By the By and Away   Sunday, October 21, 2018





A journey begins under heavy skies.



spring storm

clouds
dark as the devil's 
black eyes
behind
as we race to clear skies
ahead










I quit posting weekly so I would have time for longer posts, like this one, a very long post in which I indulge myself with my own memories, with the added attracton of that amazing French traveler Blaise Cendrars. It's a post good for more than one sitting, with bountiful good stuff .

Hope others enjoy as well.


```

Fall is the time of year I prefer to travel, especially in md-October when the leaves are changing color and there are the first touches of snow in the air.

My preferred destination is the American Southwest, the part of the country I love the most.

We are hoping to make a trip that way this month or next, but events continue conspire against us. In case we don't make it I decided to use this issue of Here and Now to remember the times when we did.

This is all material I've used before, the pictures as well as the poems, most, but not all from my book, Places and Spaces. The poems are not necessarily fully formed poems, but what I choose to characterize as "memory flash cards" - moments seen along the way.

It was fun to read these fragment poems again, reminders of good days and beautiful sights, memories I'm pleased to share with everyone.



Also, in addition to my stuff I have poems by the poet who inspired me to write my own travel poems and who I sought to emulate.

That poet, novelist and newspaper reporter and essayist and artist is Blaise Cendrars. Cendrars, Swiss-born in 1887, became a French citizen in 1916. He had great influence in the European modernist movement before and after his writing career was interrupted by World War I. Along with a number of other foreign born artists who lived in France at the time, he joined the French army (the French Foreign Legion) and fought on the front until he lost his right arm in 1915.

His work I most enjoy and the work that set me to writing my book of travel poems was during a period after the war when he traveled throughout the world, writing travel dispatches for his newspaper in Paris, short, punchy pieces that showed him to be the kind of observant, friendly traveler that any companion would hope to travel with.Cendrars died in 1961,

I have included some of his pieces in this post, pieces that inspired me to try to do my own as well.



Finally, my book, Places and Spaces that includes the narrative that connects the fragments I have here is available at Amazon and anywhere else that sells e-Books.









I begin by breaking all the guidelines I just set, a reminder as I start that men my age did not in the 1960s always have the pleasure of choosing our own travel plans.



blackout at the oasis

listen now..

it's quiet

the sound of a thousand air conditioner suddenly stilled
and our island is one with the desert-blowing night


```


shepherds graze their sheep in the hot afternoon sun,
while in the village center,
men visit an open-air barbershop...

they rest between mud walls
in the generous shade of a large banyan tree
as their hair and beard are trimmed...

the indistinct murmur of their low voices
is a whisper in the sun-baked silence
of the dusty street

the familiar conversation of men and their barbers
drifts through the village
on the weak desert breeze.











This is one of our few trips when we went north instead of west.

Our destination, in the roundabout way we usually did things, was the Blueridge Parkway.

These memories begin in Arkansas.



a pick-up
pulling a horse trailer,
alone in the back
one horse,
a palomino,
golden mane and tail 
and eyelashes
flaring
in the wind,
brown eyes watching
as I pass


```


orange sky
like mist 
through a forest
of orange leaves


```


lakes and ponds
and waterfowl,
a crane passes over 
the road,
low,
long neck outstretched,
wings spread
a dark shadow
against 
a nearly dark sky


```


red sky
in my rearview,
the road like a tunnel
through the dark,
tall, thick forest
on either side...








First from Blaise Cendrars, Reading him is a lot like reading Whitman. Both show you people and places that will never be seen again. The difference, Whitman sees deeply; Cendrars sees the surface, but oh so clearly and precisely.

This is from the series titled West



II  On the Hudson

The electric boat glides silently among the numerous ships anchored in
     the immense estuary and flying the flags of every nation in the world
The great clippers loaded with wood from Canada were unfurling their
     giant sails
The iron steamers were shooting torrents of black smoke
Deckhands of all races and nationalities were bustling around the din
     of foghorns and whistles from factories and trains
The elegant launch is made entirely of teak
In the center rises  sort of cabin something like those on Venetian
     gondolas


V. Girl

Light dress in crepe de chine
The girl
Elegance and wealthy
Hair a tawny blond where matched pearls shine
Calm and regular features that reflect frankness and kindness
Her big almost green sea-blue eyes are bright and bold
She has this fresh and velvety complexion with a special pinkness that
     seems to be the prerogative of American girls


VI. Young Men

He's the Beau Brummel of Fifth Avenue
Tie of gold cloth sprinkled with little diamond flowers
Suit a pink and metallic material
Ankle-boots in real sharkskin with each button a little black pearl
He sports fine asbestos flannel pajamas a glass suit a crocodile-skin suit vest
His valet soaps his gold pieces
He never has anything but perfumed brand-new bills in his wallet









In Tennessee.

(I should mention I always traveled with my dog, my pal and travel companion, Reba, long departed, who sometimes appears in these flashed.)

This is a long piece, leading up to a complaint (left out here) that being on the road three days I had not seen a national newspaper.



I wanted to write about
the forest,
the colors, gold and yellow
and the red-brown the Crayola people
used to call
Indian red or Indian brown
or something like that
and in the middle 
of all that gold and yellow
and red-brown Indian
whatever
some low brush that's flaming
bright red
scattered among the trees
like little fires
burning
in the woods

and
I wanted to write about
the flock of ducks that flew over
in perfect V formation,
near enough to the ground
so that each duck could be
seen
and counted
as an individual,
close enough
to the ground that I could hear
the flapping
of their wings
and the mutter-quacks 
among the ranks

and I wanted to write
about the hills
reminding me
of my hill country home,
but soft hills, none of the 
hard face 
of caliche and cactus and
mesquite, 
just soft,
soft
forest hills, trunks, climbing
close
together

and I wanted to write
about the sun
this morning
and how it lit the colors 
of the trees
and covered the sky
from mid-afternoon,
bringing 
shadows
and mystery
and darker colors
of the night









Cendrars again, from a series titled, Far West




II. Dorypha

On holidays
When the Indians and vaqueros get drunk on whiskey and pulque
Dorypha dances
To the sound of the Mexican guitar
Such exciting habanars
That people come from miles around to admire her

No woman knows as well as she
How to drape the silk mantilla
And to fix her blond hair
With a ribbon
A comb
A flower


VII. City of Frisco

It's an old hulk eaten away by rust
Twenty times in dry dock a nd the engine makes only 7 or 8 knots
And to economize they burn old half-used cinder sand cast-off coal
They hoist some makeshift sails every time there's a puff of wind

With his scarlet face his bushy eyebrows his pimply nose Captain
     Hopkins is a real sailor
Little silver rings pierce his ears
This ship is loaded exclusively with the caskets of  Chinese who died in
     America but who wanted to be buried in their native land
Oblong boxes red or light blue or covered with golden inscriptions
Now that's a type of merchandise illegal to transport








Missed the turn to Virginia, in North Carolina instead.



the colors now
are mostly shades of red
and brown

on a hill
surrounded on four sides
by forest
a horse enjoys a pasture
all his own


```


in a dell
green as spring,
a small church,
white clapboard with a
white wooden
steeple
rising twice the church's
height

on a hill behind the church,
rows of tombstones
in rank and file
 climbing the hillside
like steps
to an afterlife that,
if we are all lucky, would
look
exactly like this little green dell
and this white little church


```


I stop at a park
just across the state line
so Reba can walk and pee

just across the highway,
three cows
line a ridge, dark cut-outs
against the sky









Cendrars, from the series Aleutian Islands


I. 

Steep cliffs facing the icy polar winds
Inland there are fertile meadows
Reindeer elk musk-ox
The arctic fox the beaver
Fish in streams
A low beach has been used as a seal fur farm
At the top of the cliff they harvest eider nests whose feathers are worth a
     fortune


III.

Bay scattered with small rocky islands
The seals sunbathe in groups of five or six
Or stretch out on the sand
When they play they give a kind of guttural grunt like barking
Next to the Eskimo hut there is a lean-to where the skins are prepared









Passing through West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia.



The road rises in front of me
bordered, as always,
by red and brown forest

at the top
a silver-dollar moon
on a pale blue sky



```


another dark day,
gray and overcast
again, 
rain hanging back
like the word that 
gets caught 
on the tip of your tongue


```

a white house
on a hill
surrounded by leaf-bare trees,
and behind them,
mountains
showing bits and pieces
through the fog

on the road,
short, thick-foliaged pines stand,
crowded side by side
like
spectators
standing shoulder to shoulder
watching a passing parade...

or, I think of the hundreds
of clay soldiers
lined in rank after rank,
buried with their Chinese emperor

fog drifts around them
and in that shifting fog, the soldiers
seem to move,
coming alive while their
emperor 
still lies as
dust


```


from his grand veranda
Jefferson 
could look down on the nearest
of his 4,000 acres

large poplar trees
yellow leaves
still holding on
despite the lateness 
of the season,
a gentle slope of close-cut grass,
a creek running fast,
another pasture, tobacco fields,
in Jefferson's time
a crop he despised
but planted anyway because he 
needed the cash...

a forest of poplar trees
broken
by a winding crushed-
shell drive

around the side
and in the back, slave quarters...

he despised slavery,
but needed the cash their labor
made for him










From The South, another Cendrars series.


I. Tampa

The train has just stopped
Just two passengers get off on this boiling end-of-summer morning
Both are dressed in khaki suits and pith helmets
Both are followed by a black servant who carries the baggage
Both glance absentmindedly at the distant houses that are too white at
     the sky that is too blue
You see the wind raising swirls of dust and flies pestering the two mules
     harnessed to the only coach
The driver is asleep his mouth open


IV. Spanish Ruin

The Nave is in the 18th-century Spanish style
It is all cracked
The damp vault is white with saltpeter and still bears some traces of gold
     leaf
The lantern beams fall on a mildewed painting in the corner
It is a Black Madonna
Thick moss and poisonous striped dotted beaded mushrooms cover the
     stone floor of the sanctuary
There is also a bell with some Latin inscriptions


V. Golden Gate

The old grillwork provided a name for the establishment
Iron bars thick as a wrist which the drinkers from the counter
     where bottles of every kind of alcohol are lined up
Back when gold fever was at its height
When women from Chile or Mexico were auctioned off right and left
     by slave traders
All the bars had grillwork like this
And the bartenders came with a drink in one hand and a pistol in the
     other
It was not uncommon to see a man killed because of a drink
It's true the grillwork has been left there for show
Just the same the Chinese come in for drinks
Germans and Mexicans
And also a few Kanaks off the little steamboats loaded with mother-of-pearl
     copra tortoise shell
Chanteuses
Atrocious make up bank tellers outlaws sailors with huge hands









Blue Ridge Parkway, through the South and home.



through the curves
and thick forests
of poplar and pine,
leaves falling like
golden snow,
we begin to climb

a half dozen
wild turkey
along the roadside,
undisturbed
by our passing

a fat deer
I see ahead
leaps across the road
and through the trees

we are enfolded
by the rain
and the fog
and the forest all around us

grand vistas
across green and gold hills
below  us, cleared pastures,
little villages
with little white houses
and broken-down barns
and church steeples
and yellow school buses
parked behind schools
closed
for the weekend

the temperature
at 3,700 feet,
37 degrees 
a fierce cold wind
blows through the wooded valleys
and across the high crests,
so strong
it billows my Levi jacket
out from my back
like blue wings


```


(New Orleans)

I see the beauty
but I see the ugliness as well,
the seediness
behind the facade,
like a middle-aged beauty queen
showing 
the sag of body and spirit
that comes
from too many nights
closing too many bars
with too many men


```


(And home)


Reba pees on her favorite tree,
Peanut pees on herself
as she usually does when excited

and cat fusses
wants us all go to bed
so she can sleep in my lap again










Next from Cendrars' travels, the series The North


III. Hunting and Fishing

Wild duck pintail teal goose lapwing busard
Grouse thrush
Arctic hare snow partridge ptarmigan
Salmon rainbow trout
Gigantic pike and crawfish that taste particularly exquisite

Carbine across the back
Bowie knife in the belt
The hunter and the redskin are bent beneath the weight of the game
Strings of wood doves red-legged partridge


IV. Harvest

A six-cylinder and two Fords out in the field
All around and as far as you can see the slightly tilted sheaves form a
     checkboard of weaving rhomboids
Not a tree
From the north the chugging and clatter of the hay wagon
And from the south the twelve empty trains coming to load the wheat









I made a short drive to Ruidoso, New Mexico, just my dog and I. Not expecting much, I got what I expected. I only went because a classmate of mine in Peace Corps training in 1963, an ex-sailor about fifteen years old than me, was from Ruidoso and spoke very fondly of his hometown. I was curious.



an hour north of Pecos,
a congregation of buzzards
gathered in the middle of the
highway
in their Sunday-best black,
our scavenger
cousins, 
dependent like us
on meat killed by
others


```


no sign of life in Olna
but a single tarantula making
it's creepy crawly way
across the highway,
a cheering sight
this fuzzy, black nightmare,
extinct now where I grew up,
along with the horned toad
and the red-wing blackbird,
a survivor here
where little else finds a
home


```


passing Mescalero

across the road
from the Tribal Center
two Apache boys
play
King of the Hill,
rolling
over and over
each other
in the rose-colored
dust


```


a spike of interest
as I pass the Oscuro Bombing Range

but nothing blows up

"oscuro"
the Spanish word for dark or dim

so maybe something did
blow up
and I just didn't
notice


```


the sky,
clear overhead,
but all around
dark clouds,
lightning flashing
within the clouds
blossoming pools of 
soft white light through
dark
gauze


in the east, a small
break in the clouds,
like a knothole in a fence,
and through it,
the peach-orange glow
of the rising sun









Cendrars, leaving one continent behind, stops along the way to another with this series, Islands



III. The Red-Crested Adder

Using the hypodermic needle he administers several injections of
     Doctor Yersin's serum
The he enlarges the arm wound making a cruciform incision with the
     scalpel
He makes it bleed
Then he cauterizes it with a few drops of lime hypohorite


IV. Japanese House

Bamboo stalks
Thin boards
Paper stretched across frames
There is no real heating system


VI. Rock Garden

In a basin filled with Chinese goldfish and fish with hideous mouths
A few have little silver rings though their gills


VII. Light and Delicate

The air is balmy
Amber musk and lemon flowers
Just being alive is  true happiness

VII. Keepsake

The sky and the sea
The waves come in to caress the roots of the coconut palms and the big
     tamarinds with metallic leaves









Dee, my wife, hates to drive so usually flies.

I don't see how you can see the country from an airplane, so I usually drive.

So in the trip we made to Denver, we followed usual practice. Dee gave me a three day head start then flew to meet me in Denver (in the middle of a blizzard I barely drove in ahead of.)



passing the Iraan/Sheffield exit,
I look south,
toward the Big Bend park,
the Chisos Mountains - 
just a smudge 
on the horizon


```


on the second day

after about 40 miles
I look behind,
a long, straight road,
gradually rising


little twisters cross brown fields
on both sides 
of the highway, 
most throwing clouds of dust
that move with the wind,
but one,
a smaller one, 
forms a perfect funnel
about five feet across,
keeping 
its shape up to a hundred or more
feet above the ground

a tumbleweed the size of a
beach ball
blows in front of me,
seems to pace the car for several seconds,
then crosses the road


```

as we cross into Colorado,
the winter grass
is almost white as sand
on gulf beaches,
broken here and there
by red barns
like red umbrellas
on a vast beach
that has no
sea


```


as I approach
Colorado Springs
I see black storm clouds
pouring over mountain crests


```


from a coffee shop window
I see a small boy
climb into the back seat
of his family's sedan

closes the door

a conversation with his mother
in the front seat

a moment passes -

the car does not move

the boy's door opes again
and a snowball drops
from the car


```


the sun rises
orange light awakens
a blue crystal
sky

west,
the Rockies,
covered in snow
from foothills to peaks

blinding in their 
white


```

twelve bison
in a line across
a snowy slope, 
each following the tail
of the other -

at the head,
a bull,
the leader
knows where to go
and when to go there

and two or three miles
down the road,
elk scattered among
a stand of pine,
pushing aside the snow
and pine needles
to graze


```

at eleven thousand feet
thick icicles, long,
long as a tall man
hang from canyon walls,
dripping


```


between Silverton
and Durango

at the crest
a big horn sheep
stands by the road 
and watches me pass


```

El Paso, 
the last day

deep desert
blue 
seeping 
through the black 
night sky

the air is desert
chill

a pink thread
on the east horizon
suggests the coming
of a rising sun

the pink thread
widens

a shadowing light
spreads

from the north foothills
a coyote
howls









Cendrars in Africa and the series Elephant Hunt



1.

Infernal terrain
Tall forests on a marsh with a tangle of tropical creepers and an
     underlevel of low palms with foliage of enormous diameter
Quills sticking out
Around 12.:30 we hear a herd of the big animals we're after
Every step is off balance
The approach is slow
I got a quick look and they fled


X. 

I see the beautiful animal for just an instant
Now I hear him rolling in the mud heavily regularly
He crumples the branches in his way
It's a grandiose music
He is against me and I see nothing absolutely nothing
Suddenly his huge head crashes through the underbrush
Full face
At six yards
Right over me
The elephant does a quick backward walk
At that moment the rain starts falling so loudly it drowns out the
     sound of his steps









I don't gamble and I don't ski so I don't know what the heck I was doing in Lake Tahoe in the middle of the winter.

But it was a great drive.



Texas/New Mexico border


the rich manure stink
of dairy farms,
one after another,
black and white cows
like flies
on a steaming pile
of fresh horse turds

in each lot
a hill
and on each hill
a cow

do even  placid dairy cows
carry the instinct of high places
to see prey
and predator
before they are seen


```


on the right,
a Rio Grande River delta valley,
green and cultivated fields,
pecan orchards,
houses
and stores
and church steeples 
and yellow school buses
flashing red lights
on two-lane highways

hanging over all this,
mountains


```


a hawk,
dead in the middle of the  road,
a casualty 
of flying too low,
flying too slow

a single wing
like a flag stands
above the mess of bloody
mangled meat and bone,
brown and white feathers
flutter in the wind


```


I reach
the snow level,
patches first,
mostly in shadowed areas
where the day's sun
could not reach

then more and more
until the desert is covered in white,
a thin layer,
little individual sprigs
of desert grass poke through
here and there,
like Kilroy
with a really bad haircut


Arizona


through the high desert,
flat as far as you can see

then mountains
on the horizon, north and west
snow capped


```


strong winds
pushing across me,
fight me,
steady pressure
pushing me toward the shoulder

tumbleweeds
whip across the road
in front of me,
chasing the wind

never catching it


```


I see a buffalo
in its shaggy brown coat,
eating green sprouts
between giant red boulders

```


white clouds cover the horizon ahead -

snow
rain 
or dust storm?

not what I want to see...

sleet, 
the strong winds even stronger,
throwing ice pellets
like BB shot


```


I find Mojo's Gourmet Coffee
and a skinny barista 
with more tattoos
than lots of folks have skin,
and in the corner
a little group of old cowboys
sitting at a round table,
some just listening,
two singing
and picking their guitars -
country ballads, Marty Robbins and the like,
and some of their own composing...

"I once loved a girl in Albuquerque"
sang one

I"I wanted to be a cowboy"
sang the other,
"but I was always afraid of cows"


Nevada


snow clouds
flow over mountain peaks
on both sides of me
like buttermilk
over hot cornbread

light snow
dusts desert stones and plants
with points of silvery shadow

the snow falls  faster
and soon they all sport white caps

until
they all disappear
under the white sea...

a herd of horses,
twenty or thirty of them,
chase and play 
in a field of snow










Next, Cendrars' observations from aboard ship from the series The Formosa, a very long series which I'll probably continue off and on to the end of the post.



Moonlight

The ship tangos from side to side
The moon the moon makes circles in the water
As the mast makes circles in the sky
Pointing with its fingers to the stars

A young girl from Argentina leaning over the rail
Dreams of Paris while gazing on the lighthouse that outlines the coast of
     France
Dreams of Paris which she's hardly seen and misses already
These turning fixed double colored intermittent lights remind her of the
     ones she saw from her window over the Boulevards and which  she'd
     promised she'd come back soon
She dreams of going back to France and living in Paris
The sound of my typewriter keeps her from going all the way with her
     dream
My beautiful typewriter that rings at the end of each line and is as fast
     as jazz
My beautiful typewriter that keeps me from dreaming portside or
      starboard
And makes me go all the way with an idea
My idea




Bilbao

We arrive at Bilbao harbor well before dawn
A cove with low mountains and hills backlit black velvet pierced with
     the lights of the town
The good simple composition of the setting reminds me and at the risk
     of sounding like an idiot since I am in Spain I repeat remind me of
     a scene by Picasso
There are little two-man boats with a very small triangular sail already
     making for the open sea
Two porpoises turn cartwheels in the air
As soon as the sun rises from behind the mountains
This simple scene
is invaded
By an onslaught of colors
From indigo to purple
That transforms Picasso into a German expressionist
Extremes meet


35"57' North Latitude
15"16' West Longitude

It happened today
I'd been waiting for it to happen ever since we set sail
The sea was beautiful with heavy groundswell that made us roll
The sky had been overcast since morning
It was four o'clock in the afternoon
I was playing a game of dominoes
Suddenly I yelled and ran out on deck
That's it that's it
The ultramarine blue
The sky a blue top gallant sail
Warm air
No one knows how it happened or how to define it
But everything increases one degree in tonality
The evening gave me four proofs
The sky was now pure
The setting sun like a wheel
The full moon like another wheel
And the stars bigger and bigger

That point lies between Madeira on the starboard and Casablanca on
     the portside
Already


Within Sight of the Island of Fuertevventura

Everything has gotten even bigger since yesterday
The water the sky the purity of the air
The Canary Islands look like the shores of Lake Como
Trails of clouds like glaciers
It's starting to get hot.









The Lake Tahoe trip was a long one, to Tahoe, then home through California where we picked up I-10 all the way to San Antonio.

So I broke it in two, returning now to the trip's half way point, Lake Tahoe.



from my tenth floor window
I watch snow clouds
cross the north mountains,
then begin a slow drift
across the water
toward us

the "little cat feet"
whisper
over cold water


```


we are not the first
to break the snow, little
duck tracks, triangles divided
by a line from point to base,
and tracks of some bird
of a larger sort, 
tridents in the snow

a white sailboat
sits offshore
half hidden through the snow...

there yesterday as well


```


California


the mountains are a majestic spectacle
that lifts the heart,
but their more than 1,700 miles
from home

I can get bigger and better mountains
500 miles closer


```


past
white-robed mountains,
the virgin-brides 
of California

then
past San Bernardino 
and the car-choked debris
of Los Angeles
to
the dry brown hills
of north Arizona...

bright yellow flowers
brushy and thick
climb the hills like
sunspots
across the rising
drab and dreary


```


Home

where days are measured
not by calendars
and dates
and miles passed
and to-dos done
but by the passing of the sun
east to west,
and cycles of the moon,
full to dark,
and by poems written
and quiet moments
where a contemplative life
seems
not a waste of time
but a harvesting
of the fruits of time

peace,
a slower heart beat,
time
before time ends








More Cendrars from The Formosa



Dakar

At last we skirt and go around the Two Breasts that emerged this
     morning and got bigger and bigger on the horizon
We go around them and enter Dakar harbor
When you turn around
You see a red breakwater a blue sky an a dazzling white beach


Bijou-Concert

No
Never again
I'll never drag my ass to another one of those colonial dives
I want to be this poor black man I want to be this poor black man who stands
     in the doorway
Because these beautiful black girls would be my sisters
And not
And not
These stinking French Spanish Serbian German bitches who furnish
     the leisures of gloomy functionaries dying to be stationed in Paris and
     who don't know how to kill time
I want to be a poor black man and fritter my time away


White Suit

I stroll on deck in the white suit I bought in Dakar
On my feet the espadrilles bought in Villa Garcia
I hold in my hand the Basque beret I brought from Giarritz
My pockets are filled with Caporal Ordinaires
From time to time I sniff my wooden cigarette case from Russia
I jingle the coins in my pocked and a pound sterling in gold
I have my big Calabrian handkerchief and some wax matches the big
     kind you find only in London
I'm clean washed scrubbed more than the deck
Happy as a king
Rich as a multimillionaire
Free as a man


The Equator

The ocean is dark blue the blue sky is pale next to it
The sea swells all around the horizon
It's as if the Atlantic was going to spill over into the sky
All around the steamer it's a vat of pure ultramarine


Crossing the Line

Of course I have been baptized
It's my eleventh baptism of the line
I got dressed like a woman and we had a great time
Then we drank









If you travel in I-10 between El Paso and Los Cruces you will see signs along the way directing you to Silver City which advertises itself as an "arts" community.

Driving by often and curious every time, I took a little solo jaunt to check it out. Turned out, other than finding a great coffeehouse I didn't see much to excite me.

Not wanting to waste the time I spent getting there, I decided on a wide loop up through Albuquerque and back around to Texas and home.

Whatever the disappointment at Silver City, the loop, which added a couple of days to the trip, and included a drive over a mountain, was worth the time.




Texas, the long way to anywhere

stone-wrapped hills
to long-stretched fingers
of pink Chihuahua Desert

blue sky,
blue on blue
on deep ocean-blue sky
and jagged clouds
dark and sharply racing

and little towns along the way

Segovia
Senora
Saragosa
Sierra Blanca
Allamoore
Belhmora
Van Horn


```


on the ridge
a line of dead trees,
oak blight killing scrub oak
all around

reminding me
of a picture I saw once
of a lone tree,
bare and burned
among the ruins of Hiroshima

these trees like that,
bare limbs, black,
reaching up,
grasping at the sky

in the pasture below
a mare and her foal eat grass
generous and green


```


Silver City to Albuquerque

three horses
crossing a green pasture,
grass high, up to their knees

crossing
in single file
one after the other
like carousel horses
with some place to go


```


The Gila Mountains


a one-lane bridge separates
Mogollon from the National Forest


```


the higher I climb
the heavier the rain falls
and the slushier
and slipperier the road becomes


considerably further back
than forward
I forge on,
worried about flash floods
in this mountain side
canyon

I come to a break in the trees
and stop and look out and see
that I am on a high ridge,
above the clouds churning
white and billowy
below


a very large buck
and 25 to 30 doe and fawns,
fluffy white and brown,
stub-tails flickering in the wind -

all together as a group
coming down the mountain
in great bounds over the road,
then back the other side


passing through a burned-out portion of forest,
pine and aspen tall and limbless, 
black as the coal
they have become while still
they reach for the sky

I stop and listen to the wind,
all around deep-forest quiet but for the wind
passing though these poor
standing-dead

ghost whispers








More from The Formosa



Butterfly

It's odd
For two days no that we've been in sight of land not a single bird has
     met us or followed in our wake
On the other hand
Today
At dawn
As we were entering the Bay of Rio
A butterfly as big as your hand came fluttering around the steamer
It was black and yellow with big streaks of faded blue


Life

The Formosa swings on her anchor and we turn imperceptibly
A launch separates from the shore
It's a canoe carved out of a tree trump
It carries two little black boys
One is lying motionless on his back
The other crouched in the front paddles along casually
The sun plays on the two sides of his paddle
They go slowly around the ship than return to shore









Ending the memories with this.



there is pleasure in travel
but comfort
in routine and every-day

so
I'm back

second table from the rear,
by the window,
back to the river,
looking out on the corner
of Martin
and Soledad,
San Antonio, Texas

life
in the slow lane,
looking for a poem
in all the old familiar places







And the last from The Formosa - after a lengthy stay in Sao Paulo, Cendrars sails on



Cabin 2

It's mine
It's all white
I'm going to like it
All alone
Because I have a lot of work to do
To make up for 9 months in the sun
The 9 months in Brazil
The 9 months with friends
And I must work for Paris
That's why I already like this jam-packed ship where I see no one to
     chat with


The Morning is Mine

The sun rises at quarter to six
The wind is a lot cooler
Mornings the deck is mine until 9 o'clock
I watch the sailors mopping the spar deck
The high waves
A Brazilian steamer we're catching up with
A one and only black and white bird
When the first women appear with the wind blowing against them and
     the little girls with their dresses blown up and showing their little bottoms
     with goose pimples I go back down to my cabin

And get back to work


Tuxedo

Only the seedy have no tuxedo on board
Only the too well-bred have tuxedos on board
I put on my nice suit of English tweed and the sea is a blue as smooth as
     my tropical-blue suit


Sharks

They call me
There are sharks in our wake
Two or three monsters which veer up white out of the water when hens
     are thrown out to them
I buy a sheep and throw it overboard
The sheep swims the sharks are scared and I've been had


Passengers

They're all there in their deck chairs
Or playing cards
Or having tea
or being bored
There is however a little group of sporty types who play shuffleboard
Or deck tennis
And another little group goes swimming in the pool
At night when everyone is asleep the empty chairs lined up on deck
     look like a collection of skeletons in a museum
Dried-up old women
Chameleons dandruff fingernails


Dance

An American couple dance Apache dances
The Argentian girls gripe about the orchestra and heartily despise the
     young men on board
The Portuguese burst into applause when a Portuguese song is played
The French have their own group laugh loudly and make fun of
     everyone
Only the little maids want to dance in their pretty dresses
To the horror of some and the amusement of others I ask the black wet
     nurse to dance
The American couple dances Apache dances again


And that's it - all the poems posted are from Blaise Centrars, complete poems, translated by Ron Padgett ,was published in 1992 by the University of California Press. It's a great book, including not just these short poems, but just about everything Cendrars published, including his longer deeper poems.








And here, at the end of all the old poems, a new one written today, thinking about the trip planned for this month or next, hoping circumstances, which seem to be working against us at this point, don't win out in the end.




I'm
about
nine ways
convinced that if
I don't see a mountain
with snow on high peaks
before the end of the year, I 
may shrivel into a lost boy bead,
a twisted-face pumpkin or a smashed
acorn, like all those fallen angels from my 
red oak tree littering my driveway, a forest of
mighty oaks crushed - that's exactly what I'm going
to be if I don't see a mountain
glistening white in the sun
with snow on top before
the turn of
of this
year










My comment button no longer works, so if you would like to comment on this post, email me at allen.itz@gmail.com. I appreciate hear ing from readers.


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.






Poetry

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






Fiction


Sonyador - The Dreamer





                                                            


  Peace in Our Time



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