I'd Just Be Guessing If I Told You So   Wednesday, May 17, 2017

I've never had less faith in the country's leaders and I don't recall at any time since the fifties when I've been so worried about the future, immediate and, because of the immediate, long term.

a ramble lacking even a trace of poetic justification

a dim early morning, cooler than usual for the season, and newspaper headlines concerning the latest fumbles of our doofus, careless, motor-mouth-god-help-us commander-in-chief leads to this...

marching in the not quite light, standing in line for breakfast, the full squad of us, in bitter cold, 20 degrees, no more, and a fine, frozen  mist, marching, always marching, dressed in green, soaked-through fatigues issued to us just a week before, stranding in line, then marching, always marching, into the mess hall together, always together, walking the chow line together, sitting together, eating together, no talking allowed, in the few minutes given to us, leaving together, marching together to PT, then to a classroom where we were taught, no  idea now what we were taught, something basic, no more than  8th grade level, still a problem for some of us, every day much like the other, except for the special days, like testing day, like the day of the endurance run through the hills, like the day we get to learn how to disassemble, reassemble, and fire our M-16, the only time in four years I ever had a hand on a weapon...

six weeks, the brain on idle, shut down as nonessential and maybe even a hindrance to successful completion of the day...

I had it easier than  some of my friends, those funneled to Asian jungles, some not to return

while I was funneled into nine months of language training at a civilian university where nights were filled with beer and Dixieland jazz and days began under the glare of Russian colonels, refugees from the Czar's defeated armies, then to year in West Germany (a time when there was still a West an an East Germany) then a year on Pakistan's Northwest Frontier, isolated in a compound on the desert's edge, Cold War watching for the hot war that never came...


leading to the point of this limited biography, this ramble lacking even a  trace of poetic justification -

having lived a life among the unfortunate many, I was always out of harm's way among the fortunate few and that makes me wary of our dangerous times and he of limited competency and morality to whom we have turned over our fate and fortunes

I fear the future holds few chances for the fortunate few like me; I fear the tide of unfortunates is sure to rise and over-flood the breakers that used to protect us

This week, no more from Seven Beats a Second, instead extra old poems, a few new poems, a few from my library and that's about it.

I might continue to do more old poems since I am enjoying reading them myself.

a poem lacking  even a trace of poetic justification

the circle

William  Matthews
The Blues

cold wind strips the morning bare

sixty percent chance of looking like rain today  

the crossing

 Frank Pool
The Gate of Ivory

just a little bit of rain

night reaches for a little more dark

I decide to be an artist

Dan Cuddy
An Answer to "The Steel Toe Review"

the NRA is ascared of me

star gazing with friends

big iron on  my hip

Gary Blankenship
After Wang Wei's Meng Cheng Valley - The Foundation of Father's House
After Wang Wei's At the Lake Pavilion - Out of the Alley and In

what Tonto said

pictures from an American lynching  

it lives

Stephen Berg
Ten songs from the Aztec nation

July 2nd

north wind on a  southern beach
new world

crossing the moor

Nothing comes for free, and the way I lived my life, I should have expected payment would be due.

the circle

of inevitabilities
at Pedernales Falls

a mile and a half
of the river  
flowing down a broken, declining
of flat granite shelves,
rapid flowing water falling
in clouds of white splash and foam

a winding 300 yard trail 
down the canyon to river level
and my hips and knees
abandon me at an overlook
at the barely beginning
of the hike...

I am reminded how the circle
of my life
grows tighter around me
with each passing

I can see the river
from my overlook
and, if I try very hard
I think I might hear it splash,
but my are dry, the river
I swam in as a youth now 
out  of my reach

I choose to remember
the cool, clear, rushing water
of my summer youth,  pretend  this day
I only wanted to picture the panorama,
not splash my feet in it

First poem from my library this week is by William Matthews, taken from his book, Blues If You Want. The book was published in 1989 by Houghton Mifflin.

Born in Cincinnati in 1942, Matthews was a poet and essayist. Educated at Yale (BA) and University of North Carolina (MA) he taught at many universities, including, at the time of his death in 1997, City College of New York.

As  a music lover whose talent is limited to listening, this poem speaks to me.

The Blues

What did I think, a storm clutching a clarinet
and boarding a downtown bus,  headed for lessons?
I had pieces to learn by heart, but at twelve

you think  the heart and memory are different.
"It's a poor sort of memory that only works
backwards," the Queen remarked. Alice in Wonderland.

Although  I knew  the way music can fill a room,
even with loneliness, which is of course a kind
of company. I could swelter through  an  August

afternoon - torpor  rising from the river - and listen
to J. J. Johnson and Stan Getz braid variations
on "My Funny Valentine," and feel there in the room

with me the force and weight of what I couldn't
say. What's an emotion anyhow?
Lassitude and sweat lay all around me

like a stubble field, it was so hot and listless,
but I was quick and furtive like a fox
who has thirty miles a day metabolism

to burn off as ordinary business.
I had about me, after all, the bare eloquence
of the becalmed, the plain speech of the leafless

tree. I had the cunning of my body and a few
bars - they weren't enough - of music. Looking back,
it almost seems as though I could remember -

but this can't be: how could I bear it? -
the future toward which I'd clatter
with that boy tied like a bell around my throat,

a brave man and a coward both,
to  break and break my metronomic heart
and just enough to learn to love the blues.

We are right on the edge between Spring and Summer here in San Antonio. To  prepare me for the shock of summer,  here's a winter poem from January, 2007.

cold  winds strip  the morning bare...

cold wind strip
the morning bare
then cover  it
with ice,
the chill  weight
of its clutch
bending oak limbs
to the ground,
encasing  blooms
fooled by false spring

the city
except for a few
hardy fools
like me, slip-sliding
down the road
in search of a newspaper
that I can read with
morning coffee while looking
out the kitchen windows
to the frozen grass
and the woodpile
covered white
and the icicles hanging
long and sharp
from the tip  of my

both dogs, pushed
out against their will,
stand shivering
at the door until
I am overcome
by their misery
and let them in

they left the patio
long enough
to take care  of

This one from February, 2013, the drought not broken yet.

Back to the right margin. Don't know why I started doing that and don't remember when I quit.

sixty percent chance of looking like rain today

sixty percent
of looking like rain

so far, weatherman's 
right on


quick spurt
of rain
like the cloud
over a shower


light sheen
over parking lot
except under
where pavement 
and crackly
like papyrus
from east-ways 


walk slow
you want to get

fast walkers
like my
may never know the rain


in Colorado and New Mexico

none here



to visit
Colorado and New Mexico 
next month

to crunch then
through remainders
of snow drifts


no snow drifts



but we do have
dry rocks
from millions of
years ago
steamed out
by the sun burning
brighter now
as it edges every day
the dark that will come
over all that remains


weather reports
for end
but for sure not days
for picnics
under cinder-turning


at the economist
told me about making predictions,
say what and say
when, but
say the two



it will rain


the world will end
in a nova-flash 
to mark the earth's

both predict
absolute assurance
and we must


sixty percent chance
of looking like
rain today

all about
which way the wind

A memory, December, 1964.

the crossing

near the end
of the short December day,
second day on the trail,
knee-deep in fallen snow,
more falling in a thick flurry,
snow-heavy branches brushing
against my face

close now to the crest,
the Manzanas, not the tallest mountains,
but good for a three-day trek
two weeks before 

we cross the top
and continue on, snow flurries
deceasing,  cold, bright and clear
as the sun begins to set
just as we reach a small, flat clearing,
tall trees all around...

we set up  camp,  build a small fire,
then snuggle up into sleeping bags,
exhausted from the hard day's
climb, sleep then comes quickly as does pass
the night...

waking at first sun
on, it seems, the top of the world,
brilliant blue sky, cloudless except for the contrail
of a high-passing airplane, stoke the fire,
boil a pot of snow for coffee and freeze-dried eggs, 
warm ourselves by the fire...

the last day ahead of us, down the mountain,
we take our time setting out,
this morning too  good, too bright,
too much to remember while we can

so we start slowly, the five of us
spreading out as we follow the trail down,
each one of us finding a few solitary moments
on the trail as we begin to leave the mountain

cloud-draped crest
growing smaller at out back...

This piece from my library is by Frank Pool, taken from his book Depth of Field published in 2001 by Plainview Press.

Pool, born in 1953 in Wyoming, grew up in Texas where he graduated from Stephen F. Austin University, then earned a master's degree in philosophy with a minor concentration on Japanese language and literature. At the time of publication he taught International Baccalaureate and  Advanced Placement in Austin, where he also served as chairman of the Austin International Poetry Festival.

The Gate of Ivory

In sleep I lost
my age, my work,
my wife and daughter,
all concerns but one,
and you came to me
in the guise of a goddess
in my only dream of you.
I froze, gasping
heart pounding, in awe
of you, like being sixteen
again. You arched above me
in my bed. Your breasts
and ribs so white
the morning light
might bruise them,
and your nipples
and aureoles were transparent
liquid, shining with a brightness
I recognized even then:
the gleam of tears
in the blue eyes
of a young girl.

This is from February, 2008. I was experimenting with right-margin orientation. I decided that, while occasionally it brought a new look to a particular  kind of poem, for most poems it was a distraction. I think it kind of works a little with this poem.

just a little bit of rain

what we have out there
right now
is a beautiful
sun-shinning day
is terrible
cause we don't need
a beautiful sun-shinning
we need a dark, ugly
and if I hear
one more radio
disc jockey
talk about what a
beautiful sun-shining
day it is I'm going
to find him and do 
on him
from here
all the way up his
and back


just a little bit of rain,
is that too much
to ask for?

This  is from December 2014.

night reaches for a little more dark

night reaches for a little more dark
as day's fire streaks
red and orange in the east, tall oaks silhouetted
black against the the light, thrashing
against the strong north wind that rises with the sun

unseen for months, deer
return in the half-life to the pasture
across the way, emerging from the woods
in their sharp, tippy-toed way
to graze in high meadow grass

it's cold out, at last  for here,
in the thirties,  Bella, golden furred
and fluffy from her beauty parlor visit yesterday,
waits in the car for her morning sausage treat
and a walk

and it's cold out there...

My greatest strength as a poet, refusal to be intimidated by failure, thought I might try to apply that to art. Good thing I'm not ashamed by failure because, my theory, trying is fun either way.

I had fun.

I decide to be an artist

I decide to be an artist...

well, not exactly true
and ridiculous on the face of it...

we have an old desktop, about
60 pounds worth of desk top left over
we threw the rest of the desk away,
a beautiful top, too beautiful to discard
with the rest and it's been just sitting
being in the way
and I decided, well hell, I've been piling
words one upon another for years now,
and getting away with calling myself a poet and
maybe that will work with art as well,
so I bought myself several small cans of spray paint,
blue, red, yellow, and black
and let my creative
the best I can say is the art world is safe...

I have no more desk tops to
which puts an end to my arts

rest easy art world.

The next poem is from my poet friend, Dan Cuddy from Baltimore. A frequent housemate on Blueline's House of 30, that is where I first saw this.

I used to submit my stuff to poetry journals, but quit when I started "Here and Now" and so I understand Dan's complaint. Publication is not just about submitting good poems, it is more important to submit poems to journals with editorial expectations similar to your  own interests as a poet. One of the reasons I quit submitting was because the family of journals who were amenable to my interests and styles gradually faded away, as on-line journals usually do (almost as bad as coffeehouses), and I just got tired of looking, among the glut, for new ones, especially when I could get as many reads on "Here and Now" as on many of the journals I was submitting to.

And I hoping that Dan gets his three poems  published  somewhere because I want to read them.

In Answer to The Steel  Toe Review

 Got a boot from The Steel Toe Review
three poems on my doorstep still looking for a home
and I know they are good enuff
but they don't empower a soul
they dwell in Erskine Caldwell country
one is about a red-lit lounge dancer
another a welcher
the third about a mean, despicable streak
happy only when the poison burns his throat
the river roils with dirt and drowning

and all three are hardscrabble
they would make a Lucinda Williams song
and they ain't half-bad litterchore
it's just that they ain't polite
my brooding crew
one has a pasty held on with scotch tape
another bathes in a two-week never changed tee-shirt
and the third is an NCO  whose breath could wilt a rose

and so they are for the moment unpublished
a Faulkner Country without healthcare
and none ever heard a sermon they liked
or  read a poem that was all gardenia

This is from May, 2009.

the NRA is ascared of me

been reading
the NRA people
are scared that I'm gonna
take away
their pistols
and their hunting rifles
and their AK47s
and their machine guns
and their grenade launchers
and their anti-tank mines
and their bunker-buster missiles
and whatever else (if it makes
a bang they want it) that
makes their dicks grow,
you  know, and they're sure
I'm going to take it all away
and leave them alone with their
and I would of  course, if I could,
but I can't, and the lily-liveried
chicken-gizzard  politicians in Washington
sure as hell aren't going to risk their weekly
pay-offs by doing it, so that's the way it is,
at some point you or me or both of us
are going to be blown away by some
NRA card-carrying pencil-dick  wacko
with mother issues and a NRA certified
50 caliber machine gun

all because his mother dressed  him
in little girlie panties and didn't
quit breast-feeding
him until he was  twenty-six years old

This is from September,  2015.

star-gazing with friends

too long
keeping my eyes on the path ahead
I forgot to look  at the stars

until this morning...

my backyard tour
at 5 a.m.
happened to glance up
and saw a sky-full of night's white diaonds,
I sat down in a chiar
so I could lean my head back
and try to take them all in, too many, even the ones
close enough to see, too many,
even with a hour of looking, too many, even until
the sun bean to push its light like a tide
washing over the beach of the morning sky the glowing froth
of new  day leveling with tidal push and pull sand castles
built by skittering crabs under the now-dimming stars

I sat in the chair
watching the sky turn the blue of a warm summer day,
thinking of the words still circling above the blue,
thinking of stars and star creatures, out of billions of billions, one
or two midnight creatures in alien chairs, leaning back
and watching the stars of their far place, including the one
where, in their other-world imagination they might see me in my chair
imagining them in theirs

A Sandburgian consideration.

big iron on my hip

I arrive just as the sun
breaks it's dark fast...

condominium construction
across the river is is full swing,
final brick work now,
and interior finishing,
at lest a hundred construction workers
scurry across the street to begin the day
in first dim light, pull on their yellow safety vests,
hard hats, hang their tool belts heavy on their hips

reminding me of my tool belt
when I was very young and doing
labor work in power  line  construction, not so heavy,
my belt, as the one these workers wear,
their loaded down with tools I mostly
don't recognize or understand the use of

my belt a simple collection of simple tools,
a hammer, couple of screwdrivers, pliers, a medium-sized
crescent wrench, wire cutters, and that was about it,
but I remember how, in those very early days, even
the limited weight hanging over my hip 
made me feel so strong and manly, how the hard labor
of lifting cross arms, insulators, and hundred pound transformers
to the top of poles on nylon ropes made me feel
like an example Sandburgian worker virtue 
and masculinity,
to tell the truth,
like Matt Dillon with a big iron on my hip
like Marty Robbins sang about
and it was easy to imagine, with no women
around to dispute my juvenile fantasies
(except when  we worked in one of those suburban centers 
where women hang about and I could intensify
the experience by working with my shirt off - I was
I modestly imagined, quite a sight

but anyway, there were no women around,
like in the military where over the course of four years
I saw only on female soldier (the captain who signed
my discharge papers ) - a change from then to now
when women are hanging all over the place,
including on construction crews and I wonder
in this new world what fantasies the men on the job
are entertaining 

pretty sure nobody
takes their
shirt off

such a loss to those Sandburgian

Next, two short poems by my poet-friend Gary Blankenship from his first book, A River Transformed: Wang Wei's River Wang Poems as Inspiration, in which Gary demonstrates his love of and knowledge of the ancient Chinese master Wang Wei by writing his own poems inspired by Wang. His book was published by Santiam Publishing 2005. I had the honor of writing the foreword to the book

After Wang Wei's Meng-Cheng Valley - The Foundation of a Grandfather's House

Nettles and wild roses block the front path,
alder saplings sprout where the side porch stood.
A toppled chimney points to northern hills,
broken concrete  towards the  eastern sky.

Baskets of memories have  melted in the rain,
boxes of words  line sparrows' nest.
the shipping trunk might still sit among the debris,
impossible to  reach through brier thickets.

Rebuilt? Sold? Left to run to riot,
home for badgers and flea-infested ally cats?
This rubble fit only for free-range chickens
and storage for empty, unlined journals.

A seagull feeds perched on a crumbling angel;
corroded letters no longer tell who you were.

After Wang  Wei's At the Lake Pavilion - Out of the Alley and In

Next to the street, the sound of saxophone,
near the rear, a pile of cloth freezes in the shadows.
One  dog  growls at another, anxious to leave.
A door slams, the pack skulks into damp corners.

A brown bag passed from mouth to mouth, hand to hand -
the empty tossed, a fart, belch, stream of piss.
Somewhere on the avenue, a girl laughs
at the idea of a slow  dance among shore side pines.

You handed me a glass, cold as the lake's surface;
green as crocus leaves, the glint in your eyes.
The dock turns white. Tonight, we will see
each new journey begins at the start of the last.

Snow, black flakes against a pale moon,
fresh ground pepper for melting ice.

From February. 2010.

what Tonto said

says to the masked rider

the bloodthirsty savages

"whataya mean,
white man!"

and I'm feeling
that way today,
flat out off sidekicks

I truly do feel sometimes
like the all a'lone



doing my new numbers
in the morning,

like now,
then a pack of old numbers
in the afternoon,

trying not to count
the days to


driving to the coast
to see an old friend,

share lunch
and conversation
and lots of remember-when

in a couple of weeks
another drive,this to  the mountains

for some high-sky air
and vistas
to claim the heart from its

providing something real
to chew on

instead - maybe a few new poems


an old  friend

a cure for all that  ails even
the loneliest of
a-lone rangers

I wrote this in 2000 after reading about and seeing some of the pictures of a traveling exhibit of pictures taken during the years of lynchings in the south and mid-west.

I thought of it again recently as we see this new flowing of racism and hatred in our country generated by the election of Donald Trump.

pictures from an American  lynching

it's not the hanging black bodies
that chill me,
it's the smiling white faces below.

the white man standing
under the swinging body
of a young black girl,
beer in his hand, hat cocked to one side
like he was a movie star.

the two pretty girls
arm in arm beneath the carnage,
posing for the camera
like for a picture at the county fair.

the child
in dusty overalls
standing at his mother's side,
holding on to her dress
with one hand,
with the other
to the bare feet of the black man
dangling over his head.

so familiar, these faces.

like from the family albums
I looked at as a child,
seeking among the pictures  there
the story of how I came to be.

so damn familiar!

Computer problems because in compute hours it's almost as old as me and I'm too cheap and stubborn to replace it. But it comes through  in the end, after  appropriate lessons in the virtue of persistence.

it lives

I am writing this morning
on real paper
with my real Varsity disposable fountain pen

reduced to 19th century methods
because my computer
is asserting its dominance in my life
by refusing to turn on...

it is a very old computer, long past,
as am I,
it's glory days,
but I,
being both stubborn and cheap,
have refused to replace it even though
many of the things a computer
is supposed to do
it doesn't...

for example,
I never  turn it completely off
because it can be very hard to  turn back on,
and sometimes,
like this morning,
it turns itself off, leaving me
to deal with the consequences
and dealing with the consequences requires,
like prayer,
great faith and patience
as I push and push and push
the on/off button
hoping for the little power light that says,
I'm back...

up to now, unlike prayer,
this usually,

and even though I know 
at some point, despite my persistence,
it will not,
and even though its final end will come
and no measure of faith and patience
will make it work,
there is the problem of knowing
when that final end has come
and no amount of persistence, faith, and patience
will ever be sufficient to raise the dead...

but I do not give up, in fact,
I continue
pushing buttons for near three hours,
writing in the meantime
in this 19th century method,  an ink-stained
wretch with fingers smudged black,
hoping to return to the future,
the 21st century in which I am most creatively


hope ebbs
and nearly dies
I see the light

it lives...

Last from my library this week, a collections of several short Aztec songs translated by Stephen Berg, from his book of translations, The Steel Cricket, Versions 1958-1997, published by Copper Canyon Press in 1997.

These are from section 2 in the book, "Nothing in the Word." I really like these, and others in the book, that remind us that so many peoples we are taught to consider primitive are not so primitive at all.

which flower
should I believe in
born here
O first one
which gift
in the place where both of us are


with ropes of flowers
our flowers are braided together
beautiful in your word
your breathe is here O first one


open your heart like the flowers
I want to live near your hart
you hate me you prepare my death
now I am going to your house
you should cry for my tears
you should own my sadness
Oh my friend but
I am going I am going to your house


so many wings come ere
dripping honey
and speak here
in your house Oh


it is so hard
to live like this!
no happiness on the earth
for me


we live on earth
here we are
over there ones without bodies
in your house
here home between
a little while only


only with our flowers can we find pleasure
only with our songs does our sadness dissolve


until today my heart was happy
I hear this song I see a flower
if only they would never wither


in god's house
I was born for nothing
for nothing  I am leaving the earth


black flowers wrinkled with gold
fill the beautiful song
the singer sings with the veins of the eagle
with many flowers torn from man

Another weather poem,  this one from July, 2011.

July 2nd

It's July 2nd,
and you may think
as you perambulate the highways
and byways of our fine
that most everyone you see
is walking as if they have
a heat rash
twixt their hither and
thither and you
which is no in any way
a surprise
since most likely everyone you see
as you yonder wander does truly
have a heat rash situated
in the  geographic
of their personal  netherworld,
precisely in the region of
where it itches  like  crazy
but where, if you scratch it,
you'll get sent right back
to Miss Wollybanger's 4the grade section
on "Netherworld Scratching - Where and Where Not"
the "where and where not"
not to the rather-not-say
location of the itch,
but to where polite society
scratching that itch
is allowed,
and the answer, of  course,
according to prim Miss  Wollybanger,
is in the privacy of our own gender-appropriate
with the lights out...

it being  July 2nd
this itchy sort of thing happens on a frequent and recurring  basis
right on up to  mid-September
when the temperature drops below
and itching and scratching
are the most  common topic
of discussion, outside of hurricanes,
and why we  can't call them by girl names
anymore and why we have to call them by
sissy boy's names  sometimes, which just
the manly romance of a good  stormy blow
sweeping in from the Gulf...

it is July 2nd,
and here on the bubbling shores
of damnation's fiery lake,
that's just the way
it is

Looking for the "lynching" poem from 2000, I ran across these two inoffensive little things from 2002.

north wind on a southern beach

a north wind blows strong
against the incoming tide
and all across the bay
whitecaps flash in the sun
like handkerchiefs
fluttering across a field
of salty sea-green

a beachcomber,
dressed for the day
in a silver windbreaker,
walks the beach barefoot,
shoes tied by their strings
to hang around his neck,
throws bread to the gulls,
greedy birds, swooping, fighting
each other and the wind
for every crumb

new world

the first words of Adam to  Eve
were  like a fresh-born pup
nuzzling its wet nose
against the warm belly
of its mother,
blindly groping, afraid,
but no longer alone

Last for the week.

 crossing the moor

veiled moon
cross the creek,
the night
reminding me of the moor
in Hound of the Baskervilles,
read  when I was 13, fascinated
by this backdrop to the hell hound's
bloody frenzies, trying to imagine
what a "moor" looked like,
still don't know,
but know the veiled moon 
Apache Creek reminds me
of it...


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 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.


New Days & New Ways

Places and Spaces

Always to the Light

Goes Around Comes Around

Pushing Clouds Against the Wind

And, for those print-bent, available at Amazon and select coffeehouses in San Antonio

Seven Beats a Second


Sonyador - The Dreamer


  Peace in Our Time

at 11:47 AM Blogger davideberhardt said...

see if dan cuddy even reads comments in a zine where he is poublished- dan (my buddy in balto) how many folx do u think read yr stuff on here and now?
resonse requested (that's rt- resonse)
i like that yr pome is not polite
see my manifesto on state of amurican poetry

itz photos liked 6 dark lite 12 the color one- who painted this? (see if even itz reads his own comments) 16 intriguing 20 reminds of eliot porter lt & dark

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