Spring Sprang (and we're all the better for it)   Tuesday, May 10, 2016

My schedule tomorrow (my regular posting day) very uncertain, so taking the opportunity to put this up just a few hours early.

Maybe it's because I never mention that at the end of every post is an opportunity to comment that I get so few comments. If that's the case, let me say there is a comment opportunity at the end of every "Here and Now" post. I get very few. I wish I got more.

Same stuff, pictures celebrating the flowering of Spring (about half from the Lady Bird wildflower center in Austin - and the rest from out and about), my mostly new poems, and poems from my library, including some from Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry, a bilingual anthology. The anthology, a huge book, was published by University of Texas - Austin in 1996.

how disappointed they must be

Naomi Shihab  Nye
The Passport Photo  

Amado Nervo
Sorrow Vanquished

damn sight better

Luis J. Rodriguez
Colombian Star

Julio Herrerra Reissig
Grey Dawn

hail the size of marbles

Wendell Berry
Let Us Pledge  

Homero Aridjis
The Rain is Falling
Decomposition with Laughter
Letter  from Mexico

red and white umbrellas

Alice Walker
You Had to Go to Funerals  

Efrain Huerta
Men of Dawn

the dinosaur at my window

Sharon Olds
Poems to My  First Love

Raul Bopp
II (from Black Snake)

we try to forget

Valerie Berry
Cadaver Lab

Olga Orozco
Olga  Orozco

twice in one lifetime

Miriam McFall Starlin 
Desertion I
Desertion II

Alfonsina Stormie
Ancestral Burden
Me at the Bottom of the Sea  

the Wednesday Meet-Up-and-Talk group

Joanna Klink
If You Wake

Ferreira Gullar
Oswald Dead
Sweet Talk

lessons in animal behavior, international relations and other matters

Steve Healey
Where Spring Is

Octavio  Armand
Another Poetics

come on Lenin,come on Marx

John Barr
Gloria  Visits the Fry House 

Sara de Ibanez
Island  in the Earth
Island in the Light

my Dick Tracy hat  

Here's  my first for the week, a memory of rough riding days.

how disappointed they must be

three boys
on their bicycles
and I think of my own

stripped down,
balloon tires, a hand-me-down
from my older brother,
painted red
to be

so much of what i had painted red to be new

it was new to me,
and the freedom was new too,
riding like a horseman in the wind,
my red, roan pony
challenging gravity

and winning


lots of  bicycles on the streets today,
grown-ups  in hard hats
and tight stretch pants, riding their bikes
to work, the same blank face
as the negotiate the traffic as any other

having no fun, it seems to me...

maybe fun was in their mind
in the beginning,
remembering like me,
think they could recapture that freedom
with their $1,000 bikes and all the
attendant gear,
thinking of
all the long years
since they first  tested the  freedom 
of the road...

how disappointed they must

This poem is by one of my favorite poets and editors, Naomi Shihab Nye.

Born in Missouri of a Palestinian father and an American  mother, her family moved to the West Bank when she was fourteen years old, spending much time with and learning from her  Palestinian grandmother. The family returned to San Antonio, where she continues to live, as the Six Day War was brewing. A graduate of Trinity University in San Antonio, she calls herself a "wandering poet" as she travels the world on behalf of poetry, other poets (particularly poets of the Middle East) and her own work as a poet and editor.

The poem is from Nye's  book Words Under the Words, published by The Eighth Mountain Press in 1995.

The Passport Photo

"The Passport Office welcomes photographs which depict the
applicants as relaxed and smiling."
              Passport  Application

Before they shoot,  I think of where I am going,
Chile, the world's thinnest country,
the bright woven hats on the Indians of Peru.

I swallow the map of South America tacked to my kitchen door,
the swarm of strange names, blue rivers
like veins on an old woman's leg.

A continent I know little about, except what I have read
or my Bolivian neighbor's tales.  "A School of Thieves,"
she tells me,"I'd stay home if  I were you."

Trapped in front of  the hot lights,
I  try to forget distances,
how far I will be from the ones who loved me longest.

I do not think anything familiar or cozy.
I think  coastlines, jagged edges, roads ahead of me
cracking open like coconuts, and then I smile

Because this face you are snapping
is a map to  another continent
I  have barely begun to learn.

First from this week's anthology of twentieth-century Latin American poetry are two poems by Amado Nervo. Born Mexico 1870, Nervo was a diplomat, journalist, fiction writer and a biographer. He studied for the priesthood as a young man and even after he left the seminary, the priestly image hung on to him, leading to him being known as "The Monk of Poetry." Nervo died in 1919.

His poems here were translated by Sue Standing.


Someone throws stones at  my roof,  then
hypocritically hides the quick hands
that harmed me...
                               I have no stones, only
fragrant fresh roses in my arbor,
and yet - idiosyncratically -
I also hid my hand after throwing roses.

Sorrow Vanquished

Sorrow, since you cannot make me
quit God, where is your power?
"Where is they sting?"

                                      The hours
fly,carrying away on each wing
a certain portion of your dark energy.

Sorrow, you are also a slave
of time; your potency
diminishes as the moments wear thin,
while God, sheltered inside me,
grows larger and larger, the more
I keep loving him.

I'm not the optimist  and idealist I was in 1964, in months days in New Mexico training for a Peace Corps assignment in South America (I completed the training but did not go), watching civil rights and other Great Society programs I and people like me had dreamed of flowing out of Congress like a progressive back-log had finally broken.

Though it got worse and  a lot was  subsequently lost, we are today better than even those heady days. You have to think back some to recognize that. Though  the harvest is not yet complete, the planting was done then and, though not always evident from above, the roots continue to flourish.

damn sight better

black man
with his white wife

met friends

white man
with his black wife

having coffee together
on the patio

remembering as I watch
a bus ride through Mississippi
in 1966, still working
at desegregation
as the law required

remembering, as I  remember
that earlier time,
as I drive through the South
in 2012, stopping for lunch
at a small roadside restaurant
in a small town in
at the next table over
five country deputies,
all black...

the world is not
but it is a damn sight better
than it used to

The next poem is by Luis J. Rodriguez, from his book The Concrete River. The book was published by Curbstone Press in 1991.

Born in 1954 in El Paso, Rodriguez  grew up in Watts and the East Los Angeles area. Many of his poems spring out of his experience as a steelworker, carpenter, blast furnace operator, truck driver, and chemical refinery mechanic.

Colombian Star

Oh,Colombian  star,
I  reach out to you
From between bed sheets,
Through dark corridors -
From outside of frosty windows.

Your are the luminance of Latin woman,
Yet your silence repels embraces;
A barricade against intentions.

You provoke sleepless nights,
Drenching me in a downpour
Of indecisions.

Come, talk to me.

Talk to me of your terrors -
Of a seclusion with child and hunger,
Of a trusting shattered by the one
You most desired.

Talk to me of love,
Which you had so much to give.
Of your "sacred" emotions;
How immutable time and clenched fists
Battered them.

Let me  carry
The weight of your escapes.

Let them go!
Let the memories come hurtling,
                 of an alcoholic, enraged lover
                 with a shotgun to your neck
                 who forced you into humiliations
I can't even imagine.

Speak, so we can wade
In languid conversations,
Share soft touches
Seek careless  joys.

Oh, Colombian star,
Burning from  a distance,
Remember,  yes,
But everything.

Next from the anthology is Julio Herrera y Reissig.

Born in Uruguay in 1875, Reissig died in 1010. Even though most of his poems weren't published until after his death, he is considered one of the most influential poets in Latin America.

Both of his poems here  were translated by Andrew Rosing.

           Cold, cold, cold!
           Furs, memories, and mute  sadnesses.

Above the spleen of the landscape
calm, and damp, floats a migraine;
and there in the shadows the frogs celebrate,
with a strange ventriloquism.

The mountain's mind - its gray neurasthenia -
with a peculiar telepathy
recalls in its close and gloomy mania
a senile convent in Brittany.

To  add up the sum of these illusions,
the eucharistic flock is fused
like a Jordan of fleeces, white as snow;

and far away, the pensive crow
is dreaming, maybe, of an abstract Cosmos
like a black and terrifying moon

Grey Dawn

                Grey in the sky and grey in my soul
                red in the East and red in my soul.

This is how it  was. Lilac preoccupations
disturbed the morning's illusions,
and a childish heron on his inane blank page
stoked backwards  on the restless waves.

And a shuddering - like a Sibyl's fit -
rattled at the windows,when all
at once  a wind-minded myth
intruded,through my darkened pupils.

"Good-by, good-by," I cried: into the sky
grey sarcasm rose, from her delicate  glove,
flying like my own red jealousy.

A crow croaked Wagnerisms into the air, and the woods
felt at the very moment a complete
and cataclysmic crash.

Next, a little bit of historical sleuthing.

hail the size of marbles

 We had heavy storms early last week, with all the usual wind and rain and thunder and lightning
 and a little bit of hail small and slushy.

Then on Saturday we had another storm, this one with hail the size of marbles and just as hard. I
put one of the little ice marbles in the freezer and later holding it in my hand and looking  at it, I
began to think about marbles, the kind we played with when I was a kid.

Like, are marbles  made of marble or are they not, and if they're not made of marble now, were
they ever and if they ever were but aren't marble now, when did they quite making them  that way.

Unable to answer any of these questions, it was  clear research was called for.

So I consulted Guessapedia, the prime source of modern life, and this is what I learned.
It turns out that the game of marbles was  first envisioned by Greek philosopher, Augiecus the
Third, though being  more philosopher than practitioner, he didn't do anything with the idea. But
he did write the idea down, including rules for play in a treatise that was  read two hundred
and fifty years later by the Roman Senator, Slipsicus.

Slipsicus was intrigued by the idea of the game and tried first to use olive pits as game pieces but
abandoned that approach when squirrels kept eating all his game pieces.The he noticed all the marble
splinters left  behind by Roman sculptors  and decided the splinters would be excellent game

The game never went anywhere until Friar Keepserina, a monk in middle ages France, realized
the game would be much more fun if the marble  splinters could be rolled instead of thrown.
Unfortunately the monk never figured out how to machine the marble splinters into  perfectly
round balls that could be rolled. He did make a few partially rounded splinters but they were
so  uneven and unbalanced that  shooting successfully was more a matter of chance than skill.

Not one to throw away anything, the monk refined the incompletely rounded splinters into a
rough approximation of squares, added black dots and called them dice,thus inventing a different
game entirely.
It wasn't until Benjamin Franklin, found in his extensive library  book describing "marble
scissors" invented by a German Sculptor in the 16th century. The sculptor used the scissors
to make eyeballs for his sculpture of King Frederick the twenty-second of Austria.
Franklin immediately understood how the scissoring technique could be used to make  perfectly 
round marbles of different sizes, which immediately made the game of marbles the schoolyard
recess favorite all across the country.

In 1942, Franklin Roosevelt, in order to redirect American manufacturing capacity to the war
effort,quit making marble out of marble and returned to the original Roman practice of making
them out of olive pits. Since not enough people like olives to produce the number of pits
needed,the game went  into decline until 1953, when President Eisenhower, fondly remembering
the game from his youth, stepped in.

Responding to public concern about young people standing  on street corners listening
to rock and roll and smoking Marlboro cigarettes, added enough funds to his interstate highway
to  pay for marble circles at every schoolyard and a small bag of marble marbles for
every boy between the ages of six and twelve.

This was the case until Republicans, having gained control of Congress, defunded all national
marble programs, thus leaving us with only fake marbles to use in our marble games.

another assault on the best of
America, an age-old children's game
stolen from us by Republican
politicians too fat to get down on their knees
at the shooters circle, meaning now
that our children's thumbs
are being used, not
for shooting biggies
and minis and bombabousas
in healthy competition, 
but silent and lonely texting

it's just not the way
was meant to be

This poem is by Wendell Berry, novelist, environmental activist, culture critic, farmer and often-honored, award-winning poet. The poem is from his book Entries, published in 1997 by Counterpoint.

Let Us Pledge

Let us pledge allegiance to the flag
and to the national sacrifice areas
for which it stands, garbage dumps
and empty holes, sold out for a higher
spire on the rich church, the safety
of voyagers in golf carts, the better mood
of the stock market. Let us feast
today, though  tomorrow we starve. Let  us
gorge upon the body of the Lord, consuming
the earth for our  greater joy in Heaven,
that fair Vacationland. Let us wander forever
in the labyrinths of our self-esteem.
Let us evolve toward the higher
consciousness of the machine.
The spool of our engine-driven fate
unwinds, our history now  out speeding
though, and the heart is a beatable tool.

Born in 1940, Homero Aridjis, is one of the younger poems in the Latin American anthology. Born in Michoacan, Aridjis studied journalism in Mexico City before turning to poetry, publishing since then twenty books of poetry and fiction. He has been visiting professor  at Columbia, Indiana and New York Universities and has  served as Mexican ambassador to the Netherlands.

I have three of his poems this week,  the first was translated by John Federick Nims, the second by Jerome Rothenberg and the third by Eliot Weinberger.

The Rain Is Falling...

Over the month of June the rain is falling
tokens posted
on every door that has a hand in the matter

Deep in your heart the young girls laugh
The spirit of woman in love
runs in your flesh - takes off its clothes  in the streets

No disenchantment in this day
only a brightness - secret fire
and within you a cry as of spirits laid to rest

In everything man
and the spirit of woman in love

Life in the corners
sustains the world's equilibrium
with something of God that rises out of the ruins

The sons of man make their universe
on a paper boat that flounders
yet happiness is not precisely there
but  in the projection of another universe

Nothing should postpone its going
September will return and April later
and the friends that were not at our side this spring
these will be with us in a foreseeable winter

thus I have come again on the lost images
dead bonfires from other seasons of bad weather
and mourning long delayed for the stiffened limbs
     we cherished

I love this time
when dogs are holy
and insects hesitate at the pane

I love you - you as ephemeral - suffering the cold

The lights of the city come on for further exploits


 Decomposition with Laughter

they pull off his ears
they pluck out his eyes
they pull off his arms
they pry out his chest
they fade out his head
they pull out is trunk
they fade it all out
& he stays there laughing
& he keeps on laughing
laughs far away


Letter from Mexico

Invisible ancestors
walk with us
through these back streets

the stares of children
young girls' bodies
cross through them

Weightless        vague
we travel through them
at doorways that no longer are
on bridges that are empty

while with the sun on our faces
we too
move through transparency


Not a  robin, but still a sure sign of spring.

red and white  umbrellas

peeks between
the leafy shadows

as red and white
patio umbrellas
draw shade from the sun
and sidewalk hikers
of the foaming head
of a fresh

into May

Next, a poem by  Alice Walker from her book, Revolutionary Petunias & Other Poems. The book  was published in 1973 by Harcourt Brace.

You Had to Go to Funerals

You had to go to funerals
Even if you didn't know the
Your Mama always did
Usually your Pa.
In new patent leather shoes
It wasn't so bad
And if it rained
The graves dropped open
And if the sun was shining
You could take some of the
Flowers home
In you pocket
book. At six and seven
The face in the gray box
Is always your daddy's
Old schoolmate
Mowed down before his
You don't even ask
After a while
What makes them lie  so
Awfully straight
And still. If there's a picture of
Jesus underneath
The coffin lid
You might even, during a boring sermon,
Without shouting or anything,
Wonder who painted it.

And how he would like
All eternity to stare
It down.

This poem from the anthology is by Mexican poet Efrain Huerta. Born in 1914, Huerta gave up a promising career as a lawyer for a writing career as a poet, journalist and film critic. He died in 1982.

His poem is translated by Beth Henson.

Men of Dawn

And then,, here, in the dark breast of the darkest  river,
In the deepest  green of the old city,
these tattooed men: eyes like diamonds,
brusque mouths of hate plus insomnia,
some roses or lilies in their hands
and a desperate burst of sweat.

They are the ones who have a maddened dog
instead of a heart,
or a simple and luminous apple
or a bottle of alcohol and saliva
or the murmur of one in the morning
or a heart like any other.

They are the men of dawn,
the bandits with grown-out beard
and blessed hardcore cynicism,
careful assassins
with ferocity on their shoulders,
faggots with fever in their ears
and in their soft kidneys
the professionals of disdain,
with  fire water in their veins,
those who shout, who howl like wolves
with frozen paws.
The men most abandoned,
craziest, bravest:
the most pure.

They are fallen from sleep and hope,
eyes on high, grey skin
and a eternal sob in the throat.
But they speak. In the end the night is always
the same, and always fleeting:
a sweet torment, a simple consolation,
a black smile of happiness,
a different way of conspiring,
a warm and fearful current
of knowing life is a little bit poisoned.
They speak in the day. In the day,
which does not belong to them, in which they don't belong,
in which they are more slaves; in the day,
when there is no road
but a prolonged silence
of a definite rebellion.

But I know they are afraid of dawn.
I know they love the night and its shuddering lessons.
I know the nocturnal rain that falls
as if on the dead.
I know they build a serene monument to anguish
with their bones.
They and I know these things:
that the groaning nocturnal grapeshot,
after raising up arms and the dead,
after passionately officiating
like the mother of fear,
is resolved into rumor,
into penetrating noise,
into something frozen and caressing,
into a powerful tree with silvery spines,
into desiccated barbed wire:
into dawn. Into dawn
with the efficiency of a defiant chest.

Then a pain, naked and terse
appears in the world.
And the men are pieces of dawn,
tigers on guard,
birds among shreds of silver,
the remains of voices.
And the slave-trading dawn gets into everything:
the tormented roots,
the bottles exploding with rage,
the bruised ears,
the damp discontent of the assassins,
and the mouths of sleeping children.
But the men of dawn repeat themselves
in a clamorous form,
and they laugh and they die like trampled guitars,
like clean heads
and armored hearts.

My little cookie crumb mooching sparrows again.

the dinosaur at my window

her mighty roar
shook the earth as
she pushed her  gargantuan self
through primordial jungles, lumbered
belly-deep through ancient marshes and the mud
of our creation, traversed
broad savannas, faced extinction
from  fierce, sharp-toothed
and molten rain  falling from
darkly rolling skies

but she did not die

and today,
little feathered  wings aflutter,
she begs for cookie crumbs
at my  window...

the leveling rub  of time -
how  it  diminishes  us

This poem is by Sharon Olds, from her book The Dead and the Living, the Lamont Poetry Selection for 1983.

Born in 1942 in San Francisco, Olds has been the recipient of many awards, including the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1984. She teaches creative writing at New York University.

Poem to My First Lover

Now that I understand, I like to
think of your terror - handed a girl
mad with love,  her long, fresh
raw body thin as a pared
soap, breasts round and high and
opalescent as bubbles of soap,
laid across your  legs, 18,
untouched. I like to understand your
terror, now, the way you took her,
deflowering her as you would gut a fish,
leaving in the morning with talk of a wife.
             Now that I
know about the fear of love
I like to think of her white-hot body
greenish as a fish just landed,quivering and
slapping on a rock -  fallen into your
lap, man, shuddering like your cock,
a woman crazed with love,  hot off the
press, sharp as a tool never used,
blazing across your thighs and all you could
do in your fear was  firk out her cherry like an
escargot from its dark shell and then
toss her  away. I am in awe of the terror that will
waste so much, I am in love with the girl who went
offering, came to you and
laid it out like a feast on a platter, the
delicate flesh - yes, yes
I accept the gift.

Next from this week's anthology, here is Brazilian poet, Raul Bopp. born in 1898, Bopp trained as a lawyer and worked as a diplomat in Japan and the United States. He became fascinated with the folklore, languages and cultures of what he considered the authentic Brazil and tried to meld European experimental poetry with the essences of the Brazilian hinterland of the Amazon Basin. He included these native mystical elements in his long poem Black Snake, which I will use only one part of here. It was translated by Renato Rezende.

II (from Black Snake)

Begins here, the ciphered forest.

The shade is hiding the trees.
Blubber-lipped frogs spy in the dark.

Here a piece of the forest is being punished.
Little trees squat in the pond.
A hurried stream licks the mud.

- I want to see Queen Luzia's daughter!

Now drowned rivers
drink the road.
The water goes crying, sinking and sinking.

Far ahead
the sand held the tracks of Queen Luzia's daughter.

- Yes, now
I will see Queen Luzia's daughter!

But first you must pass through seven doors.
See seven white women with empty wombs, watched
over by a crocodile.

- I want to see Queen Luzia's daughter.

First you must give your shadow to the Bottomless Being.
Accomplish extraordinary deeds under the rising moon.
Drink three drops of blood.

- Only if it's the blood
of Queen Luzia's daughter!

The immense forest suffers insomnia.

Sleepy trees are now yawning.
The night is all dried up. The river waters are broken.
I have to go.

I vanish into the ancient forest
where pregnant trees are napping.

From everywhere they call me:
- Where are you going, Cobra Norato?
Here we have three young saplings awaiting you.

- I can't.
Tonight I will sleep with Queen Luzia's daughter.

Here's another one a couple of months old that I put aside for a rainy day, like today.

we try to forget

two weeks
of wonderful weather.
cool, sunshine, clear sky, etc.
after a month of green-nourishing rain...

wonderful days
wonderful as only wonderful can be
after a South Texas

we bask
in the wonder of it all

to forget
what has been
and will be again

like a season of peace

This poem is by Valerie Berry, taken from her book Difficult News, published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2001. Originally from Indians, the poet is also a physician living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Cadaver Lab

We keep  each in a humidor like
fine, forbidden  Cuban cigars,  rare
harvest for selected students or so says
a sign on the outer door.

You know,  of course, that we name them,
name them for what they became: artless,
empty husks, willed to us.We unband,
unroll and personify; each name
a summation and anthem.

Stained coats and stainless steel,
intensity by rows. We study silence -
and science - the aromatic air:  phenol,
not ash of rose.

If only we could graft back  the art
and watch "Mister Peabody" - when
his liver lived - play taproom darts,
guzzle in foam, or seduce a cigar
with a match. But we can't;
we probe, but no one's there.

(A hand in surgeon's glove
spans this lesser Sistine
and brushes empty air.)

Not a lot of female poets in this anthology, so I had to go looking. Who  I found is Olga Orozco from Argentina. Born in 1920, she was heavily influenced by French avant-garde writing and was responsible for bringing French Surrealist writers to readers in Latin America.

Her poem was translated by Stephen Tapscott.

Olga Orozco

I, Olga Orozco, tell everyone, from your heart, that I am dying.
I loved: solitude, the heroic lastingness of all faith,
relaxing  where strange animals and fabulous plants live,
the shadow of a great era the moved through mysteries
     and exotic visions,
also the candles' little trembling at evening.
My history lies in my hands and the hands of those who
     tattooed them.
The magic and the rites remain from my sojourn,
some dates worn away by gusts of merciless love,
distant smoke from the house where we never were,
some gestures scattered among the gestures of people
     who never knew  me.
The rest  is still winding itself  up, in oblivion,
still carving grief on the face of the one  who looked for
     herself in me as in a mirror of smiling fields,
the one you will  see  as strangely alien:
my ghost,condemned to my form in this world.
She would have liked to regard me with scorn or
     with pride
in the last moment like a bolt of lightning:
not in the confused uproar where I still raise my hoarse
     voice, crying out
among  the whirlpools of your heart.
No, for this death, no serenity or grandeur:
I can't look at if for long, the first time.
But I have to keep on dying till your death
because I am your witness, before a law deeper and darker
     than transmogrifying dreams,
there where we pronounce the sentence:
"Now they are dead.
They were chosen for penalty, for pardon, for heaven and
     for hell.
Now they're a stain of damp on the walls of the first

It's really strange sometimes, those moments when you realize you're old.

twice in one lifetime

it's  almost like an out-of-body experience
here in the coffeehouse,
mid-spring, 2016, hearing
the Beatles from the speakers overhead,
"I want to hold you hand"
they sing,
and my mind falls back
to an afternoon in 1963, driving
back to college after a long week-
end at home, the DJ pushing the battle
of the musical century, the new guys
from England vs Elvis, the King
under attack, says the DJ,
by those funny-looking,
long-haired foreign guys trying to play
rock and roll, and the reader
poll, whose going to win, Elvis
or the Beatles...

and remembering before that,
1957, on a humid Rio Grande morning,
band practice for the half-time show
at the next football game, soaking
our shoes as we march through
dew-wet grass, and the girls, talking
about nothing but Elvis and his first movie,
and, or, that song
love me tender, he croons, and all the girls
think, yes, yes,  love me tender,
love me any way you want, and all the boys,
confused,  jealous, mocking
the girls and their obsession, not
understanding what the girls see in
that greasy-haired guy ( though most of
those same boys with their own greasy duck
tails within six months)...

and it seems so strange
to be here, in this time and at my age,
to think of those moments
mixing in my mind with moment
a president is murdered,,the
moment a man walks  on the moon,
in a life crowded with such memories,
those two musical moments
standing out in my mind like in the mind
of the sailor on the Columbus flag ship,
the Santa Maria, I think,
who first saw the new world,
in the same lifetime

Miriam McFall Starlin, though her  poet herself, she and her husband were mostly known as  patrons of the arts. The Miriam McFall Starlin poetry prize at the University of Oregon offers assistance to promising students during the summer between their first and second year in the university's MFA program.

These two short poems are from the poet's book Wait a Minute, published by Resource Publicans in 2006.

Desertion I

Each day he sat there
in the blue Mediterranean sunshine
until the tour bus stopped nearby
then he rose to peer intently
at the tourists passing through
Rappola, Italy.
If he finds someone who seems friendly
he starts speaking of his past life
spent in Brooklyn, U.S.A.

Desertion II

For Gus

In the fog and through the rainstorms
he lay waiting in the driveway
head resting on front paws.
His eyes darted up and down the roadway
his nose twitching his ears pricking
listening for the shadow or the substance
of the one who doesn't come.

After  noting the scarcity of female poets in the anthology I do a random pick and come up with another woman, Alfonsina Stornie. Born in Switzerland in 1892, Stornie came to Argentina with her parents when she was three years old. Trained and licensed in the field of rural education, she supported herself as a teacher and free-lance journalist from the age of eighteen. At twenty, alone with her son, she moved to Buenos Aires where she lived the rest  of her  life. She published her first book (The Restlessness of the Rose) in 1916 and her Modernist-influenced poems of female  consciousness and complaint against sexual injustice became a sensation in the literary world of Buenos Aires.

The poet died in 1938.

Her poems  here were translated by  Andrew Rosing.

Ancestral Burden

Once you told me my father never wept;
Once you told me his father never wept;
The men of my line have never wept;
They were made of steel.

As you were saying this you cried a tear
That dropped into my mouth...I have never
drunk more of poison than I did
from that little cup.

Vulnerable woman, poor and comprehending woman,
When I tasted it I knew the pain of centuries.
Oh, my soul cannot endure
All  of its burden



This divine October morning
I would like to walk along the shore

And to  let the gold sand and green waters
And pure sky witness my passing there...

I would like to be tall, proud, perfect,
Like a Roman matron, in harmony

With the giant waves and the flat rocks
And the huge beaches beside the water.

I would let myself be carried along
With slow steps and cold eyes and mute mouth,

To see how the blue waves break
Against the sand, and not  stir;

To see how the birds of prey devour
The little fish, and not even a whisper;

To think  that the delicate little boats
Might falter in the water and not care;

To see the handsomest  man approach, a giant
On the loose, and not  ant love,o desire...

To lose the sense of sight, abstractedly -
Lose and not recover;

And standing upright between the sky and sand,
To feel the sea's oblivion forever.


Me at the Bottom of the Sea

At the bottom of the sea
is a crystal

It  looks out
onto a soft-stone

At five o'clock
a great gold fish
comes to visit.

He brings me
a red spray
of coral flowers.

I sleep in a bed
a little bluer
than the sea.

an octopus
winks at me
through the glass.

In the green  woods
around me,
ding dong...ding dong...
sirens of sea-green
flutter and sing.

And over my head
the bristling points of the sea
flare in the dusk.


This is another from a couple of months ago I never got around to using here.

the Wednesday Meet-Up and Talk Group

the Wednesday Meet-Up-and-Talk Group
is arriving here at the coffeehouse in a straggle, so
far, mostly antique women, sitting behind me,
discussing the various ailments of their age, the one
just moved here  from  Montana, talks about the whatever fire
out there and how she can't breathe anymore
up there because of the altitude...

and the others, too, every part of the body,
blood, skin,  bones, ears,
not to forget  eyes, bowels,
(even hair, according to the lady who brags on her wigs)
at least one  medical failure per customer,
several, it seems,
going for quantity over quality, trying a little bit
of everything...

no men have shown up so far this week,
so I have to stop here,
there being no slow,  dropping-thinking old men to slow the ladies
down, they are talking way faster than I can transcribe

(but wait,
maybe I'm quitting too soon, the ladies are into allergies,
a subject upon which I can commiserate,
pontificate even, so
maybe, since there are no other men in attendance I ought
to turn around and pass on some of my own allergy

Here are two short poems by Joanna Klink, taken from her book Raptus, published by Penguin Poets in 2010.

Born in Iowa City, Iowa, Klink  earned an  MFA in poetry at the Iowa Writer's Workshop and a Ph.D. in Humanities from John Hopkins University. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Montana.


I would remain by night with you
who, having held me once, wrapped everything I knew
into my sleeping body's hold and held fast and stayed.
You shuttled in sleep against me and away, not sleeping,
beached and exhausted by wine and rushes from
another life whose body my body meant to alter.
But I am wayfaring and recently wrecked;
I understand the cost of pulling  free from what once loved  you.
I would  remain by night with you, if the night is clear enough
to see by, and he wind light enough to draw the stars
in the skin's skies open,  and the waves you sensed
through the dress in the wind are real, and only mine.

If You Wake

If you wake with me in the dark,
you body a breadth of waves
against the outstretched ocean.
Where my breath unmoored, you brooded and held,
slowing the chords of hard tides.
And broke, in that night-sailing motion,
a sharp pool of sun  against my shoulders.
And the light traveled back and forth, just audible, between us.

Next from the anthology is Brazilian poet Ferreira Gullar (aka Jose Ribamar Ferreira). Born in 1930,  he worked as a disc jockey ad as a journalist before moving to  Rio de Janeiro, where he began to write poetry. Exiled from Brazil in 1971, he lived in Buenos Aires for a period before later returning home. He is honored now  as one of the  Brazilian masters  most influential for younger writers and theorists.

His poems were translated by Renato Rezende.

Oswald Dead

Yesterday in Sao Paulo they buried
an anthropophagous angel
with banana-leaf wings
(one more name that blends into our tropical vegetation)

The schools and the foundries of Sao Paulo
didn't stop
to look at the body of the poet who had announced the
     civilization of idleness
Speed produces slowness

The hanky in  which for the last time
he  blew  his nose
was a national flag

It was sunny all day long in Ipanema
Oswald de Andade helped the sunset
today Sunday,October 24, 1954

Sweet Talk

You're more beautiful than  a silvery ball
of cigarette paper
You're more beautiful than a clear puddle
of water
in a secret place
You're more beautiful than a zebra
than  a wildcat cub
than a Boeing 707 in the open air
You're more beautiful than a flowery garden
along the sea at Ipanema
You're more beautiful that a Petrobras refiners
burning at night
more beautiful than Ursula Andress
than the Alvorada, the Palace of Dawn,
more beautiful than the sunrise
than the sapphire-blue sea of the Dominican Republic

you're as beautiful as the city of Rio de Janeiro
in May
and almost as beautiful
as the Cuban  Revolution

From my diner, another couple of observations.

lesson in animal behavior, international relations and other matters

a flour tortilla
lying flat on the parking lot

two pigeons
pleased to benefit
from the standard human wastefulness they rely on

one pigeon pecks away
on one side of the perfectly oval

though all parts of the oval
seem equal and equally accessible,
the second pigeon wants to peck
at the very spot that the first pigeon pecks

all parts of a stale, dropped-to-the-parking-lot tortilla
are not equal

and a territorial scuffle ensures...

like the twin  boys I saw at breakfast this morning,
fair-haired little guys
about six years
old, each
with his own plate of silver dollar pancakes...

though being all,
so  far as I can see from my booth,
equal in number, size, and, likely, taste, 
it is apparent to the tousle-haired twin on the left
that the other's plate has better silver dollar pancakes
then  does his own

a fact
he makes urgently and loudly known
to his parents
and everyone else in the restaurant...


there is a clear lesson in animal behavior
and international relations
implied here,
but, this early in the morning
I'll stick to  considerations
of  spoiled children 
and how I
with them
if they were mine

This  poem is by Steve Healey, from his book  Earthling. The book was published in 2004 by Coffeehouse Press.

Born  in Washington D.C., at the time the book was published, Healey taught writing to prisoners in several  Minnesota Correctional Facilities and was Associate Editor of Conduit Magazine.

Where Spring Is

I could be a hole
if the room's not already full of them.

We all have insides  to let go,
and the room  outside. It's  dusk.
I slouch and disappear reading
instructions. White snow  all around.

What happens to dusk when you stare
at it?  "A fully conscious state,"

this is the song about the space
between branches, "in which normal pain
is not felt. "Objects appear smaller

when I miss you,  I  could swallow
analgesics  on a slow rocket,

I could write postcards from the garden:
"It's a Latin garden: ranuculus,
prunus, ixia, iris. Then English

flowers nicely after the Black Death;
the fourth wall  is rarely missed.

Thank God these few mistakes
have friends, i.e., pilgrims.

A nation can depend on conditioned air,
and surely it's spring there
not just in the name.  With all the melting,

streets river. Time and again to honor
my favorite avant-garde milliner
who wore an exceeding normal hat
when just before spring, she
killed herself  by the river.

Just  before, I mean,  some things
haven't happened before. the animals
coming back to life, for example,

they stagger  around the house.

Octavio Armand was born in Cuba in 1946 into a family that was twice exiled by Fidel Castro in 1960. Both a poet and an editor,  he lived most of his adult life in New  York. His poem was translated by Carol Maier.

Another Poetics

The eye that  sees,
sees what?
The word that tells,
tells what?
Beliefs belie?

I bathe in a mirror:
my body is one color
and distance another.

With black letters:
green leaves.
With black letters
lips red
like  yours.

I hide  in your breathing.
I sharpen a hawk
until it soars
and I burn the page you read
with your eyes, which I also  burn,
your eyes black as letters.

You and I
will drink together
long sips of water more crystalline
than absence.
On a final winding line
dry water from a lingering thirst.

All my secret envies exposed.

come on Lenin, come on Marx

I'm not one
to envy, bash, or have any
ill will toward the rich,
even though I am not  one
never have been
never will be
that's the way the  world is -
I made conscious choices fifty years ago
expecting no riches in my future
and all my expectations
have been fully

and I really don't object to the others
who made different choices 
and were suitably

at a stop light yesterday,
a fella in front of me was driving
the car of my dreams,
a bright red, brand new
a beautiful, beautiful automobile
by a "Ben Carson for President"
bumper sticker
right there
in front of me as I waited
for the light to change

and I'm sorry about this
but I can have good feeling
for anyone so stupid
who is driving 
the car of my dreams...

so by god, just
come on Lenin, come on Marx,
come on Mao, even that hapless old fool,
Bernie,just come on, comrades,
here's your chance to take care of me,
do your stuff, even the social and economic odds,
strike a blow for us oppressed
proletarians stuck in 8-year old cars
with 8 years of dents and dings
and overdue tune-ups
while some rich fool is driving
the car of my dreams... 

get me that car, you Commie bastards,
and while you're at it,
get me the head of that fool
driving it...

This poem is by  John Barr, from his book, The Hundred Fathom Curve, published by Story Line Press in 1997.

Barr was  born in Illinois and  graduated from Harvard University with a BA in English. After serving in the US Navy for five years during the Vietnam War, he returned to Harvard to complete an MBA. In addition to his own work, the poet served as  first president of the poetry foundation from 2004 to 2013, assisting the board to develop a strategic plan that provided a permanent home for Poetry magazine for the first time in it's 100-year history. He also taught at Sarah Lawrence University in their graduate writing program.

Gloria Visits the Fry House

Never  firm the old Victorian,
perched on locust poles,  poised
on breach's brink, begins to lean.
(Oddly the rusted chandeliers
are what appear to lean as they decline
to join the general lean to the sea.)
With a great complaining of nails
rooms parallelograms, right  angles
by the hundreds chase acute, obtuse.

The living room toes first: two picture windows
burst as the picture they were placed to contemplate
comes in the room. The main floor caves.
The  upright red piano rolls
out the window, out to sea,
slowly righting to meta-center.
In the slow  motion of demolition
walls fold down upon themselves
expressing volume room by room.
Dressers come up hard on seaward walls,
the bedrooms yield beds,
the third  floor launches a pool table.
Like stalks the house's piping snaps:
water lines plume, gas lines effuse,

Eased by a wave, then waves,
the pile gets underway.
But rubble it is not.
Shedding cedar shakes like scales,
in the exploding surf it is reborn.
The Fry house joins the company
of things that put out to sea.

Here's another female from the anthology, Sara de Ibanez of Uruguay. Born in 1910, she published her first book of poems in 1940 to a wildly appreciative review by Pablo Neruda.

Ibanez died in 1971.

I have two of  her poems this week, both translated by Inez Probert.

Island in the Earth

To the north,, the cold and its broken jasmine.
To the east, a nightingale full of thorns.
To the south, the rose in its subtle abundance,
to the west a pensive road.

To the north, an  angel lies silenced.
To the east, weeping arranges its mists.
To the south, my tender packet of fine palms,
to the west, my door and caution.

Maybe the flight of a cloud, or a sigh,
might trace this frontier that defends
my retreat bravely.

A distant wave of punishment explodes
and gnaws at your strange forgetfulness,
my dry island in the midst of the battle.


Island in the Light

The dove burned in its whiteness.
The doe died in the cold grass.
Dead,  the flower - still  unnamed -
and the shrewd wolf of dark innocence.

The eye of the fish died in the rugged wave.
The water died, driven by the day.
The pearl in its luxurious darkness died.
Oblivion and the pure apple fell.

The blinding cliffs rise
up from the flying sugars and white rocks,
like an invasion of wild ivies.

Graveyard of angelic deserts:
among your sleeping inhabitants, keep
also a place for my lifeless eyes.


And last this week, about my favorite hat.

my Dick Tracy hat

I had a Dick Tracy hat
when I was about seven years old,
a real, regular, snap-brim fedora just like
Tracy wore

it was my first total immersion
in hero fantasy, at least
the first
   I remember, 
and when I had my Dick Tracy hat on -

I was Dick Tracy
  and I wore it everywhere...


I was a cowboy,
  but never had a cowboy hat -

and I was a soldier and had some soldier pants 
which I didn't like since I never even liked
being a soldier, even a play soldier,
even at that very young age
not of a soldier's death
but of a soldier's anonymity, to be lost in a mass,
myself eliminated from the special world
where "me" reigned
unfettered and

(how early the twig was bent
and how true the tree has grown)

I'm wearing a hat today, but it's rare
that I do,
because no matter the hat
it's just not the hat
Dick Tracy

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 5:25 PM Blogger Alice Folkart said...

Nice issue - nice to see all these female poets. And nice to read some of your things that I'd already seen. Thanks for doing this.


at 5:35 PM Blogger Here and Now said...

thanks, alice

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