Turning Out the Lights (On the Way Out the Door)   Wednesday, March 04, 2015

This is my last post before we head out for a drive up through New Mexico and southern Colorado. I expect "Here and Now" will be  asleep for at least two weeks while we do that. I will continue to write every day, just as I always do, and hope to get some new pictures so that I can, at least for while, quit the weekly recycling of the old and tired.

The anthology I'm using this week is Hungry As We Are, subtitled "An anthology of Washington area poets." It was published by The Washington Writers Publishing House in 1995.

All the rest as usual, including this reminder that I enjoy feedback, either through the comment section that you can  access at the end of the post or through my email, allen.itz@gmail.com. Postings like this on the internet are intrinsically solitary activities, so I always welcome  hearing from readers.

as must we all do

Thomas M. Kerlin  

so hard

Ana Akhmatova
from Anno Domini

a golden day

Judith Harris

part of the secret to successful poeming

Fady Joudah
from Pulse

how rare are they who deserve

Barrett Warner
Hotel Baltimore

some kind of pretty damn good spuds

Brigit Pegeen Kelly
Field Song

a day lost
blue screen
reciprocal considerations

Mary Ann Larkin
George Yater's Self-Portrait -  1930

the girl who wanted to  learn about government

Nora Naranjo Morse
A Telegram

remembering the desert from the mountain

Janice Mirikitani
American Geisha

stacking words  like a mason builds a wall  

Here's the first of this weeks new poems. It is a complaint that I suppose comes sooner or later to  everyone as they reach a certain age, the weariness of having to always pretend to be interested in the new and sleek and modern and the never seen before. What's wrong with wanting another taste of what you've enjoyed so much before?

as must we all do

in two weeks
we return to the mountains,
Sante Fe and Durango,
sunny afternoons on the old Spanish plaza,
watching all the people crowding
around,  mornings in Durango,
breakfast on the river,
the sound off water rippling
over rocks, deer perhaps, across
the way, grazing in the half light
of dawn...

a return to familiar things missed,
quiet things that sooth a tired
soul, people, places, air I've breathed
before, no cruise in far waters,
no tours of unfamiliar lands,
just this,  place and times from a fortunate
past, revisited...

tired now of the responsibilities of youth
and relevance to the world, tired
of exploration and discovery, ready for a life
with no challenge but the pleasures of living
up to reduced expectations...

just a time in my life to be what I want to  be,
to be where I want to be,
in a rocking chair in good weather,
watching the grass grow, tracking the flickering of tiny hummingbirds
as they dart from blossom to bloom,
with hours every day to listen to singing birds
as a new-day sun wakes them from their nests,
and the chat, chat, chatter of arguing squirrels,
a time to doze in the sun on chilled days,
my feet resting in comfortable shoes,
my back against
an old and familiar pillow...

the life I want now,
just being old,
writing these little things
for my own pleasure in moments
of winding down as must
we all do in

The first poet from this week's Washington area poets anthology is Thomas M. Kerlin. Co-author, with his wife, of the Smithsonian  Folklife Cookbook, Kerlin also  received a Larry Neal writers award for poetry in 1988.


                   to Katherine

Bones laid bare to teeth
again, flesh hard-salted

so  small, unswallowed wishes
          for sons & one more daughter;

the wishbone, wine-soaked, broken now
                   you holding one, I the other.

A coffee filter.The spill
of table linen, and guests gone home

to fold themselves
to bed & useless prayer.

Their empty dishes up
                 at you, can only stare

as for hours, after the dinner watch
         we ladle the sweet sauce of looks
& talk across ripe, uneaten pear.

How the candled body sings:
Fear & appetite
feast & appetite

what, but the love of bones
ever set our table right?

This is a poem from 2011. It seems strange to me that so many of the things I wanted then, I just want to get away from  now.

so  hard


slept  all  day...

dreams of when
I made things happen...

it was in my dreams


the blind  cat
like a pin ball
from wall  to wall
until she finds her way;
soft  bounces,
her pink nose against the wall,
then turn

a turn into a bedroom
that goes nowhere,
in the dark
beyond her personal  dark
until I find her
waiting for the world
to make sense  again, then
I take her
where I think she wants to go


doctor appointment today...

five and a half minutes, she will  give me
new pills
and four and a half minutes
of  advice -

I will take the fist
the second...

young and pretty,
what does she know
about getting old?


find comfort
in my regular place
around my regular people

do  ever think
I need more....


find comfort
in thinking of other places,
other people,
where I can be
the mysterious stranger
in the back of the

I might not ever see before
or since

who know ever less about me
then I know about


it is
to be  happy

or old, it is hard
to know
the true nature
of happiness
from temporary


it is
to live in a world
where nothing happens
unless you make it

First from my library this week,  here is a poem by Ana Akhmatova. The poem is from the collection of her work, You Will Hear Thunder, my edition published by Ohio University Press in 1985, with translation from Russian by D. M. Thomas.

Akhmatova, who lived from 1889-1966, was part of a generation of great writers and artists who came  to fame and creative maturity before the 1917 revolution, then had to face a hard life of post-revolutionary persecution, often including imprisonment and, sometimes, death. While Akhmatova survived the bad times, many did not.

from Anno Domini

Everything is looted, spoiled, despoiled,
Death flickering his black  wing,
Anguish, hunger - then why this
Lightness overlaying everything?

By day, cherry-scent from an unknown
Wood near the town.  July
Holding new constellations, deep
At night, in the transparent sky -

Nearer to fifty ruined houses
Flies the miraculous...
Nobody has ever known it,
This, always so dear to us.


They wiped your slate
With snow, you're not alive.
Bayonets twenty-eight
And bullet holes five.
It's a bitter present,
Love, but I've sewed it.
Russia, an old peasant
Killing his meat.


My birthday poem from last week.

a golden  day

a golden day
to replace the dim and dreary yesterday

and my birthday, too,
which I mention more often
than I should because
the number surprises me,
stuck as I am in my mind years past
when such a piling on of years meant
the shadow of he black-robed stalker
lurked over your days, his hot boney breath
a soft feather against the back of your

and though I see myself as tired and a little worn,
there is no suggestion that there are not
yet bright miles ahead, no  sinister shade
looking across my path...

I talk about it because I am surprised
at a number that brands
me as something different than I ever  expected
to  be...

and a little disappointed
that no one else
seems to be as surprised about it
as me

Next from the anthology, here is a poem by Judith Harris. Author of several poetry collections, Harris appears frequently in the best of literary journals. She teaches at George Washington University. Once again, I couldn't find a photo on the web.


When the small sun yawns,
and creeps back in the maples,
I  will tell you the story
of my own Nicaragua,
when I sat,  rocking,
in the wobbled light
of one kitchen candle -
then, two, in cruddy boots and uniform
smashed in the door,
scattering curled feathers
where I was mending a pillow.
My hands were tied,
buttons sliced from my dress,
my breast shivering
and all the while I could not tell
because the curved moon held
like the policeman's machete
because only the woman knows
how to clench her teeth
and bay like a wolf...
my husband, knee deep
whacking sugar canes in the field,
bundling them back
in the truck,
how could he know
what was happening on the porch
before the shot rang out
as I reeled and fell back
to the earth,
tasting its grit, its salt
because now it was flesh
because he didn't ask for mercy
because it was his hunger,
moaning my name,
in God's hollow breath,
moaning the way he would
when he lay on top of me,
stinking of tobacco
wrists nailed to my wrists,
lip to my lips,
tongue to tongue,
this is my story,
the last word of my love
sweating through the darkness:
whispering Maria, Maria
bush of my blood,
here is another fruit of my cock
another paradise, fluttering        in 

This is another piece from January 2011.

part of the secret to successful poeming

of the secret to successful poeming

is patience, lying
in wait,

taking the time you need
to contemplate the universal sureties;

where you  itch

(but only as long as no reaching
under the table is required),

considering the flow  of traffic
on the interstate,

the  traverse
of orange morning clouds from eastern light

to western dark,
the price of gas, the dietary effects

of burgers and fries
and pecan pies and vanilla crunch


the politics of remorse
and partisan recrimination,

the increasing globe
of your belly

like the planetary explosion
in Star Wars,
in slow motion,

the fat cats on your front  porch
who seem to think every time you drive into your

you're doing it just so you can feed them,

the same over-fed cats

who won't come within six yards of you
if you don't have their food bucket

in your hand,
the neighbor across the creek

who brings her dog out for a walk
along the fence every time you want to take some sun,

(dirty-minded old woman -
nice looking dog)

...but what you must never do
is think about writing a poem

for thinking about writing  a poem
is the worst preparation ever

for writing a poem
because your mind will twist

into all  sorts of poetic poo-poo

and the essence of you, which
is about regular, real, boring things

and not about all sorts
of poetic poo-poo

will be submerged
as well

and all that's left will be some
highfalutin poo-poo

and by that I mean
the shit

your sixth grade teacher tried to stuff down your throat
back when you were still learning to read


of  course a poem that is the essence of the essence
of you

might end up to be shit as well,
but the original, authentic shit of the essence

of your essence
is better, always, than a pale copy

of the highfalutin shit
of some English dude  who  probably

with himself

while eating his morning
kidney pie and Cheerios

From my library, Fady Joudah is a Palestinian-American poet and doctor born in Austin, Texas in 1944. His poem is from his book, The Earth in the Attic, winner of the 2007 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition.

from Pulse


It wasn't over a woman that war began, but it's better
To see it this way, my myth professor loved to say, a man
From the South rumored to extort the bodies of college girls
Into higher grades. My girlfriend of the time told me so -

He was a creep, she
Got an A in the class liked his joke about religion
As self-mutilation, it was Ramadan then and, O Helen,
I was fasting. I lie awake in the a desert night east

Of the Atlantic on the verge of rain, the catapulted grains
Of sand on hot zinc roof, the rustle of leaves, the flap
Of peeling  bark on trees whose names I do not know, and where
Would I find a botany guide here.Water flowed

Like a river from the Jabal once
There were elephant pools, alligator
Streams, and a pond for the devil to speak in human tongues,
All desiccant names now  after an earthquake,

Shuffled the ground decades ago. It will rain soon,
I'm assured, since nothing has stopped
The birds from migration. All the look-alikes
Are already here: the stork, the heron,

The white flying flowers, the ibis, and the one
That anesthetizes you more.

Another from last week.

how rare are they who deserve

things to do, things
to do,  no time this morning
for  a walk and somehow she
knows so  she's hanging all over
me, following me right at  my heels,
jumping on the couch to sit beside me,
head resting on my leg, stealthily
easing the rest of her onto my lap,
this 50 pound lap dog...

letting me know
she  knows...

none of that will change
anything, except
that when I leave her behind
I  will be beset by guilt,
closing the door on her golden,
mournful self lying with such lonely
anguish on the carpet by the door,
trying to let her
I will be back, though dogs
will never understand that, there being
only now for them, except in their sleepy mid-day
dreams of long forgotten rabbits chased
across a long forgotten meadow, but for those sweet
moments of canine heaven relived in their sleep,
for all else gone means
gone forever, an irretrievable
loss, an emptiness at the center of their
lives no  new rabbits can ever

but oh how happy she will be
when come hours later
from now
I am reborn, back from
whatever fire-eyed
demon of the underworld
that took me away from her,
the whole hellish interlude
after a few moments of jumping
and tail wagging, and licking
and cuddling...

it is the gift that dogs, unlike
their masters, enjoy -
they only remember the
good time
with the ones they love,
and how rare are they
who deserve
their forgiving memory

Barrett Warner is the next poet from this week's  anthology. Frequently published in literary journals, Warner, at the time the anthology was published, was farm foreman at a thoroughbred nursery in Maryland.

I'm only about 90% sure that the person pictured is this Barrett Warner  and not another since I can't find anything on the web that definitively draws a line between photo and biography.

Hotel Baltimore

We carve the night like a pineapple
talking of women we lost
with having said hello,
our laughter, a vocal restlessness,
the spirit within, a tenant
in the only building we own.

It is one thing to lose a job
quite another
to lose hope of a job.
Now we measure our lives in dog years:
for every pearl in Autumn
we age by seven,
no wonder then
we cherish what is timeless,
the pleasure of tropical fruit
in the dead of winter, the memory
of turning aside so you could
take off your gloves in private
finger by finger, the way
your nipple nested
in the strange oyster of my ear, how I
caressed you by believing
your every word.

It is one thing to lose a woman
quite another
to lose hope of a woman.
There is a hunger, a remorseless craving,
a limp that  shows up forty years
after you turn an  ankle.

It comes to this:
Brother you can keep your dime
but Sister can you spare your lips
or just
don't cross the street
when you see me coming.

I did my first eBook, Pushing Clouds Against the Wind, in 2011, screwed up a lot of stuff, but it was an effective learning experience, which paid off in subsequent eBooks. That's what this piece, written  very early in 2011 is about.

some kind of pretty damn good spuds

I have a new  book
coming out
in a few  days....

an eBook
and I've never done
and eBook before and never
done any kind of book
with this publisher...

I don't know
how it's going to turn out
but I hope it's not bad
and if it's bad, I hope I learn
something since I have another book
in process and want to be certain
that if I do bad again, it'll be a whole
different kind of bad than
the bad I did this time
at least...

one of the old fellas at the coffee shop
ask me if I made
any money off my books
- he's about eighty-something, the kind
of old-timer that probably been making money
one way or another since he was about five years old
and I told him,
well hell, if I expected to make money
I'd be planting potatoes,
not writing poems, because
if you consider it carefully, it's clear
there's lots of different things
to be done with potatoes,
from French fries, to baked, to potato
pancakes, to scalloped, to a'gratin
and that French dish of  potatoes all baked up
crispy with lots of stuff mixed in like
green onions and who  knows what, not
being French, I  don't have a clue...

but compare all the great things  you can  do
with a potato to what  you can  do with a poem -
limited, as far  as I can see, to  a bit of insight
into the true workings of the world and women
and men and trees and flowers and hills and dales
and so forth, and that's only about once every
17,450 poems, which is pretty good if you get it
but doesn't compare at all to a loaded baked potato
or some of the oven fries down at  the German Deli-

they's some kind of pretty damn good spuds

Here's the next poet from my library, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, with a poem from her book, Song, winner of the 1994 Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets.

Born in 1951 in Palo Alto, California, Kelly is a professor of English and Rhetoric at the University of Illinois, having previously taught at the University of California, Purdue University and Warren Wilson College.

Field Song

What stands? The Walnut:
    the tower of a story
       dark with crows,

The leaf way station
    for doomsayers:
       Say nay, say no,

Say the morning comes in
    with a silver spoon
        and the spoon rattles

In a cup because
    the child is gone.
        But still the child

Stands, the way a statue
    does in the mind;
        or in a field; a fawn

Figure with a filigreed
    grin: there beside
        the walnut and the way

Of passing things:
    the wide road down
        the middle of it all.

The middle ground
    gives way and we
        are on either side.

As in a game:
    You're it. You're not.
        You're out. Arms up

You stand,
    with those taken
        for all they're worth:

The lace of Anne,
    the rods of gold,
        the stalks made from iron:

Their color drains away,
    but still they hold
        on: a dry feast:

The way things fast
    toward their absent
        forms: go in hunger.

Go in grace.

 In order to get all of last weeks considerable bad stuff out of the way, I'm going to post three new poems together here, from several days last week when I  was feeling very bad and in considerable pain.

a day lost

a long night,
sleep intermittent,
pain constant

very early to a day
like a misremembered dream

twenty degrees in two hours
and continued since
its downward
now, mist rain under a sky
thick like partly congealed soup,
the light filters through the clouds
dull and indistinct, except  for red and blue,
like  the neon colors of a Mexican whoretown,
red like blood from the evil dark heart
of  the  devil of the details, blue, iridescent, my jeans shine
in patches along my legs, walking in the somnolent lurch of
the walking dead, dizzy from lack of sleep and unforgiving allergies...

not a good day...

a day lost with no
or intent to recover

 blue screen

I am an old
and obsolete computer,
too long and dusty on a closet  shelf
and I am crashing, nothing
works, everything

only the blue  screen
of my passing illuminates
the dark room
that consumes

reciprocal consideration

I decided
that I wasn't going to hurt
any more at my coffeehouse
than at home, so here I am at the
coffeehouse, waiting another two  hours
for the doctor down the street who,
at my appointed time, will pump  me full
of a variety of happy pills
that will ease my pain and improve
my disposition and, in the meantime,
on this dim and very cold morning, I can  watch out the window
as  traffic moves slowly up and down old Broadway,
none of which/whom gives a furry rat's ass
about my problems today and though  on  another day
I might try to write a  poem  about the lives
and hopes and dreams and desires
of all those passing, on this day, I don't  give a furry rat's ass
about them either

The last poet from this week's anthology is Mary Ann Larkin, member of the Capitol Hill Poetry Group and founder of the Big Mama Poetry Troupe. She teaches writing at Howard University and appears frequently in journals and anthologies. I have to admit that, though I like this poem, I don't "get it."

George Yater's Self-Portrait - 1930

The eyes give him away
his lust
for the brightness beneath the skin
the desperate wanting
of a lover  being summoned
to the light-starved world
He stalks his prey

He is ready to die
for  that lissome muse
who  demands always
just a little more
And He'd devour her
if she'd let him
They both know this
So she waits
just out of reach

Here breath caresses
his long-ago  skin
Her shadow  blossoms
on his mirrored flesh
His  eye traces the curve
of her body
She calls him out
He goes for the kill
that blood-filled, glistening moment
when flesh becomes light

This poem from 2011 was written in reaction to the shooting of Gabrielle Gifford in Arizona. The congresswoman was not killed, but others  were, including a young girl who had come to the event to learn about government and her congressional representative.

And the worst thing, the absolute worst thing, is that the air is even more poisonous  now than  it was then. The insanity not only threatens to take the streets away from us,  but it howls as well in madhouse shrieks from the very seat of our various governments. In Texas, parts of our state government are lunatic asylums overrun by the inmates. It is not a fortunate time for the sane.

the girl who wanted to learn about government

lies  bloodied  and dead on  a sidewalk

9 years old
and already a casualty
of the political wars

don't tell  me
it is  nobody's fault -
that it was just a crazy person
acting out the insanity
of his life

for there are crazy people
acting  out the insanity
of their lives
but they don't shoot
20 people in a crowd
just any old time

it takes a special time
for that to happen,
a time when
a zeitgeist of hate and
is like poison gas
in the air,
fogging  the fog
already in the minds
of the insane -
providing direction
to them

so  a little girl
who wanted to know more
about her government
lies bloodied  and dead
on a sidewalk

it matters less
whose hand
the gun
whose finger
pulled the trigger  - more it matters
who brought upon us
this special time
we  live

Again from my library, this is a poem by Nora Naranjo Morse. It is  from the anthology Pierced by a Ray of Sun published by Harper Collins in 1995.

Morse is a poet and a very well-know potter. A member of the Santa Clara Pueblo, Born in 1953, she lives in Espanola, New  Mexico.

A Telegram

A telegram arrived yesterday
     About my brother
          Wounded in Vietnam.
               Nothing else.
                    Nothing about
                         time or
                                   Just a short apology.

My mother cried for Jesus
     My father fainted when he heard
          I  had never seen him so scared.

We sat quietly,
     Trying to avoid the sadness
     Written on each of our faces
     Thinking of my brother,

          Their son,
          Across the ocean

               In a war
                     Brought home to  our aching hearts.

At night
     I feel lonely
     with my father's silence

     and my mother's tears.

From last week, your first step to freedom - smash all the clocks.

 remembering the desert from the mountain

 the sun sets
and the moon rises and from the lodge
I can see the desert below
laid out gleaming silver in the moonlight

a few clouds passing cast  shadows
across the desert, but seen from above, reflecting
the same moon that  coats the desert in silver,
the are like cotton fluff drifting in the quiet Mexican

all quiet for now, but the wind
will pick up
in the morning and the sun rising from the east
will at first leave the desert dark
in mountain shadow,
another passage

the rising and falling
of sun and the moon
mark time
as old as the mountain rock
and desert dust

leaving birds to sing in  first light
and cougars to roar  as they hunt the night,
leaving, under new mountain sun, javalina
to start their forage on paths laid out
for them over generations, deer
to graze outside my cabin,
a black bear to lumber  past in first light,
up from desert  night,
all intent  on the passing of their day,
in accordance
with clock that surrounds them

to live myself within
that clock refreshes for  a spell, but only until
the modern clock of ambition
moves me on that  other world, beyond
that further mountain that binds me
and my days and night

My last library poem this week is from the week's second anthropology, Pierced by a Ray of  Sun. The poet is Janice Mirikitani. Born in Stockton, California, in 1942, Mirikitani is an American Sensei poet and activist and was interned with her  family during World War II.

American Geisha


There are people
who admire
the aesthetics
of our traditions.

And ask politely,
Where are you from?

South Bend
Tule Lake
San Francisco
New York

They persist and
ask again.

our command of the
English language


American white actress
plays the role
of white American  Geisha

filmed on location
in japan.

It was soooooo hard
says she
because American woman walk

in strides

shaking it baby.

Over here
no hips, no shaking,
point the toes inward and...
don't speak
unless spoken to.

Japanese women,
says she,
don't walk.

They place themselves
like art objects


Mr. Wong
went to Washington, D.C.
served on a Commission
for  Small Business.
Was asked
if  he was  familiar
with the system of free  enterprise?

and how come
he didn't speak
with an accent?


The saw
I was Asian
and offered
to  revise the program.

So I could read
my poetry

I wouldn't want to follow

He is very articulate.


My daughter
was called
at the beach

bosomed in her swimsuit

Shake it baby, does it slide  sideways?


Do we say thank  you?

when they tell  us that they've
visited Japan
Hong Kong
several times

and it's so quaint

And when did we arrive

Since we speak
English so well.

Here's my last piece for the week,  more of a thinking-out-loud than a poem, but the more I write  the more it is the way I think.

stacking words like a mason  builds a wall

preparing to facilitate a workshop series
for aspiring poets...

based on the Blueline House of 30
concept that no poet ever wrote
a poem while talking about poetry; that
talking about poetry is like a magician blowing smoke
while dodging out the back door, his only trick,
disappearing before the real magic starts...

so, these workshops will not be about talking  about
writing, but a weekly exercise in the act itself -
the finding of a poetic nugget and building upon it
through the mundane act of putting one word, one idea,
after another, creating the various  kinds of art
a poem can be - every participant expected
to earn their place at the poets' table
by writing at  least one new poem for  session,
and, just as important, helping their fellow poets
by seeing  not  just their creations,
but the work behind the creation, recognizing
the work  that was done, providing
assurance that no poem need ever  be a last poem,
so that each poem provides the stepping-stone
to reach the next one...


according to most faiths, God didn't create
the all of all by having committee meetings and discussion
groups to talk about it -
he just created...

so a poet can't write a poem through committee ruminations
but only through putting words together,
and that's what I hope we will do in these sessions,
each week,  piling words, one upon another,
like a mason building a wall upon which beautiful blooming
vines will flourish...

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