Winter by the River   Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Several years ago, we took a driver up the California coast and on through  Oregon and Washington to Vancouver. I ended up taking nearly a thousand pictures. While it's true they weren't all  from California, at least two thirds were. I probably have the world's largest collection of waves-crashing- on-rocks pictures. But there are so many pictures there along the Pacific Coast, just sitting there waiting for a camera and someone who can point and click it.

The Riverwalk in San Antonio is much the same, everywhere you look, there is another picture waiting to  be taken. And I have have taken them many times and have some of them here again this week. This week  I tried to use photos a little different from the same umbrellas along the river shots that most people, including me, take. So maybe you'll find these a little different as well.

Again this week, all my poems are from the "Dispatches" series I started last week.

Lest there be confusion, I need to say I am writing and posting these as they come to me. You should not assume that the events of one necessarily follow the events of the one before. If  I ever do with  the series what I'd like to do, I'll  arrange all the  pieces into an order that makes narrative sense, if they don't  now.

My anthology for the week is Crossing Water, sub-titled "Contemporary Poetry of the English-Speaking Caribbean."  The book was published by The Greenfield Review Press in 1992.

The rest of the post will be  the usual poems from my library.

With all the grinding terror...

Cyril Dabydeen 
Discussing Columbus

Naked by the sweat rock...

Wanda Coleman
Art in the Court of  the Blue Fag (7)
Standoff in East Hollywood

It is a virgin night...

John Robert Lee

They have come upon us...

Cynthia Zarin
The Moon and the River Bank

A tiny church in a small mountain hollow...

Earl McKensie
The Never-Die Trees Are Blooming      
We thought it would be refuge...

Leslie Ullman
The Mountain outside My Window

Across a desert and through the mountains...

 Saserarine Persuad
Sargasso Sea 

Preferring to be alone at night...

Adrienne Rich
And Now

In the second week...

Bruce St. John
5 A.M. Barbados

It is the first short fall...

Pat Mora
Love Ritual  

In the long winter's middle...

Derek Walcott

A woman in the snow...

Lucille Clifton
my friends

Though we are  together, the  filthy woman I do not talk...

James Aboud
The Stone Rose

In the middle of our summer... 

Sidney Wade
Fruit Stand, State Road 301, Waldo, Florida
In the Uncertain Light of All We've Seen

He wandered into our valley in the last days of long winter...

Charles Harper Webb
Dog Days in Hermann Park
Webb Gains the Upper Hand

I have been hearing the rush of Floaters keening... 


from Dispatches

With all the grinding terror...

    With all the grinding terror of our days, there are soft nights, nights when the Floaters let us
in peace for reasons that are never clear to us.

    Soft nights, quiet nights under a new moon sky, the moon and the sky dark, stars in their abundance
over-flowing he firmament, so bright and white, like milk in an over-full cup.

    Some nights like this when  we can sleep unafraid, when we can dream of peace and the rebirth of all those forever dead who we loved before. But mostly we dream of peace, of times when the horror is not and never was, the temporary delusions of dream-full sleep.

    It is the nights we can dream that keeps us through the days that follow.


The first of the poets from this week's anthology is Cyril  Dabydeen. Born in Guyana, the poet moved to Canada in 1970. In addition to his books,  his work appears regularly in the Commonwealth and the United States.

Discussing Columbus

I talk in tongues of newness,
I fulfill a rage -
Without disdain; I am the voice within,
I cringe, coming to an understanding
Of who I am, where I am going next,
This Columbus in me, smashing the waves
Into smithereens with bare hands...

Next, making much ado about Behring  Straits,
Talking myself hoarse at the zenith
Of a totem pole, or grimacing at the bear
In the sky ... I am a shaman at ease
Discussing treaties with more than the RCMP,
Tearing at wounds of a constitutional
Accord, this bleeding self's disdain,
Being partridge and beaver,
Or all of spruce and jackpine.

Still making memory out of nothing.
Collecting cambium and spitting it out
At the face of the Great Spirit,
The sky golden, a rainbow's own crossing;
The sunset falling under -
This cave, again a sudden divide
As I linger and laugh at other boundaries
Which I do not understand...

Living with the centuries' folds of skin,
Other emblems like shale, rock, an entire shield -
My canoe's surfacing at the heart of a lake;
And the partridge yet hops about in the dark,
The sun's pitch-blackness...
As I am about to hang myself without cause.

Drink in me, I entangle and emersh
All the regions as one - bracing myself
With a tightrope, and hope for the waves coming in,
The ship's own somersault -
The ground breaking at the horizon,
The sails' language, which I repeat or memorize...
On a deserted but peopled island.


from Dispatches

Naked by the sweat rock...

    Naked by the sweat rock, we struggled, clinched tight together, slippery with sweat, arms, chests, cocks, knees pushing, bumping together, desperately we try to damage the other while avoiding damage to ourselves.

    He found an old can of tuna, tried to hide it, won't share.

    We struggle and in the end, I kill the son of a bitch.

    Nobody cares.

    The son of a bitch wouldn't share his tuna.

From my library, I have two short poems by Wanda Coleman from her book Heavy Daughter Blues, sub-titled "Poems and Stories  1968-1986."

Coleman, born in 1946 and died in 2013, was known as "the LA blueswoman" and "unofficial poet laureate of Los Angles." In addition to her awards in poetry and fiction, she won an Emmy award in the category of Daytime Drama Writing and was a finalist for California Poet Laureate in 2005.

Despite her literary acclaim, she incited great controversy in 2002 as the result of a negative review of Maya Angelou's book, A Sword Flung Up To Heaven, she wrote for the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Negative response to the review resulted in the rescinding of invitations and cancellation of events.

Art in the Court of the Blue Fag (7)

god neon

the pros & cons of sex preference
settle in blighted districts
no matter the scene no matter the scream
as all writing gives birth to evocations of change
he/she is only a visitor here
stares superciliously at the denizens
goes home later and disrobes to the misery
seared in their mind/one and the same
twisting inseparable on the mattress
intent on the slow rise that starts at the base of the spine
afterwards the blue fag thrills to the  heady breath
of car city, croons in the headlights
bursts in a bleed

orange bones & black sperm

Standoff in East Hollywood

mother madness i am hiding in the broom closet
i have unraveled  the noose of your giving
and am holding your son captive
i will not come to the door


from Dispatches

It is a virgin night...

    It is a virgin night in a place still unspoiled. The moon so  big and so bright, like a bucket of milk pouring across the hills, so bright I can see the cedar and mesquite and oak, and the shadows they cast on the meadows.

    It is like before, sitting on a hill like this under a full moon on a quiet pure night, Maggie and I together, as we intended to be forever.

    I try to forget the memories, watch for the enemy instead, but memories do not fade with war, they grow more intense.

    A danger these memories, they make us soft when we must be hard. Better to forget, fight each night for the next day's fight.

    But still, of all that is gone, it is  Maggie I remember best, and the nights like this when she lived and we were alive together, when I lived, before I became what I am this tonight.


Back to the anthology, here's a  poem by John Robert Lee. Born in Lt. Lucia in 1948, Lee is a graduate of the University of the West Indies and is a librarian and a preacher.


      (for C.H.)

Except for the fat
and raucous
you'd see no one.
At first
you'd never know that he was there,
in the darkness of his memory;
guiding, as  the stick that tapped out curbs for him,
it led him
far beyond
the choking bags of meal.

You only saw him
when you heard
his thumbs come
on the dumb
shop-counter board.
Then they,
leading him,
danced him
to the rim of memory's night,
to the hum of rushing waters,
to the numb-
                    ing crash of whirling forests.
                    With the black
he knew his soul again.

Sitting there,
with Africa wrinkled over him,
         his aged veins
         Limpopo's dams,
his body seem it dead,
         done dead
         as da hole
         in his head.
         Only the hyp-
         beat, beat,  beat-
         of the skin on bone
         on blind and silent wood,
         could tell you
         of the darker rush of the rushing waters
         of the deafening crash of the crashing barks
         of the joyous fear in Legba's heart:
                     a prodigal soul
                     of a wandered son
had wandered back again.

(the poet notes: cancaness - Kweyolfor quarrelsome wonan; Damballa- a god of the highway; Leggba- the Dahomean/Haitain god the the gateway)


from Dispatches

They have come upon us...

    They have come upon us from beyond he high sands and we are moving back as quickly as we can.

    But not fast enough.

    Blood paints a seeping pattern on white sand; how quickly it soaks away. I leave my new friend,Willis in pieces behind me, blowing sand already crusting over all his scattered parts.

    I run and run, and somehow find a hidey hole, wrapping myself as tight in myself as I can, head and arms and legs a bundle as small as I can make it in the sand, frantically scrabbling into the sand like a crab on a beach, eyes  burning, sand on my tongue, caked around my mouth.

    They pass over me and I am unseen.


Next from my library, poet  Cynthia Zarin, from her book, The Swordfish Tooth, published in 1989 by Alfred A. Knopf.

Born in 1959, Zarin is a poet and magazine editor. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard and later earned an M.F.A. at Columbia. She teaches at Yale.

The Moon and the River Bank

The moon with its scalloped curve
and paper oceans: we've never been there.
The sky is a gap in the river
where the tree light clears, and the moon
is an old memento, a glass dome
where it snows on the village,

the sky full of little cloudy stars.
This is the shape the earth makes;
the reef, with its lapidary charm
records  each jewel in the beadwork
of hot afternoons, and broached, the days
are all thoughtless, all memory, retrograde.
Now,  restive, figured with the bird cries

and clicks, the children loiter
on the river bank; their shouts turning another wheel
into the yellow glow. But daylight
plays itself out, and hopeful,
contradictory, the effort lags in its mottled wake,
as if it could find a channel other

than this river in the heart,
a tributary with its banks cleared
of broken trees and bottles. But the moon
shows  only where the willow
tricks the current. See how its face
is scrawled with leaves? The continents,
dim barges, drab on their water.


from Dispatches

A tiny church in a small mountain hollow...

    A tiny church in a small mountain hollow, grown all around with weeds, the steeple still standing atop the front of it, but all behind is fallen, smashed lumber and stone.

    Some of us want to pray, sing maybe a hymn, but not sense to it in a place already deserted by God.

    The Devil has taken this place, and will take us too if we linger.

    We go on, leaving a few of the still-devout behind. I do not expect  to ever see them again.


This poem from this week's  anthology, Crossing Water, is by Earl McKenzie.

McKenzie was born in 1943 in Jamaica. He studied at Columbia University and the University of British Columbia. He is a poet, short story  writer and an  artist and currently heads the Department of Language Arts at Church Teachers' College in Jamaica.

The Never-Die Trees Are Blossoming

The never-die trees are blossoming,
and I  drive under a canopy
of their blue immortality.

These never-die trees are fence  posts,
but  their sky-blue  flowers
have nothing to do
with keeping cattle in.

These trees are the blooming walls
of a jail,
but this celebration with flowers
is older than  cattle  pens
and the bondage of barbed wire.

These blossoms come
from free flowing juices;
these flowers are crying out
for the full freedom of  trees.


from Dispatches

We thought it would be refuge...

    We thought it would be refuge, here on this little spit of Santa Elena sand, but we are found and can hear the keening of a Floater echoing off  the canyon walls.

    Back in the water, frantically rowing, searching for one of the small,water-cared caves where we can huddle in silence. Seconds like hours as we race for the dark.

The next book, Slow Work through Sand, by Leslie Ullman, was one of the first  books I added to my library when I started "Here and Now" in May, 2006. It was published in 1998 by the University of Iowa Press.

Ullman, born in 1947, is author of four poetry collections. This one, her third, was co-winner of the 1997 Iowa Poetry Prize. She earned her M.F.A. at the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop. She established and for years directed the bilingual M.F.A. Creative Writing Program at the University of Texas, El Paso, where she is now Professor Emerita, while also  teaching at the Vermont College of Fine Arts M.F.A. Creative Writing Program.

The Mountain outside My Window

is the only one of its kind.
And one of millions.
I look into its face
and feel clouds moving

across my skin. And feel
animals begin a slow
migration inside me.  I  wait
for-words I've never spoken

to  arrange themselves, to push
boulders and dead trees aside.
Words  from my belly heart, and bones.

The animals move like lava
over flat land. Their  dark fur
is full of silver. Fox
 I could say, but these animals

are huge. And graceful as bears.
And the light in their fur is
flint, is dear streaking across

an ice field, is hundreds of white
birds rising from black water,
I want to put my arms around them

but would be hugging air.
I learn to wait in this chair
for one word, then another
to appear like stars that only

seem, to one who doesn't know
the stars, to rise at random
from the dusk as the mountain
glows by itself, then goes out.


from Dispatches

Across a desert and through the mountains...

    Across a desert and through the mountains we have walked, and now, over the  gentle rising and falling of wooded foothills.

   There are fewer of us now, fewer every week. Some killed, some died of exhaustion, stress and plain hunger and deprivation. Some just quit. Some of those try to return to from where they came, as if it was still there. Others just wander off in whatever direction they were standing when they started leaving, to wherever.


Here, from the anthology, is a poem by  Sasenarine Persaud.

Born in Guyana where  he worked as a director of  Customs and High School English teacher before migrating to Canada and the Caribbean. In addition to his books, his poetry appears in the United  States, Canada and the Caribbean.

Sargasso Sea

This then is my Sargasso sea: -
Dead beat
Duty blown, woman worn
Until this  then
Done and unknown.

Sluggish green weeds,
Slated grey and saltish
Silted in the Atlantic
Frisk to  life beyond
Your  full-flown laughter.

If the stinging afternoon sun's
Vitamin D,
Your presence is panacea
And perspiration love-moistness.

In flows the tide from this wild
Sargasso Sea
Swirling mind flavored salt madness.

The secrets dancing beneath
Are yours and mine since we ruled
Atlantis' love lost life.

Any dancing in  the water
Any boiling in your ears
Is the boiling of our bosoms.

The sugared salt,  lapping softly on the ferry,
Sweetly on the wharf,
Is your mirrored calm  permeating our meeting
Satiating a revered brain.

And so when we come down, down
through the crowded doorway, parting on solid land,
I turn to my turbulent
Wild, swinging Sargasso Sea,
Chained to a drowning raft seeing
An ocean of tears,
And above, the limitless sk
Your infinite smile.


from Dispatches

Preferring to be  alone at  night...

    Preferring to be alone at night with our own thoughts, there is no more singing, very little talking beyond deciding on the next day's course.

    The soldiers are all dead, fighters like we were no when we started. But the are dead and we are not, normal work-a-day types, the kind of people we used to see on the streets, in the shops, in the banks in the offices. Leaders and followers the, such distinctions forgotten now. We all just follow the footsteps of the feet in front of us, our only common skill,  survival and blind endurance.

    Yet, beyond all understanding, we live.

    We all have our memories and our dreams, but do not talk about them, afraid that once we tell them they will  be gone like everything else we have known.


I had a Adrienne Rich poem last week from an  anthology. This week I have one from her book, Dark Field of the Republic. The book was published by W.W. Norton in 1995.

 And Now

And now as you read these poems
- you whose eyes and hands I love
- you whose mouth and eyes I love
- you whose words and minds I  love -
don't think  I was trying to state a case
or construct a  scenery:
I tried to listen to
the public voice of our time
tried to survey our public space
as best I  could
- tried to remember and stay
faithful to details, note
precisely how the air moved
and where the clock's hands stood
and who was in charge of  definitions
and who stood by receiving hem
when the name of compassion
was changed to the name of guilt
when to feel with a human stranger
was declared obsolete.



from Dispatches

In the second week...

    In the second week after the old Holiday of Eggs, a new demonstration of power.

    The moon shifts, tides rise and flood the coastal prairies. November through July a north  wind blows midnight to midday. the aurora borealis flashes in the sky over the broken towers of Tulsa, trees fall quiet in the forest.

    Some, in profound despair, want to surrender;  some, the brave and the proud and the dim want to fight on to the end.

    I want to  live.


Bruce  S. John is my next poet from this week's anthology of contemporary English-speaking Caribbean poets. Born in 1923 in the Barbados, St. John was a Senior Lecturer in Spanish at the University of the West Indies at the time of his retirement in 1987.

I could find only limited information  about  the poet and no photo.

5 A.M. - Barbados

Yes, Mr. Slug,
It's time you traced your silvery
Descent not hear the rhythms of the
Whistling frogs
Warning you that the trees' owner's
Soon to push the creaking door
Armed with his beverage of
Bleach and salt for you?
Do you not feel the pressure
Of the tireless crowing of the cock's
Impatient pressure on the light of
Dawn? Gone is that noisy dog
Next door welcoming the late
Arrival of his master's car and
Mistress from their questionable
Soon the whine of the Transport Board's
Unprofitable omnibus will join
The wail of my refrigerator
and Glendairy's convicts' bell
Will toll the cold  of showers
And awakenings of loss of freedom's
Movements and its accompanying moods
Of vengeance and despair,
But, I have not heard the
Groan of the wild driver's car
Flashing along the empty road...
Could it be that yesterday
Dawn's destiny deferred
That drive for a further incarnation?
It's time to light the stove
There'll be another traffic  block
On highway five.


from Dispatches

It is the first short fall...

    It is the first short fall after the first short spring and summer after the shifting moon and trees still standing glorify memories past with vivid shades of red, yellow and gold. It is beauty still hanging  on despite all before the  long winter ahead.

    Meanwhile, we have not fought in three weeks, both sides, after the debacle at Rio de Animas, licking their wounds, practicing the fine military art of avoidance.


From my library again, the next two poems are by  Pat Mora, from  her book,  Chants, published by Arte Publico Press in a 1995 second edition. Born in 1942 in El Paso, Mora is a poet, as well as author of adult and children's fiction. She is a graduate of Texas Western College, now the University of Texas at El Paso.


I  won't let him hit her. I won't
let him bruise her soft skin,  her dark
brown eyes. I'll beg her to use the ring
snapped from a Coke can. That's my wedding
gift for my daughter.

My body betrayed me years ago, failed
to yield that drop of blood: proof
of virginity in this village of Mexican fools.
My groom shoved  me off he white sheet
at  dawn, spat insults. Had he planned to wave
the red stain at his  drunken friends?
My in-laws' faces sneered whore and my neighbors
snickered at beatings through the years.

I'll arm my daughter with a ring.
She'll slip it under her wedding mattress.
When he sleeps, she'll slit  her finger
smear the sheet.  She must use the ring.
I don't want to split his throat.

Love Ritual

In Mexico the dead are lured
back for a day with marigolds and
candles. Women cook rich, spicy
mole. On graves they put cigarettes
and tequila, pan dulce, ripe mangoes.
"Come back," they're saying, "Come
back and savor the earth's sweet wines."

Outside my door I'll sprinkle yellow
flower petals. Carefully I'll  place
my picture, the poem  I wrote you,
a sketch of two lovers removing
each other's clothes. I'll light
green votives, and you'll be pulled
back too. And maybe stay.


from Dispatches

 In long winter's middle...

    In long winter's middle, clouds fall over the mountain and mist  rises from the slow river.

    A wet chill settles into  bones.

    And, God, I  wish for real shoes, not these homemade strips of rubber tires strapped to my fee  with coarse rope.

    I will not complete this winter  with all my toes.

    If I complete this winter.


Next from the anthology, Derek Walcott, best known of the Caribbean poets, winner the 1992 Nobel Prize for Literature and  and a mentor and inspiration for those younger Caribbean poets who came after him. Born in St. Lucia in 1930, he has published four books of plays and many books of poetry. He currently Professor  of Poetry at the University of Essex.


From the village, soaked like a grey rag  in salt water,
a language came, garnished with conch shells,
with a suspicion of berries in its armpits
and elbows like flexible oars. Every ceremony
in the troughs, in the middens, at the daybreak and the
   daydark funerals
attended by crabs.  The odors were fortified
by the sea. The anchor of the islands went deep
but was always clear in the sand. Many a shark,
and often the ray, whose wings are as  wide as sails,
rose with insomniac stare from the waving corals,
and a  fisherman  held up a catfish like a tendrilled head.
And  he night with its certain,inextinguishable candles
was like All-Souls' Night upside down, the way a bat keeps
its own view  of the world. So their eyes looked down, amused
on us,  and found we were walking strangely,
as if we were dead, how we confused
dreams with ordinary things like nails, or roses,
how rocks aged quickly with moss,
the sea made furrows that had nothing to do with time,
and the sand started whirlwinds with nothing to do at all,
and the shadows answered to  the sun alone.
And sometimes, like the top  of an old  tire,
the black  rim of a porpoise.  Elpenor, you
who broke your arse, drunk,tumbling down the
and the steersman who sails, like the ray under the
    breathing waves,
keep moving, there is nothing here for  you.
There are different candles and  customs here, the dead
are different. Different shells guard their graves.
There are distinctions beyond the paradise
of our horizon. This is not the grape-purple  Aegean.
There is no wine here, no cheese, the almonds are green,
the sea grapes bitter, the language is that of slaves.


from Dispatches

A woman, in the snow...

    A woman, in the snow, back against a tree, the tree protecting her from the butcher's wind.

    Dirty, wrapped in multiple layers of cloth, like a heavy theater curtain, dirty too, stolen , pulled down from a theater somewhere. I don't know where, don't where there could be a theater. I don't even know where I am.

    A woman, filthy, in rags, like me,  freezing to death in this dark winter, like me, a survivor, like me. She fights against the cold and will fight against me if I get close.

    Though I haven't seen  a woman in six months, haven't talked to a woman in even more time than  that, haven't fucked a woman since the camp whore in the first year, this one, this one does not entice me to try.

    I think we have all gone insane.

From my library, I have two short poems by Lucille Clifton. The poems are from her book Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir, 1969-1980, published by BOA Editions  in 1987.

Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Clifton was Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1979-1985. Born in New York in 1936, the poet died in Baltimore in 2010.

my friends

no they will not understand
when i throw off my legs and my arms
at you hesitant yes,
when i throw them off and slide
like a marvelous snake  toward your bed
your box        whatever you will keep me in
no      they will not  understand what can be
so valuable beyond paper dollars diamonds
what is to me worth all the appendages,
they will never understand        never approve
of me loving at last where i would
throw it all off to be,
with you       in your small room        limbless
but whole


we are some of us
born for the water.
we begin at once
swimming toward him.
we sight him.
we circle him like a ring.
if he does  not down us we stay.
if he does
we  swim like a fish for his brother


From Dispatches

Though we are together, the filthy woman and I do not talk...

    Though we are together, the filthy woman and I do not talk. It is not together as in together, but a happenstance that we end up in the same place because we travel in the same direction.

    We found together a hidden valley between lush mountain ridges, in West Virginia.  I think. but I am not sure. Traveling on foot, living now for three years in a land with no maps beyond the broad distinctions of mountains, deserts, plains, seashores, the features of places meld together after a while.

    There is fresh water here, a river that flows through the valley, game to be trapped, logs and other forest materials to build a rude shelter from the spring storms and winter cold.

    We are safe here, I think until all else is lost.


And now,  another from the Caribbean anthology. The poet this time is James Aboud. Born in Trinidad in 1956 and educated  there, in Canada and in England, this poem is the tile poem from his book The Stone Rose, published in 1986. Presently a High Court Judge, at the time the anthology was published, he was an attorney and Commissioner of the Public Utilities Commission.

The Stone  Rose

My cold fingers
Stoke  a stone rose:

The streets once
Were flesh and blood

But flung without pattern
Upon the temple ground

Are the stone flowers.
The Irish Priests polish altars

In the twilight hour.
The last top spins just before supper.

A stone rose in the evening  sun
Perhaps will blossom.

A tree and the leaves.
The stone rose

And my fingers.

This must be an  hotel
In Tobago.


From Dispatches

It is the middle of our summer...

    It is the middle of our summer, short now because of the shifted moon, our valley green and  lush, the sky blue, the air fresh and unspoiled.

    Woman and I found a small cove in the river where we can bathe, each alone at first, together now,
unashamed in our naked flesh.

    We  have both regained some of our weight in the easy life of our valley, with renewed strength, so thin and depleted we were before.

    She, beneath the grime is a fair woman of maybe 30 or a little more, lithe and taut muscled.

    I do not know her name, do not ask, just call her Woman because every named person I knew is dead, and I want to spare her that fate.

    She is Woman, I am Man.

    We make love sometimes with the fresh fever of those too long without.

Next from my library, two short poems by Sidney Wade, from her book Stroke, published by Persea Books in 2007.

Born in New Jersey in 1951, Wade is author of five books of poetry. She earned a B.A. in philosophy at the University of Vermont, an M.Ed in counseling and a Ph.D in English at the University of Houston. She is currently Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Florida.

Fruit Stand, State Road 301, Waldo, Florida

I'm Tard says the sign No Bidness is what it means
and we keep driving north through these failing crops

on the untranquil shelf of our personal continent
and the dust lies happy and thick on the dashboard

as thick as under the bed as thick as dirt
when the moral from another poem peeks in

to catch its little breath and gaze with pleasure
on this tableau vivant before its tired eyes:

our golden daughter beaming among the motes
and whispering Had me that fly swopper got to swop some flies

In the Uncertain Light of All We've Seen

A  abstract notion neared
as I was drawing again your features -

the swollen belly, the verbal annihilations,
the golden socks. It was a creature

of bodily vapors with a dozen interiors,
furnished with ancient chairs,

each one wearier than the next. Lovely ad broken.
I  saw it till  I wrote it and it disappeared.


From Dispatches

He wandered into our valley in the last days of long winter...

    He wandered into the valley in the last days of long winter, crazy man, a raving lunatic,  running through the trees, even  filthier than we were  when we arrived, throwing rocks at trees and animals.

    He was very aggressive in his madness, attacked me the first time he saw me, and other times later  on as well, disappearing into the trees, then returning, every sighting a struggle in his wrecked mind to the death.

    Then one day I caught him, lying mud-caked and naked on Woman, trying to rape her, threatening to kill  her if she did not submit.

    It was clear he was a danger to us, that we could  not allow him to stay.

    But our safety in the valley depended on our isolation, no one knowing we were there. If we sent him away there was danger  that in his rambling dementia he would lead others to us. 

    We could not let  him stay and we could not let him go. 

    So I killed him, beat his head in with a rock, buried him at the far end of the valley, piled rocks on his grave so  that scavengers could not disturb him. A better burial than I'm likely to get in the end.

This are the last two poems this week from my library. It is by Charles Harper Webb, from his book of sly and very funny poems,  A Weeb For All Seasons. The book was published by Applezaba Press in 1992.

Webb, a poet, psychotherapist, professor and former singer and guitarist, was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Houston. He earned a B.A. in English at Rice University, an M.A. in English from the University of Washington, an  M.F.A. in Professional Writing and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at the California State University - Long Beach. Winner of numerous awards for his work, including a Pushcart Prize and inclusion in The Best American Poetry 2006, he teaches at California State University - Long Beach.

Dog Days in Hermann Park

A jogger in red shorts strokes
a bikinied girl's Afghan.
Two giggly nymphets top  to pat
a bleached-blonde surfer's Lab.

A satin-suited Brother walks
spike-collared Dobermans;
a miniskirted blonde prostrates
her to to Black Dog Power.

Gay blades discuss their poodles
and the latest  poop on AIDS.
A setter sniffs a dachshund's butt;
their owners introduce themselves.

If it  doesn't wag  its tail and go
"Bow-Wow," no one will speak of it!
Weeb drops his mud-puppy in the lake
and trudges home alone.

Weeb Gains the Upper Hand

The way a butt might blunder
into a needle in a haystack,
my vision slides down the Amtrak
aisle, and comes up with a man
picking his nose. I focus
on the spiffy young executive
and his hump-backed hooter.

His right forefinger digs,
twists, lingers, pops out
balancing a sticky prize.
Rat-like, his eyes dart here
and there. Casual, as if lost
in money-making meditation,
he slips finger into mouth.

He licks his lips, smiles,
feels too late my eyes
all over him. He flushes.
Thoughts squirm across his
face: Did he  see? Naw.
Coincidence. Smart Alack!
Fruit! What does he know?

"Everything!" my smirk
assures. Pleased to grind
my starving-artist's boot into
his fat go-getter soul,
I lick my finger, wave it
at him while my eyes crow
"Hi. Eat boogers, don'tcha."


From Dispatches

I  have been hearing the rush of Floater keening...

    I  have been hearing the  rush of Floater keening late at night. Still at a great distance, but I  do not want to be surprised should they come closer quickly.

    I go to the north ridge to reconnoiter.

    As  I look  into the far north distance, I hear a Floater behind me, coming over the opposite  ridge.

    As I watch, our tiny camp is found and the destruction I've seen so often rains  down again..

    I hide between large rocks and the Floater passes over me and again I am unseen.

    I rush down the mountain to our camp, but it is too late. It is burned in the harsh Floater fire. I find Woman blackened and dead by the cove where we bathed and made love.

    And now I must forget to be human again.

("Dispatches," now "Dispatches from the very last war" will continue in my next 'Here and Now" post. To date I have written 45 of these little vignettes and was hoping to stop at 50 but having a problem finding the ending to fit the story as it has developed along the way. )

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


at 8:06 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonderful photos- what is the river? all comments must be approved- do not detach tab from pillow- poems too much mewling, preciousity, prose- moderation will be enabled- where is the sex, the ego, the money, the honesty, basically in amurican poetry- where is the joy, the ecstasy? where the gd politix? huh? yeh- i'm talwkin TO YOU- WHERE espcially IS THE MUSIC?

poets dave approves of today- arthur, emily, robinson, alan (dugan and ginsberg) (O YEH - and ITZ- dave wants moderator to approve- yeh, u herd me- ITZ), gary and jack

american poetry of new yorker, poetry mag, apr, basically seems tootless- like an old age gummer, driveling, drooling

does anybuddy rd his stuff but me- well then- where's the mf comments? huh?

o i see- type the text? (but u can't rd it)

at 8:10 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

After movie “A Dancer”

So what did Yeats mean?

“How can we tell the dancer from the dance?”

The artist becomes his/her métier?

Art makes us all blissful and ecstatic and unified?

“When you dance do you think of words?”

“Only in technical terms”.

“The words…it feels good to get outside them”.

“I keep my back straight…

I relax my neck…

A long “port de bras” sequence,

And finish with a menage,

A diagonal of pirouettes.”

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