Thinking Big   Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Time to go deep.

big thoughts

this would be a day for "big thoughts"

but the only thing I can think of is the big thunderstorm
that passed over last night,
almost an hour and half of boomers booming,
like the guns of Navarone booming,
like the curtains of everlasting ripped open
upon the crucifixion of Christ,


hell of a storm
is what I'm saying,
right outside my bedroom window,
like a mountain opening,
the four horsemen
to take us all,
like the beginning and ending
of creation
together booming,
right outside my bedroom window,
woke the wife,
scared the dog right into bed with me
and she's hardly ever scared of
but I could see the prospect of dog heaven
dancing in her eyes
which reminds me the pope says
dogs can go to heaven too,
which means, they being morally superior creatures
to us in every meaningful way,
there will probably be more of them
than us so we'll have to accommodate
the canine majority, learn to sniff butts and pee on hydrants
and such
like I said, a hell of a storm
right outside my bedroom


A final stab this week with old poems from "As Is and Ought to Be" and "Out There," the fifth and sixth sections of my book New Days & New Ways.

big thoughts

if Jesus rose today

Marina Tsvetaeva
As people listen intently
Bent with worry

why is Monday the first day of the week?


like an elephant in a tutu

Francisco X. Alarcon
Yolloxchitl/Heart Flower
Spirits of the Forest



night creature

Stanley Plumly
The Mother

who needs it!

sustained by the memory

unknown except for what they leave behind

Talyikki Ansel
Conversation with the Sun Bittern

stuff about stuff

in the time of emergence

disassociated word association

William Mathews
Another Beer

I could be racing

Kay Ryan
So Different
Half a Loaf

sooner or later it usually is

There are good days and there are days just not worth spending a bunch of time on.

if Jesus rose today

trying to find
new or interesting to say
about this dull and time-worn
Sunday morning

new -

well, I'm here at the coffeehouse
where I am usually not on Sunday morning


it's cool, but not cold,
the outside is dim and drizzly,
the bicycle gang has come and gone
and the rest of everybody here is the same
as everyday but for the big red-faced bald guy by the window -
new but incredibly uninteresting to contemplate...

this may be one of those days when poems
crawl into a corner and die

such is the evidence 
so far

irrefutable evidence
I might add

as my poem for the day
lies huddled in the corner by the door,
with dejected little gasp
of futility

the poet, too,

that if Jesus rose today,
he'd be back in his grave
before the coffee was through
percolating -
that's the kind of day this

poor baby...

Again, like last week, my first library poem is by a Russian who survived the Russian revolution and, for a while, it's aftermath. The poet is Marina Tsvetaeva. Born in 1892, Tsvetaeva is considered among the greatest of 20th century Russian literature. Suffering greatly in the revolution's aftermath, she place her daughter in a orphanage to avoid starvation only to have her starve to death anyway. Living in poverty for many years, her husband and a second daughter were arrested for espionage in 1941 and her husband was executed. She committed suicide that same year after her husband was killed.

The two short poems I selected are from Marina Tsvetaeva, Selected Poems published by Penguin Books in 1971.  Perhaps her greatest work is "Poem of the End." Written in 1924, it is much too long to use here, but I recommend readers find it and read it on their own.

The poems in the book were translated by Elaine Feinstein.

As people listen intently

As people listen intently
    (a river's mouth to its source)
that's they smell a flower
to the depths, till they lose all sense.

That's how they feel their deepest
    craving in the dark air,
as children lying in blue sheets
peer into memory

And that's how a young boy feels
when his blood begins to change.
    When people fall in love with love
they fling themselves in the abyss

Bent with worry

Bent with worry, God
    paused, to smile.
And look, there were many
holy angels with the bodies of

the radiance he had
    given them
some with enormous wings and
others without any,

which is why I weep
   so much
because even more that God
himself I love his fair angels.

This poem is from New Days & New Ways, the fifth section, "As Is or Ought to Be" - 2011.

why is Monday the first day of the week?

looking for a toe-hole
to get me started this morning,
I latch onto an idea

that this is Monday,
the first day of the first full week
of the new year

and that leads me to thinking,
why is Monday
the first day of the week?

and that's obvious, it's the old
"on the seventh day he rested"
which means the eight day

was Monday, time for the Most
High Commuter
to get back to work
overseeing all that he had created,

or did he slip off, instead do do
new creating
somewhere else?

and why did he need a day of rest anyway,
he being the all powerful
Whosit and Whatsit,
you'd think all this creating

would be like a snap of his mighty finger,
once for the heavens and once for the earth,
than an all-purpose multi-snap for
all the planets and creatures

the lions and tigers and bears, oh my,
and squash and cherries and trees
and porcupines

and the geese and hummingbirds
and crab grass and red, red rose
dogs peeing in the park and

sleeping and sleeping
and spiders and dung beetles

and maybe a single, dedicated snap
to whip up a human being, a man
first of course, and then a woman -
of left over
manly parts -
and for both the he and the she
he invented
those words as well, for until then
there were no words to even imagine
a he or a she -
making up arms and legs for both
and lungs and tongues
and noses and
and forty-seven miles of intestines
and hearts that beat and break
and blood
and piss and shit
and boogers, too, and
sexually- explicit play areas
and, occasionally, a brain,
and accident, probably,
or maybe an oversight,
a worn-out, late afternoon, sixth-day
creating a being capable of asking questions,
demanding answers,

and a mighty,
every since...

which begs the question, why
do I, being a pretty mighty pin-in-the-ass
myself, continue to think of Monday
as the first day of the week - it's
time, I think
in order to be true to my non-believing
to designate Wednesday as the
first day of the week

which makes it now this minute an early morning
middle of the week Monday, the day the
religiosos babosos meet her
for breakfast

and I wish they'd hurry and get here
and I hope they have something interesting
to say this morning,
not like the last couple of weeks
when all they've talked about was football -

a real deep and meaty conversation
that'll give me something interesting
to write about
right now I can't think of any darn thing
and that's a dangerous situation,
because lacking anything deep and meaty
to write about...

I'm not too proud
to bull-

Not an expert by any means, but I'm still sure it's just got to be more complicated and more magnificent than what the church people try to sell.


I believe
we are all children

of the big bang
and that nothing truly new

has been added to the mix

and while I don't know what
came before the bang

I'm guessing we'll figure it out
before the end...

multiple bangs, maybe;
bangs within bangs;

bangs bouncing off bangs
like a six bank corner pocket

perpetual bang;

one bang banging another,
like steel balls hung from strings,

banding one after the other
in forever and ever progression;

bangs banging out here,
banging in somewhere else -

that's one to imagine, creation
in reverse, the Garden of Eden

returning to unplowed field;
or it could be a single, once-and-only bang -

making us really something,
us and all the universe we know or don't,

our stars
the only stars anywhere

you and me,
the only us anywhere

I just don't feel that special...

Interesting information from the Times, Tuesday Science Section, with my own added information.

like an elephant in a tutu

who are paid to know
this sort of thing
humans, chimpanzees, elephants,
magpies, and bottle-nosed dolphins
are, according to their research so far,
unique in their ability to recognize
themselves in a mirror...

further, among this group, dolphins
are the earliest
to demonstrate this ability,
five months earlier than our own
human baby-kind

since they don't have
to comb their hair in the morning
or put on their make-up
or decide which hat to wear
for the Easter Parade, I don't know
what dolphins do with this
precocious recognition,
but the theory of evolution
suggests there must be a reason
for the ability or they wouldn't
have it...

on the other hand I know
human beings
of a mature age who apparently
lack that ability of self-recognition,
as evidenced, for example, by the hardware
attached to their face
(especially nose rings that always
remind me of boogers hanging
out their nose)

or, for that matter, fat-assed
presidents who are convinced they
only weigh 239 pounds..

hell, that's like an elephant
putting on a tutu
and convincing themselves
they are light on their

These two poems are by Francisco X. Alarcon from his book Snake Poems, An Aztec Invocation. The book was published in !992 by Chronicle Books.

The book includes translations of Aztec chants and songs, as well as new poems based on the Aztec originals. The source material is from work done by a priest in 1629. Concerned that the Aztecs were not hewing closely enough to the Catholic faith, the church sent the priest to research what the conquered natives were actually doing, which as often been the case, was combining the old faith with  the new that was required of them.

Ironically, the priest's work, in addition to giving the church tools for oppression,  also created the best record of actual Aztec rituals available since it was created.


it was you
you voice
a seagull
holding up
the breeze

it was you
your breath
tiny tears
on windows

it was you
your ways
to climb down
turn things

it was you
your hands
that healed
the sick
and needy

it was you
your blood
your wounds

Spirits of the Forest

when the last
rain forests
become zoos

will there be
lines to the pond
of wild dreams?

who will dare
this order of lies?

must the last
eagle die
in a cage?

what will take
the place of
our spirits?

Another from section five, New Days & New Ways.

Words are fun, especially when they're not quite socially acceptable.


are creatures of the word

and are often stymied
by social convention that sets

certain words
off-limits, you know, the words

that made us snicker
in fifth grade

usually having to do
with bodily functions and/or body parts

best not shown in public -
for example,

there is what Whitman called
the man-root

the polite word to use in mixed

assuming, of course,

you have a need to refer to the body part
in mixed company at all,

you might say penis,
but I tell you, that is such a

limp, dangly
little word  no man really wants

to claim it
for his, you know, his whatchamacallit,

(see, the problem, right there,
it is trying to talk around the whole thing

when some simple little word
could make it clear we are not talking about

a man's ear, or his nose,
or his left elbow)


some might call it
prick -

though I, personally,
don't like that, sounds too aggressive

for a positive kind of guy like me,
and besides, it's developed all sorts of negative

connotations, like, for example,
no one wants to hang around with a prick

and neither does anyone want to get pricked
no matter how tiny is the prick that does the pricking


is we were Irish,
I suppose we could all have our individual names

for it,
like Lady Chatterley's gardener, John Thomas,

I believe
was his preference, but it does seem to me

it wouldn't solve the problem
since we couldn't be sure what

anyone was talking about,
assuming, perhaps,

the conversation was about
another person

of whom
we had not had the pleasure of acquaintance,

and, possibly , more destructive to social tranquility -
consider the endless argument

between man and spouse (or other interested party)
as to whether i would be more appropriately named

Big Willy
or Wee Willy Wilkins )

a discussion
which would do no good for anyone


many nowadays
seem to prefer "cock." that, at least,

is what I see and hear most often
and I have to say

I kinda like cock myself,
such a proud manly word,

cock of the walk, cock-sure, cock-a-doodle
wake up and smell roses or something,

and of course, no man ever wants
to go off half-cocked...


so, setting aside such obviously
unacceptable proposals

as trouser lizard
and one-eyed snake that ate Milwaukee,

and, while always, certainly being available
to other suggestions, for the time being

perhaps we can just put a cork in the discussion
and leave i at cock...

in the meantime, possibly tomorrow,
someone may address the similar conundrum

regarding those attributes
most usually attributed to the ladies

It's hard for me to imagine that we could be alone.


like starbursts,
and blazing clear..

dark and cold,
the sky
on a field
of razzle-dazzle...

another creature of nights and days
looks to the dark above
his indeterminate head and
see the brilliant mark of mine
among the billions
on the canvas
of his sky,
just as I see above me
the fire that warms
his night
and lights his day...

we imagine
other -
star-gazing bothers
the universal
extended family
the furthermost reaches
of nights and

alone, still,
but no longer lonely

Not sure if I'm looking for a night creature or if I am one.

night creature

the expanding gloom
of a winter day's ending
puts me to sleep
the sun has completed
its falling

a creature of the night
I am of a winter nocturne
born, the soft music
of soft shadows,
the soft comfort of
cold stars softly

This poem is by Stanley Plumly, professor of English and head of the creative writing program at the University of Maryland, College Park.

The poem is taken from Three Rivers, Ten Years and anthology from Three Rivers Poetry Journal.

The Mother

Everything is a secret.

But in sleep even you mother
bends down to talk.

She complains about loneliness,
she complains about marriage:

your father will not sleep.
He uses her like a bed.

Your sisters, she says, are deaf
and dumb from their husbands.

And these three women, she says,
your wives, all daughters.

She looks into your face
as if she was looking at something.

Go to sleep she says.
Even her voice bends down.

Her hand is on your forehead.
Sleep is always summer.'

That's why this leaf.

From the book of the week, written in 2011.

who needs it!

the truth is
I'm 69 years old,
eyes and feet
on the road to ruin
at about the same pace
as the gray cells of remaining
keep on popping like

the truth is
I'm an increasingly creaky cog
in an unimportant machine,
long past warranty,
soon to recycling
by some eight-year-old
radiation mutated
in some poor slum in

the truth is
sooner rather than later
I will die,
probably a lingering
given the miracles

of modern medicine,
tubes sprouting,
plugs plugging, intricate
machine of terminal torture
nigh and day by my bed...

the truth is
if I'm right about the absence of God
in this universe,
I will, once the machines are silenced,
dissolve into the realm
of atomic particles
too small to be seen with anything
but the strongest microscope;
and if I'm wrong
and there is a God out there,
who, if his literature is to be believed,
is a bloody, vengeful cat with hostility
issues regarding those who
did not believer
in his ever-powerful, ever-present
I'll be whole and intact,
head over heels
to the fiery boundaries of hell
where I will burn and burn
and burn...

the truth is
I could write a better story than that
any day before the sun rises complete
with five an dime crayon illustrations...

the truth is
who the fuck needs the truth
when the truth
offers no good ending to anything...

the truth is
I'll take all the lives
I can live with and mostly can't live without -

you tell me yours
I'll tell you mine

If I have anything that might be called a religion, this would be it - one with the universe, a part of all.

sustained by the memory

I was a tree

and before that
a flower

and blue

ever in the wind

and before that
a wind-born weevil

in a loaf of bread
at the day-old bread store

on the corner of Madison
and Monroe

and before that
a grain of wheat

that made the flour
that made the bread

that my weevil-self
dined on

and before that tiny gem
of wheat

I was the rich

that grew the wheat
from a small seed

in my worm-crawling

and before I was the womb

of life
I was a nitrogen bubble

that fell from an exploding

to prepare the womb
that grew the wheat that

made the flower
that fed the weevil

that hatched from an egg
in the shelter of the blue overhanging

that grew beneath the tree

that was me
before the me of this old man

so tired, so tired,
sustained by the memory

that once I was a

The lost and abandoned, uncounted except once a year and only if they want to be found.

unknown except for what they leave behind

a tiny sandal,
a child's sandal lying here
flat on the asphalt,
I first saw it
and took note of it in a poem
months ago,
still there today, astounding how luminous white
the little straps remain
after all the months lying here in this dusty alley,
lying here for months in the dust and head and cold
and wet in this overgrown alley,
and I wonder how the child's foot has grown
since the small shoe was lost here,
a little girl I imagine, almost certain her first year
has passed and I try to imagine her first birthday party
has passed and I'm sad as I think how unlikely
that the little girl who left her shoe in this grubby alley
had a birthday party or a birthday cake or even some small gift

and I imagine how hard life must be for her parents
and how they might struggle to keep life together
and how I hope their struggle will someday lead them
and their little girl to a better life

hope, like the bright sun that came late to this dim, overcast day
to clear it of shadow and to shine now,
suggesting hope for all lost little girls, especially the tiny she
who lost her sandal months ago,
this sandal I walk past ever day as I walk my dog
through this alley shortcut where I have
on cold days, found people huddled and sleeping

remind me of all those, large to very small,
who live their life in shadows
of daily want and need,
as invisible as they pass and as unknown to us
as the citizens of Pompeii, acknowledged only
for what they left

Next from my library, this poem is by Talvikki Ansel, taken from her book, My Shinning Archipelago. The book was published i 1997 by Yale University Press.

Ansel, growing up in Connecticut, earned a BA from Mount Holyoke College and an MBA at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Conversation with the Sun Bittern

     It preens on a root at the edge of the igarapo.
Light lights its lower mandible and brick red eye.

     I say, "why am I talking to you?"
     "I don't know, it says, and spears a snail.Its head
is stripped, its back mottled.

     I tell it about the drawer with the false in bottom
my mother's desk.

     I tell it about the letter I haven't finished, to a
person who gave me some diamonds.

     "I know all that," it says and watches a minnow in among
the mangrove roots.

     You know what you must do, "it says, you must stop..."
     "Breeding miniature horses,"  I say.
     "They are useless," it says.

     I watch it lit one foot, and then the other. A drop
of water glistens on the tip of its bill.
     "I know," I say, "but sometimes I am afraid."

Again from the book.

stuff about stuff

I got people
trying to tell me stuff
about stuff
they don't know no stuff about

regular stuff, like
revealed religions and secret rites of Masons,
domestic and international politics,
Siberian cookware,
the birth and death of stars,
tax laws regarding home office deductions,
the circulatory system of the human being and other mammalians,
the secret socialist agenda of Barack Obama,
the sex life of the Cantonese termite,
and weight loss made cheap and easy
amidst a bevy of buxom blonds
in bikinis

stuff like that
and I don't believe
people ought to be telling me stuff
about stuff they don't know
stuff about...

having an opinion,
it seems to me, ought to be predicated
on knowing stuff about the stuff
one is opining about

though I don't like to be rude,
from now on instead
of politely listing to people
about stuff they don't know
stuff about,
I'm just going to tell them
that if they don't have the right stuff
they should just

stuff it...

I think we maybe entering the time of remembering past glory, the last glory that will be ours.

in the time of emergence

an old Navajo chant
speaks of the "time of emergence"
and I think
of the all-there-is emerging,
not a product
created by the hand of god,
but 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 a day emerges
and from the day a night;
like the sea
emerges from the deep, breaks on shores
far from where its water-essence began,
then returns to the deep that sent it,
and back again to the same or different shores,
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 the oceans
bringing the musty smell of wet hay
with new-falling rain
around the world and back again
to mowed field where it began;
like we begin
in a moment of ;passion emerged
from one of us to the other
then the continued emergence
through a life of ins and outs,
come and go,
contributing as we come and go
our own passions to the universe
we are part of again, flowing through out time
until our end in a moment of
death-ecstasy, souls sing
as we rejoin the all there is
from whence we came

out part
of the great emergence
until we, like the sea
return again to new and different shores,
by our time of drifting
in the creator's emerging

A little exercise in word-association free writing.

disassociated word-association

I was reminded
this morning of how
I used to disassociate my mind
from sensible, structured
and just throw
like a freshman college
student after
his first beer bust
mother toilet,
releasing the demons
of excessive
bacchanal, that pleasure
turned to misery
in the late early morning
of degeneracy

I have been there...

coming home 
to my broken-down dormitory
so drunk
I forget about the ditch
dug for plumbing repairs
between the parking lot and the
back door,
so drunk I fall into the ditch,
so drunk I climb out of the ditch
on the wrong side of it, on the
parking lot side, not the door side,
so drunk I fall into the ditch
twice more times
before my blurred navigational abilities
return to temporary focus,
remembering all this
at five in the morning, in the shower, 
cold water blasting on my heap of a body,
fully dressed...

and herein lies the problem
with disassociated
word-association, once on the tiger,
hard to get off, guilty secrets
flowering like 
tall sunflowers
in a cow pasture,
the low truth
behind yellow, sun-rich blossoms
waving in the sticky

From my library, this poem is by William Matthews. It is taken from his book, Search Party, published by Houghton Mifflin in 2004.

A poet and essayist, Matthews was born in 1942 and died in 1997. In addition to serving as writer in residence at Emerson College, at the time of his death, Matthews held academic positions in a number of universities and colleges

Another Beer

The first one was for the clock
and its one song
which is the song's name.

Then a beer for the scars in the table
all healed in th shape of initials.

Then a beer for the thirst
and its one song we keep forgetting.

And a beer for the hands
we are keeping ourselves.
The body's dogs, they lie
by the ashtray and thump
suddenly in their sleep.

And a beer for our reticence,
the true tongue, the one song,
the fire made of air.

Then a beer for the juke box.
I wish it had a recording
of a Marcel Marceau mime performance:
28 minutes of silence,
2 of applause.

And a beer for the phone booth.
In this confessional you can sit.
You sing it your one song.

And let's have a beer for whoever goes home
and sprawls, like the remaining sock
in the drawer of his bed and repeats
the funny joke and pulls it
shut and sleeps.

And a beer for anyone
who can't tell the difference between
death and a good cry
whit its one song.
None of us will rest enough.

The last beer is always for the road.
The road is what the car drinks
traveling on its tongue of light
all the way home.

Daydreams from the book of the week, 2011.

I could be racing

I could be racing my Stutz Bearcat
through the high mountain passes
of Abrakazam,
if I want to, or trading
tequila shots with
the Duchess de Whirl

I could do that...

or I could be riding
hell for leather
across the rocky steppes
of Kerikombati,
roast pig
on the pristine white sands
of Jazmaka de Mir,
or attending  a Hollywood premier
with the bountifully
Hungarian of the evening,
Lotta Shigotta...

I could go
hand gliding over the deep red canyons
of Tashtaganskastan, if I wanted,
or I might pilot my jumbo Lear to a birthday bash
for the Prince of Cisco-Ferlingetti...

lots of other stuff like that
I could be doing today...

but I have a poem to write first,
then the new Harry Potter movie
that opened last night, I could take my niece to that,
and there's my geraniums that need some watering,
and a whole drawer full of socks needing emergency

important stuff...

real life...

real life stuff
that proves I'm living
and not just part of someone else's
Stutz Bearcat

Last from my library, two short poems by Kay Ryan. The poem is from her book, Flamingo Watching, published in 1994 by Copper Beech Press.

Born in 1945, Ryan has published eight volumes of poetry and was, from 2008 to 2010, sixteenth poet laureate of the United States. In 2011 she was named McArthur Fellow and won the Pulitzer Prize.

So Different

A tree is lightly connected
to its blossoms.
For a tree it is
a pleasant sensation
to be stripped
of what's white and winsome.
If a big wind comes
any nascent interest in fruit
scatters. This is so different
from humans, for whom
what is un-set matters
so oddly - as though
only what is lost held possibility.

Half a Loaf

The whole loaf's loft
is halved in profile,
like the standing side
of a bombed cathedral.

The cut face
of half a loaf
puckers a little.

The bread cells
are open and brittle
like touching coral.

It is nothing like the middle
of an uncut loaf,
nothing like a conceptual half
which stays moist.

I say do not adjust to half
unless you must.

The flu is ravaging just about everybody around here, but it missed me. Instead, I caught a head cold. Makes one feel terrible but not bad enough to stay in bed.

sooner or later it usually is

feeling a little punky,
slept-in this morning, for the first time in months
my eyes opened to a sunlit bedroom,
my dog sitting by the bed
watching me intensely, concern evident
in her stare, cat at the back door,
possibly also concerned about my health,
but more likely, in her true cat 
nature, reminding the world that I was
an hour late with her breakfast

other than the animals,
haven't noticed much difference
in the day, just brighter...

at the coffeehouse now
mostly the same there too,
same people, except for a couple
of malingers who were sitting
at my table,
that's okay,
an extended period of fierce stares
and low-toned mumbling
encouraged them to finish
their bagels and 
move on...

leaving the greater tidal waves
of the universe all in order
sooner or later
they usually

If you've a mind to, please comment by clicking on the comment button below and let me know if you have a problem accessing the comment section. I've been told there's a problem but I can't confirm it. I do now that I've not been receiving comments for a while now.

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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