Easy Does It   Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A poem from mid-August

a how-to-guide for simple-minded people on writing poetry

I'm too simple-minded 
to write "form" poetry, the rules
too complicated to remember, never mind
in one case when I invented my own form
with rules so simple (10 words in 6 lines)
that any dummy can do it

I can't rhyme

any time I try to rhyme
it comes out something like 
"beans beans the musical fruit"

so I just do what I do -
try to think of something worth
writing about
then write about it the way I feel
about it,
counting on natural rhythms
and interesting architecture
on the page
and then finish when I feel like
I'm done...

it's what I do
and I hope you like it

but if you don't
there's lots of other poets you can like
and lots of other words
I can write
the way
I like
to write'em

I can't think of any other reason

to do it than

Deja Vu all over again. But different, again.

a how-to guide for simple-minded people on writing poetry

bent, if not broken

Czeslaw Milosz

about the reality of reality

John Oughton
Xmas Pageant, 1961

as the wheels turn

Donald Justice
A Chapter in the Life of Mr. Kehoe, Fisherman

a time to meet our fellows

Patricia Fargnoli
The Heron
The Joker and the Fishes

the shift

Lorna Dee Cervantes

deep thoughts to be thunk in 2009

Alice Walker
African Images - (Glimpses from a Tiger's back)

fall steps in

Joanna Weston
The Photograph

a minor poet explains it all

Michael Earl Craig

solitary dancer

Wendy Rose
Drum Song

in the time of emergence

Daya Pawar
The Buddha

the gifts we have

And here's a good example of the take it easy approach.

bent, if not broken

full moon
the early hour
like a round yellow lantern
hung high in the dark sky

a north breeze
lays cool against my back,
a dry leaf
on the sidewalk
walking with me
and my dog
in the buttery light of the great
shining orb

in early September
if not broken

First from my library, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980, Czeslaw Milosz, with a poem from his Selected Poems, 1931-2004. The book was published by Harper Collins in 2004.

Born in 1911, Milosz died in 2004, the year of publication.


My sweet European homeland.

A butterfly lighting on your flowers stains its wings with blood,
Blood gathers in the mouths of tulips,
Shines, star-like, inside a morning glory
And washes the grains of dust.

Your people warm their hands
At the funeral candle of primrose
And hear on the fields the wind howling
In eh cannons ready to be fired.

You are a land where it's no shame to suffer
For one is served here a glass of bitter liquor
With lees, the poisons of centuries.

On your broken evening of wet leaves,
By the waters that carry the rust
Of centurions' sunken armor,
At the foot of blasted towers,
In the shadow of their spans like aqueducts,
Under the quiet canopy of an owl's wings.

A red poppy, touched by the ice of tears.

Washington, D.C., 1949

From 2016, more of my occasional muddling with big questions.

about the reality of reality

quantum physicists
argue about the reality
of reality...

is there a "reality," the question
they consider...

the one side says, yes
and we can measure
and test it

the other side says
reality is a creation of our
measurement and

does a tree fall
in the forest if no one sees it?

of course
say the one group;
say the the other, if no one saw
the falling tree
no tree

is the concrete world all around us
says the one side

says the others
even concrete is an illusion,
atoms and all their whizzing about,
parts that, though unseen,
we, through some magic of imagination
organize in our minds as "concrete"


this is serious business,
I think

the world, the whole universe,
the all of "reality"
dependent according to some who know
on us for its existence

it is a dirty job I guess some might say,
but we're the ones who have
to do it, keeping a sharp eye out,
you and me and everyone
else, lest all we know crumble into chaos,
never to be; never to have been..

this earth, spinning,
continuing it's spin only
as long as we keep it

This poem is by Canadian poet John Oughton, taken from his book, Counting Out the Millennium. The book was published by Pecan Grove Press in 1996.

A crime writer in addition to his poetry, Oughton has worked as a journalist, corporate communicator and research assistant Allen Ginsberg and is not Professor of Learning and Teaching at Centennial College.

Xmas Pageant, 1961

At 13, I was the United Church's Joseph
my Mary, a girl from College Avenue
so virginal that a blush
was new, disturbed her.
Our baby, a doll with oversized rubber head,
smelled like Eatons.
Three wise men, resplendent in striped
bathrobes, towel turbans and
itchy cotton beards
brought gift-wrapped boxes of emptiness.
Frankincense was hard to find in Guelph,
myrrh too bitter for Ontario.

I thought Mary and I should at least
have a crush on each other
in Christmas spirit, when miracles,
births, warm animals and new stars
crowding the manger seemed sexy.
At 13, nearly everything did,
but she was impossible to talk to
as a Japanese schoolgirl.
Only in the dumb show of the pageant
could we touch, moist hands learning
the first step of high school courtship.

I had spent Christmas before in Iraq
where the hills, bleached and biblical,
still bore sheep, shepherds wearing red robes,
goat songs fluted off the rocks.
Miracles were so long ago
they had worn to tracings on sun-blasted brick.
December was heat and sandstorms,
expensive stale goodies from the British import store
and chips and lemonade around the swimming pool
of the equally-British Alwiya club.

Back in Guelph, I learned to step between worlds.
It was no stranger to play Joseph
with my white face and cracking voice
framed by snow sifting along the windows
than for Mary, with another exquisite blush,
to produce from my fertile imagining
a babe quiet and perfect enough
to attract teen-aged wise men
with their boxes of empty promise.

Morning at my diner.

as the wheels turn

two little girls
run between the tables
they have legs to run,
because they have voice to declare
their passage,
their place
in a world that has not yet
taken sufficient

as I, the salesman
who deserves
greater notice,
write my poems
to make the world
take note
of the wake I leave behind
as I take my passage
to greater things
than this day
this time
this life

as the wheels turn,
new days out of

From The Best American Poetry - 2005, published by Scribner Poetry, this poem is by Donald Justice.

Justice, poet and teacher of many of the best poets of the last century, was born in 1925 and died in 2004.

A Chapter in the Life of Mr. Kehoe, Fisherman

Some nights on the dock,
When only scales
And a few popeyed fish-heads
Are left out for the moon
(Which the spread nets entangle),
There comes the sound
Of bare feet dancing,
Which is Mr. Kehoe,
Lindying solo,
Whirling, dipping
in his log skirt
That swells and billows,
Turquoise and pink,
Mr. Kehoe in sequins,
Face turned upward,
Eyes half-shut, dreaming.

Sleep well, Mr. Kehoe.

Another swat at one of the big questions, in this case, the question of identity, ours and whose with whom we live.

This one is from 2008.

time to meet our fellows

I was reading
in National Geographic
about the intelligence
of some of our fellow
earthly creatures

with vocabulary, syntax
and creative imagination;
that remember the past
and plan for the future;
Kanzi, the bonobo,
learning sign language
from watching his mother
being taught (he may be speaking
English, they think, just too fast
and high pitched
for our ears to understand);
Betsy, the border collie, who
recognizes objects from photographs
and who knows 340 words and
is learning more at the advancement rate
of a 4-year-old;
even octopus
who play for the fun of the playing

more and more
we begin to recognize
with creatures
not of our own kind

except for some,
the egocentric,
the ethnocentric,
the homosapien-centric
the world
and all the universe that surrounds it
as a preserve
set aside for their pleasure and exploitation

these do not believe

these cannot believe,
too much invested
in an unearned superiority
over all other creatures

their disbelief is their loss....

but I know better
for I have watched
my Reba watching

and though
I cannot know for certain
what goes on
behind those cinnamon eyes,
I do know
it is far more
than just the mindless grinding
of an unthinking id

The next two short poems are by Patricia Fargnoli, from her book, Small Songs of Pain, published in 2004 by Pecan Grove Press. The poet's inspiration for the poems is interesting,  creating poetic renderings of Marc Chagall's visual rendering of the fables of La Fontaine.

Fargnoli is an award winning poet and retired psychotherapist. New Hampshire Poet Laureate from 2006 to 2009, at the time of publication, she taught at the Keene Institute of Music and Related Arts.

The Heron
        (Le heron)

In the green by a stream stood a heron,
In the stream, visible beneath the surface
     small fish swam.

Still as a stalk, already full of them
the heron refused the fish who, in any case,
     were too small for him.

He stood without need there on the bank
in the world that holds herons in the excess
     of summer, in the humid green,

green of emerald, green of crushed velvet
as the fish swam by his discerning eye,
     safely by his eye.

The Joker and the Fishes
          (Le rieur et lees poissons)

The man tells his joke at the supper table,
mouth open sideways with the telling.
His arm gestures toward the dour man
at the other end who must be the butt pf it.
A short man, a big man, a man
with a long crooked nose laugh.
The goblets, the decanter, even
the cooked fish, rollick around the cloth.
The dour man who's had quite enough
plots behind his sideways eyes -
a small quick murder.

An observational, from the diner.

the shift

overnight cashier
at my favorite diner

young woman,
pear shaped,
cut tight,
worker hands,
nails cut short, a visit
to a spa or manicurist maybe
on her birthday, ever couple of years

comes in at midnight,
works until eight, home just in time
to see her husband, if she still has one, off
to work and her children off to school

lips giving no sign of ever having
turned up in a smile

the 3 a.m. face, set at the darkest,
longest hour

its the zombie shift,
night of the working dead...

I understand

with overnight shifts
in my past

This poem is by Lorna Dee Cervantes, probably the most widely recognized and read of America's Chicana/Native American poets. Born in 1954, she has received most every award and honor available to a poet today.

The poem is from her book, Drive - The First Quartet, new poems 1980-2005. The book is divided into five long series that could each stand alone as their own book. This poem is from the second series, Bird Ave.


what girls
did in
the barrio
to get
their 15
of fame
shoot out the lights
cut the hoses
walk the fence
get 'simmons
in winter
in the fall
we formed
our own assaults
beat down
the beggars
called out
the mad dogs
jammed up
the malls
we badgered
up the will
we stole
our souls
from demons
no dis
followed us
to bed
every night
on the prayers
de las angeles
late at night
the tongues
we buried
in our mothers'
us out
like lemmings
pained lemurs
de la noche
the glassed
in streets
our smoking
of marlboro
in a burst
of lived air
we were cold
fish eyes
ice skinned
muy coiffed
and dressed
to kill
as aged
lemon seeds
among the
our fathers
the empty
made pitch
by our
it all
we did
the work
of many.


All us big-picture, big-idea types need consider ourselves now and then.

deep thoughts to be thunk in 2009

as with many people
I like to think deep
about things I know

an explanation
some might say
as to why
all the world's problems
I solved
last year are back on the table

as we
deep-thinkers like to say

the world wasn't paying
adequate attention

I'm just going to have to
louder in

Next a series of very short poems by Alice Walker, from her book, Her Blue Body Everything We Know, published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovice, Publishers in 1991.

Walker, born in February, 1944, (two weeks to the day before me) was a poet, short story writer, and novelist, best know for her novel The Color Purple.

from African Images (Glimpses from a Tiger's Back)

A green copse
And hovering
Near out Bus
A shy gazelle


morning mists
On the road
an Elephant
He knows
his rights.


A strange noise!
"Perhaps and elephant
is eating our roof?"
In the morning
much blue.


Elephant legs
In a store
To hold


A young man
Puts a question
In his language
I invariably
End up


A small boat
A placid lake
Suddenly at one's hand
Two ears -


An ocean of grass
A sea of sunshine
And near my hand
Water buffalo.


See! Through he trees!
A leopard in
the branches -
No, only a giraffe
Munching his dinner.


Fast rapids
Far Below
The lazy Nile.


Uganda mountains
Black soil
White snow
And in the valley


Holding three fingers
The African child
Looked up at me
The sky was very


In the dance
I see a girl
Go limp
"It is a tactic"
I think.


The fresh corpse
Of a white rhinoceros
His horn gone
Some Indian woman
Will be approached


The Nairobi streets
At midnight
The hot dog man
Folds up his cart.


The native women
thought me
until they
saw me follow you
to your house.

It doesn't take much in South Texas for the fur coats and woolen socks to come out of the closet.

fall steps in


52 degrees this morning,
clear sky, brisk
breeze blowing, shuffling the trees
like cards in a game of
Go Fish


two more days of this
and the smell of mothballs
will spice the air
as winter coats come out
the closet

Next, I have a couple of poems from my poet friend Joanna Weston.

Joanna has published a number of books, most recently, a middle-reader, Frame and The McGuire. Details on this and all of her other books is available at her blog  -


The Photograph

her flounces gather like an 1980s valentine
hand-made lace hiding arthritic hands

heart-shaped locket kisses decolletage
is "spinster" a word for spinning wheels?

white hair puffed, held by tortoiseshell combs
I admire her well-maintained deportment

long jet earrings touch wrinkled neck
whose fingers curl against damaged heart?

the sheen of bombazine, out-of-fashion
why wear black in summer's sultry heat?

silver framed sepia beside upright chair
who holds her through the virgin nights?


the eyes loom large, two washed-out shells
mouth emptied of sand by a wisp of wind

embroideries of seal lettuce tangle broken glass
crushed mussels cut these trespassing feet

do my hands hold enough rocks to make a cave?
darkness frames weeping kelp for dead ears

star-fish rise and fall beneath the ties
salt water stings each open wound

fingers on my eyes close the sky
oyster-clad rocks brushed by damselfish

a yellow crab crawls across my hand
this the pool where we met in spring

From 2010, more deep think thinking.

a minor poet explains it all

I'm eating breakfast
because normally
I sit at the booth
at the other end, the one
next to the electric plug,
where I face south
as I eat

this morning
the booth was taken
by another south-faced,
keyboard clicking
leaving me
at this end, in the
only other booth next
to an electric plug
where I now face breakfast
facing north

I'm not sure
what effect this will have
on the gastro-dynamics
of my egg over easy
and extra crispy bacon
but it does
present a subtly different
view which could have far-reaching
psychological effects on

those like me
who normally eat breakfast
now facing toward the south,
toward the oncoming traffic on the
as well as those like me today
who eat breakfast
facing north
where the interstate traffic
is going away...

a different orientation

a reason,
I believe, why
south-facing diners
are usually
highly motivated people
with the supreme confidence
to write meaningless, totally
trivial, poetry
north-facing diners
often suffer from abandonment issues
are are frequent victims
of depression

This poem is by Michael Earl Craig and is taken from his book Thin Kimono, published by Wave Books in 2010.

Born in Ohio, Craig lives in Montana where he works as a farrier in addition to his writing. He was appointed Montana Poet Laureate in 2015.


A book about a monk who
took care of encephalitic kittens,
a best seller.

I am standing here in the kitchen, alone.
It's 11 a.m. and I have m credit card in
my left hand. I've just bought
160 dollars' worth of steak
from a traveling salesman named Don.

Things have changed with me.
I no longer think it's fair
that retarded people can take the word
and have it all to themselves.

I turn the pages, looking at the pictures.

Obscenities as postulates, it's
what I've always said. Packets of energy,
discrete and separate,
things that come to me
as a kind of croissant pride.

The kittens, it seems, weren't making it.
I turn the pages.

The monk stood and -
fatuous! you would hiss -
let the Baltic Sea
lap gently at his feet.

I'm at the age when my dance cards seems to get shorter weekly.

solitary dancer

another erasure
from my e-mail list

to happen more and more
these days

the dance floor is emptying,
the band fading
to a low, soft
the whisper of souls

like I'm soon to be
the only one
at the charity ball,
shuffling my feet 
in the silence 
of an empty room

Next from my library, a poem by Wendy Rose from her book The Halfbreed Chronicles and Other Poems. The book was published in 1985 by West End Press.

Born Bronwen Elizabeth Edwards in California, Rose is of Hopi, Miwok, and European descent. An artist, writer, and anthropologist, she grew up with almost no exposure to her Native American heritage and identity, which she investigates in her writing.

Drum Song

Listen. Turtle
          your flat round feet
          of four claws each
          go slow, go steady,
          from rock to water
          to land to rock to

Listen. Woodpecker
          you lift our red head
          on wind, perch
          on vertical earth
          of tree bark and

Listen. Snowhare
          your belly drags,
          your whiskers dance
          brush to burrow
          your eyes turn up
          to where owls

Listen. Women
          your tongues melt,
          your seeds are planed
          mesa to mesa a shake
          of gourds,
          a line of mountains
          with blankets
          on their

From 2011, another attempt at "big think."  (That's what they called Eric Sevarid who did commentary on the CBS evening news way back when. When he couldn't there they had a substitute commentator they called (in private, "little think." )

in the time of emergence

an old Navajo chant
speaks of the "time of emergence"
and I think
of the all-there-is emergence
not a product
created by the hand of god,
but a creation
that emerges from the mind of
the all-mother/all-father,
creation not of a single event,
a job of work, completed
over the course of a week of seven god-days,
but a continuing process
of never-ending creation, a creation-flow,
an emergence of ever-deepening truth,
like the night emerges
and from the night the day emerges
and from the day a night;
like the sea
emerges from the deep, breaks
on shores far from where its water essence
then returns to the deep that sent it,
and back again to the same or different shore,
far-traveled, enriched by its journey;
like rain on hay
left in the field overnight,
the fire of creation
processing within, its
musty odor rising again
with the fallen rain to become a cloud,
drifting over continents,
over prairies and mountains and cities
and great forests, across oceans
bringing the musty smell of wet hay
with new-falling rain
around the world and back again
to mowed fields where it began;
like we begin,
in a moment of passion emerged
from one of us to another,
then the continued emergence
through a life of is and outs, comes
and goes, contributing as we come and go
our own passions to the universe
we are part of again, flowing through our time
until our end in a moment of
death-ecstasy, souls singing
as we rejoin the all-there-is
from whence we came

our part
of the great emergence
until we, like the sea,
are called again to new and different
by our time drifting
in the creators'
emerging conscious

This poem is by Daya Pawar, taken from The 
Oxford Anthology of Modern Indian Poets, published by Oxford University Press in 1994.

Pawar was a Marathi novelist and poet known for his contributions to the Dalit literature that dealt with the atrocities experienced by the dalits (untouchables) under the Hindu caste system.

Born in 1935, he died in 1996.

The Buddha

I never see you
in Jeta's garden,
sitting with our eyes closed,
in the lotus position,
or in the Ajanta and Ellora caves,
with your stone lips
sewn shut,
sleeping the last sleep of your life.
I only see you
walking, talking,
breathing gently, healingly,
on the sorrows of the poor
and the weak,
going from hut to hut
in the life-destroying darkness
with a torch in your hand,
giving their suffering -
which drains their blood
like a contagious disease -
a whole new meaning.

     Translated from Marathi by Eleanor Zelliot and Jayant Karve

Killer hurricanes, killer earthquakes - those of us dry and unshaken must remember our fortune is our fortune, unearned, a gift.

the gifts we have

walking Bella
this morning, my beautiful
Golden Retriver mix, a victim of abuse
in her early life, rescued. but forever 
shy and untrusting, except for me, her trust
in me not just bottomless, but immediate
from the moment we met,
like Saul on the road to Damascus,
complete and unbreakable...

I can't really understand it, just as,
following her as we walk, I marvel at her
intensity as she measures the world through
scents I'll never smell...

like I don't understand how it must be
for a sightless person trying to imagine the colors of
crisp autumn morning, or a deaf person
trying to imagine the rustle of trees
as a wind blows through a forest...

though I don't understand Bella's trust, I try to justify
it, try not to abuse it, just as I try
to appreciate it, like I appreciate the things
I can see and hear and smell that others cannot,
the scent of bread fresh baked from the oven,
the glow of aspens quaking on a mountain side,
the sound of a baby's 
laughter -

even as poets,
we cannot understand or appreciate or truthfully
write about the world and how it must be
to be not ourselves feeling...

this is why we must always appreciate
the gifts we have that are denied to
others, these fortunes given to us that can never
be adequately shared

it must be the moral base of the
fortune, never to forget the extent
of our fortune

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 accusatory, 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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