Old Stones, Old Bones   Wednesday, October 21, 2015

My photos this week  are from four of the five San Antonio missions. (There was a sixth mission, San Felipe, I think, long gone, nothing left now but a road marker by a golf course watered from aqueduct built 250 years ago to water the missions farms.) I did  not visit Mission San Antonio de Valero, most commonly known  as The Alamo because, being downtown,  it's a little bit of a hassle to get to. Established in 1719, the Alamo had a history as a mission a full century before the battle that made it famous. Unlike the other four missions which continue today to have regular mass, the Alamo became militarized early in its history and does not function as an active church.

The missions, recently designated as a World Heritage Site, were, of course, established for religious purposes, but they also served as refuge for the indigenous people of the area, who after generations of living peacefully in the area, were threatened by advancing Apaches who, having adopted the horse for military purposes, were the most  fearsome military force in the area, feared by the Tonkowa and other Indian peoples native to the area and the Spanish padres as well. The largest of the missions, San Jose, sheltered large numbers of local Indians.

The pictures are arranged in the order we visited, from nearest downtown, Mission  Concepcion, to San Jose, to  San Juan and furthermost down the river (about eleven miles from downtown) Mission Espada. The "mission-reach" section of the Riverwalk now extends all the way to Espada.

For my old poems, I return to my book of travel poems, Places and Spaces, this time excerpting from two of the long poems in the book.

The first of the  poems is "Sleeping with Andy Devine," one of five extended poem in the book.  This weeks poem takes me from San Antonio to Lake Tahoe and back. The route going is Texas, though New Mexico, then Arizona and the full length of Nevada (a much  larger state, at last lengthwise, than I had imagined. There always being more urgency going home than leaving, the route is from Lake Tahoe to California, then south and east on I-10, a  faster, more direct route, through Arizona and New Mexico and,  finally, the near 600 miles of Texas from the mountains and deserts of  El Paso to San Antonio and the hill country.

The  title of this poem is taking from a night I spent in Arizona or Nevada (I don't remember) in a hotel on Andy Devine  street, he of pluck-your-magic-twanger sidekick, Froggy.

The second poem is from a much shorter trip into southwestern New Mexico titled "Silver City and Beyond." More about that when we  get to it.

This is it for the week.


from Sleeping with Andy Devine

Czselaw Milosz
Those Fantasies
A Strategy
The Law and the Earth

getting old is a pain in the butt

from Sleeping with Andy Devine

Joyce  Sutphen
Home to the Late Late Movie

twisting in the wind

 from Sleeping with Andy Devine

David  Meltzer
6th Raga/for Bob Alexander
A Poem for My Wife
The Morning          
this morning is like a song 

from Sleeping with Andy Devine  

Gary Blankenship
After Wang Wei's Fine Apricot  Lodge - After the Market
After  Wang Wei's North Hill - Adrift on the River
After Wang Wei's Stream of Powdered Gold - Found Among the Yellow Leaves

night at a desert camp 

from Sleeping with Andy Devine 

Francisco Aragon
Cafe Central

on a mountain trail

from Sleeping with Andy Devine    

Scott  Inguito
Main Street

driving through the city

from Silver  City and Beyond

David  Dominguez

Venessa MariaEngel-Fuentes
from Silver  City and Beyond

a peseta here, a peseta there 

from Silver City and Beyond

Easter in Kabul, 1969


Good or bad,, it is a mystery where they come from.


it's like watching stars
at night,
leaning back in a lawn chair
or laying flat on the ground

the longer you watch
the more you see, like the stars
multiply in the sky
just for you...

writing a poem can be like that
not often for me
for I am scrivener of surface things,
an ink-stained Cratchit at his candle-lit table,
but sometimes,
sometimes strikes a deeper chord
even for me,
a simple idea, as it develops
on the page growing  in my mind,
growing through a fortunate
in inadvertent meaning
beyond the simple nugget that set me off
in the first place

a serendipitous poem
from a simple poet  whose mind sometimes

Here begins my journey from San Antonio to Lake Tahoe, early December a couple of years ago. All the first  day to  get out of Texas and the second day into New Mexico until Albuquerque where we turn west to follow I-10. As usual for us, the trip begins with just my dog Reba and me. I'll pick, Dee, my  wife, up in Reno several days down the line.

Welcomed to Anthony, New Mexico, by the stink of thousands of dairy cows.

     ...the rich manure stink
    of dairy farms
     one after the other,
     black and  white cows
     like flies
     on a steaming pile
     of fresh horse turds

     in each feedlot
     a hill
     and on each hill
     a cow,
     sometimes two


     why do they seek
     these hills, this  elevated outlook -
     do even dairy cows
     carry the instinct of high places,
     places to see prey
     and predator  before they see you? 

    and how?

     among hundreds of placid
     dairy cows
     is the one  chosen that is allowed
     this high place?...

Still in New Mexico, a  little past Radium Springs -

     ...on the right
     a Rio Grande  River delta valley,
     green and cultivated
     pecan orchards,
     church steeples
     yellow school buses
     red lights
     on two-lane highways

     hanging over all this -


Passing Hatch and the its sheds and houses hanging  with red hatch peppers

     ...a hawk
     dead in the middle of the road,
     a casualty
     of flying to low,
     flying too slow

     a single wing
     like a flag stands
     above the mess
     of mess
     of bloody red
     and mangled meat and bones -

     brown and white feathers
     in the wind     

Polish poet, prose writer, translator, diplomat  and Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz is first from my library this week. These pieces are from his book of short essays, Road-side Dog, published in 1998 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Those Fantasies

Those fantasies,  those pageants constructed by the human mind
above the horror of life. All arts, all myths and philosophies:
yet  they are not limited to staying in their own lofty zone.For
from them, from dreams of the mind, this planet arises, such
as we know it, transformed and being transformed by mathe-
matical equations.

A Strategy

He was everywhere, on a train carrying prisoners to the gulag,
in a city trembling at a doorbell at dawn, in a prison from
which the sentenced to death were walked out and loaded into
trucks. He hated the Empire, yet he had to hide this. He was
a poet, and keeping constantly in mind that these things were
going on, simultaneously and close by, would make writing
poetry impossible. Besides, hew as writing for those who,
though theoretically aware of what was going on, did not want
to absorb it with their imaginations. For these reasons, feeling
he failed in his duty to give testimony, he searched for a means,
when writing, to preserve, unspoken, the presence of horror
between his words and lines.

The Law of the Earth

A child weeps bitter tears reading about the destruction of the
city of Milano by the emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Grown up,
he does not know for sure whether such a thing really took
place in history, yet the memory of those pages in a book for
children is so vivid to him that it determines his decisions. Evil
is equated in his mind with naked force which wins against
the desires of the heart, and when he discovers that this is the
law of the earth, he hates the law of the earth.

A rant.

getting old is a pain in the butt

getting old is a pain in the butt
and I've decided to share
the pain...

I have long been known
as a patient man, willing to put up
with stupidity  bouncing around me like
two dozen ping pong balls thrown against
four concrete walls

willing to wait
while people figured out stuff
long obvious to  me

willing to always be
the person who gets there first
and waits and waits and waits
while the tardy and ego-bound take
bits of the rapidly diminishing time of my life
(never enough, never any to spare
for those who care not for

but I've had enough...

If you don't get it, I'm not waiting
for you find the way...

if you can't be where you agreed to be
when you agreed to be there,
I'm no waiting...

I've had enough...

I'm calling out the big guns
and the rest of the world can either catch up
and stay out or get out...

cause getting old is a pain in the butt
and I've decided to share the

Day three.

A night in Albuquerque, then on through Gallup and into Arizona.

     ...nearing Gallup
     I reach snow level,
     patches first,
     mostly in shadowed areas
     where the day's  sun
     could not reach

     then more and more,
     until the desert  is covered in white,
     a thin layer,
     little individual sprigs
     of desert grass  poke through
     here and there,
     like Kilroy,
     with a really bad haircut...

Then across the New Mexico-Arizona line

     ...cold and wet
     leaving Gallup,
     passing into Arizona...

Passing a billboard that declares, "God Bless America" and the rain stops. But I'm still not convinced. Twenty miles further and the rain starts again.
     under a  pile of dirty clothes 
     in the handicapped restroom stall
     at the first rest stop
     in Arizona

     a cold man
     a little warmth, but
     if I were a bum,
     I  sure as hell  wouldn't
     be here 


     ...through the high desert
    as far as you can see
     then mountains
     on the horizons, north and west


Rural roadside poverty

     ...several  dogs
     in front,
     a horse
     and two or three goats

     way the hell away
     from everything...

Next from my library, a poem by Joyce Sutphen from her book Straight Out of View, winner of the 1994 Barnard New Women Poet's Prize published in 1995 by Beacon Press.

Raised on a farm in Minnesota, Sutphen earned her Ph.D. in Renaissance Drama at the University of Minnesota and has taught British literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College. She was appointed Minnesota's second  poet laureate in 2011.

Home to the Late Late Movie

This landscape like a supermarket aisle
draws me on. Flat and stocked
rows of suburbia, matchbox cars parked
in the driveway, frail little trees
strung tight and anchored to the yards.

And the snowmobiles rusting beside the garage,
and the chainlink fence with the shadow
lunging back and forth all morning, and the
plastic big-wheels on the graveled edge
of the road, white-blond hair of blue-eyed

Boys flirting with speed, pedaling their way
into traffic, looking over their shoulders
to the houses set uncertainly in the cornfields,
their mothers held captive by afternoon TV,
loneliness seeping through the vinyl blinds.

Until their fathers come home from the car shop,
from the lumber yard, from the freezer factory,
garage doors lifting, chains  jerking in tracks,
the blond boys running across fat patches of grass,
the daughters glancing up from their books.

And sighs like ovens and the clatter of dinner
plates coming from kitchens, a sizzling in the pan,
stainless steel lifted to  the mouth,  the smoke of
conversations drifting from the chimneys, dissipating
over the gray branches of the leafless wind.

And later on these streets, in each house with
its drapes parted slightly,wafer of lamplight
caught on bare walls, blue of a video eye
flickering its gaze back into the night, the
refrigerators are opening, letting out the cold.

Read another interesting science thing of which I understand next  to none. But just enough for a poem.

twisting in the wind

it would have bee a truly awesome
sight, I  imagine, if someone
had been there to see  it and had
there been  somewhere to see it  from...

the Big Bang,
13.8 billion years ago
the cataclysmic birth of everything
out of nothing,
everywhere out of nowhere

and even the scientists say

"the laws of nature" - defined as
statements of regularities found in the behavior
of physical systems, in our universe, the scientists specify,
accepting the possibility of an unending supply of universes
each with its own science of natural law, all
crowding the unimaginable biggest of all big things...

"unending," how we logicians  hate  that word,  even  as
we calm our philosophical distress by saying that
the true number being unknown and possibly unknowable,
a numerical series of unknown length and we unable
to  even  know where we are in the series, (are we
at the beginning of the series or are we
approaching the end?) 
"unending,"  the logic-minded concede,
is as good  a word as any, a leap
into  the dark, a lie of convenience,as is most
of what we  think  we know...

and our laws, the clockworks that  guide
all the intricate mechanisms of our universe, could not
exist before the creation of the universe itself,
meaning that the grand explosion that created all things
and all places must also have created the laws
of nature by which that which was created was created
and later spread, evolving as the created universe evolves,
the ever-expanding blaze of space and thing
and time and laws, a storm of bright burning stars,
the stars I saw this early morning, and the thick vacuum
and thicker air through which their light
shone on me...

I live in the midst of an ever-flowering miracle
of upheaval, twisting in its winds, floating in a sea of time and space
I barely notice, inside an outside forever
to  me

Still in Arizona.

     ...tumble weeds
     whip across the road
     in front of me,
     chasing the wind,
     never catching it

     I've known people  like this,
     blown always
     by capricious
     never finding rest...


     ...I see a buffalo
     in its shaggy brown coat
     eating green sprouts
     between giant red boulders...

Approaching Flagstaff.

     ...dense, white clouds
     cover the horizon ahead -

     or dust storm,
     not what I'd like to  see...

     sleet -
     the strong winds
     even stronger -
     throwing ice pellets
     like birdshot...

Lunch in Flagstaff

     ...light snow,  then
     moving on through the national forest
     and between the mountains
     the snow gets much worse,
     blowing  hard across the  road,
     the sky closes in,
     and the temperature drops
     to near freezing...

Leaving the mountains, dropping back to desert level.

     ...the clouds clear
     the temperature goes back up,
     the fat, driving snowflakes
     hitting my windshield
     turn to fat splashing raindrops

The next poet is David Meltzer, from The Selected  Poems of David Meltzer, published in 2005 by Penguin Poets.

Born in 1937, Meltzer is a poet and musician of the  Beat Generation and San Francisco Renaissance.

6th Raga / for  Bob Alexander

The cigarette gone, you walked
over to the stain where
the sea last hit the shore
&,  with your fingers, began
drawing the outline of a woman
into the sand. Her body -
her breasts:  a poke
inside each center for
her nipples. Her  cunt -
a simple v, & her hair,
a spray of seaweed found nearby,
some twigs.

Jumping back,, the sea rushing in,
you yelled out something very loud -
but the ocean was louder.
I didn't hear.
We turned out back  on the Pacific,
the mural of your woman,
letting them do battle unseen.
Back up to Ocean Front Avenue.
Charlie was waiting with his camera,
Altoon had  arrived with a 6-pack
of gold  old Lucky Lager Beer.

A Poem for My Wife

I'm in my room writing
speaking to myself
& I hear you
move down the hallway
to water your plants

I  write truth on the page
I strike the word over & over
yet I   worry you'll  pour too much water on the plants
&  the water will overflow  onto the books
ruining them

If I can't speak out for myself
how can I tell you I don't care about the plants?
how can I tell you I don't care if the books get wet?

We've been together seven years
&  only now do I begin
clearing my throat to speak to you.

This Morning

arising to quiet our children,
last night's seed
a trail of light down your thighs.

Such beautiful mornings we've had the past week or so, morning  temperatures in the high fifties to low sixties, and, fall finally pushing afternoon highs down to the mid-80s,

this morning is like a song

Miles for certain, maybe Sketches of Spain,
his version of Rodrigo's masterpiece,
his crisp horn cracking the cool Spanish morning,
like a call to wake a sleeping village
to a new day, roosters crow, goats stir in their pens,
shutters open, quiet sleep set aside
by music like a sunrise...

or maybe King of Blue, the quintessential Miles,
jazz as the truth of universal dawning, the
greatest of all jazz recordings
ever made...

music of a soft, tentative sky questing,
calling like a shy virgin on her wedding day,
to be taken into hand, into heart, into
a clear and clean world beginning, the forever joy
of an improvisational love, catching all of life
that catching can, filling life with the fresh air of
possibility and promise


it is a quiet morning, so quiet...

so  quiet
I hear the music of its waking

Still  in Arizona, a rest stop for coffee.

     ...I  find Mojo's
     and a skinny barista with more tattoos
     than lots of folks have skin,
     and in the corner
     a little group of old cowboys
     sitting a round table,
     some just listening
     two  singing
     and picking their guitars -
     country ballads, Marty Robbins
     and the like and some of their own

     "I once loved a girl in 
     Albuquerque," sang one

     "I wanted to be a cowboy,"
     sang another
     as I was leaving
     "but I  was always afraid of cows"...

Finally, Nevada, a much larger and more mountainous state than I thought (I find out the hard way)

     ...snow clouds
     over mountain peaks
     on both sides o me
     like buttermilk
     over hot cornbread

     light snow 
     dusts desert stones
     and plants
     with points of silvery

     the snow falls
     and soon they all 
     sport white
     they all disappear
     under a white sea

     a herd of horses,
     twenty or thirty of them,
     chase and play
     in a field of snow...

Past  Hawthorn,  my route takes me into new  mountains.

      ...I crest
     the last of this latest  string
     of  mountains
     and laid out before me
     a vast valley,
     a basin surrounded by peaks,
     covered white
     like a fresh tablecloth
     at a New  York

Here are  three  poems by my poet friend  from Washington, Gary Blankenship. The poems are from his first book A River Transformed: Wang Wei's River Wang Poems as Inspiration published in 2005 by Santiam Publishing.

Gary is a great  fan of the ancient Chinese poets and their forms. The poet Wang Wei of the Tang Dynasty period is a special favorite of his and his book is dedicate to his own poems inspired by Wang, along with translations of the originals that provided the inspiration.

XIII. After Wang Wei's Fine Apricot Lodge (3) - After the Market

Each perfect globe placed with care
until the basket filled beyond the brim,
no room for the final,blemished fruit.
I split it with my thumbs, half for me,
half for you, the bitter center
discarded as if almonds,  valueless.

Unrolled the scroll fills a wall.
With soiled fingers, we  trace their journey,
a bit of pulp left wherever they stopped,
juice where they slept, ate, wrote.
Do not worry. the scroll  is not his creation,
but only a copy of a fake, valueless.

Plant a seed wet with flesh,
a thousand years later, a dead tree falls.

XVIII. After Wang Wei's North Hill (16) - Adrift on the River

There is no color; the mountains white;
the valley thick with fog and cry of geese.
Once  scarlet flowed across the green,
and green faded to yellow, gold and brown.

The forest black against winter's sky,
the river dark with the shade of naked trees,
every gray and masked bird is silent
as clouds heavy with the season' cold crop.

Pale as quiet nights, you tremble
as the last petal falls to an early frost.
Worry not, there will be other springs,
there will be other journeys after this.

I have lost our oars and whittle new
from oak leaves drifting past red hills.

XIX: After Wang Wei's Stream of Powdered Gold (14) - Found Among  Yellow Reeds

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

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

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

A memory poem.

night at a desert camp

night on the desert,
the orange crash of sunset
hours ago,
no light now
but the red glow
of our fire burned down to coals...

and the stars...

don't look at the fire,we were told...

turn your back to the fire
if you want to see the stars, he said

and we did

and once we did the stars blazed
and we could see across the flat desert floor,
the undulating dunes, the cactus reaching like fingers
grasping for the very stars we discovered
and claimed as our own...

I try to imagine how it must have been
to sleep every night under such a sky,
such a diamond field of stars...

a daily loss
as all the star-bright beauty is leached out by
morning light

and the Hindu Kush, lost to the night,
a smudge on the north horizon...

     At  last, Lake Tahoe, the  fourth day.

The weather changes.

     ...from my tenth floor window
     I watch he clouds
     cross the north mountains,
     then begin a slow drift
     across the lake
     toward us 

     the 'little cat  feet"
     over cold water...


My pal, Reba, and I take a walk along the lake.

     ...we are not the first
     to break the snow, little
     duck tracks, triangles
     divided by a line
     from point to base,
     and tracks from some bird
     of a larger sort, tridents
     in the snow

     a white sailboat
     half-hidden in the

     there yesterday
     as well... 

Time to go  home, via Interstate 10, California, Arizona again, and Texas.

     white-robed  mountains,
     the virgin brides
     of western California

     past San Bernardino
     and the car-choked
     of Los Angeles

     to the dry, brown hills
     of north Arizona

     bright, yellow flowers,
     bushy and thick,
     climb the hills like
     the rising drab and dreary 

And home, ten days on the road, five states with snow in four of them. Back home -

     ...where days
     are measured  not by calendars
     and dates
     and miles passed
     and to-dos done
     but by the passing of the sun
     east to west,
     and cycles of the moon,
     full to dark,
     and by poems written
     and quiet moments
     when a contemplative life
     seems not a waste of time
     but a harvesting
     of  the fruits of  time

     a slower heart beat,
     before time ends..

The rest of the poems from my library will  come from the anthology, The Wind Shifts - New  Latino Poetry. The book was published by the University of Arizona Press in 2007.

The first poet from the anthology is Francisco Aragon, who also served as the book's editor.

Aragon, poet, translator, essayist, editor and San Francisco native earned an MA from the University of California, Davis and an MFA at the University of Notre Dame.

Cafe Central

     Plaza del Angel, Madrid

Of the three
              the one on his feet, a Dane-
slightly hunched his arms loosely

              hugging, from behind, the hip-
shaped instrument of wood, his fingers
              punishing the strings picking

top speed as he grunts
              just audibly, the notes
of his solo

              within the piece, his  forehead
near the rafters
               glistening...till he gives

the one from Catalonia
               at the keys
who can't see a thing

               in or out of those shades
a look, as if
               to say, almost pleading reel

me in! So when finger and thumb
               strike - lighting the fuse -
both player and bass are pulled

                 back down between piano
and drums, the three
                 in the end hovering

safely near the ground again

                                               in memory of Tete Montoliu (1933-1997

Another memory poem.

on a mountain trail

on  a mountain trail,
narrow, high rock walls on either side,
a twisting trail
turns, a long trail, about three miles
from the desert to the outcrop overlooking the pink
sands below, a long path cut into sections by the constricting
zig and zag of canyon walls, a trail cut through the softest rock
by thousands of years of melting snow pack, the fast-running waters of spring
racing down from the mountain crest to the dry desert, feeding he annual spring blooming
of millions of bright desert flowers, burning colors on cool spring mornings,
their short lives bursting with colors stored over the seasons of too-cold and too-hot...

ahead, beyond the turns that screen us from what's beyond,
grunts and grumbles of loose rock clattering under many feet, a family of javalina,
bewhiskered, one-eyed grandpa and his harem and offspring
turn the next crook in the path and suddenly we are face to face...

they pay no mind to us as we flatten against the rocks to let them past, it is their mountain,
and their trail, walked year after year, and they pay no mind to us, except a small
piglet who breaks from the family single-file to come to me and sniff at my boot, a change
to be investigated in a  lifetime of never-changing...

a snort from grandpa and the small one races back to take his place in line...

grandpa knows we are a temporary aberration, not worth the waste
of time when the green and tasty meadows wait in the basin below...

we  move on...

and the family moves on...

a brief meeting on a  mountain trail,  climbing to see the desert  we left just an hour before -
maybe grandpa was  right, with green and tasty meadows below,
why do we climb just to see from afar  what we have already seen up close

or maybe not

for it only from afar that the pink sand glows under a mid-day sun,
the expanse of it lair out from this mountain
to the next, a blue shadow  on the far

Leaving behind the Lake Tahoe poem and moving on  to another poem from the book, "Silver City and Beyond."

Silver City is in the southwestern part of New Mexico. I had heard mention of it as an arts community and, having never been there, decided to go. In the end, though I was less impressed by Silver City than I had hoped I would be, it was a pleasant trip, only three days, shorter than usual,  leaving fewer driver's kinks in my back  in my back when I got home.

First, as always  when heading west, the near 600 mile drive from San Antonio to El Paso.

     ...stone-wrapped hills
     to long-stretched fingers
     of pink Chihuahua Desert

     blue sky, blue on blue
     on deep ocean blue sky,
     to jagged clouds
     dark and sharply racing...


     ...on the ridge
     a  line of  dead trees
     oak blight killing scrub oak
     all around

     reminding me of a picture
     I once saw of a lone tree,
     bare and burned
     among the ruins at

     these trees like that,
     bare limbs
     reaching up, grasping
     at the sky

     in the pasture below
     a mare and her foal eat grass
     generous and green...

And as always when I pass through the roadway blasted through stony hills, my imagination stirred by the layers of geologic time in the rock walls on either side of the road.

      near the top,
     a woman and a man passed,
     nearly human,
     and there by my feet
     a fish struggled, crawled awkwardly
     from the sea


     ...a cloud billows up
     from the Chisos Basin
     like a white rose
     opening to the sun...

Next  from the new Latino poetry anthology, a poem by Scott Inguito. The poet was born in Santa Maria,  California at the time the anthology was published. He received a BA in English  from San Francisco State University and an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop

Main Street

The air collects itself. Dunes.The tilled fields.Strawberries. Plump
and salt air sweet. It's said that the French like Santa Maria Valley's
berries. Boxes stacked high on muddy trucks rattle across roads.
Bonita, Furukawa, and Minami Farms. Converted buses haul workers
to the fields.

Manure wind. Stings the throat.

Ocean wind and muddy thigh-highs. Hands from Mexico make money
and pass it to hands to build a better roof back in Morelia. The trucks,
flatted to the brim, pull the twin Porta-Johns into the next field.

La Mejor de  Jalisco.That's where the laborers eat. Campechana plato
y refrescos  y cervezas. Cuanto de Caminos.

Deepbend. Backbend. Cracks in the curl between the thumb and
forefinger  bleeding. White and dry.

The dog's name is Chicken. Been swatted on the rear too many times.
Laps up the coffee that's been thrown on the ground.

Fields are corduroy.  The telephone wires are bowed with black birds.
The hawk  circles and wobbles. Celery wind.  Blade. Thigh-highs.
Roofs are  built.

Another memory poem.

driving  through  the city

a ride through  the city
from the airport to our compound

our bus
nondescript gray, anonymous on most streets

but on this one,
amid the traffic  of local buses and motorized rickshaw taxis,
golf carts with a seat for two in the back, all painted
with the most fantastic colors and images, anonymous gray
is the sore thumb on this street...

and the music,
loud, frantic,  feverish...

and the men, mostly young, squatting
flat-footed shoulder to shoulder
along the roadside, on sidewalks,
on bridge  railings,  so many idle young

our anonymous spectacle of  a bus,
for the days of armored transport
still  some years ahead -

but all  those young men,
squatting flat-footed, so  many young  men
with nothing to do but watch with dark eyes
as our bus passes...

this cannot last,
I  think...

of course it  didn't

 More excerpts from "Silver City and Beyond" from Places and Spaces, a book of travel poems.

In New Mexico,  headed toward for Silver City.

       ...green desert
     all the way, a rainy year
     disguising the stone-hard truth
     below the green

     smudge of mountains
     against the horizon, left and right,
     front and rear

     New Mexico,
     a state of mountains
     and deserts and neither 
     ever far from where you might be... 

Silver City not as much as I had expected/hoped for, a small town with an arts district barely a block long, I move after one night.

     ...three horses
     a green pasture,
     grass high
     up  to their knees

     in single  file,
     on after the other

     like carousel horses
     with somewhere to go...

I'm finishing my library poems this week with two poets from the new Latino poetry anthology.

The first of the two is David Dominguez. The poet earned a BA from the University of California and an MFA in creative writing at the University of Arizona. Co-founder and editor of The Packinghouse Review, he teaches at Reedley College in Reedley, California.


As  I  walk  into the Verona Cafe, I am profoundly happy.
My work boots clunk with each step,
and at he cashier's counter, I  order black coffee.
I can't help myself, so I inspect  the floor's workmanship,
and at once I see how sloppily
each tile was installed along the bottom of the  counter.
When I take my change, the employee sees
my hands are covered with scratches and dust
and says, "Thank you, Sir."
In the cafe's brightest corner,
an old man  lowers his newspaper.
We exchange manly nods -
thee workingman's code for, "Hello."
Today I installed the last  tiles in my new house,
tiles I had avoided  because
they had to wrap around the door frames,
tiles requiring templates and hours to cut,
but they, too, are done  -
slapped with thinset and grout.
This  afternoon, I love that I am wearing jeans,
that my T-shirt is gray,
that my leather work gloves are shoved into my back pocket,
and that the cold wind rushes  against my face
as I merge onto Highway 99
and my Mustang roars.

And the last poet from the anthology is Venessa Maria Engel-Fuentes. The poet holds a BA from Macalester College in Women's and Gender Studies. At the time the anthology was published she was Coordinator of Youth Programs at the Loft Library Center in Minneapolis.

I could find a picture of the poet so I've used an image of the book instead.


Mercedes washed clothes
the day her mother died
A piece of breath
lost in the river
Knuckles a row off four  red dots
ready to grieve.

her husband said so
the black dress hung
A sad fire in her closet
and the clouds outside a
length of string come undone.

Certainly it was over the dishwater
Mercedes cried while blessings
were laid out.   An empty chair
by all the wreaths of margaritas and lilies
Little white flowers to knit into a scarf
warm the soft line of neck.

Her prayer that afternoon a clothespin
in her hand
The church
full of sleepy eyes and ash
La Virgen  keeping watch
over so many candles.

And another memory poem.

a peseta here, a peseta there

walking the sidewalks of downtown Madrid
in the crisp air of mid-spring,
still a chill in the morning
but warming sun by

such a beautiful city, so rich in history
and heritage...

such a beautiful city, I think, unlike Paris,
people smile as I pass, I could live here I think,
unlike Paris...


an elderly woman, stout and silver-haired,
a country woman,  come to the city,
sits on a blanket under a full-leafed tree,
sits among  the smiling people
passing, ayudame, she cries softly,
begging, help me, help me...

a peseta here, a peseta there, 
fall without a sound on  her blanket...

a beautiful blanket

I wonder if I  could buy the beautiful

but then what would the  stout old woman
sit on, here among the passing
crowds, a peseta here...

a peseta there...

Heading home, I decided to take a scenic route rather than the more direct route, turning a 45 minute jaunt into a full afternoon of very rough driving, a small but reasonably smooth paved road to Mongollon, a tiny village lost among the trees, then into the National Forest where the paved road ends and the road gets smaller and rougher as it climbs through a canyon surrounded on both sides by forest, a very uncomfortable place to be when the rain starts and canyon flooding becomes a realistic concern.

Having made the drive, I'm glad I did  because once the rain stopped it was beautiful. But once is enough for me.

     ...the higher I climb
     the heavier the rain falls
     and the slushier and slipperier
     the road  becomes...


     ...setting aside mudslides  and other hesitations,
     it is now further back  than forward

     as I come to a break in the trees
     and stop and look out and see I am
     on a high ridge,
     above the clouds, churning
     white and billowy


     ...a very large buck
     and 25 to 30 doe and fawns,
     fluffy white and brow, stub-tails
     flicking in the wind,
     all  together, as a group,
     coming down the mountain
     in great bounds, over the road,
     then back up on the other side,
     winged creatures
     who, through fate or folly,
     lost their wings
     but still they try to fly, almost
     succeeding with each great leap...


     ...passing through a burned out portion of forest,
     pine and aspen tall and limbless, black as the coal 
     the have become while still they reach for the sky,
     I stop and listen to the wind,
     all around, deep-forest quiet but for the wind
     passing though these poor standing dead

     ghost whispers...

Finally El Paso and a full night's sleep.

     ...tomorrow, the last leg,
     the long first day
     repeated in reverse...  

Now, a  last memory poem.

Easter in Kabul, 1969

we walked the streets, three
of us, strangers to the city on a short leave,
through the downtown, buses and pedicabs honking,
crowding the street, each claiming dominance, motor bikes
and bicycles, and along the street, rickety stores,
none more than two floors high but the Spirizan Hotel,
watering hole for the  US Aid workers, and the Russians from their
embassy and a UN contingent and a few Americans, bar at  the top
of the hotel neutral territory where all could eat and drink
without starting an international incident leading to World War III
or just national humiliation...

and a book store where I buy a book of poems by the country's
foremost poet (dual language,  Urdu and English) and also in English,
Mao's Little Red Book, brought by camel back across the  Khyber  Pass
very thin, almost onionskin, paper, and the red plastic cover,
utilitarian and tough, a holy bible of sorts from the cultural  revolution
next door...

as we continue toward the AID house where we will spend
our three-night stay, the  road  turns to red gravel, passing a restless
snorting camel, buying fresh nan from a street vendor, the  sweet
airiness of it melting in our mouth...


from out window in the morning,
we see the  children walking to school in their tan  uniforms,

(how I will  mourn the tragedy of their lives in the years to come)

a cat  on the roof  below us next door, wakes and  stretches,  a  lazy cat
sleeping on warm tiled roof in morning  sunshine...

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

Also usual, 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


Sonyador - The Dreamer

Peace in Our Time

at 12:42 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

i will read an d scroll down further- but yr top photo is a winner- u need me as yr agent- why? u should enter this in contests - u cld win a lot? (in my opinion)
david eberhardt

at 12:47 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

the photo of the corridor under the art work is amazing- i don't think u know what u have- it's not in every photo (and how could it be) - u wld need an editor (like Me) but- u cld go so much further

i feel like i am the discoverer of a gold mine that will never come to light

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