When Rain Comes and the World Is Green   Wednesday, May 20, 2015

This is the back story on this week's photos: We've had two consecutive excellent, forward-thinking mayors in San Antonio, the most recently elected mayor, Julian Castro, now in Washington as HUD Secretary, and before him, a retired federal judge, Phil Hardberger, who though nearing his 80s, is definitely not elderly, sailing his tiny sailboat around the world with his wife when his term ended. Both had a vision of San Antonio as a world class city. Castro was great in encouraging projects that are bringing new life to the city's downtown, while the judge was great in very creatively developing partnerships to buy land around the city to protect as parks and wildlife areas as places for citizens to enjoy and as a protective shield for the aquifer upon which the city depends for its water.

One of the largest projects, outside of the 8-mile Mission Reach extension of the Riverwalk, was creation of a federal, state,  local and private sector partnership for the purchase of 12,000 acres of undeveloped land (most of it from a single ranching family that had owned the land for more than 100 years) to create Government Canyon State Wildlife Area. With forty miles of trails through the park, it is a hikers paradise. No longer available to walk like I used to,  I've seen only a couple of miles of the trails, never getting to the actual canyon bottom where, among other things there are 110 million year-old dinosaur footprints. Saved just in time, even as the park was  being developed for visitors, the city was spreading all around it.

My photos this week are from the couple of miles of the park that I've been able to walk. The park, as a wildlife protection area, prohibits visitors from leaving the trails, which is a bummer for people  like me who want to get up close for pictures.

As a footnote, there is a runoff election for a new mayor next week. My candidate came in third in the general election, and though I have a preference among the two remaining candidates, neither have the vision of the two they follow. So, I'm afraid we may be in a lull as imagination is lacking for a while.

No anthology this week, just poets from  my library  and  me, new, and stuff and from early days, the old stuff, most of it, a little more personal and sentimental than usual, memories of moment especially important to me.

mother of my child

Juan Felipe Herrera
Monday: I am
Monday: (PRI jet)
Monday: - you
Monday: Still

accidents happen

Sunil Freeman
Mescaline, 1971

that day comes

Campbell McGrath

a cool breeze in August   
before the estate sale 
explaining it all to my dog Reba
first frost
grandpa's rabbits

Siri von Reis
The National Atmospheric Administration's...
Theorist May No Longer Believe...

five wet days without rain

Jane Hirshfield
Happiness is Harder
Nothing  Lasts

bright yellow flowers  

we may be record-holders

Dan Cuddy
Back Porch Blues

just thought I'd mention it   

Baby Stuff

Dennis Tourbin
Private Moment



My last  poem last week was a Mother's Day tribute to my mother who passed away 15 years ago. The first poem this week, is to my wife, mother of our son.

mother of my child

mother of my child,
how we have struggled
at time
to make  it all work out

but always with faith
that it would
in the end

it is the most  important
thing we do -

keep the faith,
trust each other and
the new life  given to us from which
we are charged to mold
a whole and complete person,
a new person who,
in our stead, will take  over
the reins of the future
and fulfill  the promise of our

even as we  taught the child
to dream on his own...

it is what we do,
we mothers,
we fathers...

it is what we do to  earn
the day we call our
own, our work, for which we  are paid
in  flowers and balloons
and chocolates
we probably shouldn't eat
but we do
because it is also what we do...

First  from my library, from Giraffe On Fire, a collection of amazing poems by Juan Felipe Herrera. The book was published  by The University of Arizona Press in 2001.

Herrera, born in California in 1948, child of a migrant farm worker, is a poet, performer, writer,  cartoonist, teacher, activist and author of more than  21 books of poetry,  prose, short stories, and young adult novels.  He won the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry in 2008 and was appointed California Poet Laureate in 2012.

Monday: I am

I am
bullet-riddled inside Skinnybones Martinez he one with
                             overhauled rage Chiclets Boy (pocket bloated
now, stretching) Yes
just like the gum stuff old mandible sputum -
Cabeza de vaca  Head of a woman  weeping a desert of hands
bullet riddled and one thousand (5) thousand mothers of a dead boy, a  girl
Lily flame (her name is Senorita Solitary Ash;
his name Fire Without  a Hungry Altar Without a Leaf) - first flame,
tiny dagger, little wrist doll in the thick coffee barracks
crazy tin shrapnel  sky shred

Monday: (PRI jet)

(PRI jet) This is the string - this is the noose
this is the brown slashed head, the lost knot, the holy twine,
twisted head, headless - the dream of  ___________
the new dream of man-handkerchief artificial ice
iodine tank Christmas: suppliant supplicate suppliant
positions (he says)
          in the mass graves in the building with shoes and bandages and sweets ,
coconut and carpets on sale and pumpkin seeds and confetti
in the stone rubble volcanic ash

Monday: - you

- you want her hung open your linen  cloth
No I don't talk nor will I speak (of G -) nor  will I complete his name
Anyway - it's just you
              I judge you  - like the orphan and poet (that I am)

Monday: Still

breaks your face - from the stirrups from the crutch
from this winter-spring from  the worker's barn
tragic and melancholy fictions
breaks your nose with my sand,
with our shadow, with my Huichol woman orphan frying pan
and kindling wood with lice and splendor  lizards here
you come even though you don't-want to - toward my womb,
toward this  quickening mound  at a fast gallop toward
my pencil toward my hunger my solar  razor and you don't lose the chain
take you apart on your very own shore.


This poem is from 2002, a smidgen of science, a brush against eastern religions and my own fumbling around in a dark closet.

accidents happen

how can a thing
be there
where before
there was no

there never really is
no thing

thing is  eternal

changing shape and form
but always there
in an eternal loop
of forever is

reborn in every circuit
as something new

I am me in this circuit
and you are you

in the next
we could be mice
in the stucco cottage walls
of  a bookish, pipe-smoking

in another
we might be kings
or even gods

but in some
we  are not at all

there is no us
in these circuits
and there is no here
because of the trillion
billion trillion accidents
that led to here and to  us
some significant number
turned another way
and where we might have been
in whatever form
there is a ting so not-here and not-us
as to be inexplicable
even if there was an us
to try to understand

until the next  circuit
of the loop brings another
permutation of the endless
possibilities of chance

There is a long explanation at the end of the book (published in 1993 by Gut Punch Press) of it's title,   That Would Explain  the Violinist,  but I didn't read  it. Prefer to play my own games with it.

The book's author is  Sunil Freeman, author of  two books of poetry, has been with The Writer's Center for twenty-five years and is currently its  Assistant  Director. Born in North Carolina, he  has spent most  of his life in Washington D.C.

Mescaline, 1971

The senses are primed to jitterbug
with the things of the senses so  I turn

off the lights, crawl into bed,
burrow under the quilt, bring  my knees up,
fetal, and close my eyes.

Time  forgets to spin itself out.
Nothing but colors and sounds

and something important, maybe my soul,
flowing in and out of a tooth
(three left of the left incisor)
like solar flares.

Sounds and dot patterns spin fugues
that shoot from the center of the tooth,
then zoom back into my mouth.

I'm in outer space. There's something
attached to my foot. Oh!
It's the earth.


An early morning encounter  as I was  heading out from my house for breakfast last week.

that day comes

short  little fella,
big  glasses hiding  high
on his nose

a sixth grader,
I'm guessing, from down the street
at Pat Neff Middle School...

in front of my house
to walk to school with a friend,
a girl, he says, just to be sure I know,
due to come from the other direction...

we talk
just a little, as I let Bella eat some weeds
and look around for a place to

Bella's morning duty done,
I wish the boy a good  day and I load the dog
into the truck and as we back out of the driveway
I notice the boy is leaving too, giving up,
I guess, on his friend,  as he pointed out,
a girl...

I'd like to roll down my window
and reassure the boy, tell him that
the disappointment  of this day will happen again,
maybe often in his life,
but that there will always be another day
and another girl to walk to school with...

the first of a lifetime of lessons
is always
the hardest
and nothing I might say will make it

so we both head out alone,
for this day, our day,
good or bad, is only the one that comes
before the one that comes

From my library,  two short  pieces by Florida poet Campbell McGrath, from his book Seven Notebooks, published by HarperCollins/ecco in 2008.

McGrath, born in 1962, earned his MFA  at Columbia University in 1988 and is the author of nine full-length  collections of poetry.


Sadness, not sorrow -
like the blue beneath the black
of the mussel shell.


An ant to the stars
or stars to the ant - which is
more irrelevant?

Ninety-six - too hot
to run the grill at Cheryl's,
no cheese steaks today!

Weekend Jet Skiers -
rude  to call them idiots,
yes, but facts are facts.

Here are several short forms from early days.

The first four poems are from 2004.

a cool breeze in August

from the north
in a season of southern winds

trees sigh
with early morning pleasure

welcome this reminder
of better days to come


crescent moon
hangs white
against the midnight sky
the gentle arc
a beacon
to the weary
and day-worn

before the estate sale

quiet walk
a dead man's house

soft steps
in this husk
of a life

of a falling tide

of the end

explaining it all to my dog Reba

she stares


big brown eyes
wide, unblinking

hanging on every word
like it was God's own true
revelation she was hearing

and I'm thinking,
I'm really on a roll tonight

submerging myself
in the techniques of instruction,
overwhelming myself
with my own higher-being brilliance

After four from 2004, this one is from 2003.

first frost

first frost
and leaves fall
soft and slow
like red ad yellow
drifting in the sun

And, finally, enough of this. This one from 2001.

grandpa's rabbits

he saw rabbits
behind every bush

lookee there, boy
he'd say,
leaning on his cane

rabbits all over the place

look at'em
he'd say
all over the place

yes, sir,
I'd agree

but I thought he was nuts


Here are two poems by Siri von Reis, poet, author and botanist, from her book The Love-Suicides at Sonezaki. The book was published by Zoo Press in 2001.

The National Atmospheric Administration's

Space Laboratory warns that magnetic  storms
caused by large solar flares could arrive at any time.

The huge sun-spot related explosions hurl X-rays,
charged particles  and hot  gases toward Earth,

altering the shape of the ionosphere. Arriving
protons will touch spacecraft,  increase drag,

affect orbits, weaken power systems, cause
lights to flicker, and interfere with contact

between  airliners and ground  control. The flares,
they say, pose no  direct threat to life.

Theorists May No Longer Believe

in the balance of nature, the assumption that
normality inheres to equilibrium, an idea

that once governed the management of Earth's
resources led to the idea that nature

knows best. On many levels,external forces
appear seldom to let things remain  as they

are.  Climate, for instance, has varied wildly
for two  million years, eon to  eon,  decade

to decade, and at  all scales between. Change
is the rule, the continuum being one of

disturbance, turmoil, fluctuation. There may
exist over millenia only a kind of floating

stasis of recurrent  similarities. Perhaps one
cannot even imagine  a time in  balance.


The suspense is killing us.

five wet days without rain

five wet days without rain,
thunderstorms all  around, flash flood
warnings, creeks overflowing, thunder, lightning
and tree-toppling wind...

and here, peppered by occasional popcorn soft
mists that dampen the grass
and dry from the sidewalks  in minutes,
constant warnings
that we are next in line for the big blow
and deluge, the radar,red and green and purple
all around, and here nothing but our little rain dribbles
that come and go...

everyone on edge,
waiting for out turn  to hunker down


and nothing...

it's like waiting for the end of a bad  movie
you already paid for and don't want to leave
because, who knows, maybe it all works out in the end
and you won't feel so  bad about the fifteen dollars
you laid out to see it...

who can sleep, or relax, even, during the course of a day
when the nothing happening includes the big  thing that was supposed to happen
and for which we  cannot help but wait,  because
it's hanging there, right in the corner of our vision, red and green and purple,
shoes on  thin, unraveling strings that still refuse to  drop,
that are certain to drop
     anytime now...

waiting for the shoes to drop...

The next two poems are by Jane Hirshfield, poet,  essayist, translator and professor, taken from her book  Given Sugar, Given Salt published in 2001 by Harper Collins Perennial imprint.

Born in 1953, Hirshfield obtained her BA from Princeton University, part of the schools first graduating class to include women. She has taught at several universities and has received many awards and honors for her poetry.

Happiness Is Harder

To read a book of poetry
from back to front,
there is the cure for certain kinds of sadness.

A person has only to choose,
What doesn't  matter; just that...

This coffee. That dress.
"Here is the time I would like to arrive."
"Today, I will wash the windows."

Happiness is harder.

Consider the masters' description
of awakened existence, how seemingly simple:
Hungry, I eat; sleepy, I sleep.
Is this choosing completely, or not at all?

In either case, everything seems to conspire against it.

"Nothing Lasts"

"Nothing lasts" ...
how bitterly the thought attends each loss.

"Nothing lasts"...
a promise also of consolation.

Grief and hope
the skipping rope's two ends,
twin daughters of impatience.

One wears a dress of wool, the other  cotton.

 This is a piece from 2000.

The painting still hangs on my bedroom wall. Kitsch I suppose you'd have to call it and it's certain nobody is ever going to offer me $123 million for it. But it is still more dear to me than anything  Picasso ever drew.

bright yellow flowers

bright yellow flowers
cover the ground
a few standing tall
against the lake,
dark blue at the far shore,
light blue, nearly white
from reflected sunlight,
on the near side
and beyond the lake
brownish green hills
frame a pale summer sky...

first a photograph I took
near Bloomington, Indiana
nearly 30 years before,
then a painting by my mother,
her first,
desperate to fill the days
alone after my father's death,
a remembrance now...

                            love, mom,
                            it's signed at the bottom


About fifteen minutes after posting this on my House of 30 poem-of-the-day forum, Dee called to tell me that Kleberg County had called to say they found the marriage license after all. So another of my life's great achievements gone to dust

we  may be record-holders

so there's a discrepancy
between Dee's social security name
and her driver's license name

     (it's a matter of a hyphen and everyone knows
      one cannot  be a properly licensed driver
      in Texas as long as the matter of a dangling
      hyphen remains  unresolved...)

a cosmic type thing according to the Texas Department of Public Safety,
Driver's License Harassment Bureau, an issue that can only be resolved
by presenting a marriage license to establish that "Ramirez"
in not a middle name but that, as "Ramirez-Hyphen,"
it is a true and correct representation of the feminist revolution
of the mid-1970s, the "Ramirez" becoming "Ramirez-Hyphen"
upon the occasion of marriage  as proven by may of the marriage license...

     (can't  be too careful when these sneaky terrorist are trying to  sneak
      a hyphen on the road)

except that  we cannot find the marriage license and the driver's license
must be renewed by next month...

the story thus far:

we were married in Cameron County, but Cameron County has no record of the marriage...

we lived in Nueces County on the day of the marriage, but Nueces County has no record of the

within a week of  marriage, we moved to Kleberg County, but Kleberg County also has no record of the marriage...

other than  seeing  an ancient, crabby priest, I have no  memory of any of the preparations
for  the marriage...

Dee,  who took care of the preparations for the marriage has  no specific memory of getting the license
as part of the preparations for the marriage, other than a vague memory
of taking a blood test...

which could possibly mean that after nearly 40 years we may have inadvertently established
a  possible shacking-up record...

as an old hippy without much else to mark my passage through the straight life, I am tempted,
when she's not looking, to like the idea.

Next, from his book   Handprint on the Window, a poem by my poet-friend from Baltimore, Dan Cuddy.

Dan is a graduate of Loyola College. He served as a contributing editor of the Maryland  Poetry Review and assistant editor of Lite, Baltimore's Literary Newspaper. He has published frequently in print and on-line poetry journals. This is is first book, published by Three Conditions Press in 2003.

Back Porch Blues

On the radio
there is not  enough song.
I sit in the cool night air.
I sit as if a mad artist,
Arshile Gorky,
painted me out of existence.
I listen to the engines whine
macho adolescence  on the open road.
I sit  on my back porch
awake yes but hardly awake.
Everything that has happened
is gone.
The jet left yesterday.
Somewhere, where there is still
a sunset,
that plane wipes
its vapor tail,
its blood against the sky.
I smell lilac, honeysuckle.
What is out there?
Crickets dance their wickedness,
their messages of incessant desire.
Lights shine from the kitchens
and the bedrooms sixty yards off.
Marriages, families
go through the normal  motions,
like breathing.
Loneliness is a chill
only luck or death can cure.
There is that infinite distance
between yesterday's sunlight
and this burned down day.



A week of heavy rain and we see things for a long time unseen,  as well as things we never ever saw before.

just thought I'd mention it

two ducks
standing in heavy rain
in the middle of the bridge over Apache Creek

just standing there...

confused by the rain, maybe, or maybe just enjoying the rain pounding on their duck-waxed back

don't ask me,
I don't know  anything about mallard motivation
that I didn't learn from Donald and Daffy
and I don't recall ever seeing
either of them
in the middle of a bridge in pouring rain

     which reminds me
     have you ever noticed how similar in mentality
     and personality and temperament
     are Donald and Daffy,
     and such as that

     how peculiar that two massive
     corporations like Disney and Loony
     would, independently,  come up with near identical stereotype establishing

     (surely, rare are those in this world who, thinking duck, doesn't visualize
     one of these two most famous  movie star ducks - I'm more of a
     Daffy man myself - Donald having a little too  much
     Uncle Walt in him for my tastes...)

all philosophy aside,
the  ducks just stood  there in the middle of the bridge,
refusing to move a I advanced slowly until we were almost
bumper to tail feather...

a mystery for a rainy day...

just thought I'd mention

Here's another old favorite memory poem, written in 1999, published by The Green Tricycle in 2000.

I never tire of telling the story, even more, the story of the day after, when, after the ceremony at the agency, all the family who had come to go to the ceremony with us followed us home, held the baby, held  the baby for a minute, and then left. Suddenly, it hit home, after 8 years of childless marriage, there was a baby in the house and he was ours and everyone who knew what to do next had just left.

Baby Stuff

I remember the day,
late March early spring,
sunshine and a sky scrubbed blue
by a brisk bay breeze.
Our families came from all directions,
arriving in a rush at the last minute,
everything unplanned and unexpected.

We had been called only the day before,
barely a week after they told us
to expect to wait six months to a year.

Then the phone call at mid-morning,
he'll be ready at noon tomorrow, they said,
and he'll come with only the diaper he wears.

Unprepared, we panicked, lunch at our favorite
restaurant to decide on a name, then,
rushing to K-Mart, pushing squeaky cart
from aisle to aisle, "What does a baby need?"
we asked each other. Bottles, a bottle warmer,
diapers, oh, Lord... What else?
Clothes,bassinet, a stroller...
no, that's later, a car seat...
oh Lord, what else, what else?

We fell together in the middle
of the baby stuff aisle,
holding on to each other,

From my library, this is a poem by Dennis Tourbin, from his book In Hitler's  Window. The book was published in 1991 by The Tellem Press of Ottawa.

Born in 1946, Tourbin was a Canadian poet, performance artist, novelist, editor, arts activist, and painter whose  work hangs in the National Gallery of Canada. He died in 1998.

Private Moment

Is there one  short
moment, a split-second
of  time before the trigger
is pulled  and the bullet
spreads itself,

a private moment
beyond indecision

the barrel in his mouth.

As he stands before the
mirror, the trigger melting
on his finger, his wide eyes
staring deep through glass
and tortured vision, is there
one short moment before
the trigger is pulled...

Instantly, the finger reacts
and his own eyes fail to
record the image. It is
that fast...


This is an old observational from 2003. I like this kind of poem that catches people in transit, a moment in a life, no way to know for sure what came before or what  will come next. It's like opening a book to a page at random and making up your own book from that page.

tears in public places

she sobs,
then looks away

he sits beside her
frozen still at first
then leans back
and looks at her
watches her
like a bystander
like he doesn't know
how he got there
why he got there

he says something
moves closer to  her
seems to say it again

she nods
looks down
to her hand lying
flat on the table
inches from his

his hand lifts fingers
barely off the table
and it appears he might
take her hand but
he draws back
speaks softly to her again
rises from his chair
and starts toward the door

she follows wiping
her sunglasses
and the sun through
the open door
is like a flash of fire

Last from  my library this week is a poem by Wendell Berry, from his book Collected Poems, 1957-1982. The book was published by North Point Press, my copy, the thirteenth printing in 2001.

Berry, born in 1934, is a novelist, poet, environmentalist, culture critic and farmer. Winner of many awards and commendations he earned his BA at the University of Kentucky, as  well as an MA in English in 1957.

My Great-Grandfather's Slaves

Deep in the back ways of my mind I see them
     going in the long days
     over the same fields that I have gone
     long days over.

I see the sun passing and burning high
     over  that land from their day
     until mine, their shadows
     having risen and consumed them.

I see them  obeying and watching
     the bearded tall man whose voice
     and blood are mine, whose countenance
     in stone at his grave my own resembles,

I see them kneel and pray to the white God
     who buys their souls into Heaven.

I see them approach, quiet
     in the merchandise of their flesh,
     to put down their burdens
     of firewood and hemp and tobacco
     into the minds of my kinsmen.

I see them moving  in the rooms of my history,
     the day of my birth entering
     the horizon emptied of their days,
     their purchased lives taken back
     into the dust of birthright

I see them borne, shadow within shadow,
     shroud within shroud, through all nights
     from their lives to mine, long beyond
     reparation or given liberty
     or any straightness.

I see them go in the bonds of my blood
     through all the time of  their bodies.

I have seen that freedom cannot be taken
     from one man and given to another,
     and cannot be  taken and kept.

I know that freedom an only be given,
     and is the gift to the giver
     from the one that receives

I am owned by the blood of all of them
     who ever were owned by my blood.
     We cannot be free of each other. 


Another day during which not much poetic was going on between my ears, so, another word-pile observational.


old fella
in a gimme cap
and a khaki shirt sitting
at one of the outside tables


watching morning traffic
as it passes north down old Broadway

a traveler?

can't tell,
can't see bundle
from where I sit, if  he's carrying one

rough-hewn, sharp-planed face
has  seen a lot of sun, but it's clean, close-shaved
under dark, bushy eyebrows,
a cleaner face
than what you normally see among the
travelers, and his hair under his cap
is neat, if longish, and his khaki shirt  is clean, looking
almost  pressed

so why am I thinking, "traveler"?

something about the way he sits, the way he watches
the street, something of an observer of the life that passes,
not a participant, something about the way he smokes his unfiltered
cigarette  right down to the lip line,  like a man who doesn't know where
the next one is coming from...

he gets up  to leave, and yes, a traveler, two  stuffed bags,
a traveler with a clean shirt with pens in its pocket...

a morning mystery-man whose mystery I have enjoyed considering, through
whose eyes I have watched the street as it begins the new day, cars,
trucks, yellow school buses passing south to north, north to south, while,  I with the
mystery-man, through the mystery-man, enjoy the pleasures of an observer
for this day and never again a likely participant...

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 9:34 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

glad to see Dan C's poem- also love that first photo dull edge of summer- where taken?
btw- r u a kossak or a bandido?

at 9:35 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

1-0 or 0='s- yr getting a piece by me re peter matthiessen

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Loch Raven Review
Mindfire Renewed
Holy Groove Records
Poems Niederngasse
Michaela Gabriel's In.Visible.Ink
The Blogging Poet
Wild Poetry Forum
Blueline Poetry Forum
The Writer's Block Poetry Forum
The Word Distillery Poetry Forum
Gary Blankenship
The Hiss Quarterly
Thunder In Winter, Snow In Summer
Lawrence Trujillo Artsite
Arlene Ang
The Comstock Review
Thane Zander
Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet