What I Did on Holiday   Wednesday, December 09, 2015

My  photos this week were taken on a holiday trip last week to the very tip of Texas. We visited South Padre Island and Brownsville, places I hadn't been in years, as well as two places I've known about for years but never found to visit.

My first piece this week is a "what I did on holiday" recounting of the holiday visit. Before any one (you know who you are) tells me it is not a poem, let me say it is not a poem (mostly).

As usual I have my library poems and, since I went for old December poems last week, I'm going contrarian and using old July poems this week.

 And here they are:

seeing the long unseen

Countee Cullen
From the Dark Tower

what we found in Grandma's attic

it's tempting to  write about Paris

Sylvia Plath

hat trick

Sunday morning at Starbucks

Dennis Cooper
Two Whores

the poet and the robot-storage facility

a long time to get there

Michael W. Brewer 
The Weight of Empty Space

tender, passing blossoms   

there is a great pleasure to be had in strangers

Jorie Graham
Spoken From the Hedgerows

faking it


Susanna H. Case
Paint  by Numbers: This Is Not a Nature Poem

deciding which kind is which kind


Jessica Helen Lopez
Hey, Bukowski

a tiny little girl drinks her juice

6 X 10 in 6

Patricia Donegan
Ten Haiku

dear god

from here in the jungle

Lorna Dee Cervantes
For Edward Long   


Gary Snyder
For a Fifty-Year-Old Woman in Stockholm
Strategic Air Command

artisan market  day

 invisible man

Gabriel Gomez
A Slender Chemistry of Wondrous Fiction

I love college radio
brown legs walking in sunshine
brain fog
I used  to write sexy poems

      a favored profession       

 Here's my report on the holidays.

seeing the long unseen

Yesterday, four objectives met after 50 years...

First, Brownsville, at the main  border crossing bridge, Brownsville to Matamoros, a madhouse of cars  and pedestrians, 60  years ago we would  drive  across and into the center of town where we would visit the Mercado sand eat and one of the ,many restaurants lining the  plaza. Years later we would walk across to Garcia's, curio shop and restaurant and bar right on the other side, within sight of the river and the bridge.

Today, too  much going on there, we stay on our side of the river.

We walk  down Elizabeth Street, the street in old downtown leading to the bridge. The street, bumper-to-bumper waiting to cross the bridge. The  sidewalk packed with Mexican shoppers, music from every storefront, men with bullhorns pushing their wares to all who pass.


Next we drive down Boca Chica Blvd, looking for highway 4 to Boca Chica Beach on the "little mouth" (Boca Chica) of the Rio Grande  where the river ends its long slow journey from the Rockies to empty into the warm, salt waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Along the way, we find the Sabal Palm Sanctuary, the last refuge of the Texas Palmetto. In days  past,
40,000 acres of palm forest lined this final southerner reach of the Rio Grande. Today, two groves of less than 100 acres remain in this protected area. I had heard about this place for  many years, but never found it. Today, passing on the highway,  we see the sign showing the way to it, impenetrable forest cut by a thin gravel  road. And in a clearing in the middle of the forest, another surprise, the imposing Rabb Plantation House in the process of rehabilitation and revival. The white frame house like a castle, three stories, wide verandas on the first and second floors, rising from the surrounding woods like a  forest apparition.

The forest, is on U.S. soil, but is on the other side of the "fence," with a road through the fence to the forest. It is my first sight of this beautiful  abomination. I take a picture.


Past the sanctuary, we find something else I had  heard about for years but never seen - the site of the last battle of the Civil War, a plaque and a sign with a map of the battle and high grass, a picture I could have taken in my back yard.

This the battle fought several months after the official end of the war, producing the last casualty of the war.

Directly across from  Brownsville was the Mexican port of Baghdad (since destroyed by a hurricane, leaving no  trace behind). It being a Mexican port, it was not blockaded by the  Union Navy and was a principle port for export of Confederate cotton to Europe and port of entry for supplies to support the Confederacy. The Confederacy maintained a force to protect the port and the Union a similar force to interfere as much as  possible with the transfer of material. After the war's official end, a fact known to both the Union and the Confederate commanders, the Union commander, considering that, though the war was over for  everyone else, he had not yet had the experience in battle he thought necessary for a military career and attack the Confederate forces. The battle ended  quickly with little damage except for the one  Rebel soldier,  the last in that war to die for military ambition.

And finally, toward the end of the day, Boca Chica Beach.

Before the first causeway to Padre Island was built, the little mouth beach was the place to go for beach lovers and fisherman. In those early days when it was far and the roads were bad, beach lovers were few and fishermen would come for days at a time, camping on the beach. For those of us who did come
it  was usually quiet and mostly deserted, with a Robinson Crusoe in search of Friday feel to it.

On this day,  the last afternoon surf is high and  rough. up over  the beach almost  to the tall dunes and impassible without 4-wheel drive.

And so the day ended, back through  Port Isabel, (named after the  Spanish Queen who started it all),with a picture of the old lighthouse and the causeway, as much as could be seen in the mist.

Then early to bed.


this morning
the waves, usually muttering,
roar instead, a storm in Mexico pushing the tide high
with "red flag" surf

and it is a dark and dismal day,
fog enfolded, and as I walk Bella
before we leave for home
it starts to rain and even as we  are walking
the thick humidity is broken
by a north wind, a wisp of wind  at first
then cold gusts, shaking the palm trees,
chilling me in my wet search
for a place the dog thought suitably
appropriate to poop...

the norther
expected mid-afternoon,
caught an early train,pushes
open the door

and so we leave for San Antonio,
knowing we will fight strong north winds
all the way

the temperature  dropping near
40 degrees by the time
we get there...

First from my library this week is this poem by Countee Cullen, from the anthology African American Poets, 1773-1927. The book was published 1997 by Dover Publications.

Cullen was born in 1903 and died in 1946, and was a leading figure of the Harlem Renaissance. Educated at New York University and Harvard, he taught French in New York City. He won several  awards for his poetry, which appeared in major national periodicals and five or his own collections.

From the Dark Tower

We shall not always plant while others reap
the golden increment of bursting fruit,
Not always countenance, abject and mute,
That lesser men should hold their brothers cheap;
Not everlastingly while others sleep
Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute,
Not always bend to some more subtle brute;
We were not made eternally to weep.

The whose sable breast relieves the stark,
White stars is no less lovely being dark,
And there are buds that cannot bloom at all
In light, but crumple, piteous, and fall'
Who in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds,
And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.

 Here, the first  of my contrarian poems from July, last year.

what we found in Grandma's attic

boxes of memories,
trinkets and seashell treasures
from county fairs
and rodeos
and neighborhood garage sales...

a straw hat,
a guitar with three broken strings
and two missing frets,
a cane pole with lead sinkers
and a red and white bobber, a catcher's mitt
and a wooden bat, a
tiny ring inscribed
"Baby Charles"
and none of us know who
Baby Charles is or was, a train ticket,
Laredo to Del Rio,
never used,
a sun bonnet, yellow
with purple flowers,
a collection of Comanche arrowheads,
old maps
with lines drawn in dark, soft pencil led,
tracing country
roads long since abandoned,
rebuilt for faster, sleeker cars
than ever drove there before, an
old wallet with two five dollar bills
tucked away in a secret pocket,
a bundle of letters
in a fine, feminine hand -
we read the first
and no more, for from the first
it was clear the thin, jasmine scented
letters, still smelling  so sweet
after so many years since
sent and received,
were saved
for her to read again
and not for

and photographs,
like memories, old,
faded, torn, and blurred

forget-me-nots mostly

the only one who might remember
ow lying still beneath soft
grass in an after-life park of the dead

left behind for us
to try to understand,
to try to know a person
familiar to us all our life, but
still at the end

a last chance for her to speak...

a last chance for us to

Next, new from a couple of weeks ago. It was after the terrorist attack in Paris and I would have liked to have something meaningful to write about the event, but decided there was nothing I could do that would be any better than what everyone else was writing. So I decided to try to approach it from a different angle; decided to write about fear and cowardice instead.

it is tempting to write about Paris

it is tempting to write about
events in Paris,
but terrible as those atrocities are
I am more concerned with my own country

and my countrymen -
so afraid,
fearful of everything and everyone,
anything and anyone
or unusual
or foreign or religiously or culturally
of the pieties the pious hold dear

a coffee cut
a threat
a migrant child
a threat
a piece of fire-charred brisket
a threat
a hot dog
a threat
the fella who walks funny
a threat
the girl in the bib overalls
a threat
the free thinker
a threat
a liberal a
the armadillo in the middle of the road
a threat
the Gitmo prisoner a threat,
too scary for even maximum security prisons on our soil...

everyone on every side
of everyone on every other side

everyone on every side
Facebook blather
delirious with
before everyone on ever other

to the point we have become crazy people
lost in our own self-imposed

it didn't used to be like this,
in the days
the country
and its countrymen and women
had the balls
to face the greatest evils
of the past century
and fight
and prevail, the ascendancy of evil
not allowed,
thoughts of evil's certain ascendance
not allowed.

I miss those days...

Next from my library, Sylvia Plath, with the title poem from her book, Ariel, published in 1965 by Harper and Row.


Stasis in darkness.
Then the substanceless blue
Pour of tor and distances

God's lioness,
How one we grow,
Pivot of heels and knees! The furrow

Splits and passes, sister to
The brown arc
Of the neck I cannot catch,

Berries cast dark
Hooks -

Black sweet blood mouthfuls,
Something else

Hauls me through air -
Thighs, hair;
Flakes from my heels.

Godiva, I unpeel -
Dead hands, dead stringencies.

And now I
Foam to wheat, a glitter of seas.
The child cry

Melts in the wall.
And I
Am the arrow,

The dew that flies
Suicidal, at one with the drive
Into the red

Eye, the cauldron off morning

Another one from July, this time 2013. I'm impressed that, so far, I didn't seem to have fixated on the weather, as one might expect in South Texas where July weather is a subject worthy of fixation.

hat trick

I wore
western boots
most of my life, in  fact,
for forty or fifty years, boots
were the only kind of footwear in my closet

and I like to wear western shirts,
nice designs, with snaps for buttons,
no fringe though, a little bit too Roy Rogers
for me...

and jeans, Levis mostly, when I was a kid
and now, if you see me someplace
that's not a wedding or a funeral you can be sure
I'm wearing jeans...

jeans, at my age - can't imagine my father
wearing jeans - the only man my age wearing jeans
that I can remember from when I was a kid would be
the guy down at the dairy
milking cows
in his bib overalls

never wore any kind of jewelry
except for my wedding
ring, which I thought was kind of cowboy
of me, you know, riding the herd,
chasing down the dogies,

rolling the ring on my finger,
thinking of the lil'  miss back home
while sitting around the camp  fire
crackling as the cows
moan and moo under the starlight...

not the gold chain around my neck, not me,
definitely not cowboy, the Italian version of Roy Rogers

and I always wanted to wear a western hat...

but whenever I put one on
I imagine everyone snickering, laughing at me

easy for me to imagine that,
since I snicker and laugh myself
at the image of me in a cowboy hat

leaving me in a kind of existential despair
as the Texas cowboy
whose head won't accommodate  a cowboy hat
without becoming an object
of ridicule
to the true sun-cured, leather-worn set...

I guess it's time to give up on my cowboy fixation...

a poet now
and not a cowboy,
maybe I could wear a beret

but wait,
imagining that makes me snicker and laugh too

so might as well go with a bowler
if the effect of any head wear
is going to be comic

all I need
is a skinny guy
to be my Laurel...

We have a Sunday morning routine - Dee goes to mass and I go to Starbucks on the way to Barnes and Noble where we meet to read free magazines.

Sunday morning at Starbucks

beautiful young woman
at Starbucks,
delicate face framed
by a deep blue hijab,
speaking in rapid Arabic,
to a girlfriend, I imagine,
on this early Sunday

why do all languages
we do not understand
sound so musical when
spoken, Spanish, Italian,
Gaelic, Navajo, even
Russian and German,
so harsh and thick on the tongue
yet so pleasing to the ear,
the sound of the classics
singing, grocery lists
and directions to the nearest
bus stop, and traffic stop
arguments, sounding like
Mussorgsky opening
his gates of Kiev,, such majesty,
Wagner singing the tragic story
of doomed Tristan and Isolde

and the hijab, how beautifully
it reveals that which is not
concealed, are there western eyes
so bright, lips so full...

beyond the attraction
of the exotic,
framed like a museum
fresh as a rich green island
on the horizon after a month
at sea...

This poem is by Dennis Cooper and it is from his book Idols. The book was published by Amethyst Press in 1989.

Born in 1953 in California, Cooper is a novelist, poet, critic, editor, blogger and performance artist. Educated at Pitzer College and Pasadena City College, he is a previous winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Men's Fiction.

Two Whores

His neck was  stiff
from watching the street
for men
who'd buy him.

I came by around
4 a.m.. "No  luck?"
"It's been slow
all night," he said.

I couldn't see why.
He was blond
and maybe twenty
with eyes you would steal.

Not like the ghosts
on most corners -
guys so bored
they'd beg to be beaten.

I'd have bought him
but he needed
more than I had
for less than I wanted.

We stood all night
approached by no one,
while creeps were
snatched up like teens.

I smoke his cigarettes.
He leaned back,
and the sun crept up
on our weight and our ages,

Until cars wouldn't slow
and heads didn't turn -
we turned and walked
home, to our darkness.

From July, 2012, the story of a stale and uninspiring coffeehouse quickly left behind.

the poet and the robot storage  facility

it  is a large
mostly empty space,
cool, brightly lit,
in the McDonald sense
of mostly clean and plastic,
but a visual and aural
desert, like an old time
bus station
with all the life bled out,
the people, the children crying,
pin ball machines clattering,
public address announcements
of times and places, some known,
some spice for imagination,
all that life
bled out, banished,
a 25th century depot
instead, a place
for storing defective robots,
white plastic, mute
and non-functioning, any
attempt to present
a human presence wiped
bright and antiseptic...

I am an eavesdropper,
a people watcher...

and there is nothing here to see,
nothing to hear,
no stories half-heard,
extrapolated in the mind of the poet
to satisfactory
fantasy, the mystery
of humanity laid out to study,
to enjoy, to celebrate
by a discriminate

there is nothing her
to feed me

there is nothing her
to move me

there is nothing here
to wake
my muse, my creative
hanging on a tipping balance...

so I must move
on before I find myself
setting out
on some long and desperate
to become an
or tax attorney
or possible a salesman,
door to door
pushing vacuum cleaners
to housewives
with hairy legs and baby food stains
on their sweat shirts and diaper rash
on their fingers,
selling hard,
spreading dirt on carpets to show
the power
of my rug-a-matic magic
sucking machine,
or maybe,
and this, at least
would get me out in the fresh
country air,
harvesters and such
to farmers in gimme caps
and overalls
and thick-soled work boots
wanting to try out their Grateful Dead
CD  in the air conditioned
cab  of a $200,000
sixteen row John Deere mega-tractor built to crawl
across a field like a giant prehistoric
yellow and green
stirring up the dust,
extruding food out its
for our kitchens
and our Caesar salads
and peanut butter sandwiches...

this could be my future
if I don't find
to write my poems
because the longer I stay
in this robot-storage
the better the vacuum
and farm-fresh air
is beginning to seem to me...

Considering the loneliness of the lost.

a long time to get there

cold desert night
on a dark highway

a bright moon
rises and falls between
clouds racing west, captive of the Pacific tide

the only other lights in the dark night
from cars that come,
coming fast
pass, sometimes
a flick of red
brake light
as the ephemeral vision of roadside shadow
in a mile-worn mind
feet instinctively reaching for the brake pedal,
then better thought of it
and renewed
acceleration on down
the dark
cold desert
to the neon hustle
of people and life
past this low desert plain, beyond
the mountain smudge ahead

a lifetime to get there

a lifetime of shadows
and betrayals
and last-chance desperation
round and round
like the world circles,
day to night,
night to day
dark to light...

a lifetime to get there
not enough
life left
to get anywhere

Again from my library, poet and scholar Michael W. Brewer. His poem is from his book sum of accidents, new and selected poems, published in 2003 by City Art.

Born in 1941 in Indiana, Brewer earned a Ph.D. at the University of Utah and served as the state's Poet Laureate. He died of cancer in 2006.

The Weight of Empty Space

Cancer took
first one beast
then the other.

Two years later,
she died.

He remembers
how he missed them,
their weight in his hands,

the hard nipples
between his thumb and forefinger
or against his tongue.

He was afraid to touch her,
and she would not
open her body to him.

Finally, one morning
she stepped into the shower,
pressed her flat body to his back.

Some mornings now
the hot water
scalds his back, still ,

and he thinks to turn,
see her there,
wet and smiling,

lovely in the last
year of her life.

Back to July - this one from 2013.

tender, passing blossoms

early July
and the dry days begin,
late this year,
but the time has come...

the wet days
of early summer, delayed
spring, have passed
but their mark remains


most every hue
you might think of
in the hot summer wind
with each new dry day

a slow and certain death
of color, a passing we mourn
as the shadows of blander, browner
world begin to overtake us

like us all,
colorful youth
decays to return to the dirt
that made us

tender, passing blossoms
are we all,
our  time to shout the colors
of our lives in days of wet,
our time to fade
when the days turn dry...


but how wonderful those bright and colorful days we remember even as the dark approaches

Here's another from a couple of weeks ago.

there is great pleasure to be had in strangers

for me, as a writer,
there is a great pleasure
to be had from strangers
because, knowing nothing
about them I am free to invent
and knowing I'll never see them again
I cannot be held to account
for the lives I give them...

I once wrote a poem
about a woman
with beautiful eyes

not a stranger,
but not a friend, a coffeehouse
acquaintance - I showed the poem to her
and I'm guessing she went home
and double-locked the doors
and I've not seen her again...

maybe because of in my poem,
my ode to her lovely eyes -
Ochi Chryornye I titled it, after
the Russian song called in English Dark Eyes -
I wrote of how her eyes made me think
of dark night in a festive-lit Moscow, of
ice skating in Gorky Park, of the two of us,
huddled under warm fur, riding a carriage,
eight horses pulling us in the cold of an early evening -
through snow, a white blanket
between the trees of a Siberian forest...

I think she misunderstood my intentions

it is why I do not write poems about friends,
unless under seven layers of disguise,
and why I don not write poems about relatives
unless they are dead...

it is why I stick to the pleasure
of strangers

Next, by Jorie Graham, a poem from her collection of war poems, Overlord, published by Ecco in 2005. In the book, she writes of wars from the last world war to the almost most recent.

Born in 1950 in New York to a war correspondent and a sculptor, Graham grew up in Rome and attended the Sorbonne until being expelled for participating in student protests. She then completed her undergraduate work as a film major at New York University and followed with an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She has held a longtime faculty position at Iowa Writers' Workshop and has been professor in Harvard's Department of English and American Literature and Language.

Spoken from the Hedgerows

Keokuk was to be the first daylight mission using only the big wood
                                                                             gliders, the
"english coffins" - good weather all the way to
France - squadrons of Americans flying cover - seven minutes early our being
loose - enemy having by then almost a full day's
                                                experience of
us - St. Come du Mont - Turqueville - so this time not firing on the tow - this
holding their fire, letting us pass over - we pass over - unloading then
                                                                            only then, into
us - us slowly descending - one shot taken by a
knee, bullets up through our feet, explosion of Jack's face, more sudden openings
in backs,  shoulders, on in a neck, throat opens, I happen to see, I see an eye
pushed back, through the face, then on back through
the canvas skin, below can see
the ones just ahead of us skidding into huge rapid
trees, see fracturing of the wooden fuselage,impaling of the
men. Howitzers and jeeps fly into the
landscape. Crates of grenades.
Yet the weather over the Channel very good.
Excellent visibility. What are we all listening
                                  for, it seems we
                                  are all
listening. Holding our weapons in front of us.
Told to wait. Waiting. Release altitude 750 feet. Re
                                                         lease takes
place. Gliding. Miles of silence. More.
Unknown to us release point
turns out to be directly over enemy strong point
The tow alone takes 600  rounds.
We have neither darkness nor surprise to help us.
Shrapnel lacerates the canvas skins.
Equipment tears  into bodies.
If a man jumps to the aid of his fellow
he unbalances the already wobbly craft.
Helmets flying everywhere . All around us pilots
aiming straight-in for crash landing.
Someone is shouting: escape from wreck, seek
cover, wait in the nearest ditch till dark.
But we are slaughtered in our seats.
Holding on to our rifles we are all slaughtered. The bullets burst up
through our boots. Heavy wind hits.
Scraps of canvas hang and slap
against  the glider's tubular frame.
From next to the farmhouse, snipers empty their rifles into us.
The glider missions will continue tomorrow as scheduled.
I do not know who I am, but I am here, I tell you this.


Over the field,  over the still-active radio, President Roosevelt delivers
                                                                                    his  Prayer
to the World: Almighty God: our sons, pride of our nation,  our religion,
                                                                                            and our
civilization, have set upon a mighty endeavor,
to set free a suffering humanity. Give strength,  stoutness, steadfastness.
Success may not come with rushing speed. But we shall return
again and again. We know, by the grace and righteousness of

our cause, our sons will triumph.
They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice rise
among all Thy people. Some will never return.

Embrace those, Father, and receive them,
Thy heroic servants,  into Thy Kingdom.
Fields heard what they could. Day heard what it could.

I do not know why I speak to you. I too
heard what I could.

From 2011, a confession - but don't tell anyone else.

faking it

a good part of my life
has been a rigorous exercise
in faking it

as if I know what I'm doing
when I don't

the one who sees
a problem and says,
hold on, I'll fix it
even if I don't know
what "it" is,
don't have a clue what's broke
and how to repair it...

somebody has to step up
in a disaster, large
or small, someone has to look like
they know how to tie
a tourniquet

and the insane thing is it mostly

like how I became
a media expert on things
simply by staring straight-faced
into a TV camera
and saying common sense things
salted with an occasional
spout of professional-sounding
and sprigits of currently circulating
group-think of the day

and it worked, a whole universe
of economics professors
of sterling reputation and
good standing
within reach,
and the TV reporters
and newspaper reporters
called me first...

it's the art of certainty,
displaying no trace of any suggestion
in voice or appearance
of indecision, no hint of hesitation
lurking in the back of your mind
thinking, well,
I could be wrong...

insanity, they name is

like how I became
a poet admired by some,
like how any real poet might recognize
this poem as prose in a bucket
of pretension...

not me

for I live without
certain from life experience
that if I convince
all others will be convinced
as well...

don't you

This is from last week. Some days the daily poem is harder than other days. This was such a day, cold, sick and tired, I just wanted it to be over.


a snippet
a drippit
a little tiny
just my morning

Here's a new poet for me, Susana H. Case, with a poem from her book The Cost of Heat. The book was published by Pecan Grove Press in 2010.

Case lives in New York City where she is a professor at the New York Institute of Technology. Published frequently in journals, she is the author of five previous collections.

Paint by Numbers: This Is Not a Nature Poem

18 painted turtles lined along a log in muck-
filled Hitchcock pond near the end of
when we had our house. Unlike me,
they must be hoping for an uneventful life,
I am Ophelia in the nunnery, mad with song.

97 degrees Fahrenheit; abundance
of fireflies. Too hot
for you to paint. On our porch, we down
a bottle of sparkling wine in flashing
light. My mouth feels full of flies.

Boots in our closets packed with nests.
Live peanut-buttered traps snap shut
throughout the rooms. 29 mice. Daylight,
you drive to a field 2 miles away and,
because you are nice,  release them.

Richter 6.0 earthquake (epicenter Quebec).
In bed you joke you made the earth
move. Nervous, I blame the water pump.
Miss the city, the sociopath in studs
and chains who fixed things, lived upstairs.

224 day lily stems @ 15 flowers per.
I stole them from a highway patch
to transplant on the north side
of our house. Feeling transgressive,
we made dirty love all afternoon.

House sold. An object never serves the same
function as its image - or its name. Buyer
says the garden clinched the deal. No
further pastoral: we take possession of 5
rooms, river vu. Terrace for smoking.

A query from July, 2010.

deciding which kind is which kind

so i was
in the bookstore

and i saw this little boy
run up to his mom

with a book,
"mommy, i want this book"

he said,
"you can't have that book"

she said
"but i want it"

he said,
"you can't have it"

she said,
"it's a girl's book"

so he says
"okay, mommy"

and heads back
to the children's book section

to find
a boy's book

and i'm left
with questions

whose job is it to decide

which kind of book
is which kind of book?

is it the librarian,
after she returns all the returns

to their proper shelves
and straightens the magazine racks

and makes a list
of the overdue books

not returned to day?
does she go to the children's

book section
and search ever book

page by page
cataloging the little boy penises

and the little girl vaginas
that distinguish the one kind of book

from the other kind of book
and mark it with the appropriate stamp

so no mistakes of identification
can lead a little boy to reading

a little girl book
and vice-versa?

and does she keep a list
of which kind of book each kind of book


This one from last week, just a bit of back in the day remembering.


my regular coffee refuge
closed on Mondays, I'm in the Starbucks herd,
trying to keep  my head above the stampeding

thinking, spurred by our recent
border visit, of the time
in the early 70s when I lived there
and for reasons completely obscure
there was a sugar shortage
in the United States
while just across the slow-moving river,
not so notorious as today, Mexico
gifted its people with a sugar subsidy
that lowered the cost by about 80% from
the U.S. price, leading many American
border residents, including me,
to become genteel sugar smugglers...

I made the cross border trip
every couple of weeks,  one or two
hundred pound sacks of sugar
which I would take home to share
with friends and neighbors...

I used the main border crossing
to enter the country, but an old scarcely-
used wooden bridge upriver
from the main  bridge for the return,
originally built and still used as a train crossing
there was a single narrow car lane,
with minimally interested border guards
on either end of the bridge...

technically a violation of the law
on one or both sides of the river
(never actually knew which)
little stealth was required for
it was a different time, the two cities
worked in practice as  a  single
large community of interests, families crossing
back and forth for trade, to visit friends
and family, children crossing for school,
merchants working together
in cooperative chambers of commerce,
annual festival parade routes that began
on one side of the bridge and ended
on the other, all overseen on either end
by green-suited agents of their respective
country, concerned, not with terrorists
or drug gangs, but with the orderly collection
of items sold in one country and taxed
in the other, which fortunately
did not include sugar...

all this before people began to shoot
at one another on one side of the border
and fear-mongering politicians on the other
began to build fences that cut the
community in half, a century of neighborly
relations destroyed by politicians
who had never been within a thousand miles
of the communities up and down the border
they buried under
their rhetoric...

but that's another story,
this one is about sugar and the wild and woolly
life of a small-time sugar smuggler,
told, as best it can be told
in the midst of a restless
skinny peppermint
mocha morning

This is another poet from my library not well known to me, Jessica Helen Lopez. Her poem is from her book, Always Messing With Them Boys, published by West End Press in 2011.

Lopez is a three-time member of the City of Albuquerque Slam Team and the 2008 National Champion UNM Lobo Slam Team. She is also a member of the Macondo Foundation, an association of socially aware writers "united to advance creativity, foster generosity, and honor community."

Hey, Bukowski!

Hey, Bukowski!
You boozing hound,
poetic misfit muse!

Hey, pockmarked man!
Big nose and gin blossoms
like my grandfather.
How did you find
your way
into my car?

I have searched these lonely highways
beneath the lunatic smile of
a checkered moon,
by the light of a desert star
awash in the soft glow
of car radio,

For you, Hank!

fat-gutted and beer swollen
splayed crotch riding
the bucket seat of my jeep.

The pessimist is at the wheel again.

We cackle like roosters
spitting into the wind,
my long black hair a flag
whipping the salt from our eyes.

Transgressions like so many
trinkets rattle our pockets.

We are crazy drunk and reckless with poetry
giving no thought to the check stop
just beyond the sloppy road's bend.

What do you think of that, Buk?

May I split
a cigarette
with you?
Put my head
in your lap?
My ugly lover
who fights and fucks
like a boar.

We will select the finest
of ugliest whores,
bet on the lamest
of horses.

Indulge me if you will,
Mr. Chinasky. The rants
of a victim
are the saddest
of all.

July 2009 - in a crowded restaurant I spot a future poet.

a tiny little girl drinks her juice

little girl
waits for mom
to finish her
phone call


and stories
in our every-

time girl
from her juice
never leaving
her mouth

above the straw
like small blue
bright blond

the room
like a blue flame
watching every-
thing, every-

and stories
in her everyday

Back to barku-land. (my invention, the barku, 10 words in 6 lines in with the feel of a haiku small enough to fit on a bar napkin.) Later on in this post, the art of the haiku is defined as "appreciation of transition." That's what I mean by "the feel of a haiku."

6 X 10 in 6

dim morning -
struggle through fog
with sleepy-


in low clouds
with the sun


below arched bridge -
mist flows
shrouded water


grey cat
grey day
hidden -
yellow eyes
grey mouse


in hat
the shadow morning
between dark


unsure -
behind gulf clouds
over heavy surf

Next from my library, a series of Haiku by Patricia Donegan, from the anthology, The Unswept Path, Contemporary American Haiku, published by White Pine Press in 2004.

Donegan is a poet, translator, and  promoter of haiku as an awareness practice. She was a faculty member of East-West poetics at Naropa University under Allen Ginsburg and Chogyam Trungpa  and is a frequently published haiku master, authoring numerous collections of poetry.

Her definition of haiku as an appreciation of transience is the best I've heard.

pampas grass
bending -
endless dreams


following the silence
to the open field -
the galaxies


last night lightning
this morning
the white iris


long walk -
cherry petals stick
to the bottoms of my shoes


summer twilight -
a woman's song
mingles with the bath water


winter  afternoon
not one branch moves -
I listen  to my bones


first moonlight
the trumpet flower


maple leaves
barely moving
in the earthquake


up the mountain -
the silence


moon-lit night:
a bone
is broken

A not entirely unusual South Texas mid-summer prayer, this one from 2008.

dear god

Dolly's coming in
from the Gulf,
headed straight
toward Brownsville
300 miles south
of here

a small storm,
barely a hurricane,
too small to do
significant damage
down  there,
but large enough
to push some good rain
up here...

it's a precise game
we play every dry summer,
dear god,
if you're not going
to give us rain any other way
send us a hurricane,
a small one
or one that hits land
on the unpopulated coast
Port Mansfield
Rivera Beach

we'd prefer
you didn't kill anyone,
but we'd be happy
to sacrifice
a few cows from
the King Ranch
(they have so many)
for a good soaking
to green our grass
and recharge
our aquifer

we'll leave the details
up to you

Another week, another deranged gun man/woman or, in the latest instance, both..

from  here in the jungle

from here
the jungle seems so far away
but we know better

the mean streets
so green
but the blood
of conflict
ever so red as in any jungle
hunt, the prey
on street corners
in classrooms
where children play
in medical offices
where life are in question
where believers pray
in party rooms festooned
with balloons and colored streamers
ever so dead...

Next Lorna Dee Cervantes, from her book, Emplumada, published in 1981 by University of Pittsburgh Press.

Born in 1954, Cervantes, is a poet, professor, philosopher, publisher and editor. With a Ph.D. in History of Consciousness from University of California, Santa Cruz, she is considered one of the major Chicana/Native American poet of the past 40 years.

For Edward Long

                           There are some who are not of this world.
                           Take what you need. Covet.
                           The child is one. They will comfort her soon.
                                        E.L. (in a letter to my mother
                                        from the Atascadero State Hospital.
                                        Fall, 1965)

Pardner, you called me
that first morning my grandmother
found you, drunk, homeless, and you stayed
long enough to give me my voice.

You taught me to read all those wind songs
in the verses of Stevenson.
You'd pay me a quarter to sit on your lap
beneath the dust storm of your scruffy chin.
In those still nights your wine breath
sweetened the air for me.

You were father, grandfather, the man
who dug ditches for the county
and knew a code so secret
they locked it away.

Pardner, Doctor, crazy
mathematician and sometimes
wizard to the child I still am,
I still believe you.
I still gaze at the fall winds
you once  taught me to describe.
I still  shadow you. I know
wherever your are
you'll be reading poems
and this is how
I'll find you.

Easy for you to say, Primo Levi.


     generalizations about "almost the same"
                                                     Primo Levi

simplification is a working
hypothesis, according to Levi,
that is useful only as long
as it is recognized for what it is

it is a way to arrive at generalization
by simplifying to such close similarities
as to be almost the same

but "almost the same" is not the same...

to accept "almost the same" as the same as same
means  setting aside small differences
that can be of extreme

applying the "almost the same" simplification
to the genome sequence of chimpanzees and cats
and humans could lead to a generalization
that the three are the same because
their genomes, at 90 to 98 percent identical,
make them  almost the same...

also for example, many Christians assume
Muslims are the same, just as many
Muslims assume Christians are identical
in their beliefs, in fact, based on the simplification
of "almost  the same" they must be the same,
each worshiping the same God and many
of the same Prophets

but, while that may be true in a deeper sense,
the two religions do differ  from each other
in many ways, as do the various sects within
each religion...

a white man who knows a black man who is a
gangster may arrive at a simplified image
of all black men as gangsters, while
the black man who  know a racist white man
may assume all white men are racists...

just as all Poles are dumb

and all French are snobs

and all  Mexicans are lazy

and all Irish are drunkards

and all blondes are stupid


the way to live a more rational and moral life
does not mean not simplifying, since simplification
to "almost the same" is a shortcut to the next step,
a beginning to the process  of understanding
complexities by setting aside simple, easy-to-see
similarities and looking deeper to find the


a priest, a rabbi and an evangelical
walk into a bar...

From my library, two short poems by Gary Snyder. They are from his book, Ax Handles, published in 2005 b Shoemaker  and Hoard.

For a Fifty-Year-Old Woman in Stockholm

Your firm chin
     straight brow
           tilt of the head

Knees up in an easy squat
       your body shows how
You gave birth nine times:
The dent in the bones
             in the back of the pelvis
        mother of us  all
             four thousand years dead.

                    '82, The Backaskog woman, Stockholm
                                        Historic Museum

Strategic Air Command

The hiss and flashing lights of a jet
Pass near Jupiter in Virgo.
He asks, how many satellites in the sky?
What are they doing? Who watches them?

Frost settles on the sleeping bags.
The last embers of fire,
One more cup of tea,
At the edge of a high lake rimmed with snow.

These cliffs and the stars
Belong to the same universe.
This little air in between
Belongs in the twentieth century and its wars.

                       '82, Koip Peak,  Sierra Nevada

I wrote this last Saturday at my coffeehouse, music academy, boutique, and twice monthly artisan market host.

artisan market day

perfect early winter day
cool but not cold,
bright sunshine,
red and yellow and blue
the sidewalk

the product of avocation,
tee shirts
and, jeez,
what the heck is that...

like a certain poet
jams and jellies
of a life
beyond the life
of their daily bread


great to sell
but showing's good too

This is a July, 2007, observational from the cafe at a Border's bookstore that I frequented before they went out of business. It was a busy place that gave me many people to look at and write about. This was one of many regulars who inspired me to poetry.

invisible man

white hair
short and
neatly shorn
shaved and
nicely dressed
he has
the look
of a retired
with a kind
of blank
that comes
to a craftsman
of small things

he seems a
shy man
working hard
at invisibility
as he comes in
every morning
lays down
his bed roll
and backpack
on one of the
visits the
men's room
to tidy up
then spends
an hour in
the music
donning the
headsets at
each listening
station from
classical to rap
to country to
jazz to
to them all
then picks up
a book and returns
to his  gear and has
one coffee as he reads
for about an hour
sometimes closing
his eyes for a
moment or two
but never sleeping
like the regular
bums who com in
winter when the
cold outside pushes
them into whatever
they can find

I see him
every now and then
walking alongside
the road with
his backpack and
bedroll and though
I am curious about
his life and about simple
questions like where
he sleeps and where
he eats and how
he got to the life
he's living now
he doesn't
seem the type
of man
who would
leading to
and requiring

Last from my library this week, Gabriel Gomez, with a poem from his book The Outer Bands, published by the University of Notre Dame Press in 2007.

Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Gomez is a poet, playwright, and music journalist. He received a BA in Creative Writing from the College of Santa Fe and an MFA in Creative Writing from St. Mary''s College of California. He has taught English at the University of New Orleans, the College of Santa Fe, and the Institute of American Indian Arts.

A Slender Chemistry of Wondrous Fiction

A concern for a crucifix fastened above a threshold.

A suspicion of rain in elderly bones.

These hold themselves in fragments.

standardized thinking.

I surround myself with hindsight of over turned earth

beside a paddock of whinnying foals; their wedged

hoof chipping half-moons in the planks under dusk, where

there is not death nor myth, cut crickets lumbering in patterns.

Their faces come apart like anthills in the rain.

Their smoldering voices pluming towards the darkness.

Last of my old poems for the week, several not so old from last July.

I love  college radio

"Eleanor Rigby"
symphonic version,
preceded by Aaron Copland's
"Appalachian Spring"
and followed by Chopin's "Nocturnes"
and Debussy's "La Mere" and "Claire de Lune"

that's the way I started my day
here on the corner of Broadway and Pearl...

I love college radio and I expect I'm going
to love this day,
in a long line of an  old man's midweek

brown legs walking in sunshine

brown  legs walking
in sunshine
and I'm sitting by the gym
and it's 1957 again
and I'm 13 again, and
a new center of the
is revealed to me

brain fog

brain fog
from allergy pills

(knew I shoulda had
just one)

the day,
on dark glass

a Dali painting,
floating streaks
on the window
top to

impressionistic waves;
warped by
dirty looks and


I used to write sexy poems

I used to write sexy poems
but haven't hardly
in a  long time

pill or
some thing

And, finally, though it's a dirty job, somebody has to do it.

a favored profession

I believe
from earliest time
it has been the function
of elders to remember and record
and recount to the new generations
the world as it was when the old was new
and how the then and then
are inter-twined in time
and the passages of the world

that the elder is the heir
of the past and creator of the present
and future, generations building a history,
each laying a brick of its own time and life
to make the story-wall of our kind

that the storytellers and writers
and poets are the agents
of the elders and thus
the agents of history and the continuing
essences of humanity

for a human
without history is less than
human, an animal of the forest and prairie,
knowing only the moment it

are a favored profession,
the saviors of all that is our kind,
you and me
who write our
and tell all who listen the
the how and the who and the when
it was...

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 2:02 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

ms lopez can come over to my house any time
photos this time lacked punch- lesser quality- in my opinion

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