Where I Went When I Went Too Far   Wednesday, May 31, 2017

speaking for decency in an indecent time

it isn't about politics,
though the incessant stupidity,
the blind allegiance to dumb-ass ideologies,
the Sears catalog-sized list of lies,
means there's more than enough there
to make one, as the former FBI director says,

not the politics,
it's the continuing assault
on decency
that's getting to me in a way
nothing in politics ever has before...

the blatant,  unapologetic indecency,
that, and that so many of the people
I always assumed to be decent accept
the indecency and don't seem to be bothered
about it at all...

here's the deal,
it's beautiful day in San Antonio,
the kin of day we only get for a few weeks
a year, and here I am, not writing
about such a day, but about
our pig of a president
and all  his subject piglets
who find no indecency in his
indecent abuse or

it's an old fashioned word - decency -
but dammit it should still mean

it's like the most vocal Christians
I know
have suddenly found the devil and
discovered he's a really fine fellow 
and they like the hell out of him

while I fume, ranting about
the violence being done to the most basic 
of civilization's  virtues, even if
the fucking degenerates in charge
can't figure it out and don't
care anyway...

More regular stuff.

speaking for decency in an indecent time

lost in the jungle of Electronica

Deborah Digges
Rough Music

watching someone read my book

Maurice Oliver
"Pure Pop" Sonnet
"Rear Window" Sonnet

the string

From Haiku Inspirations - three masters

I don't like old men

little bits

bringing it down

Lucille Lang Day
Aunt Gert Says at Ninety-Three

weep for me for I am a hero

one true thing

change, not so much

Arlitia Jones
Paint Prayers

cowboys and Indians

Ku Sang
Eros, I through IV

holes, my specialty

finding my book in a second-hand bookstore far from home

the woman weeps

good morning

I fought against getting a new laptop until it reached the point where my old laptop could not be reliably turned on. So I got a new one and every thing is about 15 times harder to do than it was before. Goddammit, I hate progress.

lost in the jungle of Electronica

day 1

like a monk
in his cell, ink-stained fingers
pen on paper,
the first of an unknown number
of days imprisoned in
my new laptop at Best Buy,
my old laptop there too,
spilling its digitized
to the new device on the block
as I await the chance
to compute

I think I hear
a brontosaurs munching tree tops
outside my window



(what a useful word that is,
allowing us
poetically declined a radical shift
of narrative, while pretending continued allegiance
to the rules of narrative, as now,
with one tiny "meanwhile" we abandon
the pretense that anything
of the sort has happened)

my grass is turning brown
as my house is being painted
as, also meanwhile
rain is possible says the forecast,
or dry
and I don't know
which option to hope for

day 2

one of these days,
if I can stay up long enough,
I'm going to write about
a sunset

(there's that word again)
I'm stuck with this near-sunless sunrise,
the day already hot
and humid, 
coastal wind carrying
coastal bletch to cover the hills...

not promising for outside activity,
though a promise has been made regarding
a walk in the park...

it is early Saturday morning
at the coffeehouse,
just me
and two others brave enough
to face this dark and dismal
day (it's not he heat, it's the humidity,
the wisdom we so afflicted
as if the sharing will make it all better,
and, as I continue
my ink and paper journey,
I am not enthusiastic
about the day
or the possibility
I will ever get the ink
off my fingers

the poet's quest for life
and inspiration
in this dumpster of a day
is interrupted
and I'm saved again in my life
by rock and roll
as from the radio calls

sets my heart a'fira
giddy-up giddy-up
oom poppa oom poppa mow mow
oom poppa oom poppa mow mow
height ho silver away

and I'm off again
this day
on my white silver steed
and my white hat and silver bullets
boom chucka
boom chucka
hi ho hi ho

day 3

chasing squirrels
up a tree
down a tree
across a street
squirrels chasing

two of them -

the ice has been melting
for nearly 12,000 years,
with a slight tilt to the planet, 
reversing an earlier tilt of 21,000 years before
and the earth shines bright and hot again
and the great melting creating
great new seas, the flood, not just Noah's
but the great flood told of in other mythologies
from near-forgotten times and cultures and
as the ice melts
and the oceans rise,
not the work of a single vindictive
genocidal god, but because the sun warms
again and the waters rise, destroying cultures,
forests, crop land, and humanity returns
to the caves hungry again...

and in another millennia, the water recedes again,
baring again bare surfaces, leaving behind
shells and fossils of sea creatures
on the high desert of West Texas, traces
in our back yards here in the hill country, dig
a hole for a fence post and enter our watery past...

and the natural early warming 
is accelerate now as we wrap a carbon blanket
over the planet, trapping heat as great new ice shelves
begin to melt again, faster than ever in the natural course
of planetary history, pushed faster and faster
by the offspring of hungry caves, feeding too much
on the bounties that have been ours since first from the Garden
we strode, and the oceans rise again
and what our count has too much built
will sink beneath the waters again
as the great mother of all life takes her revenge
for out greedy deprecations...


squirrels chasing squirrels,
we climb our trees
of denial,
and down again,
across the dangerous intersections
of greed, ignorance,
and unforgiving 

up a tree
and down a tree,

The first poem from my library this week is by Deborah Digges. The poem is the title poem from her book Rough Music, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1996.

Diggs born in Missouri in 1950, died in 2009.  A graduate with an MFA from the Iowa Writer's Workshop, during the course of her career she taught writing and English at New York University, Boston University, Columbia University and Tuft University.

Rough Music

This is how it's done.
The villagers surround the house,
beat pots and pans, beat shovels to drain spouts,
crowbars to shutters, rakes
raining rake tines on corrugated washtubs, or wire
whips, or pitchforks, or horseshoes.
At first they keep their distance
as if to wake you like blackbirds, though the birds
have long since fled, flown deep into the field.
And for a while you lie still, you stand it,
even smile up at your crimes
accompanying, each one, the sunrise stuttering across the ceiling
like the sounds within the sounds,
like lightning inside the thrum-tink, woman-in-wood-shoes-
fall-down-wooden-stairs, like wrong-wrong inside rung-rung,
brick-smacking brick housing ice-breaking-ice-
I mention this since this is what my dreams
are lately, rough music,
as if all the boys to women I have been, the muses, ghost-
girls and shadows of the ancestors
circle my bed in their cheap accouterments
ad banged my silver spoons on iron skillets, moor
rock on moor rock, thrust yardsticks into fans.
Though I wake and dress and try
go go about my day,
room to room to room, they follow me.
By evening, believe me, I'd give back everything,
throw open my closets, pull out my drawers spilling my hoard
of dance cards, full for the afterlife,
but my ears are bleeding.
I'm trapped in the bell tower during wind,
or I'm the wind itself against the furious, unmetered,
anarchical applause of leaves late autumns
in the topmost branches.
Now the orchestra at once throws down its instruments.
The doors in the house of God tear off their hinges -
I'm the child's fist drumming on its mother's back,
rock that hits the skull that silences the martyr,
or I"m the martyr's tongue cut out, fire inside fire,
clapper back to ore, ore into the mountain.
I'm gone , glad, empty, good
riddance, some shoulder to the sea, the likeness
of a wing, or the horizon, merely, that weird mirage, stone
slapping moon, the night filled up with crows.
I clap my hands.
they scatter, scatter, fistful after
fistful of sand on water, desert for desert, for from here.

This piece is from 2008, a real experience.

I don't get a lot of feedback on my stuff, so aside from an occasional review of one of my books, it is mainly my self-assurance that keeps me going.

So, an experience like this in real time is very welcome.

watching my book be read

the first time
I watched someone
read my book today

I don't know;
someone who
doesn't know me

on the other sided 
of the coffeehouse
who doesn't know
I''m watching

it's a young couple
who stopped at the free
table by the door

I was watching,
to see what they would do

I could tell
it was my book they picked up
by the colors on the cover
so I paid close attention
as they took the book
to a table
in the far corner of the room

they read together,
handing the book back and forth
pointing to a page,
a poem,
talking about it,
reading sometimes
very quietly,
laughing loudly
at others

it made me feel
to see the concentration.
to hear the laughter...

the book has serious
as well as many meant
to be funny

I'm going to continue
to assume
they were laughing
at the right places

and don't
to tell me different

Next from my library, two poems from Mitochondria's First Anthology of Rarities and Loose Ends. Published in 2005, it is a collection of many poems including a couple of mine and these two from Maurice Oliver who I think might be an editor, blogger and poet.

"Pure Pop" Sonnet

The bag piper
a wool kilt
serenade a
June night
Two racks of
A cardboard
box of dusty
vintage albums
One torn
cloth coat
Sets of six
stones in
a row
Hollow music
inside a tube
Barrels of
sweet sherry
The one -legged
tap dancer
Sing in a way
that blends

"Rear Window" Sonnet

Headlights smear
across the
moving train
Vines grow
against the
cemetery wall
Two deer the
color of dirt
Ornate fountains
blow mist
into a rainbow
After several
hot kisses
up the thigh
Forested hills
in snow
Bugs bash
the windshield
Until the
telephone pole
becomes an orange

A second piece from last week.

the string

through the wall of windows
I see across the small plaza
to the architects' wall of windows
as they meet, planning
no doubt
some modern marvel
of construction

and I think back
to the days
when I wanted to be
either an architect or an archaeologist,
two ends of the same string,
building for eternity
or studying the ravaging
of eternity on human

I think there is a story
of our kind
on that string,
building a life and a history,
diligent in our quest for some grater meaning,
leaving behind the dust of our broken

I work hard
and leave behind only


I guess it's better
the void of never passing
this way

or so
I say when nobody's

From Haiku Inspirations, published by Chartwell Books, Inc. in 2006, the three masters translated by Tom Lowenstein.

Poet and painter

Spring rain falling.
On the roof a child's rag doll -


It pierces my heel
as I walk in the bedroom:
my late wife's comb.


Cherry petals scattered
in the water between seedlings rice:
moon and star light!


Red moon up there:
who does it belong to,


Don't swat the fly:
it wrings its hands,
it wrings its feet.


Come to me:
let's play
little sparrow orphan!

Greatest of the masters

Cool, cool,
the wall against my heels
as I doze at midday.


Irises blossom
over my feet -
blue sandal laces!


How I would like
to wash the world's dust
with these dewdrops!

This is from 2009 and it's true, I don't like old men so much, and young men not so much better. Now young girls, that's a different thing entirely. Damn little good it does me.

I don't like old men

I don't like
old men so much -

not much
to talk about

after the first
couple of jokes

with these old guys

haven't learned anything new
since their 37th

or the day they lost

their virginity,
whichever came

first, what response
can you make

when they say stuff like
the country's really

gone to hell
since the liberals

kicked out
ol' Richard Nixon -

I' not at all
like them -

I make a point
of learning something new

every day -
course that don't mean

remember it

This from 2008, in the spirit of the haiku, even if not in proper form.

little bits

lonely whistle
in the dark
little bird

elders grieve
pale women
under dim
diminished stars

dogs at
smell wild
bark until
first light

no rain
for garden's
faith may
bring rain

the robin
danger ranger
calls her
to eat

whale song
the deep
navy sonar
roils the tide

Among the reasons I hate progress - it never seems to be on my side.

bringing it down

a week of frustration,
aggravation, fits of near

all because I dared
t buy a new 
filled with functions
that a determinedly simple-minded
fella like me
has no use for
must be navigated to do
the simple-minded stuff that is
what I do...

on of the things, outside of Republicans
and pig presidents,
I hate most about modern times,
the never ending fascination of the nerds
who run our life

it's like automobiles,
you know,
I never even lift the hood anymore
because the guts
have been complicated
beyond my 50-year-old mechanical knowledge
and I have no interest in what new guts
there are,
I just want to drive the damn thing,
not study it,
like my new laptop -
I have no interest in at least 75% of what it will do,
I just want it to do what I'm used to doing...

I don't care about all the bells and whistles,
I just want to drive it...

there is,
I believe,
a fortune to be made
by simple-minded engineers who recognize
the possibilities of simple-minded
for simple-minded

This poem is by Lucille Lang Day, from her book, The Curvature of Blue, published in 2009 by Cervena Barva Press.

Day is the author of ten poetry collections, a memoir, and a children's book. She earned an MFA in creative writing at San Francisco State University, an MA in Zoology and a Ph.D. in science/mathematics education at the University of California, Berkeley.

Aunt Gert Says at Ninety-Three

All the ladies in Florida wore
white, sleeveless dresses
and carried large umbrellas
that said "Sunshine" or were covered
with oranges. They gathered
in the hotel lobby every morning
and walked to the hardware store,
where each one  ought a different
kind of nut or bolt while I dove
into the azure pool. I didn't
want to move to Florida because
everyone there appeared to be
at least eighty. So I went back
to New York with my husband,
King David. During the Depression
I almost left him because
he played craps while I worked,
but I got my brother-in-law
to hire him as a furrier. He took
out a loan to by monkey furs
from China, went into business
for himself, and all the ladies
wore monkey jackets to the opera.
No one else sold them. The men
would have sold their souls to be
first in the monkey business, but
David beat them. They called him
the Monkey King of Seventh Avenue
Now he's gone, and I wear wool
for warmth,and prefer coffee to tea.

This is a rant from 2010. I hate the way our culture turns victims into heroes, diminishing both. The innocent victim needs compassion and grief and if possible, vengeance, not phony glorification.

weep for me for I am a hero

it was a terrible
evil thing
done to us

by terrible

this world is full
of terrible evil mother-

doing terrible evil things
everywhere that people live

and the fact
they did it to us doesn't
make us, them, or the thing

they did
special or unique - it's just another

of the human race
to its own destruction...

now it's true
we need to kill every one
of the terrible evil

who had anything to do
with the thing they did to us

(but it would be nice
if we could kill ore of the evil
motherfuckers and fewer

shepherds and
shopkeepers and women
and children and babes-in-arms)

- I take that last as a given,
one that I would think we could
all share

but I know we don't
for there are those who say
kill them all

and let God, their or ours
or who cares,
sort out the innocent from the

evil motherfuckers -
it is the psychology of victim-hood
that makes a person

feel they are a special case,
that regular rules don't apply
to me because

after all
I am the victim here
poor me poor me kill them all

burn their church
(or don't let them build one at all)
mock their god

for I am a victim
pray for me weep for me
send me money

for I am a victim and victims
are heroes now
and we all know how we love

our heroes,
weep for me, a hero,
daughter of the first cousin

of a neighbor's aunt's dog
groomer killed in that terrible evil
thing done by those terrible


weep for me weep for me
for I am a victim
and a hero

and how
I am

ad I love in return
my victim's

in this ticker-tape land
of victim-

and how I fear
the day
when my country

put's aside its passion
for victim-hood
for how will I ever be special


From 2010, searching for the secret never told.

one true thing

growing up
in a bi-cultural milieu
I learned a lot of dirty words
I never really knew
the literal meaning of

that's why
as I've grown older
and more cautions, I've
restricted my cussing
to English

fairly certain
that when I call someone
a double-duped-willy-whacker
I know what I'm saying
and mean it

it is the way of many things
in modern life,
superficial knowledge hiding
greater ignorance
of the deeper truths of living

it is a truth, I think,
that truth has many levels,
and try as I might, it seems
I never get much past
the basement

and sometimes
I'll ever learn
the real
of anything

but I keep trying,
part of what this exercise is about,
writing day after day, thinking as I write,
hoping as I write, that
someday I'll reach
the mezzanine and know at least

one true thing

A poem for poem-a-day poets.

change, not so much

blank page before me
and I must fill it

opening lines
to one of the first poems
I wrote in 1999 when I returned to writing
after a 30 year hiatus

how nothing has changed in all the years

I count my poems

as I

no shame

am counting this

This poem is by Alaskan meatcutter/poet, Arlitia Jones, taken from her book Bandsaw Riots, winner of the Dorthy Brunsman Poetry Prize, published in 2001 by Bear Star Press.

Paint Prayers

Late October and wind tumbles
through streets like a man trying to break his fall,
desperate to catch at anything, everything
pulling free in his grasp.
At the corner of 36th and Arctic
plastic letters on the American Rents
sign read:


Stuck at the red light I have time to ponder
the implications of a missing S: that the wind
is an inspired editor, that prayers today need
the glamour of paint to be noticed,
and that God, nearsighted as a human infant,
will reach for bright colors once he's discovered
his hands, fat, round fists he curls around prayers
and shoves in his mouth, dividing our lives
into what can be eaten and what is everything else.

I have so many questions:
What kind of deposit does a person put down
on faith? Is it refundable?
And - hope for less than twenty bucks a day -
how does that compare with the going rate?
Will anybody really see the prayers?
Can I pick my own shades? If so,

I would color the world something different
than it is today. I'd offer up

the deep brown of trees rooted in the ground,

dusty white of first snow settled onto asphalt
where cars haven't driven,

of the go-green of a traffic light - momentary right of way
against the oncoming.

This is from 2011.

I will stick my neck out and say this is a very good poem.

mysteries of night and morning

it began
about nine
with thunder and lightning
and rumors of rain
which, turned out, were
only rumors,
but it was a nice threat
to ponder any-

all that fuss
had settled by four thirty
with a clear sky
and a full moon, bright
and silver on a soft black sky,
a cushion, a night
to rest your head

I lay
in the blazing moon glow
like a white-bellied cat, stretching,
lazing on a dim sea shore,
shining under the moon's ocean
of bright

my head pillowed back,
I watched the moon as it slipped
toward morning - west, behind pale
passing clouds, slowly
behind the trees that line the creek

no sun yet
but you can hear the night give up
with a sigh, a rustle of birds
in the trees, dogs sensing the scent
of a new day, barking
at the moon
around the curvature of the earth,
soft, like a reclining woman's
rounded hip,
its night shadows
the fading light
of the other side of the world,
the part that is not my part,
where other people live
lives as mysterious to me as
the traveling moon
and steady in its orbit,
silver side to me,
dark side unknown

my day begins
as to what it will be,
another dark side hidden
before its moment
and untested,
as mysterious, I suppose,
to the others
as theirs is to me

From 2011, remembering when I grew up where I grew up.

cowboys and Indians

high cheekbones,
long black hair,
dark eyes -
the girl looks
very Indian,
as in cowboys &,
which I played all the time
when I was a kid
with my friend, Panchito from down
the street
who was happy
to always be the Indian
as long he got to win sometimes,
didn't bother me much,
being a skinny cowboy from the wrong side of town
and thereby accustomed
to being among the losing contingency

it was one of the things
me and Pancho
had in common, him being a Mexican kid
in the same wrong side of town 
as me,
so we rewrote the history
of our country's great western expansion,
with the cowboys and Indians
taking turns 
being blood-thirsty savages
and winners...

for years, Panchito
was my best, mostly,
only friend

then we both turned ten
and he started going north
with his family to pick vegetables
and dropped out of school
and was gone most of the time
and when he came back
the first time in the December
after six months gone
the tie was broken - he was different,
was a man
in ways I wouldn't be for years

and I would pass him
for years after, walking to school,
him standing at his gate,
from another world
where I in the course of the way things were
would never go

every time I passed,
neither of us speaking, I wondered
if he remembered
the good times, the
lost times,
like I

Another poem for us poem-a-day poets.

holes, my specialty

working on the street by my house,
a country lane for the 35 years we've lived on it,
to be widened to four lanes with a center turning lane...

they have dug a hole at my corner, dug the hole
filled it in, dug it again, filled it in again,
the digging-filling cycle 
completed a total of five times so far

I think they all must be
poem-a-day poets
so I don't criticize, only

as I dig another hole
that I'll fill in

The next poet is Korean, Ku Sang, from the collection, Wastelands of Fire. The book was published by Forest Books in 1990. Poems in the book translated from Korean by Anthony Teague.

Born in a catholic family in Seoul, Ku Sang grew up in what is now North Korea, studied in Japan, and later fled to the south before the Korean war. He has the unfortunate distinction of being imprisoned in both North and South Korea for his poetry. Born in 1919, he died in 2004, and is considered now to be of the most trusted and respected of Korea's poets.

Eros I

A torso like a ripe peach.

A butterfly fallen
drunk in ecstasy on a flowery tomb.

A tongue with the perfume of melons.

A seagull plunging
into blue waves that flash white teeth.

In a gaze fixed on the distant horizon.

A roe deer
drinking at a secret spring in a virgin forest.

Abyss of Eros,
beauty of original sin.

Eros II

The purring cat's
deceitful, mysterious face.

Venus' neck
spun about with hempen locks.

On breasts of velvet
the imprint of a hawk's claws.

An hour-glass navel.

Buttocks the smooth bottom of a wooden bowl,
secret flesh of tree-trunk thighs.

The narrowing rapids of a rendez-vous,
a grassy bank aflame on a spring day.

In primitive darkness,
beneath an azalea-cliff blanket
a naked woman
on a foaming, lapping wave -white sheet
joins her arms
like the cords
that criminals are bound with

. . . . . . .

The cooing of doves,

Breath-taking moment, oh, mystic ritual!

Eros III

I draw in empty space.

That face,
that voice,
that smile,
those thighs,
but that love
cannot be drawn.

Things drawn in the heart
may not be given form.

Eros IV

With that same hand
that caressed her naked body
I stroke my gray beard.

Passion faded into pale silver...

That loving, riding the bucket,
has been drawn up to heavens.
Henceforth, all those times and places
are one with Eternity.

Instead of a coffeehouse observation, watching another kind of place and time.

the woman weeps

the coffin lowered slowly into the open grave

women all around weep as well, women
who have sat where the weeping woman sits
and women who someday will

the men watch, knowing
there is a box waiting for them
and hole being dug
a little deeper
each day
to contain it

A variation on a poem from earlier in the post. This one from 2013, written while in Seattle on vacation.

finding my book in a second-hand book store far from home

so I found my book
in a second-hand book store
in a city far from home

do I think:

oh, wonderful, someone read my book
and brought it here
so that it might be purchased
and enjoyed by a second reader...


oh, woe, this book, this labor of love,
discarded, done, old news, no
leaves pressed between the pages,
no careful preservation for poetry-minded
progeny a remembrance forgot,
not to be cherished and saved for another generation
or maybe for a current lover
who will hold it dear as
they hold you,
oh wonderful, sensitive people
who sleep every night with a book of fine
poetry tucked beneath their pillow
never to sleep over

or, simply,

oh, look, someone bought my book, money
in my pocket, easy-earned cash from a few
small scribbles


on the road to riches now,
let's go out for

take in the sights
of a new city, finding
the familiar
where never expected

A couple of new shorties to end the week.

good morning

a small bird
on a street sign
(Shadydale & Clearview)
its welcome
to the morning,
its belief
in the day

from the oak tree
in my front 
a fellow bird

"ubecha" "ubecha"

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.

  Just click the "Comment" tab below.


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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The Elephants Sing
Thinking Big
A New Year's Resolution
Interesting Company
587. An Instruction in the Grander Scheme of Thing...
A Partial Reconsideration
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Loch Raven Review
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