Of A Matter Requiring Consideration   Wednesday, November 15, 2017

This is a poem from 2007, back when, having no laptop, I was still writing with an actual pen on actual paper.

of a matter requiring consideration

it's a question
for pondering,
and practical
of positive
and negative
to accumulate,
and evaluate,
internal and external
for deconstruction,
to balance...

what the hell,
take three,
with strawberry

Requiring consideration this week (but only if you want to) are new poems by me, a bunch of old poems by me, and poems from five books I bought this weekend at one of Half Price Books occasional 40-50 percent off weekends.

I got a beautifully bound book of haiku, including the masters, Basho, Buson, and Issa, a very large collection by Sylvia Plath, a large collection by Lyn Lifshin, and two smaller collections, one by Mary Oliver and the other by Joy Harjo.

Also, which happens ever now and then, I ran across a copy of my own book, Seven Beats a Second. I didn't buy it, but I did recommend it to another shopper. The soft sell didn't work. She looked, but bought something else.

of a matter requiring consideration

back when I knew shit from Shinola

Basho, Buson, Issa
Nine poems

bits and pieces from a Tuesday morning that seemed like a Monday

rainbow shoes

eyes wide

Sylvia Plath
Dark Wood, Dark Water
Waking in Winter


breakfast at I-Hop on Christmas day

grackle predictions

Lyn Lifshin

winner in the end

Mary Oliver
Luke's Junkyard Song

all the enjoyable things I can do today

the shortest poem

dark morning

Joy Harjo

business trip

reply to the critic who takes himself and me much too seriously

what counts

Used to be, I knew things.

back when I knew shit from Shinola

I knew he secret
but have since lost it

it is age...

complicates things...

for the secret is simple
and simple is the secret

wisdom of the aged,
heard that for years and years

complications, confusions,
obfuscations, diversions, pathways
obstructed by ego,
that's the wisdom of the aged...

I wish I was seven years old
back when I knew
didn't have to think about it
to know the difference
from Shinola

First of the ones I mentioned above is Haiku - Classic Japanese Short Poems. It was published in 2016 by Chartwell Books.

These are just a few of the poems included in the book.

Basho (1644-1694)

The cut end of
A fresh-felled tree -
Tonight's moon


After darkness falls
A stealthy worm burrows
into a moonlit chestnut


The crane's legs
Grow shorter in the
Early summer rain

Buson (1716 -1784)

Such joy in crossing
A summer stream
Sandals in hand


The spring sea
All day rising and


Camphor roots
Noiselessly moistened
By a fine winter rain

Issa (1763 - 1828)

Mountain temple -
Beneath the snow
The call of the bell


Snowfall outside
Soot fall inside -
Such is home


No breeze but from
The wings of the mosquito
At my ear

I wrote this poem in 2008. At the time I had already retired twice and was back at work for a company scoring state assessment tests, usually writing and/or reading related.

Occasional (actual, often) very boring, especially when scoring states with very strict writing rules - three paragraphs, opening, closing, and exposition in the middle. Students demonstrated creativity at their own risk.

Scoring a hundred papers a day, it was like reading the same paper over and over again a hundred times.  The scoring was done in large, open rooms, up to 50 or 60 readers.

bits and pieces from a Tuesday morning that seemed like a Monday

green lichen
on bare branches
over brown
grass gate here
in the cold forest
like boy scouts
at camp

on a foggy day

seen from my
high place
tree tops
in cotton swirl

the hive
with low voices
all eyes tight
on computer screens

every now and then
loud laughter
as something seen
in a child's writing
the room

a thermos top
and brown coffee
open like

green winter rain
anticipates spring

too soon

work done
wandering halls
for approval

will write a poem


A coffeehouse observational from 2008.

rainbow shoes

red shoes
one day
the next
green shoes
and purple

the bonny-eyed 
with rainbow shoes
wears a

invites you
with a sparkle
of a laugh
to join in
the bright
happy day
no matter what
the hue 
of your shoes

Early mornings, my favorite part of the day.

eyes wide

6 a.m.

chill wind
this morning
blowing through my coat
and under my hat

eyes wide,
searching the dark
for shadow movements,
either the black cat that lives down the block
or one of the family of skunks
who roam the neighborhood at night,
watching for the white stripe
in the dark
that signals the need
for a slow
and cautious approach

would that there were
white stripes in the dark times
to remind of of the need for caution
in the darkest of days

would that we were
smart enough
to recognize
the signs

The second book added to my library this past weekend is The Collected Poems - Sylvia Plath. The poems for the book were first collected and published by Harper Perennial in 1992, my Modern Classics edition published in 2008.

Dark Wood, Dark Water

This wood burns a dark
Incense. Pale moss drips
In elbow-scarves, beards

From the archaic
Bones of the great trees.
Blue mists move over

A lake thick with fish.
Snails scroll the border
Of the glazed water

With coils of ram's-horn.
Out in the open
Down there the late year

Hammers her rare and
Various metals.
Old pewter roots twist

Up from the jet-blacked
Mirror of water
And while the air's clear

Hourglass sifts a
Drift of gold pieces
Bright water lights are

Sliding their quoits one
After the other
Down boles of the fir.

Waking in Winter

I can taste the tin of he sky - the real tin thing.
Winter dawn is the color of metal,
The trees stiffen into place like burnt nerves.
All night I have dreamed of destruction, annihilations -
An assembly-lie of cut throats, and you and I
Inching off in the gray Chevrolet, drinking the green
Poison of stilled lawns, the little clapboard gravestones,
Noiseless, on rubber wheels, on the way to the sea resort.

How the balconies echoed! How the sun lit up
The skulls, the unbuckled bones facing the view!
Space! Space! The bed linen was giving out entirely.
Cot legs melted in terrible attitudes and the nurses -
Each nurse patched her soul to a would and disappeared.
The deathly guests had not been satisfied
With the rooms, or the smiles, or the beautiful rubber plants,
Or the sea, hushing their peeled sense like Old Mother Morphia.

This poem from 2008 is a tribute to a young woman I met some 40 plus years ago.


young girl
maybe twenty
not much more
in speech
and manner

there ain't no
called Hispanica
so how can I be

and there ain't
never been no
called Latin
and if they was
they been dead
a couple of thousand

so no way

but there is a
and that's where
my blood roots lie
so that makes me
Mexican -

you got a problem
with that?

Another 2008 observational, this one, Christmas morning.

breakfast at I-Hop on Christmas day

the last of the tamales
counted into dozens,
and wrapped in foil at 2 a.m,
we're up again
five hours later, ready
for whatever comes next
on Christmas, 2008...

after the 10-hour intimated
we had yesterday and last night
with our tamales,
neither of us is up to
eating one for breakfast
so it's off to I-Hop,
where we're greeted
by a scowly-faced waitress
with lips painted red
as Rudolph's

an incomplete literalist
this woman
who gets our order exactly right
except for small details
that change everything entirely

so instead
of the "harvest healthy nut combo:
I ordered, I get harvest
healthy nut pancakes which is
two pancakes more that I can eat
and no scrambled fake eggs
which was supposed to be
for the blueberry syrup pool
in which my four (not two)
harvest healthy nut pancakes
like an island in the blue Pacific
and Dee gets her pigs in a blanket,
a full order instead of a half an order
so she has two extra pigs
and two extra blankets
whispering to her
from her plate...

buy then,
setting aside my Christmas morning
I start listening to the people
across from us,
a dark-haired Latina
home for the holidays,
having breakfast with her parents,
a premed student, I think,
telling mom and dad about
the lab work she's doing
and the experiments she's working on,
her eyes flashing
with the excitement of discovery,
the enchantment of learning,
and her parents,
not saying a word,
not understanding a word,
still soaking it up,
their daughter's joy
and their own,
the joy a parent feels
when they can see their child
has found her place and
begun a live
on her

the pay-off
for all their own dreams

It seems the birds were right. From 90 degrees yesterday to 54 when I got up this morning, that to be the high for the day.

grackle predictions

near cover the parking lot

black dots
on gray asphalt
spots in my morning eyes

says it's a sign of a cold front

I don't know
if that's cultural wisdom
handed down
for generations
or if she saw
the same weather
I did


it'll be 90 degrees

if the grackles
are bringing cooler weather
I say

come on down, grackle

This poem is by Lyn Lifshin from another of my weekend purchases, Cold Comfort, published by Black Sparrow Press in 1997.


like the sound
of giraffe
necks shattering.
Crystal bullets.
I was wrapped
in a blue so
torn and old
it was almost
colorless, blue
of David's eyes
and the light
we could see from
trains. I had
enough of moon
light, hiding
crawling between
barns. Under the
hay my heart was
pounding. Maybe
when they shave
my hair it will
go for a mattress
in Berlin, for
that man I'd
love to spit
at who dreams
of goose fat
sputtering as
he washes his
coarse beard
with soap made
of a sister
you won't know.
If Treblinka was
a color it would
be a hard icy
almost white
blue the color
of flames
they shoved
of flames
they shoved
cribs into. What
shatters becomes
its own blade.

This, about an early lesson in military leadership.

winner in the end

it was January
when through some
military blunder

I was made squad
for the last two
and one half weeks
of basic training

this was at Lackland
Air Force Base
during the short time between
the end of basic training
and the beginning
of our first training
assignment -
in my case
nine months at Indiana University,
an assignment
I wished to do nothing
to jeopardize
in a way
that might cause me
to be sent to cook
school instead


most men
that in every group
of several or more men
there will be at least one who
is determined
to be king
of every hill,
at least one who will declare war
on anyone who might have
authority over him,
certain as he is that he is the only
deserving leader
and that anyone who denies him
that position
has stolen from him that which
is rightly his

I had
one of those in my squad,
an ROTC dropout
who could never understand
how someone so
as I
end up his superior,
no matter how short that period
of superiority might be

what he never figured out
was that I
didn't give a shit,
that all I wanted to do
was get through the last
two and a half weeks
of basic training
without screwing up
my training assignment
and, beyond that, the next
four years after which my blatant
would again be fact
and not just theory

so he baited
and I ignored
and the more I ignored
the more he baited
and so on
he finally developed
migraine headaches and
signs of personality disorder
and was sent home as medically unfit
to serve,
making him I guess,
in the end

From 2008, a memory from 1965 - 66.


I remember
seeing my reflection
in a store window,
long hair,
greasy looking,
thin coat
against the wet
a refugee-looking
bit of human

it was the first week
of January, 1966,
barely a month
from my 22nd birthday,
just off the bus from
Bay City, a small east Texas
town where I was walking
for a small, four-day-a-week newspaper
when the "Greetings" letter
from Uncle Sam
set a new course
for my life,
a course I had frantically
since my 18th birthday

- dumb,
I was to believe
I could drop out of school
and no one at the draft board
would notice..

it was early days in the war,
though no one knew that
at the time, and I
really didn't have an opinion
about it
except that, for damn sure
I didn't want any personal part of it,
it was just, much like
Dick Chaney,
thought I had better things
to do and was sure smoking
dope, drinking too much,
and thinking deep thoughts
were much more valuable
contributions to the war effort
than anything I could do
with an actual
gun -

but the letter came
and,Canada aside,
there didn't seem much choice
until I went to the pre-
induction physical
and passed a room
where a line of draftees
in their underwear
were being divided into
two groups,
counting off down the line

1, 2 -  army
3 - marines

1, 2 - army
3 - marines



and I said the hell
with that
and went back to Bay City
and joined the Air Force,
dumping some poor draft dodger
like myself, except
with a lower test score
into the 1, 2 - army, 3 -marines
for which, though I'm sorry,
I'd do it all over again

which brought me to this
place, a block and a half
from the induction center
in Houston,
looking at a strange
I knew was me,
looking back from a store window,
a drifter life
whose accomplishments
never matched
the opportunities available
to him,
the most alone
I had ever been,
what came  next,knowing
I'd never see this particular
mirror me
if that was a good thing
or bad

The two inevitables, death and taxes.

facing the grim inevitables on a beautiful Saturday morning

cold Saturday morning
clear as a church bell calling the faithful
on Sunday morning
and I am loath to think of
the letter from IRS yesterday
regarding our 2015 tax return, but
I must, cause, you know
it's like death, I just gotta do it
and it's like that old, black-robed reaper
they know my name
and how to find me...

but I also must say, it is a beautiful,
cool clear day and I'm going to hold on to it
as long as I can

deal with the inevitables

Another book purchasing last weekend, Dog Songs, is by Pulitzer Prize winner Mary Oliver. The book was published in 2013 by Penguin Books.

A dog lover, this poem is a true heartstrings plunker, so incredibly sad, yet still hopeful.

Luke's Junkyard Song

I was born in a junkyard,
not even on a bundle of rags
or the seat of an old wrecked car
but the dust below.

But when my eyes opened
I could crawl to the edge and see
the moving grass and the trees
and this I began to dream on,
though the worms were eating me.

And at night through the twists of metal
I could see a single star - one, not even two.
Its light was a think of wonder,
and I learned something precious
that would also be good for you.

Though the worms kept biting and pinching
I fell in love with this star.
I stared at it every night -
that light so clear and far.

Listen, a junkyard puppy
learns quickly how to dream.
Listen, whatever you see and love -
that's where you are.

I wrote this when my coffeehouse was near the center of downtown, right on the river. The "autumn lady" was a homeless (apparently) woman who was outside the coffeehouse every morning. Obviously deeply troubled, she was a nice looking black woman in clothes she (I'm sure) made herself, beautiful clothes in layers of brown and orange and yellow, thus my name for her as the autumn lady. Although she never agreed to talk to me or even greet me in the morning, she was a mystery I wrote several poems about.

all the enjoyable things I can do today

a beautiful morning

about 50 degrees
and sunny

downtown traffic
on I-10
is dense but sane

the river
in its slow flow
is especially green
and reflective

the autumn lady
sleeps warm by the door
under a thick wool blanket...



as she prepares
my latte

my mind
with all the enjoyable things

A short, short shorty.

the shortest poem

the shortest

of a lover's

I get up early every morning, in part because of back problems that keep me from extended sleep and in part because I love the early morning and am inspired by it.

dark morning

dark morning,
fog on the in-bound intestate

blazing red
like sparks thrown off
by a campfire at midnight

all in a line
four columns deep

the discipline
or morning's bright fire 

The last of the books I bought this weekend is this, She Had Some Horses, by Joy Harjo. The book was published in 1983 by Thunder's Mouth Press.


We get frantic
in our loving.
The distance between
Santa Fe and Albuquerque
shifts and changes.
It is moments;
it is years.
I am next to you
in skin and blood
and then I am not.
I tremble and grasp
at the edges of
myself. I let go
into you.
A crow flies over
towards St Michaels,
opens itself out
into wind.
And I write it to you
at this moment
never being able to get
the essence
                   the true breath
in words, because we exist
not in words, but in the motion
set off by them, by
the simple flight of crow
and by us
                 in our loving.

I was still peddling my first book, Seven Beats a Second, in 2008. Out of books now, except I think Amazon still has some used ones.

business trip

here on the 18th floor
the mist over the bay
is like a thin veil
the face
of a beautiful woman

of gulf green
slip through the morning cover
like thin soup
by the masts in the marina

is a clear, bright
gulf coast morning...

this afternoon from
1 to 4,
if anyone buys,
with a reading at 2 -
lots of people here
in this place
that used to be home
who will come
if they get the word,
but the notice in the newspaper
and not positioned
where likely to be read

whatever else
comes this afternoon -
at 4:05 it's back
to the hills

my new
for these past
15 years

It ain't rocket science.

reply to a critic who takes himself and me much too seriously

there are no babies
being fed here,
no tyrants brought
to heel,
no visit
to the home bound,
no rehab
of housing for the homeless,
no justice
for the poor and downtrodden
are no cures here
for diseases
that maim and kill

to light the way
to personal fulfillment,
no formula
for turning water to wine,
lead to gold,
scrap bobby pins,
electric toasters,
and old video games
to a clean, inexhaustible
energy source

there is none of that
serious stuff

just a damn poem,
an old man's game,
an alternative to daytime TV.
a reminder that there is still life
in this husk and thought
in this drying,

if you read it
if you don't
will have no impact
on the reality
of our struggling,
needy world

I can live with that

Last for the week.

what counts

I have many
dark thoughts,
the struggle always
to overcome...

that the past is past,
gone, over, finished -

the challenge
to keep the past
from overcoming the good days
of now,
the here
the presence
where we live,
the only thing that counts
of the scales of

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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