More old photos this week going west
Highway 90 (except for a ringer from downtown San Antonio taken several years ago) . The bulk of the pictures are in or around Uvalde,Texas, hometown and burial place of John Nance Garner, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
and first vice-president under FDR. He retired after FDR's first term due
to his and FDR's mutual loathing of the other.
He was called
"Cactus Jack" during his days of power, in reference to his prickly
personality (and a polite way to bring attention to the fact he was a
mean, ex-county sheriff, Texas son of a bitch).
bring into the political lexicon some pithy sayings, used often by
Lyndon Johnson, including my favorite, LBJ's response as to why he kept
on for so long so many Kennedy men who despised him. "It's better," he
said, "to have them inside the tent pissing out than outside
the tent pissing in." Johnson learned the hard way the truth of one of
Garner's most quoted observation that, "being vice president ain't
worth a pitcher of warm piss."
This is a very short post this week, making arrangements for other possible new directions to be taken. The result, there's nothing from anthologies this week, just a few things from my library, and a lot of me. I spent most of the past week working on pieces of a flash fiction narrative that I've abandoned until I figure out what happens next. The result, again, is I only have no new poems to post this week, so all I have are old, and a lot of them because they are the easiest and fastest to do.
This old poem is from 2010.
a minor poet explains it all
I sit in the booth
at the other end, the one
next to the electric plug,
where I face south
the booth was taken
by another south-faced,
at this end, the
only other booth next
to an electric plug
where I now face breakfast
I'm not sure
what effect this will have
on the gastro-dynamics
of my egg-over-easy
and extra-crispy bacon
but it does
present a subtly different
view which could have far-reaching
psychological effect on
those, like me
who normally eat breakfast
facing toward the south,
facing the oncoming traffic on the
as well as those, like me today
who eat breakfast
facing north and
the interstate traffic
the different orientation -
I believe, why
are usually people
with the supreme confidence
to write meaningless, totally
while north-facing diners
often suffer from abandonment issues
and are frequent victims
From my library here are four short poems by Chinese poet Yang Wan-Li
Yang was born in 1127 and is identified as one of the "four masters of
the Southern Song Dynasty." He passed his exams in 1154 and served in a
number of minor positions in the Song Dynasty. He died in 1206.
The poems are from the collection of his work, Heaven My Blanket, Earth My Pillow
, published by White Pine Press in 2004. The poems are translated by Jonathan Chaves
I stuff the heater with wood,
and put on all my clothes -
but only drinking a cup of wine
makes me really warm.
People say the cold is unbearable after frost,
but they don't realize that there's springtime
in the wine pot.
Drinking at Night
I drink alone in my cold study,
huddled close to the brazier.
the wine is fresh - just strained this evening.
the candle is short - left over from last night.
I chew on a piece of sugar cane as big as a rafter
and eat tangerines sweeter than honey.
When the wine takes effect, a poem comes to me;
I grope for my brush, but I'm too high to write it down.
Eating Frost to Sober Up
Hung over from last night's wine -
my chest is heavy, my stomach upset.
Below the railing on Peony Bank
I break off a ball of frost
and roll it down my tongue.
In the Canal Locks at Hung-Tse
Blocking the canal locks are cakes of ice
waiting for the people to open the gates.
When the gates are opened just two or three turns
the ice rushes through with a sound like splitting jade.
This piece is from January, 2007. It's one of those poem-a-day, can't think of anything poems. There are many of those in the poem-a-day business. I dedicated a whole section to them in one of my books on the presumption that such poems are apt metaphors for the many difficulties of moving ahead in life and, therefore, much more weighty than they might initially appear.
a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs and a can of sardines
but the gray fog
does not clear
I study the scene around me
and watch and watch
as if by watching hard enough
I can make the poem
like on a dialogue board
in an old silent movie...
it works sometimes,
but not today;
all is dull
and many days before
best to give it up for now
and write a grocery list
Next from my library, this is a poem by Ralph Angel
, from his book Neither World
, 1995 winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets.
It took me a while to find this poem in the book. Lines from the poem were included in a review on the back cover, but the title of the poem was never given. Great lines, I had to do a line by line search through the book to find the poem.
The poet was born in Seattle in 1951. He earned his bachelors degree at the University of Washington while working for Union Pacific Railroad and later his Master of Fine Arts at the University of California, Irvine. He teaches at the University of Redlands and is a member of the MFA in writing faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Like Land Crabs
when the moon drives by, the blank stare
of the boulevard, and everyone carrying something.
Eating a double-dog chili burrito
seams like a perfectly natural thing to do.
Nothing much matter because
so much turns into a face
that looks back at you. Blundering ,
I think. It's out of the question, the night.
One of the hands at the ends of my arms
on the hips of the lush who's undressing me.
Everyone keeps getting in
and out of cars. I'm electrified
by earth shoes, a solitary goat dance,
the weird expanse of parking lots,
glittering, peopled with loneliness.
Past news racks and policemen, past
all-night doctors carrying corners
in bedsheets of torn light, I follow a friend
who swears I know where I'm going
among headless palm trees
and other fences.
"Bring on the coffee," I hear myself
say as you reach over and turn on
the radio, "I didn't know I was already driving."
I brake for a stop sign.
The earth speeds up a little.
This poem is from 2011. It's a long way around (as my stuff often is) to get to the question of having my cat put down. I have to admit that my distinction between dis-believing and non-believing is a lot less clear to me today than in was when I wrote the piece.
As to the cat, we did not put her down until months later when she was no longer able to walk at all.
about the cat
having breakfast every Monday
with the Religiosos at the
next table over
always gets me into
mood, setting me off today
about which I am,
a non-believer or a dis-believer -
suggesting a lack of belief
in certain specific assertions
a disbelief in belief...
there was a time,
when many people did not believe
the human body
could stand traveling at speeds
of 50 miles per hour,
that should be human
achieve that speed, convulsions,
mental disorientation, bleeding from the ears
and probable death
would quickly ensue; many
people believed the same
about exceeding the sound barrier
(and that was in my lifetime) and
I, personally, believe
that the human body
is not constructed to fly
like a bird
or a leaf blown in a summer storm,
and, despite all evidence
to the contrary,
that is still my belief,
which means I cannot be
because, obviously, I believe
in belief, in this instance
the belief that humans are always
to fall out of the sky
whether on their own,
flapping their arms
in a sorry imitation of creatures
like birds or bats,
or encased in a metal sausage
with rigid wings, which
if you think about it
is even more ridiculous
than the flapping-arms scenario
so, while I dis-believe
in the theory of manned flight
and many other things
mostly doing with magic
and magical events and beings
and, since I also believe in many things
like biscuits and gravy and turkey dressing
and the innate goodness of man, it is clear
I am not a non-believer, which is not
the opposite of believer as dis-believer
clearly is, since a believer
and dis-believer in the same room
are opposite poles
of the same thing, belief,
their common point of reference
which leads, on a more prosaic level,
to the question of the day
regarding conflicting beliefs
that being, do I believe more
in the rightness of euthanasia
at the proper time
and under the proper circumstances
or do I believe all creatures
have a right to life under all
until a natural death comes to them
in a natural time,
considering today this philosophical question
as it applies
to my elderly cat,
gone completely blind this past week,
wandering now in confusion,
bumping into walls as she searches
for her food and water dishes
and her litter box -
would the free-cat spirit of her prefer
her current state to the nothing of nonexistence,
or,on another level, is it only me I'm thinking of,
wearied already of her wandering
and of having to pick her up to take her
from place to place
This is from 2009. I love the word.
always liked that
sounds like some
from South America
or maybe a bird
high in the trees
of some small South Pacific
maybe I caught it
from the birds
12 hours sleep
and another hour
already this afternoon
and I feel like I ought to go
back to bed right now...
the sun seems dimmed,
as if through a thick wool blanket,
brain like a blind dog
in the fog,
buried in a burlap bag
on a dull plain
suburban crab grass
I'll quit this poem...
are tired of typing...
From my library again, these two, very different, poems are by Jane Hirshfield
. There are from her book, The Lives of the Heart
, published by Harper Collins in 1997.
Hirshfield, born in 1953, is a poet, essayist and translator, a member of the first graduating class in Princeton to include women. I think I remember using one of her poems just a couple of weeks ago from another of her books. Posting weekly does tend to fray the memory sometimes.
Large as two hands together
still cupping rain,
yellow of amber stripped lightless,
scent of cold leather.
Nameless, one one of ten thousand,
lifted without complaint or hope
to this painted table,
neither envelope nor letter.
almost nothing. Yet before you,
words lie down in envy and silence,
switch their tails,
bury their damp, dark snouts between paws.
A woman tells of watching a hyena
eating her body.
Part of an arm first, then part of a leg.
It looked back at her
in a steadiness without malice or affection.
Though for months she had fed it,
watered it, it swallowed looking.
And I think of those three sisters,
sharing their single eye.
Each spared seeing the whole.
How that tearless, almost-human blinking allowed them.
A memory poem from 2013, remembering 1957.
when I was 13 I worked in a grocery store
when I was 13
I had a job in a grocery store
dust all the shelves, unpack,
price and put up
cull the potato bin,
dig through the potatoes,
pull out all the soft, rotten potatoes
that stunk like rot
at the bottom of the bin...
spread oiled sawdust
on the wooden floor, then
sweep it up,
leaving behind the sweet
scent of it...
potato stink forgotten...
the sweet woodsy scent
of oiled sawdust
I am 13
the whole year
in my memory, enveloped
in the sweet scent
of oiled saw-
Another from my library, this poem by Andrei Codrescu
from his book, Belligerence
, published in 1991 by Coffee House Press.
Codrescu, born in Romania in 1946, is a poet, essayist, screenwriter and frequent commentator on National Public Radio. For a bribe of $10,000 each paid by Israel to the Romanian government he and his mother were allowed to leave the country, going first to Italy, then, in 1966, to the United States. He worked as a Professor of English at Louisiana State University from 1984 until his retirement in 2009. Though I like many of the poems in this book, he always seemed to me to be trying to hard in his readings on NPR.
Roto: How the Bourgeoisie Dream
Human step not into the Middle
of the Road!
That's for Trucks!
I train the gaze.
Particularly useful center stage.
Not arrested for
The embarrassment of creation:
I made that?
Certain days in December
the light surrounds me with the circumstances
of my birth.
I'm glad they made this
All games are games of Yes and No.
The aggressor says Yes.
The defender says No.
fruits of victory:
your enthusiastic subjects.
sore losers, ideological cases.
At the end of time
au bout du temps
psi factors go through,
cholera & ponies,
thud of great ideas:
I had the advantage
in my mode of lie.
A green but
with a white border
on "the book that killed my summer."
I am what you might
call "a beneficial bug."
The butterfly had legs
"Famous Places We Had Fights in Front of"
$8,95 in paper.
Where were you at those same times,
O Bald Soprano?
Fiver years is not a long time
to the steady heart.
Mmmmmmmmmm, I want to
to be Taj Mahal!
It has been long.
Rising from the glib
I become inchoate & inarticulate
& then I shock myself with the truth.
flap around me
after replacing literature
but nothing flies.
Woman's body in the foreground
applies for historical site status:
was once battleground:
angels wanted in,
men wanted out,
but now it wants to be commemorated
but I think: Airport!
Certain Indians who live in books
about the unaware reader.
He will be eaten in the bookstore.
From 2008, a study in personalities.
winners and losers
the little one
is a chihuahua mix
the big one
is a border collie mix
the big one
is the smartest dog
I've ever been around
the little one
is dumb as any rock
in a field of stones
the little one
is always hungry,
stuffing a whole plate of food
in her mouth at one time
the big one
likes her treats
but prefers to eat delicately,
at the end of the day
the little one
sneaky as a thief at midnight
the big one
open to everyone all the time
the little one
the big one's bones
the second she is distracted
the big one,
so sweetly dispositioned,
never quite figures out what happened,
unable to imagine
studies closely the spot where the bone had been lying
then moves on
life's unfairness for long
spoil her day
This one from a great-feeling day in 2012.
like birds flying
where they please
like a stray dog
in green Missouri hills
like a fiddler
at the Saturday dance
that's how free
Here's a not-so-old from December last year.
an allergy zombie, right now,
yesterday and for the last 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
so why am I here?
it's about the medal,
the Distinguished Service
in Lifetime Stupid & 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...
This poem by Jack Kerouac
, is from his book of 242 numbered "choruses," Mexico City Blues
book was originally published by Grove Press in 1959, my edition
republished in 1990.
It's all the same to me.
The radio I don't wanta hear
And cant have to hear
Plays one thing and another
Of great Sara Vag
but no I stop
and I forget
that it's my own fault
See how you do it?
And having grasped
go on singing
because I wouldn't
be writing these poems
if I didn't know
That I grasp I sing
I've had times of no-singing
they were the same
Music is noise, Poetry dirt
I wrote this poem January 11, 2007, a day of significance to me.
on this day
forty-one years ago,
in the middle
I was in
my fourth day
the arts of combat,
at that early
to be mostly
about getting up
in the very dark
in god-awful winter
to places we did not
care to go...
many of us
would soon learn
would find safe
nor being shot
who fight now
we are not
The last poem from my library this week is by Lorenzo Thomas
. It is from his book, Dancing on Main Street
, published in 2004 by Coffee House Press.
Thomas, a poet and critic, was born in Panama in 1944 and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1948, growing up in New York City. He was professor of English at the University of Houston - Downtown for 20 years. He died in 2005.
I'd rather not negotiate
I have no taste
For anorexic conversations
Without your richly-layed innuendo
Or parables of just desserts
If you really have something to say
It's worth breaking out the good china
Put the damn tin cup away
I finish my poems for the week with this one, not so very old at all, from the first week of January, this year.
hell no, I won't go
it's warm in here
and very cold outside and
looking through the wide restaurant windows
it even looks cold
and I need to go out there and walk my dog
but I don't
because it's cold enough out there to freeze my macchiatos
right plumb off
and I would feel right distressed
in my macchiatos were to freeze and fall right off
and go bouncing down the street
so I'm going to sit right here and pretend I'm writing a poem
cause it's just too damn cold out there for a South Texas fella
with tender macchiatos
I won't go
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
As always, I am Allen Itz owner and producer of
this blog, and diligent seller of books, specifically these and
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
Sonyador - The Dreamer