Winter in the Hills   Tuesday, November 25, 2014

(As  it turns out, it's two days before Thanksgiving and the longer this day goes on the more complicated everything becomes. So, getting this off my plate, I'm posting a day early.)

I'll be posting this the day before Thanksgiving which means nobody will see it unless they're really tired of parades and black Fridays and football games and all the other attendant Turkey Day stuff. I'm thinking I might just leave it up for an extra week and take some time off myself.

In the meantime, my photos this week before Thanksgiving are from the hill country north and west of San Antonio, in November, 2011. The weather bringing early cold like this year, but not as wet. One of the things you see in the pictures is the devastation oak blight has brought to the live oaks of the area. I think we're going to run out of live oak before we run out of oak blight.

Instead of an anthology this week, I have poems from two  poetry journals, the February, 1973 issue of Poetry, the best known of  the two, and another, the 2010 Number 4  issue of Alehouse - Poetry on Tap, which, before finding it in the used bookstore, I  had never heard of.

I was always surprised

Lynn Strongin

damned druids

Alex Stolis
Oz buys Kansas a drink at the Scarecrow Bar & Grill
 S.B. #99157 May 30, 2002
 The man on the radio says the next song is for you

who do we call

Truth Thomas

alas, I might have known him

Alma Luz Villanueva
Instructions in August 

an excess of normal (or, the oppression of everyday)

Elizabeth Jennings
From Homer

a cold day

Elizabeth Seydel Morgan 
Watching the Weather Channel
Email to Odessa

bird day begins

Brian Turner
Study of the Nude by Candlelight

a foggy morning's foggy morning memories

Lester Paldy
A Human Touch

no big rush

Robert Pinsky

dawn's light

Jimmy Santiago Baca
XIX from Meditations of the South Valley 

finding soul

I remember her in her Airplane flying

I hope you enjoy the post. Here and Now will be back in a couple of weeks.

I hate being an observer in the events of the day. These days I'm just an observer of people, which is where most of my poetry comes from. But I still miss the  other.

Sometimes I slip into a nostalgia wash, not particularly helpful. A poet friend who read this poem made a comment I think I'll be finding helpful. Speaking of his return to a university where he taught for many years, finding everything so different, deciding, he said, "I don't belong there anymore. I belong in other places now."

I was always surprised

even  though it is a place
I lived for many years and liked very much
and used to visit  often since
moving away, my visits the last few years
have become fewer and farther

I was always surprised
when I went that I didn't  see anybody
I knew and nobody seemed to know me,  this place
where I knew many people, where I was a public, or, at least,
semi-public, figure, part of the establishment, I was told
by someone trying to encourage me to jump  into politics...

and it seemed at the time I was doing things
that would be remembered
and that I would be remembered for those things
I did...

such is our pride in our own doings, our over-estimation
of our own place in the seams of things, our failure to understand
the rub of years passing on monuments and memories...

I am a stranger now
to a generation -

let's be honest,
to at least two generations
of people grown old and forgetful,
to young  people grown to their middle age
without me...

a stranger in a strange land,
as Heinlein described, except that I  used to  count
this strange land as my very own...

foolish old  man, misplaced
in the folds of time, so
human and so


the truest truth is,
I miss the action, the challenges
that make the heart sing
and the testicles tighten in anticipation
of triumph, winning, making the cut, breaking through
that flimsy string that guards the
finish line...

instead, learning again
that the past  is like an old newspaper -
once read  only good for wrapping fish and
lining the floor of bird cages

no fish,
no birds, due to settle in its place
in the recycle bin...


First this week from the journal, Poetry, a poem by Lynn Strongin.

With seven published collections of poetry, Strongin is best known  for her poems on illness and medicine and her visionary love poems.


Going out into the clear moon-flooded night in my oilskin.
So full of joy today I wanted to rape the paperboy
then grocer's boy still  wet behind the ears & with cowlick.
But it's a dark act for a girl to commit.

"Rope the eye in on me, scoot those sweet rolls 'cross table.'"
   (Southern accents have suddenly become sweet, yellow
        Texas rose.)
Guests arrive with white wine (can they never be on time?)

Paperboy, who came in the morning and grocer's boy y
your news is flat; your loaves are stale by evening.
Got a roomful of guests on my hands
who stack like priests out at ten.

The real news, the nourishing loaves
are that my dear in schoolgirl coat and nervous hands
is waiting round the corner, lighting matches, counting


This piece from the day after Thanksgiving,  2012. What did we do before we had computers to  harass us.

damned druids

back from
Brownsville came early
hurried back
cause computer repair
said my computer
would be  
but they're
turkey holiday
druids must think
they work
for the Post Office

i'm going to

My poet friend Alex Stolis has recently published three new chapbooks.

Next I have a poem from each.

First, from Without Dorothy there is no going home,  published by ELJ Publication.

Oz buys Kansas  a drink at the Scarecrow Bar  & Grill

I won't want to remember what you look like,  the sound
of your voice. I'll call you Dorothy. It's the future, the skin-
buzz of a tattoo on the back of your neck. It's now. It  will
be our little secret. It will be the crescent scar on the small
of your back.We'll fuck it and it will be your idea.  We'll talk
about the sound the Midway makes on hot summer nights,
the bang bang of something worthwhile.We'll talk about
the day your mother died. How the trees bent and  kneeled
to the shotgun blast furnace sun. How every day ever after
is orphaned, how there are so many different ways to leave.

The next poem is from the second book Justice for all from Conversation Paperpress (UK)

based on the last words of Texas Death Row Inmates

 S.B. #999157 May 30, 2002

 "I don't have anything to say. I am just sorry about what I did."

Remember your first taste
of the body of Christ. Its brittle snap,
a dry throat, then silence. Unrepentant
and ready to bring back life

that once upon a time:

when a kiss meant nothing
when we were aware yet unconverted
when a lifetime was crammed  into a two room apartment.

Forgiveness may need flesh and blood
but for some of us, being lost
is the only heaven we'll know.

The last  poem is from the third chapbook, Left of the Dial, forthcoming from  Corrupt Press.

The man on the radio says this next song is for you

as if he knows you. As if he saw you  in the front yard
in a worn pair of jeans, dirt on your hands planting for
spring. As if you slept next to him in nothing but an old
t-shirt, one leg  wrapped around the  bedspread. Does he
know the scar on your back, does  he remember the day
you mother died; how you love to make up  back stories
for people you see on the street. I try to recall the last
time we met. I try to remember the sound of your voice,
the curve of your jaw; I'll try to find you, left of the dial.


I completed my 3,000th poem-a-day poem a week or so ago. There are days when it is a reach, like this day last week, when the non-poetry world is so incessantly knocking on the door.

who do we call

let's face
there will be
no poetry today
too much
piled on too much
Miss Muse
out of sight
I'm told
with Phil
I never knew her
to be so
possibly out of action
until Spring
leaving me with visions
of My Own Miss Muse leaving me
I said
I just need some time
in a dark place
where all contrary visions
go blind
but I'm still here
and she left 
finding a new
with Phil
oh my  god
do  groundhogs have

oh, my god
do we call?


The first poem from   Alehouse is by Truth Thomas, singer-songwriter, poet, editor, publisher and founder of Cherry Castle Publishing. Born in Tennessee, Thomas received his M.F.A. from New England College in 2008.


Watermelon glazed fried chicken
fills our screens.
Pimps on parade tattoo  "Bitches"
on  sisters.
DJ Overseer & MC Whipping Post
play - Buckwheat
Hip Hop, zip-a-dee-doo-dah
night & day.
Bishop Money's undies - anointed
& for purchase.
Bootie Entertainment Television
of thee I sing.
Bootie Entertainment Television
no ideas
but in bling.


I read a reference to the German Expressionists between the World Wars recently. I have an anthology (which I've used here before) of those poets; a truly dark lot they were. The might have liked this poem from November, 2012.

alas, I might have known him

splotch of
on the pavement
in the lane
as i pass

high speed
morning run
wet splatter
passed too  fast
to make out

think i
torn shredded
shattered bones
in the street
light raised
like a flag
for  help

i can't  say
i saw all that,
maybe only

red puddle
of something
is all i saw

of the anonymous


From my library,  here is a poem by Alma Luz Villanueva. The poem is from her book Vida, published by Wings Press of San Antonio in 2002.

Her grandfather a newspaper editor in Hermosillo, Mexico and her grandmother a Yaqui curandera, Villanueva was born in California in 1944. She has taught in the M.F.A. Creative Writing program at Antioch University Los Angeles for fourteen years and currently lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Instructions in August

Behind me the Earth
cliff wall weeps,
and where it weeps
small, yellow flowers

thrive, centuries of moss,
thick,, thick, thick
and soft, so soft,
comforts the Earth

cliff wall, as the
softness comforts me,
I touch it, know
I'm blessed because

this place,  facing
the ancient sea, Her Tears,
Her Womb, that gave birth
to us, to me,

as I gave birth,
my tears, my womb,
and I wonder,  Am I
soft enough, am I

strong enough
to  comfort the world
as the Earth cliff
wall has done for

centuries. Earth's soft
tears strike stone: "you
must love someone more
than yourself, love life

more than yourself, love
the world more than your
self, love the Cosmos
more than your (self),

to give birth
to the Timeless One
who weeps forever into
the sun for joy,

my small, yellow flowers,
the magic that brought
you here, the Child
alive in the dying

body, love her,
love her more
than this life.
Weep into the sun."

                        August 1996, Santa  Cruz


A note for poets, when in doubt, look around. Toss in a little imagination and there are poems all around you.


an excess of normal (or, the oppression of everyday)

the lights outside
go off
as the night fades
to  regular light, new sun
reflected off cloud banks to the west

cold outside,
furnace blasting in here

in here only three besides
me this early, regulars
all four of us, see each other
almost every day, know only
enough about each other to nod
in passing, except that all the servers
know I'm the friendly type and use my name frequently
so that the other three know my name,too,
and use it as adjunct to their
morning nod - demonstrating to me
every morning their superior
knowledge of  me, though I think one of them
might be a "Dave" - kinda looks like
a "Dave"...

directly in front of me, two booths up,
is the accountant (the possible "Dave")
is reading the newspaper
and eating  his Greek frittata
with great and orderly precision

and one booth behind him
the tiny, baby-faced man in a ten-gallon hat - he's
working away on his computer - we were brothers-of-the-bald
for a while but I notice he has broken down in the face  of winter
and has re-grown his hair, his gray fringe, truly,  is not a lot less
bald than when he was bald...

and across the room,
the heavy-set woman in what looks like a high school jacket
except the back displays no school logo, just her
name, as  if maybe self-educated,  having learned all
on the streets from the school  of herself, the "Lopez" school
of hard knocks and hard ways and proud of it...


an interesting group of early morning diner characters,
made more interesting, I suppose, because
everything I know about them except how they look
I made up...

like, when I returned to finish my college degree in 1969
after completing my military duties, living in a 30-foot  trailer
in a small settlement of trailers on the Blanco River, our self-designated
Harper's  Bizarre, named the owner, old man Harper, a drunk in a dry county
with, always, a case of beer in the backseat of his car, sleeping
many nights in his car outside my trailer, sometimes
knocking on my door and inviting himself in at 3 a.m. to sleep
on my floor if it was too cold out in his car

and my community brothers and  sisters, the hippy couple, man and a woman
I used to lust after when she walked by in her tiny bikini, and the fellow
one trailer down, the baby of the group, taught himself to be a really bad bass
player, next, in the process of teaching himself to be a really bad sitar player,
his k-thunkas and k-thankas, & k-thinkas, providing  late night musical accompaniment
to the life where nobody ever slept anyway and the skinny guy who would spend
afternoons running naked on the small island in the middle of the river, sometimes
swimming in the river, the river full of water moccasins but he said he didn't care,
snakes were afraid of him he said and I guess they were because he survived
at least my two years there, though he may have been left floating
snake-bit and dead the day after I moved out...

old man Harper long dead, and the little settlement gone the last time I drove by
ten years ago, a normal house now, ranch style, split-level, full of perfectly normal
parents and children too I suppose, which is too bad, there is
so much normal in the world, too  much normal in the world these days,
and as one who once lived happily among the abnormal, I miss it, manufacture it
now in my mind out the perfectly normal people I see every morning at  breakfast,
little do  they know the more interesting lives they lead in my


Back again to Poetry, here are two poems by Elizabeth Jennings, an  English poet born in 1926. After graduation from St. Ann's College she became a librarian. The poet died in 2001.

From Homer

Who better than you should tell me this?
How when he returned from all  his  travels
Ulysses spent the first night of return
Not  in love-making, not even with a kiss
For Penelope his wife, who, woof and warp

Weaving had waited for him patiently,
Rejected all he suitors who had come
And kept so  purely and so long her love.
Until day came at last. The marvelously
A goddess gave them suddenly at once
Another night for love and joy, then rest.


Weave on Penelope,  you must,
Waiting for your lover who
Travels half  the world. No lust,
Only love abides in you.

the suitors come. You cast them off.
Let your faithful  weaving go
On and on until your love
Can return and cherish you.


From this time of year, 2012.

a cold day

limp by green-browning
under gray overcast

a dim day
a walk  by a slow-river
in an empty
park day
a day
of not-much
a day for naps
a day for Irish stew, for cornbread
and maple syrup a day
for sitting
by my chiminea with my new
dog warming my hands
before the
flames lying slow
on hesitant embers...

hot chocolate
in a ceramic mug


Now from  my library, two short poems by Elizabeth Seydel Morgan, taken from her book Without a Philosophy. The book was published by Louisiana State University Press in 2007.

Morgan is a Virginia-based poet and writer with four collections of  poetry, this one, her most recent.

Watching the Weather Channel

Is it raining on you, Linda,
down in San Antonio -
raining too much?
Here in Virginia
the grass breaks
under our feet; the creek's
left stones for cows to lick.
The TV screen shows us cracks
in the earth where there used to be hay,
simulated systems massing
and fading over the globe.
We say we pray for rain
but what do we know
about asking for what we need?
We pray for the hurricane
to go around you - but send us its fringe,
the way we pray for the hand of Death
to  pass on to another geography.

E-mail to Odessa

Love watches the weather of where your are,
Checks every channel and paper to know
When your skies are cloudy or full of snow,
When your moonless night holds no bright star.

If love's hot sun can reach so far
Love wants to melt your wintery blow,
Wrap its warm breezes around you, so
Love watches the weather of where you are.


The reason I get up so early - you see things you won't see any other time of day.

bird-day begins

6:40 a.m.

wake-up call for
a thousand birds, flying
up from wing to wing
perches in trees, from power lines,
from the tops of high  signs

fill the cloud-dimmed sky like little bold-black v's
tossed across a blue-white bed cover,
old-fashioned with cotton ridges

flying into, greeting,
the new-morning

bird-day begins
and I am a'flight with them 


I used two poems by Brian Turner last  week from his first book. Here's another short one I ran across in the 2010 Alehouse journal.

Study of the Nudes by Candlelight

You are the water pouring into water,
water rising in the heat of he bath
to coat me in a  film of light,
as mirrors  surround us with their vision
of the infinite,receding  versions
of you turning toward me, as if
I can see from  this day forward,
how you carry my shadow in the gloss
of your  skin, without complaint, the  promise
of light dripping from your  fingers,
you wine-dark nipples, my lips
kissing your own, farther and farther away.


Another from 2012, this one remembering memories spread over 60 years.

a foggy morning's foggy morning memories

foggy morning

the world
a universe of  shrink-wrapped

buying gas
the deep-throat  rumble
of a diesel engine
at idle

on the street
the hungry mew
of  a black cat
in  the gray...

by the bay  fish
jumping  the slap
of their tails
on the water
a shot in the dark...

by the Coca Cola
bottling plant
near my grandmother's
house clackity-clack clackity-
clack of empty bottles
on the conveyor...

in the harbor
the lighthouse moans
the Russian tanker
nets jumble-jangle
on shrimp boats
to voyage to their
fishing grounds...

the dog
sniffing the rustle
n the bushes
when the bushes
rustle back...

by my window
garbage cans pulled
to  the curb...

foggy morning
the silence
of the mist broken
by singular sounds, rising
as from the

Lester Paldy, poet, is also Lester Paldy, Distinguished Professor of Technology and Society at Stony Brook University where he has taught since 1967 since graduating in its second class in 1962. With his graduate work in physics and his service as a Marine officer and his decades long work in the field of nuclear arms control and disbarment, he was a member of the. U.S. delegation to the Nuclear Testing Talks that negotiated a nuclear arms control agreement signed in 1990 by President Bush and Soviet President Gorbachev.

I've taken his poem from his book Wildflowers at Babi Yar, published in 1994 by Night Heron Press. He is one of several poets who have contacted me to thank me for using  their work in "Here and Now."

The question at the end of the  poem seems  particularly relevant in these days of new tension with Russian leadership.

A Human Touch

General  Sergei Aleksandrovich Zelentsov
sits opposite us in Kiev
in trim green jacket and epaulets
peering over the top of his glasses
with worried creases in is brow
and tiny beads of perspiration
on his upper lip
listening closely
to my translated words
measuring them,
one by one,
alert for anything
that suggests
the Soviet Ministry of Defense
might not know exactly
where each of its nuclear warheads resides
any time of the day or night.
Yes, Sergei Aleksandrovich,
you are an honest man
and a Russian patriot,
but they say you may retire.
Who will guard the plutonium then
while your comfort
a grandchild
in some quiet park.


Well, I didn't say, when I mentioned that I had done my 3,000th poem-a-day poem, that any particular  number among the 3,000 were great, or even good, poems. Most were okay I suppose, along with a sizable share of  place-holders.

Like  this one, a day of stress and exhaustion, not  a good poem in sight.

no big rush

so far behind
my gots-to-do
I decided to quit

want to find  me today?

check the slow train
to laid-back

but not too early

I ain't in no big rush
to  get there...


Next, from the February, 1973 issue of Poetry, here's a poem by Robert Pinsky.


When the trains go by
The frozen  ground shivers
Inwardly like an anvil.

The sky reaches down
Stiffly into the spaces
Among the houses and trees.

A wisp of harsh air snakes
Upward  between glove
And cuff,  quickening

The sense of life
Elsewhere of things, the things
You touched, maybe, numb

Handle of a rake; stone
Of a peach;  soiled
Band-Aid; book, pants

Or shirt that you touched
Once in a store...less
The significant fond junk

Of someone's garage, and less
The cinder out of your eye -
Still extant and floating

In Sweden or a bird's crop -
Than the things that you noticed
Or not, watching from a train:

The cold wide river of things
Going by like the cold
Children who stood by the tracks

Holding for  no reason sticks
Or  other things, waiting
For no reason for the trains.


Again, two years ago. Still get up before dawn, but must admit have been  delaying walks until after breakfast. My loss of those first stirrings of a day.

 dawn's light

dark night
black as liquorice,
clean enough
to lick

we walk in the
quiet  echoes
of night's deepest

the silence
of sleeping
by one call
from a tree we pass

one morning  song
from one tree
and a chorus breaks  out
from trees
all around us

good morning
the many voices
sing their welcome

dawn's  light
a crack
in the east

Next from my library I have Jimmy Santiago Baca with a selection from his book which, as in it's title, is two long narrative poems, Martin & Meditations on the South Valley. The book was published by New Directions Publishing in 1987.

I've used this book and the work of Jimmy Baca many times, so I'll have you do your own Google search if you want more information.


Don't go out with Maria
Clemente, she is a bruja.
I am telling you -
Pablo tole me of the things
she did to him, to make his stay with her -

                                    She wrapped a single long strand
                                    of her  black hair
                                    around the inside of his penis ridge;
                                    she melted wax & ashes
                                    over his letters and photographs,
                                    placed them in a black box,
                                    & chanted over them under a full moon.
                                    She spat a piece of toenail
                                    into his mouth when they were making love,
                                    hoping he would swallow it;
                                    often times, naked under the sheets,
                                    he would awake clear-minded from a dead sleep,
                                    finding her  chanting over him,
                                    a corner of the  sheet  tucked between her thighs,
                                    she rubbed and prayed to the moon.

Laugh Clemente,
but I warn you, you will be like Pablo soon.
He drank to ease his imprisonment.
One night, driving South-14,
Pablo and Maria were returning from a dance.
She screamed at  him to slow down.
He went faster down the curving road.
They went airborne
at a 15 mph curve
Pablo hit going 55. He was drunk. She crouched
on the floorboard, screaming for him to stop.
He remembers saying to her
before they crashed,
                                   "So you do not  want to let me go?
                                    Is this what you want,
                                    that we both die? Then we will!"

The car came to a sudden
crashing halt in a field.
They survived. Next day Pablo  went walking
down the road and never came returned to her.

Take my word Clemente, Maria has powerful magic,carnal.
Mucho Cuidao, Do not wear the pouch around your neck
she will offer you - do not.


A last old poem for this week. This one,  again,  from November two years ago, getting acquainted in the morning with Bella, our beautiful golden Bella only a few days with us.

She's waiting for me in the car right now, by the way. After this poem, a walk in the park, through the woods where squirrels wait in their trees to be glared at.

finding soul

in the dark
through the quiet-sleeping

the dogs in the house
on the corner
are quiet, sleeping, counting cats

or whatever
when deep in early morning
dreaming -
my own dog, seven days
mine, learning
how to walk alone, without

two other dogs
hitched to her, shoulder
to  shoulder, and over these seven

learning the pleasure of
 all manner of interesting  things

along our regular early morning
route, stopping to listen,
standing still to sniff the air,
rather than her doggedly

determined, head straight-ahead
quick-paced walk
of the first couple of days;
not dog then,

dog now,
not like the morning runners I see,
pushing  ahead,  eyes
focused, not on the night

that passes, or the stars or moon
or neighborhood rustle,
or the wind in the trees, the snap
of acorns falling on cement

driveway, eyes focused
not on the  glories
of  the morning
but on their own internal pain

the obsession
that pushes them along  these
streets before the light of

illuminates their quest
for stringy-muscled legs
and a flat stomach
and eternal

this eternal life
they seek
of morning  pain...

it is not human
to run
when not chased,

for humans must have soul and
it is not  such purposeless, self-obsessed
running that crates soul
in man

but a morning stroll
amid the quiet rustle-bustle
of early morning,
the quiet sipping of the still

glories of dark,
the dark and quiet
where the dog is learning
seeking, with me,

her own
as I seek to keep my own


This last piece from the Alehouse journal is by Gregory Loselle.

Born in 1963, Loselle is a poet, dramatist and writer of short fiction. He teaches secondary English and Art History at Grosse Ile, Michigan schools.

Walking the Dog on the Milky Way

The street is little more than a road
paved over, hunched and starting to erode

in patches where the macadam is dark
like water pooled. In starting to erode,

soft chunks break free and crumbling into grit.
I walk around them. Starting to erode,

the way ahead by flashlight or by moon,
lies maculate and, starting from the road

the dog takes off, its barking startling us,
out  after a rabbit startled too. A road

careers above us through the sky, its way
as patchy as our own. Stars light two roads -

there's one before us, one above us as well:
and Canus, gremini - stars: two a-road.


I  don't know what caused me to  think of Grace Slick last week, but when it  did  it was in that one frozen instant from a performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

I remember her in her Airplane flying

she's 75 now, maybe
76, but I remember her voice
like a storm blowing inland over
her cold and lonely ancestral fjords,
keening,  like an ice-crusted wind, but most of all
I remember her eyes, from an appearance with her band
on the Ed Sullivan show, so long ago, her eyes
burning with green fire, behind the shadowed lids,
emerald coals looking into the camera,
through the camera,
burning me
as she

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

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New Days & New Ways

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Always to the Light

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Pushing Clouds Against the Wind

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Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Poems Niederngasse
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
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