The Time of the Year for Dreaming Mountains   Wednesday, September 07, 2016

This is the time of year when I start dreaming about the two places I'd like to be in a month, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Durango, Colorado. These photos from there, except for the last one, a reminder that Texas has mountains too.

This week, library poems and my poems new and old; for  the old I pulled some of  the longer poems from my first book, Seven Beats a Second, most never used here because I've been too lazy to transcribe them when shorter poems were  available.

just as it  always might have been

Gary Blankenship
The Complete Prostitute from "Song  of Myself" 

from Seven Beats a Second
"our place in the story of space and time"  

 from Seven Beats a Second
"does he still dream"

in the darkest night

Meg Kearney
What the Dream Reveals to Him

from Seven Beats a Second   
"our place"

Edgar Lee Masters
The Circuit Judge
Hortense Robbins
"Ace" Shaw
John  Wasson

Heckle meet Jeckle

from Seven Beats a Second 
"what God  don't like"

from Seven Beats a Second
"olden times"

Gerald  Malanga 
Her Father
Sonnet to  Edgar Allan Poe


Cleatus Rattan
First Light

from Seven Beats a Second 
"slipping away"

Helena Mesa
Sway the Night

the grand tour

from Seven Beats a Second
"Texas BBQ"
from Seven Beats a Second
"when nighthawks fly in memories dark"
Deborah Bogen

the poem  that doesn't meet the test of the Tao  

Once again,  here's the first for the week.

just as it always might have been

face it,
you reach a certain age
and you're not making so many
new memories
so you start living
off the old memories
you've stored over a lifetime

then you get  even older
and start forgetting the old memories
that kept you going
for so long

what to do?

the obvious,
become a poet 
and make up  new memories
or re-create some of the old ones
lost to the rubbing rocks
of time

right now
sitting in a fresh early morning,
in the shade of  trees so  small when I planted them
that they're almost lost from time,
the trees, my trees, nurtured by my hand
in some time past, rustle slightly
in breeze sweet with a promise of rain

I re-invent this memory
of you and me,  me, in the proud flower  of my youth,
you, the dark-eyed beauty who  captured
my roving time and held it to earth,
the two  of us at the park by my house
on West Filmore, sitting on a bench by the tiny pond
at midnight, alone, lights at the tennis courts long dark,
alone, hands  and mouths in breathless

I'm sure it was all something like that
back then
and if not  back then, that hot  night
as new
just as it might have always 

This poem is not from my library, but from my poetry-friend Gary Blankenship.  I've used poems from Gary's books before. This time I have a poem from a book he has not yet published. The book-to-be is titled The Whitman Poems. The poems in the book are Gary's re-imagining characters from the seeming endless list in  Whitman's great poem Song of Myself. Whitman  is our greatest poet, in  my opinion, and Song of Myself  is his greatest poem. At first references in the poem to all these characters might seem odd, but it is a purposeful odd. The poet sings of himself in the poems and by expanding his poetic world to include all these people of his world as says all these people are a part of me and I a part of them and so I cannot sing of myself without singing of them.

I post this week, a four-part poem, Gary's  rendering of the prostitute.

The Complete Prostitute from Song of Myself


The prostitute draggles her shawl, her bonnet bobs on her tipsy and pimpled neck...

Out of a Welsh  washer
pap a lascar, navy man, or one
of a hundred other sailing types
who helped her off her knees.

Turned out on the street at  twelve
to sell my wares (at eleven I  sold
matchsticks and pansy nosegays)
by sixteen I was thoroughbred -
a theater girl with the best tricks
any gent ever bought for a sawbuck

But after regular whacks from my pimp,
the easy reach of hash, hemp and tar,
monthly busts and comped favors
to the beat cop and lockup hack,
I had the sick looks of a mum often
before I turned a drained nineteen.

The johns like the young, moppets.
I ended up on the wharf among the rats,
working stage stops until a station master's
old lady worries her Mister minds me too much
and I'm sent on down the line
from city to town to village to land
in some backwater where working girls
aren't welcome and a rail to  ride
is always ready behind the church.

That's my story, the way I've lived.
For a nickle, I'll give you the rest of it.


The crowd laughs at her blackguard oaths...

They pour out of salons and faro dens
to pack the muddy street with their jeers
as when

the congregation taunted their neighbors
before they were hung as witches

in accordance with law
the village set out to stone the sinner

Coarse men pick up clods of horse shit
to bolster their nerve as they torment the wore
as when

a mob stormed the delta after rumors, a darky
raped a farmer's daughter three counties over 

sans-culottes jeered their enemies
as their trumbrel rumbled towards the guillotine

The women look from behind fly-specked
windows,  toddlers  clinging  at their aprons,
and remember

who washed the Nazarene's feet
and dried them with her hair 

The stray dogs slink away
before they become the target


the men jeer and wink to each other

Rough men
...coarse men
men more used to the company of men
than of ladies or refined society

Long Bill
...Fat Jack O'Leary
Slim, Red and their brother-in-law, Lucky

...and ladders on their shoulders

Big Nose Romero
...George Jr. and the Mexican
Jim Bob

The names of men are legion,
the names of farmers, drovers, laborers,
...vulgar men
...rude men

Mr. Small who took his sons to the house
to  prepare them for their wives
...Tom Butcher
Reverend Billows, who whats them younger
than the house will supply

wealthy men down on the luck
men of  the verge of a good life

by their names
the men will be known

as I will be known in song
...ballad and poetry
but my name shall not be  known
except for the one the women call me
when they call their men back to their bed



Miserable! I do not laugh at your oaths nor jeer you...

...Pay me a nickel,
and I will give you the rest of my story.

Will I be the heroine in the movie that played last night -
a good-hearted hooker much loved by the town folk,
herself to love with a rambling Ranger -
mother of his child, a daughter he does not acknowledge,
eager to marry such a restless rider
though he will no marry me, a common whore?

Will I be a player in the cable series
that was dropped before out story finished -
a foul-mouthed chippie who's keen o the storekeeper
who is enamored with the drunken freight wagon driver -
a woman who has  probably never spread her legs
except when astride a stallion?

The captive wife of a Kiowa chief beyond the Platte,
permanent guest of a rancher on the Brazos,
frozen in the street  from an overdose of snow,
grandmother in black dress,
seamstress without needle and thread,

dress soiled with horseshit,
barely able to stagger out of the one cow town

rescued by a teamster and made his life partner
as they deliver a wagonload of Beecher's Bibles?

...Keep your nickel,
my life will stay mine,
except for the ring of rough anger in my ears
whether I collapse alone
or rise to continue my song in defiance of the poet.

...However  give me a dime,
and I will give you  yours.

From Seven Beats a Second, my first book and  the only one not an eBook. The  book is from 2005. My personal supply is all almost gone (from an original print run of 500 copies). But it is still  available from my publisher on a print on demand basis on Amazon, both new and used versions.

our place in the story of space and time

we are of the same stuff as stars,
made in the spasm of creation
that began  all space and time ,
electrical impulses,
static of the expanding universe,
positive and negative influences
that for  a thing we call matter
arranged in a manner we call me

our birthing
not  the arrival of something new,
bur reincarnation,
rearrangement of the elements present
since the first day,  sparks
thrown  of by that day's conception

our  death, not the end,
but another reformation,
a recycling of the stuff that made us
so that we might become again
a star or  a tree or another babe in arms
or just a speck of universal element
drifting for  as long as there is time

until  it will finally come
that all the pieces come  to rest
and slowly fade away in the darkness
of never-light, never-time, never-space
never was and never  will be again

from nothing came all
and to nothing it will all return

From Seven Beats a Second again.

does he still dream

his body survives, dependent
for  every beat and breath
on the machines that surround him

his conscious mind is blank,
but what of dreams?

we never forget our dreams,
from the very earliest sloshing
in the universe of our mother's belly
to the very last, as we die, riffling
one last time through the book of dreams
we made page by page over our lifetime

so, if this derelict can dream, if this scrap
of man who used to laugh and love,
this shrunken giant who would carry me,

enfold me in his arms, hold me close
in the worst of storms, this declining

remnant of a son and lover who slept
at the breast of both his mother and mine,

this fallen hero leaving the world as he
entered it, head reaching for his  knees

this frail ghost of my father

if he has yet the final gift of dreams,
if, in some part of his mind we can
neither see nor measure, he still drifts
through dreams fading, like the shadows
of  a fire banked and growing colder...

And here's another new from last week.

in the darkest night

announce  they have discovered a "ghost planet"

a planet made of dark matter
and though  I  have no idea what that means

or any possible consequence of it, I do suspect
that any ghost in the vicinity is a serious development

and it reminds me of a young woman I once knew
a  real  dark woman, a black witch of a woman

who, like a ghost in the night,  would eat your soul
while  spending all your money

she was  a scary,wicked woman but I have to say
once she left  I missed nightly

the collisions of her dark matter
and my own pure night

so that even  today
I love the dark of moonless night

From my library, this poem is by Meg Kearney, taken from her book An Unkindness of Ravens, published in 2001 by BOA Editions, Ltd.

What the Dream Reveals to Him

Tonight he dreams again of the woman with ravens in her hair.
On the floor beside the bed, his doe whimpers in its sleep.

How many nights will the woman beckon from her verdant ledge;
how many ravens will it take until he offers them his hands,

until his fingers run black with the darkness of her, until
his lips learn the song beating its black wings in her throat?

How many ravens will it take until he succumbs to his craving
for the sweet flesh of the tongue, the liver, the vulnerable

belly? The man moans,  stretches one uncertain hand to the empty
room. His dog stirs, chasing its own elusive birds. The dog

will never come to love them. But the man opens his eyes, sensing
the woman is not far, knowing that to kiss her he must call

ravens to nest on his shoulders. Knowing that to love her
he must tear the raven in two and begin eating.

Another from my book, Seven Beats a Second.

our place

the moon hangs up there,  sliver-thin arc,
bright against the starless sky,
sharp as a blade poised over our head

below, we struggle to deny the real world
the world we mean to bury under our malls
and parking lots, our air-conditioned SUVs
and plastic mansions with make-believe trees
and fairy tale lies, unreality shows to help us
believe we are more than the dust that made us,
reality dust that frightens us because it is of such
base beginnings we are made of and we  so want
to deny the muddy secret of our origins

we work to cover the real world in the debris
of our passing, but its messengers often find us
at unexpected times to remind us of our place,
like the thin blade of the moon tonight, or the deer
I saw this afternoon, stepping with sharp, sure  feet
over rocks in the dry creek bed by my office,
looking at me as I  looked at her, I'm here, she seemed
to say, right by this place where you work so hard
to  deny me and, though the time will come when you
deny me my  place, I will still  be here with you
because you have seen me today and will remember...

then in graceful leaps, she left me
to  stand alone with the lies I made today

Published in 1913, Spoon River Anthology seems strangely modern in it's satiric take on the departed  citizens of little Spoon River. The poet Edgar Lee Masters continued to write until his death in 1950, but never matched the genius his first work of mini-biographies.

My copy of the book was published by Collier  Books in 1968.

The Circuit Judge

Take note, passers-by, of the sharp  erosions
Eaten in my head-stone by the wind and rain...
Almost as if an intangible  Nemesis or hatred
Were marking scores against me,
But to destroy, and not  preserve my memory.
I in life was the Circuit Judge, a maker of notches,
Deciding cases on the points the lawyers scored,
Not on the right of the matter.
O wind and rain, leave my head-stone alone!
For worse than the anger of the wronged,
The curses of the poor,
Was to  lie speechless, yet with vision clear,
Seeing that even Hod Putt, the murderer,
Hanged by my sentence,
Was innocent in soul compared with me.

Hortense Robbins

My name used to be in the papers daily
As having dined somewhere,
Or traveled somewhere,
Or  rented a house in Paris,
Where I entertained the nobility.
I  was  forever eating or  traveling,
Or  taking the cure at Baden-Baden.
Now I her do honor
To Spoon River,  here  beside the family whence I
 No one  cares now where I dined,
Or lived, or whom I  entertained,
Or how often I took the cure at Baden-Baden!

"Ace" Shaw

I never saw any difference
Between playing cards for money
And selling real estate,
Practicing law, banking,  or anything else.
For everything is chance.
Seest thou a man  diligent to business?
He shall stand before Kings!

John Wasson

Oh! the dew-wet grass of the meadow in North
Through which Rebecca followed me  wailing,  wailing
One child in her arms, and three that ran along
Lengthening but the farewell to me off  to the war
     with the British,
And then the long, hard years down  to the day of
And then my search for Rebecca,
Finding her at last in Virginia,
Two children dead in the meanwhile.
We went by oxen to Tennessee
Thence after years to Illinois,
At last to  Spoon River.
We cut the buffalo grass,
We felled the forests,
We built the school houses, built the bridges,
Leveled the roads  and tilled the fields
Along with poverty, scourges, death -
If  Harry Wilmans who fought the Filipinos
Is to have a flag on his grave
Take it  from  mine!

So I write a nice happy poem and then my real self takes over.

Heckle meet Jeckle

there is a wind that heralds
the soon-rising sun,announcing
the coming of light to blow
away the dark

like raising  a tight-stuck window
in a musty room,letting in a fresh breeze
that will gather the dust of old sorrows
and whisk them away

messenger of a new day that cares not
for the heavy load of the day before -
put down that pack of pain and regret,
the winds declare - the load you  carry
is the load you chose, put it down, 
empty your load and refill your rucksacks 
with new day's promise

your day...


then cynic in me
not a new day wind
but a storm
of all the lost days
blown too far to ever return

knowing I will never be the human
I might have been,  instead, with
all this new day,fresh wind, feeling
the fool I have shown myself to be
so often in my life...

still I  sit outside at  sunrise
bask in the gentle wind of illusion
until the sun burns the new day
just a  fiercely as it did the day

Another from Seven Beats a Second.

what God don't like

I  was  seeing this preacher fella on TV the other day
and he was saying that God don't like men fucking men

I don't know how in the world he would know that,
except maybe he was talking to God
and just straight-out ask him, like, hey, God,
what do you think about this men fucking men thing?

I'd be afraid to do that, but maybe it's OK for preachers,
especially this  particular preacher  fella
since it seems like he's pretty tight with God and
like he  must talk to him  about all sorts of things
because he's  all the time on TV
talking about  what  God likes and don't like
(mostly about what  God don't like, from what I've  seen)
not just about fucking,  but about all sorts of things
God don't like, you  know, treehuggers and feminazies
and Democrats and evolutionists and poor people
and those wussy-pussy perverts who think
we ought not be killing raghead foreigners
without some kind of pretty good  reason...

but mostly  what I get from listening to the TV fella
is that mainly what God most often don't like
are people who aren't exactly like that same TV fella

so I'm thinking maybe I ought to study that TV fella real good
and try real hard to be as much like he is as I can

then maybe God won't don't like me, too


Seven Beats a Second again.

olden times

another new year comes
and everyone slows down,
takes a breath, pauses
to let the past year settle...

all the hours of joy and pain
that abide through our tie,
they all fade together

so much they meant
when they were fresh,
already they begin to fade,
just a part of the past now,
as far away from us
as the day we were born,
untouchable and ancient
as the day the walls of Jericho
fell to the trumpets of the Lord,
yesterday already as lost as the day
warrior ships sailed to the siege of Troy,
unreachable as the day our ancestors ten
thousand generations gone swung
from the safety of the highest branches
to walk upright on the ground

past is past, all beyond our touch,
fading in the dim corners of memory...

it's all olden times,
your life from today and mine

Next from my library, two poem by Gerard Malanga, from his collection, No Respect, New and Selected Poems  1964-2000. The book was published in 2001 by Black Sparrow Press.

Malanga, poet, photographer, filmmaker, curator and activist, known for working with Andy Warhol during his most productive period.

Her Father

He put  his hands upon her head
And disappeared. The Italian
Childhood and the visits to the small church by the sea
At twilight.The emotions missing the expectation  of
The young boy to  return did not leave
Her mind, her first homecoming,  her  father
Making olive  oil and wine, took her in
His arms: "My most fragile and robust child,"
He aid. And going by his words
I held her in my arms;
Sunday morning and the night
Before in Cambridge,  Mas.  she remembered
Herself; the candlelight circling around
The room forever.The three of us.

Sonnet to Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe,
I lived only three blocks from your home
on a street on a hill
a small field once,
beside the little white cottage
I stood in front of your
green-painted gate age four
when my father unconsciously cast
my fate with a little box camera.
I've come this far to Rome
closing in the opposite
distance and my father's 1920 American dream
traveling by steamer via Naples-New York,
not knowing his  cause.

Started very early on  a very hard day. Finished up about 10 p.m., which was when I finally had time to write this, my daily poem.


the loneliest hours...

the "Nighthawk" hours...

4 a.m.

the in-between  hours...

no one at the diner but me
and Sylvia who brings my coffee
without my asking, Jonah the dishwasher
and the overnight  cook

night  people passing the in-between hours
as best they can,night people
with hard-day pasts,sad pasts often,
mistakes that can never be forgotten, 
lovers who can never be forgotten,
they would lie about it all if you ask

it's the way...

no one tells the truth
in the in-between hours,
after the drunks have come and gone;
before the early shift workers
come for coffee and eggs over easy... 

the longest  hours of every long night...

I've been both 
of the night
and opener of  the day,
like today, bringing on the sun...

and I have been there 
for both... 

working a mid-shift
11  to 7,  washing dishes,
15 years  old,
working through the summer

the little round cook with a continental mustache,
Pablo, I  think  he was,
kept me awake  with stories
of  the woman he left behind in Mexico...

taught me how to drink my coffee

Next, Cleatus Rattan, with two poems from his book The Border, winner of the 2002 Texas Review  Poetry Prize, published by Texas Review Press.

Rattan, retired from the English Department  at Cisco Community College, currently operates  his  ranch a hundred miles west of Fort Worth, near Cisco and is a frequently honored Texas poet.

First Light

Saddling my horse in the early morning
dark, I  try to remember  how many high-headed
colts  have become heavy, reigned old horses
under my saddle. How many times have I
stood at the gate feeling for the latch
fearing a snake might be near? Have I
known where dangers lay? Trotting
out further in the black. I wonder
if my father had such thoughts
on this road. How many times will my sons
wait for the amber glow of morning on this way?
When I  see the outline of cow  and calf
in the beginning light, I put aside
these thought one more time.


Uncle Emmit died of a mad dog bite
at age nineteen.Fifty-year-old Uncle Fred
from a horse who fell backward and drove
a saddle horn through his chest. Uncle
Bob from a heart-attack at age forty-two.
Uncle Wade was  attacked by his heart
unto death  at age  fifty-nine. Cousin Ralph
lasted until he was  forty-five - heart too.
I'm ahead of the game and feel like a winner,
but cousin Ike, who finished high school,
said he thought there was no point
in my having earned a doctorate if I had to die
too. I nodded slowly  and  sipped cautiously
another glass of cousin Ralph's homemade wine.

Another  from  Seven  Beats a Second. The poem was written more than ten years ago. A lot of slippage since then, for sure.

slipping away


my mind is blind
to the crisp autumn sky
and the creek running clear
and the squirrel
teasing my dog,
a backyard clown
mocking the quivering
puffed-chest forward
of a small dog
facing a large world

my eyes see none of this,
for like a fist
clenched tight on itself
I am closed to all but anger,
a simmering constant
since the last election,
not just at the loss
of mine against theirs
but at the outcome
as a symptom
of the nature of my life
in these later years,
like a lifetime
of being on the wrong side


I feel the passage of time now
like never before,
time and opportunity
slipping away,
life space lost
like water squeezed
from a cloth,
disappearing in an eddy
down a drain,
leaving an approximation of me
to  fill the place I had before
until the day I need no space  at all


as I read the obituaries in the morning
or stand at the  grave f my father
as I did last week in a park
green with the growth of recent  rain,
I cannot  reconcile  the contradictions
of  death and life, how the life I see
in the obituary photos and the light
I remember in my father's eyes
can disappear in an on-rush of dark,
one minute to the next, life to  death,
how  it is that  I, too, will some day slip
into that vortex of night and never return


I think of the eternal nature of atoms
and how they combine and recombine
over uncountable eons to create
illusions of form and
in some of those illusionary constructs
a spark of life and consciousness
and beings like you and me
and all those whose obituaries
I  read every morning
and my father, dead 40 years now,
the illusion of him gone forever
to seed the soil he lies in
and the grass and trees and clouds
over his head and, someday,
in the great recycling that brings
all the old to something new,
perhaps another form with life
and a sense of self and universe
outside of self that is the cradle
where rests the truth,  for life to  last
forever, we must over and  over die

This poem from  my  library is by Helena Mesa, taken from book, Horse Dance Underwater,  published by Cleveland State University Poetry Center in 2009.

Mesa was born and raised in Pittsburgh  of Cuban parents. She holds and  M.F.A. from the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. from the University of Houston. She currently lives  in Ann Arbor and  is  an assistant professor of English  at  Albion  College.

Sway This Night

It reminds me of departure, this town
gutted with rails and passing train whose  horns
insist we waste our nights.At four, darkness
numbs our hands, follows the streets
except for those trains, and after, a stillness
no one wants. My first autumn, then winter,
I began to believe I knew each train
by sound - silver bullet with a dining car,
freight of longhorn, and second  to last, hogs.
It went this  way. Each named by the drag of steel
on steel that says, This night belongs to no one
but me, named in the boredom that come without
and the belief that the conductor speeds home
to something, until my chemist friend explained
that every few years in these boxed-up towns,
someone lies across the tracks after last call
before the sky melts like beeswax, the stillness
a wisp  of air like madness in fear. No more,
no  more. Even the wind  pressed off the sides
pushes back,  its metal cold, like the loss of breath
after a blow. the body stands, sways,  in wait.

My car not  available for a couple of days,  I discover the world at foot level.

the grand tour

walking home,
about  three, maybe four miles,
from the U-Haul drop station to home

a young man
kind of a banger-looking guy
with the tattoos and all,
carrying a birthday cake from
the supermarket bakery, all bright  icing 
in the sun, with flowers and leaves
and a greeting written in bakery cursive
across the top,
at the bus stop, cake balanced on the palm
of his hand,  happy birthday, someone,
mother, maybe, girlfriend, wife, daughter...

probably his mother - 

I  can't see a banger-type with all those tattoos
carrying a cake like this, so bright and frilly,
so un-macho, on a bus for the guys
in the hood to see for anyone
but his mom...

closer to home,
the four oriental ladies,elderly ladies,  bright dresses,
white umbrellas,that walk together every day
through the neighborhood, past my house

I've tried to talk to them
as they walk  past
but they don't acknowledge me,
move to the other side of the street
if they see me ahead of time, the oldest  one,
the apparent in-charge of the march lady,
barely shuffles and the others keep up,
I don't think she speaks English,
certainly not the English of a hurly-burly man
like e, and if she can't,  the others
won't either...


though tired when I get home, it's been
a good walk, this  rare look at the world at foot level...

I should take more walks

Another from  Seven Beats a Second.

Texas BBQ

here it is, Sunday afternoon,  and, as the sun begins to  fall to
the west, I'm thinking of  driving to  Leon  Springs for dinner

it's a bit  of a drive for a BBQ sandwich but the brisket  there
is  the best and sliding along that scarred  rail to order,
breathing in  the mesquite  smoke,watching them  pull the
meat off the fire, fat all burnt black and dripping juice as they
slice it reminds me of when I was a  kid traveling with my
family through East Texas piney woods, stopping along the
way at rickety stands half-hidden in the tall pine trees
that came right up to the edge of the little two-land highway,
just a lean-to  shed, a roof over the pit, sweet smoke  wafting
through the trees  like ghosts  of  time  before,  great  slabs
of meat, spicy sauce hot as South Texas asphalt
and big bottles of sweet apple  cider, all this I think of, then
settle for steam table mystery meat and canned pinto beans
from  a generic BBQ chain  closer to home

why do we do that,  I wonder, we know what's good,
but settle for easy, turn our backs on the better days
for the convenience of now,  build soulless hot tar deserts
from the garden that were blessings given by the Mother
of us all, like the hills  all around the city, stripped of native
cedar and oak to make way for new WalMarts and multi-
screen complexes full of pimply-faced kids with $10,000
teeth watching soul-dead comedies about other kids, libidos
unleashed, fast-food  joints and same-same houses with
central air dens on  postage stamp lots, nature fighting
to survive,  as we are, crab grass in the cracks  of our ow
creations, innocent, yet the scourge  of all  we desire

Last for the week from Seven Beats a Second.

when nighthawks fly in memories dark

nighthawks glide through the dark,
shadows  against he star-lit  sky
soaring between the trees,
picking insects from the air
like outfielders
shagging high, easy flies

     nothing to it, with a shrug
     as they toss the ball in

the birds flit through the air
and I think of old heroes
jumping from their planes,
uniforms glistening black,
Blackhawk, the leader,
Chop Chop, the Chinaman,
Andre,the Frenchman
with glossy black hair
and a pointy little mustache,
and Olaf, the squarehead German

     That's what they called my father,
     third generation on the country,
     first generation to leave
     his central  Texas enclave
     of squareheads and krauts, 
     always careful through two wars
     not to draw attention to themselves
     and their German  ways, quietly
     keeping to themselves,
     raising their sheep and cattle
     on rocky hill country pastures,
     facing good times and bad
     with squarehead persistence

and before Blackhawk, Smiling Jack
with his movie star looks, and his fiend,
Fatstuff, with a belly so large buttons
flew off his shirt like popcorn in a pan

     Dad had a belly like that,
     from his emphysema
     ballooning his lungs,
     making them heavy with spit,
     swelling, degenerating tissue
     dragging his lungs down,
     collapsing his chest,
     displacing his stomach,
     pushing his belly out
     like he was pregnant with
     the fruit of his own death

those popping buttons are on my mind
as I gasp for air after a flight of stairs
and I think of my own belly pushing
ahead of me and wonder
what it felt like to die in pieces

Last this week from my library is this poem by Deborah Bogen. I  took the poem  from her book, Let Me Open You a Swan, published by Elixir Press in 2010.

Bogan's work has been widely honored and her poems and reviews appear widely. She lives in Pittsburgh where, for the past decade, she's run free writing workshops.


One leg over the motorcycle, I regret the impulse. It's
1969. What we have in common is his brother's suicide
and I know  what's running me - enthusiasm, that variant
of  fear. The I  Ching says enthusiasm in service of self
is a bad thing. That's the kind of warning I take seriously,
but Roger's dead - and I don't want to start smoking
again. No stars tonight, just dark shapes rising against
darker headlands and part of me aches  to be on the bike,
silhouetted against the sky. Soon we're on the slope that
takes us past Olema and Point Rees,past cryptic horses,
head-down and mellow, stygian  banks of  nasturtiums and
the rich folk's dogs straining on their chains. The bike's
come  wholly to life and the by  directs it. I try to sink into
him so there's no fleshy argument distracting the machine.
The engine's agony drowns out thought as we slide down
to blackness, the sex of wind on our arms and necks. I did
not attend the funeral. I still sing, but not as well as this
bike which tonight is keening.  There is  something I'm
trying to master. There's not reason to trust  the boy whose
bike heads down the mountain.

Here's the  last new poem for the week, a piece of overdue self-criticism.

the poem that doesn't meet the test of the Tao

I struggled through a poem  this morning
about walking my dog before the sun rose

and then I'm  reminded by another  poet
of the wisdom of the  Tao Te Ching

and how a poem should  follow the advice
of the Tao:

Express yourself completely,
the keep quiet.
Be like the forces of nature:
when it blows,  there is only wind;
when it rains there is only rain;
when the clouds pass, the sun shines through.

which I did not, writing too much,
saying too little...

unlike the Tao that reminds us,
while you might make clay pot, it is the natural nothing
on the inside that counts, not the pot you made
to contain it...

my poem a pot without an inside,
holding  nothing,
and thinking of that makes me think of all the poets
I've read who specialize in clay pots with
no inside,  solid pots that serve no  purpose
but to sit pretty on a shelf...

my task for tomorrow's poem,
take my failed poem that I set aside this morning
and find a way to make  some nothing
inside it...

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 4:24 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

first 3 photos and then the black and white one- can't u just put out the b est?

u have never told me if you are aware of Eliot Porter

now let me go look at the poetry

at 4:28 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

# 9, 12, 13- i think u cold # the photos for easy reference- (and purchase?!?!?!)

mesa's poem seemed adequate

at 4:31 PM Blogger davideberhardt said...

spoon ribber is actually quite GREAT!!! if i get no responses- i am going to quit commenting- what's the use????
dave eberhardt (i am on facebook)

at 7:14 PM Blogger Here and Now said...

thanks for your comments, dave.

as to photos, i'm pleased to send jpegs as long as i'm credited if printed and/or otherwise used

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