If you are on any part of the 15 miles or so of San Antonio's Riverwalk, from the Witte Museum, through downtown or all the way out to Mission San Juan Capistrano, furthermost of the 5 San Antonio missions, you will be taking pictures. And if you are not taking pictures, you will be very angry with yourself for leaving your camera in your hotel room.
My pictures this week are limited to the downtown and near downtown section of the Riverwalk. The photos were taken in December, last year. December in San Antonio is a little bit of a gamble for visitors. Most of the time the temperatures are cool and the sky is clear and deep blue. But there is always the chance that a norther will blow in and it will be very cold, wet and miserable. You just have to take your chances. Just avoid the first of January when they drain the river for a week or so of cleaning, unless you think you might enjoy the Mud King coronation and festivities. Actually they don't drain the river, they just divert the full flow of it through the tunnel that goes under downtown. The tunnel was built as a flood control diversion many years ago after a devastating downtown flood. It is also how they keep the river at a uniform level through the downtown Riverwalk area.
My new poems are from last week. As I explained last week, New Days and New Ways
, my most recent (actually not all that recent) book of poems,
is divided into 6 sections. Last week I did poems from the first section, this week I take my old poems from the last section, "Out There," a collection that considers the grander scheme of things.
My library poems next week are from Postmodern American Poe
try, a Norton Anthology published in 1994.
I watched the Pope's speech to congress. I like him very much, but as an atheist, I have to add, too bad about the church.
Frankie for President
the Pope on TV
addressing a congress of politicians
he's one too
and better than most
for any political scientist in the room
can an Argentinean Pope
be elected President of the United States?
any wiggle room
back to the clown car
First from Section VI. "Out There" of my book, New Days and New Ways
, this little piece of astrophysics.
we are all children
of the big bang
and that nothing truly new
has been added to the mix
and while I don't know what came
before the bang
I'm guessing we'll figure it out
before the end...
multiple bangs, maybe;
bangs within bangs;
bangs bouncing off bangs
like a six bank corner pocket
one bang banging another,
like steel balls hung from strings
banging one after the other
in forever and ever progression;
bangs banging out there, banging in
somewhere else -
that's one to imagine,
creation in reverse, the Garden of Eden
returning to unplowed field -
or it could be a single, once-and-done bang -
that would make us really
us and all the universe we know
the only stars anywhere,
you and me
the only us anywhere...
I just don't feel that special
Here, first from this week's anthology, Postmodern American Poetry
, is this piece by Ann Lauterbach
. Born and raised in New York City, Lauterbach has taught at Columbia, Princeton, and Brooklyn College. At the time the anthology was published, she was teaching at the City University of New York and was a contributing editor of the magazine Conjunctions.
Recumbent against any mirror, any stardom,
Dazed to be included, at last, in the night
You imitate day stretched across a beach
Noted by those of us for whom the sea is reflective
But is the sea a film of the sea, ageless?
Seventeen, a mime. This one way to hide
Lack of authenticity, although style
Carries clout in crowd scenes.
You have painted your toenails Car Hop Pink,
A clear choice against the sky's transience.
The sea mimes the sea. It seems ageless,
Whichever hues the waves hit.
Her face, projected on a screen,
Records the gaze of capitulation.
Gene Tierney walks along the cliffs, reflective.
Pavese said sentiment, in art, accuracy,
But the poem would not stretch
To phrase the red cliffs, the seizure of place.
You see the world as self.For us, she
Is world, enduring veracity of was
Being what is. We cannot look
At what we love without failure,
The failure of the world to reflect itself.
From last week, a spooky kind of morning as the seasons begin their transition.
no morning breeze
to rustle the leaves,
no dogs barking at the moon,
no rooster cackling at the dawn
no doves softly lulling
from the trees,
slow clouds darkly moving,
stroking darkly the deep black belly of early
we all wait...
in an hour or so the sun will rise
and we will know for what...
in an hour or so it will be another day
Again from Section VI of New Days and New Ways
and blazing clear...
dark and cold,
on a field
another creature of nights and days
looks to the dark
above his indeterminate head
and sees the brilliant mark of mine
among the billions
on the canvas
of his sky,
just as I see above me
the fire that warms
and lights his day...
the further-most reaches
of nights and
but no longer lonely
Next from the postmodern anthology, here is a poem by Gregory Corso
Born in 1930 on Bleecker Street to Italian immigrant parents, his mother died and his father deserted him when he was still a child. In trouble for most of his young years, he began a prison sentence when he was seventeen, where, despite being a sixth grade dropout, he was introduced to literature and begin to do his own writing. He left prison in 1950 and in 1954 he was invited to Cambridge to speak at the invitation of Harvard and Radcliffe students who later gathered the money to publish his first book in 1955. Becoming a prominent poet of the beat generation, Corso died in 2001.
Dream of a Baseball Star
I dreamed Ted Williams
leaning at night
against the Eiffel Tower, weeping.
He was in uniform
and his bat lay at his feet
- knotted and twiggy.
"Randall Jarell says you're a poet!" I cried.
"So I! I say you're a poet!"
He picked up his bat with blown hands;
stood there astraddle as he would in the batter's box,
and laughed! flinging his schoolboy wrath
toward some invisible pitcher's mound
- waiting the pitch all the way from heaven.
It came; hundreds came! all afire!
He swung and swung and swung and connected not one
sinker curve hook or right-down-the-middle,
A hundred strikes!
The umpire dressed in strange attire
thundered his judgement: YOU'RE OUT!
And the phantom crowd's horrific boo
dispersed the gargoyles from Notre Dame.
And I screamed in my dream:
God! throw the merciful pitch!
Herald the crack of bats!
Hooray the sharp liner to left!
Yea the double, the triple!
Hosanna the home run!
This poem from last week, a memory of the time I lived across the road from Corpus Christi Bay.
winter on the gulf
from Banquete to Ingleside
the road drives straight,
like a plumb line
and just high enough
to clear dark churning clouds
on the horizon,
the black angry face
of a storm in morning, blowing
in from the bay, the fury of its storm front
past the island, pounding
now the seawall
and the white sand of
the sun has risen
over the gulf
and now blinds me
as I drive into
and the winter storm
follows, lashing the coast,
soon to cover my sun
and thrash me
a morning storm on the Gulf,
blowing a thousand miles
of salt-smelling air
winter on the gulf...
From Section VI. a consideration from a quote by a Haitian poet.
"I am not afraid of chaos because
chaos is the womb of light and life.
What I don't like is the mismanagement
- Franketienne, Haitian author,
poet, playwright, and painter
there are patterns to the
from the orbits of galaxies
to the circling
of the tiniest electron
around its mother neutron anchor,
to the greening and falling
to the daily commute
of bankers and painters
and donut makers,
to the soft sleep of babes and the long
of old and time-worn men,
each circle a world within itself
inter-acting with its fellows in
like looking at the color patterns
encased in glass,
patterns seen only through a one-eyed
squint from some great distance,
the further away,
the clear becomes the
red upon green next to blue under yellow,
each placed in a structured chaos,
like the universe
in all its chaotic glory, structured truth
we can never get distance enough
to see, an incubator spewing chaos,
only through the indirection
of unseen hands
that must never fumble
or chaos will solidify and all the circles
will stop their spinning
and fall to the lethargy of inertia stilled
and all that is, will, like Lot's wife,
turn to salt crumbling on a silent plain
in a steady wind of never-
The next poem from the postmodern anthology is by Diane Wakoski
Born in 1937 in Whittier, California, Wakoski graduated from the University of California in Berkeley in 1960. Identified early on with the beats, her book Emerald Ice
(which I have and have used here) won the William Carlos William Prize from the Poetry Society of America in 1989. She was Writer-in-Residence at Michigan State University at Michigan State University when the anthology was published and is currently Distinguished Professor Emeritus at that university.
Blue of the heaps of beads poured into her breasts
and clacking together in her elbows;
blue of the silk
that covers lily-town at night;
blue of her teeth
that bite cold toast
and shatter on the streets;
blue of the dyed flower petals with gold stamens
hanging like tongues
over the fence of her dress
at the opera/opals clasped under her lips
and the moon breaking over her head a
gush of blood-red lizards.
Blue Monday, Monday at 3:00 and
Monday at 5. Monday at 7:30 and
Monday at 10:00. Monday passed under the rippling
California fountain. Monday alone
a shark in the blue waters.
You are dead: wound round like a paisley shawl.
I cannot shake you out of the sheets. Your name
is still wedged in every corner of the sofa.
Monday is the first of the week,
and I think of you all week.
I beg for Monday not to come
so that I will not think of you
You paint my body blue. On the balcony
in the softy muddy night, you paint me
with bat wings and the crystal
the crystal in your arm cuts away
the night, folds back ebony whale skin
and my face, the blue of new rifles,
and my neck, the blue of Egypt,
and my breasts, the blue of sand,
and my arms, bass-blue,
and my stomach, arsenic;
there is electricity dripping from me like cram;
there is love dripping from me I cannot use - like acacia or
jacaranda - fallen blue and gold flowers, crushed into the street.
Love passed me in a blue business suit
His glass cane, hollowed and filled with
sharks and whales...
He wore black
patent leather shoes
and had a mustache. His hair was so black
it was almost blue.
"Love," I said.
"I beg your pardon," he said.
"Mr. Love," I said.
"I beg your pardon," he said.
So I saw there was no use bothering him on the
Love passed me in the street in a blue
business suit. He was a banker
I could tell.
So blue trains rush by in my sleep.
Blue herons fly overhead.
Blue paint cracks in my
arteries and sends titanium
floating into my bones.
Blue liquid pours down
my poisoned throat and blue veins
rip open my breast. Blue daggers tip
and are juggled on my palms.
Blue death lives in my fingernails.
If I could sing the last song
with water bubbling through my lips
I would sing with my throat torn open,
the blue jugular spouting that black shadow pulse,
and on my lips
I would balance volcanic rock
emptied out of my veins. At last
my children strained out
of my body. At last my blood
solidified and tumbling into the ocean.
It is blue.
It is blue.
It is blue.
I read the Einstein quote in this poem on Facebook and and it reminded of my belief that all our monsters are fictionalized genetic memories of creatures that were real in a time far before what we know.
stories that light the spark
of the most remote of our ancestors
turned into stories of our kind
when not yet quite
a time of monsters, all seen
by our tiny predecessor-selves
from behind sharp un-eroded rocks and verdant
forest foliage, remembered,
monsters still living
even in the now of our genetic
memory, stories told over thousands of campfires
it and burning over thousands of years...
fairy tales we call them now...
Einstein said, to raise and intelligent child,
read to them from the fairy tales, genetic
memories of the giants who preyed upon us
and also from our genes
memories of how we defeated them,
lessons from the past before our time, sometimes
before our kind, all these tales
primers on how we came to be and how we might
stories that light the spark of a fully conscious
Still from New Days and New Ways
, Section VI.
in the time of emergence
an old Navajo chant
speaks of the "time of emergence"
and I think
of the all-there-is emerging,
not a product
created by the hand of a god,
but a creation
that emerges from the mind of
creation not of a single event,
a job of work, completed
over the course of a week of seven god-days,
but a continuing process
of never-ending creation, a
an emergence of ever-deepening truth
lie the night emerges
from the night emerges a day emerges
and from the day a night;
like the sea
emerges from the deep, beaks
on shores far from
where its water-essence began,
the returns to the deep that sent it,
and back to the same or different shores,
far-traveled, enriched by its journey;
like rain on hay
left in the field overnight,
the fire of creation
processing within, its
musty odor rising again
with the fallen rain to become a cloud,
drifting over continents,
over prairies and mountains and cities
and great forests, across the ocean
bring the musty smell of hay
wet with new-falling rain
around the world and back again
to the mowed field where it began;
like we begin
in a moment of passion emerged
from one of us to another,
from the continued emergence
through a life of ins and outs, comes
and goes, contributing as we
come and go,
our own passions to the universe
we are part of again, flowing
through our time
until our end in a moment of
death-ecstasy, souls singing as we re-join
the all-there-is from whence
our part in the great emergence
until we, like the sea,
return again to new and different
by our own time drifting
in the creator's emerging
From the anthology, Gary Snyder
, my very favorite of the California poets.
Right in the Trail
Here it is , near the house,
A big pile, fat scats,
Studded with those deep red
Smooth-skinned manzanita berries,
Such a pile! Such droppings,
Awesome. And I saw how
The young girl in the story,
Had good cause to comment
On the bearscats she found while
Picking blueberries with her friends.
She laughed at them
Or maybe with them, jumped over them
(Bad luck!), and is reported
To have said "wide anus!"
To amuse or annoy the Big Brown Ones
Who are listening, of course.
They say the ladies
Have always gone berrying
And the all join together
To go out for the herring spawn,
Or to clean green salmon.
And that bit set of lessons
On what bears really want,
Was brought back by the girl
Who made those comments:
She was taken on a year-long excursion
Back up in the mountains.
Through the tangled deadfalls,
Down into the de.
She had some pretty children by a
Young and handsome Bear.
Now I am on the dirt
Looking at those scats
And I want to cry not knowing why
At the honor and the humor
Of coming on this sign
That is not found in books
Or transmitted in letters,
And is for women just as much as men,
A shining message for all species,
A glimpse at the Trace
Of the Great One's passing,
With a peek into her whole wild system -
And what was going on last week,
(Mostly still manzanita) -
Dear Bear: do stay around. Be good.
And though I know
It won't help to say this,
Chew your food.
I have reached that unfortunate stage of life when it seems for many people all I am and have been can be summarized in a two-digit number, my age.
Karma, I guess, payback for twenty years of senior citizen discounts.
legion of the late-dawning dark
most who understand what I have done
or lost in their own bitter
we are an angry
generation, grew up thinking
old didn't matter
we know better
understanding now we are not
special, not exempt
like we thought
understanding now that
even at our best
we are still just a part of the decay
that produces new life, our
function to be not the flourish that blossoms forever,
but only fertilizer for the next
that even the tallest tree
in a silent forest fall
not the way we expected
it would be...
I march with a cohort
of the angry,
legionnaires of the
New Days and New Ways again.
it's all a circle,
these lives we lead,
and in its time, comes
like this bright
sky clear, the light blue
of bright - yellow sunshine
I've been here before and will,
with luck be here again
and again and again, knowing
even as I luxuriate in this cold bright
that dark will come again,
that dark, for bright
is not bright without it, as
day is not day without
the brackets of night - people
who live in a dry desert, how they
welcome the rain, the people who live in
a forever cloudless sky, how they
marvel at a cloud's slow passing...
and I think of my circular life,
I think of my dog,
lovely, sweet Reba, for whom
every minute is the only minute, like
all dogs, living in the moment,
every minute a lifetime, sixty lifetimes
in an hour, how
disconcerting, how wonderful
to be so afflicted, so
to live like that is to live
outside the circle of time,
to live in the constant changing
forever strange and
and I wonder
if I could ever be dog enough
to live a life of so many
was born in 1934 in Massachusetts. He received his degree from Boston College in 1954 and studied at Black Mountain College. He worked as an actor, stagehand, teacher and poet. His life and his writing was closely connected to politics, deeply involved in education cooperatives, political action committees and the gay liberation movement. He wrote directly and eloquently of his homosexuality and of his periods in state mental hospitals, subjects which kept him from the literary mainstream of the 1950's
He died in 2002.
Two Years Later
The hollow eyes of shock remain
Electric sockets burnt out in the
The beauty of men never disappears
But drives a blue car through the
It is so sad
It is so lonely
I felt younger after doing him,
and when I looked in the mirror
my hair was rumpled.
I smoothed it
and rooted for someone else
or wanted to satisfy myself,
No hope left.
How can a man have pride
without a wife.
I spit him out on the floor.
Imagining myself up my lover's ass
he coming by himself.
Looking out the widow, for no reason
except to sooth myself
I shall go to the bookstore
And pretend nothing happened.
Feeling like a girl
stinking beneath my clothes
It is an affliction, this unceasing urge to do.
I am harassed by time
even when I have nothing to do
I do it with urgent
it is about boredom I think,
in my philosophy an early stage
I seek quiet contemplation
but hear always
the noisy jabber of the world
and cannot help but pay attention
for buried in the jabber
someone must tell
I have no idea why I think
it must be me
that tells them, but
there your go,
some seek out their mission
some are just appointed...
Now, last for the week from New Days and New Ways
, "Section VI. Out There."
Actually, two pieces because I couldn't decide which of the two to use.
what they are now calling
"the age of man"
meaning, I'm not sure, either
the time humans
began to occupy the earth as
masters or the period beginning
earlier when man existed
as small scampering jungle
but I'm pretty sure "the age of man"
however defined, came after
the "age of dinosaurs"
about which I'm not5 sure, were
they reptiles or mammalian cousins
of man who just happened to lay eggs
or as I've begun to hear
somehow related to chickens and
I'm not sure if chickens are reptiles
or mammals with wings
or something else entirely different
along with turkeys and hawks
and eagles and red, red robins and even
carrion eating vultures
but I am delighted to hear there is a chance
that the "age of man" might have followed
the "age of chickens" and considering
how stupid chickens are
whether the "age of man" could have ever
come about had we been competing
for an age of our own with something smarter,
say a dog or a pig, maybe leaving us,
had it been thus, sleeping
in a slop pen in the "age of pig"
and putting all that ancient history aside
one can't help but wonder whose age
the next will be...
considering our record so far
during any particular part in the "age of man"
the "age of ash and cinder"
might seem a fair prospect for the next age,
better case scenario, the "age of cockroach"...
think of that the next time you squash a cockroach
with your pointy-toed cowboy boot
that it might be your heirs you are squashing
and, heaven forbid, that they have a long memory...
plan for the future -
that's what you have to do
when you're responsible for a whole
across the way,
a herd of deer graze across a broad pasture,
except not bunched like a herd,
but scattered individually across the field, as if
each deer walking its own way decided
on its own to stop for a bite
at the pasture across the way, solitary deer,
each at its own meal, not Texas deer,
too much alone, New York deer maybe
at a quick-stop pastures
adapting to the "age of man"
and my cockroach mean mood is lifted...
maybe there's a chance for an "age of deer" -
a return to golden fields and forests, a return to
the "age of first nature"
before the jealous god split time
and brought the misery of ages
to human and all other
if I believe that hard enough
it will make, at least,
a fan of little things
best damn super-extra-crispy bacon
in my whole doggone life
on this planet, which I thank
for creating the corn or whatever that fed the pig
that became the best damn super-extra-crispy bacon
of my whole existence on this planet,
not counting the times
I might have been the corn or the pig
or whatever else was involved in creation
of the best damn super-extra-crispy bacon ever,
thank you God, if you exist and if you had anything
to do with it, and I'm thinking, damn
I wish I could wake up again
and come in here again and order my breakfast again
and eat my best damn super-extra-crispy bacon
all over again, enjoy
the super-extra-crispy crunchy pleasure
all over again as if it had never ever happened
before and the super-etcetera pleasure
was completely new to me, experienced
for the very first time...
that's the way I am,
a fan of little things, the little atomic thingies
that come together to make up bigger
and bigger things, like stars that, in turn
come together to make galaxies and
constellations and ultimately
the whole damn universe laid out before me
as I lie in the grass at night, looking up at it all,
thinking of all the teensy-tiny things that come together
to make wondrous things like stars
shining against a universal backdrop of dark
somewhere/nowhere and pleasurable things like
cool breezes in summer, cold water splashing
on my droopy-morning face, little girls
who giggle when I wink at them
and, as you might guess by now,
the best I ever had, just this
Last from this weeks anthology of postmodern poets, here are two poems by Denise Levertov
. Born in 1923 in England where she was raised and where she published her first book, she moved to the United States shortly after and spent the remainder of her life, teaching and publishing a number of books of her poetry. She died in 1997 at the age of 74 from complications due to lymphoma.
Overland to the Islands
Let's go - much as the dog goes,
intently, haphazard. The
Mexican light on a day that
"smells like autumn in Connecticut"
makes iris ripples on his
black gleaming fur - and that too
is as one would desire - a radiance
consorting with the dance.
Under his feet
rocks and mud, his imagination, sniffing,
edge ways, there's nothing
the dog disdains on his way,
keeps moving, changing
pace and approach but
not direction - "every step an arrival." -
of Northern White Russia declined,
in his youth to learn the
language of birds, because
the extraneous did not interest him; nevertheless
when he grew old it was found
he understood them anyway, having
listened well, and as it is said, "prayed
with the bench and the floor." He used
what was at hand - as did
Angel Jones of Mold, whose meditations
were sewn into coats and britches.
Well, I would like to make,
thinking some line still taut between me and them,
poems direct as what the birds said,
hard as a floor, sound as a bench,
mysterious as the silence when the tailor
would pause with his needle in the air.
Those who are not fans of basketball and specifically the San Antonio Spurs and Coach Popovich will not understand the joke in the title. For those unfortunates I include a URL that might explain.
I want some nasty
I am looking out on Broadway,
through windows, the glass so clear
only the lack of street sounds
suggests it is even there, beyond
the glass, bright street, bright sun
under a blue, cloudless sky...
it is a tourist-friendly day,
the kind of day folks from all over
will cherish as the remember
the crowds on the Riverwalk, the peace
of the Mission Reach expansion,
the smell of dry pious dust of ancient mission walls,
sitting in the shade of a broad-leafed tree
by the waterfall and the clear pools and brilliant colors
of the Japanese Sunken Garden, and the museums
and the strolling mariachis - San Antonio
at its most beautiful...
but, sorry, tourists,
Chamber of Commerce,
sorry, raspa sellers in their booths
on Alamo Plaza, sorry, Wax Museum
and Ripley's Believe It or Not across from the
shrine, sorry all of you, but damn,
I wish it were a rainy day again,
glorious wet falling on me
as I sit in my backyard,
rain filling the cracks
that spread under dry grass,
the crispy dry grass crackling
like ice when I walk on it, the neighborhood
smelling like the musk of a fresh-mowed hay field,
all the trees and flowers and grass
and me, re-hydrating
on a tourist-ugly, sales-tax losing
sorry, but I can wait for a beautiful
day, right now, I want some
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
Also usual, 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
Peace in our Time