Water Ways   Saturday, December 26, 2015

I'm giving myself  a break with this very short, water-themed post that I probably won't put up for two  weeks, I'm thinking the first week of the new year, maybe sooner if I get  bored.

Because it's so short and because of the time I'm giving myself to complete it, it will  probable be an all-me, all-new poem edition.

Here's mostly me for the week.

the one that's sure to be the one

above all else, be brave

turning, as  it always does

the third wife of Adam

as a professional, I know the rules

the providers provide

free people living free

the cat who wont get into the hat

always remember what your mama told you

Gary Blankenship
After Wang Wei's "Jinzhu Ridge" - Standing Before a Teacher   
After Wang Wei's "Meng-Chen Valley" - The Foundation of Grandfather's House   
After Wang  Wei's "At the Lake  Pavilion" - Out of the Alley and In
After  Wang Wei's "North Hill" - Adrift on the River

Gary Blankenship
Six Tanka

through an open door


from Peace  in our  Time - "Chapter One - In the Early Days of  the War"

from Sonyador, the Dreamer - "Chapter one - The Price of Freedom"


     the gathering       

Here's the first.

the one that's sure to be the one

breakfast at an old haunt
this morning

on my way to our Sunday routine
transferred to Monday
for reasons to complicated
for this little thing...

and this little thing is:

my pancake finished
and looking through the broad
window beside me,
I see the bones of many old poems
I wrote before
spread all about me -

the forked tree;
the rose bush blooming red;
the squirrel in the tree;
the flag flying in the breeze
on the USAA campus across the
street of commuter traffic rushing
to their daily bread;
the strange people who
like me
enjoy their breakfast as the sun
breaks through the previous gathered
dark, sunlight gathering now
in its place -

hundreds of old poems
all broken an bent, scattered
across the parking lot
like causalities of a war of rampant versification,
notches of thee signpost of life,
meaning now, almost all, nothing
to me or to thee rest of the world, old cabbage
chewed twice a waste of time...

so what now?


well, the guy with the neat little mustache
who looks like an accountant, precise
mustache like his books, true to the decimal,
working his crossword with his little hands
and silver ballpoint pen - he's come
and gone...

and Apryl,
the server who used to be a boxer
(I had thought at first she might be ex-military
from the prideful way she carried herself)

won, more than she lost
she says,
but finds serving breakfast
to early morning eccentrics preferable
to the beating of winning and

and a new server,
older than young but younger
than old, with an Emoji face
of blond surprise -

how interesting!

oh, look

there's that horny bull pigeon,
chest all puffed-up,
strutting his stuff for every frail
on the parking lot,
still out trying after all the time
I've been gone...

maybe it's today that's to be
his lucky day...

poor deluded pigeon,
don't we all get up in the morning
thinking  the same thing...

our lucky day...

the optimism  that gets us though
to the next day,
the one that's sure to be the one

For the last months it seems every day we are bombarded by cowards and fear-mongers and the most virulent of politicians, enough to make  this one fear for the future of his country.

above all else, be brave

the worst of us,
like a deadly red tide,  seeks to subsume
us again

as they have done
under various guises
throughout our history

when hard and fearful times
the frightened and insecure...

the malignancy of scapegoating, racism
in one form or another

one group  or another, Germans,
Swedes, Irish, Native Americans, Catholics,
Poles, Chinese, Jews, Japanese, Mexicans, African
Americans, and now, Muslims...

the different and foreign in whatever
different and foreign way they stand out
from names and sights and dress and

language and religious ritual familiar
and by that familiarity,
safe ...

we hope this filthy flood of hate
will pass as it has

until then
we  worry for the future
of the best of us

and  what  the best of us
saved for all of  us
through the hard days of the past...


be brave, we want to  tell the fearful,
surrender not  to the cowardice of your fears,
above all  else, be brave...

And then, when you're almost ready to give up, you see something and realize there is a constancy of good within us and those who work to destroy that goodness will never succeed.

turning as it always does

see the young couple and their child
on the street corner,
for their bus,
how young, how young
they look,  how unlike parents
they look to an old man

watch the father
as he helps his child into  his coat,
watch how gently he helps the child get his arm
through the sleeves,how softly he brushes the child's
hair and how carefully he lifts the hood
and smooths it over the child's head and over his ears...

see the parents and their  child
waiting  for their bus,
see the world turn again, turning
as it does, as
it always

I heard about this bit of Jewish (and by extension, Christian) mythology that didn't end up in the book of myths they both ascribe too and it was just too good not to think about, and maybe extend a bit as I tried  to do here.

the third wife of Adam

the first went sour,
had  intercourse with demons,
giving birth to monsters
that haunt us still

the second,
well,that was God's fault,
making her in front of Adam
and so disgusted was he
by the revelation
of  what was inside the latest
creation and by extension,
himself that he was repulsed
and would have nothing to do
with it, no matter how pleasing
God made the outside...

and God destroyed the second
and determined to try just one more
time, this time , while Adam


and said God to the third
as he completed fitting all the parts
in all their proper
places -

"I have made  all that  is around you," He said,
"this garden is mine, my wonderful creation,
but it seemed lonely and bare
without a  creature like  myself,  so I  made Adam
in my image and because he was incomplete  as one
I made you to be his mate, his  wife and the
mother of the  future I will make
with the two  of you...

"and I  named you Eve because you are the setting
of the old and the bringer of a new
dawn,  the culmination of my

"and as prelude to the dawn," He said,
"your destiny is not in this garden

"to explain this, I  will  come  to you in  another form
and show you that your destiny is to defy me
and by that defiance become a creature of free will,
my creation complete at last in my image,
a creation who by this last piece is certain to confound me
and stir my wrath and, for a while,
blind me to my love for you, my child
as will  all your children
be  my children...

"and through all the thousand years
that will pass,my wrath
will diminish
and I will  remember my love for you

and we will be reunited
in a new garden -
a new Eden
in some far place  unseen
and known only to me,
that new Eden  that awaits  our

"this is your story,"  He  said,
"the third and last  wife of Adam,
who will carry my story
to the end, your destiny to be
mother of  all men, and in the end,
Mother of God..."

Just trying to have a little fun in response to a fellow poet on the poem-a-day forum.

as a professional, I know all  the  rules

a  poet gave a very good reason
for not writing a poem

and I wish I could steal it
because this day has not started

and my brain
is all kabobbled
and kaswingled and kanotted

and I don't  have a clue
what I should

as a professional

I know that kabobbled

and kaswingled

and kanotted

and even perhaps


are not sufficient reasons
for  not writing  a poem

but that other poet
has a most  excellent reason
and I would certainly steal

it if I could but
every  professional knows
excellent  excuses are limited to only

one per day and no level of swaggle
can change the rule, but
if  my brain is still

kerswatched, etc.
it will be my time to use it

and that other poet
will  be, to bad for him,
on his own

and I warn everyone else
to keep their hands

or face the con-

A little  supermarket observational.

the providers provide

three old men
in wide-brimmed western hats meet
in a supermarket at the junction
of two  grocery aisles...

of the double-coupon range,
lists in hand
dutifully perused,
baskets loaded with the week's healthy eats...

the providers
almost like the old days

A celebration of a celebration.

free people living freely

I go to a wedding this evening

two friends
whose nuptials  would not have been possible
less than six  months  ago..

I go to a wedding this evening
the love of my friends
and the new freedom
to love
for people all across this county,
some few I might know,
and  the thousands and thousands more
who will never know of  my pleasure
at the life they are now free
to live...


free people living freely,
to much of that going

A mush-mush  of a thing from one of those mush-mush days.

the cat who won't get in the hat

Cat in a Hat

now that's a great book!

and I wonder how hard it was
for the good doctor to lure it out from behind
the sofa and into  that hat, that big red and white
peppermint hat...

my cat,
forget it,  she
wouldn't get within a mile of a big red and white peppermint hat

persnickety cat, that's
what she is...

waits for me at the back door,
presses her head and her whole body
against the back door as soon as she sees  I'm home

all that posturing, even
though there is no master/cat relationship
between us (I  would be pleased with that kind of relationship
but she is wild in her habits and disposition
and wants none of it)

so as she  hams it  up at  my back door
(the act of a crafty predator luring her meow mix prey)
there is no suggestion of a lesser being pleading
for relief from an overlord...

to  the contrary,
she is the liege lord commanding the peasant
who just happens to  live in the place
where it doesn't rain and the peasant dutifully responds
and takes his offering of food to her...

then three strokes of her back
(that's the limit)
before she shows her teeth
and directs her attention to her tribute,
assuming the peasant has received her command
and will return to the inside place
so that she can eat in


this cat
(if she has a name she's never shared it)
is like most cats,
put on earth for the dual purposes
of lazing in the sun
and reminding  superiority-confused two-legged mammals
of their true place in the organizing principles of the universe
(which is why you'll never see a politician with a cat,
their needy egos not up to the cat challenge,
preferring, every one of them, the so much  easier task
of impressing creatures of the dog-world)...

you could probably get  Donald Trump and Ted Cruz into a big red and white peppermint
hat, posing for Iowa voters, but never, never ever the cat who  commands
my back door, no matter how  loudly Iowa voters might demand it...

the backdoor cat, who, frankly,  just doesn't  give a damn about Iowa voters
or me, or, most likely, you...

(I might vote for her if she can get on the ballot,
though I doubt she has any interest in it, what's the point, she might say,
of being leader  of  the free world when you're already
a  cat)

I ran across the phrase "all life is a blur" in something  I was reading and thought was really interesting so I extended it to my own interpretation of of what it might mean.

always remember what your mama told you

it is not a static  universe
of clarity and certain definition,
it is a universe where everything
is blurred because everything is always moving,
everything is always changing,
the ground you walk on is different  ground
with each lifting and dropping of your foot, the great mountains
you seen in the distance, you blink your eyes
and they are different by some degree, the moon
that circles, the sun, the stars that shine
to the far reaches of our universe, all in constant flux,
changing, growing, shrinking over inestimable numbers
of eye-blinks, becoming one thing, then another and another, always
different from before, changing blink after blink until the one thing
has become another thing entirely...

we live in a presence of  eye-blinks...

we take photographs,  thinking we have captured reality,
but it is the reality of the past, always, for as
the lens opened and closed, the present of the opening
became the  past at  the close, leaving us to never know
the moment we live, it passes too quickly to know, only a blurred
memory, remembered as best we can, never  clearly, for even
the photo we count on for true vision changes,
from the first time we  look to the next
and the next and next...

I look in the mirror in the morning and I see  a face
I never saw before, but familiar to the one I saw the day before,
the face of  the past, but a different face in a different world in a different universe,
all changing again and again  and again...


when you were a child and made an ugly face at your mother, she warned you
that some day your face might freeze and you would have to live with that ugly face

this is the stasis the ones who claim  to  know say will come someday

when your face all that all around sill freeze as the universal expansion
reaches its limit, the day the balloon of all is blown as tight and as big
as it can be and it can grow no more and there can be no more change
and all motion and change will  will stop and everything will  forever be
as it was at that exact blink of time, and the blurring passage will find
its eventual resting place and all  will become clear
in a universe  with no longer eyes to see...

will that time come in our time?

no one knows, but it could, so in  the meantime remember your mother's
admonition - do you really want to wear that ugly face
through the end of time -

through the forever for never again?

I  figure that  by this time in the post I am near to, or have already passed, reader's tolerance level for me.

Accordingly, I'm  taking a break from me with several pieces by one of my friends and favorite poets, Gary Blankenship, from his book, A River Transformed: Wang Wei's River Wang Poems as Inspiration , in which he gives master lessons on the poetry of Chinese Tang-dynasty poet, Wang  Wei, 699-761,including literal and modern translations and his re-imagining of the poems from the point of his own life and times.

I think  this was Gary's  first book. I know he has had several since, and while they're all  good, this one is  my favorite. It was published in 2005 by Santiam Publishing of Bermerton, Washington. I don't know if it's still available, but if it is I recommend it.

After Wang Wei's Jinzhu Ridge (4) - Standing Before a Teacher

Brush to ink, ink  to  paper,
paper give to  fire,  green flames released.
The teacher spoke, "As empty as a barkless tree,
hollow as bones that strike a bamboo drum."

Masked and hooded birds, specks to the eye
disturb the branches of trembling  aspens.
The wind divides a waterfall;
water dissolves rock and grass beyond  tomorrow.

Why have we  taken  this narrow road
with its unpredictable turns,
quick drops and impossible climbs?
When we stop, do you expect to rest?

Children at play in wet red clay
laugh  at how their pies taste without almonds.

After Wang Wei's Meng-Cheng Valley (1) - The Foundation of a Grandfather's House

Nettles and wild roses block the front path,
alder  saplings sprout where the side porch stood.
A toppled  chimney points to the northern hills,
broken  concrete towards the eastern sky.

Baskets of memories have melted in the rain,
boxes of words like sparrow's nest.
The shipping trunk might still sit among the debris,
impossible to reach through brier thickets.

Rebuilt? Sold? Left to run to riot,
home for badgers and flea-infested alley cats?
This rubble fit only for free-range chickens
and storage  for empty, unlined journals.

A seagull feeds  perched on a crumbling angel;
corroded letters  no  longer tell who you were.

After  Wang Wei's At the Lake Pavilion (9) - Out of the Alley and In

Next to the street, the sound of a saxophone,
near the rear, a pile of cloth  freezes in the shadows.
One dog growls at another, anxious to leave.
A door slams, the pack skulks into damp corners.

A brown bag passed  from mouth to mouth, hand to hand -
the empty tossed, a fart, belch, stream of  piss.
Somewhere on the avenue, a girl laughs
at the idea of a slow dance among the shore side pines

You handed me a glass, cold as the lake's surface;
green as crocus leaves, the glint in your  eyes.
The dock turns white. Tonight, we will  see
each new  journey begins at the start  of the last.

Snore, black flakes against a pale moon,
fresh ground pepper for melting ice.

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 as silent
as clouds heavy with the season's cold crop.

Pale as quiet nights, you tremble
as the last petal falls to the 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.

Gary's book is not all Wang Wei. It also includes some of his other work, as well as an interesting section where he took the couplets that end his Wei poems and transforms them into tanka, by his accounting, "the Queen of Forms, the finest form poets can  pen." Here are several of these transformations.

In a world
without walls, there are
no windows
to hold the moon,
my songs, your voice.

                           pack ice miles
                           from shore;
                           beluga calves pass
                           by unnoticed.
                                         sing of mahogany
                                         and silk peaches.
                                         Remember when wasps
                                         Spoke quietly.

debris blocks the stream;
a trickle
leaves white feathers
trapped between gray stones.

                                  black  flakes against the moon's
                                  pale face -
                                  fresh ground pepper
                                  for drinks long abandoned.

                                               Beneath the sea,
                                               ghost nets and spotted shrimp -
                                               shadows lost
                                               to a painter's palette.
                                               Too many questions  remain.

And here I am, back, a  cool Sunday morning at the coffeehouse three days before Christmas. A great  place to be and a great day to be here.

through an open door

through an open door,
girls laughing and singing
in the ensemble room across from me

long-haired chicas
in jeans and winter sweaters,
young and girlish

the soft sounds of their

their light voices

if there is a more life-affirming sound in the universe
I've never heard it.

Memories are in all  our senses, not just in some hazy compartment of the brain.


an older  woman
passes the table where
I work
her scent
I do not have the words
to name
only that it is the perfume
my mother wore
her death
nearly twenty years ago
but she lives again
as the fragrance of her passes


ghost memories
in passing 

For something a  little different, the entire first chapter (1 of 47) of my most recent book, Peace in Our Time, a flash-fiction fable. Hard to describe - a war story where it isn't clear who the enemy is until the very end. (hint - Pogo got it  right)

As I always have to say, available wherever  eBooks are sold.

Chapter 1 

In the early days of the war...

     In  the early days of the war, back when most had  shoes and my baby sister was a virgin and I was in love, and we did not yet know the taste of horse or pigeon...
     We had so much to learn.

Having gotten away with it once, I do it again, the entire first chapter (1 of 31) of Sonyador, the Dreamer, my earlier book of fiction, the story of growing up in South Texas told through very short short stories.The time and place is mine, but not necessarily the story.

It  seems the only way I can tell a story is through the accumulation of very small bites.

And, of course, available wherever eBooks are sold.

Chapter 1

The  Price of Freedom
      Little Sonyador knew what freedom was.
      He knew  it was his bike, his striped-down jalopy of a bike, a hand-me-down from his  older brother repainted bright red to new, to be  his.
     The tires not like the skinny tires on the new bikes his friends rode, but fat and wide, balloon tires, not so  fancy as those of his friends, but better for dirt roads where he usually rode.
     That was part of freedom, too, the dusty roads, the grassy banks on either sides of the canals  where he learned to swim, the paths around the settling basin, where thick, green  water was brought in  from the river, held until needed then sent by the big pumps (bolts with nuts as big as hubcaps), pushed down the canals
throughout the irrigation district. And freedom also, the high levees along the arroyo,  diversion channels  from the river for when hurricanes came and bought floods, and the freedom of trees and birds and ponds and frogs and water snakes, the turtle, the freedom of monster garfish breaking the surface in the settling basin ugly, primordial fish that grew and grew and until they died and these were old fish in the settling basin, fish that lived and grew for years and years, six, seven  feet long with their great,  long-billed mouths, a foot-long row of teeth up one side and down  the other, and catfish, too,  older than the boy, years behind them  in growing and growing and growing.
     All  this was freedom too.
     A universe of freedom for a ten-year-old, but  sometimes  a universe too far.
     Because  freedom has no sense of time, except  for a sense of certain doom when time caught up and he knew he was late.
     Freedom was sometimes  late for dinner.
     Freedom has a price, and  as he pedaled home, the boy knew the price would be paid tonight.
     Little Sonyador knows what freedom is. Tonight he will  learn again its cost.

Christmas, a time of tradition, beginning Christmas Eve.


it is Christmas Eve
and in accordance with tradition
we will spend a large portion of it
making tamales with a crew
of related corn husk spreaders

my son will be in charge,
because in a large family of Mexican women,
inheritors of generations of mamas and tias
and abuelitas, all expert in the art, my half-Mexican son
is the only one who knows how to do the job
of mixing the masa and cooking the savory carne
(and a few frijoles refritas, "los especiales")

he has agreed to handle the technical end of
preparing ingredients and the actual  cooking, but only
if there are significant volunteers to do the grunt labor
of actually spreading the masa and carne and wrapping
the filled corn husks...

I expect it will  be a great Christmas Eve for about
the first hour..

(I don't even like tamales so much. but the time
of gringo domination in South Texas
is past,  especially in the vicinity
of mi casa...)

Christmas Day, and the last bit for the post.

the gathering

like a lion  stalking
the broad  savanna, I
drive the fog-encrusted streets
of the holiday-deserted
for someplace open with accompanying
where I might engage in
poetical activities

yes, there it is, a Starbucks,
it's lights like a beacon on a becalmed sea,
inviting safe journey through the
rocks of onomatopoeia and other poetical stuff

(and I interrupt this speeding bullet train  of poeming to say,
I know,
onomatopoeia is not really such a poestict word
but don't you just like the way it sounds and the way
it feels
when you say it, so instead of describing its use here
as ignorant, play it off to whimsy instead,

so  there is a Starbucks,open  for business
and me, the green goddess lit and
welcoming, the beacon at the edge
of the deep blue sea, the star,
shining light from heaven
to  guide the new wise men from the land
of  the coffee-determined,
and me...

and now all I need is an actual

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


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