Take My Jams and Jellies...Please   Wednesday, October 01, 2014

I have a short post this week - just too  much other stuff going on.

I also have a lazy post this week. Rather than chase  around for pictures, I  used some images I had of some of  the  pages from my first book, Seven Beats a Second. Every poem in the book comes with art cut and pasted by me  from paintings by Vincent  Martinez. Vince's full paintings from which I cut the snippets are also included in the book, but not here. For a video exploration of Vince's art, music and jazz life philosophy, go to rapandpaint.com.

The book was  published in 2005. I began with a personal supply of 500 books, of which  I have just a few left. These I sell mostly at my coffeehouse hangout, IAMA. New and used copies are also available on Amazon. I've also seen used copies at used bookstores here in San Antonio and elsewhere.

For those who enjoy a geographic advantage, the book is much cheaper at IAMA than on Amazon. The coffee is better also.

Also this week a few  poems from my library and my own work,  new and old (in addition to the ones from the book).

For those who might wonder, the title this week it is a favorite saying that there are few left to remember.

Here's the crew for the week:

before you were flesh 
 (w/art by Vincent Martinez)

about sex
(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

the grease that raised me

bop shee bop 
(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

Brian Blanchfield
The Earliest Work of Literary Criticism

buggin' out 
(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

the rules

(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

James Fenton

cinnamon dreams 
(w/art by Vincent Martinez)


dark lover 
(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

Monica Youn
Semper Ignatz
Ignatz at  the Shrine of the Sinners
The Death of Ignatz

eyes of Sister Jude 
(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

you'd think they'd know better

finding religion at 3 a.m. 
(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

David St. John
Song Without Forgiveness

(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

art show

for you and me
(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

e. e. cummings
spoke joe to jack
harder  perhaps than a newengland bed

life is 
(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

so much sorrow; so little joy

lotsa hots 
(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

For Those  Who No Longer Go Ahhhh...

lying in the sun with Susan
(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

saved by the  blond with long legs and large breasts

cowboys and indians 
(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

Bharat Shekhar
The Writ

(w/art by Vincent Martinez)

under my skin

through the 100 meter  lens 
(w/art by Vincent Martinez)



It's good to  remember  sometimes where we come from.

the grease that raised me

stepping out of the diner,
the deep growl of a motorcycle passing
triggered a sense memory,
the smell of oil  and grease, the shop
where my father worked,
a mechanic, welder, painter, more
like an old fashioned all-purpose blacksmith
than any one other  thing...

sometimes when I was small
he would let me go with him on Saturdays
to work on our family car...

not that the work much interested me,
I saw how hard he brushed
each night
to get the grease from under his fingernails
and knew I wanted nothing  to do
with that, so if I  helped at all, it was  mostly
just washing parts and handing tools
to him...

I just hung around, browsing through tools
and parts,raising and lowering myself
on the hydraulic jack, sometimes when
Dad was really busy, sneaking
into the shop foreman's office to look
at the girlie calendars on the wall, the kind
where you could lift the clear  plastic covers to
discover that the women's clothes were
painted on the plastic and when you lifted  the cover
the clothes disappeared and the women
were naked underneath, but breast-only naked,
since this was about 1954 and naked calendar  women
and naked Playboy women
or any other respectable naked women
did not usually come with nether parts exposed...

for years
my father had been promised  the shop foreman position
when the old foreman retired,
but when the time came, the company eliminated
the position, except  that Dad was expected
to continue running  the shop as he had been doing
for years  while the old foreman slept
in his office,dreaming of  naked calendar-girl
breasts,  perched like over-ripe cantaloupes
on pink, naked woman


for  millennia,
young men were expected to grow up
and be whatever my fathers
were, banker, farmer, mechanic,
candlestick maker,

and, though as I get older
I more and more look  like my father,
I am  pleased to live in a time and place
where I could find my own way
and not have to scrub
my fingernails with a hard bristle brush
every night, never ever winning
the war against grease
that marked me...

the grease that in my father's case
fed and raised me
to fight wars of my own choosing...


Here's a poem from my library by  Brian Blanchfield. The poem is form his book, Not  Even Then, published by University of California Press in 2004. It is the poet's first book, selected for publication as part of a series of new California poets. Born in North Carolina in 1973, Blanchfield won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets for a later book, A Several World.

The Earliest Work of Literary Criticism

Dyslexics unite, I mean, start over.

Play father at the switch doing his light on the subject routine
to make you mock upset about a kindred intrusion. To prate
to be invited in. Maybe you want to strain your eyes.

Here there's a map of the curling island in every room
on front street as if the strand were turned on self-similarity.
Back street runs  along the front street, flaring.

The single stream was still a luxury when in dollhouses adults
traded promises.We'll hang hand towels for our sexes and
at every faucet install an h and a c handle. Turn  from without.
Not all longing is forward of her but put a window here at least.

It's untrue you can't release the instrument electrified.
Work mother at the faucet until you get the restorative pose.
Were a subjunctive little boy who'd develop his wink thingy
word for sword. Or, spine in had she shelved his Just So Stories.

Of narrow technique, back street comes from behind so that
the last available turn is Ibound onto Thoubound.
Pilgrims who miss it line up lucy ricky out on the isthmus.

Flash lightning and wake swearing he was running water in
the dark to make her rush and switch he lights. Which
things are off in this room? Who, what, when, where,
and sometimes why need sons nonesuch as I apply?

He maketh me to come to a faucet, to come and turn off
Commercial, to rad a map from without and quit promising.

I have singlehandedly stopped the curling of American letters.


That's the good thing about us men,  we may have our downsides, but we're trainable.

the rules

I had some wild days
and nights
until I got married
and my wife 'splained
the rules
like they never been

now my only vices are coffee
and poetry

I  think I've  got  the coffee

still working on the poetry


Next from my library, a poem by  James Fenton, from the collection, Children in Exile, James Fenton, Poems 1968-1984. The book was originally published by Random House, this Noonday Press edition in 1984. The poet was born in England in 1949 and was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he won the Newdigate Prize  for Poetry. He has worked as a freelance reporter in Indochina a political and literary journalist for the New Statesman and as a journalist in Germany reporting for the Guardian. At the time the book was published he was theater critic for the London Sunday Times.


This is the wind, the  wind  in a field of  corn.
Great crowds are fleeing from a major disaster
Down the long valleys, the green swaying wadis,
Down through the beautiful catastrophe of wind.

Families, tries,  nations and their livestock
Have heard something, seen something. An expectation
Or a gigantic misunderstanding has swept over the hilltop
Bending the ear of the hedgerow wit stories of fire and sword.

I saw a thousand years pass in two seconds.
Land was lost, languages rose and divided.
This lord went east and found safety.
His brother sought Africa and a dish of aloes.

Centuries, minutes later, one might ask
How the hilt of a sword wandered so far from the smithy.
And somewhere  they will sing: "Like chaff we were borne
In the wind." This is the wind  in a field of corn.


A poem  of a moment.


tall fella,
Gomer Pyle smile
on his face

not much interesting
about him but that -
not much there
to make a

maybe after I hear him

From my library, this poem is by Monica Youn. It's from her book, Ignatz, a re-imagining of the villainous mouse character, Ignatz, from George Herriman's Krazy Kat comic strip published in U.S.  newspapers form 1913 to 1944. Her book was published by Four Way Books in 2010.

Youn is a poet and a lawyer who  grew up in Houston. She graduated from Princeton University,  Yale Law School and Oxford where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She  teaches creative  writing at  Princeton and at  Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.

I  think these three  pieces may give you a flavor of the book, but you probably need to read the whole thing to understand the broader narrative.

Semper Ignatz

How could it have been other

than abrupt
when as ever

in medias Ignatz remarked,

Sometimes            I don't          like

fucking.                 whoosh!      A billow

of white cambric sheets in the scene,
through which her  nipples glow dully.

taillights           in snow

Ignatz at the Shrine of the Sinners

Night like a black

glass bell
and the fading

echo of the detox

helpless    helpless
helpless    helpless

if fleshly importuning
were to fall silent...


Each sinner's left behind

a little sinner

laminated photos,
silk flowers

sprung with wire.

tiptoes unseen through

of votive prayer

holding as his candle

an aluminum


he's a stalker

or  a snigger  or
a stain in the v

on this forehead
stands for villain

or for vain o
tongueless  talker

will you ever teach him shame?

The Death of Ignatz

The mesas
sink to their knees

and let  the snickering dunes
crawl over them.


Sometimes I  feel like I  was abducted over  night and shipped off to a foreign planet.

you'd think  they'd know better

I always see a bunch
of middle-aged
and older
here in the morning in their cute  little shirts
with alligators or some
and their cute little matching
short pants
and their sandals,
looking like they're all  dressed up by their mom
for a play date

I remember when men
were men
and dressed every day in their levis
(unless it was Sunday
or a funeral was in order)
and a utilitarian, uncute, no-play-date-expected
shirt and  boots
or at least real shoes,
when middle-aged older  fellas
went forth  in the morning
with a smile like a possum playing dead
and getting away with it,
saying howdy to  one and  all
and no  alligators
and no flap-flapping in their flip  flops
or squeak-squeaking in their little leather sandals

and I'm thinking somebody ought to just
shoot me
before I get packed off
to a play date
in a cute little shirt
and matching cute little short pants
and cute  little sandals
and my  sunburned
laid out for public


old me these days,
you'd think
they'd know  better
than to let their mama
dress them

This piece from my library is by David St. John and it's from his book Study for the World's Body. The book was published by Harper Collins in 1994. Born in California in 1949, St. John  graduated from the University of California, Fresno with a Bachelors degree, and received an MFA at University of Iowa. He currently teaches at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where he is director of Ph.D program in literature and creative writing.

Song Without Forgiveness

You should have known. The moon
Is very slender in that city. If those
Letters I sent,
Later,  filled with details of place
Or weather, specific friends,  lies, hotels -
It is because I took the attitudes of
Shadow for solitude. It is because you swore
Faith stands upon a black or white square,
That the next move
Is both logical and fixed.  Now, no shade
Of memory wakes where the hand upon a breast
Describes the arc of a song without forgiveness.
Everything is left for you.After the bitter
Fields you walk grow deep with sweet weeds, as
Everything you love loves nothing yet,
You will remember, days, you should have known.


Friday night at the coffeehouse.

art show

my mother
took up art when my father died,
a pretty good amateur
before her eyes got too dim
and her  hands too
shaky to control her brush...

she sold her paintings
at arts and crafts fairs and did well  enough
to cover expenses
with enough left over for a Luann live and onion special
at Luby's cafeteria

she learned quickly
that people who buy original art
at arts and crafts fairs
want two things:

they want their art to be cheap
and they want colors that match their drapes
and sofa...

the artist at last night's art opening,
a rock band drummer in another part of his life,
was  way better than a gifted amateur
and his paintings sold for way more than Mother
ever sold a painting for...

his work is bright and sharp,
with vivid colors that he explained to another artist,
something  about mixing and overlaying acrylic,
sometimes  overlaying that with oils, nothing
I understood, though I did nod as it  seemed
appropriate, but leaving the other artist impressed
and listening  intently...

...impressed, she was,
as were the visitors to the show,  mostly
other musicians and family,
and his art, well, I liked most of it,
but, except for a piece or two,
none of it would match
my drapes and sofa...


but then,
my old-timers social security budget
is much more in line
with my mother's prices than his
so I wasn't likely to guy anything anyway...

I was there  as the "house poet,"
watching, remembering, preparing  myself
to write tomorrow's  poem -

which would be this one
a better idea falls my way


Next, some fun with  e. e. cummings, from 50 Poems, published by Grosset & Dunlap in 1970.

spoke joe to jack

leave her alone
she's not your gal

jack spoke to joe
's left  crashed
pal dropped

o god alice
yells  but who shot
up  grabbing had
by my throat me

give it him good
a bottle she
quick who stop  damned
fall all we go  spill

and chairs tables the and
bitch whispers jill
mopping too bad

dear she not yet
jesus what  blood

darling i said

harder perhaps than a newengland bed

these ends of arms which pinch  that purple book
between what hands  had been before they died

squirming:now withered and unself her gnarled
vomits a rock of mindscream into life;
possibly darker than a spinster's heart

my voice feels who inquires is your cough
better today?nn- nn went head face goes

(if how begins a pillow's green means face

or why a quilt's pink stops might equal head).
the with the splendor of an angel's fart

came one trembling out of huge  each eye look
"thank you" nicely the lady's small grin said
(with more simplicity than makes  a world)


This poem, the story of a lifetime (my own), not the whole of it,  but a big  part.

so much sorrow; so little joy

I was there
when the footsteps of man
first stirred the moon's
powdered dust
and Cronkite wept
with joy

I was there
to hear Frost  mumble his poem
in the light snow
of Jack's inauguration

and I was there to watch
the funeral march
and the martyr's  son's
salute and the riderless horse,
when Cronkite
in  sorrow

I  was there,
watching Bobbie die
under the vicious bright
of television lights,
cold concrete his death bed

and the death of another hero
just days before, shot by an assassin
as he stood on a hotel
balcony,so many
weeping for the loss
of hope

I  was there
when a president first echoed
the call  of the marchers,
"We shall overcome" he said
and he crowd  cheered
and  wept
and I too with them

I was there
when soldiers sloshed
through perfidious jungles
and when the  Wisconsin's long guns
fired the opening  salvo
off the first gulf war (I had walked
the polished teak  deck of that great ship
just months before)

I was there when the first bombs
fell on Baghdad

I  was there to watch the  despot
beaten and killed
by those he once  ruled
with the fierce hand of homicidal

I was there when the little girl
was pulled from the hole
that was meant to be her grave

I was there when Sadat
was killed,  machine-gunned
by his own guards,
along with many who sat with him
to  watch the big  parade
and I was  there  with the man
arm blown off by the machine-gun fire,
lying amid the blood, his own
and the blood of others,
crying  for help that seemed
to never  come

I was there when the towers fell,
the fires lost in the gray clouds of dust
and half-burned  paper
that  swept through the  streets
like a scene
from a science fiction movie
(though the movies
never show the dust, so gray and thick,
that envelops the action)
and I was there
with them as they ran
that day, and  other days in other places,
refugees from around the world
hiking over mountains and high deserts to  reach
questionable safety

and I was  there when
shuttles exploded...

O, how could this  poem
ever end,
with so much seen,
so much shock, first in black and white,
now in color...

I have started
an endless  poem, I fear,
image after image
of a world turned upside down
with such a deficit of joy,
so little joy in  the passing
of it, so  much sorrow  -
how do we live with such constant sorrow;
how much happier
the days of our  blissful


Eden,  a paradise of not-knowing,
the beasts unnoticed, waiting beyond the gates
of our garden, how we must regret our exile

To  close out my library poems for the week, here's a short piece by  Antler, from Antler:  The Selected Poems,  published in 2000 by Soft Skull Press. The poet, born Brad Burdick in 1949 in Wisconsin and an early favorite of many of the Beats, received the Whitman Award in 1985. He was the Poet  Laureate for Milwaukee 2002-2003 and is an active advocate for wildlife protection.  He earned a bachelors degree in anthropology in 1970, and later a masters degree, at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

For Those Who No Longer Go Ahhhh...

Not watching the fireworks
I thought how much more beautiful
Were the faces illuminated -
Some thinking for the first time
How like orgasm the explosions,
A thought now old to me,
Yet for them how much meaning,
I knew, I remembered.

Out of our lives forever
Hundreds of fireworks faces.
Where they are going
Is to the sigh and dissolution
After the flashing flower,
After the falling petals,
Silence looking upward
Hoping what's next is more beautiful.


A poem written last year from a 40-year-old memory.

saved  by the  blond with long legs and large breasts

breakfast this morning
amid a cohort
of old men, their little convention badges
hanging from their shirt pockets...

an old coot's convention
at one of the nearby hotels,
I  suppose

a convention chair, I imagine,
calling the convention to order, loudly,
the hearing in the audience leaning  over
to pass the message on to those
whose aged ears
can only hear sounds in two or three
frequencies that only dogs
can hear, certainly not
to the human voice, no matter how loudly

two by two they come into
the restaurant,  wives (usually younger)
in tow, sitting with their fellow
conventioneers, tables of old me
leaning across the table to hear,
conversations of whats? and whats? and
say that again...

makes me think of years ago
when I was the keynote  speaker
at a gathering of deaf people
(yes, I know, what does a hearing keynote
speaker have to say to a room of  deaf people
and how often does he have to say it)
and I remember seeing
all the  people crowding in the hotel
restaurant, signing to their friends
at their table and across the room,
the whole room a tidal wave
of waving hands and fingers, naturally
leaving me wondering what
they were saying
about me

but that's another story...

meanwhile, just as  I was about
to succumb to the contagion of crankiness certain
when too many old people
mingle together
in too small a space,
a young woman entered the restaurant,
tall, leggy, and blond with large breasts like the prow
of a golden sail ship pushing softly
and proudly through
the creaky curtain that enveloped the room,
the age haze that made it hard for me,
a cranky old man, myself, to
breathe, the thick air that  exposed
all my ego driven lies and evasions, the ones
we tell ourselves and pretend to believe,
the crowd of old men
like mirrors that tell truths I cannot tell myself,
that, like it or not,
shows you exactly as you are,
all those secrets that make the me
no one else can see,
saved this day
by the lovely, proud  breasts and long legs
and blond  hair  like sunlight in
the dark, allowing  back into the room
the magic of  this old man's
gift of self-deception

The next piece is  not from my library, but from Facebook friend  Bharat Shekhar.

Bharat says he lives in New Delhi,  India, and that  the polluted air of the city obsessionally makes him cough out poems. Otherwise, he says he can be found wasting his time on Facebook. He adds that  this is true until near the end of the month when panic strikes he as he gets into a scramble trying to earn enough as a freelance write to make ends meet.

The Writ


In the beginning there was the word:
openly onomatopoeic,
lisping from the child's tongue,
on to the 'swish' of his mother's  dress,
and the 'drip-drop' of poured milk,
the 'ding-dong' of papa's doorbell,
the 'lub-lub' of his heart's thumping love,
"hiss', 'creak', 'pitter-patter', 'smooch;'
joyous sounds from which  words  bubbled,
giggling, growling, grunting, gurgling,
twanging, tooting, tinkling, thumping.

In the middle, there  was  the word:
cowering inside his homework books
already bound and under trial,
scratched black and blue
by pens and pencils of the pupil;
awaiting the red sentencing of  the teachers.

Later, he mastered the word
and used it as currency
for love,  business and boredom,
which in his thesaurus of ennui
slowly became synonyms.
Like Midas,  everything he touch
turned academic-
rarefied, hyper-real, away from life.
The word had mastered him.

Only in the end, at last, there  was no  word:
the meaningless  mumble of the priest
could not penetrate  through the pile of wood
under which he lay
nor could the solemn commiserations
of  onlookers,
their somewhat rehearsed grief,
or even  the onomatopoeic 'crackle'
as the fire melted the flesh into  bones.
He had had his fill  of words and was gone.


As almost autumn morning on Broadway, plus another one from my back yard to end the week..

under my skin

large red umbrellas
tremble in the breeze

hanging like a golden curtain
from their canvas edges

behind the umbrellas,
in their red  penumbra

and behind the trees
traffic passes
on Broadway,  silent
as Frank
from the speakers

and I have
this bright day
just as he
sings it -

"under my skin"


washboard  clouds
against the still-dark sky


as autumn begins
its roll around  again

a  morning that calls for
waving of the arms  and high-kicking feet,
on dew-cooled grass

dog wants to run through the sharp moon shadows
I try to keep

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 to me

  As always, I am 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, Oyster, Flipkart, Ciando and Kobo (and, through Kobo,  brick and mortar retail booksellers all across America and abroad)

New Days & New Ways

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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