Well, Yes, It IS All About Me   Tuesday, November 03, 2015






After approaching ten years of weekly "Here and Now"  posts, things have evolved to the point where it's the photos that are the most fun for me, especially when, like last week, I'm able to go  out and get some good new ones.

In fact, doing the pictures is so much fun for me that I was thinking this would be an all-photo post. Then I remembered this is supposed to be a "poetry blog" so I went ahead and tossed in some poems from my  first book, Seven Beats a Second. It's a print book, my only print book, published in 2005. I have only a few of my original 500 personal copies left and they are available at only one place, my IAMA music academy and coffeehouse hangout. But I think the book still available on Amazon (US, Canada and India), should anyone like to make a purchase. In addition to my poems, Seven Beats a Second includes art on every page by my collaborator, Vincent Martinez, who also did the book's cover.

The photos are from a day trip we made last  week to  the "Lost Maples State Natural Area."

In addition to the wildlife of the area (a little over 2,000 acres), the story on Lost Maples that I've heard concerning the area's main attraction is that at some point in the past there was a disease that wiped out most of the maple trees in the area except for a large grove protected from the blight at the bottom of the "Lost Maples" canyon. Every year in the fall  it is  one of the  few areas where visitors can get a full New England  leaf experience and during that short window of leap-peeping opportunity large numbers of people visit (about 200,000 a year, mostly during the time the leaves are in full fall  foliage). We've been there  three times, the first time nearly 20 years ago when we got there too early, the second time last year when we went at peak season and found a  line of cars a quarter mile long waiting for someone to leave so  they could get in, and then last week, when, once again, we  were too  early. So, instead of pictures of  fall colors, I have pictures of a very green canyon. (The shortest trail through the canyon is nearly five miles, so we didn't go far). Luckily the weather and scenery along the way through the hill country was beautiful, with green hills, two full flowing rivers (the Medina and the Sabinal) and many creeks and streams with ice cold, crystal clear water. It was an all day drive-around with  lunch in Bandera at the OST (Old Spanish Trail) restaurant.

Bandera is one of a number of places I've been that claim to be the place of the birth of the cowboy. They do it up good in Bandera, but everyone who knows cowboys knows that the original cowboys were the vaqueros Captain King brought from Mexico to drive the herd of longhorns that were the seed from which the great King Ranch grew. Many descendants of those very first cowboys still live and work on the much reduced ranch. They have long been knows (and still are) as "Kinenos."  

Maybe next year we'll finally see the leaves.


In the meantime, here is all me selected from my first book Seven Beats a  Second.

ripples

rethinking the probabilities of God

the pull of the moon

the moon rising

Piggy Wiggly promenade

lotsa hots

life is

seven beats a second

why the boys go out on Saturday night

the cruelty of cats at  play

caress

anti-war  poems are easy

the magnetosphere is running down 

the last days of Mach in South Texas

Adam, before the fall

finding  religion  at  3 a.m.

warning label

the dreams of Mary Quemada

the eyes of Sister Jude

while a bald man  burns

about sex

cinnamon dreams 

lying in the sun with Susan

burning

how it all comes out

hymnal

does he still dream
















First from Seven Beats a Second.















ripples

the bay is flat
          so still
underwater currents
can be seen on the surface
           like smoky streaks
           on an antique mirror,
           so still, like time
and the earth's rotation
have stopped and the sun
has stropped overhead, its
burning light sharp and clear,
             while offshore
             a small fish leaps
             and slaps the water
             with a crack
that starts a small wave
pushing out in a circle
from the small jumping fish,
               the only motion
spreading across the bay
               to the gulf
small leaping fish  pushing
against the Gulf of Mexico
and the Atlantic beyond,
               small leaping fish
               making ripples
in universal waters,
              an anti-tide,
              a nibble-surge
against the moon's orbit
and the rightness of all         


















from Seven  Beats a  Second.
















rethinking the  probabilities of god

I approach the
conversion age
when old atheists
begin to  peek
around the corner
of their lives thinking
maybe they'll find god
hanging out on the
doorstep after all,
when memories
are friends
more dead than alive

alas poor Orrick
not to mention
Bob and Ted and

Fred and Nancy
and Molly with the 
long blond hair
and Rennie
whose breasts
I touched in the 
back of the bus
and Rennie's
boyfriend Larry
who claimed her
breasts as his own
and beat the
crap out of  me the
next day and damn
thinking about it
makes my fingers
tingle even now

it's not the fox holes
that persuade us

we were all immortal
then and dumb
as the dirt that
grew wet with the
surprise of out blood

it's driving past
the old folk's home,
knowing
they're making
a bed up for you
















A couple of moon poems from Seven Beats a Second.














the pull of the moon

half moon
cut precisely by earth's shadow
one part shining
in the clear October night
like a great yellow bacon in the sky
and the other, dark and mysterious,
though barely seen by the eye,
still a mover of tides
and midnight meditations

so it is with my love for you,
as the bright in you pulls me,
even more the secrets
of your darker moods


the moon rising

ripples off wind
ruffle bay waters
like a lover's hand
soothing soft tangles
in her beloved's hair

gentle winds

quiet waters

bright stars warm
in the cool
autumn dark

the moon,
rising,
empress
of the night















An observational from Seven Beats  a  Second.















Piggly Wiggle promenade

walking across the parking lot
in high  heels and black Capri pants
that draw attention to hips
going a little  broad and ass
on the way to droop
and a white cotton  blouse
tucked tight into her  pants,
small breasts,
nipples round and hard as marbles,
nodding with  every step

she struts as she passes me
and smiles and you know
she's having the time of her-life,
giving all the little bag-boys
mid-afternoon hard-ons,
free in this parking lot
for a least  a while,
free at least until the groceries
are safely loaded into her Volvo
and she's on her way to pick up
little Brittany at ballet















A memory poem from Seven Beats a Second.















lotsa hots

I've worked in August
under the  noon-day sun
digging post holes
in hard-packed caliche
on the Texas-Mexican border

that's one kind of  hot

I've won six months pay
throwing die in Reno

that's another kind of hot

I've seen pretty little whores
in Piedras Negras
hot enough to melt the silver tip
off  a cowboy's dress-up  boots

that's pretty hot too

but no kind of hot
is as hot
as thinking  of you and  me
in a big white bed
in a room with curtains whispering
to a low midnight  breeze,
soft  lights, satin shadows
shifting over pale skin

your dark eyes shining
liquid in their knowing
















A  little philosophy from Seven Beats a Second.












life is

life
is like a duck hung

every time
you really start to  fly

some
asshole in the weeds

shoots
your  feathered butt

right out of the sky













 The title poem from Seven Beats a Second. The joke on me is that from the first time I heard this  little bit of big bang trivia I was thinking of seven beats a minute, a slow and stately procession. Seven beats a second is, of course, the opposite, which didn't penetrate between my ears until after the poem was written and the book published.















seven beats a second

the universe pulses
seven beats a second
laying down a back beat
to  the rhythms
of all that  is and ever was
from the birth of stars
to the spreading of a smile
on the fresh lips of a child

we're born we love
we hurt
and we die
all of our days
measured in multiples
of seven beats a second








 







Seven Beats a Second again.

















why the boys go out on Saturday night

s
e
x

sells

especially when lit in

n
e
o
n

flashing

on
   and
        off

flashflash

on
   and
        off

sex flashes through the night
drawing us through the rushing current

up
   stream
            we
                go

bashing our heads on the sharp rocks
of deceit and desire, all for a chance  to
fuck our fish brains out before we die
in the shallow pool of everyday life


















Seriously bad love from  Seven Beats a Second.















 the cruelty of cats at play

her black smile
cut like a dagger  through the dark
        unseen
        slicing cleanly to the heart

"I have something to tell you,"
         she whispered

















 A sexy (kinda) poem from Seven Beats a Second. I did a lot of those early one. Also a  lot  of science (kinda) poems.

















caress

midnight

hot breath
and whispers

soft
     slow
          glide
                of skin
                         on skin

tongue
like the bite
of a velvet adder

secrets
unveiled

surrendered

to the touch

the smoldering
touch

of midnight














I don't like the way people try to talk their way out of making moral judgements. They do it by simplifying the most complicated questions that face us. It seems it has become worse every year since I  wrote the poem. Politically, left and right, serious questions are boiled down to superficial bumper sticker philosophies that avoid those issues where a choice must be made between two basically immoral options.















anti-war  poems  are easy

the heart of the matter is that
the heart of the matter
sometimes  doesn't matter much

anti-war poems are easy
since in  our hearts
we all know that the logic of war
that says I will kill  strangers
until a stranger kills me
is insane

and who can deny that in our hearts
we all know a human fetus
no matter how small
and misshapen and incomplete
is a human-in-waiting,
holding within its tiny bounds
all the capacity for love
and laughter as any of us

and who,
even among the most  aggrieved of us,
could without a tremor
of hand and heart, puss the button
that drops the cyanide pellet
ending the life
of even the bloodiest
of our murdering kind

yet we kill the strangers
who might someday
have been our friend

we erase from the future
the love and laughter of  those
we decide will never be

and we murder the murderers
with appropriate
writ and ceremony

all these terrible things we do
because our  heart cannot  guide us
in choosing the lesser of  evils

it is out lizard brain we must turn to
when the heart of the matter
doesn't matter enough














And speaking of science (kinda) poems, here's one from Seven Beats a Second. I did have a couple published  in a science oriented poetry journal, but beyond that, there's not a lot of interest in the subject among poetry readers. Nobody ever like the poems as much as I did.















the magnetosphere is running down

magma flow
curling, coiling
through red hot embers
thrashing, flashing
sparks of elemental essence
dancing to the tune
of gravity's fandangos,
turning within turning
the one driving the other
driving the other,
influence on influence
until the machinery of dependence
becomes worn from the friction
of turning on turning
and the clockwork stops
and stasis slowly settles,
then quickly collapses
upon itself, becoming
something else,
another kind of turning,
new imperatives,
new tunes,
new dance starting















This next piece from Seven Beats a  Second was written when the Iraq war was going badly (outside the first fifteen minutes, did it every go any other way but badly.) I was commuting 150 miles each  way from San Antonio to Corpus Christi, home to San  Antonio on  Friday, back to Corpus Christi on Sunday for a job with the local United Way agency. One Sunday, on the way back to Corpus Christi I saw a sight along the road which, combined with a picture that morning in the New York Times led to this poem.














the last  days of March in South Texas

clear sky,  bright sun,
the last north wind of the season
pushing hard against me  as I  drive south,
back to the coast  for another week

many weeks I have done this now,
a year and a half of weeks,
north on Fridays to the rocky hills
and quiet comforts of home, home
to family, to all  my favorite places,
then back on Sunday to the coast,
until the road is hardwired in my memory,
gray asphalt ahead and behind,
I'll pass a hundred miles sometimes
and not remember any of them

but today is a day just past the first edge of spring,
a spring just past a wet and mild winter
so that  now, spread out on both sides of the road
lies the soft side of South Texas chaparral,
neon green mesquite,mustard yellow huisache,
pastures of bluebonnets, creamy white buttercups,
Indian  paintbrushes, red or deep pink,
depending on the light, sunflowers
lining the highway on tall green stalks
and just around  a softly rising curve
a mother and her baby, sitting  together
in a deep patch of bluebonnets,
the mother posing, look at  daddy  she's saying
as he circles, focusing, getting just the right shot...

seeing this small family reminds me
of a picture in the Times this morning

a mother, bare feet  grimy from her dirt floor,
a colorful  blanket laid  out by the wall, a treasure maybe,
where just moments before was lying the baby
she  holds now in her arms, long, graceful fingers
holding the baby tight against  her breast...

perhaps she heard them coming,
the two soldiers standing in the open door,
rifles ready, three people afraid, not knowing
friend or foe,
friend or foe,
the woman, her face from some trick of light
is a bright, frozen mask in the dark interior
the soldiers, awash in sunlight with backs to the camera,
are tense, their hands tight on their weapons,
their fingers tight, it must be, on the triggers
while the baby sleeps in its mother's trembling arms,
an innocent in a time and place
where innocents will die with the wicked,
where the just and unjust will find a common grave...

I think of all who have died in my time
and of all those who will die now
in these last bloody days of March and I ache for a God,
the God I knew as  a child, of green trees and cool winds
blowing softly across a pasture dancing with his colors,
a compassionate God  who would enfold
all the mothers and fathers and frightened soldiers
into the protection of his billowing  robes -

but that God is seems is not in vogue today
so these  last days of March will continue without him















From  Seven Beats a Second. Even  more than  when I  wrote this ten years  ago, I look  around and wonder if our kind will survive, and, more, whether we  even deserve to.

















Adam, before the fall

an old silverback sits
amid the vines and bramble bushes
of his native rain forest
a huge creature, but quiet and slow,
intent in each still moment
of his gorilla life

not knowing of the devastation of his tribe,
of the hunters who prize his meat  as  exotic taboo,
the fetishists who expect to find in his glands
the secret of some perpetual erotic high,
some eternal orgasm, some brute untamed sexuality,
or some seeker of kirsch, some nick-knack collector
who crows his walls with trophy heads and pelts
and, oh yes, how striking, a gorilla paw
for the handy keeping of paperclips and gum erasers...

not know how few are left,
how he and his family scattered around him
in their  dwindling jungle are last survivors
of the great scourge of life called man...

from a second picture

broad face full on, close up,
black eyes shining,
in in those  doomed eyes I see my death
and the decline of my kind

Adam, before the fall,
great  beast, deserted by God















 Two  pieces from Seven Beats a Second - my primary vice now, poetry, but it was not  always so.
















finding  religion at 3 a.m.

hanging my head over a
dirty toilet
I wouldn't even piss in
on a better day
gagging
the smell of my own breath
and the taste in my mouth
setting off
another round of dry heaves

god
please don't make me sober
now 


warning label

cigarette smoke
makes you smell like a bar in the morning

the stale stink of a butt-littered floor
and spilled beer
and piss from the overflowed urinal  in the john

all overlaid by a reek of desperation

the desperation of limp cocks lost in lust-dreaming
losers lost in their own lies
redemption-dreams fading as  the sun rises

to the squalor of crud-crusted eyes
and a lingering vomit-bile
breath
      














Two characters from Seven Beats a Second.
















the dreams of Mary Quemada

her long hair flowing
like a dark tide gathering
across her satin pillow,
she dreams of times past
and places she loved
long gone

while I,
watching,
yearn to dream with her


the eyes of Sister Jude

sharp eyes
like tempered blades
that cut clean through when angry

guarded eyes
that weight and judge
and stand ever alert for betrayal

dark eyes, deep,
softened once for love,
then moistened by a long nights weeping

but only once
and it was long ago














This a quirky little thing. It was one of  several pieces published in a short-live journal called Avant Garde Times before I included it in Seven Beats a Second.














while a bald man burns

three gulls circle
while
a bald man burns
in the fierce island sun
while 
I trace gargoyles
in the sand
with my big toe
while
you pretend to  study
the book in your hand
while
three gulls circle
in the fierce island sun


















Sex Ed from Seven Beats a Second.














about sex

sex
is about the heat
of rubbing parts together;
passion
a function of finely calibrated
friction

some will say
it makes a big  difference
which parts do what to who

nonsense
I say

it's a lot
like chicken fingers

in the dark
parts is parts

you  rub mine
and I'll rub yours
and we'll sort it out
in the morning















This one also was in Avant Garde Times before I used it in  Seven Beats a Second.













buggin' out

I can hear them
walking in my head

soft little footsteps

          shushhh
          shushhh 

like they're wearing
little velvet slippers
on their little buggy
feet...

          shushhh
          shushhhhhhhhhhhh

I can hear them
sneaking
through my brain

          shushhh
          shushhh

on little buggy
tippietoes...















 From Seven  Beats a Second - a love poem which I hardly ever do anymore, a feeling I've already done the best I can.

















cinnamon dreams

in the dim light
at end of day
I watch you  sleep
          still damp
          from the shower
curled on your side
          tangled
in white linen
          pink
          like the center
of a fresh sliced peach
          floating
in a bowl of sweet cream

your  foot moves
          slowly
brushes softly against mine

with a quiet rush
          of warm air
          you sigh
the sweet breath
of cinnamon dreams





















 More sex from Seven Beats a  Second.















lying in the sun with Susan

quiet bay

no sound but the light rustle
of marsh grass in the gulf breeze

she
lies on the deck, legs spread,
as if to thrust herself
at the summer sun

sweat glistens
on the inside of her thigh
and my tongue aches
for the taste of her


burning

though
hot
I'm not

you truly set me burning
when you walked out those
swinging doors
in your skimpy little short-shorts

tight cheeks flexing against
the soft cotton
like two  little monkeys
in a velvet bag

waving goodbye

seismic
is the word that comes to mind
















A couple more of the science (kinda) poems from Seven Beats a  Second.












how it all comes about

out there somewhere
is the mother of all,
the  prime,
the matriverse,
defying all  vocabularies
of science and faith,
existing
in some indefinable dimension
of simultaneous is and is not,
mother-of-all-gods,
creator-of-all-creators,
spewing from her womb
all  that is that is not her,
creating a cosmos
of time and space and energy
and matter such as you and I,
multiplied a million billion-fold,
always creating,  brewing elements
for new-born  stars,
grains of sand in a desert ever growing,
from the essences of nothing
making all


hymnal

from somewhere in the very deep
a great blue sang today, a song
of salty tides and bright mornings
fresh with sun and ocean air

a love song
among the giants

from somewhere in the other deep
a growing choir responds, sings
of star-blinks and novas flashing,
songs of creation, songs of despair,
songs of spinning little worlds
that come and go  leave behind
the  poetry of their time in passing

each
another song
recorded for time never ending

(a poem inspired by one of  the  Star Trek movies)












This poem from Seven Beats a Second, I  wrote twenty-five years after the decision to let him pass. The poem is about the question that haunted me as the decision had to be made.

By that time I wrote the poem both my mother and older  brother  had passed as well and only my younger brother and I survived from our family of five.















does he still dream

his body survives, dependent
for every beat and breath
on the machines that surround him

his conscious mind is blank,
but what of dreams?

we never forget our dreams,
from the very earliest sloshing
in the universe of our mother's belly
to the very last, as we die, riffling
one last time though the book of dreams
we made page by page over our  lifetime

so, if this derelict can dream, if this scrap
of man who used to laugh and love,
this shrunken giant who  would carry me,

enfold me in his arms, hold me close
in the worst of storms,  this declining


remnant of a son and lover who slept
at the breast of both his mother and mine ,

this fallen hero leaving the world as he
entered it, head reaching for his knees

this frail ghost of my father

if he has yet the final gift of  dreams,
if, in some part of his mind we can
neither see nor measure, he still drifts
through dreams fading,  like the shadows
of a fire banked and growing colder...








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