Whistlebritches - Corduroy Days Will Come Again   Wednesday, December 14, 2016

On tap this  week, new poems from a couple of weeks to a month ago and some of my oldest poems.

It's all haiku week from my library, with classical selections from two anthologies and a few less serious contemporary ones.

The first of the anthologies is Classic Haiku, The  Greatest Japanese Poetry from Basho, Buson, Issa, Shiki and their followers. A beautiful hardcover book with excellence photographs, the book was published by Shelter Harbor Press in 2016. Edited by Tom  Lowenstein, the photographs are by John Cleare.

The second anthology is The Essential Haiku, Versions of  Basho, Buson, & Issa. The book, a soft cover, edited,  with verse translations, by Robert Hass, It was published by The Ecco Press in  1994.

More about the contemporary book when we get to it.

sitting,  content, at Starbucks

Six haiku

Conceits of the Recently Evolved

Seasonal  haiku

so I'll be right at least once a year

Ten haiku


Ten haiku

they know the truth

Four haiku

days when
finding religion at 3 a.m.
while a bald man burns

Jerry Ratch & Sherry Karver
Six haiku
sitting in the back corner of  strange diner

Eleven haiku  

cowboys and indians

Nineteen haiku

cowboy movie

from Learn from the Pine (An essay with lessons for poets)

I learned things

Still running way ahead on my new poems. This, the newest one I'll post this week, is from a couple of weeks ago.

sitting, content, at Starbucks

Saturday morning
at Starbucks,
beautiful winter day
cold and wet, inside
a sparse, subdued few
of us doing our
Starbucks thing, drinking
burned coffee, looking out
the wall of windows feeling
warmer than we have any right
to be

and I'm sorry to break
the happy mood.
but there are so many
in the world today
in the rain or snow, cold
and wet
and hungry
and frightened,
hope a frayed string
coming to its end

and it doesn't seem
we're likely
to  do anything about it

but to be fair,, it's not just we,
but me as well, comfortable
by my window wall.
not likely to rise to the

First of the haiku masters from this  week's anthology is Basho,born 1644, died  1694.

Wind in autumn -
a  door slides open
and a sharp cry comes through.

Already I can see
my own wind-bleached bones.
A cold  wind  cuts me.

Darkening sea,
The cry of a wild duck
faintly white.

Azaleas in a wooden pail.
A woman tears up dried fish
in  their shade.

Just butterflies
and sunlight
in the whole empty meadow.

The broom forgets
about the snow
as it sweeps the garden.

From my file of very old poems, I wrote this one in 1971. It was published by Alchemy, in 1999.

Conceits of the Recently Evolved

Some time ago,
way, way back there
in pre-history,
before pre-history,
in the beginning,
we climbed from the sea,
all of us,
from our best
to our worst
and everyone in between,
we fought our way up
from the foaming, salty sea,
licked out amoeba lips,
hitched our britches
over our amoeba hips,
and began to build cities,
make war
discover love
defy fear
kill our brothers
name the stars
imagine art
invent time

How full of ourselves
we have become
since the early days,
self-exulting and prideful,
crowing like the cock
who  lights up the sun,
to much pride, perhaps,
for a one-celled accident
with a few optional accessories

Next, several seasonal haiku from  different masters.


 by Sharai

In spite of the cold,
winter peonies, naked and leafless,
are in flower.

by Kaikyo

With useless authority
the great horned owl
sits moon-eyed in daylight.


by Hanzan

The first butterfly of spring.
This creature without bones
alights on  stiff plum blossom.

by Hanzan

A butterfly arrived
and spent the whole night sleeping
on the top of  a spring onion.


by Boncho

Summer rain.
In just one night
my razor rusted over.

by Yuto

As they catch each other
you can just see the children's heads
above  the barley.


by Chinseki

Just like us, the monkey
folds its arms on its chest
in the cold autumn wind.

by Boncho

A freezing wind
accompanies he lonely moon
in the autumn sky.


This new poem has  been hanging around in my files since the time change in early November.

so I'll be right at least once a year

at 5:30 
which is 6:30
according to my 
internal clock
which is the clock
I'll be on for the next several weeks
which is not a statement
seasonal daylight savings time
which I like
but just an admission
that I'm an ornery
old coot
stuck in my ways
and times
and I do not give up
or fast
in fact I probably won't change
any of my clocks
thus insuring
I'll be right about something
at least once next year 
to anything
my significant other might try
to tell you

Born in 1715 and died in 1783, Buson was one of the very greatest of the Japanese haiku masters.

Wading through a stream
in summer, carrying my sandals.
How delightful!

Divorced and lonely,
she walks to the field
to  help plant seedlings

The bite of my axe.
Sudden revelation,
there's life in this tree!

A lightning flash,
Encircled by waves
the islands of Japan.

Autumn rains,
and two little houses
by the swollen river.

In the cool of the morning
the bell's voice
leaves the bell.

Burdened with dark thoughts
I climbed the hill to find
wild roses blooming.

I go out to my garden
to pick a melon.
What a thief I am!

Here is the end -
my path has vanished
into the parsley.

Deep in the old well
the dark sound of fish
leaping a mosquitoes.

Here's another very old poem, also published by Alchemy in 1999.


in the summer grass
we sprawl
hands and feet touching

a butterfly
circles round us,
then lands lightly
on the soft slope
of your belly,
rising and falling
with your breathing

I cover it with my hand,
its slowly flexing wings
brushing my palm,
then release it
and bend
to kiss the spot
where it had  rested,
tasting the pollen
it left behind

dusty sunbeams dance over us,
releasing us
to the tender flight
of mid-summer love


Issa was another of  the greatest Japanese haiku masters. He was born in 1762 and died in 1826.

Alone among the shady bushes
a girl is singing
a rice-planter's song

In my home village
I left so long ago
the cherry trees are blooming.

Little snail,
slowly, slowly,
climbs Mount Fuji.

Watch that giant firefly!
it's zigzagging all over the place.
Gone now...

Just  one man and
one fly in this
enormous  guest-room

The mushroom is
deadly. And, of course,
it's also very pretty.

Don't cry little insects!
Love involves parting.
It even happens among the stars.

Lying in the grass
I  pluck fresh herbs
in the sun.

How beautiful the sky is
when a lark
has been  singing.

A sparrow is flying
in and out of
the jail house.

We kept our grand-dog (our son's dog) for a week while he took care of some other business. So this is new from about the middle of last month.

they know the truth

last day for our grand-dog.
after a week with us she goes home

in the meantime
she and dog have become good friends,
walking together, playing together.
sniffing together, pooping

pulling both of my arms
out of their sockets
walking the two of them,
large dogs both,
through the new bright
of the new day

to be out and about and alive
as should be we

dogs know the truth of things
and  they will,
with great canine joy, teach you
if you're willing to


Next, several haiku by Shiki. Born in 1867 and died in 1903, Shiki, not a poet I'm familiar with, is almost a contemporary.

Meadow in summer.
People playing baseball
somewhere in the distance

A broken clog-strap
left out in the
winter fields.

After I'm dead,  tell people
I  was a persimmon eater
who also loved haiku.

The lonely circle of the moon.
Countless stars
in a dark green sky.

Here are three old  poems published by Avant Garde Times. The longer one was published was written in 2000 and published in 2001. The two short ones were published in the year it was written, 2000.

I ended up using all three poems in my first book, Seven Beats a Second, in 2005.

days when

my cowboy hat today
to keep the rain off my head,
and my boots, too,
for the puddles

reminded me of the old days

days when, as they say,

when me
and my colored friend Toby
would shoot pool and drink Pearl beer
in little West Texas
highway honky-tonks
that didn't often see a black face
come in the front door
except by mistake

got some hard looks,
Tody did, and me too
cause we were together

I was a big sumbitch
and Toby
was mean as  a snake
when riled and looked it
even when he wasn't,
so  we mostly got along,
drank some beer, played some pool,
made a dollar or two
to  get us stated at the next  stop down
the road

honky-tonk cowboys
is what we were

never punched a cow,
but we kicked some ass
in our better days

finding religion at  3 a.m.

hanging my head over a dirty toilet
I wouldn't even piss in
on a better day,
the smell of my own breath
and the taste in my mouth
setting off
another round of dry heaves...

please don't make me sober

while a bald man burns

three gulls circle
a bald man burns
in the fierce island sun
I trace gargoyles
in the sand
with my toe
you pretend to study
the book in your hand
three gulls circle
in the fierce  island sun

Moving on to a lighter side of haiku, these  several poems are from The Homeowner Haiku, by Jerry Ratch and Sherry Karver The book was published by Frog Ltd. of Berkeley, California in 2005.

The property line -
   ambiguous space between
        friends and enemies

Buddhist, Realtor, and
   Designer meet at open house -
        Feng shui fight erupts

Six months since we've moved
   up to our ears in boxes -
        where's the damn toaster

Sink clogged, tub over-
    flows, toilet backs up - two
        PhD's, no plumber

Rap, hip hop, heavy
    metal - puberty has come
         to the neighborhood

Om, om on the range -
    close your eyes, breathe deep, don't sweat
         the mortgage payment

Another new piece from mid-November.

sitting in the back corner of a strange diner

in the far back corner
of a strange diner
for a stray poem
left behind
by a careless poet

no time to write my own
as the road calls
in just a few minutes

instead on
the serendipity
of an earlier poet
with too much on his mind 
to remember the poem
left behind


that's what I'm
counting one

a freeloader
on the stream 
of the universal
of over-soul poetics

my morning poem
waiting to be  plucked
like a sunflower
and waiting on the

Returning to the three masters now from the second anthology this week, The Essential Haiku.

Beginning with Basho.

     A wild sea -
and flowing out toward Sado  Island,
     the Milky Way.

     A caterpillar,
this deep in fall -
     and still not a butterfly.

     They don't live long
but you'd never know it -
     the cicada's cry.

Unchiku, a monk living in Kyoto, had painted what appeared
to be a self -portrait. It  was a picture of a monk with his face
turned away. Unchiku showed me the the portrait and asked
me for a verse to go with it. Thereupon I wrote as follows:

     You are over sixty and I am nearing fifty. We are both in
a world of dreams, and this portrait depicts a man in a dream.
Here I add the words of another such man talking in his sleep.

                            You could turn this way,
                     I am also  lonely
                            this autumn evening.

To a prospective student:

     Don't imitate me;
it's as boring
     as the two halves of a melon.

     Teeth sensitive to the sand
in salad greens -
     I'm getting old.

     Bush warbler
shits on the rice cakes
     on the porch rail.

     Cat's making love -
When it's over, hazy moonlight
     in the bedroom

     The morning  glory also
turns out
     not to be my friend.

     A field off cotton -
as if the moon
     had flowered.

(His death poem)

     Sick on a journey,
my dreams wander
     the withered fields.

This piece was written in 2000 and published in Beatnik in 2001. I also used it in Seven Beats a Second.

cowboys and indians

redskins on the warpath
chasing cowboys
bonyback ridge
sidewinder trail
the same big
saguaro cactus

there it is again

war bonnets streaming
cowboy hats flapping
     in the wind
shooting forward
shooting back
horses falling
it fun to be
a movie star

Next from this week's second anthology, Yosa Buson.

     I go,
you stay;
     two autumns.

     White blossoms of he pear
and a woman in moonlight
     reading a letter.

     Tilling the field;
the man who asked the way
     has disappeared.

     Apprentice's day off:
hops over a kite string,
     keeps going.

for the wild geese of Shosho;
     a hazy moon.

     Sparrow singing -
its tiny mouth

     His Holiness the Abbot
is shitting
     in the withered fields.

     In the drained fields
how long and thin
     the legs of the scarecrow.

a short-legged horse
     in the hazy spring.

     He's on the porch,
to escape the wife and kids -
     how hot it is!

(On his deathbed)

     Winter warbler -
long ago in Wang Wei's
     hedge also.

This new poem from still in November.

lions and lambs

a fine fall

a bit cool
& breezy

and warm
like the sun shined

in the Eden 

when the lion
& the lamb lay together

except these days
I don't know  if I'm a lion

or a lamb
but I do know

it ain't Eden
we're living in

and I'm not certain
it's safe

to be lying around

with whatever it is
you're not

for it is a hard
& vicious time we live in

a time
it sadly seems

when those who survive
must be

as hard and vicious
as the time

that presents itself
to us

Here are haiku by Kobayashi Issa from the week's second anthology. I think Issa is my favorite of the three, a true poet of everyday times and everyday people.

     New Year's Day -
everything is in blossom!
     I feel about average.

     Don't worry spiders,
I keep house

     The man pulling radishes
pointed my way
     with a radish

     Moon, plum blossoms,
this, that,
     and the day goes.

     In this world
we walk on the roof of hell,
     gazing at flowers.

on a naked horse
     in pouring rain!

     I'm going out,
flies, so relax,
     make love.

     Nursing her child
the mother
     counts its fleabites.

Approaching my village:

     Don't know about the people,
but all the scarecrows
     are crooked.

    Even with insects -
some can sing,
     some can't.

On my portrait:

     Even considered
in the most favorable light,
     he looks old.

     Washing the saucepans -
the moon glows on her hands
      in the shallow river.

At my daughter's grave, thirty days after her death:

     Windy fall -
these are the scarlet flowers
     she liked to pick.

On the death of my son:

     Why did the wild pink break?
O why
     did it break?

     I'm going to roll over,
so lease  move,

     The fat priest -
edging out
     while he reads the last  prayer.

Fiftieth birthday:

     From now on,
it's all clear  profit,
     every sky.

     Writing this shit about new  snow
for the rich
     is not art.

     This stupid world -
skinny mosquitoes, skinny fleas,
     skinny children.

This is a very old poem, written in 1970 and published in Maelstrom in 1999.

I returned to  writing in 1999, after more than a 30-year hiatus. This, while written much earlier, was one of the first poems I had published after I returned.

I  even  remember when I  wrote it. I returned to school to complete my degree in 1969, after military service. I  wrote this on a rainy night while sitting at a laundromat in downtown San Marcos, Texas.

cowboy movie

she said to me
in her low voice
and sighed
as  I moved closer

she said to me


into his corner
         and sighed
         and cried
in the shallow shadows
of his silver sombrero

she cried to me

From the second anthology, lessons from Basho for the poet.

from Learn from the Pine

Learn about pines from the pine, and about bamboo from the bamboo.

Don't follow the footsteps of the old poets, seek what they sought.

The basis of art is change in the universe. What's still has changeless form. Moving things change, and because  we cannot put a stop to time, it continues unarrested. To stop a thing would be to halve a sight or sound in our heart. Cherry blossoms whirl, leaves fall, and the wind flits them both along the ground. We cannot  arrest with our eyes or ears what lies in such things. Were we to gain mastery over them, we would find that the life of each thing  had vanished without a trace.

Make the universe your companion, always bearing in mind the true nature of things - mountains and rivers, trees and grasses, and humanity - and enjoy the falling blossoms and scattering leaves.


The secret of poetry lies in treading the middle path between the reality and the vacuity of the world.

One must first of all concentrate one's thoughts on an object. Once one's mind  achieves a state of concentration and the space between oneself and the object has disappeared, the essential nature of the object can be perceived. then express it immediately. If on ponders it, it will vanish from the mind.


When you are composing a verse, let there not be a hair's breath separating your mind from what you write. Quickly say what is in your mind; never hesitate a moment.

Composition must occur in an instant, like a woodcutter felling a huge tree, or a swordsman leaping at an enemy. It is also like cutting a ripe watermelon with a sharp knife or like taking a large bite from a pear.


Poetry is a fireplace in summer or a fan in winter.


The style I have in mind is a light one both in form and in structure, like the impression of looking at the  sandy bed of a shallow.


Eat vegetable soup  rather than duck stew.

Finishing off  the week with another memory poem.

I  learned things

dishes clatter
in the kitchen

diners' knife and fork

a server's
high-pitched laugh
breaks the rumble-murmur
of the crowded  diner

half  way between the
lunch rush and dinner, still crowded
while shifts change, those who started
at 4 a.m. go home, the new crew
will work until nine, when the over-nighters
take the wheel...

the servers,
young girls trying out a job
they think 
will be easier than it is,
as they'll learn from the older hands,
arms from carrying loaded trays
like the women ship workers and welders
on the old war posters, moving
with grace and skill between tables, knowing
which of their customers
are up for friendly banter and which are better
left alone to their own dark
clouds and anger and spite


I worked in a restaurant once,
a 24-hour hotel restaurant,  dish washing
and bussing tables, room service when called,
remembering the short guy
in his underwear at  3 a.m., buttermilk
pancakes to share  with his girlfriend
naked on the bed and the guy on the 4th floor
who wanted to fondle my privates, said he'd
pay me  $10, a lot in 1958, more than a night's pay,
but I said no, 15 years old, he scared me
and I hurried back to my safe kitchen...

long nights,
especially the early morning hours,  
4 a.m. till seven, how the hours dragged...

but I  learned things 

like the cook taught me how to drink coffee
without milk.

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


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