Who's Your Huckleberry Now   Wednesday, May 03, 2017

I guess I'm a kind of a liberal, the kind of a liberal who believes that a better world is possible and that that better world  is dependent on people like you and me to make it so.

This piece, from my second eBook, Goes Around, Comes Around, a liberal's tongue in cheek admission  that he really doesn't know what the hell to do to achieve that betterment.

poets on every street corner

I was going
to  write a poem

about what I would  do
if I could run the world

sitting here now

I  realize
I don't know what to do either

I'd like to see rain

every Thursday
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 field

blowing clouds
through their noses

and palm trees on beaches
for those who don't like shade

and big waves for the

and clear clean streams
slow moving

between tall green trees
for us who prefer to float

and people learning to shake off
bad times

like dogs  shaking off wet
a big shake

beginning with flapping ears
passing down to big

of their rears

butts like a Mixmaster
in overdrive

and no icky things
in dark corners

no snakes
and no spiders and no

poison lizards
or animals who  like to eat people

and no fatherless children
or old people

rotting in isolation
ad inattention

and no one dying
of diseases they couldn't afford to cure

and no backaches or

or rashes
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 of drug addicts

or gangsters
who shoot children from their cars

and no priests, preachers, ayatollahs,
rabbis, or other parasites on the human soul...

poets on every 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 -

that should be at the top of
my list

instead of here
at the


This week, a few new poems from me, even fewer poems from my library (all but one from a single anthology) and, as the past couple of posts, a bunch of poems from Seven Beats a Second, my first  book and my only print book., published in 2005.

The anthology is Twentieth Century Latin American Poetry, published by the University Of Texas - Austin in 1996. It is a huge book, coffee table size, 390 pages of poetry in English and Spanish or  Portuguese as appropriate.

The illustration that accompanies each of the "Seven Beats" poems is by artist Vincent Martinez, my collaborator on the book. His art appears on every page of the book.

poets on every street corner

never was a tom

Brenda Morisse
postcards to the moon
you bring out the mouse in me

drought buster

Jose Santos Chocano
A Manifesto 

a poem for the moment

the pull of the moon
the moon rising

warning label

Carlos Drummond de Andrade
In the Middle of the Road

same old story

anti-war poems are easy

the shape of things that are

Homero Aridjis
Letter from Mexico

dim morning memories

by the light of the silvery moon

why the boys go out on Saturday night

Raul Zurita


flying a kite with Katie

stories my father told me

about lost balloons

happy faces

New from two weeks ago.

never was a tom

never was a tom,
never could get the swagger down,
never had enough grizzly in me
to make it work...

just a scraggy old alley cat
looking for domestication, that was me,
and luck for me
I found it

I have my garbage can
and fish head memories
and they're fun to play with,
talk about,
write about,
the days and ways of
chasing mice
and birds
the slow ones
waking in the morning
in hard-won corners,
the sour taste
of feathers hung up
in my whiskers


but remembering those days
is all I want these

my soft pillow by the fire
that's what I want these days

the companionship
and soft back-stroking pleasure
that comes with my daily ration of

that's the extend of my ambition...

I can still tell the stories
and make believe
I was the wild cat I never really

just an old alley cat, that's me,
from the yellow alley shadows
of nowhere afternoons,
and those
dark, lonely nights
at last
that the best stories
are better
when you're done living them

Here are poems by my poet-friend from the Bronx, Brenda Morisse.

postcards to the moon

postcard 1

I'm your small pie glazed mango
You resuscitate my ache for midnight
from the window I am crazy
eyed and wrapped in a blush
I kneel at your hem light

postcard 2

I marry your ecstatic crescent,
sink into a basin of back
alley bliss. I'm your lowly flower pot
Fill m with moonvine and bawdy trumpets

postcard 3

Graze my greedy hours with an opera
of goosebumps, plump my belly and thighs
Your same-face-glow polishes my pleasant
feet. You fullness  butters our unmade bed.

You bring out the mouse in me,

the furry little beast with the long naked tail in me. Swishing.
You bring out the long teeth in me.
The biting my nickle, gnawing through trees, snacking
on walls and insulation, in me.
How I love insulation. Want a nibble?
I'll make a fondue, too.
You bring out the stalker in me, the snuggle in your pocket
in me when I settle down in the linen closet,
better yet, nest in your mattress.
And we sill share my fleas as we pray
to the trap of the great Mighty.
You bring out the Minnie and her perky red polka dot bow in me.
Swooning over Mickey in me
and I want to birth your babies every three weeks, hear the pitter
patter of tiny feet scurrying left  right left right and around
and around the kitchen linoleum at midnight in me, while I squeak
Oops, Oops.

You bring out the Save me!
Save me! in me.

Here's a celebratory piece from Seven Beats a Second, rain after a long hot and dry summer.

drought buster

dams near-by strain
close to bursting this morning,
and houses float down churning rivers
normally slow and serene

but here, my creek, though wider bank to bank,
flows again at ankle depth, its white limestone bottom
swept clean of accumulated sand and algae,
gleams in the sun through water clear as glass

last night
the rumble of its rushing water woke me

now, under the clear skis of this new day,
morning quiet is broken only by the call of doves
and croaking frogs awakened again
from the slumber of last week's drought

The first poem from the anthology is by one of the oldest poets in the book, Jose Santos Chocano of Peru. Born in 1875, Chocano died in 1934. A political activist, he spent time in prison for his radical activities, as well as for the murder of a fellow poet, a  crime for which he received a pardon. He admitted to being influenced the the American Walt Whitman.

The translator was Andrew Rosing.

A Manifesto

     I sing  America, in its wild  and autochthonous state;
my lyre his  soul, and my son has an ideal.
My poem does no hang  from a branch,
calmly swinging like  tropical hammock...

     When I feel Incan, I honor the king,
the Sun, who offers me the scepter of his royal power;
when I feel Spanish, I invoke the Empires
my strophes seem like crystal trumpets...

My imagination comes from ancient Moorish blood,
the Andes are of silver, but Leon is of gold.
I fuse both races with a noise like a thunder.

     My blood is Spanish and Incan in its throbs;
if I were not poet, I might have had the job
of a white Adventurer, or Incan emperor!

Welcoming an extraordinary new day.

a poem for the moment

street lights
cast yellow pools of liquid light
rippling in the shadow tide of tree limbs blowing

the sun
not quite risen,
the day just a crack
on the east horizon

but the sky shows
the blue effects
of even that little light...

Sunday morning
rising up to meet

Two moon  poems from Seven Beats a Second.

the pull of the moon

half moon
cut precisely by earth's shadow
one part shining
in the clear October night
like a great yellow beacon in the  sky
and the other, dark and mysterious,
though barely seen by the eyes
 still a mover of tides
and midnight meditations

so it is with my love for you,
as the bright in you pulls me,
ever more the secrets
of your darker moods

the moon rising

ripples of wind
ruffle bay waters
like a lover's hand
soothing soft  tangles
in her beloved's hair

gently winds

quiet waters

bright stars warm
in the cool
autumn dark

the moon
of the night

I smoked my first cigarette, a Mexican brand with wrapping paper  soaked in sugar cane water, when I was twelve years old. I smoked my last cigarette, a Kool, I think, when I was fifty-two. although I have not smoked for barely more than half the time I did, I'm convinced I'm still alive because I quit when I did.

So I wrote this poem, my suggestion for the next cigarette pack warning label, and included it in Seven Beats a Second.

warning label

cigarette smoke
makes you smell like a bar in the morning

the stale stink of a butt-littered floor
     and spilled beer
and piss from the overflowed urinal in the john

all overlaid by a reek of  desperation

the desperation of limp cocks lost in lust-dreaming
     losers lost in their own lies
redemption-dreams fading as the sun rises

to the squalor of crud-crusted eyes
and a lingering vomit-bile breath

The next poet from the anthology is Carlos Drummond de Andrade, modernist poet and writer  considered by many to be Brazil's greatest poet of all time. Born in 1902, he died in 1987, becoming long the way something of a national symbol.

Also a favorite of many mid-century American poets, his poem was translated by John Nist.

In the Middle of the Road

In the middle of the road  was a stone
was a stone in the middle of the road
was a stone

I shall never forget the event
in the life of my old so tired eyes.
I shall never forget that in the middle of the road
was a stone
was a stone in the middle of the road
in the middle of the road was stone.

From week before last.

same old story

Mr. Devil

the names are changed
but the story's always the same

a man a woman and a snake
in the grass

the story
that is the glue that lurks
in the guts of all

to Faulkner
to the latest paperback
pot boiler

of our human continuity -

and its shadows

Thinking of things it's easy to be against that we do anyway, from Seven Beats a Second.

anti-war  poems  are easy

the heart of the matter is that
the heart of the matter
sometimes doesn't matter much

anti-war poems are easy
since, in our hearts,
we all know that  the logic of war
that says I will kill strangers
until a stranger kills me
is insane

and who can deny that in our hearts
we all know a human fetus
no matter how small
and misshapen and incomplete
is a human-in-waiting,
holding within its tiny bounds
all the capacity for love
and laughter as any of us

and who,
even among the most aggrieved of us
could, without a tremor
of hand an heart, push the button
that drops the cyanide pellet
ending the life
of even the bloodiest
of our murdering kind

yet we kill strangers
who might someday
have been our friend

we erase from the future
the  love and laughter of those
we decide will never be

and we murder the murderers
with appropriate
writ and ceremony

all these terrible things we do
because our hearts cannot guide us
in choosing the lesser of evils

it is our lizard brain we  must turn to
when the heart of the matter
doesn't matter enough

A little physics and lost romance from Seven Beats a Second.

the shape of things that are

all matter,
and that includes you and me
and the '49 Chrysler
upon whose soft cloth sat
I first held in my hand the tender breast
of Sophi Gallanti, all of it, in its base nature
is either a donut or a hole

everything, that is,
can be molded, without tearing any part
or joining together any part not already connected
into either a sphere or a donut

that with sphereness at its heart
cannot be made donut;
that whose base nature is donut
cannot into sphereness come

so spaghetti a sphere  will always be,
while rigatoni
will always be the other

thus  it was with Sophi and me,
despite our so propitious start

sphere she was,
rounded, certain, calm and complete,
while my donut nature struggled
to join our unconnected parts

Next from the anthology,  Mexican poet Homero Aridjis. Born in 1940, Aridjis studied journalism in Mexico City before setting out on his career as poet and novelist. He has been visiting professor at Columbia and New York Universities. He also served as Mexican ambassador to the Netherlands and Switzerland.

His poem was translated by Eliot Weinberger.

Letter from Mexico

Invisible ancestors
walk with us
through these back streets

the stares of children
young girls'  bodies
cross through them

Weightless        vague
we travel through them
at doorways that no longer are
on bridges that are empty

while with the sun on our faces
we too
move thorough transparency

Morning news and weather bring out a memory.

dim morning  memories

dim morning,
gray clouds inert above
the roof line,
a single dissenter,
the topmost branches
of a pecan tree, insist  their green
must be included in any portrait
of the day..

a day more than fifty years past,
working for a small newspaper 
in a small town near Houston,
two weeks before Christmas, 1965,
my draft notice arrived
and I reported
to the induction center
in Houston,
then quickly returned to my small town
and convinced the Air Force recruiter
to help me dodge the draft
by enlisting for a four-year hitch
as a Airman...

the day came to report,
and I did, one of thirty recruits
bused to San Antonio,
climbing off the bus
we were greeted with the 
North Carolina drawl of our DI
the man who would run our lives
for the next six weeks...

it was not a gentle greeting...

I remember his voice, his accent, promising
in the roughest terms that we would never
again be the civilians we were
that day, that

that voice under a dark sky,
his voice calling from the dark clouds
that over cast the day
 like God at his most fearsome...

bad weather
and hard days followed,
promises were kept,
and we were


I think of this
after seeing pictures yesterday
of pig-Trump and pig-Ted Nugent spreading
their smiling,  feces-faces all over  our Oval Office

being of generally the same age as I, they could have
been with me in the experience above,
but they ran away, their country called and they hid out
behind fake excuses, claiming now a patriotism
that makes me want to

and I can't help thinking that six weeks
with my North Carolina DI
would have been good for them,
and as it turned out,
for us as well...

Remembering the most  exciting night of my life.

by the light of the silvery moon

I can see it clearly in the cloudless night,
the dark areas of its seas  plainly visible,
not dried seabed, as some thought, but scars
from the early days when it and our own earth
were freshly born, fragile in the beginning,
when debris from creation's chaos
fell through airless skies, punched through
the crust of lunar surface, released its molten core
to blow black in the reflected light of the sun,
our sun, old in the scale of it's captive off-spring,
but still young in the cycle of its own kind,
the cycle of stars that light the night
into our own time, as even into our own time
the black scars remain, reminders of the time
when fire ruled and all of time and space
bubbled in the furnace of conception

and as this bright survivor rises, I think of the night
when Cronkite and Schirra wept
for all of us to see,  when our finite realm
stretched to include one small piece of that battered
surface, the surface where our kind stirred dust
undisturbed since the turmoil that spread it,
the surface where our footsteps will outlast
all our grandest ambitions,  footprints to say,
past even our own  slow and certain slide
to extinction, we were, and while we were,
we were here, and I  think of my youth, watching
the first Russian satellite pass overhead, a  new moon,
man-made sister to the old, the tiny moving dot of it
reflecting sunlight from the other side of the world,
right back to us, lying on our backs in a South Texas field,
and beyond that tiny moving light, as always, the moon,
great light to our night, beacon to our dreams for as long
as we have been able to lift our heads and wonder

we were so naive  then, believing we had reached
beyond our shallow nature,  believing all was possible,
believing, with Armstrong, that one small step
could finally release the better angels of our nature,
better angels imprisoned so long by our history,
subjugated by the brutal demands of survival

but the wars went on and hate and cruelty one to the other
went on and we grow old and tired of believing, except
for nights  like this when the great disc shines over  us
undiminished and we remember when the universe seemed
spread before us, when time seemed on our side forever

then, for a while, we remember and believe again

This, a little biology lesson  from Seven Beats a Second.

why the boys go out on Saturday night



especially when lit in






sex flashes through the night
drawing us through the rushing current


bashing our heads on sharp  rocks
of deceit and desire, all for a chance to
fuck our fish brains out before we die
in the shallow pool of everyday life

My final poet from this week's anthology is Chilean Raul Zurita. Born in 1950, Zurita studied Civil Engineering and Mathematics before settling into a literary career, that career interrupted by the overthrow by military cop of Chile's socialist government and his subsequent arrest and detention, along with thousands of others, in the hole of a ship. He supported himself and his family as a computer salesman before publication of his first poem in 1975. He later won the Chilean  National  Prize for Poetry in 2000.

His poem was translated by Jack Schmitt.


Chile's distant and it's a lie
it's  not true we've ever exchanged vows
the fields are mirages
and public places are reduced to ash
But even though almost everything's a lie
I know that some day all Chile 
will arise just to see you
and ever if nothing exists, my eyes will see you

A happy day from a happy week.


the morning
bright and dear
after a night of struggle

sun, welcome breeze
blowing softly from the northeast

trees so green,
welcome flowers as they push
through soft, verdant soil

with an arms-open embrace, and
a wide-stretching smile pulling at my ears 


welcome day
welcome you
welcome me
welcome life

From Seven Beats a Second, this product of a challenge I gave myself, to go all the way through the alphabet with poems incorporating  women's names. I  didn't make it, but I did pretty good before I got tired of the game.

flying a kite with Katie

and dives
and swoops
and loops the loop,
a blue and white kite
against a blue and white sky

beside me,
brown on brown,
with white teeth
flashing in laughter
at the glory of the day

she holds the string,
pulls as the kite begins to stall,
lets  loose when a gust of summer wind
lifts the kite and takes it toward the clouds

and I  hold her,
not so tight, she says,
this is hard to do, she says,
back off so I  can concentrate, she says

and I back away
as a great flurry of wind comes
billows her dress against  her back and legs
and she seems to fly like the kite away from me

Memories, from Seven Beats a Second.

stories my father told me

I walk tonight under a sky
cool and dry for September,
with scattered clouds
lit a milky white by city lights,
soft on the edges,
like marshmallows half melted
in a cup of dark, hot chocolate

a plane passes overhead,
a jet whisper in the quiet night,
a military plane of some kind,
not unusual here between
several nearby military bases
with steady air traffic of all kinds

what a sight, the huge aircraft
coming in overhead, so big,
like an office building aloft,
and so slow and quiet, hanging
it seemed, right over me,
just out of reach of a good stretch

I wonder what my father
would have made of them...

he told me the story 
of the day when he was a child
and one of the great zeppelins
flew over his little town
and how all the town people
left their shops and all the ranchers
put aside their pasture clearing
and fence building and tried  to follow
the great balloon in it's slow journey,

a parade of model T's and wagons
across the  Texas hill country, until
it left the  road and went cross-country
on its way from San Antonio to Dallas

it seems strange today, but that sight,
that vision of lighter-than-air grace,
was the closest he ever  came to flying...

so many things like that he never did

the sky begins to cloud
and I return home,
the marshmallow clumps melting,
the night closing in with me thinking
of my father again, as I do often now
at the age his life ended,
another life time for me since then,
making another me he never knew,
like all the lives he led I never knew,
except for the stories he told,
some true, some just in passing

And speaking of balloons, this piece, also from Seven Beats a Second.

about lost balloons

what happens, do you suppose,
to balloons that get away?

you can see them in the sky
on clear  days, sometimes
just a single balloon,soaring
on wings of summer  breeze, slipped
from the hands of a little girl at the zoo,
or maybe several  tied together,
a multicolored cluster of balloons flown free
from some backyard birthday party

but, when you see them, they're always
going away; you never see them coming back.

I think of a book I read when I was a child,
a Little Golden Book about a toy boat
set loose in a small stream by a little boy,
the boat getting away from the boy, glorying,
at first, in the excitement of freedom, then growing
frightened as the water grew deeper and wider,
turned into a fast moving creek, then a mighty flowing river
that led to a harbor with giant ships and then the ocean,
a vast and lonely ocean...a reassurance, this story,
a parable with a happy ending as the little boat is rescued
at the very last minute and returned to the safety of home,
family, the waiting child  the familiar little stream
where adventures always end at dinner time.

but what about balloons?

once gone, they don't come back,
they aren't rescued by some kindly stranger and sent back
from some exotic place like Australia, China or Leola,
South Dakota, they're never folded and stuffed
into an envelope with a stamp and a postmark and a note
in a stranger's hand "for the little girl at the zoo."

so where do they go, these lost balloons?

is there some balloon graveyard, like with elephants, but high
in the stratosphere, somewhere between the vacuum of space
and the pressures of the confining earth? or, beyond that,
perhaps there's a saloon on an alien planet,
like in Star Wars, with balloon music and balloon beer,
where rogue balloons of many planets come together
to celebrate freedom and brag of their exploits
in the heavier-than-air world they left behind,
or, maybe there's a rest home for strayed balloons,
weary from their travels, worn from adventure,
where they can sit in balloon rockers on a long porch,
watching a red balloon sun rise over rolling balloon surf
as the last of their air slips slowly away with a gentle sigh

there is a lesson in the mystery of the lost balloons,
not  so clear as those in the Little  Golden  Books, something
for the older  child, afraid too long of the free, open sky

A great way to start the day.

happy faces

after days of angst,
I want to write a happy poem
and to get into the
I think  of  all the happy-faced
I see in my daily doings,
people who look  like not just that
they're really happy to see you,
but also like they have this really funny
joke in mind that they'd really
like to tell you
if you had the time,
people who  smile with their
whole face, their lips,  their eyes,
the way they present their face
forward toward you, like they're daring you
to have an unhappy thought,
to try to press a gloom on them,
won't work
their face says, the girl at the pharmacy,
for example, almost worth being sickly
just for a chance to see her,  to luxuriate, like
in a pool of warm bubbling water,
in the healing power of her
happy face,
welcoming the afflicted
to bask in the power
of happy...

I like people like that...

of course there's the other kind,
I saw on just yesterday,
a young woman
all fancy dressed, who walked
into the coffeehouse
with a huge smile, looked around
to see anyone she knew for whom
pretense  was required,
finding no such person, her smile,
like in the click of a switch, falls away
ad her true Witch Brunhilda face is exposed
to all of us,  the "don't counts' who clutter up
her world...

I don't like that kind of person, and,
faced with one,
I remind myself of the happy face
at the pharmacy
and am content that there is hop
in the world for our
better angels

and that the next time I'm at the pharmacy
I'm going to slow down,
wait to hear
her joke

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.


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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