Doodlebug Dust   Saturday, December 01, 2018

A poem from January, 2008, a warmer, dryer winter than today.

doodlebug dust

doodlebug doodlebug.
we twirl our fingers
in the dust, come out
come out and play,

a children's game

we started the day
with a promise
of rain,
blown in off
the gulf
as tropic currents
blew northwest,
but West Texas winds
pushed back
and rain that
should have been ours
hugged the coast,
going Northeast
instead, soaking
Corpus Christi Bay,
Mustang Island
and all the little
shrimping towns,
all the boats
secured against the weather
in little harbor coves,
then swinging along
the coastal arc
past Port Lavaca
to Galveston
where the pirate Lafitte
took his winter rest,
a few miles inland
to clean rinse
the stink
of Houston smog
and beyond,
all the way
to Louisiana
and, finally,
sometime tonight
do dampen some
fallow cotton field
in Mississippi

after a wet
summer and fall
that turned
our brown hills
green, letting us
forget for a while
the truth of where
we live, there has been
no rain beyond the
early mists
that soften some
mornings, sometimes
till mid-day

with no real rain,
the ground hardens
like the caliche
and rock
only inches below
the surface, then
breaks down
into a fine dust,
doodlebug dust,
where you can see
the inverted cones
the little insects
made in their
burrowing, for
what purpose
I have never known
for sure but suspect
it has something to do
with finding relief from
heat in the arms
of cool, dark earth
below the surface

instead of rain,
the sun was out
this afternoon,
and warm
and like the doodlebugs
I've burrowed into
my little air conditioned
nest to wait it out

I'm conflicted. After being told so many times that my posts are two long, I've been trying to keep them short. At the same time, I have so many new poems good enough to post that I'm tempted to stay short by breaking (again) my other rule about always including poets other than myself.

So I'm going to compromise (i.e. cheat) and have mostly my poems in this issue, but also include poems from a couple of books I bought last week that are the works of other poets.

doodlebug dust

in the spirit of the masters

just another rainy day
at most
tall, thin woman
the petulant woman

Gregory Corso

a song, but not for us
at the VFW

before the turn of the year

done is done
soup's up
early promise
well, we'll see

Lucia Perillo
Message Unscripted

the Zen master who lives on my patio

on being old

Walt Whitman
Song of Myself (excerpts)

how sweet the day

struggling not to

what I did in the war, my child

After reading a new book of haiku by the masters, I was inspired to ape my betters.

in the spirit of the masters

cold morning

a snowflake falls



then no more


the day ends:
the day begins:
like an old tree, withered and bare,
I stand
face to the fresh light


cat's face
against frigid glass
yellow eyes
of every inside move

it's cold...

Star light, star bright, first star we see tonight.

And what if, now, we are alone?

about another rainy day

another rainy day,
but that's okay,
I still have a lot of dry
in me
that needs to be washed

on the big screen
discovery of a super-cluster of galaxies,
its size roughly the mass
of five thousand galaxies
each equal to our own milky way,
the oldest bodies we've ever "seen,"
from the very early stage
of universal creation, compared
to a swarm of bees, each bee
a galaxy with hundreds of billions
of stars...

proof again by extrapolation
that we cannot be alone,
that there is a chance for "something"
when our time ends, an opportunity
to contemplate the rare and awful chance
that we are alone after all and that
the pitiful detritus of creation
that is us is the best chance,
or God, if you prefer, could come up with,
and that our inevitable fall will mean
the fall of the purpose of the universal
creation and that those trillions
of stars that surround us were all
for naught...

and today, as all those stars
turn and circle and buck,
my place in the all

the rain falls and all the
summer's accumulated
dry washes right
out of

another cycle in a cycle
in a cycle of life

I am primarily an observational poet - I see and something clicks and I write. Sometimes it turns out well, sometimes not. But it's mostly what I do.

Here are some recent products of observation.

at most

at most,
slim as young girls
most often naturally
are, slim before life
adds its gravity
cut-off tee
exposing a tan belly
flat as a lumberjack's flapjack,
innocent little belly button
above an expanse
of skin and fine baby fuzz
above low-hanging jeans

talking, chattering,
a 13-year-old girl's chatter, chatter,
face alive with the world,
like a Hollywood map to the


tall thin woman

in long gray
big feet
in bigger sneakers


the petulant woman

petulant woman
in the green
"has anyone seen my fairy godmother"
scowls at passers-by
in the health food aisle,
cursing her fat feet,
directed to the Dunkin Hines and Betty Crocker
and Hershey chocolate chips aisle,
but taking her instead to this
aisle of do-gooder rebuke
where the people,
by their scurrying, skinny presence,
and the very shelves
themselves, stacked with products
that mock her


one of the things she hates
worst about the divorce,
no one to send to the supermarket
but herself...

I just bought this book two weeks ago and have been wanting to use it.

It is Minefield, New & Selected Poems by Gregory Corso.

The book was published by Thunder's Mouth Press in 1989.

Corso, born in Nee York City in 1930, moved in 1956 to the West Coast where he became one of the youngest figures in the developing Beat Generation Movement. He died in 2001 after years of alternating travel and residence in Europe and New York with teaching residencies.


They, the unnamed "they,"
they've knocked me down
            but I got up
I always get up...
And I swear when I went down
            quite often I took the fall;
nothing moves a mountain but itself -
They, I've long ago named them me.


What stinking beady wart
             like a ten ton toad
squatted on life's sick nose
             puffing molten mega-pus
ever ready to hop upon the earth
             and splash all over us

The bomb' a decoy
I've seen the horror of narcotic
             eat the day.
They were all sad
sad mainly because life was insufficient
They were sickly sad
And drugs were a filthy nurse.

Next a couple of memory poems.

a song but not for us

Peshawar, West Pakistan

this warm humid morning
in the hills
reminds me, in a quirk
of memory, of a cool, clear morning
on the far frontier of West Pakistan,
the air so dry and clear
I can see the pale puff of the
Hindu Kush, like clouds
on the desert horizon, those distant
mountains I've flown over, brown earth
stripped of all vegetation, but alive,
we're told, with those we never see...

 I smell cooking on the other side
of the wall where camp the Pakistani
soldiers who guard our lonely compound,
and with the cook-fire smell, a song
of morning welcome, not for us, never
for us, but for the mountains and
the ancestral desert lands, and for a minute
I feel almost a part of it...

at the VFW

dominoes clatter
on scarred wooden tables

the way
they play
"shoot the moon"

lucky strike
smoldering between their lips,
trumps held high
in life-worn


who never speak of 

old men
of old wars

I wrote this right before we decided on a quick trip to Santa Fe. We discussed making the trip on Wednesday and left on Friday. Turned out we were both hankering for a mountain vista.

The photo is by my son, from one of many mountain and desert treks he's taken

before the turn of the year

nine ways
convinced that
if I don't see a mountain
with some snow on the top
before the end of the year, I may
just shrivel up into a lost boy bead,
a twisted-faced 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 how I'm going to be if
I don't see a mountain
glistening all white
with snow on
top before
the turn 
of the

Next, some early morning poems. Early morning is when I start my day and when I write my poem for the day, when the day is fresh and I haven't been up long enough to get confused..

done is done

8:00 a.m.
and it's still a dim,
almost dark day

a low-sugar day,
adding a surreal twist
to the shadows

I think
I need to go home
and back to bed,
the only thing stopping
me is the requirement
that I write my my morning

which is now done

soup's up

in the first dim morning
of a new day rising,
the sky looks like a soup
of black and white clouds
set soon to boiling

a flock of black bird flying
beneath the clouds,
fresh-ground pepper to flavor
the broth...

new day
in turmoil,
to go either way

early promise

48 degrees

strong north wind

rain intermittent,
heavy and light

Trinity University
jazz on the radio,
walking bass
high-stepping me
7 a.m. commuter traffic

a wonderful day

well, we'll see

on my way to Starbucks
tomorrow morning

first coffee

for sure

for sure

for sure

snow -

well, we'll see


This is from the other book I bought two weeks ago. It is Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones and the poet is Lucia Perillo.

The book was published in 2016 by Copper Canyon Press.

Born in 1958 in New York City in 1958, In 1979, Perillo graduated from Mcgill University in Montreal with a degree in wildlife management and subsequently worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. She received her MA Degree in English from Syracuse University and began teaching. For most of the 1990s she taught creative writing at Southern Illinois University. In 2000 she was awarded a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Fellows Program.

Suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, she died in 2016 at age 58.

Message Unscripted

November flung from summer's flywheel,
the plants on the porch gonesaggy and brown, and moldy
from the damp. Don't stick you head in a plastic bag
the spiders say, you think I'm being whimsical but I say
they say in in these webs be-silvered with rain, two
hanging side by side from the railing, another two
strung perpendicular, one from the dying potted peony,
one from the dying potted dahlia. ART SAVES LIVES
says the bumper on my neighbor's truck, and though
I always thought that was just an example of liberal
arts professors' taking liberties, it could refer to this
minor rehabilitation of the season. So for its service,
let's dedicate the next fifty-two seconds to art,
how all things make it, both arachnid ribosomes and rain
Think of the cloud, think of a geode, think of the mold
on the plate in the fridge. This strange assemblage
made by weather and an arthropod: what fates conspired,
whose mind was at work, or did it result from a force
from before the first bang? spiders themelves
don't appear to ask, and don't think
that's not because they lack the intellectual chops - just imagine
what concentration of mind it would take
to wait unmoving in your own fiber installation,
hours spent with your legs so artfully outsplayed

I have a wild cat. She becomes temporarily tame when I put cat food in her dish. At that time, she allows me to stroke her back. But she has standards and rules which are strictly limited to four stroks and strictly enforced.

If I try for five stroke she makes a very determined effort to eat my hand.

the Zen master who lives on my patio

padded patio chair
in warm sunshine

cold night before
cold night ahead

cat on her favorite

in the bright that is
while it is,
preparing for the dark
to come

smart cat

I sit beside

drinking from the well
of the feline

Old is not that much different than being young. It's just that different accommodations are required.

on being old

like a bead
on a string


each bead
the one before
and the one 

the one
after is the

I was planning to do just two poets from my library in this post but then began to think about the pleasure I get from reading Walt Whitman, the inventor and first master of  American poetry.

I enjoy so much about Whitman, from how his lists of the life and people around him immerse me in the life of America in the nineteenth century to, for me, this from Leaves of Grass, the most stirring affirmation and celebration of self in humanity and humanity in self ever written.

Song of Myself (excerpts)

I celebrate myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease ... observing a spear of summer grass.

Houses and room are full of perfumes ... the shelves are crowded with perfumes
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
I breathe the fragrance myself, and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it.

The atmosphere is not a perfume ... it has no taste of the distillation ... it is odorless,
It is for my mouth forever ... I am in love with it,
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked,
I am mad for it to be in contact with me.

The smoke of my own breath,
Echoes, ripples, and buzzed whispers ... loveroot, silkthread, crotch nd vine,
My respiration and inspiration... the beating of my own heart ... the passing of blood and air through my lungs,
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and discolored sea-rocks and of hay in the barn,
The sound of the belched words of my voice ... words loosed to the eddies of the wind,
A few light kisses ... a few embraces ... a reaching around of arms...


Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems
you shall posses the good of the earth and sun ... there are millions of suns left,
You shall no longer take things at things at second or third hand ... nor look through the eyes of the dead ...nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.

I have heard that the talkers are talking ... the talk of the beginning and the end
But I do not talk of the beginning or the end.

There was never any more inception than there is now,
Nor any more youth or age that there is now;
And will never be more perfection than there is now,
Nor any more heaven or hell than there is now.

Urge and urge and urge,
Always the procreant urge of the world.


Clear and sweet is my soul ... and clear and sweet is all that is not my soul.


Welcome is every organ and attribute of me, and of any man hearty and clean,
Not an inch nor a particle of an inch is vile, and none shall be less familiar than the rest.

I am satisfied ... I see, dance, laugh, sing...


Loafe with me on the grass ... loose the stop from your throat,
Not words, nor music nor rhyme I want ...not custom or lectures, not even the best,
Only the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.

I mind how we lay in June, such a transparent summer morning;
You settled your head athwart my hips and intently turned over upon me,
And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my beating heart
And reached till you felt my beard, and reached till you held my feet.


What do you think has become of the young and old me?
And what do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprout shows there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.
All goes onward and outward ... and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.


I am not an earth or an adjunct of an earth,
I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself;
They do not know how immortal, but I know.

Every kind for itself and its own ... for me mine male and female,
For me all that have been boys and that love women,
For me the man that is proud and feels how it stings to be slighted,
For me the sweetheart and the old maid ... for me mother and the mothers of mothers,
For me the lips that have smiled, eyes that have shed tears,
For me children and the begetters of children.


The little one sleeps in its cradle,
I lift the gauze and look a long time, and silently brush away flies with my hand


Four pages of one of his lists follow the above section, enumerating all the people around him and what they do and how they live and oneness he feels with all of them. These pages maybe I'll do some other time. Reading the section is like becoming a part of the past.

Many more page follow, than the conclusion and within that conclusion, the three lines that, for me, encapsulate the greatness of Walt Whitman


Do I contradict myself?
Very well then ... I contradict myself,
I am large ... I contain multitudes.

Not a god-person myself, I try not to confuse the ones who really are and the ones who just claim to be for convience or some other rewardand try hard not to judge them all the same.

the statistics not that good for either

a sunshine day
at the beginning of a

outside activities
on hold, settling into
a window seat
to watch the storms
as they pass
if they pass,
because the weather
have been wrong
three days this week...

it's like praying
to an inattentive god
who would rather just play
golf than see to the duties
its position....

never expected much
anyway, from weather-people
or god-people

the statistics are not that good
for either...

I was a very ambitious man for most of my life. Always knew what I wanted and was willing to put in the hours and labor to get it, which I did for the most part.. At 75, I attempt to set all that aside, with spotty success.

how sweet the day

thinking now
of all the things I should do today

thinking back
to the days when I would have been concerned
that I'm not doing any of them

thinking back
to the days when doing was what
I did

thinking back
to how, in the end,
 anything I did never lasted longer
than it took for my noon-day shadow
to cross the sidewalk
upon which
I ran

thinking now
how sweet is this day
when I'm not bothered by
not doing the things
I was supposed to do that no one
would remember
but me

We work so hard to justify our own sense of self-importance. The thing about children is they usually haven't fallen into that trap yet.

struggling not to

a dim early morning
in the low sixties
with rain
coming and going
like an uncertain suitor
at the front door, hasn't
rung the bell yet, waiting
for a small jolt of

the coffeehouse near empty,
nothing of interest
except the small child,
maybe six months old,
brought by her young parents
to this early morning
business meeting...

held for a while
by mom;
held for a while
by dad

fidgets and yawns...

how the young lead the way,
to do without embarrassment
or loss of dignity what
everyone else at the table
is struggling not
to do

War, even when necessary, is a dirty, nasty, horrible thing and should be treated accordingly. Even so it is a conflict of human beings and even in the midst of the worst of it there is room to note the humor of human foibles, from Gomer Pyle and Beetle Baily to the darker humor of Catch 22.

To note Veterans Day, I concluded my last post with a serious war poem. I also wrote on that day a war poem more in the neighborhood of the humor of Catch 22. (Though not so dark)

To accompany the post I include the only known the picture of me in uniform. l'm the airman on the left edge in back row, barely visible, except for my sun glasses

what I did in the war, my child

on this Veterans Day weekend
of my own service...

special about it
I did it, fought it at first,
but in the end, enjoyed it
and learned from it..

as a Russian Linguist
after a year of training
at Indiana University,
never at any point did anyone
shoot at me, nor, luckily, did I ever have
to shoot at anyone else...

I call myself a "cold war" vet,
doing my little radio-spying
on two continents,
and since what I did was exactly what
I would have done
the shooting started,
except the other side knew
who we were, what we did
and where we did it, so it was
certain we would be eliminated
from the battle within three minutes
of when the shooting started,
so you might say
my entire service time
was one close call after

(well, you might not say that
but, in lieu of a service medal
to call my own, I will...)

and the truth of it is, despite
getting a little rank along the way,
I wasn't really that good at my job,
once, spending most of  a midnight shift
chasing the movements of a swarm of fighter jets
around Eastern Europe that turned out to be
a fleet of taxi cabs in Moscow...

such disappointment,
my only heroic heart-pounding moment
and the war I was sure was
about to happen never

My comment button no longer works, so if you would like to comment on this post, email me at I appreciate hearing 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.


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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