Texas Touring III, River Road   Wednesday, December 11, 2013






My photos this week are from "River Road" - Hwy. 170, a 120 mile scenic highway, arguable one of the most remote roads in Texas. Beginning in Study Butte/Terlingua it follows the Rio Grande  River, sometimes next to the river, sometimes high above it, and ends in tiny Candelaria with a population of 20 or so. Presidio is 55 miles from where the road begins in Study Butte and it is as far as I've been on the road. I've been planning for some time to make the drive all the way to the end, but have never gotten around to it.

Presidio is a unique city, originally part of the Mexican city of Ojinaga on the other side of the river. When the river became the new international  boundary, Presidio became it's own city, though its cross-order relationship with Ojinaga makes it economically and culturally still like a single city in many ways. Such cross-border relationships are not unusually along the Texas-Mexican border as each city has a highly integrated sister-city right across the narrow river.

Although it's population is barely over 4,000, Presidio is the main city on Hwy 170. It is probably the most remote city of that size in Texas and one of the things that impressed my about the city when first I visited ten or so years ago was its citywide WiFi system, the first I had heard of at the time and, I'm sure, still a rarity.

My anthology for this week is Poet's Choice, Poems for Everyday Life. It was published ecco in 1998. The poems were selected by former poet  laureate, Robert Hass. I can't think of anyone better than Hass to select poems for this kind of anthology.

There are many pleasures to this anthology, the many excellent poems, of course, but also Hass' comments before each poem that illuminate the poet and the poem.

And, as usual, my library and my stuff.


Me
as if concerned

Robinson Jeffers
Carmel Point

Me
Legacy

Eugenio de Andrade
Eros Thanatos

Me
blood-time

William Carlos Williams
Spring and All

Me
chiliquiles

Paul Auster
Salvage
All  Souls

Me
the prince of real and true 

Wendell Berry
The Current

Me
chess night at the coffeehouse

Joanna M. Weston
Finding Quiet
A Prairie Landscape
By Starlight
Rains of Silence

Me
cruel science

Gary Snyder
Surrounded by Wild Turkeys  

Me
supposed to be writing a poem

Robert McManes
selling a sole for abstract beans 
no  particle  matters

Me
people  eaters

Li Po
At Yuan Tan-Ch'iu's Mountain Home
South of Yangze, Thinking of Spring

Me
strange  looking group

Jose Marti
 On My Shoulder

Me
Southtown - First Friday artwalk

Laura Fargas
Among Our Great Ceremonies

Me
cold is not just a matter of degrees    
 











First of the week, feeling a little put-upon.







all as if concerned

time passes
and new things
get old
and old things 
get lost
and the spaces
between
shrink,
shorter and 
shorter
just like me
and others like me,
near the end
of our seventh decade,
top shelves
higher and higher,
floors
lower and lower,
feeling small
like Alice
as rooms get
larger 
and darker
and people speak
in low  voices
as if concerned
they might wake
you

```

time passes
and the new is old
and the old is
lost
and gone...








First from this week's anthology is this piece by Robinson Jeffers, the poet who brought near-mythological dimensions to the coast of California.

Born in the 1920s, Jeffers moved to Carmel when it  was barely more than a village.
Perhaps this poem is a lesson I could take from him as my own favorite parts of the world sink beneath the weight of WalMarts and Big Macs. But I'm just not that patient.






Carmel Point

The extraordinary patience of things!
This beautiful place defaced with a crop of suburban houses -
How beautiful when we first beheld it
Unbroken field of poppy and lupin walled with clean cliffs;
No intrusion but two or three horses pasturing,
Or a few milch cows rubbing their flanks on the outcrop
     rockheads -
Now the spoiler has come: does it care?
Not faintly. It has all time. It knows the people are a tide
That swells and in time will ebb, and all
Their works dissolve. Meanwhile the image of the pristine
      beauty
Lives in the very grain of the granite,
Safe as the endless ocean that climbs our cliff. - As for us:
We must uncenter our minds from ourselves:
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and the ocean we are made from.








    
Here's a poem from December, 2007, on a theme I return to often. Some say I return to often to this, but when you know even mountains pass away in time, seems to me there's a lot to think about.






Legacy 

in 120 years
or less
everyone on the planet
will be dead

i read that
this morning

that's you and me
gone
and everyone
you know
and everyone
i know
and the last surviving
World War II vet,
as well as the baby
due to be born
at 12:01 a.m.
of the new year
and all the celebrities
you read about in People
magazine and all the
politicians running for
president, losers
just like you and me
in the mortality race,
and everyone who
wronged you as well
as everyone who
took up your cause

all gone,
all of us succumbing
to the end to which
we are born, all of us

what will be  our legacy?

for me,
it's only dust i'll leave behind

dust that blows across
some plain
then into  the sky
to become the grit
around which
a rain drop grows,
part of a spring shower
to feed the roots
and summer blooms
that delight lovers
who have never heard
my name

then back
to dust
again








From my library, I begin with two poems by Portuguese poet Eugenio de Andrade. Born Jose Fontinhas in 1928, he is revered in Portugal as one of the leading names in contemporary Portuguese poetry. He died in 2005.

The poem is from his book Forbidden Words, Selected Poetry of Engenio de Andrade. It is a bilingual book, in the poet's original Portuguese with English translation by Alexis Levitin. It is a New Directions Book, published in 2003.




Eros Thanatos

1.
Oh purity, acutely mine,
the whole earth burning in my hands.

2.
What I know of you is only wind
passing through the masts of summer.

3.
Just a body, a boat or rose,
its murmur of bees or of foam.

4.
Between lips and lips I didn't know
if I was song or flame or snow.

5.
My love, like a sword's blaze
in the ineffable heat of day.

6.
Could it be death, this caress
in which desire is just a breath?



Taking Leave

Gather
all the gold of day
on melancholy's
highest branching spray.








I  get up usually between 4:30 and 5:30, depending on when the dog wakes me. I'm good at first, get up, do my stuff, walk the dog, drive to breakfast, then just before dawn, I crash, for thirty minutes it's all I can do not to fall face-first into my computer. It is the time when human metabolism, influenced like the tides, by the moon, ebbs to it's lowest point of the day, then rises, then ebbs again in early afternoon.

I wrote this next piece just as the morning crash was starting.

We attack at dawn, they always say in the movies. And for real as well.





blood-time

the  yawn 
of the morning,  just
as the sun begins its rise, sentries
atop the walls lean  on their 
spears, half awake
on the cusp of morning's deadly
sleep

siege engines
roll quietly to the battlements,
armies mass
behind the trees,
await
the signal drums

it is blood-time
of the morning...

eyes bleeding,
I await the charge

half awake
in the creep of morning
sleep








       

Next from the anthology, I have this poem by William Carlos Williams - a poem about birth and rebirth by "a man who made is living delivering babies" as Hass notes in his introduction.








Spring and All

By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast - a cold win. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weed, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless blinds -

Lifeless in appearance
dazed spring approaches -

They enter the new world naked
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind -

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wild carrot leaf

One by one objects are defined -
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity o
entrance - Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken










Lots of hungry people in the world. Sometimes I try to remember how glad I am that I am not one of them.







chiliquiles

I had no idea
of eating
when I stopped,
meant to just have
a latte
on the porch
and watch the people
go by
but there was a
chill wind
that blew me inside
and once there
the cooking smells
from the kitchen
reminded me
I had not eaten

so in just minutes
I had a plate of
chiliquiles
and refried beans
laid out before me
all hot
and ready to eat

and I thought
how fortunate
we  are in this
american
life we lead...

we're hungry
and we eat

and that's all
there is
to
it








    


Next from my library, here are two short poems by Paul Auster. The poems are from his book, Collected Poems,  published in 2007 by The Overlook Press.









Salvage

Reunion of ash men
and ash women. Sky's wan hub
grown full till anther-round
of the peat slope from which
I saw them. May-green: what was said,
audible in the eye. The words,
mingled with snow, did not
indict the mouth. I drank
the wine they begrudged me. I stood, perhaps,
beside where you
might have been. I dragged
everything
home to the other world.


All Souls

Anonymity and floe: November
by its only name, death-
danced
through the broken speech
of hoe and furrow
down
from the eaves of overwhelming - these
hammer-worshiped
spew-things
cast
into the zones off blood.

A transfusion of darkness,
the generate peach, encroaching
on slaughter.

Life equal to life.








  

Another very foggy mornings brings new thoughts.







the prince of real and true

dense fog
time
outside of time
swirls
sucks my reality-bran
into realms
where the prince of real and true
lies huddled
in the tiniest corner of a very large room
done all up in shifting
white

he whimpers as he
sleeps
blinded by forgotten possibilities
he dares not open his eyes
frightened that he might see again
all the lost
days
wandering rootless
waiting, hoping, for a clear day
to find their way
again








    


Here's another Spring poem from the anthology, this one by Kentucky farmer, poet, novelist, and agrarian thinker Wendell Berry.









The Current

Having once put his hand into ground
seeding there what he hopes will outlast him,
a man has made a marriage with his place,
and if he leaves it his flesh will ache to go back.
His hand has given up its birdlife in the air.
It has reached into the dark like a rot
and begun to wake, quick and mortal, in timelessness.
a flickering sap coursing upward into his head
so that he sees the old tribespeople bend
in the sun, digging with sticks, the forest opening
to receive their hills of corn, squash, and beans,
their lodges and graves, and closing again.
He is made their descendant, what they left
in the earth rising into him like a seasonal juice.
the forest burrowing into  thee arth as they come,
their hands gathering the stones up into walls,
to lie still under the black wheels of machines.
The current flowing to him through the earth
a young man who has reached into the ground
his hand held in the dark as by a hand.












An observational...







chess night at the coffeehouse

the young chess player,
dark hair spiked
and pointing
in every direction
concedes
to his older,
more experienced
opponent,
shakes hands,
then moves
to the next table,
standing,
arms folded in front
like the young boys
do
who
were in my younger days
called
eggheads
or brainiacs
or some other
dismissive name
that served to define
a particular class off queer,
boys
never at ease with their bodies
whose ineptitudes
shame them in their own minds,
making them always ready
for a challenge in the realm
of the mind, a chance to join
other brainiacs around a chess table
where minds could make moves
without the clumsy
interference
of inadequate
flesh








Here are several short poems by my poet-friend Joanna M. Weston.

Joanna's middle-reader, Those Blue Shoes, was published by Clarity House Press and her collection of poetry, A Summer Father, was published by Frontenac House of Calgary. Her work can be read on line at her blog http://www.1960willowtree.wordpress.com/






Finding Quiet

through cobbled alleys
past pizzeria and wine bar
I pause before worn pillars

open a holy door to watch
an old man sleep his prayers
and candles flicker intercessions
as my feet rest on a faint "amen"


A Prairie Landscape

whose names circle
the land beyond the far slope?

strangers wrapped
in fields
on the pale horizon?

city-dwellers
transplanted to acres of sky
that need to be tilled
until clouds rest
between fences      hedges
and winter drainage?

what names lie
under this expanse
off snow?


By Starlight

my shadow slithered
over grass
through trees

left me standing
held by pebbles
dust gravel

while it took the path
to the beach
and I waved     shouted

if the moon comes
early full and high
I will merge

with earth
waiting for my ghost
to own me


The Rains of Silence

the secret rhythm of night rain
played on dead leaves
too fast to catch the beat
as the weighted sky empties
into open pores of earth
after two month's drought

I fall into the silence
thirsty to hear what is said
in the nothing time
that moves in this hour
forward to soak my soul
with the winds of heaven








Getting older, thinking of things I never would have thought of ten or fifteen years ago. Because I didn't know enough then to think of them. Now I do.

Four obituaries in two weeks of former co-workers. Two a week - that's a lot to think about.






cruel science

economics,
the cruel science,
equal parts creation and destruction,
mysterious
in its midnight ways
of  deciding
what goes and  stays;
no room for failure or the non-productive,
or just the tired and passe,
Kaiser-Frasier, Hudson, Studebaker,
Plymouth Furry, Mercury,
Oldsmobile,
failures,
their one-time perfection
and beauty, their then not  good enough
for something else's now, left behind,
by the newer, faster,
sleeker...

I think about old cars
sometimes, and the other things I grew up with,
gone, lost to the economics
of  destruction and
and creation,
and the people, friends, and not so much,
gone like Studebaker
and five cent cokes and Hoot  Gibson and Elvis  and Jack
and Bobbie and those who grew up with me,
their names not  famous but to me
and the others in their circle,
all gone, their perfect time passed...

like me
and maybe you

```

self-knowing
the cruelest science
of all








     

Here's another poem from the anthology, this one by Gary Snyder, a poet who brings a zen-like presence to all he sees in the natural world around him.







Surrounded by Wild Turkeys

Little calls as they pass
through dry forbs and grasses
Under blue oak and gray digger pine
In the warm afternoon of the forest/fire haze;

Twenty or more, long-legged birds
all alike

So are we, in our soft calling,
passing on through.

Our young which trail after,

Look just like us.








  

Here's another poem from winter, six years ago. A memory, also, of Reba, my dearly departed friend.







supposed to be writing a poem

supposed
to be writing a poem
right now
or working on the blog,
one or the other,
but Reba has been sitting
on the carpet by my feet
for twenty minutes now,
staring at me, letting me know
it's nine o'clock,
time now to sate her canine need
to walk, to sniff, to explore,
(if a piece of paper is on the path
that wasn't there the day before
she will  not move until it's been
properly investigated and peed on)

oops,
she caught me thinking about walking
and has moved in closer, eyes boring
into me, never blinking,  never wavering,

no poem tonight, I think unless
you count this - the queen has
made her decision clear...

we walk








               


Here are a couple poems from Robert McManes, another poet-friend, Mac a friend from Kansas.






selling a sole for abstract beans

this is astractbean
distilled from pure thought
meaningless, unless the process
is to truly understood
contemplation, a reflection
of surrealism with foldable teeth

to shape the misshapen
this seemly intellectual thought
flashing between fiction's friction
and reality's attempt
at desperation's woe
sanity walks a straight line
except when madness spouts
into a giant bean stalk

so drink up my friends
this one is on the house
today I'm buying
tomorrow I'm selling
every word I have
each one spurt
from  imitation's imagination

every bean is real
my personal guarantee
twenty four carrots
planted in a row
and the beans between
are the secret magic
to everyone's gold


no particle matters

the particle gods have chosen
no more molecular conversions
each one singing electron songs
no blue gene part of a blue jean seam
collision is rumpled forethought
no altered sunflower seeds
petals sparred now in glossy pink
the thorn-less rose smirks
sporting a crown
of  fresh roasted
sun filled seeds








   
I wrote this last week after being too adventurous with desert at one of my favorite restaurants. Two days in bed, still dragging when I wrote this as fulfillment of my poem-a-day commitment.





people-eaters

the one-eyed
one-horned  flying purple
people-eater
was a fearsome beast
I'm told, though I never actually
saw one, and Godzilla
too, though only if you live
in Tokyo,  which I don't, didn't,
and never expect to,
so frankly, my dear, I don't  
give a damn 'bout no ol' Godzillas, not
when greater and more formidable perils
lurk nearby

like desert,
for example...

like flan brulee made with goat's milk
if you want me to be specific...

if you're ever offered, go 
for the  apple pie
instead








Here's Robert Hass' introduction to the next poet from the anthology.

Civilizations have  their great periods of lyric poetry, and one the the greatest was T'ang dynasty China (A.D. 712-760), which produced three or four of the most remarkable poets in world literature. The best loved of these was Li Po...a wild man and wanderer born in Central Asia to a distinguished family but liked to claim he was partly of Turkish or Afghani stock...It's part of his story that he is said to have died when, drunk in a boat, he fell into a river and was drowned trying to embrace the moon..

The poems were translated by David Hinton.




At Yuan Tan-Ch'iu's Mountain Home

By nature, my old friend on East Mountain
treasures the beauty of hills and valleys.

Spring now green, you lie in empty woods,,
still sound asleep under a midday sun,

your robe growing lucid in pine winds,
rocky streams rinsing ear and heart clean.

No noise, no confusion - all I want is
this life pillowed big in emerald mist.


South of the Yangze, Thinking of Spring

How many times will I see spring green
again, or yellow birds tireless in song?

The road home ends at the edge of heaven.
Here beyond the river, my old hair white,

my heart flown north to cloudy passes,
I'm shadow in moonlit southern mountains.

My life a blaze of spent abundance, my old
fields and gardens buried in weeds, where

am I going? It's year's-end, and I'm here
chanting long farewells at heaven's gate.











Here's another observational from winter, 2007.







strange looking group

strange looking
group
for this middle-class
yuppy-puppy
coffeehouse,
look like extras
in a barrio
gangbanger movie
or maybe the real
thing, Banditos
or Mexican Mafia,
three mean-looking
duds all dressed out
and a pretty girl
with stars tattooed up
her long lean legs

or
maybe not...

freshman chemistry
it looks like
when they pick up
their textbooks and clean
the table before they leave,
I hear them talk about
going next door to
macaroni grill
on the way out...

no motorcycles








Last from my library this week, I have a poem by Jose Marti, 19th century Cuban intellectual, poet, translator,  professor, publisher and revolutionary. The poem is from the book Ismaelillo, a call while in exile to his infant son to follow in his footsteps. The book was first published in its original Spanish text in New York City in 1882. My edition was published in Spanish and English in 2007 by Wings Press of San Antonio. The translation was by Tyler Fisher who also contributes a critical introduction and notes.

Born in 1853, Marti died in military action in 1895 at the age of 42.







On My Shoulder

Look at how I carry him
Seated on my shoulder:
Secretly, and visible
To  me alone!
Around my brow he wraps his arm
When I bow low to vicious pains: -
And when my tangled hairs rise up
Rough and stiff and sullen,
Like a symbol ominous
Of some inner torment,
then I sense on my coarse skull,
Like a kiss alighting,
That which soothes the raging steed:
His calming hand upon me! -
When in the midst of troubled ways
Where the path is darkest
And smiles cross my pallid face,
Numb with some rare pleasure,
I extend my hand in search
Of a friend to lean on , -
Then I feel an unseen kiss
Gently brush my forehead,
Kisses from the handsome boy
Seated on my shoulder.








Southtown is an area in the city where I spent most days three coffeehouses ago. First Friday was (is  still) an arts and crafts event every first Friday of the month. A long stretch of Alamo Street is closed for exhibits and, of course, food.

The poem is from late 2007.




Southtown - First  Friday artwalk

it's an art 
fair
so there is much
to feed the soul

but
with funnel cake
turkey legs
bar b que
and
roasted corn
the more substantial
elements of an art lover's
needs 
are not ignored








It is not that the anthology does not include female poets, but only that in my random turning of pages I didn't come to one. This being the last poet from the anthology for the week, I went looking.

And who I found is poet Laura Fargas who is also a Washington, D.C. attorney specializing in occupational safety and health litigation. The poems are from her first book, which I presume to be An Animal of the Sixth Day, published by Texas Tech University in 1996.




Among Our Great Ceremonies

A serious love touches the universe,
the two and one of it contributing to the sum of what's real.
Not that planets or even hydrogen atoms
begin falling toward you, yet something intensifies
where you are. The different light
shed by double stars. No consensus why they form,
or how they'll dim or dazzle, perishing.


For  the next poem it's helpful to know that Kuan Yin is the Chinese goddess of mercy, usually depicted as a figure of great serenity.

Kuan Yin

Of the many buddhas I love best the girl
who will not leave the cycle of pain before anyone else.
It is not the captain, declining to be saved
on the sinking  ship, who may just want to ride his shame
out of sight. She is at the brink of never being hurt again
but pauses to say, All of us. Every blade of grass.
She chooses to live in the tumble of souls through time.
Perhaps she sees spring in every country,
talks quietly with farm women while helping to lay seed.
Our hearts are a storm she trembles at. I picture her
leaning on a tree or humming or joining a volleyball game
on Santa Monica beach. Her  skin shines with sweat.
The others may not know how to notice what she does to them.
She is not a fish or a bee; it is not pity or thirst;
she could go, but here she is.







 

 I had a different  poem here, but decided I like this one better.








cold is not just a matter of  degrees

cold outside...

but not that cold,
mid-forties,but dark
and misty fog and to the two
young Arab me two booths us
that's cold enough...

thin hombres, math-nerd
looking
guys, "the most  dangerous kind,"
Aunt Phillidoddroun
would say, "can't ever tell what they're
thinking," she say, "could be two
plus
two equals
four or could be three
plus
three equals kill the infidel"

must I say it, Auntie
is the family secret we don't let
out of the attic in front of
strangers
much...

right now
the math-nerd Arab fellas,
not entirely English-proficient,  have
bigger issues on their mind,
beginning with the difference between
white bread, wheat bread, sourdough bread,
raisin bread, English muffins, and
buttermilk biscuits
and how are your supposed to decide
which to order and what about
this "grits" and why aren't pancakes
listed as a kind off bread
because they know pancakes
and that's what they really want, hold
the bacon, sausage, and ham...

reminds me off the first two weeks
I was in Germany when I ate nothing but omelets
because that was the only thing
on the menu I recognized...

pretty good
omelets, too

I hope the young math-nerd Arab diners
were equally as fortunate
in this strange land
as I was in another far away
and long ago










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)





´╗┐Poetry




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




3 Comments:
at 12:11 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

great photos- poetry surprisingly disappointing (at least to me - all too prosy- no one dares anything- very little music-read the drunken boat by rimbaud (maybe beckett translation)

itz please look up eliot porter photographs

i only read first half- jeffers i love- snyder- its? who is this itz guy-

berry plain spoken- drinking some nice rjoha

went on a grt hemingway tour in madrid- from bar to bar- sherry bar was my favorite-

we came up over the ridge, the chablis in our creel? it went well w the trout we cot,stream ran cold and clear, soon we would have to kill some germans

itz get an easier capcha

at 12:17 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

the cactus, poppies and (cottonwood?) photo- i wld purchase same- is phenomenal- again chk eliot porter

yes the gary snyder poem

gary will always- as w the word korb- or whatever it is- introduce us to surprise-

free verse wm carlos wms and robt creely verse, if it doesn't have some knd of surprise? it might as well be prose

yr capcha co is too difficutl

at 2:07 PM Blogger Here and Now said...

thank you for you comments, david

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Links
Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Tryst
Poems Niederngasse
BlazeVOX
Eclectica
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
zafusy
The Blogging Poet
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Wild Poetry Forum
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The Hiss Quarterly
Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
Lawrence Trujillo Artsite
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The Comstock Review
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Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
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Beau Blue
Downside up
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Layman Lyric
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Desert Moon Review
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Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet