Another Other Place   Wednesday, January 07, 2015

I grew up in very flat, very far south South Texas, less than ten miles short of as far south as you can go without a passport. We would visit my father's home town in the central Texas hill country every summer and I thought of the hills like, okay, so that's what mountains look like. Imagine what it was like then for someone, 20 years old, with that background to step off an airplane in Albuquerque and see the Sandias and the Manzanos stretched across the east horizon. During the months I was there, in Peace Corps training at the University of New Mexico in the winter of 1964, we made several trips into the mountains, hiking about two thirds the way up the Sandias once and, in late December, hiking up  and over the Manzanos. It was such a life changing, life enlarging experience, so that I came to love the mountains and the places and people in them. This week my photos from New Mexico and Colorado are an expression of that love.

I return to the anthology game this week with a collection of poems about loss selected by San Antonio poet and editor Naomi Shihab Nye. The book,  What have you lost?, was published by HarperCollins' Greenwillow imprint, in 1999.

My stuff, old and new, and poems from my library round out this shorter than usual post.

if we had pumpkins

Jim Natal


Eric Greinke
Northern Lights
Back Home
a night of victories won

Dionisio D. Martinez
Years of Solitude          

the girl in white stockings
the chill of the night
Gary Blankenship
After Wang Wei's String of Powdered Gold - Found among Yellow Weeds
After Wang Wei's Pepper Tree Garden - The Last Step

coming up for air 

Linda Allardt
Seeing for You


Kevin Prufer
The Afterlife

night reaches for a little more dark

Kristi Simonsuuri
Traveling Light


Craig Czury


My poem for Christmas morning.

if we had pumpkins

if we had pumpkins
there would be frost on the pumpkins
this morning...

but we don't  have pumpkins

we have the wide stretch of close-cut grass
alongside Apache Creek, frosted like a silver  ribbon
along the green, slow-moving water
reflecting the holiday package of
bright blue morning sky...

Christmas morning
in the hills  of central Texas,
ho ho's echoing
ridge to

First from this week's What have you lost? anthology, I have a poem by Jim Natal.

The poet grew up in Chicago, and, at the time of publication, lived in Los Angeles where he worked as executive editor of the National Football League Properties.


This is to  poems that get
lost in the dark,

poems that flutter
away, white moths
just out of reach,
camouflaged against
rough plaster of
bedroom ceilings,
little bumps and
patterns of branches
cast by light from streetlamps,
neighbors' windows,
sometimes the

In that criss-crossed and
curtained glow
you only see them
when they move.
To grab is
to crush and keep
them earthbound, sow
of bitter wing dust on
your hands and
fine as the powder of poems
lost in time, slipped
in among old papers
tossed away, whispers
that now annoy the hair on
the back of your head like a
strand of spider web
you brushed
one high school night,
still sticky with the first
line of your
first poem, caught,
then struggling free:

"Trees and the shadows of

This time of the year brings memories. For this poem from December, 2007, memories of some very good times.

The songs mention in the poem, both by Vicente Fernandez are my favorites, "Volver" and "El Rey." I particularly love the chorus of "El  Rey."

Con dinero y sin dinero
Yo hago siempre lo que quiero
Y mi palabra es la lay.
No tengo trono ni reina.
Ni nadie que me comprenda.
Pero  sigo siendo el rey

What more confident declaration of place can there be than this: "With or without money, I always do what I want. And my word is the law."

And of course, "Jalisco," in South Texas at least, the equivalent of the national anthem, only a lot more lively.


at Casasol
chili con queso,
crispy taco,
on the rocks,
the stuff I like,
and at the other end
of the room
some kind of party,
with mariachis
singing my favorites -
"Volver," "El Rey," and
"Jalisco" -
reminding me
of the years I spent
working further south
and the parties
at the end
of every month,
men only in those days,
BBQ and lots of beer
and singing,
always singing,
gathered around Gus,
the guitar player,
some drunk,
and singing all those
wild and mournful
Mexican songs
of love, loss,
and revolution

First from my library I have several short poems from a book I just picked up at the half-price book store last week. The book is Wild Strawberries, a collection by Erick Greinke. The book was published by Presa Press in 2008.

Greinke, born in 1948, is a Vietnam era veteran of the Coast Guard. With a Masters Degree in Social  Work and undergraduate degrees in English and Psychology, he as been active in the American small press since the 1960s.

Northern Lights

A roar of jeweled leaves
Titillates the dark northern sky
Celebration above the trees
Aurora flares
Sun spots dance the edge
Owl turns to small  sound
Marten clings
To  a red pine branch
Outside my sleepy head.


Wild ducks
Scoot a landing
On blue eyes

Back Home

Winter is here.
The air is chilly & crisp.
Field mice have moved inside.
Many thoughts crowd my mind
& grief clouds my heart.
Many songs press for words,
but who will sing them?
The morning wind invades my  shirt.
The light of the moon dissipates,
& the sirens moan
As I fly myself back home.

I can  put on a happy face for Christmas morning, but New Year's Day leaves me nothing but gloomy.

a night of victories won

a night of victories won
and wars lost,
forgotten by all,
remembered only in my
deepest  night

with its sometimes better moments,
the past is always dark,
filled with futility and failed promise...

we play with the past
in our mind's back corners where dreams are brewed
because we know the inevitability of a darker

The next poem from this week's anthology is by Dionisio D. Martinez.

Born in Cuba in 1956, Martinez was raised first in Spain and then in the United States. Although he never received a formal college education, his poetry has led the self-taught poet to be described as a "formidable talent." Frequently published, he has been honored for his work with fellowships by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim foundation and the Whiting Foundation.

Years of Solitude (from The Flood)

To the one who sets a second place at the table anyway.

To the one at the back of the empty bus.

To the ones who name each piece of stained glass projected on
a white wall.

To anyone convinced that a monologue is a conversation with
the past.

To the one who loses with the deck he marked.

To  those who  are destined to inherit the meek.

to us.

Next, here are two shorter observational poems from December, 2007.

the girl in white stockings

the girl
in white stockings
swings her leg,
her unshod foot,
perfectly arched
like a metronome


on a snowy field
bright December sun

in a white room
white walls
thick white carpet


the chill of the night

two women,
one blond,
the other,
long dark hair
with the sheen
of fresh mined coal,
against  the cold
in identical   red  coats...

their eyes
and the chill
of the night

The next poem from my library is by my poet-friend from the state of Washington, Gary Blankenship. The poems are from his book A River Transformed: Wang  Wei's River Wang Poems as Inspiration. Te book was published by Santiam Publishing in 2005.

XIX. After Wang Wei's Stream of Powdered Gold - Found among Yellow Weeds

Flimsy tables piled with dog-eared books,
sheet music and posters of forgotten cities -
a sidewalk sale on a crowded side street,
paper sold by the pound or  plastic bag,
amidst the debris and discarded tomes
once treasured by schoolboys and scholars,
a well-read volume of translated verse.

armed with bad eyes and strong coffee,
I try to grasp words written in a language
I can't read, a culture I don't comprehend.
You sip tea as you laugh at the surprises
in a bag of books purchased for a dollar.

A hawk dries its wings in the morning sun,
pigeons gossip  with the library lions.

XX:  After Wang Wei's Pepper Tree Garden - The Last Step

the celebrations finished, bottles tossed,
boats docked and  market shuttered -
the village gates bolted
against  the careless wreck of a new moon.

Beyond  blue hills, red deer graze new moss,
fox  kits roll in the soft dirt  near their den.
The villagers sleep  by the moon's light
as monkeys steal tomorrow's quiet.

We unpack - books, souvenirs, glass goddesses.
You cannot find the high boots that  need new soles.
Luggage  stowed,  we  settle in like morning
as I wait for day  to light the mountain road.

A truck has broken down at the crossing.
From a bus, a passenger may have waved good-bye.

Last week I posted  my "Dispatcher" series.  The next  poem was  the first after 30 days or so devoted to that series.

coming up for air

coming up for air
after a deep dive
in a cold hill country
lake, gasping for air,
searching out the world
left behind before I

so, I rise from
a deep creative well,
looking for a new  poem
to  pull from the newly recovered
air, to leave in the past the
of creative tides
that consumed the days before...

to find a new  place
to brace my feet

to count the old stars
bright as if new...

to find in the ever-shining stars
a new place to start

Now, a poem by Linda Allardt from the week's anthology.

It is strange, but I'm having a lot of trouble finding women poets in the anthology who have photos on line. They're all accomplished poets with multiple publications, like Allardt, who at least has the tiny, passport sized photo above (enlarged here).

Seeing for You

The leaves left at the  tops of trees
sound like rain in he wind. November -
the sparrows play at being leaves,
the leaves at being birds.
I play at seeing for you
now that you play at being gone.

A chilly day in the back, sitting beside my chiminea - the poem from December, 2007.

If you want, you might even find a political lesson in it.


i made
and excellent fire

i  had fresh cut wood
and lighter fluid

reminding me
the secret
of making an excellent life
in the wherewithal
to start it

Next I have another poem from a fairly recent addition to my library,  National Anthem, by Kevin Prufer. The book was published in 2008 by Four Way Books.

Prufer, a poet, academic, editor and essayist, was born in 1969 in Ohio. With an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University, an MA from Hollins University, and an MFA from Washington University in St,  Louis, he is currently a Professor of English in the creative writing program at the University of Houston and Editor-at-Large of Pleiades: A Journal of New Writing.

The Afterlife

Here are boys,  still weak. When they speak
                                                                      snow falls from their lips.
Pale of hand and cheek,  the motors that whirred in their chests
have failed.


Their new city - building like a scrim
                                                            and a god unfurled for them
so it waves in the wind.


Pallid, strange, and chill.
The boys are laughing weakly in the street


so the snowbanks build and stir.
                                                    It is a city of lost children,
of failures: the weak hearted, pigeon-toed, transparent lispers,
the recently dead who have no name for it.
                                                                    do not care


to name it. An empty time they had, coming here -
                                                                                a long ride

on a quiet train, and now, on the moonlit  avenue,
they talk among themselves.
                                             A boredom, one says, over the rails.
Someone nods. I was thinking of  the good things, candy,
when at last the coughing stopped.


for my part - I have grown
My window that overlooks more buildings and the bay,
                                                                                        the voices
and the endless snow Like anyone, of course,


I expected a better landscape - a warmer breeze,
                                                                              a breath, a relaxation
of the senses.Canceled, canceled. A passage like moving
from one town to another, warmer town,
                                                                but the city is new,
the population pale, unsteady. When at last they covered me up -
the coughing stopped.
                                    I on a god and, thus,


judgement - a smile from above, a You have passed or not. A hand
from  the clouds to lift me up,
                                               a gently voice to call me
                  The boys in the street below
search for their wallets. The city squats on the bay, and I,
who am one of them
                                 smile at the squalls from their mouths


as, from far away, another train pulls into the station,
sighs, and, with a shudder,

 The kind of enticing day that greets us early risers.

night reaches for a little more dark

night reaches for a little more dark
as day's fire streaks
red and orange in the west, tall oaks silhouetted
black against the light thrash
against the strong north wind that rises with the sun

unseen for months, deer
return in the half-light to the pasture
across the way, emerging from the woods
in their sharp,tippy-toed way
to graze in high meadow grass

it's cold out, at least for here,
in the thirties, Bella, all golden-furred
and fluffy from her beauty parlor visit yesterday,
waits in the car for her morning sausage treat
and a walk

and it's cold out there...

From the anthology, Kirsti Simonsuuri, born in Helsinki in 1945, is a professor, writer, poet, and researcher of ancient literature. Her poem was translated from Finnish by herself and Jascha Kessler.

Traveling  Light

It's a though I saw it all
diminish to the core
the whole day to a minute
the suitcase to a book
the long conversation to a word
looks of longing to a smile
and hopeless choices to what must be
it is so light, so clear
I want nothing anymore
       only winds stroking waves
       onto a distant shore

Last from my December, 2007 poems, remembering my former and now deceased best  pal.


it is a damp night
with low clouds
that reflect back
to earth
all  the lights
of the city
it brighter
here in my neighborhood
than under even
the most

Reba and i
are taking our walk,
the almost-mile
we do every night

it's late...

(Reba is very
jealous and protective
of me and bristles
and barks
at every dog we meet)

she embarrasses me
and i can't get her to stop, so
even though she begins
to follow me around
and stare at me at  six,
we don't walk until after nine,
late, when we have the
streets to ourselves...

she is a lovely dog, a
border collie mix,
gentle and  sweet-natured,
and bright and curious
as a young child - we got her
from the humane society,
the second to take her home,
the first returned her,
for reasons I cannot
ever guess, but it's clear
they disciplined her
with a broom
because booms
terrify her - she hides
in the bedroom when we
sweep the kitchen
and comes out
only when it's clear
the broom monster
has been  returned
to  its closet

it is the nature
of having pets
that you're usually
to outlive them
and having kept dogs
all of my life
i have outlived
but none of those
losses, i think,
will compare to the loss
when this dog's time

but that's not now

she's in the den
by the fire,
for me to come in
and finish  the
Harry Potter movie
we started
before the walk

Nothing interesting ever happens on beautiful, sunny days.

should I mention?

should I mention
that  it is a sloppy, ugly, misty day outside?

maybe I should, just to say
that while most people hate this kind of day,
I love it

makes me feel like Sherlock
on the foggy, twisted lanes and byways
of turn-of-the-century
London, Moriarty
and his henchmen  lurking
down every listless whore-strewn alley
behind every black corner,
or, better,
walking the moonless moors of the English countryside,
hearing the howl of the demon hound
and the cries of its panicked victims as they stumble
in supernatural fear through the dim and dark...

not the bright and sunny days
that over-awe the poets,  such bores those  days,
requiring no  imagination at all
to savor...

This is my last poem from this week's anthology. It is by Craig Czury.

Author of 15  books, Czury's work has been translated into Russian, Lithuanian, Polish, Spanish and Portuguese. He has been creating poetry, poetry performances and poetry poetry environments in schools, hospitals, community centers, shelters and prisons for more than 20 years.


Even while your were looking straight at me
you were always somewhere else, very far away.
I could never tell if you knew I was talking to you
or you just didn't want to hear me. You were that distant.

So when I turned my attention to the trees,
the air that brought me the trees, the stones
and everything I walked in and out of, you suddenly
began to speak to me. And your breath was warm
and sweet that it took me very far away inside me
to a place where I was born, growing up before I was born.

Allergies have been kicking my butt this winter, the day last week when I wrote this the worst of all.


an allergy zombie, right now,
yesterday, and for the last three weeks,
looking out the restaurant window this morning
at a dim day opening with rain
only a degree or two above
Bella waiting in the car
for her walk...

why am I here?

I would feel  lousy
even if I wasn't already
feeling lousy

so why am I here?

oh, yeah,
it's about the medal,
the Distinguished Service
in Lifetime Stupid and Stubborn Award...

already have a bunch of those

can't pass up a chance
to get another...

that's why I'm here...

like the actor,
doesn't care what they say about him
in the papers,
as long as they spell his name right

is what counts, even if only for
stupid and stubborn...

and duly recognized now,
I'm going home

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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