Through Dark Waters   Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A week of the same again, me and poets from my library. And a reminder that I have a button for comments at the end of the post.

whatcha packing down  there

David Shevin
Retirement Account

a city in mourning

Soleh Wolpe
Norris Cancer Institute
The Writer
The Painted Sun

a promisingly dull morning 

Julia B. Levine  
Silence Prepares Us  for the Fields
On Whatever Form the Past Assumes Waiting for Us to Enter

finding the quiet

Bernice Zamora  
El Burrito Cafe
State Street

the artist

Ted Kooser
A Winter Morning

even grandmas

Susan Griffin
This Enemy

alternate universe

Anne Sexton
Noon Walk on the Asylum Lawn


D.A. Powell
[every man needs a buddy. who'll do]

watercolor city

Lorna Dee Cervantes 
Night Stand\

stop the world   

A little reflection on current events to start the week.

whatcha packing down there?

lots of people worry
about lots of  things that the things
lots of people worry about
aren't worried about
by anyone

for example
I was wondering just yesterday
about  gophers and prairie dogs -
are they the same creature
I wonder
and if they aren't 
what's the difference

I imagine
a  few weak-minded folk
might worry about that
but I only care enough to wonder
and not near enough
to worry
which makes we a part of the vast
disinterested in gopher and prairie dog
lineage world majority 
and I think most all of us
would probably
that that's a stupid thing
to worry about...

but people worry about stupid
crazy things all the time
for example
a lot of people today
are worrying about the genitalia 
of the person in the next stall over...

now I never, ever worried about that,
even in bus station bathrooms
and other places where there can be 
a lot to worry about
but never that...

never have and never will worry about that
cause, let's face it,
how you going to know
unless  someone passes a law
that everyone has to drop their pants
or lift their dress before entering 
the potty parlor

(although I don't doubt legislation to that effect
will be entered in the next  sessions of the Texas Legislature
but even there I doubt it would pass)

and, speaking of the Texas Legislature,
the fact is,
I worry a whole lot more about people
who worry about their neighbor's
than I worry about who's got what in their

I mean,really,
"whatcha packing down there?"
is that rally the kind of question we
ought to be asking
each other?

This is from the journal Rattle, summer 2001 issue. The  poem is by David Shevin.

The poet was professor of English at Central State University and previously taught at the University of Findlay, Tiffin University and the University of Miami (Ohio). He died in 2010.

Retirement Account

When I grow up
I  will  be one
of those men
who are beautiful
and inscrutable

who shuffle along
city blocks
mumbling dialogues
out loud
to themselves

who say their last
tearful goodbyes
over and over
to their beloveds
to their livelihoods

to their socks
and their teachers,
their hopes and their hangnails.
I want to be one
of those men

who lasted all through
the hardship weather,
who dream shooting stars
when the night is clouded over.
I will speak the fine

couplets and curses,
harangue every smell in the air.
I will write the music
that pig feet
can dance to

full of nuance, kalimba
and trash can percussion.
When I grow up
I will be one of those men
who made it to freedom.

Here are two piece arriving from my affection for the San Antonio Spurs basketball team.

The first was written before the climatic event (and titled after). The second piece is a reflection on "what it all means."

a city in mourning

sport is not war,
courage is not required,
but to be the best,
character is essential

It's  open-mike night for musicians at the coffeehouse.

But the music on every one's mind here in San Antonio is the rhythmic slap of basketballs on a hardwood court as the Spurs face possible elimination in the second round of the NBA finals.

The guys have to win tonight or go home, losers in the race to the championship after the best regular season (67 wins, only 12 loses) in team history, losing two  home games in this best of seven series after losing only one home game during the entire regular season.

And worst, even if the team goes home it will be back next year, while also going home will be Tim Duncan, likely for the last time. And the era of Timmy, "Old Man Riverwalk," "The Big Fundamental," 40-years old,, 5-time champion, the best at his position as  have ever played the game, and above all else, the quiet leader, the essential mentor to everyone who ever played with him this year and every year over his 19-year career.

Hears could be broke n tonight, an entire city lost to mourning - I am not watching, not wanting to know how it turns out until its over.

Hoping my heart will not be broken too.

some earn temporary
glory on the field;
others ennoble the game
and earn a more lasting recognition
among best of all 


some don't understand...

it's not about the sport
it's about
the sportsmen and sportswomen
who play it

scores,stat, standings,
all window dressing, the true thing
is the game

the arena where men and women
under pressure
reveal their true selves
for us who do not play to see

it is about the illumination
of character, and
for better or worse,
the nature and the dreams
of our kind

it is about our humanity
and the stuff that
makes us

lessons of us on

Here are three short poems by Sholeh Wolpe from her book The Scar Saloon, published in 2004 by Red Hen Press.

Wolpe was born in Iran but spent most of her teen  years in the Caribbean an Europe, ending up in the US where she earned Masters degrees in Radio-TV-Film (Northwestern University) and Public Health (John Hopkins  University. She has been published worldwide and has won several awards for her work.

Norris Cancer Institute

He, dying.

Air dancing, sun shining
somewhere out there.

And I walking the corridors, looking
for an exit.

The Writer

The bright warm day beckons
but I stay indoors, reluctantly
climb the stairs to my dark  tower
where I sit and wait for the world
to set  itself  right,
for time  to collapse
under my fingers tapping the keyboard.

Last month's newspaper sits idle
under a coffee cup
rapes, murders, wars and politics
now fading ink.

The yellow daffodils so bright and cheery
last week in the garden
are wilting in the narrow blue vase

No matter how fiercely, how
tenderly I recreate the world.

The Painted Sun

A tempest  is brewing in my pen
from which the ink of an "infidel'
is about to spill and stain
the walls of faith.

The turbaned owls of the crescent moon
the robed bears of the cross who  have painted
the sun on the limestone walls of this prison
set fire to the air we  breathe.

God  weeps behind the mask tattooed on his face.

Here's a little bit of fractured love story.

a promisingly dull morning

A promisingly dull morning,  broken across the street at the derelict Tut Tut Cafe,specializing in its day in Vietnamese street food, including on its minimal menu nothing recognized or wanted when described.

Now a minor piece of a block scheduled for destruction, to be replaced by condominiums,further recovery of an abandoned section of the city, about half done now, one of the successes of the city's effort to pull people back from the suburbs for the city life of the downtown center where people trad proximity for the high-life of crab grass and seeming endless commutes...

But the story this morning is across the street, the mystery of the young man who parks his car in the alley and carries materials of some sort to the front of the building and then I'm distracted and look away and when I look back he is leaving and there is a portrait of a beautiful, dark-haired woman painted on one of the whitewashed windows, anonymous art, ninety seconds in the making.

And then two young women come from behind the building and peer into the door, faces pressed against  the glass, and then when they leave the young artist returns and leaves again and I wonder if the three were trying to meet each other, missing their connection. Maybe they know each other, I think and just suffered from bad timing and maybe they don't know each other and fate did not intervene this time, because sometimes if does and sometimes it doesn't and today was a doesn't day and beautiful friendships, or love-ships, maybe, were lost before they were ever found.

I'm thinking there might have been a love story here, the artist painting a portrait of lost love, losing found love by a twist in time and I'm thinking I wish I could jiggle time, back it up for another chance so that the meeting that wasn't could become the meeting that was, giving love and life and children and a long  life together, bouncing grandchildren on arthritic knees, might have happened and it would have been me that caused it by jiggling time

and I'm thinking
maybe that was why I was supposed to be here this morning
for that little time jiggle
and I missed it and the tragedy
of missed love spreads its dark shadow to include me,
that long  shadow spread on such an otherwise promisingly
dull morning...

These two poems are by Julia B. Levine. They are from her book, Ditch-tender, published in 2007 by The University of Tampa Press.

Levine is author of four collections of poetry and has received numerous awards for her work. She received her  Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in clinical psychology and currently lives and practices in Davis, California.

Silence Prepares Us for the Fields

That's what you said the day it was clear
we were no longer young,
the hillsides stunned with drifts of lupine.

Wild iris slit apart the meadow
with purple blades, and though damage
was a  word I didn't want  to use,

a hundred grebes dove at  once
a floating graveyard slipping underneath
the distant sea, and you beside me,

mumbling, This is how the sky will look
when we are gone. As if all that mattered
was that it did:

an endless rush of swallows
dragging  shadows across the perfect quiet,
until there was  nothing,

finally,  but my hand
brushing slowly across your hair.
It was April. It was the argument

we had lost.
Not even touch prepared us
finally, for the silence

of a body standing deep inside the fields,
listening to the little ivories of fescue
rising up,  lying down, in wind.

On  Whatever Form the Past Assumes Waiting for Us to Enter

Each evening, the pond draws in its breath of koi

and lets it out as  stars and streetlights.
Memory pools in the yard's dark  fjords,

while beyond us, tractors stand in fields
like sentries, waiting for deep  night
to come alive.

The corn splits and shreds its silk.

My father calls from across the country
to catalogue the towns, the friends,
he is losing to  the  past.

A hunger not  unlike hurt
gathers the fabled bodies, stony and patient

as  statuary,  as the delicate hands
that  braid an hour into a life

in the blackest  halls of shrubbery,

all those mythic ears pricked to water,
the youngest child stepping outside before bed,
certain she has seen something

beneath the five cypresses, everything
suddenly poured inot stillness, everything


I wrote this a couple of months ago, never got around to doing anything with it.

finding the quiet

finding the quiet
is what writing a poem 
is about
for me
not complete quiet

like a mixture of quiet
and mice chuckling over
their cheese

which is why
a lot more poetry isn't written;
that amalgamation of quiet and chuckling
not so easy to find 

I have been sometimes
to  find in this place
that kind of potent fusion

but not today
for there is not quiet,
just hairy people having
a bad beginning
to a sad day
amid background  retching
of mice upchucking
spoiled cheese...

a day when writing poetry
is like betting on a 
three-legged racehorse

if you're not in for  the struggle,
you might as well take up

Next, Bernice Zamora, with four short  poems from her book, Releasing Serpents. The book, her first, was published in 1994 by Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingue.

Born in 1938, Zamora  has  been described as one of the most important poets of the Chicano movement  of the 1960s and 1970. She received a BA from Southern Colorado State University and a Ph.D. from Stanford. She has taught at Santa Clara University since 1990.

It  seems unusual for a poet of her  history and standing,  but I couldn't find a photo of her. Instead, this is a photo of her books.

El Burrito Cafe

Through the swinging doors
That lead to your kitchen,
I watch you taste
The menudo you
Prepare for drunks.
Somehow, Augustina
Godinez, the title
Chef does not suit
Your position.


at the crossroads
a guitarist winks
to the sun
through trees
asks a squatted
What color are morning reflections?
each calls  the other

State Street

It  is morning
that cradles the
carriage of a
waning Mexican
and his black young bride;
opium age
gauze his vision from
twisted legs and
fallen arches
of her  stumped feet.

Tottering, arm-in-arm
the mortal lovers move
toward Mitzey's Bar.


I accept your proposal,
And it doesn't matter
That you are an undertaker.
Do you mind that I am
a midwife?

This fella hangs his work at the coffeehouse off and on.

the artist

I know a fella

an artist
who's had some dark and bitter

but these days
he walks
through the sweet glow
of a sun-shining

he has
a pencil-thin mustache
like a Mexican movie star from

and he has a girlfriend
who likes it

and he paints

The next short poems are by Ted Kooser, winner of a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and previous Poet Laureate off the United States. The poems are taken from his book  Delights & Shadows, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2004.


After the funeral, the mourners gather
under the rustling churchyard maples
and talk softly, like clusters of leaves.
White shirt cuffs and collars flash in the shade:
highlights on deep green water.
They came this afternoon to say goodbye,
but now they keep  saying hello  and hello,
peering into each other's faces,
slow to let go of  each other's hands.

A Winter Morning

A farmhouse window far back from the highway
speaks to the darkness in a  small, sure voice.
Against this stillness, only a kettle's whisper,
and against the starry cold, one  small blue ring of flame.


It has been carefully painted
with the outlines of tools
to show us which belongs where,
auger and drawknife,
claw hammer and crosscut saw,
like the outlines of hands on the walls
of ancient caves in France,
painted with soot mixed with spit
ten thousand years ago
in the faltering firelight of time,
hands borrowed to work on the world
and never returned.

Here's another breakfast observational.

even grandmas

Jerry Lee from the speaker
singing about 
his Great  Balls of Fire

at the ice machine, gray flowered dress
like my old grandma used to wear
40 years ago,pearls,gray hair tightly coiffed,
gray eyes behind little rimless glasses,
hopping and bopping to the music, head bobbing,
shoulder, hips swaying
side to side...

she and Jerry Lee,
they remember the old days,
and the great fiery balls
and hot nights under a full summer
moon - A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On
and how they would  both love
to revisit that bright moon
and do the shaking
all over again
and again...


it's true,
even grandmas have a past to remember
and pine for, and some
old grandpas

This poem is by Susan Griffin, from her book Like the Iris of an Eye, published by Harper & Row in 1976.

Born in 1943, Griffin, poet, writer and playwright, describes herself as an eco-feminist writer.

This Enemy

I hate
this enemy
who has killed
most of my family
half of everyone I've loved
part of me.
I meet
it  walking
in the face of a
man  hurrying.
He is too
busy to
see, his eyes
my Grandmother,
kept a diary
where she wrote
each cay,
what was bought &
sold, got done,
said and promised.
I  looked at
her things
when she was
dead. she was
a good child
even when no one
came to see her  being good.
The bureau was clean and
all the family portraits
neatly framed .
Grandfather, who had died,
posing in his handsome youth,
his pocketknife placed tenderly
by his likeness.
What was this gesture when
his life was every day, she made clear,
a burden to her?
We build buildings
and nothing more.
The steady hammering
of progress is so loud
the thought I had
which caused a great rush down my belly through
my heart,
a softness letting in the sweet blue
sky was forgotten.
This enemy
grew up with me.

About my star-traveling friend.

alternate universe

a night of heavy rain leaves
the morning fresh
as the new-washed bed sheets
drying on my mother's clothesline

a steady north wind
blows off someone's mountain
a thousand miles away
and the dog
stands still and alert
facing north, her nose
twitching and dancing as she sucks in
a universe of new smells
like the stars in the
midnight sky

I stand with her, wait
for her to complete her galactic
survey, before
we move


 Here are two short poems by Anne Sexton, from her book, To Bedlam and Part Way Back. The book was published in 1960 by Houghton.

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1967, Sexton suffered from severe mental illness most of her life and began writing at the suggestion of her therapist. Born in 1928, she died by suicide in 1974.


off her arms, this was her sin:
where the wood berries bin
of forest was new and full,
she crept out by its tall
posts, those wooden legs,
and heard the sound of wild pigs

calling and did not wait nor care.
The leaves wept in her hair
as she sank to a pit of needles
and twisted out the ivyless
gate, where the wood berries bin
was full and a pig came in

Noon Walk on the Asylum Lawn

The summer sun ray
shifts through a suspicious tree.
though I walk through the valley of the shadow
It sucks the air
and looks around for me.

the grass speaks.
I hear  green chanting all day.
I will fear no evil, fear no evil
The blades extend
and reach my way.

The sky breaks.
It sags and breathes upon my face.
in the presence of mine enemies, mine enemies
The world is full of enemies.
There is no safe place.

I've felt this way in the past, but not without a whole lot of  drinking before.


took a couple of pills last night, dumbstruck  welcome stretch
for joint pain,
hoping to get a good night's sleep
and I  did and a good
a day of sleep

my mind  wiped
like a desert stretching,
the flat unbroken by even an occasional
sand dune to catch the eye
to say
look at me, no cactus reaching
for the sun and sky, no snakes, no
little lizards, not even tiny sand fleas
to jump and wave, to make my brain
scratch, nothing...

I know somewhere  
this great desert is my mind
this morning
there must be mountains
and forests and rabbits and squirrels
and a great waving  plain
where deer and antelope play,
such beauty there is I'm sure
that might lubricate my brain,
get my sand-in-the-gears doldrums
out of the way
so that the beauties I know are still  there
can  present themselves to me
lead me like Moses
across this pharmaceutical desert...

but Moses is off somewhere
to a burning brush, carving little stone love letters
to  Jehovah's witnesses,
leaving me here
nothing to show  for  getting of this bed
which I'm thinking I might as well
go back

This poem is by D.A. Powell, taken from his book, Cocktails,  published in 2004 by Graywolf Press.

Born in Georgia in 1963, Powell received his BA from Sonona State University and an MFA at the Iowa Writer's Workshop. He has taught at a number of universities, including, since 2004, the University of San Francisco. He has received many awards and honors for his work.

[every man needs a buddy. who'll do]
             Making Love (1982, Arthur Hiller,  dir.)

every man needs a buddy.         who'll do
when the wife has gone to the in-laws

the evening had already lowered.          he crossed
his legs in the manly way: outside

kids who could have been his yelled
"you're out."      and "no sir!"

eddie's two-bit country-singer looks:not usual
dish of ice cream.       and since he's mom's best  friend's
live-in's daughter's hubbie.         the danger quickens

in the shed behind the natatorium:     everyone knows
the device.         a meeting with the gardener's son

his voice rises and trembles:     a steel guitar
the song of inalimental marriage.       he slobbers

on the part of me that is not woman.        his  throat
an undergarment:     silky and inviting

"man o man  o god o man"     no confusion
about gender      or the home he boomerangs to:
the good she who holds his place at supper

a man returns to his wife.    I understand the geometry
this is no equilateral triangle:    compliments are exchanged

feather river honkytonk:  in the back row I wait
so any life elapses under just such conditions:

no holidays       no home.       relegated to odd nights
the front seat of his car in lieu of the conjugal bed

he will never take his boots off

    *     *     *     *

"the act," he says.     meaning his career.

This is one of my poem-a-day poems. After I finished I realized I had written essentially the same poem ten years ago, a better poem then in only four lines.

watercolor city

heavy rain
since very early this morning,
streets flooded,
flash flood watch for the rest of he day

the streets run deep,
pounded by rain that leaves splash circles
like rocks thrown into a lake,  splash by splash
merging into a roiling river

and I look  out on it all through the coffeehouse
wrap-around windows

glass streaked and through the rivulets
the running lights of watercolor

Here's Lorna Dee Cervantes, the last poem for the week, from her book From the Cables of  Genocide; Poems on Love and  Hunger. The book was published Arte Publico Press in 1991.

Night Stand

"Onions, Lettuce, leeks, broccoli,
garlic, cantaloupe, peaches, plums..."

The man  whose work is hard
slides onto my glistening
as a bass wielding the sheen
I'm mirrored with when  I
step out of the bath.
He wears the patch the sun
has x-rayed to his chest.
He's the color of work.
I'm the color of  reading.
I hold my sembradoe
under the august calabasas
of his arms.As first
light drifts through gauze
I have eyes the half wild
know with:  half bitch,
half wold; here I am
in the divisions,
extinctual as a missing
lynx. Its a foreign well
I  drag my sullen bucket to -
in a western bar on a frontage
road  where we recognize the past
and find we have escaped the thing
which in the night would eat us.

We are gouged by the machinery,
we fill the holes with fire.
We pull the pails another sloshing
day up through the cracks in our
overdue finality. He is wearing
hundred dollar shoes, wool slacks,
linen. He's making better money
now filling holes and digging.
A better life for less is lost.

 But of  the dirt where I was born
still tamped beneath my feet, if
the concrete avalanche of progress
hadn't filled my love and the
rivers of my youth hadn't iced me
into middle  age, I might have
stayed. But no
one stays.

His touch is like a man's
despite his ge. His Moorish
fur, his Saturn eyes, his sadness
says: although he may not know
beyond the suicide of soul
the poor possess, the threshing race
machines, the names of Goering,
Himmler,Buchenwald, Farben...
and all the written fables
spell for us - this he knows -
Esta gente no entiende nada.

And I - am the way I had intended.
I've come to what I wanted.
And here, writing, wearing things
the discarded dead have
bought and sold: we know.

That's it for this week.

stop the world

"Stop the World,
I Want to Get Off"

when's that from, the 60s, maybe
the 50s, maybe from a plaiy
or a movie


at the time I thought it was
pretty silly

but after the past twelve months
I am more and more beginning to see
the wisdom of it...

in fact,
I'm doing it right now

and it works...

I'm feeling better

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 a not so 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 1:42 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

glad to see yr black and whites
the photo under the ted kooser poem a wonder
ted kooser is sappy and inconsequential- in my opinion
yr poem - what r u packing...
could i get a job as a bathroom attendant in texas?
how will they enforce any of this?
it makes the whole state (u excluded) look ridic ulkous

at 1:44 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

does any one beside me comment?
i tell u poetry is so nitchey- it bothers me
lately i have been blocked from posting on the poetry foundation site
i send messages to many poets that their "poetry" is actually prose
for that i have been blocked

at 2:22 PM Blogger Here and Now said...

could be,dave, that many like me consider your frequent comment that "is/could be prose" is about the least consequential thing that could possibly said about any poem. it misses the point of poetry.

could be others are less forgiving than me.

at 2:23 PM Blogger Here and Now said...

oh, also, thanks for the comment regarding the photos - i thought you might like them.

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Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
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Vienna's Gallery
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Beau Blue
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Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
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Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
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Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
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Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet