Drawing Short Straws   Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My photos this week a random sample of country/city views.

My poems (both mine and from my library) an attempt to rediscover the virtues of less over more, that despite the fact that adding words is easier than taking words away, fewer  words is almost always better than more words.

sick day

Five Japanese  death poems

Two Haiku

The Pen

Jannis Ritsos

Aline Petterson

Sunay Akin

Anna Swir
I  Have Ten Legs

Pia Tafdrup
The Tongue

today my steps

Cynthia Cruz
The Great Destroyer
Notes on the Disaster
Wish Fulfillment
The Glimmering Room

home fires

Belle Waring
What Hurts


Norman Stock
Wallace Stevens Sleeping
The Wallace Stevens Method of Selling Insurance

how far  can  a dead man  fall

Basho, Buson, & Issa
Six poems  each


Joan McBreen
The Woman  and the Igloo
My Space

hang ten
morning sky
storm watch

Robert Hass


Joshua Clover

buggin' out
day break
summers in South Texas
true romance   

Coleman Barks


                living the bi-life                 

I spent most of last week feeling poorly. Did nothing too ambitious.

sick day

a day
when the sun rises
but does not

when night falls
with a thud like a heavy trunk
on the platform
of a dim, deserted railroad

sleep calls home
all the faces of the

Speaking of drawing the short straw (and writing a poem about it), here are five Japanese death poems from the anthology Japanese Death Poems, following in the tradition, poems by Zen monks and haiku poets as they approach the verge of death.


Died on the twelfth day of the tenth month, 1694 
at the age of fifty-one

On a journey, ill:
my dream goes wandering
over withered fields


Died on the twenty-seventh day of the eighth month, 1769
at the age of fifty-three

Fields drying off:
the underside of grasses frozen
hour of my death


Died on the eleventh day of the ninth month, 1772
at the age of seventy-eight

Although the autumn moon
has set, its light
lingers on my chest

Okano Kin'emon Kanehid

Died on the fourth day of the second month, 1703
at the age of twenty-four

(A samurai, the story of his death and its place
in Japanese history worth looking up)

Over the fields of
last night's snow -
plum fragrance


Died in 1910

A lone monk
came to call
one autumn evening

Here are a couple of haiku, or  haiku-like mutterings from 2000.

softly call the doves
a gentle whisper of dawn
a breath of new day


the hatchling  has flown
the sky is now the limit
the nest s empty

Next, I have several short poems from This Same Sky, a collection of poems from around the world selected by poet Naomi Shihab  Nye.

Muhammad al-Ghuzzi 
Translated by Mary Jayyusi and John Heath-Stubbs

The Pen

Take a pen in your uncertain fingers.
Trust, and be assured
That the whole world is as sky-blue butterfly
And words are the nets to capture it.

Jannis Ritsos
Translated by Edmund Keeley


The nights passed very darkly.
Great cries ran in the wind.
The next day we didn't remember a thing.
There was a deep hole left in time.

There where the wolf had  nestled in,
a pothole remained spread with warm wolf-hair.
Now a sheep could lie down there.

Aline Petterson
Translated by Judith Infante


There's a deep murmur unraveled,
the air is a song of feather,
a soft babble of grass.
There's a memory of heaven revived,
hum of life and a plea.
There's this need, like a baby's,  to be loved.

Sunay Akin
Translated by Yusuf Eradam  


I used to drop my pocked money
into the rain grates by the road
taking them for the piggy-banks -
that's why it's the sea
that owes me most

Anna Swir
Translated by Czeslaw Milosz  and Leonard Nathan

I Have Ten Legs

When I run
I laugh with my legs.

When I run
I swallow the world with my legs.

When I run
I have ten legs.
All my legs

I exist
only when running

Pia Tafdrup
Translated by Monique M. Kennedy and Thomas E. Kennedy

The Tongue

You stick out your tongue
silver harpoon
between the glittering lips of darkness

 Whatever I had last week came with a loss of 16 pounds in 6 days leaving me weak, woozy and muddy-minded. Continued to restrain my ambitions; didn't seem to have much choice in it.

today my steps

the fog has lifted
the sun is bright and hot

yet I walk still
in shadows
even this so clear day

I too will rise with a new
welcoming sun

but today my steps
short and uncertain

Next, four short poems by Cynthia Cruz. The poems are from her book, The Glimmering Room, published in 2012 by Four Way Books.

With three books published and poems in numerous literary journals, Cruz teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

The Great Destroyer

Grew up on self impr0ovement; endless
Beauty pageants and daily ballet.

The commonplace cruelties of imperfection.

This is the story of how I burned it down.

Notes on the Disaster

Tore the plastic tubes from my arms.
I still have the scars and I walked
Right out of that place. I say
If I'm going down, then I'll do
The killing...

Wish Fulfillment


On the crimson leather
Back seat of a  rental,
Parked in a  locked car lot,

My very own Club  Utopia.

I just can't wait to  die.

Everyone has  a secret they need to
Talk to.

The Glimmering Room

Living on mini Dolly Madison
Lemon pies and the light

Of my childhood got finally

Turned off.

More from tiny world, this one from 2004.

home fires

full moon bright
on black winter sky

    wisp of cloud
    like chimney smoke

    drawing me home

Now, from her book Refuge, a short poem by Belle Waring. The book was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 1990.

What Hurts

is waking up flung cold across
the bed, right where I left myself, these eyes
spooked, like my father's after a binge.
Just what the hell is he doing in my face?
I don't booze. I'm not like him.
But that scared and blowsy stare
I recognize after this stark dream of looking
for Max, my hopeless ex, would without end.
Some nights my father spent stripped in a cell
to sober up. I learned to sleep in my clothes.
Sentry. Night watch. Mother by  a sickbed
Doctor on call. No surprise. Ready for
a shit  storm. Praying for a cool sunrise.

Feeling better about the middle of the week, but not so well I should consider operating heavy machinery.


morning walk
on a half-bright day

half-bright myself,
recovering from a seek of weird,
Bella leads me through
our normal

and I leave her to it,
not quite back up to deciding
where to turn
and when
to stop...

And now, from his collection, Buying Breakfast for My Kamikaze Pilot, two short poems by Norman Stock. The book was published in 1994 by Gibbs Smith Publishers.

Wallace Stevens Sleeping

There is a commotion in the parlor
The couch is covered with green silk

A black suited figure slouches in it
A cigar dangles from his hand

He is dreaming of the sea that surrounds us every day
He is thinking: the winds rise, and no one notices

Do not wake him, let him lie
Lost in his dreams, soon he will  think of  us.

The Wallace Stevens Method of Selling Insurance

Wallace  Stevens, famous magician and comedian
has come to town to talk  about insurance

but nobody wants to buy they want poetry
I don't know from poetry says Wallace Stevens

and he pulls a rabbit out of his shirt
and he tells the one about the traveling salesman

and the farmer's daughter and we laugh so hard
he's such a card this Wallace Stevens that finally we
        even buy his insurance

From 2000.

how far can a dead man fall

so fast
     she drew
     into my life

so high
     we flew

so slow
     was I
     to see the truth

so long
     has been
     my fall

Next, I  have several haiku from the three masters.

The poems are from The Essential Haiku - Versions of Basho, Buson & Issa, edited and translated by Robert Hass and published by the Ecco Press in 1994.

First, these poems are by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694).

In his relatively short life, Basho is credited with reinventing the haiku form.

       Felling a tree
and seeing the cut end -
       tonight's moon.
Autumn moonlight -
   a worm digs silently
        into the chestnut.
          A snowy morning -
by myself,
          chewing on dried salmon.
          A crow
has settled on a bare branch -
          autumn evening.
          On the way to the outhouse -
the white of the moonflower
          by torchlight.
          The crane's legs
have gotten shorter
          in the spring rain

The next of the three masters is Yosa Buson (1716-1783)

Buson was a great poet who was also a distinguished painter said to bring his painter's eye into his poetry.

        Not a leaf stirring;
        the summer grove.
        Escaped the nets,
escaped the ropes -
        moon on the water.
        The old man
cutting barley -
         bent like a sickle.
         Plum blossoms here and there -
it's good to go north,
         it's good to go south.
         Calligraphy of geese
against the sky -
          the moon seals it.
         It cried three times,
the deer,
         then silence.

To finish off the three masters, the most recent, Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827).

Issa's poems, teeming with the life of even the smallest  creatures, led to his description as a Whitman or Neruda in miniature.

         Visiting the graves
the old dog
          leads the way
          In a dream
my daughter lifts a melon
          to her soft cheek.
          The fat priest -
edging out
           while he reads the last prayer.
           This stupid world -
skinny mosquitoes, skinny fleas,
            skinny children.
            Writing shit about new snow
for the rich
             is not art.
            I'm going to roll over,
so  please move,

Encouraged as the week progresses by my morning drive music.


listening to Wagner
on the  way to the coffeehouse this morning,
opening my heart like  no one else can
to the drama and majesty and mystery and pathos
of life and mythology
and like that mystery, the tall buildings downtown,
vague presences in the fog of early morning,
in the valley basin nestled between green surrounding hills,
center of oft-told stories of priests and Indians and great battles
and valiant heroes, stories  like
Wagner's tales of Norse gods and strong men and
fierce Valkyries riding hard from the heights
behind the flowing manes of fire-snorting steeds...


could be -

has  that  effect on me

Next,  here are two short poems by Irish poet Joan McBreen. The poems are from her book The Wind Beyond the Wall, published by Story Line Press in 1990.

McBreen is author of a number of her own collections and is featured frequently in many journals.

The Woman and the Igloo

My time, she said, has never been my own.
I have so much to do
and do again tomorrow.

Between all of you
I am exhausted, she said,
I will take time off and go away.

So she built an igloo in her head
and found it cold
but private.

She often goes there now
but still hears the lean wolves howling
far across the tundra.

My Space

is somewhere
under out waking
from nights' oblivion,
small bodies diving
for the warm space

between us,

under black crumbs
spilt milk,
mounds of sheets,
or hanging in silence

between me

the telephone receiver
and my tone deaf

I had these little pieces in Liquid Muse in 2004.


cloudless sky
after summer rain
air neon bright

hang ten

fly high little gull
challenge the limitless sky
surf on wet gulf winds

morning sky

summer morning dew
rivulets on sun-stained glass 
blue through water falls

storm watch

summer clouds glower
trembling leaves in sunlight shimmer
waiting winds whisper


tall grass burns grown
in fearsome summer sun
cactus blooms bask

Next, Robert Hass again, this time from his own book, Sun Under Wood, published by The Ecco Press in 1996.


A man talking to his ex-wife on the phone.
He has loved her voice and listens with attention
to every modulation of its tone. Knowing
it intimately. not knowing what he wants
form the sound of it, from the tendered civility.
He studies, out the window, the seed shapes
of the broken pods of ornamental trees.
the kind that grow in every one's garden, that no one
but horticulturists can name. Four arched chambers
of pale green, tiny vestal proscenium arches,
a pair of black tapering seeds bedded in each chamber.
A wish geometry, miniature, Indian or Persian,
lovers of gods in their apartments. Outside, white,
patient animals, and tangled vines, and rain.

A little relapse nearing the end of the week,  not impressed by another promise of storms.


foggy day,
big storm coming
they say
they say
they say


that's what I


The next short piece is by Joshua Clover, taken from his book, Madonna anno  domini, published by the Louisiana State University Press and winner of the 1996 Walt Whitman Award of The Academy of American Poets.


Seen in the south of that country's south, near the wavefront of total
war: indolent orchid, windowbox auto-da-fe, the year's acedia,  The
flower was not about anything & nobody in the house to watch - not
the simplest thing, 12 hours of sun, summer's cool closure. I see you are
curious so let me tell you it was not a museum but a house. Flower in
the flowerbox,ear in the air's cyan arc, mantic green wire.  Almost  fall
& cool between the mountains & the master war - walking, walking...
Because I am not history I can return "at will" to the house like a
museum - the clothed idea of it, each of us passing, minds delinquent
panic-bulbs, the flower about nothing (we are not attached to the
beginning or to the end, divining nothing, the autumn out there beyond
the museum-house still we could not come to the boundary of the funny
war, secrete heliotropes, orchid in the orchid box, God in abeyance -

Here are a couple more short pieces published early on.

The first one is from The Green Tricycle from 1999.


the mid-summer lake
heaves and rustles
like some great animal
in the gathering of dark

under  pins of
white and yellow light
crickets chip
the soft stone of night

smoke and scents
of  camp fires rise

This on also was published in The Green Tricycle, in 2003, several years after the one above.

buggin' out

I can hear them
walking in my head
soft little footsteps


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


I can hear them
through my brain


on little buggy

This one, Hawkwing, 2001.

day break

clear skies
and early dew
the pasture glistens
under the pale falling moon of

Another from Hawkwing, this one 2001.

summer in South Texas

in South Texas,
horned toads and rattle snakes
negotiate for every piece
of shade

Another Hawkwing, about 2000.

true romance


cricking love songs
to a crotchety moon


falls with the sun

And now, last for the week from my library, a poem by Coleman Barks, from his book Gourd Seed,  published in 1993 by Maypop Books.


A dragonfly airshow takes place
above the creek, two hundred, threading
an axis more precisely than swifts
over a chimney, whatever they are eating,
if this be a feeding dance, invisible.
The weave a gyroscopic sock
like the Buddhist image of Reality
as a net with mirror beads for knots,
with here every junction a dragonfly's
faceted zoom lens, each full
of every other.

It's unlikely a natural event would only happen once,
as we seem to in our brief spectaculars.
A headless form breaks up before our eyes,
and in our eyes,  like a dying, infinite,
yes, the identity of water.

A cool, beautiful Saturday morning, the long-promised storm finally materialized in the night, regenerated me for the new day.


came and passed
with thunder roars and lightening bright

and this morning, under sun intense and clean, air
also cleaned, streets cleaned, grass cleaned
and double greened attitudes equal to the promise of the day
and my head, cobweb free and post-Windex squeaky clean
for the first time in day welcomes the
dazzle of unblinded revelation,
eyes wide-open and


The end of the post and the end of the of the new little squibs from last week.

living the bi-life

nearly 40 years now
in a bi-cultural,
and I often  forget
how it was back when I knew for sure
what  was going on

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 as 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 2:01 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

liked the 3rd p
hoto down- composition, beigey color

at 6:32 PM Blogger Here and Now said...

thank you

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