and
the small,cold stream somewhere
in Colorado, banked
on either side by snow;  or the tall
trees of northern California, huge,
as big around at the base
as several small trucks parked parallel  to each other,
their trunks and green branches
reaching high, high into the sky,
seem from a passing airplane,
if anyone bothers to look,
like just another green splotch on a circling
globe, never seen as I see it,
wrapped within their dim shadows -
cool shadows on even
the brightest, warmest day...

my friends, flying over the dust of  reality
that made us, flying over
our provider and maker of our home,
our inspiration,leaving on us
its  mark no matter how high away
we fly, never seeing this,
never understanding by the feel of its grit
how we are bound to this our mother earth...


such a long piece this could be as I recount all my years
of passing dirt-bound and seeing...

too long for anyone to read,
so I will just leave it here,
waving to you as you fly away,
while I return to my own plodding ways,
mile by mile,  learning my place with each mile passed,
exploring the mysteries with each stop

First this week from my anthology,  Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry, I have a poem by Olga Orozco.

Born in 1920, Argentinian poet Orozco moved to Buenos Aires with her parents  when she was 16 years old and began her  life as a writer. After a  long  career  as a editor,journalist and poet, she died in Buenos Aires in 1999 at the age of 79.

To Make a Talisman

Your heart is all  you need,
fashioned in the living image  of your daemon  or your god.
Only a heart, like a crucible  of coals before an idol.
Nothing but a defenseless, affectionate heart.
Leave it out in the elements,
where the grasses like a crazed nurse will wail their dirges
and it cannot fall asleep,
where the wind and the rain whisper their whips in blue
     cold blasts
without turning it  to marble or splitting it in two,
where darkness opens warrens to all the wild animals
and it cannot forget.
Throw it from the summit of its love into the seething
Then spread it out to dry in the stone's deaf lap
and scrape, scrape it with a cold nail  till the last grain of
     hope has been gorged away.
So the fevers and nettles can suffocate it,
so that predatory beasts can jolt it with their ritual trot,
so that it can be swaddled in insult made from the rags
     of its ancient glories.
And when one day per years imprisons it with the talons
     of a century,
before it's too late,
before it becomes a luminous mummy,
open its wounds wide open, exhibit them one by one,
like a beggar, display them to the piteous sun;
let it wail its delirium in the desert
till only the echo of a name grows inside it, like a  raging
the ceaseless pounding of a spoon against an empty plate.

If it still survives,
it has come  this far as the living image of your daemon
     or your god;
here is a talisman more inflexible than the law,
stronger than the weapons and the malice of the enemy.
Guard it in the vigil of your chest like a sentry.
But keep watch over it.
I  can  grow inside you like the gnawing of leprosy;
it can be your executioner.
The innocent monster, insatiable dinner-guest at
     your death!

(Translated by Stephen Tapsott)

From  my library, I have this poem by Raul Salinas, from his book, Indio Trails, published by Wings Press of San Antonio in 2007

Salinas, who died in 2008, was a poet and long-time  Chicano activist also ran the multicultural and political Resistencia Bookstore, which was also a community gathering place, in Austin, as well as Red Salmon Arts, a  literary venue and small press.


                (a metamorphosis of sorts)

(half hidden)
Harvest Moon
hung low/
glowing on
(new) lovers.
Slightly obscure
October Moon
chameleon moon
of changing seasons
entices lovers
to exchange warm smiles
tenderly touch hands
gripping each other firmly...
final kiss
to ease the (burning)
before turning
(in accordance with the struggle)
flaming arrow
obsidian axe.

                                                   Oct. '75 

As promised, this begins, in no particular order, the old poems this week from our previous trip to Santa Fe (and on to Colorado) two years ago in 2011.

This song from one of my favorite songs, first heard, coincidentally in 1964 in Albuquerque while attending training for the Peace Corps at the University of New Mexico. A defining time in my life, even though, in the end, I did not to on to an assignment overseas.

"Cast Your Fate to the Wind"


road sounds -
tires on asphalt,
desert-sweet air

my favorite road-song
on the radio...

casting my fate to the


Next from the anthology,  the great Argentinian poet, fiction writer, essayist, critic and author of detective fiction, Jorge Luis Borges.

 Houses like Angels

Where San Juan and Chacabuco intersect
I saw the blue houses,
the houses that wear colors of adventure.
They were  like banners
and deep as the dawn that frees the outlying quarters.
Some are daybreak color and some dawn color;
their cool radiance is a passion before the oblique
face of any drab, discouraged corner.
I think of the women
who will be looking skyward from their burning dooryards.
I think of the pale arms that make evening glimmer
and of the blackness of braids; I think of the grave delight
of being mirrored in their deep eyes, like the arbors of night.
I will push the gate of iron entering the door yard
and there will be a fair girl, already mine, in the room.
And the two of us will hush, trembling like  flames,
and the present joy will grow quiet in  that passed.

(Translated by Robert Fitzgerald)

Here's another new poem, this one reporting on the first day's travel, 550 miles, San Antonio to El Paso.

long way, passing fast

a long day yesterday,
passing fast at 80 miles per hour

the rugged hills and the mountains
on the other side off the desert, all beautiful,
but I've seen it all before,
many times,
it seems, with every cactus
and every rabbit
in the shade behind them,
and I get past
as quickly as I can, take no time for
focused on today, when the good part

three stops for the dog,
and she's happy,
new sniffs to sniff, new trees to pee on

a stop for lunch at Pepe's
in Ozona - lost it at first, thought it was
in Sonona, tiny Sonona, a little detour off I-10...

nothing going on in little Sonona, "Historic Downtown,"
a single block dead-ending
at the county courthouse, great, beautiful building
in the tradition of Texas county courthouses,
built at a time when even the poorest county, dead-dry
county, with not even enough beans
to fill a pot would find some way to build a limestone
and granite courthouse...

the whole block, grand courthouse and the street, lined
with old, historic storefronts, deserted, like
a scene from a movie, aliens landed,
ate all the people - Saturday afternoon, prime
retail time, everything closed and deserted...

but it is Texas, must have just been a helluva
a football game...

early morning in El Paso,
at the  hotel,two old marines from the sixties,
my time, also, to serve
sitting across the room from each other,
Vietnam talk, VA talk, Texas talk,  old man talk,
them and me, walking the same paths
most of our lives...

Now, from my library, I have this poem by Alberto Rios. The poem is from his  book, Teodoro Luna's Two  Kisses,  published by W.W. Norton in 1990.

Rios, born in 1952 on the American side of the border city of Nogales, Arizona. He received his B.A. at the University of Arizona in 1974 and an M.F.A. in creative writing from that same university five years later. Widely published and honored, he began teaching at Arizona State University in 1982 and, since 1994, has been Regents Professor of English at that same university.

Mr. Luna and History

There are many facts in the world.
Most are passengers, but some
Drive the car.
The boy king Tutankhamen caused to be made
For himself the first bed.
In 1340 Thomas Blanket was said to have had
a refinement.
And in 1932, as schoolchildren know,
Teodoro Luna, president of all that had come before,
Invented the making of love.

So went the old joke,
Which was funny but not untrue.
There was talk after his death of a statue,
But the thought was enough,
Pigeons landing not on his head or arms,
But rather on his frame.
Two dozen of them.

Some mouths have the custom of food.
Some of words. Most go with food.
My. Luna's mouth had the habit of women.

In his  later years his wife thought him
Speaking in his sleep,
But that was not it,
His mouth  moving, sometimes like a yawn,
Sometimes like a fish.

It is said
A perfect  diamond is invisible in water.
How Mr. Luna died is not known,
Nor what happened to his body.
It is  said he gave some of himself each tie,
From the inside and out,
Awake but also in a dream.
It is said he became a thousand women.

Here's another from the 2011 trip to New Mexico and Colorado. These 2011 poems, by the way, are not included in my eBook of travel poems, Places and Spaces.

a day off in Durango

seventh day on the road...

a rest day -

for Dee a day to restock at Walmart,
a nap, and a walk along the river,
later a walk with me
downtown to find that Italian restaurant
that was so good when we first
found it five years ago...

for me
a morning at Magpie's
to catch up on work undone
since the road intervened -

and prepare pictures (159 of them so far),
upload them from the camera then transfer
to Photobucket so that I can
process them to bring out the color
of the leaves and the green of the pine
and the white snow laid like clouds
across mountain peaks;

post pictures on the draft for my next
blog post next  week;

review the proof and suggestions
my friend, Erin, made to my next book;
make corrections as she suggested; send the
manuscript to my

and somewhere and sometime in all that -

write my poem for the day, recounting the adventures
of the day before;

a dip
in the hot tub;

a short walk along the river;


and, with Dee, walk downtown, look at
and laugh at the properties posted to the real estate
offices' windows, everything half the size
of what we've got at twice the price, possibility
of moving to Durango, dead and buried
along the roadside;

walk the aisles of a shop
full of very strange things tourists apparently buy;

visit the bookstore where I sold
a couple of copies of my first book to a couple years ago
(closed and for rent,
apparently I have that effect on booksellers);

enjoy a mid-day drink (Tequila Collins,
my choice on those infrequent occasions 
when I drink anything stronger than a Pepsi One)
in the elegant ambiance off the Diamond
Lil Bar and Grill and the "Historic Strater Hotel" (one hundred
and a whole bunch more years old on the corner by the train
station where the train seems to hoot on an irregular basis,
whether it's going anywhere or not) followed by a superior $5 hamburger,
both drink and burger served by a scantily-clad young woman
with superior legs and breasts (Dee didn't mind  my appreciation
of said legs and breasts, understanding that after a certain age
en viewing superior legs and breasts are doing so out of an appreciation
of beauty, unrelated to any carnal desires or intentions,
recognizing impossible dreams
when we dream one;

and, finally,
in the early evening,
a very fine dinner at the Italian place we found years ago, which
had moved to different location,
and which may not actually be the same place at all,
except that, for the purpose of the narrative
of our lives, we will identify it as the same place
no matter if it is or not,
real life, after all, is just a lengthy narrative
which can often be brightened
by a skillful application
fiction which I am
good at...

in the end,
a pleasant day of rest and work...

a start on the way home,
first stop Albuquerque

Returning to this week's anthology, Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry, here are three short poems by Mexican poet, Gabriel Zaid.

Born in 1934 in Monterrey where he studied Engineering, Zaid is a widely published poet who ascribed to  the old fashioned idea that a poet's work was about the work, not the poet. Accordingly he never appeared in a public forum and  never, according to his Google entry, allowed his picture to be taken. Obviously what they really meant is that he never allowed a good picture to be taken. The one above, as grainy and bad as it is, is the best on I could find.

But then, I'm not  entirely sure the picture above is of him.

Song of Pursuit

I am not the wind, nor the sail,
but the rudder that watches.

I am not the water, nor the rudder,
but he who sings this song.

I am not the voice, nor the throat,
but that which is sung.

I don't know who I am, nor what I say,
but I go following you.

(Translated by Monica Hernandez-Cancio)

A Furious Clarity

We accept no  givens: from here  on illusion.
The light of my eyes: a world apart, but mine.

Where you're present or not, the present is given.
At times a light pours down, our daily bread.

Thoughts are give you, yours like the birds.
Solitude is given you, yours like your shadow.
Black light shuddering at the thump of day.

(Translated by George McWhirter)


Between to live and to think,
The door is ajar.
Seeing: being open wide.

(Translated by Monica Hernandez-Cancio)

Here are  two more, because I like them.

Mortal Practice

Raise the oars, be carried
along with your eyes closed.
Open your eyes, find yourself
alive: the miracle reappears.

Go, get up, forget
this treacherous shore
where you have landed.

(Translated by Monica Hernandez-Cancio)


Weird hour. It's not
the end of the world,
but it's dusk.
the tower of Pisa,
tells the hour
on the verge of falling

(Translated by Adrian Hernandez)

Mixing it up  a bit, I wrote this poem a couple of weeks ago, before we headed out for Santa Fe. It has nothing to do with the trip.

Maybe a pre-Halloween poem.

I've been this way before, I think

been this way before,
I think

and it did not end well

it is  you who follow so close
behind me,
be  warned, there  are secrets
on this path,
furtive forms that flash
and slither, all of them, shadows
and forms and in the dime and hidden
clandestine whispers,
dark mouth to sharpened ear

all on this path
patrolled by silent trees
that shield the sun
and guard untold stories
of the dark

I  sense it,
from days
I fear not  passed

do not ask
for it may not turn out well

do not ask
for I cannot  tell

for I've been this way
before, I think,
and it did not out well
and it may not turn out well

The next poet from my library is Luis Cabalquinto, with a poem from his  book Bridgeable Shores, published in 2001 by Galatea Speaks.

Born in Philippines, Cabalquinto  came to the United States in 1968. He studied writing at Cornell University, The New School, and New York University. He writes in English and two  Filipino languages.

For Emmanuel

When the young Filipino poet took
The fever of the streets
Into his  body, he changed:

From his mouth, which had bloomed
A rose, came forth words, like glistening
Tusks of wild boars caught in a trap.

He is with his brothers now in the rain
Forest. At night, hunched over a growing
Fire and holding a gun, not the pen,

He  composes death, out of love.

Here, again, another poem from our 2011 trip.

The little story at the end, the second time such happened. explains why I always turn off my GPS when entering New Mexico.

Carlsbad to Santa Fe

leaving behind
and the rough scrub flatlands
of southern New Mexico, we enter
a topography of rolling hills, slowly climbing
toward the Rockies to the north,
the hills, covered  by short yellow  grass,
become broader and higher as we dive on
toward Santa  Fe - mountains shadow
the horizon to the north and west...

cattle walk single-file on the crest of  a higher
hill, black forms against the blue, cloudless
sky, an orderly, like a military platoon, led
to feed by the boss-cow, one in every herd,
who knows whereto go and when to go there

below the disciplined line,
an unruly rush by calves and big mama bossies,
running to catch up with a truck
crossing the pasture,  loaded with hay,
the God-Truck, bringing
afternoon vittles
for its bovine  charges,
manna from
the bed of a Ford pick-up...

then Vaughn,
small town along the wide, rolling
hills, a diner,
like an old-fashioned city diner
built around a retired railroad dining car -
great music from the fifties,
and a really lousy hamburger...

past Vaughn,
past Encino the hills  roll  on,
ground beneath the low grass, now pumpkin
powder orange, shining in the sun, slipping,
as  we pass on to a light rose color while the mountains
become near companions
on either  side...

until we are there - the near edge of Santa Fe
according to my GPS, but
it doesn't look like "there" - high, rough, tree-covered
hills, steep, deep canyons,  even as the GPS tells us
we are close, and even as I am a disbeliever,
we follow directions,
left turn, right turn, left turn, the road
getting smaller and rougher, asphalt  to washboard gravel
narrower and narrower as we climb steeper and steeper
slopes - until directly ahead of us, a gate
to a private  drive,
and on the gate, a yellow sign with a simple
and direct message - k"you are not where you
think you are, "the sign says, suggesting
we are not the first to be misled by our GPS...

a strategic retreat...

back to were we figure we ought to be,
and, our instincts proving better
than our GPS, finally, eight  miles from the sign
on the gate, our hotel in the immediate
downtown crush of narrow Spanish-laid streets,
three blocks from the central plaza,
within walking distance  of all the places
we want to see  in the two days we expect
to stay here -

here, among the tourists crowding
sidewalks in every direction -

(what I always wonder when myself a tourist
in a place off many tourists,
are  we really as funny looking, I think
as these people crowding  all  around us)

dinner at  six, seven our time,
$80 for two,
great grub,
I'll never get fat
at $80 a pop, contrary
to the usual description of travel
as broadening...

Next, from this week's anthology, Chilean poet,Vincent Huidobro.

Born in 1893 to a wealthy and aristocratic family, Huidobro spent much of his life in Paris and Madrid where he came into contact with many of the experimental writers of that time.

The poet died in 1948.


That bird flying for the first time
Leaves its next looking back

With a finger to my lips
                                     I called to you

I invented waterfalls
In the tops of trees

I made you the most beautiful woman
So beautiful that you blushed in the evenings

                       The moon drifts off
                       And plants a wreath around the pole

I made rivers run
                         where none had been before

With a shout I made a mountain rise
And now we do a new dance around it

                      I cut all the roses
                     From the clouds of the East

And I taught a snowbird how to sing

Let's depart upon the floating months

I'm the old sailor
                      who mends torn horizons

(Translated by David M. Guss)

Speaking of pre-Halloween, here's another new piece  from a couple of weeks ago.

a door slams

a door  slams
in the night, wakes you
from deep sleep
and you lie there, trying
to  remember a dream you must have just had
where a door slammed,
a dream so vivid its dream-life woke you,
but not so vivid as to stay with you
as you lie awake,
if you can't recall the   dream
you'll have to get up to check the door,
you'll have to slip  from beneath
your warm covers, walk,
bare feet on cold tile, to check the door,
to decide before you check the door
if you should take a golf club
or some other means of defense
against an intruder
you're sure must be a dream-creation,
knowing you'll feel silly
where there's  no one there and you wake the dog
who'll want to go out and who'll go out
and bark at the moon and wake
the neighbors
and you know it's silly to  get  up
and investigate dream-sounds, but
you also know
you'll not get back to sleep
this night until

Next from my library, here's one of my favorites, Gary Soto, with a poem from his book, Junior College. The book was published by Chronicle Books in 1997.

Soto is a poet, playwright, essayist, and the author of several children's books. Widely anthologized and honored, including an American Book Award, he is the recipient of numerous fellowships, the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Pompeii and the Uses of Our Imagination

Our history teacher, a southern fellow,
Said, "Close your eyes
And think back, back, back..."
This was a new way of sleeping
In an 8 o'clock class, the sun a pink scar
In our eastern window. He told us about Pompeii,
A bad-luck city, and how lava ran over the poor
And the rich alike. Since I was between
A "B" and an inflated "A," I did what I was told.
I closed my eyes and imagined a huge tamale
Run over by mole sauce, my only reference
To a smothered thing. On top of the tamale,
A chariot,  crowned Gods, and the emperor in a robe.
There was a slave and a slave's bloody ax.
Then there was Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria,
O, my error, the wrong century.
I wiped out this image and returned to the flow
Of lava - jugs of wine, leather sandals, horses.
I saw a fountain, oxen, pigs and, for a second,
A covered wagon, plugged with burning arrows.
My history was mixed up. I closed my eyes tighter,
And I returned to the lava flow -
Statues crumbling to their knees
And citizens caught in the hot river,
Their legs in the air.
I saw virgins run from the fire,
Soldiers in leather skirts and plumed  helmets,
And then the covered wagon reappeared
With a spout of more arrows.
My God, I scolded myself, What is wrong with you?
The history teacher repeated, "back, back, way back,"
I pulled together a harp, a bowl of grapes,
Figs like scrotums,
And then on the tamale I placed two cavemen,
No three, all with the faces of actors -
Yul Brynner, Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas,
My heroes! They were going to fight the lava,
Push it back. But the slipped on the mole sauce
And slipped away on the lens of my tears.
I had gone too far. I was no good at history.
The covered wagon floated behind my closed eyes,
Then an astronaut, George C. Scott.
I couldn't think right. A fork rose and fell
On the tamale, the steam uncurling,
Not unlike Pompeii when the land cooled,
Waves crashed, dogs  sniffed the ruins,
And - my God, my  error - the covered wagon with Moses
and Charleston Heston struggling for the reins.

Here's another from 2011, a daytrip we made.

 daytrip to Ouray

no train
for us today, for it goes
only to Silverton,while our
destination, Ouray, is twenty miles further
up the road -

but if you're so inclined
for  a train ride
through canyons  and forests
and up the side of a mountain,
riding in the pen observation car at the train's
tail, smelling the pine-scented forest,
the fresh, cold wind blowing in your hair,
I surely recommend it...

but our trip was by automobile,
beginning by following the train tracks
past green fields, and,  on the east  side,
aspen groves  lining  the Animas  River,
that same fast river I watch from my balcony
at the hotel...

the train follows the river back to its high
mountain source, sometimes alongside the  river, the
river in view of the passengers and sometimes not,
sometimes the train on a cliff-ledge barely more than
the width of the train,
with the river five hundred feet below...

in the car,
we see the river intermittently
as we  climb our highway path up the mountain,
at lower altitudes,  driving through groves of aspen on either side,
;ole driving through a cloud of golden creamery butter, then  higher,
where leaves have already fallen, the bare white trunks
like patches on the pine-greened mountain side, then, above us,
mountain crests covered by clouds flowing over the top
like melted marshmallow, snow blown over the top
and down to us,frozen
like ice pin heads, hitting out windshield
like river pebbles thrown against us by some wild
mountain child resenting our intrusion...

then higher

over Molas  Pass, more than ten thousand feet now above the low latitudes
where I grew up, four thousand feet above our hotel in Durango -
all around mountains white in clouds of blown snow, and the road
wet with ice and snow melt, the temperature dropping...

then down from Molas, skirting  Silverton, and up
again to Red Mountain Pass, even higher, eleven thousand feet,
the temperature has fallen to thirty fur degrees, half what
it was when we started...

then down and into Ouray, determined to cut our visit short,
certain we didn't want to tackle the two passes, after dark
when the wet might have started freezing,

Ouray,an old silver town, a silver-rush survivor like Silverton,
though slightly larger, almost all the buildings on main street,
(the only paved street we saw), dating from mid-to-late nineteenth
century, mostly brick and native stone, the thought of getting
the bricks up the mountain to here suggestive of the determination
of the people who made a life here, even after the silver was gone,
the determination  that kept the city alive for the hunters and skiers
who are its lifeblood

the stubborn strength of mountain people never to be denied...

a very fine lunch of beef stew and a visit to a bookstore, the proprietor
pleased to sell me a book of poetry by a poet I never heard of, not
much interested in buying a book from me, a poet he'd never heard of -
truly the life of a poet in a nutshell,a buyer often, a seller rarely to ever be...

and the way back -

a reverse  of the way we came
under sunshine all the way,  ups and downs
and twists and turns and switchbacks
and views of our road high above or far below
that it takes ten minutes of maneuver to get to,

but for the tumbleweed the size of a VW bus
blown by the wind in front of us
as we approach Durango...

the biggest tumbleweed I've ever seen,
and I've seen
a few

 The next poet from the anthology is from Nicaragua. Born in 1893, the poet, Alfonso Cortes, occupies an almost mystical place in Latin American letters, known  for the deep and mystical quality of his poetry and as the poeta loco of Nicaragua. In his lucid periods, he translated Baudelaire,Verlaine,  Mallarme, and Edgar Allen Poe.

Cortes died in 1969.

Maybe I'm just another poeta loco, but I really like this poem and the philosophy expressed, a theme I've returned to often in my own  work.

Space Song

The distance that lies from here
To  some star that never existed
Because God has not yet managed
To pull the skin of night that far!

And to think we still believe greater
More useful world peace
That the peace of one lone savage...

This relativity craze
In our contemporary life: There's
What gives space importance
Found only in ourselves!

Who knows how long we'll take to learn
To live as stars -
Free in the midst of what is without end
And needing no one to feed us.

Earth knows nothing of the paths it daily travels -
Yet those paths are the conscience of earth... But if
This is not so, allow me just
One question: - Time you and I
Where are we,
I who live in you
And you who do not exist?

(Translated by Thomas Merton)

The next poem is from the second day or our recent travels.

too few

leaving El Paso
early Sunday morning,
bumper to bumper
even early,
traffic doesn't thin out
until Las Cruces,, where we
get lost as we did last time,
we went looking for the road to
to Hatch...

again like last time,
we overcome New Mexico's aversion
 to road signs and find the way, hoping for some cheap
Hatch peppers...

turns out we can  find them
cheaper at our local supermarket
in San Antonio, but, the detour not a waste,
as, for the second day in a row, we find
a restaurant we'd liked before
and thought we'd never
find again,
the Pepper Pot, across the street
from the Hatch pepper emporium,
chilies rellenos made with
Hatch peppers
and superior refried beans

(Hatch always capitalized
when associated with the peppers, the growers
demand, protecting their product's reputation
from wanna-be pepper peddlers who label
their peppers Hatch, even if they're not)

traveling on or near El Camino Real, the road
built by the Spanish from Mexico City,
through San Antonio, and on north and west,
the road allowing the King's agents to reach
and govern all the wide geography
of their New World...

one  stop along a very long, desert
and mountain road, tiny Mesilla, where we
join the King's agents for a stop and a walk around
the old plaza, alive this Sunday morning
with preparations for an arts and crafts show,
all the old folks unloading their crafts,
their retirement obsessions, like me,
except I, with my eBooks have nothing
to spread out on a rickety table with a linoleum

and poets declaiming in a public park
is not what the old folks came to hear and I forgot
my soapbox, anyway, so we move on...

Santa Fe, wonderful, adobied Santa Fe, art
and good food, it will just have to do
for a couple of days...

and so passed
day two
of too few

Juan Gelman, of Argentinian, is one of the poets featured in this week's anthology. Born in Buenos Aires in 1930, Gelman first studied chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires, but later abandoned science for poetry. He was active in Militantly leftist groups and literary journalism.

Author of more than 20 volumes of poetry since 1956, Gelman strove to "give the people the poetry they create daily."


we must have nurtured multitudes to be left so alone
on a morning like any other in the midst of history
lumumba you and i
your wife's breasts as i remember
are two disconsolate drums open in africa
or like people freely surrendered to the enemy
you mediate and grow beneath the dust
contrary circumstances
killed lumumba the hero the great postman bringer of
     good news
like dignity like honor
patrice also writes letters
he says: the blood that treason sheds is sluggish
he says; love your enemy in his cadaver hate your
     friends lovingly
these signs and others burst in his grave lumumba turns
     in darkness
at peace with his great congo at peace with himself as are
     very few
at peace with the past the present the future the winds the
     seagulls at war with us
we mustn't run away my little ones i'll never learn to rest
i mean: to resign myself
i hate your great cadaver lumumba pray for us

(Translated by Elinor Randall and Robert Marquez)

Our daytrip to Ouray during our 2011 journeys was interesting. A trip next day next day to Telluride, not so much.

daytrip to Telluride

a block away,
the train hoots
its long, loud moan
and a cloud of stream rises
from behind the trees

"all aboard, all aboard"

but not us...

we go west
past Mesa Verde,
where the Anasazi people,
the ancestral people,
built their stone villages
into the sheltered walls
of the deep canyons of the high mesa,
a green table high above the harsher
prairies, an Eden in the clouds,
with plentiful wood for the fires that blackened
the carved-out ceilings
of their cliff dwellings, where prey
roamed to be killed and eaten,
where they found safety
from their enemies,
from where, one day, they left
seemingly all at once, all together,
moving their culture and
all their people,
seeking what. fleeing what?
no one knows, but leaving behind
stores of grain, assuming, it suggests
that one day they would return,
though they never did, becoming after they left,

no one knows that either...

but we've been there,
walked the ruins, heard the ghosts
of the disappearing people
in the pines and down the canyons..

today we go on to Dolores, little Dolores
on the Dolores river,
Dolores Del Rio, I cannot pass up the chance
to say,  on our way to Telluride,
stopping at the Old Post Bed and Breakfast
on the northeast corner of the square, an old hotel
from the middle of the nineteenth century, when
the trains ran through and stopped and people would stay
for a night's lodging on their way to the silver mines
higher up,
brought three years ago and run now
by Sheryl and Doug and Dan, the place threadbare
like most everything in Dolores...

breakfast in a little kitchen area,
listening to Sheryl and another woman
discuss the relative merits of men from the oil fields
in Alaska as compared to the local product, finding
and enumerating each
as to the merits and demerits in the areas
of practicality, reliability, physicality, grace on the dance floor
and sexual inventiveness and

breakfast - fair

eavesdropping opportunity - outstanding...

the drive before and after Dolores, along
the river most of the way, not so twisty,
except for a few miles before reaching Telluride,
and much easier than the route to Ouray,
a steady climb to the little town in the mountains, famous
in song and cinema, surrounded
on three sides by mountains in the thirteen to fourteen thousand foot range,
snow peaks looking down on the tow, it's sidewalks
full of young people, many more people than I expected,
considering that ski season is still several weeks

Our main object for this side-trip -

aside from the pleasure of seeing someplace
we had never seen
before -

Bridal Veil Falls

the longest continuous-fall waterfall
in Colorado,  it's base,
accessible, it turns out, only in a four-wheel drive
vehicle, the picture I had driven 100 miles
to take, despite the best efforts of my hardy little
SUV, turns  out to be a far-away dribble
on the side of the mountain, like a white thread
draped over and not-very exceptional oil painting by
a student landscape painter

and lunch wasn't very good either...

the drive back to Durango
unexceptional, mostly downhill...

inured by now to the beauty of the
 trees and mountains, we don't stop for
more pictures, the going-down side off the

beautiful trees, etc, pretty much the same
as the coming up side
but for the herd of elk breaking from a stand
of trees and loping across an open pasture,
the only wildlife we've seen on this trip, more
than worth the quick glance we got
in passing...

back to Durango by five,
dinner at an Italian restaurant
we first ate at five years earlier, not as good
as last time...but what is?

five days of driving, plus a day
climbing up and down streets in Santa Fe
and I'm ready for a day off

From my library, here is Catherine Tufariello, with a poem from her book Keeping My Name, published in 2004 by Texas Tech University.

Turfariello has taught literature and writing courses at Cornell, The College  of Charleston, and the University of Miami. Her poems and translations shave appeared in numerous journals.

Confession - when I pulled this book from my shelves, I was thinking I was pulling a book by another poet with a similar name. It occurred to me after I had posted her poem that the name's origin was probably Italian. I decided, not wanting to delete the work I had done that the poet is Latin, just not Latin of the Americas.)

Plot Summary

The story is full of surprises after all,
That seemed  in prospect so unpromising
I nearly closed the book. The lovers fall
In love on schedule, to be sure, and spring
Follows their winter of mutual despair
And reunites them, as we knew it would.
Put thus, the plot's familiar: nothing new there,
In the grand scheme. Look closer, now. Who could
Have guessed old Ivan had it in him to fall in love -
Really in love - in the first place? Or that Anna,
so childlike and conventional, would prove
So brave? Canaan follows exile - but that manna
Would feed the wanderers? Oh, who would guess
Such bread could blossom in this wilderness?

 When I wrote this next piece several weeks ago, I assumed, knowing that this post was going to be very late,  it would be outdated and irrelevant, never to appear here. Too bad. It is still relevant and, I'm sorry to say, will continue to be relevant until the next election...which cannot come to soon for me.

the problem, my children

the problem,
my children, is really very simple

it's not politics;

it's not partisan bickering;

it's not some deep philosophical question from the constitution
regarding the founders' intent;

it's not because Ted Cruz got his breakfast eggs over easy when
he had ordered over hard

no, it's nothing as complicated as that

the problem, my dears, is that
the Speaker of the House
has lots of nuts...

...but no balls

It occurred to me that, having gone fairly far through this week's anthology, my practice of random selection had brought, so far, only one woman. So I went looking and made the happy discovery of Delmira Agustini of Uruguay. Born in 1886, her mixture of carnal and religious elements did not play well with bourgeois society, even though she was celebrated beginning early on in literary circles.

Agustini's life ended early and abruptly in 1914 when she was murdered by her husband who then killed himself.

The Ineffable

I am dying is not Life
that kills me, not Love; it is not even Death;
I am dying of a thought mute as a wound's mouth...
Have you ever felt the extraordinary pain, as if

some huge thought had simply settled down in your life,
devouring flesh and spirit, but stunted, so it never blooms?
Have you never endured a star like a white dwarf
inside you that gives no light but entirely consumes?

Height of Martyrdom! To  carry forever,
tearing and barren, driven into your
bod6yb like a feral tooth, this tragic seed!...

But you might root it out one day and find a flower
miraculous, inviolate...Ah, it could be no greater
to hold between your two hands the head of God.

(Translated by Karl Kirchwey)

Here's another from the 2011 trip.

Durango to Albuquerque

a different road back
from the way we came,
straight to Albuquerque,
south from Durango, then
through the western side of New Mexico,
avoiding Santa Fe...

on the edge of  Durango,
a long climb on the side off a steep,
steep hill, the city and green pastures
far below - a gentle, green landscape,
farms, pastures - from the road,
an idyllic pastoral life,
not seeing this time of the year
the isolation of winter snowbound
homes and cottages, drifts across the road
and up against the side of the houses and barns,
feeding horses and cattle in the cold...

just a few miles
and we cross into New Mexico
and the pastoral life is behind us,
the view to road side showing the rougher side of
rural New Mexico, brush, desert and tiny towns,
far-separated, and low rolling
hills growing steeper and larger until
we pass Aztec and Cuba and into the badlands,
the splendor of stark desolation, deep arroyos cut
by mountain run-off, cliffs of soft stone sculptured
into fantastical forms and figures through erosion,
angels and gargoyles carved  into the cliffs'  sides, or
standing tall between sandstone towers and spires high
against the pale blue sky, cold looking skies, like the blue
inside ice in the sun, mounds of black volcanic gravel,
huge, irregular shaped volcanic boulders, black
on pale rose sand as a catastrophic night -

incredible to find such beauty in this end of the world
landscape, minimal and stark, old, so very old,
yet changed so very slowly,
over the course of eons, that it appears new as the day
the volcanoes blew and the earth shook
and human kind still far ahead in the stately passing
of time, sea, to swamp, to desert, to, eventually, humans,
generations and generations of us, who, in our modern
arrogance will turn it all to swamp again...

the day ends in Albuquerque, a city
of special meaning to me - September, 1964
20 years old, climbing down from my first airplane ride
to see my first mountains, the Sandias to the east,
hanging, in my mind, over everything, air sweet and clear
and dry and  so thin to my coast-grown lungs, and a few months
later, my first snow...

September to December, Peace Corps training
at the University of New Mexico,consorting with people
the likes of whom I never imagined in my small town life, the
birth of a new me, no going back, only on and on from there...


a restless night, my back objecting
to consecutive nights of hotel beds, early coffee at Starbucks
while Dee sleeps, red dawn
through the window, the new day

today - nearly 400 miles to go,
through Carlsbad again,
then to Fort Stockton...


Again from my library, a poem by Gabriel Gomez, from his book The Outer Banks. The book was published by the University of Notre Dame Press in 2006, it won the Andres Montoya Poetry Prize for that year.

Gomez is a poet, playwright, and music journalist born and raised in El Paso. He earned a B.A. in Creative Writing  fro the College of Santa Fe and an M.F.A. in Creative  Writing from St. Mary's College of California. He has taught English at the University of New Orleans, Tulane University, the College of Santa Fe and the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Murmation of Starlings

Now and again, in the stone element
a murmation of starlings swaddle themselves through
wintry mornings. Their plaintive swoops abound
with murmur and singularity in the sunlit breeches.

We, I realize must roam stupidly to them.

Instinct overcomes the diminutive scapula.
What luck to have found them
so dumb and simply

where one represents the body
the other crests and bows

the image
still as glass

Here's another new poem, having nothing to do with travel,  recent or past, written in the week before we left.

For  those untutored in the ways of my dog and my cat, the story is this. My front porch cat, feral, but I had her spayed and feed her to be a guard cat against other cats who might want to come pee on my porch, hates everyone but my dog, who she loves. My dog, a friendly kind of creature likes just about everyone, including cats of all stripes (and who usually return the affection).

The dog and I walk every morning. The cat follows along with us. We cross a creek, Apache Creek, during the course of our walk, on a large  pedestrian bridge. The cat and the dog "make out" (no other words for it) as  we cross the bridge in a manner that would get teenagers reported to their parents. The cat and the dog nuzzle each other, lick and sniff each other, rub against each other, an almost embarrassing display.

That's the background for this poem.

fog and romance

the whisper sound
beneath the bridge of water
trickling over rocks, water from the rain
two days ago, still flowing down Apache Creek
for the long wet run to San  Antonio Bay
to feed the  fishes and crabs and shrimp journeying in
from the Gulf for the part of their life cycle
that will eventually bring them to a seafood platter
near you - but that's another story...

the creek is heard but not seen
on this foggy morning,
the only light at the end of the bridge,
a street light, it's shadow-glow
trickling, like the creek, through the morning's  drifting vapor...

beneath it, I stop,
decide the morning route, right to further dark, left
for the longer better lit circle home

the dog and the cat
at my feet
go  through their greet-the-day
nuzzling and rubbing,
nose to nose sniffing
and licking...

such a display of romance
under a fog-defused streetlight blush,
just like in the movies

A pleasant  day last week, sitting with Bella, watching the people and getting petted (Bella, not me).

bench-sitting, people watching

the day started early

4:40, the dog's early walk,
coffee from the lobby;
several blocks to the plaza;
around the plaza
and back to the hotel, all the morning
necessaries done

back to Starbucks down from the plaza
at 6, most of the same folks
from yesterday - the woman, tiny woman
with a tiny, doll face, beading some kind of jewelry
while her husband drinks coffee and
watches; I saw  them later
at their spot
on the plaza, business  less than booming

then, at 7, breakfast at
La Fonda, eggs Benedict with their own-made
hollandaise sauce and tomatillo, best

time for the business of the day...

bench-sitting and people-watching...

a bench on the plaza facing the sun
and the sidewalk, looking and listening
as people pass -
(learning as I wish I had learned 50 years ago,
beautiful women love to pet beautiful
dogs) -
people stop, scratch the dog's head, cooing and
coochie cooing, like the beautiful German tourist
and her mother, talking to Bella in German, a
multilingual dog, Bella seems to understand...

a month's worth of attention in just a few hours,
spoiled dog will  expect the same daily
from now on...

sitting with my back to a group
of mostly men, homeless, street people, ladies
and gentlemen of extended  leisure, habitues
of  a park salon, expounding on issues
wide and deep, football, the day's menu
at the mission, interviews of famous people
heard (it's Santa Fe, after all) on National Public Radio,
the advantage of knives over guns,
the crazy fuck who hangs out on the other side
of the park...

probably the most interesting conversations
I've been privy to in a long time...

Bella soaks up all the attention of the passing
crowds, mostly old people in the morning, old
women with red-painted toes and old men
with silly-looking hats they think required during
vacation rambling in the mountains - and no,
my hat  is not the least bit silly, being, as it is,
the naturally required hat for vacation rambling
in the mountains...

speaking of mountain rambling,
that's the plan for today, Espanola to Los
Alamos, then through the national forest
and the mountains, a five hour drive of lofty heights
and wide vistas, perfectly timed for  the leaves
changing as we pass, a wonderful day
of deep forests,
high mountain passes, and clean mountain air...

we don't know yet,
maybe north to Ojo Calientes
or south to Van Horn, the long way home
on Highway 90, through Alpine,
Marfa, Marathon,Del  Rio,
across the desert,skirting the Big Bend's
border mountains...

two more days of driving
and seeing all the
we can find to see

Alberto Rios is another of the Latino poets I have in my library, two collections of his if I remember right. This one is The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2002.

Rios, born in Nogales, Arizona, is the author of eight books and chapbooks  of poetry, three collections of short stories and a memoir. He has numerous awards and honors and, at the time of publication, was Regents' Professor of English at  Arizona  State University.

I just realized that this is the second poem this week by this poet. The first, posted above, is from a different book than this one. I knew I had at least two of his books. Didn't occur to me that I might pull them out at the same time.

The Impossible Still-Life

A horse, as it stands along a ridge,
Looked at against the sun
Rising above you, the light
Making a pure, thick coloring book line
Between sky and mountains -

That horse,
Loped back and with peaked ears,
A fine side rise and life of the neck,
The hillock of a nostril:

A horse, looked at against the sun
In this way, becomes larger.
You see more of it. The whole thing

May be a trick of perspective,
Seeing in this place

The sudden angle of beginning

Here's a new poem from the morning of the day we began our travel to Santa Fe. As I said in the beginning, the vacation poems are in no particular order. This one comes this late because I forgot about it.

a soft beginning

gray clouds drift
on a black sky

an abstract day

one of the dark houses
I pass
a single chime
lightly acknowledges night-passing

always curious dog

sees something in the bushes,
stares until satisfied
solved, ready to move on again

gray cat
never stops,
goes on, her soft, deadly feet
padding silently
on the sidewalk, secure,
of all the mysteries
of early morning, she is the
most mysterious


edges treetops,
soft beginning
to a long day starting now

The work of Claribel Alegria is sometimes called a poetry of testimony. Born in Nicaragua in 1924, the poet grew up in El Salvador and studied philosophy at George Washington University in the United States. She published ten books of poetry and (in collaboration with her husband) a novel, studies of Latin American history and several volumes of Hispanic poetry. She conceived her poetry as acts of solidarity - most immediately with the peasants who suffer in political wars and with the women  writers of El Salvador and Nicaragua.

This poem is taken from the anthology Twentieth Century Latin American Poets.

We Were Three

                             (To Paco and Rodolfo)

It was winter,
there was snow,
it was night,

this is a green day
of doves and sun
of ashes and cries.
The wind pushes me
across the bridge
over the cracked earth
through a dry stream bed
strewn  with cans.
Death comes to life here in Deya,
the torrents
the stone bridge.
My dead wait
at every corner,
the innocent grill-work of balconies
the filmed mirror of my dead.
They smile from the distance
and wave to me,
they leave the cemetery,
a wall of the dead.
My flesh emits light
and they come to  my door
waving their arms.
The bridge was stone,
it was night,
our arms circled each other,
we swayed to our songs,
our breath rose from our mouths
in small, crystalline clouds,
it was winter,
there was snow,
we were three.
Today the earth is dry
and resounds like a drum,
my arms fall to my sides,
I am alone.
My dead stand watch
and send signals to me,
they assail me
in the radio and paper.,
The wall of my dead
rises and reaches from Aconcagua to Izalco.
The bridge was stone,
it was night,
no one can  say
how they died.
Their persecuted voices are one voice
dying by torture in prison.
My dead arise, they rage.
The streets are empty
but my dead wink at me.
I am a cemetery,
I have no country
and they are too many to bury.

(Translated by Carolyn Forche)

Here's another from this year's short Santa Fe visit.

 mountains and towns

 early morning...

dog walk...

poem write at Starbucks...

breakfast at  La Fonda...

routine settled in, a morning begun
like the previous two days

off to the mountains, through
then Los Alamos,
through the National Lab
 where the make
that  go BOOM!

(the road we need can only
be accessed by driving
through the lab,
determined checkpoint guard,
picture ID from me
and from Dee, or I can vouch
for her  and she doesn't need
to present an ID - "So, do you vouch
for your wife?" the gate attendant asks

"She's been okay so far,"
I reply...

no hint of a smile
in response,
just a hand wave, passing us through)

the bad news...

previous years' fires
leave their scar over slopes
all around, great groves of aspen
I was looking forward to, the brilliant
yellow leaves that make their own light
under the sun, the leaves
wavering in the breeze,
a hallucinatory
trip driving through them
on either side of the road, but not today,
gone, burned, only white toothpicks
reaching for the sun...

the narrow road twists and turns
as it takes up the mountain,
then down again, no wildlife except
by a tree when we stop
for Bella
to do her duty, a black squirrel,
small, not at all like the squirrels
Bella is used to, but no squirrel
disguise fools her  as she almost pulls
Dee over a fence trying to chase...

and that, the total wild life
experience for the day...

except we stop at the broad
crater left by a volcano eons upon eons ago,
a great soft  pasture, yellow grass,
an elk crossing, a woman with binoculars
tells us she just counted 150, with just as many
she could see but didn't count, way across the crater-pasture,
lying in the grass, she says, along the tree line

too far for us to see, a second-hand wildlife
observation to add to the experience
of the disguised squirrel...

we stop at the Jimez waterfall,
sulfur-laced creek rushing down the mountain,
the sight of it beautiful, the smell awful...

but better a stop a Jimez Springs,
tiny town, the three of us
having lunch on the patio in the sun
and mountain air, best part of the day so far...

approaching the end of our crossing,
I am disappointed, the sights less than I remembered
from 40 years ago...

then I remember, that long-ago visit was my first
mountain and forest experience, having not yet
driven through the great forests
and mountain roads and majestic vistas
of the Rockies...

easier to be impressed back then,
still,the memory has held
all these years...

the day saved by a side trip,
a little note on the map, Garret Tunnels,
and a quick decision to take a look,
a tiny one and a half lane road, mile one
then mile two and on to mile four,
no tunnels and we consider turning back,
but, one more mile, Dee says
and then there they were, mile 5, two short tunnels
through rocky outcrops, built for trains,
we read, now a road that essentially
goes nowhere but there, and we are impressed,
then seized not at the tunnels, but the sight
no one told us to expect, the deep gorge
alongside the narrow  road, a stream bouncing
from rock to rock at the very bottom, how
many million years for that stream
to make this deep passage...

the day is made,
a trip is saved, another Grand Canyon
in the making,
just several geologic ages too  early...

back to Santa Fe, all tired,
Bella grouchy, so I take her for a walk
and an observation, 8 p.m. and the sidewalks
are almost deserted, just me and Bella
walking down dark and vacant streets, and
I think of San  Antonio, going to a bar ten years ago,
downtown, to hear The Alloys, my son's band,
a midnight gig, the music loud, feet-stomping,
jump-and-shout music, almost 3 a.m. when the music stopped, and
walking back to my car at that early hour, the streets
are alive, crowds on the sidewalks as if it was mid-afternoon...

different towns, different tourists here,  like me, ready for bed
by the time the sun goes down...

And last this week from my library, a short poem by Tino Villanueva. His book, Shaking Off the Dark, was  published by Bilingual Press/Editorial Billingue of Tempe, Arizona, in 1998.

Villanueva was among the Chicano poets who emerged between the late 1960s and early, 1980s to write in both English and Spanish, often switching between the two languages in the same poem. He received the American Book Award in 1987 for his book (from which I've drawn here) Scenes from the Movie GIANT.

Also a painter, Villanueva was teaching at Boston University at the time this book was  published.

Not Knowing, in Aztlan

the way they look at you
     the schoolteachers
the way they look at you
     the  city hall clerks
the way they look at you
     the cops
     the airport marshals
the way they look at you

         you don't know if it's something you did

                                       or something you are

Here's another from the 2011 trip. It was a much longer vacation than the one  we took this year, eight or nine days. I would have liked very much if we had had the time to go onto Colorado again, Durango being one of my favorite places to visit. But we just didn't have the time.

home bound, Albuquerque to Fort Stockton

back to Texas
Albuquerque to Fort Stockton...

from out hotel
three  blocks from Old  Town,
I-40 through the  pass
between the Sandia and Manzana mountains,
an easy drive east through rolling foothills
at expressway speeds, then south
at Cline's Corners, a city consisting
of  a glorified gas station for  long-haul truckers
and not a single other thing
that I can  see...

south on US-285, the highway we followed north
to Santa Fe eight days ago,  nothing ahead
but a long drive and small lost  towns, until
Roswell, Carlsbad, and then 60 miles across the state line
and then another 70 or 80 to Fort Stockton
and a  night's rest before the last leg

not a journey
suggesting poetry,
epic or beautiful or even poetic,
from north of Roswell to Fort Stockton, flat brown
nothingness,  stretching in every direction except west,
where a mountain range tries to hide  barely above the horizon...

desolation -
not beautiful like the stark and severe  desolation
of the badlands,  but desolate like the neutral paint
on an institutional  wall, lost people,  it seems to us
traveling through,  knowing, but still faintly disbelieving
that there are people who live here,  convinced,
apparently, that it is a good life -

maybe it  is and I just don't see it
and likely never will...

on the  other hand,  there is
an inordinate number  of  UFO sightings
in this Roswell to Fort Stockton region, possibly, I theorize,
because of the very large  number of persons living here
who'd do anything  to get away,
including, if necessary,
hitching a ride  with little green men
with bubble heads and backward  knees
and a perverse interest in examining
the sexual organs of  ranchers
and oil well  roughnecks

(it's like regular hitchhiking,those  who wish to escape
must think,
a ride is  a ride  is  a ride
and as long as it's going the other way
from  here, it'll  work,  and  a little sex organ
examination might be fun,
and better than they're getting at  home


but perhaps
I am being overly harsh...

I've been away from home
for nine days
after  all,
and have seen mountains and streams
and forests and  clear blue skies and all manner
of things far and beautiful,
but I miss my  bed and easy chair
and my dog and my favorite
in my daily newspaper
and my early-morning breakfast place
and my coffeehouse
and all the pleasures of home
not always recognized
until taken away -

all of which will be returned to me
tomorrow afternoon,
by which time I am sure I will
be feeling

My last poet from this week's anthology is Nancy Morejon.

Born in Cuba in 1944, Morejon, a journalist, theater reviewer, essayist, editor and poet, studied French literature and culture at the University of Havana. She has written extensively about issues of class and culture in Caribbean culture.


My mother had no patio garden
but rock islands
floating in delicate corals
under the sun.
Her eyes mirrored no clear-edged branch
but countless garrotes.
What days, those days when she ran barefoot
over the whitewash of the orphanages,
ad didn't laugh
or even see the horizon.
She had no ivory-inlaid bedroom,
no drawing-room with wicker chairs,
and none of that hushed tropical stained-glass.
My mother  had the handkerchief and the song
to cradle my body's deepest faith,
and hold her head high,
banished queen -
She gave us hands, like  precious stones,
before the cold remains of the enemy.

(Translated by Kathleen Weaver)

This piece written as we approach the end of this years short break in the mountains.

the winding down part

the winding down part,
two days,
yesterday, Santa Fe to Van Horn,
straight down the map of New Mexico, mostly small towns,
most  past declining into full decline, main street,
the only street, deserted, falling down,
and wild varmints the new occupants,
home until all falls down on them,

main attractions
as  we pass through Roswell,
feeling that old interstellar vibe,
the UFO Museum and Research Center,
Mecca to the true believer
still in business  downtown,
and a ways down the street,
a terrestrial way station,
6-inch Cold Cut Combo, with a very pleasant,
and obviously intelligent young
counter girl and cashier who  laughed at my jokes -
noted for future stops...

then Carlsbad,
and the Caverns, White City deserted, no one  in sight,
like the Guadalupe Mountains National Park
we pass once back in Texas, closed,
all entrances chained, high mountains
brought low by tea parties,
crazy people
drunk on tea power
and delusions of  grandeur...

and, finally,
Van Horn, soft bed, sleep,
dreams of large rocks and cactus racing past


more of the same,
I-10, 80 miles  per hour,
the fastest way home, the more interesting ride
we had planned
everyone worn out,
two grumpy people and a dog
sleeping on her pillow in the back,
wanting most now
the comfort of home and,
for Bella, a walk in the morning
with her

It's not the parting that's such sweet sorrow, it's the coming back after a good time. Last poem of the week, also the last of my Santa Fe and back poems.

back to routine

back to routine
this morning, the bittersweet pill
of coming home

dog walk on familiar trails,
cat included,
my regular breakfast,
at my regular restaurant

and I value comfort

the chill
of a mountain morning, the sun
rising bright in a clear blue sky,
dog walk
down narrow streets,
adobe boardered, people in stands
along the way, selling anything that can fit
on a table or a mat, gee gaws and ga gas,
and cowhide rugs
draped over a stone fence

( Bella, recognizing some kind  of creature kinship
rubs against the rugs as we  pass, then takes me back
to rub against them again)

walking around the plaza,
so many people, a linguistic stew

(like the Riverwalk, but cooler,
brighter, the air light, resting softer
in your lungs)

mountains high, narrow roads
winding up and down through quiet
forests, a breeze  stirring like a whisper
among the pines...

miles gone since, two days of highways
pushed and prodded by vagrant

home again...

a poem here, now,
about the here and now
where everyone

the moment,
this one, right now
the same moment
for us all to

here and now, yours
and mine

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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