The Downside of Easy Pickings   Sunday, August 23, 2020


the downside of easy picking’s

I’ve decided
my biggest problem is impatience

when I read a poem
I can’t wait to get to the finish

when I write a poem
I can’t wait to find the beginning

too often I take the bird in hand
rather than search out 
the better, fatter bird in the bush

I think I could be a really good poet
if I could just stand to wait
for the really good

like the one
I didn’t wait around to find today
before this stray fowl
came stumbling through the door
and fell dead at my

Here and Now
The Downside of Easy Pickings


the downside of easy pickings
the end of it all
wanna puck, she asks
under my skin

Wendy Rose

Six Nations Museum – Onchiota, New York – January


rain on the bay

Leon Felipe

Caption for “The Child of Vallecas” by Velazquez


message in a bottle from the coming salty sea
so much sorrow; so little joy
voices from the sky

Hans Magnus Enzensberger



according to chatter on the net

the end of it all
in all the usual stories the end of all is seen as a universal contraction, a collapse into fire and fury of colliding stars, the end spectacular as befits the final days of the power and the glory of all that is ` my own guess is the opposite, the all of it all like a clock running down, the forces of all the turning universal gears slowing into entropy as the closed system of our universe declines, reaches static equilibrium, the assumed eternal crescendo of expansion stilled by the decay of time and space as matter brought together by the force that constructed all that is begins to drift apart, atom from atom, the great circles and cycles of creation cease, star-fires dim, molecules disassemble, protons and neutrons and quarks and all the other tiny components of reality unhinge and lose their grasp on the fabrics of what makes all that has been made, cracks in time, a dimension unwound, the end quiet and unnoticed by the others,
our temporary neighbors
we never see residing behind the fences
of other times,
other spaces, 
other dimensions… ` 

all we know, 
like an old man winding down to a final and inevitable end

wanna puck, she asks

a bar
in San Angelo...

pretty waitress,
long blond hair, well-shaped ass
tucked tight
into cut-short  jeans

the round metal puck
from the bowling game I’m playing

squeezes it into her back pocket

wanna puck? she asks

her boyfriend in the corner,
watching, big

I switch to
drink my beer…


under my skin

large red umbrellas
tremble in the breeze

hanging like a golden curtain
from their canvas edges

behind the umbrellas,
in their red penumbra

and behind the trees
traffic passes
on Broadway, silent
as Frank
from the speakers

and I have
this bright day
just as he
sings it -

“under my skin”

Like the Harlem Literary Renaissance of the 1930s and 40s, the Native American Renaissance that began in the mid-sixties brought into national consciousness many great poets unknown before, including many of my favorite poets.

Many, if not most, of those poets are included in Harper's Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry from which I selected the poem below.

What I like about these poets is their clarity and directness. They have stories to tell and they tell them directly, usually without artifice. Reading them makes me think of the opposite, like a poem I read just a couple of days ago. The poet is retelling probably the best known story in Western literature, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Instead of just telling the story, he breaks up his narrative again with literary references, as if the story he wants to tell isn't strong enough without his display of erudition. Poets who do that make me very impatient. The catch me, then throw me back, like a catch and release fisherman.

The poem was written by Wendy Rose. One of those favorites I mentioned.

Born in 1948 in Oakland, California, Rose is from Hopi and 'Me-Wuk ancestry. She attended the University of California Berkeley and has taught there in American Indian Studies, as well as at California State University Fresno. Author of ten volumes of poetry and contributor to more than fifty anthologies, at the time of publication she was coordinator of American Indian Studies at Fresno City College.

Six Nations Museum
Onchiota, New York - January

for Ron, John, Salli and Maurice

In this your special light,
salmon blushing west to sky
and these your tall white pines,
your tangled twigs, the brush
of your fingers through everything

                                                    tobacco to north
                                                    tobacco to east

and this the meaning
of the Eastern Gate.
The faces and feet
crowding between
the silence of willow,
bare waving hands
of redbud, stark
bones of birch
                                                    tobacco to south
                                                   tobacco to west

and the moon that waited
within my belly
for the smoking song
to blossom and fade, the wild turkeys
to appear then gently came
wide open as the wise 
women are

                                                      tobacco to sky
                                                      tobacco to earth

                to all
                my relations

rain on the bay

the rain came first
as a soft curtain, drifting slowly across the bay,
the giant platforms being built across the water
in Aransas Pass, like shadow monsters
in the mist

two women fishing
hip deep in the surf beneath Bob Hall Pier
continued casting their lines,
unconcerned, good fishing weather, they say,
as darkened skies and light rain
bring fish to the surface to enjoy
the dark and the rain

with the rest of us
but as I turn to leave,
to continue my journey up the coast
then across, back to San Antonio,
the weather spins on its axis
like a wobbly top, the wind, gentle at first,
picks up to a roar that makes it hard to stand
without leaning against it, raises whitecaps as it pushes
against the weak tide...

and the rain starts for real, pebble-sized drops
beating hard against my windshield
and the roof of my car, drowning out the radio

lightning strikes, not horizontal flashes across the sky
but straight-down bolts of intense white fire,
slashing the dark morning like jagged arrows,
sending the fishers scurrying from the water
and from the pier and from the jetty's
string of pile upon pile mossed-green boulders...

the rain follows me as I drive across the coastal plain,
fields white with cotton, defoliated and ready
to pick, wind turbines slowly turning
against the wind, splashing streams of water
from their long blades, follows me until I drive
into tiny Bayside and stop along Campano Bay
to watch the dark clouds roil behind me,
and drive on, wipers no longer pumping on high,
but intermittent as fewer and fewer drops
fall, until the wipers screech on dry

the drive now two lanes through
heavy brush, the reason vaqueros, those first
cowboys, invented leather chaps,
some off the brush, like the old days,
too thick for a horse to


and then I came to the dead end I expected
and turned left for a short drive to Refugio,
except I wasn't expecting Refugio,
having confused my back roads and
finding myself about 75 miles off course...

recovery -
as I find a road that crosses west
to the road
I expected to find an hour back...

stopping in Pettus, a not-very-wide spot on the road,
at a Dairy Queen for a DQ Dude,
remembering I had a meeting in this,
the only restaurant in the village, more than ten years ago,
the place where I had eaten my first DQ Dude,
finding it delicious as we talked about how to get teachers
to come to little Pettus - population 356 -
when there was no place for them to live,
the restaurant deserted but for me, no interesting talk
this time, and, as is so often the case
with so many things, the Dude
not nearly as good as the first time...

and back on the road, heading northwest on Hwy 181,
a road I've traveled often, but not in a long time,
brush, mesquite, huisache, cactus, and white line
on tar-patterned asphalt all the same as before,
all aging, even the road, much better than


the good news -

75 miles isn't really so far
in Texas miles, home by seven-thirty,
down in my back for a day mostly driving,
a little late but supper's waiting by the microwave,
a lot better than the Dude I mostly threw


took a header on the Riverwalk
by the Pearl yesterday,
not actually a header, knees and knuckles
hitting the concrete, swollen, bruised and scrapped,
but, fortunately, a little strip of hay-like substance alongside
the sidewalk, just wide enough
to accommodate my face, buried my face
into the hay-like substance,
saving me, had my face fallen a couple of inches
to the left, thus meeting the sidewalk
at a significant velocity to insure plastic surgery,
getting instead a mouth full of hay-like substance…

this morning,
but otherwise undiminished, I continue on to my daily
rendezvous with the immortal muse
of poem-a-day personal history
disguised as poetry…


the hardest part of the adventure
was that people
were looking, requiring me to leap up,
throw wide my bloody hands
and ask if anyone
wanted to see my trick again…

cried the clown, deeply bowing
before fading back into
obscurity, limping, but not as much
as he will be tomorrow, is

The next poem is by Leon Felipe, taken from Roots and Wings, an anthology of poetry from Spain, 1900 - 1975. It was published by White Pine Press in 1976. It is a bilingual book, with Spanish and English translation on facing pages

Felipe, born in 1884, gave up his career as a pharmacist to become a professional actor and poet, publishing his first book of poems at the age of 36. He moved several times in his life, first to the United States where he was a professor of Spanish at Columbia University and at Cornell. He moved to Mexico, then back to the United States and Spain and finally ended up again in Mexico where he spent the remainder of his life until his death in 1968.

Caption For "The Child from Vallecas" by Velazquez


                                                     Basin, helmet, halo,
                                                     this is the order, Sancho


No one shall leave this place.

While this mangled head
of the Child from Vallacas exists
no one shall leave, no one.
Neither the mystic nor the suicide.

First the wrong must be undone,
first we must solve this enigma.
And we must solve it together,
and we must solve it without cringing,
without fleeing
on muslin-lined wings
or by drilling a hole
in the stage.
No one shall leave this place, no one.
Neither the mystic nor the suicide.

And it is useless,
all flight is useless
or below).
We always return. Always.
Until one day (one fine day!)
when the helmet of Mambrino
- halo by then, not helmet or basis -
will be on Sancho's temples
and on mine and yours,
as if fitted to a T,
as if made to order.
Then we will march together
out into the wings.
You, and I, and Sancho, and the Child from Vallecas
and the mystic and the suicide.

(Translated by Julio de la Torre)

message in a bottle from the coming salty sea

good rain in June,
bringing thick grass, colors every place
where a blossom might bloom

and hope, blooming like the flowers after several years
in varying stages of water rationing, the aquifer
levels sinking lower and lower, rising again
after the rains

but only for the days immediately
after the storms

since -
triple digit temperatures almost daily,
searing sun unrestrained by any moderating clouds,
humidity at Arizona levels, all the green grass
and bright colored flowers wilting, and hope wilting
as the aquifer falls again, nearing again, level-4 rationing

morning to night,
we watch the desert as it spreads


not the first bad drought
in my lifetime, the longest in the 50s,
when pasture land along the coast became rolling sand dunes,
but none in history that came quicker or went deeper
than the one we have now, this possible look at the future
as the salty sea rises and our rocky hills become
once again uplifts in a seabed as they were a million years ago

new sea life returning to family, to the fossils, long dead
sea creatures that lie barely covered
under the surface of our
limestone and caliche hills, those hot hills, dry hills,
desert to come, then a new inundation

and we watch it happen, turn up our air conditioners,
unwilling to admit we are captives
of the earth and its cycles we in our pride
thought was ours to

so much sorrow; so little joy

I was there
when the footsteps of man
first stirred the moon’s
powdered dust
and Cronkite wept
with joy

I was there
to hear Frost mumble his poem
in the light snow
of Jack’s inauguration

and I was there to watch
the funeral march
and the martyr’s son’s
salute  and the rider less horse,
when Cronkite
in sorrow

I was there,
watching Bobbie die
under the vicious bright
of television lights,
cold concrete his death bed

and the death of another hero
just days before, shot by an assassin
as he stood on a hotel
balcony, so many
weeping for the loss
of hope

I was there
when a president first echoed
the call of the marchers,
“We shall overcome” he said
and the crowd cheered
and wept
and I too with them

I was there
when the soldiers sloshed
though perfidious jungles
and when the Wisconsin’s long guns
fired the opening salvo
of the first gulf war (I had walked
the polished teak deck of that great ship
just months before)

I was there when the first bombs
fell on Bagdad

I was there to watch the despot
and killed
by those he once ruled
with the fierce hand of homicidal

I was there when the little girl
was pulled from the hole
that was meant to be her grave

I was there when Sadat
was killed, machine-gunned

by his own guards,
along with many who sat with him
to watch the big parade
and I was there with the man,
arm blown off by the machine-gun fire,
lying amid the blood, his own
and the blood of others,
crying for help that seemed
to never come

I was there when the towers fell,
the fires lost in the gray clouds of dust
and half-burned paper
that swept through the streets
like a scene
from a science fiction movie
(though the movies
never show the dust, so gray and thick,
that envelops the action)
and I was there
with them as they ran
that day, and other days in other places,
refugees from around the world
hiking over mountains and high deserts to reach
questionable safety

and I was there when
shuttles exploded…

oh how would this poem
ever end,
with so much seen,
so much shock, first in black and white,
now in color…

I have started
and endless poem, I fear,
image after image
of a world turned upside down
with such a deficit of joy,
so little joy in the passing
of it, so much sorrow -
how do we live with such constant sorrow;
how much happier
the days of our blissful


Eden, a paradise of not-knowing,
the beasts unnoticed, waiting beyond the gates
of our garden, how we must regret our exile

voices from the sky

the mysteries of faith…

it’s not that I’m
against it,
it’s just that I don’t understand

the room behind me is full
of two dozen
older men, sharp-eyed men,
and the old priest
I see often here, skinny,
like he doesn’t get to eat
except for the free breakfasts
he gets for showing up to provide
a priestly presence
to meetings of little old ladies
with blue hair and bumpy
legs, or,
as in this case, a room-full
of elder men, meeting, weekly it seems,
for quiet religious purposes…

I don’t know these particular men
but I’ve known men like them
most of my life, acts of piety
an afterthought through the course
of most of their days, sharp-
penciled, green-eye shade guys
applying evidence and reason
to all their affairs, unimpressed
by flights of fancy,
not subject to paranormal events
or expectations,

for that corner of their brain
they keep separate from the part
that functions daily, a place where
the reason and evidence they normally count on
are not allowed, a space they reserve
for gods and angels and devils
and ghosts and goblins and all sorts of fancy
they would not allow to intrude in any portion
of the rest of their lives…

that’s the part I don’t understand, not faith itself,
but these believers who turn their rational brains into
mewling kittens, flat on their backs, legs spread
high and wild, awaiting celestial visitation…

what, I wonder, is it
they miss in the rest of their lives
that makes them so vulnerable
to such mind-dulling darkness…

I’m always made uncomfortable
by leaders who profess such faith - I’d rather not
hear about it, reminding me as it does
of how my fate might be in the hands of
a leader susceptible to the undependable
quirks of faith in magic and magical

pray for him, some say when a leader
faces quandaries and difficult
decisions, and I can only think how much more
reassuring it would be
to have a leader who wasn't dependent
on my prayers, a leader unwilling to place my future
in the hands of a voices from the

Next, a poem by Hans Magnus Enzensberger taken from the anthology, German Poetry in Transition, 1945 - 1990. The anthology was published University Press of New England in 1999. It is a bilingual book, with German and English translation on facing pages.

Enzensberger, born in 1929, developed a reputation as a radical in the 1960s through his poetry. In addition to poetry, he also writes dramas, translations (primarily Spanish and English) and political and literary essays. 

The poems in the book were translated by the book's editor, Charlotte Melin.


Lets blithely reef the umbrellas!
The next deluge won't be deep.
The same old stuff, majors and cows
on high tension towers, the public
rush to Ararat, to Alpine Clubs,
the bedtick  suddenly burst, panic
among the plumbers and cheeky doves
with or without olive branch, a lot
didn't quite stand the test in the end: Always
the same righteous people disembarked from the ark
and negotiated, in scorn of the drowned corpses,
adjustable loans and popes at cost.

Today in the Urals and Arizona
Nobel Prize winners in droves are busy
improving the degree of effectiveness
to spare the ladies knuckles.
Confidence reigns in he labs,
a dew seeps through the door cracks,
a rash, damp and human,
bomb -, death-, and foolproof, fat,
a hoarse sweat, thin as breath.

Gone in the age of experiments,
from the pores of the world
a sterile flood has long since oozed out, and we drown,
well disciplined in front of the ticket counters
knee -deep in cuckoo clocks and iodine

according to chatter on the net

winter night under a clear desert sky

more stars than you ever knew were up there

the Hindu Kush, the sun’s hinge
as it begins its red glow
behind their dry, ravaged peaks

the guard camp
outside our walls begins to stir,
the shuffle of sleepy soldiers awakening
as the over-nighters come weary to their beds

I, a soldier too, but not in their army,
walk to morning mess, then
to work, day shift on Moscow time

a Cold War warrior,
I will listen to their chatter
and write it all down…

the day begins...

an early flight for their highest commander,
crossing the Afghan air gate,
a roundabout destination, to Paris,
his dour Russian wife left behind, it's said,
who suspects, it’s said,
the jolie fille who awaits him
with bonbons au chocolat by her bed

according to chatter on the net
the war will not start today…

GOOD NEWS - the "comment"  function is working again after several years when it did not.

I'd love to have feedback from readers, about the blog, about the poems or pictures, favorite recipes from your old dearly departed Aunt Herminia, or anything else on your mind.

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, 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


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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