For You & Me   Wednesday, April 12, 2017


A time of peril again, a bombastic president with the emotional maturity of a spoiled child and hangers-on willing to go along with whatever he wants, we hope the generals, seemingly the only adults in the room, remember this well.

This is from my first book, Seven Beats a Second, published in 2005. It is my only print book and is still available, I think, on Amazon


for you and me

blood 
clots

on dry desert dust 

in steamy jungle rot

on busy city streets

in green country fair

again


again


again


death
         daily

some
        where

again&again&again

until

you 
&
me

say

nononononononononono
                                 more

again
&
again

no
more








More stuff.

Back in the old days,  before my memory got all mushy, I remembered sexy stuff, which I used in these poems from my first book, Seven Beats a Second.


Me
for you and me

Me
a  brief break in the fog

Constantin Cavafy
When I Lingered and Lay Upon the Beds
In the Taverns

Me
cinnamon dreams

Brenda Cardenas
From the Tongues of Brick and Stone

Me
dusk

Marsha Pomrantz
Inscriptions for Chinese Paintings 

Me
lying in the sun with Susan

Walt Whitman
A Glimpse

Me
Tejano hamburgers

E. E. Cummings
9 (from III from "The 1920s)

Me
lotsa hots

Meleagros
Garland
Funeral

Me
something  better came  long

Katharyn Machn Aal
Pockets

Me
caress
burning
sex is
summer reruns

Me
what's better than cold chocolate milk?

Me
tornado warning

Ann Newell
 Short form poetry

Me
git along little dogie

Anna Akhmatova
Native Soil

Me
thinking about dying and the best way to do it
                                    










First for the week.









a brief break in the fog

thin as a Popsicle stick,
tattoo on her arm
sized
to fit the burly arm
of a three hundred pound
stevedore

her friend,
large-breasted,
walks as if facing
a Gulf Coast southeaster

their friend,
a pixie-faced black girl -

I wrote a pom about her
ten years ago when she worked
at a coffeehouse by the river,
about the way she danced
so lightly across the room
as she delivered coffee to my
table

she was someone to remember
then; nothing memorable
about me to
her...

all three, the three amigos,
I see them every day,
but if I skip a day I know
they will have forgotten
me...

seems the older I become
the fog of unmemorability
settles thicker abound me, gray
lost in gray,
fading
even
as they talk to me,
a brief break in the fog
swirling back to cover me
the moment
I"m gone








The first two  poems from my library are from A Day for a Lay - a century of gay poetry, published by Barricade Books in 1999.

The poems are by Constantine Cavafy, born of Greek parents in Alexandria, Egypt in 1863. He lived most of his life in cosmopolitan Alexandria, where his gay lifestyle presented less of an issue than it might have elsewhere, most of his life, dying there in 1933. He was a poet, journalist, and public servant.






Where I Lingered and Lay Upon the Beds

Whenever I went to the house of pleasure
I never  hung out in the front rooms where they
politely celebrated the more accepted forms of love.

I went into the secret rooms
where I lingered and lay upon the beds.

I went into the secret rooms
that they are ashamed to name.
Yet not shameful to me - for if they were
what kind of poet, what kind of an artist would I be?
I'd rather be an ascetic. Such would be more in keeping,
much more in keeping with my poetry,
than for me to seek pleasures in the commonplace rooms.


In the Taverns

I wallow in the taverns
and in the brothels of Beirut.
I didn't want to stay
in Alexandria. Tamides left me;
he went off with the Governor's son to earn himself
a villa on the Nile, a  mansion in the city.
It wouldn't be acceptable for me to stay in Alexandria -
I  wallow in the taverns
and in the brothels of Beirut.
I live an abject life, devoted to cheap  debauchery.
The only thing that saves me,
like immortal beauty, like a fragrance that
remains forever on my skin, is that I possessed Tamides
for two full years, the most exquisite of young men,
mine completely, and not for a house of a villa on the Nile.













From Seven Beats a Second - an afternoon dream.












cinnamon dreams

in the dim light
at end of day
I watch you sleep
     still damp
     from the shower
curled on your side
    tangled
in white linen
     pink
     like the center
of a fresh sliced  peach
     floating
in a bowl of sweet cream

your foot moves
     slowly
brushes softly against mine

with a quiet rush
     of warm air
     you sigh,
the sweet breath
of cinnamon dreams





                                  

Next from my library, I have  Brenda  Cardenas, with the title poem from her book, From the Tongues  of Brick and Stones. The book was published by Momotombo Press in 2005.

Cardenas, a native  of  Milwaukee, holds a MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor. A poet and teacher, she has published two collections of poetry and teaches Creative Writing; Composition; and Latin American, U.S. Latino, and American Literature at Wright College in Chicago.







From the Tongues of Brick and Stone

At Taos, Estevan guides my hands
to the pueblo's clay walls.
I receive their heat, their amber dust.
He recalls his grandmother
teaching him to slid
his palms across the adobe,
so he would remember
the texture of their stories.
So you will know, he says.

All day, I listen to stones -
Camel  rock, lava rock,
las montanas Sandia, Jemez, y Sangre de Cristos,
a lump in the holy dirt I draw
from the well at Chimayo,
headstones strung with red and yellow  petals
behind la iglesia San Geronimo
where Indios and Mexicanos revolted,
took  refuge and huddled together
against yet another U.S. invasion.
Inside adobe, they listened
to one another's last breaths.

All night beneath stout beams
in a tiny room of candlelight,
I listen to the ocean of wind
that washes Santa Fe hills,
its Anasazi tongue as comforting
and unforgiving as Ojo Caliente -
the hot springs with their eyes wise
to what weakens, what replenishes.
Estevan, who is learning to swim,
knows it's a tricky balance
to let go, rest in the hands of others,
trust our own breath
to keep our bodies buoyant,
our faces floating like blossoms
on a pillow of water.

Back in Chicago, I listen above
the horns and wounded mufflers,
the sirens and shrill faces,

the swish and whistle of highways,
above the shudder of the el train,
the clang and clatter of factories,
the boom in the bass that rattles the whole block,
above the noise that calls itself news.

Each winter, I  listen to stones
along Lake Michigan, to  voices
never removed, who wrap
Pontiac's Rebellion in Algonquian syllables
sent on the skin of the wind. Its chill
still surprises the hollows
between my sapling ribs, then settles
beneath my bones like the arctic
quilt of snow to which I surrender,
arms swishing against the frozen ground
to for an eagle's wings,
flushed cheeks floating on a white feather bed.

Here, I press my palms to limestone
and wonder what I will remember.

                                      







From the dim.











dusk

8:30
at the diner

dusk

what's a good word for the in-between
time of day, not
day, not
night,
time
when creeping things
crawl from  underground lairs,
when God's messengers
bolt the doors against the
black evils of night,
their children sneaking through
windows to find the devils
the parents fear, the devils
who  call the curious
and chaste to learn, to experiment, 
invite the sheltered to the bacchanals
of their most fevered dreams...

dusk...

not one thing or another,
a time of leaving and coming,
a time when all dangerous games
seem possible in the semi-dark,
semi-light

a  time when imagination
lets loose and flies on 
wings of secret
desire









 
From my library, this poem is by Marsha Pomrantz, taken from her book The Illustrated Edge, published in 2011 by Biblioasis.

Pomrantz grew up in New York,  lived in Israel for twenty years, and, at the time of publication,  lived in  Boston. Her poetry and prose have been published in journals in the US,  UK, and Israel. She has translated poetry, short fiction and a novel from the Hebrew.







Inscriptions for Chinese Paintings

1
I, Stick, paint this in the style of my master, Branch, but
cannot attain the iridescence of his bark in darkness.

11th day of the 5th moon, which returns and returns, but
not to me.

2
This  splinter rests among begonia laves as if it were a
flower. Fingers know the wisdom of brushing nothing away.

Inscribed in the 5th moon by a mind without fingers.

3
Hr is a filament of spider-spit knitted with dust, smiled
upon by light. My friend, turned to ash, was dispersed by a
gust. A cinder of his lung lodged in my throat.

12th day of the 5th moon, which sputters through me like a
breath, deepening.

4
Leaves green the celery woods of spring: brushes, and their
lines lengthening in the breeze.

19th day of a moon as smooth as the rim of a robin's nest
from which all have fallen.

5
When I moved the black pine into the picture, its roots
remained behind. Now it reaches out to help me cross the
river. Shall I go?

Inscribed between the 6th and 7th branches, whose shadows
calibrate the moon.

6
Ice cleaved this rock last winter. Did it suffer? I inspect its
faces, which squint in the sun at the minerals of me.

21st day of a moon that cleaves the sea.

7
Is the eye less surprised by five deer than by six? Here is
where they arched across the road.

Inscribed as time attends with the force off hooves landing.

8
The lake is incessant small peaks, repeats, antique, release,
increase, repeats, upbeats, each crease, each pleat replete, sun
heat, retreat, blue teats, conceits, drop leaps in deep. Do you
think it is also wet?

Inscribed this 23rd day of the 5th moon as I blow on ink to
cool it.

9
I prove to you this butterfly, leashing it with one  hair from
my brush. I hold on, tethered to the page, can go no further
in, come no further out.

Defined, this 24th day of the crysalid moon.













From Seven Beats a Second - a hot afternoon on the water.











lying in the sun with Susan

quiet bay

no sound but the light rustle
of marsh grass in the gulf breeze

she
lies on the deck, legs spread,
as if to thrust herself
at the summer sun

sweat glistens
on the inside of her  thigh
and my tongue aches
for the taste of her








Next from my library, Walt Whitman, from the small collection of his work, Selected Poems, published in 2002 by Phoenix Poetry.

With Walt, I usually fall into his world and go on and on, forgetting to stop. To avoid that this time I went to this collection of shorter pieces and selected one of the even shorter pieces from it.

This piece illustrates why, at least in my day, our Whitman-reading  experience and pleasure in high school was  limited to Captain my Captain.

It is unfortunate that most often our students graduated from  high school and sometime university getting, at most, only minimal exposure to our greatest poet, including most tragically, many young people just trying to imagine themselves as poet. They, most of all, should read Whitman so as to learn what they might aspire to.






A Glimpse

A glimpse through an interstice caught,
Of a crowd of workmen and drivers in a bar-room
     around the stove late of a winter night, and I
     unremark'd seated in a corner,
Of a youth who loves me and whom I love, silently
     approaching and seating himself near, that he may
     hold me by the hand,
A long while amid the noises of coming and going, of
     drinking and oath and smutty jest,
There we two, content, happy in being together,
     speaking little, perhaps not a word.










About home stuff.









Tejano hamburgers

I've lived
most of my life in
multi-lingual
multi-ethnic
multi-cultural
South Texas

there are some
who still have a problem with such
diversity - we can't deny that the fearful and bigoted
are still  among, frightened by the different,hiding
from the stranger who could be 
friend

but most of find comfort in the multi-multiples
of life here,
Polish sausage
German brisket
Mexican empnadas and molletes
for breakfast
green beer on St. Pat's day

and music -

conjunto -

invented here in South Texas
a melding 
of German and Czech
accordion
polka
with a ranchero beat


 and the ever-present
taco

breakfast, lunch,  and dinner
in a corn or flour tortilla,
the place where ll the multiples
meet...

it 
is
Tejano
culture, a new thing
spreading from this South Texas
island of diversity
north,
migrating with the migrants
who leave here,
but never for long,
leaving their culture
(and my culture)
wherever they go
for others to assimilate 

forget  your border wall,
you racists,
it is too late to save
you 
from the future!

you doubt me?

try to find a place in this great
diversified nation
where
you can't buy a taco -

it's  the  new
Tejano hamburger!











It seems I just did Cummings, but here he is again, E. E. Cummings, from a different book than last time, Etcetera, The Unpublished Poems, published by Liveright in 1983.












9. (from III, from "the 1920's)

there are so many tictoc
clocks everywhere telling people
what toctic time it is for
tictic instance five toc minutes toc
past six tic

Spring is not regulated and does
not get out of order nor do
its hands a little jerking move
over numbers slowly

                                 we do not
wind it up it has no weights
springs wheels inside of
its slender self no indeed dear
nothing of the kind.

(So,when kill Spring comes
we'll kiss each kiss other on kiss the kiss
lips because tic clocks toc don't make
a toctic difference
to kisskiss you and to
kiss me)













From Seven Beats a Second - degrees of hot.











lotsa hots

I've worked in August
under the noon-day sun
digging post holes
in hard-packed caliche
on the Texas-Mexican border

that's one kind of hot

I've won six months pay
throwing dice in Reno

that's another kind of hot

I've seen pretty little whores
in Piedras Negras
hot enough to  melt the silver tip
off  cowboy's dress-up boots

that's pretty hot, too

but no kind of hot
is as hot
as thinking of you and me
on a big white bed
in a room with curtains whispering
to a low midnight breeze,
soft lights, satin shadows
shifting over pale  skin

your dark eyes shining,
liquid in their knowing









These two  short poems are from Dances for Flute and Thunder - Praises, Prayers,  and Insults, an anthology of poems from the ancient Greek. The anthology was published by the Penguin Group in 1999. The poems in the book  were translated by Brooks Haxton.

The poet  is Meleagros/Meleager, a native of Gadara in Palestine, the favorite seat of the Greek  kinds of Syria that flourished roughly a half century before the Christian  era.








Garland

White violet,  narcissus, twist
of myrtle,lily, sweet with laughter,
crocus, purple hyacinth , all
inter-wound with rosebuds opening
as love does thoughts of her: my crown
I placed about her temples,
where the petals dropped already
into  her gold braid,loose
with balm and drooping curls.


Funeral

Cremate me,,  what's left, my dear,
Pour into the ashes in my urn
a fifth of sour mash, stir well,
and bury. Let my stone say,
Love gave death a snort.











For it's an age-old story, as time goes by.











something better came along

we were  couple 
once

she was my girlfriend
and I was her  boyfriend,
both making do
until something better
came along

then  she took her vows
and became a nun
and
I went  back to drinking

both better off
for it








The next poem is from another anthology, Pierced by a Ray of Sun, published in 1995 by Harper Collins.

The poem I selected is by Katharyn Machan Aal. Born in 1952, the poet grew up  in Connecticut and  New York. She studied writing and literature at the College of St. Rose and at the University of Iowa. Having earned her Ph.D. at Northwestern University she is a full time professor there, on the faculty of the School of Humanities and Science and also in the faculty of Woman  and Gender
Studies.







Pockets

Walking down the street she  finds her hands
jammed into pockets, blue jeans tight
across the hips she likes to move to  music -
barefoot, hair down, silver tape recorder

blaring loud.She's seventeen. Her mother
calls her Bluebell just to get a rise, goes off
to work  the morning shift in  almost white
shoes and cap and apron, while daughter

slouches over Cheerios, sips  coffee, stares ahead
and thinks how much she hates the  smell of books.
"Goodbye." And once again "Goodbye" as now she
turns a corner stained with leaf tattoos

from early rain, pretends she doesn't care
that she is pregnant from a skinny man
she slept with once, who'll never know, who
thinks of her as someone she once tasted,

might again. She moves along, indifferent
to the aching bit of smoke from cigarette
she sucks. She's  seventeen. All's possible. All isn't.
Today at school they'll see a stupid film.













Several from Seven Beats a  Second.











caress

midnight

hot breath
and
whispers

soft
      slow
              glide
                      of skin
                                 on skin

tongue
like the bite
of a velvet adder

secrets
unveiled

surrendered

to the touch

to the smoldering touch

of midnight


burning

though
hot
I'm not

you truly set me burning
when you walked out those
swinging doors
in your skimpy white short-shorts

tight cheeks flexing against
the soft cotton
like two  little monkeys
in a  velvet bag

waving goodbye

seismic
is the word that comes to mind


about sex

sex
is about the heat
of rubbing parts together
passion
a function of finely calibrated
friction

some will say
it makes a big difference
which parts do what to who

nonsense
I  say

it's a lot
like chicken fingers

in the dark
parts is parts

you rub mine
and I'll rub ours
and we'll sort it out
in the morning


summer reruns

let me tell you straight
Lily Belle

you're sweeter 'n honey
on a cinnamon stick

hotter 'n peppers
in a cast iron skillet

juicer 'n a dew melon
cut fresh in the field

but
your sex drive
is 'bout to drive me to drinkin'

can't we just watch Hee Haw
or something

I think I'm getting a heat  rash












An extra from Seven Beats a Second - I love cold chocolate milk, but...












what's better than cold chocolate milk?

what could  be better than a big glass
of ice cold chocolate milk
on a warm summer day

might be you
naked
up to your neck in a great big vat
of cold chocolate milk

could be you
naked
floating on your back in an immense bowl
of cherry jell

even you
naked
splashing like a puppy in a gigantic pot
of split-pea soup

or, hell, maybe just you
naked

waiting for me













I was in a tornado once (actually not in, it passed about a block  from me). I knew it when I saw someone's roof flying overhead.









tornado warning

tornado warnings
a  few miles north of us, little
towns of Comfort, Welfare.
Centerdale,, Boerne,
Leon Springs
at risk...

here,
morning dark midnight,
clouds overhead
black
as a preacher's secret yearnings,
winds shaking trees
then completely still, 
rain drops
few in number but
the size of copper pennies
on the cobblestone...

~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday morning
at Starbucks, I had a poem in mind
about my city's 300 anniversary, about
the Yanguana who lived here for
10,000 years in rude shelters
along the creeks and rivers between the hills
and canyons, and the first Europeans,
Spanish missionaries from the Mexican colony
to the south, and the story of all them,
the first peoples and the later peoples  and
those even later, colonists from the
north, and all their lives and all their stories
that led to the city as I know it, 1.5 million strong, 
growing too fast now for old timers like me
who read all the early stories and find a better
place for us in them...

that was the poem I was going to write:

but I  think I'll wait until tomorrow,
see if the city's still here before
I commit...










Next, a few short poems from Mount Gassan's Slope - haiku - senryu -sumi-e, published by Red Moon Press in 2002.

And here's the switch, Japanese forms written in English by Ann Newell and translated into Japanese by Kenichie Sato.











watching the empty swing
swinging the old lady
stands bent swinging

`````

pregnant girl
touching
swollen lilac buds

`````

sound of a train
still in the distance...
midnight rain

````

two sunsets
through the backyard fence
persimmon bush blossoming

`````

losing things
day after day
my journey gets lighter

`````

at the party
an old lady smiling
in her sleep












Last from Seven Beats a Second - from a bar in San Angelo, Texas, a long time ago.











 git along little dogie

hair
soft and blond
as sun-bleached tassels
of summer corn,
hanging all the way down
to a sassy little ass
snuggled up in blue denim
tight enough to send Mr. Rogers
skipping
through the neighborhood
singing
heidee ho heidee hee

that was Lily Dee, best thing
about a little shitkicker bar
on the south side of San Angelo
where me and Toby shot pool
when we ran short of cash

my oh my,
what a treat was Lily Dee

gave the cowboys
something to think about
on those hot July nights,
sweating alone
in their bunkhouse beds

git along little dogie,
goddamn it
git along








Born in 1889 and died in 1966, Anna Akhmatova, a Russian modernist poet, widely read and admired during the czarist period, oppressed after the revolution, losing both her husband and child during the worst of the Stalinist years, then rehabilitated in the sixties and today, though virtually none of her poetry was allowed to be published between 1923 and 1940, is one of the most acclaimed poets of the Russian canon.

Her poem is from the collection You Will Hear Thunder, published in 1985 by the Ohio University Press, with translation by D. M. Thomas.






Native Soil

     There's nothing simpler than us, or with
     More pride, or fewer tears.
                                         (1922)

Our hearts don't wear it as an amulet,
It doesn't sob beneath the poet's hand,
Nor irritate the wounds we can't forget
In our bitter sleep. It's not the Promised Land
Our sols don't calculate its worth
As a commodity to be sold and bought;
Sick, and poor, and silent on this earth,
Often we don't give it a thought.
     Yes, for us it's the dirt on our galoshes,
     Yes, for us it's the grit between our teeth.
     dust, and we grind and crumble and crush it,
     The gentle and unimplicated earth.
But we'll lie in it, become its weeds and flowers,
So unembarrassedly we call it - ours.

                                               1961, Leningrad












The subject comes up, worth thinking about.










thinking about dying and the best way to do it

thinking
about dying,
not in the short run,
but inevitable,
some future day or night
when, I hope, I am last prepared
for it...

seems to me
that's the way to go...

my father died a slow 
and painful
death

my mother laid down
for an after dinner nap
and never got up

that's my most direct experience
with death
and it  seems certain to me
that of the two
Mom did it best...

this subject comes to mind
today
because I had my quarterly 
doctor visit yesterday -
a very nice young female doctor
who keeps telling me every
three months that I'm getting old...

I don't like hearing that sort
of thing, but at least
she's been  telling me that
for some years now
and it hasn't
led to any negative consequence
so I have resigned
myself to it,
choosing to regard it as
the least unacceptable consequence...

deciding I'll just
live with it
until 
one day that black-robed  guy
will pounce,coming out of
nowhere to put an  end
to it...

at least I  hope
it turns out
that way








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
 I welcome your comments below on this issue and the poetry and photography featured in it.

I welcome comments on "Hear and Now" and on the poems in this edition. Just click the "Comment" tab below.







Poetry

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





Fiction


Sonyador - The Dreamer




                                                            

  Peace in Our Time
 

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Pitching Pennies
The Rain In My Purse
Dave Ruslander
S. Thomas Summers
Clif Keller's Music
Vienna's Gallery
Shawn Nacona Stroud
Beau Blue
Downside up
Dan Cuddy
Christine Kiefer
David Anthony
Layman Lyric
Scott Acheson
Christopher George
James Lineberger
Joanna M. Weston
Desert Moon Review
Octopus Beak Inc.
Wrong Planet...Right Universe
Poetry and Poets in Rags
Teresa White
Camroc Press Review
The Angry Poet