Racism,sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, and all the rest are
reflections of the same fears of mystery and the unknown, essential a
fear of being inadequate to survive in a society that requires some
measure of merit to achieve a position of security and comfort. Racists,
sexists, all the others fear competition with others who might turn out
to be their betters.
the roof that doesn't leak
it's like racism in America...
that "the colored" were fed out the back door...
how it felt to live in an all-white world...
progress, illusory as it turned out to be...
when it doesn't rain
More poems, more photos.
Actually enjoying the photos so much I'm thinking about doing an all photo post.
The poems this time including some from my second eBook, Goes Around, Comes Around, 85 poems from my daily poems in 2010.
It's a dirty job, but someone has to write my obituary. And what writer doesn't want to write their own.
what I would tell my friends when I die
the flesh and blood and bone
of me, that temporary carriage
that propelled the essence of me
through the limited term
of corporal life
burned in the fires
of the end of times for me...
and in that burning
released again the essential element
of me back to rejoin the greater home
from which I came, that universe
of drifting parts and pieces
that spun together to form the temporary me
that for a brief spell walked the earth with you...
if you remember me as that fellow traveler,
remember that of all I prized, kindness
was the greatest, kindness not as I practiced it
but as seldom attainable savior of our kind,
kindness as antidote to a world of little caring...
but also remember me as the greater me
I have become again, all the little bits of me
joining in all the little bits of all there is, all around
you, the every thing of every time, all the time...
remember me as a tiny piece of all of that,
the flower alone in a meadow, remember
the flower for a tiny piece of me is part
of its bloom
remember the fox the edge of the meadow,
nose twitching as it searches for the scent of danger
in the grass, for I am there, a part of the fox and a part
of the grass which scent it investigates and
a part of the danger it finds or does not
and the lightning that streaks across the midnight sky,
I am there too; remember when you see me, smell
the ozone of me
the summer breeze that carries the sweet scent
of lilac, that is also the smell of a part of me
and the beach, I am not the tide, but in the moon glow
that shines lie silver the wave caps, that sends
the beach crabs to dancing for their mates
I'm there too
and all the newborns,
babies of my former kind, puppies, kittens, the barely
been born, the calf, the foal, the cow, chicken, the pig
and lions and tigers and bison and beavers and bears
all born with elements of me
exercise your kindness to them as you would to me
because I am part of them as I am part of you and
we are all part of all
understanding that in whatever kindness
we bestow it is to ourselves
First from my library this week, a poem by Charles Harper Webb
, from his book A Webb for all Seasons
. The book was published Applezaba Press in 1992. The book is a collection of poems about the fictional character "Weeb."
Webb, educated at Rice University and the University of Southern California, is a poet, professor, psychotherapist and former singer and musician.
Weeb Gains the Upper Hand
The way a butt might blunder
into a needle in a haystack,
my vision slides down the Amtrak
aisle, and come up with a man
picking his nose. I focus
on the spiffy young executive
and his hump-back hooter.
His right forefinger digs,
twists, lingers, pops out
balancing a sticky prize.
Rat-like, his eyes dart here
and there. Casual, as if lost
in money-making mediation,
he slips his finger into his mouth.
He licks his lips, smiles,
feels too late my eyes
all over him. He flushes.
Thoughts squirm across his
face. Did he see? Naw.
Coincidence. Smart Aleck!
Fruit! What does he
"Everything!" my smirk
assures. Pleased to grind
my starving-artist's boot into
his fat -go-getter soul,
I lick my finger, wave it
at him while my eyes crow
"Hi. Eat boogers, don'tcha."
Here's the first from Goes Around, Comes Around.
I wanted to write something outrageous today
to write something
but it's still too close
to the election
and my outrage
is hung on empty
so I thought I'd write
something serious instead,
of the nation's and the world's
but that only ignites
and howling hysterical
then I was thinking
I'd write about
but I'm getting kind of old
and my memory isn't as good as it used to be,
not so stiffly resistant to the lassitude
so maybe I could write
no one's ever too old
for love they say, but that's the problem,
poets young and old
have been writing about love
for ten thousand years,
longer than that if you believe the drawings
on the walls in the caves of Poontanghia,
so how could I possibly compete,
what new is there to be said about love
except that I caught it and unlike
a three-day cold, it has stayed
with me, fevers morning and night for 40 years,
resistant though the liquid flow of time
to all natural or supernatural events
that might deny and
I could write about my lover's legs
and the amazing way
they join at the hip
but I don't want to get too graphic
because that would be outrageous
in this august company
and I'm completely out of outrage
since the last
was born in New Delhi and has lived most of her life in the United States. She attended the University of Virginia and received her M.F.A. from Indiana University.
The poem is from her book Train to Agra
, published by Southern Illinois University Press in 2001 and received the Crab Orchard Review First Book Award.
They watch each evening for rain,
the dry lightning - momentary blindness.
The boy arrives again to sweep the floors,
beat screens free of dust and flies. Twice
each day, he cleans, and still the house creaks,
mellows under the skin of the city, a shadow
that rusts each corner and basin.
On bamboo chairs with cushions that ease
the pain of brittle bones, they sit and shell
peanuts among the rosebugs.
Through open windows, lizards flee
the sun, cling to cool walls
as everything waits for the sound
of water slipping off the leaves,
the monsoon rain singing on marble floors.
Here's another from sometime in the past couple of weeks.
about the fish and the mystery galaxy
buttoning my shirt
in front of my bathroom mirror
and I notice
I have fish on my shirt,
bass, I think, and I look in my closet
and see I have several shirts
with fish on them, all kinds of fish,
not just bass, but trout and sharks and
barracuda and little tropical looking fish,
angel fish, and guppies and zebras and
black mollies and even just some plain old
and I am surprised
because I have no special affection for fish,
never attended to the study of ichthyology
or ever Saturday afternoon fishing
with a cane pole and a canal
and it is a true mystery
like the mystery of the new galaxy
just discovered, our closest galactic companion,
like a back fence neighbor, there it is,
dim stars, presumably been there all the time
but unnoticed until now, even though
right next door...
I'm concerned about the prevalence
of fish shirt in my closet, mainly
because I put them there and didn't
the appearance of a new galaxy
on the block, that should be a deeper
concern about what else is there in the neighborhood
that we don't know about, what dark secrets,
how many death stars,
alien predators building p their forces,
pre-invasion, the forces of good and evil
battling all around us with us on the dark sidelines,
unknowing, happy in our little ant hill
until the jungle gets napalmed...
very serious stuff,
but truth is, I wasn't responsible
for noticing the mystery galaxy, but it was
my job to notice all the fish shirts
until they grew into a school, leaving me
on a personal level, more concerned
about the fish that got away
than any galaxy, no matter how mysterious,
that did the same...
Next, John Ashbery
, with a poem from April Galleons
, published by Penguin Books in 1987.
Posture of Unease
It all seems like dirt now.
There is a film of dust on the lucid morning
Of an autumn landscape, that must be worse
Where it's tightening up,
Where not everything has its own two feet to stand on.
It gets more and more simplistic:
Good and bad, evil and bad; what else do we know?
Flavors that keep us from caring too long.
But there was a train of thought
That satisfied on nicely: how one was going to climb down
Out of here, hopefully
To arrive on a perfectly flat spit of sand
Level with the water.
And everything would look new and worn again.
Suddenly, a shout, a convincing one.
People in twos and threes turn up, and
There's more to it than that.
But for all you I
Have neglected, ignored,
Left to stew in your own juices,
Not been that friend that is approaching,
I ask forgiveness, a song new like rain.
Please sing it to me.
A great news day.
it's a find day today
it's a fine day
the sun shines
on all of us, children
of the bright...
it's a find day
of dead people in the paper
only five younger than me
and one of those
a fine day
three pages of dead people
in the paper
and none of them was me...
From American Poetry Since 1950 - Innovators & Outsiders
, this poem is by William Bonk
. The anthology was published by Marsilio Publishers 1993.
Bonk is a hard poet to pin down, there being several Bonks on the net with inadequate information as to differentiate. I just settled for an image of the anthology's cover.
The poem's title refers to the ruins of a Maya city in Guatemala.
Mountains they knew, and jungle, the sun, the stars -
these seemed to be there. But even after they slashed
the jungle and burned it and planted the comforting corn,
they were discontent. They wanted the shape of things.
They imagined a world and it was as if it were there
- a world with stars in their places and rain that came
when they called. It closed them in. Stone by stone,
as they built this city, these temples, they built this world.
The believed it. This was the world, and they,
of course, were the people. Now trees make up
assemblies and crowd in the wide plazas. Trees
climb the stupendous steps and rubble them.
In the jungle, the temples are little mountains again.
It is always hard like this, not having a world,
to imagine one, to go to the far edge
apart and imaging, to wall whether in
or out, but build a kind of cage for the sake
of feeling the bars around us, to give shape to a world.
And oh, it always a world and not the world.
The problem self-explanatory; the solution not so much.
I ought to be writing a Valentine poem
I ought to be writing
a Valentine poem,
I mean it's the day after Valentine
and I really ought to be writing
a Valentine poem
at writing on demand
which is why I can never be
with all the demands on them
to write commemorative
poems, like can you imagine me
writing a poem about the political conflict
of the Great Whig Convention of 1836?
I sure can't
(well, maybe if I was really desperate)
I would rather write
about the people around me, the person in the crowd
who stands out as if spot-lit among the chattering
in this instance,
the young woman at the table
down from me,
skin dark beyond suntan,
hair black as moonless midnight,
Latina, I would say,
except for the smoky darkness
of her eyes, a suggestion to me
of the Indian subcontinent,
like the Russian folk song,
"Dark Eyes" - mysterious coal-smudged
I wrote a poem about a woman
with such beautiful eyes, a woman I didn't know
but talked to occasionally at my old coffeehouse,
a woman with the most beautiful eyes
that led to think of that same Russian song...
It was a pretty good poem,
but I made the mistake of showing it to the woman
who mistook my appreciation of her beautiful eyes
for creepy stalkerness...
we never spoke again as she made sure,
to be on the other side of the coffeehouse
do you suppose there's any chance
that I could pass this off as a
...I didn't think so...
As beautiful as are most of the translations of his work, one of the many things I'm sorry about is that I don't speak or read Spanish and therefore can't read 1990 Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz
in his own language. I can only imagine the beauty of it.
This poem is from his book Configurations
, a New Directions book published in 1971.
Imposes its tide
and repeats its own midday)
Saint scoundrel saint
In beatitudes of hunger or drugs
Perhaps he saw Krishna
Sparkling blue tree
Dark fountain splashing amid the drought
Perhaps in cleft stone
He grasped the form of woman
the formless dizziness
For this or that
He lives on the ghat where they burn the dead
The lonely streets
The houses and their shadows
All was the same and all different
The car raced on
I was quiet
Among my runaway thoughts
Saint clown saint beggar king damned
It is the same
Always the same
Within the same
It is to be always within oneself
Closed up in the same
Closed up on oneself
He watched me from the other shore
He watches me
From his interminable noon
I am in the wandering hour
The car races on among the houses
I write by the light of a lamp
The absolutes the eternities
Their outlying districts
Are not my theme
I am hungry for life and for death also
I know what I know and I write it
The embodiment of time
The movement in which the whole being
Is sculptured and destroyed
Consciousness and hands to grasp the hour
I am a history
A memory inventing itself
I am never alone
I speak with your always
You speak with me always
I move in the dark
I plant signs
Translated by Lysander Kemp
Thinking in 2010 about what the world needed then and needs now even more.
habits of mercy
I was thinking this
about what I want to do
with the rest of my
it's the same thing
I want to do
with the rest of my
my wife at least once or twice
some good food
some good poems
with my better nature
& forgive myself
for all recent sins, known as well as secret
even to me
easier for some
than for others, those
with no true love
no food to
no bed to sleep
in their soul
with no key
to unlock the door to self, their
true self as unknown to them as
a strange passing dark
on the street
and most difficult of all for those
who can't find within themselves
forgiveness of themselves
ego-obsessed creatures that we are,
sinners almost from our first thoughts,
if we cannot forgive
how will we ever learn to forgive
and if we cannot forgive others,
how can we ever live
in this world
that needs cleansed hearts
as much as it need clean air and water
habits of mercy
are what will save this world;
by human sinners
Chitra Banerjee Divakaurni
is an Indian-American poet, author and Professor of Writing at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.
The poem is from her book Black Candle - Poems about Women from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh
. The book was first published by CALYX Books in 1991, this revised edition in 2001.
The parrot flies to the custard-apple
The bees are among the pomegranates.
I call and call you, little bride .
Why do you not speak?
Bengali Folk Song
Blue and sudden as beginning,
a quilt at the bottom
of the small mahogany chest
which holds her things.
She died in childbirth,
this grandmother whose name
no one can tell me.
He married again,
a strong woman this time,
straight backed, wide-hipped
In the portrait downstairs
she wears the family diamonds
and holds her fourth son.
There are no pictures
of the wife who failed.
Her quilt leaves on my fingers
as from a butterfly wing.
I spread it against
the floor's darkness, see her fingers
working it into the world-design,
the gul-mohur tree
bright yellow against the blue,
the river winding through rice fields
into a horizon where men with swords
march to a war
or a wedding.
As the baby grew she stitched in
a drifting afternoon boat
with a peacock sail.
In the foreground, young grass.
A woman with a deer.
She is left unfinished,
no eyes, no mouth,
her face a smooth blankness
tilted up at birds
that fall like flames from the sky.
A tiny experiment.
afternoons in early spring
a beautiful woman
of being young
a beautiful woman
of being young
a beautiful woman
of being young
don't know which story
I want to tell
was born in 1950 and educated at the University of Iowa. She was Poet Laureate for Iowa from 2009 to 2011.
Her poem is from her book, Heaven-and-Earth House
, published in 1994 by Knopf.
Amish Phone Booth
The letter of the law is: no lines in from
the outside world. But this phone in a garage
down the road is fine, and a trip across
the field on foot enough to make you think twice
before a call. Above the receiver - chiropractor,
vet, weather report, all numbers penciled
on the wall. Below - a doodle of a stallion
with the caption S T U D. Bareback and buckboard,
they gallop in at night for help with a fire
in Chester Yoder's barn, they hay put up too wet,
or aid with a stuck calf who must be sawed
in half to get out. Doc, I'm not sure what to do
This little room that doesn't travel by buggy or bonnets
nodding together after church. The Bontragers
had another. After thirteen boys, a girl!
After thirteen years, the thin line that runs out
to the transformer still ices, sways in the winter wind,
goes down with any little spring storm.
A person could depend on that thing too much.
More reliable, the fence wire, that runs from
Swander to Yoder to Miller, is never busy,
charges nothing extra, leaves no gap in between.
Better to walk out and tap a message that will
hum from post to post, a party line for everyone
to overhear.Better to ring your alarms out there
in the pasture where the cattle, the sheep,
the nanny goat, their cries bleating across
the grass, will listen, and pass the word.
Please come, and bring the others this time.
Here's another from my 2010 eBook.
somewhere out there
this is serious business...
interstellar star systems
an alien race
is going extinct as their
is slowly replaced
by megaterlagon oxygen
a spaceship full of
for full immersion
Pat Boone is thinking about
a comeback tour
is suffering from delusions
a bunch of foreigners who don't
even speak English
are bouncing balls off their heads
and calling it
this is no dam time
and silly faces...
The next poem is by my poet friend, Arlene Ang
, and is taken from her book Banned for Life
, published by Misty Publications in 2014. This is her seventh book of poetry, including one in collaboration with another poet. In addition to her books, Arlene, who lives in Italy, publishes frequently in literary journals and is frequently honored for her work.
No Explanation Necessary
The spilt coffee curls my toes.
I am a self-portrait of the missing person This is before
that bad haircut. Before the even worse
I say Sit!
and I sit.
I don't bark. I've grown
inwards into what I drink every day.
And every day I attract more and more lies.
, I begin
my letters. I want to complain about
the air conditioner. Then, something happens
to the letter R.
It is not home.
For money, the next door family
is moving. For kindness they leave me their parakeets.
And some books no one had
the knack to burn. I film the departure
in stages: rain, claustrophobia,armlessness, cyclops.
I'm hungry. I swing the door
back and forth to feel the wind on my face.
Worry is my favorite
flavor of toothpaste. When I say this
end of the world.
The worm turns, another way to say karma.
the certainty that night will fall
a woman at a table
across the room,
hair drawn back tight,
face pulled tight
like a mask that wants
reading the riot act
to the man
at the table
he bows his head
remembers the axe in the
and how good it feels
to swing the heft of it, feel
the bit of its blade
in a tree
hell this morning
the certainty that night
This short poem is by Adrienne Rich
. It's taken from her book, Dark Field of the Republic, Poems 1991-1995
, published by W. W. Norton in 1995.
Food Packages: 1947
Powdered milk, chocolate bars, canned fruit, tea
Four packages a month to her old professor in Heidelberg
and his Jewish wife:
Europe is trying to revive n intellectual life
and the widow of the great sociologist needs flour.
Europe is trying/to revive/
with the Jews somewhere else.
The young ex-philosopher tries to feed her teachers
all the way from New York, with orders for butter from Denmark,
sending dispatches into the fog
of the European spirit:
I am no longer German. I am a Jew and the German language
was once my home.
Another futile attempt to fix the ills of the world.
poets on every street corner
If was going
to write a poem
about what I would do
if I could run the world
sitting here now
I don't know what to do either
I'd like to see rain
and sunshine and blue skies
the rest of the week
in the winter
when there should be snow
and blue skies
and children skating
on iced over ponds
and cows in the fields
through their noses
and palm trees on beaches
for those who don't like
and big waves for the surfers
and clear, clean streams
between tall green trees
for us who prefer to float
and people learning to shake off
likes dogs shaking off wet
a big shake
beginning with flapping ears
passing down to big
of their rear
butts like a Mixmaster
and no icky things
in dark corners
and no spiders and no
or animals who like to eat people
and no fatherless children
or old people
rotting in isolation
and no one dying
of diseases they couldn't afford to cure
and no backaches or
in hide-away places
and no people who eat too much
or people who never get to eat
as much as they need
and no drunkards or drug addicts
who shoot children from their cars
and no priests, preacher, ayatollahs,
rabbis or other parasites on the human soul
poets on ever street corner
proclaiming truth and love and silly songs
for all who will listen
and people who will listen to all the poets
on all the street corners
and return their love
and maybe throw money
and no Republicans,
they should be at the top of my list
instead of here
For my last pieces from my library this week, I have two short poems by Sidney Wade
, from her book, Stroke
, published by Persea Books in 2007.
Born in 1951 in New Jersey and educated at the University of Houston and the University of Vermont, Wade currently holds the position of Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Florida where she has taught since 1993.
It strikes me that both of these poems seem strangely prescient to have been written in the early 90s.
In the dying order, they go first,
the little ones. The war heads
have decreed it. They are to be married
to the machinery of death and shepherded
by blank-eyed marshals to the altar.
The power of the powerful will not falter.
Democracy and freedom, etc. etc. etc.
Our vehicles possess a raging thirst.
In the desiccated lies the windy ones thunder,
in the heat of each day more concentrated in dismay.
than the last, while fanatics fan the daily burn
and the social contract withers in disarray,
the dog days dog and the hollow nights fall.
I am helpless to stop them. Instead I sprawl
in the pool of glossy words. They are all I have
to irrigate the old an green and fluent mundo.
And here it ends for the week.
time between time
of a winter day ending...
sun down, time-constrained
street lights not yet
a passing memory of day
in the back of our eyes
as night takes first
tentative steps into
its black collar
on the cloak
a passing moment
in the city,
a time between time,
a time s old as time when
the wheels stop spinning,
as pages in the great book
of all life and space
it's the same
in the mountains
except there, in the unsullied
dark, you can count the stars
as, one by one, they come
a night under stars
in the city
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
Also as usual, I am Allen Itz owner and producer of
this blog, and a not so diligent seller of books, specifically these and
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
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