Little Red Pills   Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Since this is a short post, I'm using  just my own stuff, new  and old.

The old pieces are from my book of travel poems,  Places and Spaces. The book was inspired  by the work of turn of the century Swiss/French poet and journalist Blaise Cendrars who traveled the world sending poetic reports back to his newspaper about the places he went, the things he saw and the people he met. He was a wonderful traveler with an appreciative eye and cosmopolitan appreciation of  every new thing and new culture he visited. I love his poems.

At the last minute I added a few poems by Blaise Cendrars just to show what inspired me.

My book covers  five journeys in five long  poems. The format I used was different from Cendrars' with prosy sections that covered the actual process of the journey with more poetic sections reflecting on what I saw. In posting them here I left out the prosy, which leaves the lyric parts out of context, but I'm thinking the context isn't that important if the lyric is good enough. Sometimes my wife  traveled with me. But always with me my most patient travel companion, my dog Reba.

My photos are some fooling around things I did several years  ago.  After a couple of black and white posts, I'm thinking  color might be  welcome. And, if nothing else,  colorful is what these are.


slept late today

from Places and  Spaces
"Silver City and Beyond"

let there be light
from Places and  Spaces
"Silver City and Beyond"

and I don't know what to do  about  it

from Places and  Spaces
"Sleeping with Andy Devine"
in memoriam

from Places and  Spaces
"Sleeping  with Andy Devine"
for a sweet  moment

from Places and  Spaces
"To the Rockies"

only what the trickster tells us

from Places and  Spaces
"On the Cusp of Confederate Winter"

so, pray for rain

from Places and  Spaces

Blaise Cendrars

from Blaise Cendrars Complete Poems
The Red-Crested Adder
Japanese House
Little Garden
Rock Garden
Light and Delicate
Fishy Cove
Golden Gate


on one side  of the road  

My first new poem of the week.

slept late today

slept late today

thought I might just skip
the day altogether
but afflicted from earliest
with start-what-you-finishitis
here I
having nothing to write about
until just this  second
when a young fella with a red beard
hanging down to the middle of his chest
walked in
reminding me
of an older  fella on a motor cycle
I saw a couple of days ago
his long gray beard
blown back by the wind
over both shoulders, his beard
flying in the wind over both shoulders,
his long gray hair flowing
between the two  wings of his beard,
an old man on his "hog,"
a long-trail rider,
refugee from the sixties,
an "Easy Rider" rider
and whereas
the old fella has the creds required
for his appearance,
the young guy looks suspiciously
like a renaissance poetry post-doc major
from the university,  riding off to nerd adventure
in his 2014 Chevrolet SUV,
seat belt with all  
due diligence

The last of five poems in my book,  Places and Spaces, is titled "Silver City and Beyond" covering a trip to Silver City in New Mexico. Silver City turned out not to be much, but I  did  make  a longer loop up to Albuquerque and back to San Antonio. My trips are usually not about the destination but the drive getting there so this one, a spur of the moment drive, turned out well.

     First, the long drive, over 500 miles, to El Paso.

stone-wrapped hills
to long-stretched fingers
pink Chihuahua Desert

the sky,  blue on  blue
on deep ocean blue sky,
to jagged clouds
dark and sharply racing


on the ridge
a line of dead trees,
oak blight killing scrub oak
all around

reminding me of a picture
I  once saw
of a lone tree,
bare and burned
among  the ruins  at

these trees like that,
bare limbs
reaching up, grasping
at the sky

in the pasture below
a mare and her foal eat grass
generous and green


    The geology of the highway blasted through a million years of limestone hills

near the top,
a woman and a man  passed,
nearly human,
and down here, by my  feet
a fish
crawled awkwardly
from the sea


    Still on Interstate-10.

a cloud billows up
from the Chisos Basin

like a  white rose
opening to the sun

A little bit of an astronomy wowser.

let there be  light

astronomers find a huge stellar void
near the center of the Milky Way

a vast nothing extending 8,000
light years from the center of the galaxy

nothing there,
nothing even left
of something that might
have been there in some unimaginable past

a cosmic bubble of nothing,  a cosmos
where creation failed

where even the first order
of the first  hour of 
first day failed...

"let there be light"

and there was none,
nor any of the  creation
that might have come  with
and from the  light that never

imagine, if  you can,
the dark

From my eBook Places and  Spaces, still on  the fifth poem, "Silver  City and Beyond."

    Still on I-10, past El Paso, next  stop Silver City. 

green desert
all the way, a rainy year
the stone-hard truth
below the green

smudge of mountains
against the horizon,left
and right, front and rear -

New Mexico a  state of
and deserts and neither ever
very far from wherever you
might be


    Disappointed with Silver City, on to Albuquerque, a city I came to love in 1964 as a Peace Corps trainee at the  University of New Mexico.

three horse
a green pasture,
grass high,
up to  their knees

in single file
one after another

like carousel horses
with somewhere to go


    Two days in Albuquerque, then to home, a scenic route through a mountain range that turned out more  primitive than I expected, adding four hours to the day's drive.

a very large buck
and 25 to 30 doe and fawns,
fluffy white and brown stub-tails
in the wind,
all together as a group,
coming down the mountain
in great bounds,  over the  road
then  back up on the other side
like winged  creatures who,
though fate or folly,
lost their wings
but still they try to fly, almost succeeding
with each great leap

    Passing through a burned out section of  forest.

pine  and aspen tall and limb-less,
black as the coal
they have become while they still
reach for the sky

I stop and  listen to  the wind,
all around deep-forest quiet
but for the wind passing
through these poor standing-dead

ghost whispers

I can't be the only one who feels this way.

and I don't know what to do about  it

to the  radio on the way downtown

the classical music station
on the fritz

too  early
for rock and roll
or jazz

so it's twenty-seven blocks
of PBS news of the day
by god
it is the usual horrible day

bombed, then starved
at Aleppo,
drought in Asia
famine in Africa
insane politics in the USA
and Clint Eastwood comes out for Trump
and goddam, Clint quit talking crazy
stuff and make another great movie
and the icecap
is melting
and glaciers
and the earth
and my feet 
and my back  
and I'm going bald
even faster
than the polar ice cap  is  melting 
and men and women and children are being murdered in Aleppo
and I don't know what to do about

Leaving the Silver City poem behind, the next excerpts are from an earlier poem about a drive from San Antonio to Lake Tahoe. The title of the poem, "Sleeping with Andy Devine," comes from a night spent in Kingman, Nevada at a hotel on Andy Devine Trail.


    Going anywhere from central Texas means one of three routes (unless you want  to go south to  Mexico). Since I usually go west when I travel,  the trip always begins with a day's travel from San Antonio to El Paso, then across the state line into  New Mexico.

on the right
a  Rio Grande River delta valley,
green and cultivated fields,
pecan orchards,
church steeples,
yellow school buses
red lights
on two-lane

hanging over all this



a hawk
dead in the middle of the road,
a casualty
of flying too low
flying too slow

a single wind
like a flag  stands
above the  mess of bloody
mangled meat and bone

brown and white feathers
in the wind


nearing Gallup,
I reach  the snow level,
patches first,
mostly in shadowed areas
where the day's sun
could not reach

then more and more
until  the desert is covered in white,
a thin  layer,
little individual sprigs
of desert grass  poke through
here and there,
like Kilroy,
with a really bad haircut.

    Then across the state line into Arizona

whip across the road
in front of me,
chasing the wind,
never catching it...

I've known people like this,
blown always
by capricious winds,
never  finding  rest


I see  a buffalo
in it's shaggy brown
eating green sprouts
between giant red boulders


dense white clouds
cover the horizon ahead -

or dust storm,
not what I'd like to see...

sleet -
the strong winds
even stronger -
throwing ice  pellets
like BB shot

    Lunch in Flagstaff then back on the road 

light snow

moving on
through the national forest
and between the mountains
the snow gets much worse,
blowing hard across the road

the sky closes in,
and the temperature drops
to near freezing

    After ten miles of heavy snow

the clouds clear,
the temperature goes  back up,
and fat driving snowflakes
hitting my windshield
turn to fat  splashing raindrops

    Approaching Winslow, a stop  for coffee

I find  Mojo's
and a skinny barista with more tattoos
than lots of fellas have skin,
and in the corner
a little group  of old cowboys
sitting around a table,
some just listening,
two singing
and picking their guitars-
country ballads, Marty Robbins
and the like, and some
of their own composing...

"I once loved a girl in
Albuquerque," sang one...

"I wanted to be a cowboy,"
sang the other
as I was leaving,
"but I  was always afraid
of cows"

Damn it, it's hot!

in memoriam

another day
and the heat and humidity
steals your breath away

I've spent time where it's  hot,
Saudi Arabia, Pakistan's western  frontier,
a dry heat that even in triple digits
is never as debilitating as this... 

I need to walk my dog
and I don't  want to
and neither does she

but  the morning necessities
are necessary
and so, walk

if you never hear from me
know the dog and I never
made it back

a poem
and dog  treat
somewhere in the shade
in memory of the
both of us

(she prefers the liver flavor
and I'll be happy in my oh so cool grave
with any kind of poem - even a tiny
haiku will do for me)

Continuing excerpts from my book of travel poem, Places and Spaces. From the poem "Sleeping with Andy Devine."

    Across Nevada to Reno from Arizona.

snow clouds
over mountain peaks
on both sides  of  me

like buttermilk
over hot  cornbread

light snow
dusts desert stones
and plants
with points of silvery

the snow falls
and soon they all
sport white

they all disappear
under the white sea

a herd of horses,
twenty or thirty of them,
chase and play

in a field of snow


I crest
the last of this latest string
of mountains
and laid out before me
a vast valley,
a basin surrounded
by peaks
covered white
like a fresh  tablecloth
at a New York


    A night in Reno, picked up my wife at the  airport, and  then to  Lake Tahoe

from my tenth floor window,
I watch snow clouds
cross the north mountains,
then begin  a slow
drift across water
toward us

the "little cat feet"
over cold water


    Walking my dog at a lakeside park

we are not  the first
to break  the snow, little
duck tracks,  triangles
divided by a line
from point to base,
and tracks of some bird
of a larger sort, tridents
in the snow

a white sailboat sits
half hidden  in the

there yesterday
as well

    Several  days in Lake Tahoe, then to home via California

white-robed mountains,
the virgin brides
of eastern California

San Bernardino,
and the car-choked
debris of Los Angeles

to the dry brown
hills of north Arizona

bright yellow
brushy and thick,
climb the hills like
the rising drab and dreary

    Back do the people and places days of home

where days
are measured
not by calendars
and dates
and miles  passed
and to-dos done,
but by the passing of the sun,
east to west,
and cycles of the moon,
full to dark,
and by poems written
and quiet moments
when a contemplative life
not a waste of time
but a harvesting
of the fruits of  time

 It  was like a sweet dream on a cozy winter night.

for a sweet moment

for a sweet moment
there was a sense
of rain coming,
the smell of rain
blowing in from the coast,
southeasterly winds
with the ghost sounds
of seagulls begging,
hazes slipping around the tall buildings
downtown like a gray snake
undulating through dry grass
and I could feel the faint wet
of mist on my face as I walked
the dog...

then the sun came out
and the wind died
and the ghost cries of  seagulls
became the slight scratch
of the flag clasps scraping
on the flag pole at the
post  office...

and it is mid-day August
in South Texas

Another  trip and another poem from my book, Places and Spaces, this one past our  usual destination of Durango in the southern part of Colorado, all the way to Denver.The poem title is "To the Rockies"

As is our usual arrangement, I, who loves to see the sights along the way,  drive, while my wife flies.

    Beginning as always when heading in that direction, the day-long  drive from San Antonio to El Paso. 

a palomino
with twin colts -
gold dancing
on a green field

a gathering
of buzzards, fifteen at least,
on a little hill on the side of the road

so unusual
to see  them together  like  this
with no carrion
in sight


the Iraan/Sheffield exit,
I look south,
toward the Big Bend Park,
the Chisos mountains  -
just a smudge  on the horizon


the mesa,
formed  by wind and rain
for thousands of years
to resemble a breast
complete with erect nipple
kissed by the blue West Texas sky

    On a long and desolate road  in New Mexico

the wind blowing hard,
after about 40 miles,
I look behind,
a long, straight road
gradually rising

little  twisters cross brown fields
on both sides of the highway,
most throwing up  clouds of dust
that move with with wind, but one,
a smaller one, forms a perfect funnel
about five  feet across, keeping
its shape up to a hundred or more
feet above the ground

a tumbleweed the size of a beach ball
blows in front  of me
seems to pace the car for several seconds
then crosses the road


    Through New Mexico and into Colorado 

further north,
as we cross into Colorado,
the  winter grass is almost white,
the almost white
of sand on gulf beaches,
broken here  and there
by red barns
like red umbrellas
on a vast beach that has no sea


    In Denver, finding as always, a friendly coffeehouse

from a  coffeehouse window
I see a small boy
climb into the back seat
of his family's sedan

closes his door

a conversation with  his mother
in the   front seat

a moment passes-
the car does not move

the boy's door opens again
and a snowball drops
from the car


    The fifth day 

the sun rises
awakens a blue
crystal sky,
the Rockies,
covered in snow
from foothills
to peaks,
in their white


    On the sixth day, Dee back in the air, flying home, me, in  my car,  driving.

twelve  bison
in a line across
a snowy slope,
each following the tail
of the other -
at the head of this
strung-out regiment, a bull,
the leader,
knows  where to go
and when to go there

and two or three miles
down the road,
elk scattered among
a stand of pines,
pushing aside the snow
and pine needles
to graze


at ten thousand feet,
the melt
sloshes down the rocky
mountain side
in a torrent

at  eleven thousand,
thick icicles, long,
long as a tall  man,
hang  from overhangs
on the canyon walls,


    Passing Silverton high in the mountains

at the crest
a  big horn sheep
stands by the road
and watches me pass


    And finally in El Paso, waking early in the morning for the last  day's  drive.

deep desert
through the black
sky night

the air is desert
chill -

a pink thread
on the east horizon
suggests the coming
of a rising sun

the pink thread
widens -
a shadowing light
spreads -

from the north foothills
a coyote

From last week, not feeling of such a generous spirit at the time.

only what the trickster tells us

found no truth or beauty
not expecting to run across
any today

sounds a lot like
real life
from which truth and beauty 
has never been promised

so  why do we spend
so  much of our life
expecting it?

the ancients knew
better -
the gods were about
war and greed and lust
and such, and that
any god
who claimed such rare things
as truth or beauty
probably the Trickster god...

most of the gods are gone now,
done away by realities
they lost the power to manipulate

except for the Trickster
who found a place for himself
in advertising and political consulting,
making him now,
the survivor  god, who,  retaking
the real of gods, has made himself
all gods' king, ruling the mortal kind
who  are lost in the dark without
a god to light their way. a god of mortal
greed, partaking daily of their obeisance
as they  kneel and pray before his
electronic  demigods...

so what do we know
of truth and beauty, I ask...

only what the trickster
tells us,
I  answer

Several years ago we decided to take a trip along the Blue  Ridge Parkway. As  usual we didn't do it the easy way. I drove and Dee flew. This involved a trip through the South for me and then up to Columbus to  pick her up. I don't remember why Columbus, but it made sense  at  the time. From Columbus we  went east to Roanoke where we  spent two nights, then began the drive on the Parkway. Bad  weather  followed us all the way and we ended up having to go  around the mountains and straight home, again through the South. It was a beautiful drive all the way, for me alone at first, then with  the two of us.

This poem from the  Places and Spaces eBook is titled "On the Cusp of Confederate Winter"

    Normally my journeys begin westward, for this one I headed north and east, through Dallas and into Arkansas. 

a pick-up
pulling a horse trailer,
alone in the back
one horse,
a palomino,
golden mane and tail
and eyelashes
in the wind,
brown eyes watching
as I pass


a  hawk
slips slowly from the air
to  land on a fence post,
sees all with yellow eyes
that view all that moves
as potential


orange sky
like mist
through a forest
of orange leaves

lakes and ponds
and waterfowl

a crane passes over the road,
long neck outstretched
wings spread,
a dark shadow
a nearly dark sky

    Passing into Arkansas as the sun sets

red sky
in my rearview,
the road like a tunnel
through the dark,
tall, thick forest
on either side

    A night in Little Rock, then on to Nashville

I wanted to write about
the forest,
the colors, gold and yellow
and the red-brown color the Crayola people
used to call
Indian Red

and in  the middle
of all that gold and yellow
and red-brown Indian whatever,
some low brush that's flaming bright red
scattered among the trees
like little fires
burning in the woods

and I wanted to write about
the flock of ducks that flew over
in perfect V formation,
near enough to the ground
so that each duck could be seen
and counted as an individual
close enough to the ground
that I could  hear the flapping
of their wings
and the mutter-quacks among the ranks

and I wanted to write about
the hills, reminding me
of the hill country of home,
but soft hills, none of the  hard face
of caliche and cactus and mesquite,
just soft,
forest hills, trunks climbing close

I wanted to write
about the sun this morning
and how it lit the colors of the trees
and covered the sky
from mid-afternoon, bringing
shadow and mystery
and darker colors of night

    The above was about my irritation after two days on the road without seeing a national newspaper. 

    After a night without a newspaper, the next leg of the trip takes me through Knoxville to Charleston, West  Virginia.

the colors now
are mostly shades of red and brown


on a hill
surrounded on four sides by forest
a horse enjoys a pasture
all his own


in a dell
green as spring,
a small church,
white clapboard with a white wooden
rising twice the church's height

on a hill behind the church
rows of tombstones
in rank and file,
the hillside like steps
to an afterlife that,
if we are lucky, would look
exactly like this little green  dell
and this little white church

    And into West Virginia

I stop at a park
just across the state line
so the dog  can walk and pee

just across the highway,
three cows
line a ridge, dark cut-outs
against the sky


the road rises in front of me,
bordered,as always, by red  and brown
at the top
a silver-dollar  moon
on a pale blue  sky

    After a day's drive from Charleston, West Virginia, Columbus, Ohio 

another dark day,
gray and overcast  again,
rain hanging  back
like the word that gets caught
on the tip of your tongue,
there, but not there,
waiting in the wings,
waiting for its cue
to bring on the storm

    After a rest day in Columbus, we start back the way I came, through West Virginia, to Roanoke, Virginia

when I pass this way
two days ago, it  was dead-black dark
and I couldn't see anything but the moving island
my headlights threw ahead of  me

today, I appreciate the three covered hills and vistas
as we curve around the mountain side

through the rain has stopped,
most of the color  on the hills is gone
and what remains
is draped in drab by the overcast sky

    As we pass into Virginia the rain stops and the temperature dips as fog rises from the hollows.

a  white house
on a hill
surrounded by leaf-bare trees
and behind them,
showing bits and pieces
through the fog

along the road,
short, thick-foliaged pines
stand,crowded side by side,
like spectators
standing shoulder to  shoulder

watching  a passing parade

or, I think of the hundreds of clay soldiers
lined in rank after rand,
buried with the Chinese emperor

fog drifts around  them
and in that shifting fog, the soldiers
seem to move,
coming alive while their emperor
lies still as dust

    A couple of days in Roanoke to rest and see the sights, then on to the Blue Ridge Parkway, with a side-trip to Jefferson's other plantation, "Poplar Forest"

from his grand veranda
Jefferson could look down on the nearest
of his 4,000 plus acres

large poplar
yellow leaves
still holding on
despite the lateness
of the season,
a gentle  slope of close-cut grass,
a creek  running fast,
another pasture, tobacco fields,
in Jefferson's time a crop he despised
but planted anyway
because he needed the cash,
a forest of poplar trees broken
by a winding crushed-shell drive
around the side,
and in the back, slave quarters,
not for the cultivated eyes
of the gentlemen and ladies
of the Commonwealth of Virginia

    Done with Roanoke and Jefferson's plantation, we start the Blue Ridge Parkway, 233 miles to Asheville, following the bony ribs of the Appalachians into North Carolina

through  the curves
and thick forests
of poplar  and pine,
leaves falling like
golden snow,
we begin to climb


a half-dozen
wild turkey
along the roadside,
by our passing

a fat  deer
I see ahead
leaps across the road
and through the trees

    The weather bad when we started, a storm follows us, gaining ground, getting  closer with every stop  we make to enjoy the view, take  pictures. Eventually the storm catches us

we are enfolded
by the  rain
and the fog
and the forest all around us


grand vistas
across green and gold hills around  us,
cleared pastures,
little villages
with  little white  houses
and broken down barns
and church steeples
and yellow school buses
parked behind  schools  closed
for the weekend

the temperature
at 3,700 feet
is 37 degrees,
a fierce cold wind
blows through the wooded valleys
and across the high  crests,
so strong
it billows my Levi jacket
out from my back  like blue wings
almost lifting me over the edge
the chill factor is in the teens

    A night in Asheville, the weather getting worse overnight, heavy snow in the mountains and we are convinced to leave the Parkway for a faster  route through  Alabama

I expected
cotton fields
but found forests instead,
with all  the colors of fall,
turning more and more green
as pines begin to infiltrate,  then
tall thin giants
straight as fence  posts
with a bushy crown at the very top

    Passing through Alabama and Mississippi for a night in Louisiana, then the final leg home through Houston, 11 days in all, nine states, crossing the Mississippi River twice

a beautiful, broad river,
like the Grand Canyon,
a tale that lives up to the telling

    And home, and the animals welcome us.

Reba pees on her favorite tree,
Peanut pees on herself
as she usually does when excited,
and Cat  fusses,
wants us all to  go to bed
so she can sleep in my lap

Felling  better this day last week  than the day before, my poem for the day reflecting some hope (though not fully convinced)

so, pray for rain

day starts
with the sun blanked
by an overcast sky, rain expected
for several  days beginning
this afternoon

feeling better about the world
and my fellow inhabitants
as a consequence

my breakfast diner
had their Pandora tuned
to fifties rock and roll
(the real stuff)
and my leg is still
an hour later

an early morning dose 
of Little Richard and Jerry Lee
and Chuck and the Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl
will do that to  you

I expect the day will get worse
before the rain gets here
to save it,
but knowing the rain
is going to get here will help me

the rain doesn't get  here
in which case I'll be back tomorrow
with further damnation
of everything earthly and

pray for rain

Last from my Places and Spaces eBook are excerpts from the poem  "Ruidoso" - a poem about - surprise - a trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico. It was a short trip for no  good reason except that one of my fellow Peace Corps trainees at the University of New Mexico in 1964 was from Ruidoso and I had never been there. So, made the drive  to  see it and everything in between. As with most of my travel, it was  just me and my dog and regular travel companion, Reba.

    One of the few trips west that didn't require a first stop in El Paso. Instead straight up  to New  Mexico past Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

it's off  to the mountains, but
before the mountains there's
a half day of driving, San Antonio to Fort Stockton,
through the dry limestone hills and
brown grasses of the Southwest Texas plains

    Actually turned out there's a lot more  of Pecos which I saw on a later trip. But this trip  there  wasn't much to see or admire 

Pecos, Texas,
poor little Pecos, sinking
beneath the weight of the 21st century
that has no place for dirty little towns stuck
alone on the dry West Texas  plains


an hour north of Pecos,
a congregation of buzzards,
gathered in the middle of the highway
in their Sunday-best black, our scavenger
cousins, dependent, like us
on meat killed by others


no sign of life in Olna,
but a single tarantula making
its creepy, crawly way
across the highway, a cheering
sight, this fuzzy black
extinct now where I grew up,
along with the horned toad  and the
red-wing blackbird, a survivor here
where  little else finds a home

    A night in Ruidoso, finding  nothing of  much interest, head out to drive,  hoping to find something to  make the travel  worth while, heading up a gradually rising mountain

a  soft  stealthiness
to the climb
for those familiar
with the more rugged horizon
further north

    Passing Mescalero

across the road
from the Tribal Center
2 Apache boys play
King of the Hill,
over and over each other
in the rose-colored dust

stylized art
on concrete  abutments
along the highway tell
the tribe's

which of the stories
do the boys


the down slope
from Mescalero to Tularosa
opens up  between wooded mountain sides
to the desert below,
desert grasses so dry
they are white
in the morning sun,
like sand,
like a wide ribbon of white sand
between the mountains


a spike of interest
as I pass the Oscuro Bombing Range

but nothing  blows us

the Spanish word for dark or dim

maybe something did blow up
and I just didn't


    Valley of Fire, a wide crater-valley created by an ancient  volcano, leaving a jumble of large, black lava boulders

a vision of hell
when the fire goes out


driving through Capitan,
along a tree-shaded main street,
and old man
riding his horse to collect his mail


    On the way home, back the way I came

meanwhile, a
single deer,
a doe,
grazing  on a green hillside


the sky clear
but all around
dark clouds
lightning flashing
within the clouds,
blossoming pools of
soft white light through dark

in the east, a small
break in the clouds,
like a knothole  in a fence
and through it, the peach-orange
glow of the rising sun

I  mentioned earlier how my book of travel poems was inspired by the travel poems of Blaise Cendrars, adventurer, soldier, journalist, novelist, poet and world traveler.

Born in 1887 in Switzerland as Frederick-Louis Sauser, he took the name Cendrars and became a French citizen in 1916 to fight with the French in World War I, where he lost his left arm. He was a writer of very great influence in the European modernist movement of his time. This description from his biography in Wikipedia summarizes what I love about his poetry, especially his travel  poems: "Spontaneity, boundless curiosity, a craving for travel and immersion in actualities were his hallmarks both in his life and his art." Cendrars died in 1961.

What a fascinating traveling companion he must have been.

Here are a few of his travel poems, from the collection, Blaise Cendrars, Complete Poems, published by the  University of California Press in 1992. They are from a section of the book titled "Islands."

 His work was  translated for the book by Ron Padgett.


The little port is very busy this morning
Coolies - Tagals Chinese  Malays - are unloading a big junk with a
    golden stern and sails of woven bamboo
The cargo is china from the big island of Japan
Swallows' nests harvested in the caves of Sumatra
Sea cucumbers
Ginger preserves
Pickled bamboo shoots
All the merchants are very excited
Mr. Noghi pretentiously dressed in an American-made checked suit
    speaks very fluent English
Which is the language these gentlemen use in their arguments
Japanese Kanaks Tahitians Papuans Maoris and Fijians


Visit our island
It is the southernmost island of Japanese possessions
Our country isn't as well known in Europe as it should be
It merits greater attention
The fauna and flora are highly varied and have heretofore hardly been
You will find picturesque views everywhere
And in the interior
Ruins of Buddhist temples which of their type are pure marvels

The Red-Crested Adder

Using the hypodermic needle he administers several injections of
    Doctor Yesin's serum
Then he enlarges the arm wound making a cruciform incision with the
He makes it bleed
Then he cauterizes it with a few drops of lime hypochlorite

Japanese House

Bamboo stalks
Thin boards
Paper stretched across frames
There is no real heating system

Little Garden 

Lilies chrysanthemums
Cycads and banana trees
Cherry Trees in bloom
Palm trees orange trees and wonderful coconut palms loaded with fruit

Rock Garden

In a basin filled with Chinese goldfish and fish with hideous mouths
A few have little silver rings through their gills

Light and Delicate

The air is balmy
Amber musk and lemon flowers
Just being alive is true happiness


The sky and the sea
The waves come in to caress the roots off the coconut palms and the big
    tamarinds with metallic leaves

Fishy Cove

The water is so calm and so clear
In its depths you can see the white bushy coral
The prismatic sway of suspended jellyfish
The fish darting pink yellow lilac
And beneath the waving seaweed the azure sea cucumbers and the
    green and violet sea urchins

    When I was thinking of doing Cendrars, I intended to stick to little vignettes like the above. The there was a story on NPR, that touched on the wild and woolly of San Francisco during the 1849 gold rush days. The story reminded me of this piece from Cendrars as he passed through San Francisco as part of his tour of the United States, west coast to east and much in between. The gold rush days were over but the city was still famous for its wide-open ways.

Golden Gate

The old grillwork  provided a name for the establishment
Iron bars thick as a wrist which separate the drinkers from the counter
    where bottles of every kind are lined up
Back when gold fever was at its height
When women from Chile or Mexico were auctioned off right and left
    by slave traders
All the bars had grillwork like this
And the bartenders came with a drink in one hand and a pistol in the
It was not uncommon to see a killed because of a drink
It's true the grillwork has been left there for show
Just the same Chinese come in for drinks
Germans and Mexicans
And also a few Kanaks off steamboats loaded with mother-of-pearl
    copra tortoise shell
Atrocious makeup bank tellers outlaws sailors with huge hands

Here's my last poem of the week, from a morning walk last  Sunday with my dog, Bella.

on one side of the  road

on one  side of the road,
grand structures, beautiful

on the other side,
hill country brush,
so thick
no animal larger than
a car or javalina
or a snake, crawling low
through the cactus,
can pass

I can see through the brush
trees wrapped with a blue ribbon,
meaning, to the developers, spare
this tree when all else
is bulldozed away

I remember hearing one time
a bulldozer's roar
on the other side of a hill
as rough,treacherous beauty
like this was  flattened, cut down
by the bulldozer, pulling wide, sharp
blades that cut everything
to  ground level, leaving
behind green, bloody
sticks laid out flat
like a vicious storm had passed...

I admire the man-made beauty
on one side of the road
while feeling sorrowful for the natural brush
on the other side, soon to be  gone,
the rocky hills my ancestors faced
as they cleared space for their sheep
to roam, to grow fat and thick
with the crop of their wool,
the only thing they built on the hills
stone fences and small house, shelter
made from stones
cleared for their small  pastures...

all things must pass as the future
swoops in to make new on the bones
of old, happening now on my hills
so fast, the  future fearsome, fast-tracked
and efficient...

at least those who clear a path
for the future today
have learned 
to leave the 

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 5:27 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

all the graphics are copies of LOVE - who did it originally? Sister Corita?

in the 60's?

as to yr poems- if u want my comm ents on a particular one- let me know

un like m yself- i find most poets overly sensitive to criticism

if i can learn from a criticism- i welcome it

at 6:16 PM Blogger Here and Now said...

the photos are from an editing ap on where i process and store my photos. the editing option is no longer available. i did these 5 or 6 years ago.

as to comments and suggestions, i welcome them, though that doesn't necessarily me i pay any attention to them. as i mentioned elsewhere i tracked customer response to the service they were getting from my office. however unlike most such customer surveys i didn't ask people what they thought of the services, i ask how they felt about them. little response to asking people what they thought, massive response to asking how they felt. and that the kind of feedback i most enjoy about my poetry, people telling me how they felt when reading.

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