Never Just Black and White   Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Standard package this week - my poems, poems from my library, and poems from this week's anthology, Introduction to Spanish Poetry, a duel language book, Spanish and English, required reading I presume in a college level Spanish language and/or literature class. It was published in 1991, one of a number of dual-language texts in a number of languages, by Dover Press.

The book does not credit any particular translator or translators.

I  notice a couple of stylus slips in my "color splash" photos. I really wish I had spotted the slips before it was too late for a do-over.

For this week:

a cemetery

Rafael Alberti
The Good Angel

 Ernie Pyle's last  story

Hadara Bar-Nadav 
I Sing to Use Waiting
Blind Fragment

Mr. Saturday Night

Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas
To a Nose

of mice and men

Mark Doty
Time and the Town

my academic foxhole

Federico Garcia Lorca
Ballad of the Moon, Moon

out of sight   

Jane Hirshfield
The Lost Love Poems of Sappho
Building and Earthquake
Sometimes the Heart is a Shallow Autumn River
Love in August

wait, don't dial up the hotline just yet

Emilio Prados
Faithful Page

Sunday breakfast at IHOP

Patrick Donnelly
In Low Unworthy Rooms He Made Careless Love and Now  

the King, unknown, passes among his subjects

Juan Ruiz, Arch-priest of Hita
Of the Qualities of Small Women

black hole boogie

Jack Marshal

50 miles

children's crusade

Glenna Luschei
Witch Dance
The Horse

the desert far below us     


My first new poem this week, recalling a very interesting road in the middle of nowhere in the Big Bend.

a cemetery

a cemetery
on a low mound
between the highway
and the Rio Grande

the humble markers
of  poor people
from the cluster
of casitas
I passed a quarter  mile
back. small houses
of native stone,  like
the more elaborate markers,
the ones not of rotting wood,
crosses, bowing toward the ground,
native flowers
gather at the base of some,
stone or wood, nothing,
stone or wood or flowers,
around the indentations
that mark the oldest graves,
the unmarked, the never marked,
those  of transient markers
no match for the inevitable
decline of time that leaves these
shallow dimples
over a grave in which nothing
but a few scattered bones
remain, poor people,
cowboys and shepherds
who  lived and died,
then faded to nothing beneath
dry badlands

(Hwy. 170 in the Big Bend, between Terlingua and Presidio, April 2010)

The first poet from this week's anthology, Introduction to Spanish Poetry, is Rafael Alberti. Born in 1903 in the southwest of Spain, he was a very well know poet and painter. After the Civil War, he went into exile because of his Marxist beliefs, returning to Spain to great honors after Franco's death. After his own death in 1999, his ashes were scattered across the Bay of Cadiz, the part of the world that meant the most to him.

The Good Angel

     The one I wanted came,
the one I called.

     Not the sweeper of defenseless skies,
stars without huts,
moons with a country,
Those snows that fell from a hand,
a name,
a dream,
a brow.

     Not the one that tied death
to his hair.

        The one that I wanted.

     Without scratching he air,
or wounding leaves or shaking windows.

     The one that tied silence
to his hair.

     So as, without hurting me,
to dig a bank of soft light in my breast
and my my soul navigable.

 War gives legends a time an a place to be born, then, so often, kills them.

This poem is from  February, 2008, about a person most readers, I suspect, will have vaguely, if ever, heard of.

Ernie Pyle's last story

telling stories
in the midst of war
about war
about the warriors
who fight it

part of the story
on a small un-pacific
when a Japanese bullet
lays down the final
to his last  byline

quietly lying
on a dirt path
near the top
of a small sand hill
folded in front
as if asleep
but  for the trickle
of blood
from the corner
of his mouth



The first  poems from my library this week are by Hadara Bar-Nadav. The book  is one I just added to  my library, Lullaby (with Exit Sign), published in 2008 by Saturnalia Books.

The poet is Associate Professor of English at the University of Missouri - Kansas  City. She has published several poetry collections and chapbooks and is co-author of a textbook on writing poetry.

I Sing to Use the Waiting

in the nervous room, in the white room with nervous hands.  Every Hour is
a Sea swallowing  me. The loudspeaker sputters,, mumbling to the air  like a
drunk. Two children take turns screaming from either side of the room (or
 am the children  screaming from my mouth to my ears). A man in white
finally appears. He explains things, expressing condolences without
expressing a thing, talks talks with steady hands, palms up, to show rehearsed
sympathies. He is full of meaning  and walks away. Goodbye meaning in
your white coat. Now the waiting will end.

Blind Fragment

They wore strange faces.

No, they were nurses

spun in gauze dresses,

shadows of their legs

beneath, and another

(buttonless) who held

my wrist and nodded,

but touch is touch

full of feeling and skin

so  thought

I  recognized each

of them hello, hello,

so none of us was alone

as my bowels groaned

and I slipped through

my mouth, beyond

the window  outside,

and clung to a cypress,

its funnel of green,

so I could  watch us

a little while  more,

but the drift in the wind

was warm, a yawn

pulling me upward

on strings.

was warm, a yawn


The next three poems,  parts of a single  story stretching over several  years.

Mr. Saturday Night

Sunday morning...

a park
on campus
thickly wooded
with paths through the trees
in autumn, a glory of fallen leaves-color,
and through it, a creek, running slow and cold,
looking through the clear water
for my eyeglasses among the rocks,
lost last night
in a frigid, drunken, wake-up
on the way home,
soon found
clear glass reflecting sun shadows
through the clear  water


then downtown
for scrambled eggs, a beer, and
the Sunday Times...

(Indiana University, Bloomington, October 1966)


Born in 1580 and died in 1645, it is widely said that Francisco de Quevedo y Villegas, politician, poet, prose writer, satirist and diplomat, was the most complete and universal genius in Spanish literature. Though never collected in a  book, his work, including especially his satire and poetic caricatures, were widely read.

To a Nose

     Once there was a man attached to a nose,
it was a superlative nose,
it was a nose both executioner and scribe,
it was a swordfish with a long beard,

     it was a sundial badly positioned,
it was an alembic in a pensive mood,
it was an upside-down elephant,
it was Ovidius Naso, but more nasal.

     It was the beak of a war galley,
it was a pyramid of Egypt:
it was the twelve tribes of noses together;

     it was an infinity of nosishness,
so much nose, such a savage nose,
that on the face of Annas it would be a crime


 This another old poem from February, 2008.

of mice and men

through the "Times"
I saw a story
about how
researchers using stem cells
were able to control diabetes n

great news for the mice
about which
I am sure there must be
high jubilation
in mouse holes throughout
the country

fortunate mice, these,
who, unlike their cousins
didn't catch cancer
from smoking
or diet pills
or excessive sun-tanning
or eating two much fat
or sweetening too much with "Sweet-n-Low
or any off those other
godawful things
mice catch
when hanging around too much
with humans in white coats

a banner day for the creme de la creme of

From another book new to my library this week, School of the Arts, I have the next  poem by the book's author, Mark Doty. My paperback edition of the book was published by Harper Perennial in 2006.

Doty, born in 1953, is widely published and honored, has taught at the University of Houston, and is currently serves  as Distinguished Writer at Rutgers University.

Time and the  Town

Mrs. Ajo planted these:
single, utterly durable, red.
Mr. Ajo used to walk up the street
from the bay with a bucket of clams

and a cigarette fixed to his mouth
as though he'd been born
with these accessories.
They're gone now.

The poppies, in June, forthright,
like a single stripe of the flag,
all along one side of their closed-up
house: insistent, unqualified color,

and a hundred furred green
buds lift, on their bowed necks,
preparing a further outcry.
When I say I hate time, Paul says

how else could we find depth
of character, or grow souls?
Of course he's right,
but I can't help thinking

the Ajos wouldn't vote
for the mottled, complexified
shades favored by the years;
they liked this intransigent red,

they wanted it plain
and dependable, noisy.
Even Mr. Ajo, who once looked
at  my garden in full bloom,

all old roses and peonies,
and said, talking around his cigarette,
Lots of money in that.


 Here's the next in my three connected poems.

my academic foxhole

a detachment of airmen
studying Russian at the university,
about forty of us,
the closest thing to a bonafide military unit
in the city,
we were, of course, asked to take
a prominent position
in the Veteran's Day parade...

misfits in civilian life,
most of us saw  no reason
to change our stripes
in the military

forty of us,
all eighty left feet of us,
led the parade
to a cadence set by our Colonel,
he who tied fishing flies in his office
all day, while his First Sergeant hid out
in the VFW downtown, hoping
I suppose that, if  nobody knew he was
involved with us, his to that point
sterling military career
might survive...

a crippled lizard
weaving down the street,
our contribution  to the parade,
some of us,, those of us
not too  hung-over  or high
might  have been  embarrassed,
but that  probably wasn't more
than  a couple  of us,
at most


in the end we  did what we were supposed
to do, learned enough Russian to be tell
when the next war was about to start,
fighting the cold war, knowing
that if  it ever got hot
which we knew was never going to happen,
but if it did,
we'd be the first to know as the bombs fell first
on us...

but a year of our military service
spent on a university campus,
learning nothing
that had anything to do with

it  was  a small price
to pay

(Bloomington, Indiana, 1966

Since I use his work frequently in "Here and Now" I though of skipping him piece from the anthology, but how can one talk about Spanish poetry without including Federico Garcia Lorca. I decided you can't.

Ballad of the Moon, Moon

     The moon came to the forge
in her bustle of spkenard.
The child looks and looks.
The child is looking at her.
In the sympathetic air
the moon waves her arms
and discloses, lewd and chaste,
her breasts of hard tin.
Run away, moon, moon, moon!
If the gypsies should come,
they would make from your heart
white necklaces and white rings.
Child, let me go on dancing.
When the gypsies come
they will find you on the anvil
with your little eyes closed.
Run away, moon, moon, moon!
for already I hear their horses.
Child, let me alone, do not step
on my starched whiteness.

     The horseman was approaching,
beating the drum of the plain.
Inside the forge,
the child's eyes are closed.

     Through the olive grove came,
bronze and dream, the gypsies.
Their heads lifted upright
and their eyes half closed.

     Oh, how the owl is hooting,
oh, hoe it hoots in the tree!
The moon goes though the sky
with a child by the hand.

    The gypsies inside the forge,
are weeping, crying loudly.
The air watches and watches.
The air is watching it.

I mentioned that this is a bilingual book, Spanish and English. I have very little Spanish, but the last stanza I can read and think it is very, very beautiful in a way the English just cannot match.

     Dento de la fragua lloran,
,dando gritos, los gitanos.
El aire la vela, vela.
El aire la esta velando.


Another old poem from February, 2008.

out of sight

trash lines the roadway
and along the sides
of the creek
soda cans
milk cartons
plastic grocery bags
white bags
with McDonald's
golden arch
or red and white
just trash
like white flags
everywhere you drive
or walk in this neighborhood

I've never seen it this bad before

maybe it's lack of rain
to take our garbage
out to sea,
down the creeks
to the river
that washes all
that comes to it
out to some deep
ocean abyss

out of sight

of mind


 Next from my library, Jane Hirshfield, from her book, Come, Thief. The book was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2011.

The Lost Love Poems of Sappho

The poems we haven't read
must be her fiercest:
imperfect, extreme.
As it is with love, its nights, its days.
It stands on the top of the mountain
and looks for more mountain, steeper pitches.
Descent a thought impossible to imagine.

Building and Earthquake

How easy it is for a dream to construct
both building and earthquake.
Also the nine flights of wooden stairs in the dark,
and the trembling horse, its hard breathing
loud in the sudden after-silence and starlight.
This time the dream allows the building to stand.
Something it takes the dreamer a long time to notice,
who thought that the fear was the meaning
when being able to feel the fear was the meaning.

Sometimes the Heart is a  Shallow Autumn River

Is rock and shadow, bird.
Is fry, as the smallest fish are called,
darting in the pan of nearness.

Te frog's flawless interpretation of the music "Leaf"
is a floating black-eyed emerald
slipped between the water and its reflections.

And caution, and hope, and sorrow?
As umbrellas are, to a mountain or field of grass.

Love in August

White moths
against the screen
in August darkness.

Some clamor
in envy.

Some spread large
as two hands
of a thief

who wants to put
back in your cupboard
the long-taken silver.

I don't like  to explain my poems; prefer that they stand on their own. But, I'm thinking a little context might help my two previous poems and this one.

As Russian learners (hypothetical, at least) we were part of the Air Force intelligence branch. Our function, once we completed the language  training, was to monitor the communication nets of the Soviet air force from operations centers located around the world. I spent a year in Darmstadt, West  Germany where, with the help of linguists of all of the Warsaw Pact languages, sought to gather  intelligence on the block's activities, capabilities, and intentions. After leaving Europe (much too soon), I was stationed on  Pakistan's Northwest Frontier were our primary purpose was to monitor Russian  missile tests and space shots, as swell as monitoring Russian military aircraft crossing the air gate into Afghanistan and  beyond.

The job was essentially a boring exercise in searching for interesting radio activity. Occasionally there was a  little fun, most often embarrassing.

Such as this.

wait, don't dial up the hotline just yet

the atmosphere bounce is helping,
pushing the radio signal across a
reception 5  by 5,perfectly clear...

I've been monitoring the movement
for over an hour  now,
squadrons it seems, moving  from code-named
place to place, number 46 going to this  place,
while number 27 is going here
and 86 is going there, all around Mother Russia
it seems, edging into the Warsaw Pact
countries, Poland, Hungry, East Germany,
Czechoslovakia, here and there, here
and there,squadron or individual
planes or combinations,
identification and destination  coded,
new codes I've never heard
before, something
happening, don't know what,
don't know what to
record and transcribe,
hold off until I figure it out...

the chess pieces moving
for a new war? doesn't seem like it,
no report of bombers
just these  strange movements,
presumably fighter-units,
that don't seem to  go anywhere but in circles...

Armageddon, might have been...

or, as it turned out,
no fighter squadrons,
no code-named destinations, just
taxi cabs dispatched
to street addresses all  over

nuclear war  averted,
my midnight-shift ends, time
to hang up my ears
and head out to the NCO club
for breakfast and a beer,
another day,
another buck-fifty
in  first  line defense of our country,
God help our poor

affirming -
in war and in peace
the important things never

(Darmstadt, West Germany, 1967)


Next from the anthology, I have a poem by Emilio Prados. Born in 1899, Prados was active in politics during the Republic, seeking to defend his country from the coming Fascism. In 1935, he left Spain, first for Paris, then to Mexico where he lived alone until his death in 1962.

Faithful Page


   Distant sea, do you know your mystery?...
There, upon your shore,
the smallest dream of man
does not remain forgotten,
as in the soul the thought
- petal, sun and mother-off-pearl -,
on the shoulders of time...

   ...distant  sea:
my body lies upon your sand,
over the shadow of its body,
and it drams, dreams, dreams, asleep within you,
that it lives without you like me when I am awake,
with my forehead in the water and my eyes full of thirst,
while the sea lives, my blood, in your memory.


Here's an observational from February, 2008.

Sunday breakfast at IHOP

from the booth
behind me
a voice
with youthful lilt
and a full and jolly
that turns heads,
including mine,

to see
an old man,
with trembling fingers,
and live spots
on his bald
wearing a Porky Pig tie
that matches his laugh,
the pale, still  hand
of a dead-faced woman
in a wheel chair
beside him


The next  poet from my library is Patrick Donnelly. The poems are from his second book, Nocturnes of the Brothel of Ruin, published by Four Way Books in 2002.

This s my first exposure to this poet. All the  poems are very good (including his translations from the Japanese), interesting and, to me, occasionally approaching near-incomprehensible.


        after Eichendorff

A flash of red told me, from that direction,
some smoke from the south, from the past,
the west, from her house, her town, where
I gre3w up, told me mother is dead a little while...

Now nobody knows me there anymore.

How soon? How soon will the time come
when I pull to the west, when I lean,
too, into the dirt and rest, and over me
rushes the leaves' sweet secret loneliness,

and nobody knows me here anymore -

In Low, Unworthy Rooms He Made Careless Love and Now

guesses he's killed some man or men. Can't imagine
how long a pilgrimage could in iron shoes atone.
If all were ignorant, do all bear the blame?

How dared
his indigent seed
lodge a bullet upside anyone's sweet puppy head?

Whose faces? Whose shade
rises, swears he's the feckless fuckhead who molested my blood.
His mischief  keeps crooning from under the mud

little milk caught the kitty, made off with my heart,
little love in the ditch, little lord that I hurt,
little bug,  little bat, broken as dirt


Here's a little story. The last time I picked up a hitchhiker.

the King, unknown, passes among his subjects

 driving late
from Austin to San Antonio,
stopped for gas
at a Phillips 66 station
about mid-way

saw the fella
standing by the door,
a rover-looking
not as dirty as some
but not so sparkly clean either,
respectable pants, respectable shirt,
shoes worn down, as one would
expect from a traveling
hair short for the times,
but a little wild,
appearing to have lost
its last tussle with a comb...

eye contact

having caught me looking,
he came over
to ask about a ride

"where you going,"
he asked.

"San Antonio," I said.

"close enough," he said.

and so we left this little gas-stop
town, heading southwest
on Interstate 35

friendly conversation
about this and that, about
traveling through Texas in the company
of strangers and how he always
had to be very careful

and this is the point in our ride
when he let it slip
that he was the King of Denmark,
usurped by a pretender
whose agents had been following him,
only days behind,
all over the United States,
planning to kill him, erase him
to make sure he never
to his country to seek
his rightful place
as its benign and righteous ruler...

the conversation pretty much
dried up
and I dropped him off
in San Antonio on the corner of Broadway
and Austin Highway, wished him
well, and took myself
on down the


funny though,
he didn't look Danish

(Central Texas, May, 1970)


Last from this week's anthology, this piece by Juan Ruiz, Arch-priest of Hita. He was born about 1280 and died about 1351. Known as the first of Spanish humorists, he was imprisoned in 1330 by the Archbishop of Toledo for reasons unknown. While in prison he wrote Libro de buen amor (Book of Good Love by which he is best known to us.

Of the Qualities of Small Women

           from Book of Good Love 

     A small bird is the skylark and so is the nightingale,
yet they sing more sweetly than any larger bird;
the woman who is small is therefore the better;
when treated with affection she is sweeter than sugar of a flower.

     There is nothing to be compared to a small woman,
she is an earthly paradise, and a consolation,
a solace and a joy, a pleasure and a blessing,
she better in the testing than in the first meeting.

     I always preferred a small woman to a bigger one,
for it is not unwise to run away from a great evil;
of evils choose the lesser, saith the Philosopher*
therefore, with women, the smallest is the best.



Back in February, 2008, I stated a series of poems inspired by paintings from an art book I bought. This was one of the first ones.

black hole boogie

(after Lisa Sanditz' "Pearl Farm Underwater" - acrylic with pearl on canvas)

on the ceiling
in a  vortex
of star-bursts
black hole
soul  train moment
of disintegration
to universal


in clouds of


 Next, a poem by Jack Marshall, another poet I've not read before and new to my library. The poem is from his book Spiral Trace, published last year by Coffee House Press.

The poems in his book are numbered and otherwise untitled.


At Gettysburg, two musket balls -
fired from either side - collide
in air and fuse as they fall,

with cries of soldiers that swell -
war or no war -
for a mother's wail,

in the split-second wound
at its highest
level of pain.

at sunset,
and the time

of such a house (at best
a darkroom), as always,

We're moving away
and those who stay,

fused in the instant's
passing. That membership
in a moment

is not barred to anyone;
once, alone soon
in the company of everyone,

as a petal in October will
join the mass grave
on which it falls.


Another new from last week. Sometimes I think I wouldn't hardly have any memories at all if I hadn't always been doing such dumb things.

A particularly proud thing about this exercise, we not only did it, but in doing it, we matched or beat the times of the Marines. As I remember it anyway.

50 miles

President Kennedy
was pushing his health and fitness program,
telling everyone they ought
to walk more and groups of soldiers
and marines were taking up the challenge,
becoming news by declaring
they would support the president
by walking 50 miles...

Saturday evening,
four of us,
college students, drinking coffee
at Carson's Restaurant
on Interstate-35 and someone says

"hell, anyone could do that,"

and someone else says,
"we could do that,"

and someone else says,
"let's do that"

and we paid our coffee and
set out to walking,

San Marcos
to San Antonio, about
50 miles, starting out about 8 p.m.

arriving at our destination
at 8 a.m.
the next morning...

walking along the highway
in the dark at a time when that stretch
of I-35 was relatively new,
with almost no traffic after 10 -
(today, a slowly moving parking lot
24/7) -but then
the night the dark, the quiet
broken only by an occasional
truck crossing the state from Dallas
to Laredo, and a tiny transistor radio
playing over and over The Rooftop Singers,

            Walk right in,, sit right down
            Daddy, let your mind roll on
            Walk right in, sit right down
            Daddy, let your mind roll on
            Everybody's talkin' 'bout a new way of walkin'
            Do you want to lose your mind?
            Walk right in, sit right down
            Daddy, let your mind roll on

and now, another song
that marks a time and a place,
the first line, "Walk right in..."
and I'm back in that night, back listening
to that tiny, tinny transistor radio, back
walking in that dark, listening to the quiet,
the occasional crunch of truck tires on asphalt...


a moment in my life remembered
in the music,
the night I walked 50

Here's another 2008 poem, also from February, also one in the art series I was doing at the time.

The poem was a response to a series of paintings by Claudia Alvarez that included "Machine Gun," "Choking" and "Boygun," all watercolors. I could not find those specific pieces, but I did find two others, quietly angry paintings about the way so often children are brought into war and killing. I've included those at the end of the poem.

children's crusade

even as Abraham
sought to buy
his god's
by the
of his son...

so still
children are sent to fight
to suffer
to die
for the ambition
of new false gods,
of empire
on the bones of slaughter,
blood suckers
drinking the essence
of innocence

at war,
sacrificed still
they should be playing
going  to school

they kill and they die

if there is a hell
we will all
be meeting there

Last from my library, two poems by Glenna Luschei, from her book 30 Songs of Dissolution, published by San Marcos Press of Los Cerrillos, New Mexico in 1977. I  picked the book up in Cloudcroft, New Mexico, on our last visit there about a year ago. The proprietor of a small restaurant where I had lunch had several of the books on hand. I traded one of my books for one of them.

Luschei, a poet and publisher, was appointed poet laureate for San Luis Obispo County in 2000.

Witch Dance

Winter presses our hands
in homespun mitts.

Soft. Autumn is over.
We step the witch dance
dance of love an death.

Terns feed at the lake
on their flight from Alaska
and rain bites the quince.

Where are we going?
Are those daggers of geese
in the sky
a warning?

The Horse

A horse runs
in and out of my sleep
waits through leg aches
of my child.

When I'm back in bed
he throws his neck
and heads along the Pecos River.

The chamisa is in bloom
He runs past lumps
of yellow fire.

How can he run all day
and not get tired
then canter through the night?

Can he tell
that I'm alone?
An eye is watching me
from every turn.

Why has this horse
come riderless
from Cordoba?


Help! I've fallen into a memory-poem  pit and can't get up.

Here's the last for the week.

the desert far below us

the desert far below
is a shifting gray sea, precursor
to the first winter snow, dense fog rising,
through the canyons
like a soft, wet snake
uncoiling, mounting to overflow the canyons,
slithering across  the basin,
burying us in its cotton coils,
climbing the peaks around us
so that there is no longer any where
to look
where we can see, far below
to high above, to the trees
and the blue metal lawn chair
outside our cabin, nothing to see,
wrapped in a morning
morning, outside day, outside
night, blind in the soft belly of the beast...

outside our cabin
in the woods I hear a scratching,
a sightless scrambling, some other creature
wrapped with us in the shroud...


we are not alone

(Chisos Basin, Big Bend National Park, October, 2011)

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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