Three Blocks Down, and To the Left   Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Finally got a new camera, so maybe next week or the week after I'll have some new photos. In the meantime, I've got what I've got.

A little different this week in that, instead of my standard anthology of the week, I have Issue IV 2000 of Poetry International, a publication of San Diego State University.

The rest is my library and me, which, all together, comes to this:

the silence between the ticks and the tocks

Geraldine Connolly

a doubter's prayer

Jimmy Santiago Baca
from Martin
from Meditations on the South Valley
the silence of a moment

Marge Piercy 
In second growth woods

big news in the astrophysical world

Ani Defranco 

look, please, at my beautiful pearls

Sarah Maclay
Still Life

Happy Valentine's Day

Chelsey Minnis
from Poemland

the truthful fictions of our unremembered realities

Robert Arroyo, Jr. 

Mitch and Lena are getting married

approaching my birthday

Amir  Or
Drowning, he breathes live water
Evening Prayer #2

my place

James Galvin
Winter Solstice Moon at Full Perigee

                     ebony eyes                      


Here it is, first for the week.

the silence between the ticks and the tocks

to  read at my coffeehouse
last night,
open mike, which I don't usually do,
but the folks there
are good to  me so I felt like it was time
to pay some dues

to read  from my book, final  edit completed,
but not yet published

looked forward to the music, guitar, and piano
and sad Mexican love ballads
sung in the glorious, expressive voice of our hostess,
Dr. Rachael Cruz, Maestra de Conciones
and dispenser of fine coffees

soft  warmth of music in the cold night, an evening
of retreat and resurrection
of  better natures
lost, huddling somewhere  dark
form the  cold...

all that I intended...

but I did not intend to sit down in my easy chair
for a nap at 4 and not wake up till

it's about getting old,
chances to bask in beauty and warmth
diminishing as the life-clock continues
its running down, the silence between the ticks and the tocks
growing longer, chances lost
to memory cracked and leaking like a rusty pail,
or just plain,  constant weariness
stealing hours and life-affirming experience
from every day


Here's my first  poem this week  from Poetry International, IV  2000. The  poem is by Geraldine Connolly.


Sated limbs on a sawdust floor,
rolling bodies in the window's mirror.
I am so tired of all this ecstasy:
Here come my black thoughts

like a winter storm ready to cover
passion with a blanket of ice.
What good has it done
to adore the constellations,
and wake up singing
with unleashed thoughts?

Dark time with his sharp  sickle
keeps  on cutting the wheat stalks,
the crows dissemble and
Father Death continues
falling in love, every night
a fresh face catching his eye.


Here's the first of my old poems from February, 2009.

a doubter's prayer

   dear most unlikely
heavenly father,
god of fear and weak
minds, hear my prayer

if you exist
and actually care
about stuff like us, please
bring us peace and protect us
from harm in the world you may
or may not have created

your creations,
should you be willing to accept
such responsibility,
are in disarray - your stock market,
to take just one example, is in deepest
doo-doo, as are your banks, your big box
retail stores, your automobile manufacturers,
your farmers, your ranchers and your purveyors
of overpriced goods in upscale niche markets

not only that,
but your most worthy of all claimed creations,
is getting old and fat and exceedingly

it's all in the toilet,
as you should very well know
if you really are the all-seeing eye
your PR flacks proclaim you to be, which,
quite frankly, brings into deep doubt
your status as a be-all-end-all master builder

so just in case you actually are king of all this creation,
I would humbly (if reluctantly) pray
that you get back on the job and fix this mess
your creation has slipped into

I pray you make it so, just like the Star Trek guy
who, I have to say, has a  much more likely
back story than your own...

 I begin from  my library this week with selections from two  long autobiographical poems by Jimmy Santiago Baca from his book, Martin & Meditations on the South Valley. The book was published by New Directions in 1987.

from Martin


I gave myself to the highway
like a bell-rope in the wind
searching for a hand.

In arizona,
fieldworkers' porch-lights
shimmered turquoise
in the distant cardboard  farm towns.

The highway was a black seed split
petals of darkness blossomed from,
black matted hair of night rain
hung down over.

Everything hoped for in my life
was a rock closed road,
where I had left my identity,
                               and my family.

Nights turn into days
with the steady swath of a mason's trowel,
and silence sticks to my heart like dried mortar.
I imagine my man-hand
will build a good life,
and through the miles I dream myself
a different man,

                                   sprung from the innocent child
                                   in Corrales,  picking apples
                                   under aging branches, I tug
                                   and shake, as apples crunch through the air
                                   onto the tractor matted grass.
                                   I shoulder my gunny sack to the truck
                                   and Don Carlos heaves it up, appling
                                   on apples.

                                   Catholic holidays
                                   Franciscan nuns bussed us
                                   to Jemez mountain peaks,
                                   the yellow bus gagged
                                   around tree tangled curves
                                   and looming walls of stone,
                                   canyon depths flashed mesquite
                                   enfolding green hills between green hills
                                   until at mountaintop, I summed
                                   layers and layers of distant dustland drift,
                                  as the bus gear grudged and nuns nagged
                                  us to sing prayers, until we jolted
                                  down a dirt road to the sunny picnic grounds


from Meditations on the South Valley


I love the wind
when it blows through my barrio.
It hisses its snake love
down calles de polvo,
and cracks egg-shell skins
of abandoned homes.
Stray dogs find shelter
along the river,
where great cottonwoods rattle
like old covered wagons,
stuck in stagnant waterholes.
Days when the wind blows
full of sand and grit,
men and women make decisions
that change their whole lives.
Windy days in the barrio
give birth to divorce papers
and squalling separation. The wind tells us
what others refuse to tell us,
informing men and women of a secret,
that they move away to hide from.



A nice benefit of the "poem-a-day" discipline is that you can take an idea and, over a period of consecutive day,  work on different ways to play it. Like this, still with memory, no  longer  specific memories but the whole idea of memories.

the silence of a moment

    knowing again
the first cool  day of autumn,
the first north wind  that
fiercely blows,
the rain that came and came
and came some more
on a bright summer day
turned dark and stormy,water rising
in creeks long dry, deer leaping
across a narrow mountain road,
a mountain, your first, tall and rugged
against a blue sky, storm
gathering behind that  same mountain
a month  later, snow  clouds
over-flowing its crest like a melted marshmallow
on  a stick, dripping with a sizzle into the remembers
of a low-burning campfire, rocking, a baby in my arms,
my baby sleeping on my shoulder,
my father at my wedding when I though he might not  come,
sitting by the aisle in a black  pew double-thumbs up
as my bride and I pass, married, officially
on the first of many days to come, so  many
memories,  so many years,
so much life to
crowd one man's memory so much to

random memories that come and  go
in the silence of a  moment,
flames that have so long burned,
fires  that, like all  of lifeline's burning, will
burst their last spark and be


Next from Poetry International, Marge Piercy.

In second growth woods

Stone walls dividing the trees
seem random, marking no  border.
I sit on a flatish granite slab
white cold seeps up into me.

Digging I startle a wine red
salamander. Millipedes scuttle,
vanish into tiny caves.
I touch the moss soft and springy

as pubic hair. It is blooming
with little heads. This  wall
was built to mark pasture
from pasture or from field.

Someone dug these stones,
pried them out,  rolled
and wrestled them into place,
stared, studied, fitted:

a solution to a practical problem,
disposal and boundary. Yet
now it is natural as the birches
around it and older.

By persisting this wall
has become nature. I
wish I  could  occupy space
as discretely, mildly.


 Again, from February, 2009.

big news in the astrophysical world

   big news
in the astrophysical world
is the massive explosion some
12.2 billion light years
from our own little howdy-doody home
from whence
we oft-time claim a place
as bit-time-Charlies
in the heavenly order of things,
even though, being only
8 light minutes from our own star
we call the sun
and 12 light minutes from the furthermost

named object to circle that sun
with us, it is a very small neighborhood
we live in, a very small neighborhood
where, with all our searching and seeking,
we have yet to reach
even our own

Columbus sailed the ocean blue
and though he had circled the world;
such ignorance is to us denied and we
are better for it...
for it
lets us see
our true place, tiny bits of carbon base
in a vastness we can quantify
but not imagine,
little carbon dandies
important only in our doings
with our little carbon

my dear,
the rest of all that is
doesn't give a damn


Next from my library, two short poems by Ani Difranco, from her book, Verses, published by Righteous Babe with 7 Stories Press in 2007.


life knocked me off my platforms
so i pulled out my first pair of boots
bought on the street at astor place
before new york was run by suits

and i suited up for the long walk
back to myself
closer to the ground now
with sorrow
and stealth


i love myself when i am camping
because i can walk across a river
on a log
like i am strutting down a runway
i love myself when i am camping
because i can take a dull knife

to a bag of suffering vegetables
and which one flame make a meal
that ain't half bad
i love myself when i am camping
because i can find a way
where there is no trail
because i'm not afraid of spiders
or mud up to my knees
or mice or bees
and because 
there are
no mirrors


Again, more on memory.

look, please, at my beautiful pearls
are like pearls,
beautiful only to those who hold them,
their splendor invisible
to  most  others, look.
we might say as we show them
arrayed on a golden chain,
look at my beauties
we cry to others
who see only black and dusty
lumps of coal on a string of brown packing twine

and we do not understand

our life in memories,  our story, the wonder
of "me" - how can others not see
that wonder, how can others not love
my moments as I love
and remember

how can I cherish
these memories, such a life
that means nothing
to others?

all has not been
as I imagined, perhaps
I can imagine
better, become a star
on the memory
candidate for the applause
my imagined life
so rightfully and richly


Here are two poems by Sarah Maclay, Poetry International.

It seems I was able to confirm after some effort that the poet was not the same Sarah Maclay, zookeeper, who, at the age of 24, was  mauled to death by a tiger last year. But I'm not entirely sure about it.


In clear, unsparing air, hill lights
glitter, not the warmth
but as though they are hiding something

behind them, cold.
The lights seem to move a little
the way things swim on the road.

Tree branches get cut to stubs
as though it's best

to face the cold denuded
without hands or leaves. clubbed

like Breughel beggars' legs,
it's amazing they breathe.

Tooth laid flat on the night
reflecting  just a slice of shine:

the moon is slung like a fang.
My breasts could burst
from the weight of sap.

I lift the lid on the mail slot,
hoping for some kind of sign.

Still Life

He is standing with his fists on the sink,
glancing down, and then into the mirror
where I'm standing. In the corner
near the door, there is light
coming in from the  window
of his room, cold as march.
He sees me with my coat on.


 Valentine poem, of a sort, 2009.

happy Valentine's Day

the day before Valentine's Day
and I'm trying to work up
a huff
about holidays invented by greeting card companies
but the more  think about it the more
I recognize that most of our holidays were invented
by greeting card companies
and most of them
that should be encouraged anyway
you know
saying I love you once a year 
to your significant other
or thanks mom and dad for putting up with me
during the most obnoxious phases
of my life
and sucking up to your boss or your secretary
once a year
is worth doing even if you don't buy some ridiculously
to do it with

however we may get impatient
with these greeting card holidays
it is at least true
that they are usually a lot cheaper
than most of the holidays invented by the
priests and magicians particular
to your faith

The next poem is by Chelsey Minnis. It's from her book, Poemland, published by Wave Books in 2009. 

Actually, these seem more like poem-fragments to me. The poet's structure of her work is difficult to properly present here, sometimes hard to figure out what's part of what.

Excuse me, but I am very tired...

Excuse me, but I am very tired so I have to lie down and fall asleep
in the trash...

And it is like riding around in a clown car...

I wish I could take away your rooster-like sadness...

Yes, baby, yes! I don't know anything at all...

This  is so smart...

This is so smart that I can't think of it...

I can only think of orange-colored emotional rage... 

While blood  trickles down my chin...

I should  hit you with my bandaged hands!

This is a man with a beautiful brow...

This is a man with a beautiful brow...

And it makes me rock back too far in my  chair and fall over...

And it makes me loosen my necktie...

It makes me cough and look embarrassed...

It is a gorgeous man with sour breath who talks too much and
burns my panties in a bonfire...

Ugh, he is handsome...

This poem is a wish-killer...

This poem is a wish-killer...

It's like trying to smash the two-way window...

And trying  to get broke by writing...

this is like telling someone wearing a gorilla sit you don't
really love them...

A  poem is all  that's left...

A poem is all that's left  of my lost loneliness...

It is like a window that looks into a swimming pool...

Or an empty gun indentation in velvet...

And a baby gazelle  given as a gift...


More memory, including some really interesting scientific speculation I heard about on NPR.

the truthful fictions of our  unremembered realities

  we never forget

I read  that...

every moment, every shape and color
or smell or movement, every event
of our life permanently
coded in that bubbling bowl
of oatmeal we call our brain,
only trapped in the shadows, usually unable
to break through the unconscious
curtain that separates it from conscious

but sometimes a moment
of our life
beneath the curtain
and for that moment, a time long past
is clear and present - for me,
a golden-haired little girl on a red tricycle
on the sidewalk in front
of our house on Monroe Street, the house we  left
when I was two years old, that moment
in bright Texas  sunshine
as if I was
in that second again, these
long ago memories
that jump out like a flash in a dark room,
sometimes stay, most often
go, maybe to return in another black night,
maybe lost and never to return...

how tricky is this memory thing, some even saying now
that there is a genetic component to it,  the shards
of long-past times and places
embedded in genes handed down
through generations,
flashes of insight coming from a source
unknown to us in our own life,
irrational fears hanging on to us from  a time and life
when there were good reasons
to be afraid, fairy stories, garbled versions
off truthful things that frightened those whose genes
still inform us...

   we write our stories
and store them in libraries
on shelves we label "fiction"
the only difference in them from the shelves
we call "non-fiction," the currency
of our memory


the sun rises outside my window
on another day
another soon-forgot but forever-kept shard
in my genetic profile


This piece by Robert Arroyo, Jr. is my next poem from Poetry International.

I couldn't find a picture of the poet, so here's the cover of one of his books.


Most any month will do, December,
month my mother passed, is particularly
attractive. With the wreath decorating the front door

and the promise of a gift heave season, my dying
could get lost in all the giving and receiving.
June, month Christine and I marred, gateway

to summer, to memories of baseball
on Hobart's hard asphalt and my father's whistle
calling me home, is also ripe

for the taking. August, when the heat makes even
palm trees droop; February and its promise
of hearts; October with its sweet ending; all good.

But perhaps April would be best,
when the earth, for a moment, forgets its people.
When the cloud jowled sky begets rain

that begets the greening of Sepulveda Pass,
and I can clearly see
'downtown's high rises cutting into the sky

from my balcony window, I could easily slip
from this flesh, into the spirit
world of those who've passed too soon

and kiss my mother, Tio Sal,Tia Margaret,
Steve Beamen, David Choi, Jesus Arras
tell them all they've missed.


February, 2009, a story of a couple of coffee shop acquaintances. They moved to another part of the city after the wedding, so haven't seen them in years. Wonder how it turned out.

Mitch and Lena are getting married

   they told  us this morning
when we  saw them at Borders

in December
in Las Vegas, halfway
between her folks her
and his family in Oregon

his was the traditional approach,
getting her parents' permission before
he asked her -

I did the same
except I asked Dee first
since I needed her to translate -

I was just thinking about the two of them  yesterday,
how Mitch used to come in
Saturday and Sunday mornings
with a different woman every couple of months
and how, since he and Lena got together
they seem to have stuck
and how Mitch seemed happier with this consistency
than he had ever been with the revolving door

I was talking to them after they gave us the news,
congratulating Mitch, offering the bride-to-be
my best wishes, warning Mitch that
a December wedding meant that by no later than February 15th
he should expect Lena to start trying to change
all the things about him he thought she liked
during all the time they had gone together
and he might as  well not fight it
because  knew from experience she would win
in the end
and if she was really good
he wouldn't notice until it was all over and

that's when Dee punched me in the ribs
and told me to go back to our table which I did
without further comment,
showing as  did what an excellent student I was after 32 years
of daily
obedience training

I hope Mitch was paying attention
so he could see how it's done

save himself a lot of trouble


Memories and birthdays, can't do the second without the first.

approaching my birthday

   less than two weeks,
always a big deal at our house
because of the way it falls,
a week after my son's birthday
and a day before our wedding anniversary,
a combined celebration
that brings out the bar-b-que brisket
and the beans and the rice and
the potato salad and the creamed corn
(O, that creamed  corn from Rudy's)
and all the relatives in the
vicinity, dinner for
twelve, break out the card tables


   my son will be 31and our anniversary
number 38...

my birthday, the 70th...

the mile markers
that lay out the perimeters of our  lives...

at 20 we begin to fold and put away
the child we were and the childish things
that preoccupied us,  30 reminds us
that grown-up  s serious if we haven't already
figured that out,  40 is when it all begins
to  feel  irreversible and 50, a break, a lark,
one last  chance to  pretend that all s
still as it was, even as we edge  into 60,
the age of acceptance,  the path is laid out,
clear where it's going, though still
we  imagine  the climb to be smoother
than it is likely to be...

70 - I don't know yet...

I know that when I was young, 70 was considered
quite old, at least  seen that way
by outside eyes, and though I thought I knew then
how it looked to those inside,
I'm less sure now

I know that at 70 I will be 5 years older
than my father when he died,
and 8 years older than my brother
when his time came - thought it didn't
seem that way to me at the time,
as  I look back now, I can only be sad
they died  so young...

in the meantime,
it comes in less than two  weeks,
the day I will begin  my 71st

I wonder so
that will turn out to be...

this curiosity
I so value in my life,
even  curious now  as to how long
before that is lost with all the rest
and what it will be like
when it's gone too


My last two pieces from Poetry International are by Amir Or, with translation from Hebrew by Lisa Katz.

Drowning, he breathes live water

My Narcissus, in the end you got used to it, you grew gills
at the sides of your throat, and sliding down down

you stretched between reeds and the echo became a wave
and the reflection a place, and you looked and looked and looked

at the water's sky       and jumped
out - back to me

And the thunder turned back into silence, the water - into a screen,
and the eye to marble. You turned back into me.

The echo became a voice, and the reflection a face,
and you were relieved.


Evening  Prayer #2

This me who's quiet only when not oozing,
who isn't a face or a limb, who isn't

anything but a wound, a finger that used to be and is not
at the edge of the Siamese stump between us -

this me who oozes only what he drinks,
that has no leaf, no fruit, but rises anyway -

enormous stump at the edge of the chasm
opening to a sea, its cliffs, its prey here among us, bitter, pitiable

no shade, no breast, not comfort, endless thirst,
the me who's left outside the garden, worthless, despised -

This me who's not me, who isn't you -
what should we do with him? - let's not.


Here you go, the last old poem for the week, this one, like the rest, from February, 2009. I think this might have been back when My Space was a thing. I think it's supposed to be a little play on that.

my space

this is my space

you may join
if you want

is allowed
and skateboarding

spitting on the sidewalk
and dirty words

if it makes you feel

unkind thoughts
are okay here, too,
all thought, in face

from the banal
to the most revolutionary




even the most

can find their place

dark pessimists,
pie-in-the sky

of broad vistas,
investigators of the kernel

of creation
in a housefly's heart,
all have a place in this place

it's my place
after all

you can join me
if you wish

but if you don't like thinking
like a free-range

and if you
 try to make us
the narrow corridors
of your pinched

you just go

will be violated


Next from my library, James Galvin, from his  collection X : Poems. The book was published by Copper Canyon Press  in 2003.

Winter Solstice Full Moon at Perigee

Being in love isn't  about being happy.
Here's a good idea: let's live some more.

After bad things happen we always  live
A little more. Good timing, bad timing,

The people  against me were probably right:
You can't step in front of the same bus twice.

From here  on out,  honesty's its own
Intelligence, which may or may not involve

Philosophy. Try to understand
the world, and leave the mind to darkness  where

It  thrives. Werner Herzog, for example  says
The mind is  a room,better dimly lit

For livable ambiance,  some lively music
For habitability - than floodlit,  mute

For self-knowledge - a bogus notion, anyway.
According to the quarterback from Cedar

Rapids,  Iowa, Jesus is a
Football fan, without whose intervention

The Rams could not have won the Super Bowl.
Aren't you ashamed at refusing love

Like an hors d'oeuvre (outside the work - which was?).
Love's not love until it's lost, and then

You write a corbantic poem about it.
That's what you think.What I think - what do I think?

I think the house we lived in wept itself
All the way down. I think forgiveness mirrors

Facetious animals art play: horseplay.
Horse sense, more what we  aspire to -

Remains the province of the horses, now?

(It occurred to me after I finished transcribing this that I may have used the poem before. But it's a good poem, worthy of repeat if that's  what it I've done.)


So, for my last poem this week,  I leave the memory thing behind and return to an observational.

ebony eyes

   it was her eyes
beneath her fur hat
I recognized...

deep, dark
almost black eyes,
and beneath the dusk of her eyes.
dark smudges,
eyes like wells of  bottomless  sorrow,
like in the sad  Russian song,

 Ochi chyornye (Ebony Eyes)

Dark and burning eyes, Dark as midnight skies
Full of passion flam, full of lovingly game
Oh how I'm in love with you, oh how afraid I am of you
Days when I met your made me sad and blue

a bruised angel
for the love  she's seen turn to ash
in morning light...

even beneath that furry hat
set low over her flawless brow,
I know her ebony eyes
and am reminded
how a single flame can light
the dark

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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Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Poems Niederngasse
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
The Blogging Poet
Wild Poetry Forum
Blueline Poetry Forum
The Writer's Block Poetry Forum
The Word Distillery Poetry Forum
Gary Blankenship
The Hiss Quarterly
Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
Lawrence Trujillo Artsite
Arlene Ang
The Comstock Review
Thane Zander
Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet