Just Goofing   Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A week of strange pictures and some really good poets from this week's anthology, Roots & Wings, Poetry from Spain 1900-1975. The book was published, first in 1976, this edition  by White Pines Press in 2005. After going into this book several times now for "Here and Now" I have to say the poets, even the ones from early in the last century impress me. They all lived in a turbulent era in their country and their poetry has the life of such times.

As usual, things are topped off by new and old poems from me, including a poem from 1964, not just the first poem I ever wrote, but I think likely the first poem I ever thought about  writing.

Also, of course,  poets from my library.

And here it is, all in one good weekly package.


Miguel de Unamuno
The Delicately Sloping Neck

breakfast at I-Hop on Christmas Day 

Noelle Kocot


Antonio Machado
It Doesn't Matter Now
In the Fields

three minute poem

Anna Coray
Beneath Sleeping Lady (Mount Susitna)
Alaskan  Born 

something to do as you wait for the endless dark

Carlos Sahaguin

the unwelcome Samaritan

Brendan Constantine
The Need to Leave

where I might wait

Rafael Alberti
The Good Angel


Paul Hannigan
A Snake Once Flew Through the Air


Gloria Fuertes
The Scrawny Women  
Painted Windows
Plastic Virgin  

el dia de los muertos

Emma  Lazarus
The Banner of the Jew

born again

Carlos Bousona
How Am I to Tell You


Arthur Sze
The Chance

 a late start

Manuel  Vazquez Montalban
In Memoriam

last words

Robert A.  Fink
On Jesus, Taking His Word on Immortality


First this week, a story from my coffeehouse about some visitors, out-of-towners I would guess.

IAMA, by the way, International  Academy of Music and the Arts (and coffee).


two youngsters,
old enough, maybe, to be traveling
across country, but not so old as to be worn
by the game,
stopped by the coffeehouse last  week
walking down Broadway, on their way, who knows
where, in their mind, wheresoever next
I suppose, stuffed backpacks
and three large dogs on homemade leashes,
well-mannered hobos well-mannered dogs...

skinny-as-sticks kids,
the young man tattooed
and shaved head, the young woman,
thin-featured, almost ferret-faced beneath
hair that hung long over her  face,
ordered coffee inside, the came outside to sit
under the trees with their dogs...

they were arriving as I was leaving
and I noticed as I went to my car that the young woman
was reading a book as she sat under the trees,
apparently a book she carries with her
in that stuffed pack...

a flash of title was all I saw,
just enough to know this wasn't light reading,
some kind of philosophy/psychology, something of  that nature,
not what you would expect from a kid living on the road...

so  pleased to see such a determined reader,
I went back inside and got one of my
books - my compliments, I said, as I gave it to her -
I hope you like poetry


a poet today
wrote of the meaning of sanity,  of insanity,
and remembering these two
young hobos, I wonder about my own definitions

how would I describe the life they choose?

is it an adventure, or a kind of restless insanity?

I don't know,
but I did see the young  woman  reading my poems
as I left and maybe it is my own particular kind of insanity
to find such pleasure in seeing that

(a coda to the story I didn't know about until the next day. As in the poem, the kids had three  dogs, one of the three they had just rescued from the street and were trying to give away. They ask me to take it as I was  leaving, but I, having already all the dog I can deal with, had to turn  them down. I found  out the next day that the owner of the coffeehouse has taken the dog before the kids left, had it cleaned up, taken it to the vet for shots and neutering and given it to one of her staff, a dog lover without a dog.)


First from this week's anthology is Miguel de Unamuno, born in 1864, was an essayist, novelist, poet, playwright and philosopher. He died in 1936.

The Delicately Sloping Neck

The delicately sloping neck
of the head of wheat -
the grains are turning yellow in the sun
and the light wind, in which it  shades out
its lifted hair,
is polishing hem.
The head nods as it dreams,
dreaming of he thresher's bed,
of the grindstone
that makes the flour,
dreaming of the risen dough
of the bread of life,
the bread kneaded by hand,
the dreaming of the hand that casts the seed.

(Translated by Hardie St. Martin)


Here's an old poem from 2008.

I know it's too old for a Christmas poem, but I like this one.

breakfast at I-Hop on Christmas Day.

the last off the tamales
counted into dozens
and wrapped in foil at 2 a.m.

we're up again
five hours later, ready
for whatever comes next
on Christmas 2008

after the ten-hour intimate
we had yesterday and last night
with our tamale-making,
neither of us is up to
eating one for breakfast,
so it's off to I-Hop
were we're greeted
by a scrowly-faced waitress
with lips painted red
as Santa's red raincoat

an incomplete literalist
who gets our order exactly
except for small details
that change everything

so instead
of the "harvest healthy nut combo"
I ordered, I get harvest
health nut pancakes which is
two pancakes more than I can eat
and no scrambled fake eggs
which were supposed to be
for the blueberry syrup
in which my four (not two)
harvest health nut pancakes
like an island in the blue Pacific,
and Dee gets her  pigs in a blanket,
but a full order instead of a half order,
so she had two extra pigs
and two extra blankets
to her from her plate

but then
I start listening to the people
across from us,
a dark-eyed beauty home
for the holidays,
having breakfast with her parents,
a premed student, I think,
telling mom and dad about
the lab work she's doing
and the experiments she's working on,
her eyes flashing
with the excitement of discovery,
the enchantment of learning,
and her parents
not saying a word,
not understanding a word
but soaking it up,
their daughter's joy
and their own,
the joy a parent feels
'when they see their child
has found her place and
begun a life
on her

the  pay-off
for all their own dreams


My first library poet this week is Noelle Kocot, author of six full-length collections of poetry. She lives in Brooklyn,  where she was born and raised.

The poem is from her book, Sunny Wednesday, published in 2009 by Wave Books.


Your piece I entitled "This"
Is on now, and I am clumsy
With CDs, as if I enter a field
Of antelopes, swaying drunk, ripping
Through like a silk dress in a Laundromat
Dryer. The unthought remains unsaid,
And now I can unleash
You, unleash my need to be need,
And I say this with fear and trembling.
There was never any real cruelty
Between us in the sunsets.
Dripping down in bloody  pools,
Our words crashing more like waves
that flatten into surf, not meant to destroy
But to say, There is too much world.
If I have ever pretended
To  plant more than my share of beans
Beneath the beanstalks that rise  like palaces,
I will consider myself unworthy to visit your tree,
In all of its leafy destiny.
You'd often say that we were siblings.
I section off an orange,
In the end,  the color  of our love.

I wrote this last week about a couple older men I see frequently at my morning breakfast hang-out. I have always assumed they were gay, based on the stereotypical gay person image many people my age continue to hold. Just because I understand how stupid this stereotypical view is doesn't mean I don't often have to  wade through it to get to the more nuanced reality. We are all creatures of our time, even when we know better, and that's the point.


a bad night,
a variety of pains keeping me awake
with short intermittent slips
into a well of restless, unconvincing

my dog, who doubles as my alarm clock
let me sleep for an extra hour before putting
her cold nose against my back,
despite her  normally impatient
desire to be out walking
with her  cat in this
first truly cold morning - her
cold nose better than any alarm clock
shrill to get me moving

so I got up, did my morning routine,
then bundled up and stepped out into a world in the mid-thirties,
almost  driven back  into the house by the strong, north
icicle- wind

and that's the story of how I got here

sitting in my morning restaurant, enjoying
my early day 1/1/1/1 combination breakfast,
one egg, one piece of toast, one crispy bacon and
one turkey sausage for the dog...

it a different hour than usual
and the restaurant is packed with new faces,
the old faces of an hour earlier gone
to whatever life comes for  them
after breakfast


for the two  guys who are here with me
when the doors are opened and the lights turned on
and the cook-pot heated and the sausage gravy
stirred and the wifi turned on...

gay, I decided the first time I saw them,
or for any obvious reason
but because they just look gay to me,
well-scrubbed, sharply
dressed, precise in their gestures,
precise i their voice when
they talk to each other...

stereotyping, you might say,
and you'd be right, but that's how we live,
deciding at first glance everything
we think we need to know about someone,
subject to revision through
additional contact if you're a reasonable
person, the mark of a bigot
if you're not

but the revisions are not on a blank slate,
they are, instead, an addition of extra information
to the story we've already written, against
the backdrop of what we think
we already know...

so keep an open mind,we're told, and I try,
but I know that from the time of our earliest ancestors
an open mined was not a survival trait,
so that even today we are in our genes suspicious
and wary of what or who we don't already

and as to the two guys who sometimes come
for breakfast, until I know them better - and
it unlikely I ever will -
they will remain in my mind the two gay guys
at the booth across the room.

Antonio Machado was born in Seville in 1875. He was a poet and a professor of French and one of the leading figures in the Spanish literary movement called "the generation of 98." He died in 1939.

Here are two of his poems from this week's anthology, Roots & Wings, Poetry from Spain 1900-1975

It Doesn't Matter Now

It doesn't matter now if the golden wine
is overflowing your crystal goblet,
or if the sour juice is dirtying the pure glass...

You know the secret corridors
of the soul, the roads that dreams take,
and the calm evening
where they go to die... There the good and silent spirits

of life are waiting for you,
and one day they will carry you
to a garden of eternal spring.

In the Fields

The evening is dying
like a simple household fire that goes out.

There, on top of the mountains,
a few coals are left.

And that tree in the white road, broken,
makes you cry with compassion.

Two branches on the torn trunk, and one
leaf,  withered and  black, on each branch!

Are you crying now? ...In the golden poplars
far off, the shadow of love is waiting for you.

(Both poems interpreted by Robert Bly)


We're never so old we can't be fooled.

three minute poem

she says
she just needs
5 minutes
and she'll be ready to go

that means
i have 15 
possible even 18 
to finish this poem
oh my gawd,
she's ready,
three minutes,
a record
for the ages,
and 37 years
down the drain

Next from my library, three short poems by Anna Coray, from her book, Bone Strings,  published by Scarlet Tanager Books in 2005.

The  poet lives at her birthplace on remote Qizhjey Vena (Lake Charles) in southwest Alaska. She has published three chapbooks and is widely published in journals, but Bone Strings is her first full-length collection.

Beneath Sleeping Lady (Mount Susitna)

Night rests on this mountain
like a great thigh.
You have said a woman's breast is a moon
and her mouth a sweet river.
I am, as usual, cold.
My hands seek an accustomed warmth
inside your jacket.
Again we've stood our lass up to the stars
and named the constellations.
Sometimes I wonder how we go on
loving he familiar and the magnified.

Alaskan Born

This foal that is my love
lies in high grass, discovering
heartbeats, wild iris
tongues, breath, celery, hair,
wetness, spears.

The earth,
warm with our moisture,
is scented with the crush
of violets and skin.
Seeds that have lain long
rush past willows and birches,
to search the alp lily's bed.

This lush growth
is a late telling,
but I will be one day standing
in pastures of deep-rooted promises,
arthritic, delicate at the withers,
with you, nuzzling.


I  wake,
see the blackened chimney
of the lamp,  the lung
of weighted dreams.

Outside, bats
slice the  night.

I want the handling
of vision,
that swift sense
of  blind rule
and cleanliness.


 Here's another new poem from last week.

something to do as you wait for the endless dark

wet morning,
not what I  expected
but the kind of morning
that I always welcome at the end
of this first week of
though half-way through the dog walk,
wishing I had known
about the wet
so I could have worn my hat
to keep the rain
off my face and glasses

but the dog doesn't wear glasses
or hats
and couldn't care  less about the rain,
the long golden hair on her back curling
as the rain soaks in, a healthy dog
attitude, that what the world needs, what
I'm working on, knowing that the wet
when it dries is the same dry it was before
it was wet, mud just wet dirt that will be dirt again
when it dries, all things pass,dog knows,
until the dark comes that doesn't
pass, and then, the dog says
when that dark comes who cares
about wet or

let's go roll in the wet  grass
she says,
while we have the wet grass
to roll

assume the endless  night
comes right now,
she asks,
would you rather, in that instant, be rolling in wet grass than


my dog is wise,
though looking at  her happy, drooly face,
it's often hard to

The next poet from the anthology is Carlos Sahaguin.

Born in 1938, Sahaguin is considered one of the "generation of the 50s. He is a graduate of the University of Madrid, was a reader of Spanish at the University of Exeter in England and professor of Spanish language and literature in Barcelona, Segovia, Las Palmas,  Madrid, and Palermo.


        The adolescent river was lost on the plain
                                 joyfully sad, like the heart.
                                                         - Holderlin

They named this stretch of river Postwar,
this plot of the dead, city bent
like an old tree, always stuck
in the ground like a cross. And they shouted:
"Joy! Joy!"
                  I was a river being born
I was a man being born, with my sadness open
like a white door, for the wind to come in,
for it to come in and set in motion the leaves
of the motionless calendar...Castles in the air
and even being in air, knocked down, dreams
turned to stone, chunks of wood that refused to burn,
sunlight staining the clearest windows,
the highest pigeons unable to fly...

Are you watching? You,  who come from  far away,
who have an arm as free as eagles
and wear a red joy on your lips,
come  in, look at yourselves in me, have faith. I was  a river,
I am a  river, I carry branded on me this time
a bombed-out sorrow. My years, my years as man,
know it well, will someday disappear into the ground.

(Translated by David Ignatow)

This is a piece from November, 2008.

At the time, my daily coffeehouse hide-out was right down town, above the river. The place had many admirable qualities, good coffee, friendly staff, interesting customers, but the most important thing when doing anything downtown, sufficient free parking.

Every morning, this was in the fall and winter, a street-person was sitting outside the place, a woman, in her thirties or forties and a handsome woman beneath it all, dressed always in clothes, it appeared she had made, beautiful, draped clothes, all in Autumn colors, various shades of brown and gold. She was, in my mind, the Autumn Lady, who neither spoke nor looked at me as I past. The coffeehouse closed and I assume she stayed in her place, at least until someone moved her.

the unwelcome Samaritan

 the autumn lady
is not well -
she beds over
the black iron rail
that looks down
on the river
and coughs and coughs,
her blanket wound
tight around her

she does not seek help,
does not acknowledge me,
will not accept help,
and i am tempted to the arrogance
of the unwelcome Samaritan

so little
this woman has,
the dignity of choice
as to how to live or die
all she has left

if such it turns out to be,
is hers alone,
a final possession
i will not choose to take from her

(is this,
my thought ad inaction
an allowance
or is it avoidance -

a question
that pricks softly
at my conscience)

Now, from my library, a poem by Brendan Constantine from his book Letters to Guns. The book was  published by Red Hen Press in 2009.

Constantine holds a masters degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts and his work has appeared in many poetry journals. He lives in Los Angeles.

The Need to Leave

a dog is barking
a woman is sleeping
a man is old

the world of this world
is what it is doing
everything else is night

a candle is finding a road
a long coat is wearing
a boy is worn

one shoe is untied
two buttons are missing
five coins are a bowl of soup

but a village is ferocious
the hours of this hour
will  not intervene

a cow is eating
a barn is sulking
a window is burning  out

someone is coming
an open door is an open door
a mouse is gone

a knife, a  bag of clothes,
a photograph of a horse
the need of this need

travels with us


A couple of foggy days last  week gets me thinking about foggy things.

where I might wait

I am a wisp
in the fog, drifting,
insubstantial, finding my place
in the ground-hugging

clear and cloudless  day
will come
I do not want it

better this drifting,
this insubstantial drifting,
through wet-shadowed
of mist and corners dark
where I might wait
for you
and find a better me

From  the anthology again, a poem by Rafael Alberti.

Born in 1902, Alberti was considered one of the greatest of the so-called "Silver Age" of Spanish poetry. A Marxist, he went into exile after the Spanish Civil Way. After his return after the death of Franco, he was received with many honors. He died in 1999 at the age of 96.

The Good Angel

One year, as I was sleeping,
someone I wasn't expecting
stopped at my window.

"Wake up!" And my eyes
saw plumes and swords.

Behind, mountains and seas,
clouds, beaks and wings,
sunsets, dawns.

"Look at her there! Her dream
hanging from nothing."

"O longing, firm marble,
steady light, steadfast moving
waters of my soul."

Someone said:Wake up!
And I found myself in your room.

(Translated by John Haines)

The next piece, written in 1964 at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, is, not just the first poem, I wrote, but the first poem I ever tried to write. It was written at the end of, for me, a great adventure, at a time I was leaving the adventure and many friends I had made in the course of it, friends if was almost certain I would never see again.

And that's the way it worked out. I think of those times and this poem every year as this season starts.

My god. a year short of 50  years ago.


snow pelts the parking lot
with cotton ball ferocity,
muffling street and city noises,
cloaking the bustle of early evening
with a mantle of winter white

from behind our frosted
plate-glass curtain
we watch and draw closer
in sympathetic chill

we join each other
in quiet carols

spring is the proper tie
for leaving friends and lovers,
when the earth and a reborn universe
demand there be new ones to comfort us

but, Christmas...
Christmas is a sad time
for long, perhaps final,

Paul Hannigan was born in Massachusetts in 1936. Since then,  he says, he has  been  a gas station attendant,  a stock boy in a supermarket,a college student, an electrician's helper,  a bookstore clerk, a  research assistant, a technical writer and a poet. Seems like a pretty standard poet-resume to me.

The next poems (and the poet's biography) are from his book, Laughing, published by Houghton Mifflin Company in 1970.


All the world loves a lover
Except the husband.

Betrayal makes
An enormous tent.

How beautiful the stripes
On the tent
And the flags on top
Of the  tent and
Music and fireworks
Outside the tent.

Evey night makes

A Snake Once  Flew Through the Air

Our appetites prescribe
The magnitude of our failures -
Our vices the color  of our joys.
Dimensions and flavorless our
Science counts the days of our  trying.
A snake once flew through the air.


There is blood coming from his nose.
And his hands and his  lips and his  eyes
Are hummingbirds in aspen bowers
As you try to take his  bottle away -
And he smiles his black-tooth smile
And shakes his head and  says:
I am learning my instrument
Or sometimes, in his peculiar French,
je me  renseigne  de  mon instrument.
And then his sublime coughing laugh.


Another early morning  poem, from sometime in  the past  couple of weeks.


gray clouds
on black sky
and abstract of a day

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

dog  stops
sees something in the bushes
stares until satisfied
solved ready to move 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

I was certain that somewhere in the 75 years covered by this anthology, there must have been some Spanish women poets. Having not found them through my normal random selection process, I went to search.

I found only one, Gloria Fuertes, the same only one I found last time I used this anthology.

She was born in 1917 in a modest neighborhood in old Madrid. Her  mother a maid and her father a janitor, she received the traditional  (at the time) education for women, but preferred poetry, which she had begun to write as  a child. Often described as "self-taught and poetically unschooled" she preserved, and despite the handicapped of  being female (and a rumored lesbian), became  one of the most  significant  Spanish poets of her time.

She died in 1998.

I  think I'm in love with this poet.

The Scrawny Women

The scrawny women  of the foundry workers
are still giving birth on  trolley cars or at  home.
The boys,some  of them, go to the city schools
and learn about rivers, why not, it's harmless enough.
The girls go to the Sisters, who teach them
girl work
and how to say their prayers.
The traces of mortar fire slowly fades from the city.
So many months have gone by!

. . .

But in my dreams I am looking at certain gentlemen
who sit around a conference table discussing exchange
discussing tankers and aircraft, and cornices
just about to fall as the bombs hit.

And I beg forgiveness of the Almighty Whoever He Is
for wishing them all a shining coffin
and four of the finest candles.

(Translated by Robert Mezey)

(The next two poems translated by Philip  Levine)

 Painted Windows

I lived in a house
with two real windows and the other two painted on.
Those painted windows caused my first sorrow.
I'd touch the sides of the hall
trying to reach the windows from inside.
I spent my whole childhood wanting
to lean out and see what could be seen
from the windows that weren't there.

Plastic Virgin

With her nylon veil
and electric crown,
with dry-cell batteries
in her breast, and a dismal smile,
she's on display in all the shops
and on the dusty shelves of poor Catholics.
In New York City, above the bedstead
this white virgin watches over
the washstands of Negros....
Crossbreed of Fatima and Lourdes,
lightweight model stamped "made in USA,"
with streaming hair and open hands,
she washable and shatterproof.
Comes in three colors
-  white, pink and blue -
available in three sizes
though even the big one is small.
There without angels,
virgin Virgin,
I've felt so bad for you
- pure Virgin of plastic -
I can't bring myself
to ask for one miracle.


Here's another poem from November, 2008, about how memories remain real when facts have returned to dust.

el dia de los muertos

on a day like today

and every day
is like today with living
and dead
in their separate
only the border between
the two brighter
than other days
when our thoughts
of the dead
are rarely so celebrated

i imagine myself
at the grave of my parents
and my vision
is not of my parents
but of myself
standing at their grave
to conjure up
a vision of them

and it never works

for i have no memory
of them
bound in a box
beneath the earth

my memories
are of them walking together
beneath an open sky

particular to them

my father
not as bad as he would be
at the very end
but knowing that very end
was coming

calling he three of us,
my tow brothers
and i
into a room to talk about
the final days he saw ahead,
about what would happen
to my mother,
his wife of forty years,
control for a minute
only the second time
i ever saw him in tears.
the first
at the funeral of his father

more than 30 years passed  since
and now
him gone
mother gone
older brother gone
just two of us left,
most of my family life
lying now
in the memory of it

and memories of my mother
so proud
at the sale of her first painting
holding a $50 check in her hand,
waving it at me
from across the room

and little memories

mixing cornbread and buttermilk
in a glass,
a treat from her childhood
she enjoyed
into her last days or
playing dominoes with my son,
so happy she was to see him when
he finally came,
crying on the phone
when i told her

my father,
not a man to show affection
or emotion, often
clumsy with it,
putting his arm across my shoulders
the night of my high school graduation,
or sitting
in the back row of a Catholic church,
site of papist heresy
to his strict Lutheran soul,
at the wedding he said
he would not
giving me a thumbs up as i pass
down the aisle
with my new bride

so many moments...

too many to fit in boxes
under this well-tended grass

Emma Lazarus is one of those  poets who can be quoted by many and still be known to few. Her five lines beginning with "Give me your tired, your, poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free..." engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty are as  well known as any lines of any poet.

Lazarus, the nineteenth-century American Jewish poet, well educated and of Sephardic ancestry, was encourage by her parents to become a writer. Her poetry and translations of French and German classics were published and  admired by many, including  her contemporary, Ralph Waldo Emerson. At a time when brutal pogroms of Jews were sweeping Russia, her poems reflected the struggle of Jews to survive in anti-Semitic societies. In her vision of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine and her fears of the dark future she saw coming, she was prophetic.

Her poem is from the collection, Emma Lazarus, Poet of the Jewish People, published 1997 by Arthur James Ltd.

The Banner of the Jew

Wake, Israel, wake! Recall to-day
   The glorious Maccabean rage,
The sire heroic, hoary-gray,
   His five-fold  lion-lineage:
The Wise,  the Elect, the Avenging Rod.

From Mizpeh's mountain-ridge the saw
   Jerusalem's empty streets.  her shrine
Laid waste where  Greeks profaned the Law,
   With idol  and with pagan  sign.
Mourners in tattered black  where there,
With ashes  sprinkled on their hair.

Then from the stony peak there rang
   A blast to ope  the graves: down poured
The Maccabean clan, who sang
   Their battle-anthem to the Lord.
Five heroes lead, and following, see,
Ten thousand  rush to victory!

Oh for Jerusalem's trumpet  now,
   To blow a blast  of shattering power,
To wake the sleepers high and  low,
   And rouse them  to the urgent hour!
No hand for vengeance - but to save,
A million naked swords should wave.

O deem not dead that martial fire,
   Say not the mystic flame is spent!
With Moses' law and David's  lyre,
   Your ancient strength remains unbent.
Let but an Ezra rise anew,
To lift the Banner of the Jew!

A rag, a mock at  first - erelong,
   When men have bled and women wept,
To guard its precious folds  from wrong,
   Even they who shrunk, even they who slept,
Shall leap to  bless it, and to save.
Strike for the brave revere the brave!

From last week,  about an  experience not exactly as usually applied, but the same kind of feeling I'm thinking. Maybe, just guessing, having no experience with the other meaning.

born again

lying in the sun room
on a bamboo divan, French doors open
to the patio and the outside...

drifting into  sleep
as the first true norther of the season
blows in, intermittent spits of rain,
cold wind, trees dance, scatter leaves that clatter dryly
on the patio like dominoes on a pine-top table,
leaves that gather in a swarm
as they blow across the back yard

I fall asleep
in late summer, awake
in early
the storm clouds  passed,
the  sun bright
yellow light of late afternoon
drying the air and the grass and the new scattering
of leaves piled against the fence,
the change like new blood pumping
as I strip and go out to sit
in the new world that came as I lay
take it all in through
as many portals as I can open,
feel the re-
borning as it settles over

born again,
I finally understand

Carlos  Bousona, born in 1923, is a poet and literary critic associated with the post-Civil War literary scene in Spain. He taught Spanish literature at several American universities, including Wellesley, Smith, Vanderbilt, Middlebury, and New York University. He later became lecturer of Stylistics at the Complutense University of Madrid, where he continues to hold the position of Professor  Emeritus.

This is one of his poems from  this week's anthology.

How Am I to Tell You

But how am I to tell you,
you who are light ad silent
like a flower. How am I to tell you
when you are water,
a fountain, a spring, a smiling mouth,
an ear of wheat, a wind,
when you, my love, are air.

How am I to tell you,
you, child lightning,
morning light, dawn,
that someday you'll have to die
like others who aren't all these things.

Like the light and the sea
your timeless boy may be asking
for the sustained dignity
of matter. Love
like the sea's settlement
at dusk, your body is more
perishable than a flower. But not only are you
like the light, you are the light
itself, the light speaking,
saying, "I love you,"
falling asleep in my arms,
with its thirst, its eyes, its tired feeling
and an everlasting desire
to cry, when you look
at the roses in the garden
starting to bud again.

(Translated by Hardie St. Martin


Here's an old poem from November, 2008, that touches in passing on the  same thought as included in the old poem above.


traveling holiday
300 miles south to the border,
turkey dinner, lots of
and how-ya-beens,
300 miles home

as usual,
sometime before we leave,
i'll drive the extra 7 miles
to the little town i came from,
take a look around,
check out the old house
where I grew up,
stop at the cemetery
where most of the people
i knew who stayed around
currently reside,
brush dried leaves
off my parent's headstones,
and pause a minute
to remember them anywhere
but below the ground i stand on

and that's it for

My next-to-last library poem this week by Arthur Sze, taken from his book, The Redshifting Web, Poems  1970-1998. The book was published by Copper Canyon Press in 1998.

The Chance

The blue-black mountains are etched
with ice. I drive south in fading light.
The lights of my car set out before
me, and disappear before my very eyes.
And as I approach thirty,  the distances
are shorter than I guess? The mind
travels at the speed of light.  But for
how many people are the passions
ironwood, ironwood that hardens and hardens?
Take the ex-musician , insurance salesman,
who sells himself a policy on his own life;
or the magician who has himself locked
in a chest and thrown into the sea,
only to discover he is caught in his own chains.
I want a passion that grows and grows.
To feel, think, act, and be defined
by your actions,thoughts, feelings.
As in the bones of the hand in an X ray,
I want the clear white light to work
against the fuzzy blurred edges of darkness:
even if the darkness precedes and follows
us, we have a chance, briefly, to shine.


I ran across this piece in my "unused" file and didn't know where it came from. Turns out I wrote it all the way back in September and, apparently, never used it here.

a late start

late start
feeling bad
from the beginning
I figure if nothing hurts
how do you know
you're alive

quarterly doctor visit
this morning;
reports from labs
last week, bleed in a vial,
pee in a cup,
turns out
all parts continuing
to function,
not as well as they might have in the past
but that's the way
us older models are,
built (with a little help from our pharmacist)
for lasting
not for speed

doc gave me some pills,
muscle relaxers,
for some hurts
been hurting a couple of weeks
and I took'em
and whenever I get back to ground level
I'm thinking
I ought to write a poem
just stick a feather
in my cap
and call it macaroni,
which in revolutionary times
is what they called
who  dressed like dandies
but since I'm not
dressed at all I guess I would be called something

the pill is a good pill,
felling less like Quasimodo every minute,
feeling dandy in fact, thinking
of going back to

also thinking about writing a poem
and calling it

The last poem from the anthology this week is by Manuel Vazquez Montalban.

Born in 1939, Montalban was a prolific journalist, novelist, poet, essayist, antholog, prologist, humorous, critic and gastronome. He studied philosophy at the Autonomous University of Barcelona and, for years, contributed columns and articles to the Madrid-based daily newspaper, El Pais. He died in Bangkok in 2003, on his way home to Spain  after a speaking engagement in Australia.

In Memoriam

                      For a history teacher

I learned
the interminable list
of the kings of the Visigoths and the  world
was not mine
                     neither was your history
violet as the circles under your girlish eyes

if by chance
in the warm afternoons with the trumpet starting up
background music
your well-bred teacher's hand
severed my working class world

                                                      to know or not to know

the question was to accept
the colorless destiny of a clerk
or emigrate to the world
of those who had never lost
anything, not even when
the last king of the Visigoths crossed the Strait

fantastic your stories of good
sons, redeemers of their mother
the washerwoman - bank tellers,  dreaming
of the Board of Directors, germless,
righteous, hygienic, without regrets
unless the history of my class
unknown to either of us in those days
when you were ad omnipotent princess
and I your minstrel of shy verses
                                                     not even
familiar with your sex, or your times

the years passed quickly like afternoons,
I learned your lists and your frontiers, your name
your nostalgia and when I was almost
ready to answer your words
including your beautiful fairy tale off good
sons Visigoth kings
                               it was too late

and you were buried before you knew about my learning
which you began and no one will ever finish,
of my minstrel's love
                                  princess of a history not even
vaguely dialectical, through which you moved
magnificent, like a great king.

(Translated by Robert Mezey)


Here, last for the week of old poems, from, like all the rest but two, written November, 2008.

last words

three deaths
this week,
the deceased
not close to me, but close
to some who are,
so, while i cannot mourn
with them
i can hold them in my thoughts

which turn to deaths
closer to me...

my mother
who died this time of year,
the day after Thanksgiving,
and my father
whose death came
when he was just a few months
older than i am now,
and my brother,
though older,
died younger

such thoughts
of death lead to thoughts
of other deaths,
and deaths to come
including  my own

and for some reason
i am lead to thoughts
of Sunday church services
when i was a child,
Missouri Synod, Lutheran,
the strictest
and most conservative of the sect,
a little white church
on the corner of Harrison & 8th,
the congregation
sprinkled with a few prosperous
businessmen in silk suits,
but mostly workingmen,
wearing, every Sunday,
the only suit they owned,
their large, knobby hands
hanging like rough red weights
from the loose sleeves
of their jackets...

fifty or more years ago
this was,
all of them dead now,
the silk-suits and the roughhewn,
all dead and in the ground
like my father
who wore for more than twenty years
the same double-breasted
blue, pinstripe suit
he bought in 1943 for the day
he wed my mother,
and my mother
and the other women, too,
all the women dead, too,
their Sunday church-hats
in dark attics
or on the shelves of resale shops,
or on the pink hair
of a seventeen year old
with studs in her ears and nose
and tattoos on her legs...

so many people died,
too many to count,
enough to know that
there are more dead in my life
than alive


and another death
death at a lesser level,
but mourned just the same,
my morning refuge,
the place where I have written
for many months,
with the same friendly
people, comfortable at the
same table in the back
looking out on the corner
of Martin and Soledad -
and big windows boarded up
this morning,
a note on the plywood-covered door

"we are closed - goodbye"

last  words
as good as any

 Last this week from my library, a poem by Texas poet, Robert A. Fink,  from his book,  The Ghostly Hitchhiker, published by the Corona Publishing Company of San Antonio in 1989.

A former Marine Corps lieutenant and Viet Nam veteran, at the time the book was published, Fink was Professor  of English and Director of Creative Writing  Workshops at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.

On Jesus,Taking His  Word on Immortality

Not a question of belief.
The Bible says even devils believe
and tremble, their humped backs smoldering
still horns curled black
recalling the jagged heat of light,
the length of a scream falling.
It is, instead, a matter of faith:
saying to the mountains, Move!,
telling a cripple rise up and walk,
each story were being written down
somewhere in red letters. It is patience;
learning to watch for the sea
to sift mountains down to size
thin enough for pockets
or skimming across the water.
It is waiting for the man to give it up -
the old alms  game, eyes hard behind dark glasses,
on leg folded back until the night
and home down alleys narrow as the eye of storms.
Can we count the hairs of a head?
Or cloth ourselves in lilies?
It is harder than belief.
It is what we pray to find at the end of poems.

Here's the last poem of the week. I just wrote it yesterday and am thinking now that I've been writing a lot of poems about my aches and pains so maybe I ought to lay off that subject for a while.

After this one.



wake pain-free
to a world vague behind the slow shifting of soft
pharmaceutical curtains

at an unusual table
in an unusual corner
of my usual restaurant,
eat my toast and egg and gravy,
all tasting like the featureless
cotton cocoon
that wraps its delicate bonds around me,
I follow the dog on her walk,
her leash slack in my hand unmindful
as she stops at every bush
to browse for her morning greens,
I do not object, I just stand beside her,
doing nothing, my brain drowsing as I sway
on uncertain legs

until she leads me back to our car,
waits for me to open the hatch so she can climb in
as three flights of geese pass overhead

I admire
the beauty of their streamlined bodies and long wings
outspread in the cold morning air, the sharp unbroken V formation,
each bird unfaltering in maintenance of its place among
the others...

this vague morning
I envy the certainty of their
purpose, their perfect knowledge
of where they're bound,
the clarity of their

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.

I mention it every week and it's  still true, 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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