.Companions   Saturday, November 14, 2020


This poem is for my current companions, Bella and Katy, and a lifetime of furred companions who came before


ten years ago I would have said
I'm old today

but today
it's the old ones at the table
by the wall

three old women and a man,
a good ten years on me,
playing cards at the table by the wall

hearts, I think,
they bid and trump and fuss
and the counting score at the end
of each hand taking longer
than the hand itself...

it 's the man who does the score-keeping,
naturally, producing a result in each case
subject to intense mathematical scrutiny
and eventual compromise

companions of the game, bloodthirsty
in a benign sort of way,
the man,
at each hand's conclusion, dissecting
the mistakes of the women

the women accepting it, ignoring it...

almost like having a husband again -
but better since you don't have to

take him home

with you

Here and Now 


early morning coffeehouse – usual suspects 
interspecies miscommunication 
an idiot’s guide to happy living 
learning to be straight 
a good reason for summer 

Verses from the Koran 


dreams of wet 

Robert Pinsky 


thinking about places I liked to go that have shut down in the past 12 months 
a bad night 
moving on 
can you hear me now? 
fat lady with a parasol passes

early morning coffeehouse - usual suspects

the old guys are here
and the tattooed fat lady is here
and the always neat and clean homeless guy
with his tightly wrapped foam bedroll, heavy backpack,
and professorial look behind little, half-lens glasses
as he spends the day reading in the air conditioned cool...

and the mama with her blond little girl trailing behind,
babydoll in one arm and little pink purse on the other, 
with little plastic dangly bracelets on both wrists
that she shakes as she passes...

and the young mother with two little girls, heading
double-time for the bathroom, passing a new guy. a
long white-haired Sam Elliott-looking guy in short pants
reading "Guns & Ammo" magazine

and a couple of the medical students regulars

and the short-haired cowboy guy with the bar arm

and the two gay guys that show up a couple of times
a week (and, okay maybe they're not gay.
but they sure are sharp dressers)

and the middle-aged woman. a mid-life student
who always looks like she's mad at me because
I always get here first and take the table by the door
next to and electric plug where she'd like to be

and the dorky looking guy and his dorky-looking wife
who come in and stare at each other
and never say a word the whole time they're here

and the old guy with the thick glasses and magnifying glass
who writes tiny numbers in neat columns in a spiral notebook,
eyes inches from the magnifying glass inches from the paper

and the table of law students, arguing with each other
like it was a supreme court appearance

and the Asian guy reading Shopenheimer haiku

and the girl with the long auburn hair and acne scarred face
with a constant air of amused observation, 
and I'm thinking thinking if she was 50-years older
she might share the joke with me, assuming
it's not me that is the joke - a possibility I do not discount

all the familiar faces in all the familiar places
on a mostly typical Thursday morning

interspecies miscommunication

the dog by the wall
says "woof"

while the cat right across says "meow!"

another case of species miscommunication
since the dog at heart
a real pussycat
meant to say "meooooooow"

while the cat just wants to be man's drooly
best friend, it's tongue hanging loose with a friendly

but voice is destiny
and voice for these two requires,
they stand forever entangled in their destined roles

a dog going "woof!" 
and a cat going "meow!"
contrary to their deepest, ,truest desires

an idiot's guide to happy living

how are you? they say, by way of
polite greeting

great, I say, considering
where I started...

this is part of my philosophy
of getting through the day,
being of good cheer whatever
the temptation to be otherwise

that's my life strategy

assume the worst is past, for even
if it isn't, why ruin a perfect sunny day
with thoughts of dark and stormy skies

this good cheer philosophy, it's an idiot's guide
to happy living, denying the truths of close attention -

but a happy idiot I think I'd rather be
than any of those others,
always so miserably aware

learning to be straight

the poet, taking the form of a bump on a log
and sits
and sits
& sits some more...


finally listening in on the conversation
of two women at the next table,
talking about men and the foolish women
who let men run their lives, needy women
who allow their life to drain away
waiting for men to say the "L" word...

and yesterday, another bump, another log

sitting next to several men talking about women
and the games you had to play just for a quick feel
and a blow job -

needy women sucking the manly right out or their men...

listening to the two sexes talk among themselves
about the other, wondering how the heck
over-population ever became a problem, thinking
about how seven and eight year old boys & girls
are both sure the other kind has cooties 
and how hard biology must have to work
to get us past that point, or, at least how to appear
to have grown past that point

how hard biology must have to work
to keep us straight

a good reason for summer

some I know are offended 
by young women in low cut summer blouses
and tight short shorts that flex in passing

churchly folk of the tight-assed contingent,
followers of St. Paul who preached against
any suggestion the sex was anything
but a base animal function,
necessary though it was to propagate
the brotherhood of Christ, The Holy Eunuch,
certainly never to be enjoyed,

and feminists of the more flaming-eyed variety,
sharing more with Paul than they usually
are to admit

and those two,
because of the squirming ugliness of their souls,
despise all beauty,
like the Taliban who destroy all statues of the Buddha...

but that's not me...

I like it -
searching every year for a purpose to summer,
the pleasure of such fresh loveliness around me
at the supermarket is the best reason
I've come up with for the season

Now for something a little different, a couple of verses from the Koran, taken from The Essential Koran, The Heart of Islam, published by Castle Books in 1993. 

The verses were selected and translated by Thomas Cleary.

Not a whole lot of difference in these from what I read in my Sunday School classes when I was a kid, except, of course, for the profoundly unchristian affirmation that there is a place in Paradise for any good man or woman, no intercession by any intermediary required.

(Verses 124-126)

Anyone, male or female,
who does what is good
and is faithful
will enter the Garden
and will not be oppressed at all.

And who is better in religion
than those who surrender 
their being to God
and do good
and follow the way of Abraham,
seeking truth?
For God took Abraham
as a friend.

And to God belongs
what is in the heavens
and what is in the earth;
and God encompasses everything.

(Verses 163-166)

We have inspired you,
as We inspired Noah
and the prophets after him;
for We inspired Abraham
and Ishmael and Isaac
and Jacob and the tribes
and Jesus and Job
and Jonas and Aaron
and Solomon;
and we gave David
the Book of Psalms.

And there were messengers
of Whom we told you before,
and messengers of whom
We have not told you.
And God spoke directly to Moses

There were messengers
who brought glad tidings
and who warned,
so humanity might have no dispute
against God
after the messengers.
And God is most mighty, most wise.

But God witnesses
to having revealed to you
God's revelation
by divine knowledge.
And the angels bear witness,
through God 
is enough of a witness.

dreams of wet

the woman with very large feet
orders a latte,
flexes her long red-tipped toes
in her flip-flops and waits

with the lean, rangy body of an athlete,
blond hair with a look of chlorine burn
hangs down her back in a pony tail...

a swimmer
is my guess,
very active in her sport,
maybe professional, the look of a fish
out of water that good swimmers get
when forced to make their way on dry land,
amidst us dirt people

I can tell she is one of those,
dreams of wet whenever 

This poem is by Robert Pinsky. It is taken from Poetry journal, February 1973.

Pinsky, poet, literary critic, essayist, and  translator, has 19 books and was Poet Laurate of the United States from 1997 to 2000.


When the trains go by
The frozen ground shivers
Inwardly like an anvil.

The sky reaches down
Stiffly into the spaces
Among houses and trees.

A wisp of harsh air snakes
Upward between glove
And cuff, quickening

The sense of life
Elsewhere of things, the things
You touched, maybe, numb

Handle of a rake; stone
Of a peach; soiled
Band-Aid; book, pants

Or shirt that you touched
Once in a store...less
The significant fond junk

Of someone's garage, and less
The cinder out of your eye -
Still extant and floating

In Sweden or a bird's crop -
Than the things that you noticed
Or not, watching from a train

The cold river of things
Going by like the cold
Children who stood by the tracks

Holding, for no reason sticks
Or other things, waiting
For no reason for the train.

thinking about places I liked to go to that have shut down in the past 12 months

I am a creature of routine -

my greatest excitement is when everything works out
so that my routine is not interrupted

I take it as validation
that my path is true and karma-appropriate

like all creatures of routine,
part of my routine has to do with places
where I routinely spend my time

places that lend a sense of peace
and feng shui  orientation conducive to writing things
I sometimes cleverly disguise as poems

one unwelcome result of the flow of business and life
over the past 12 months is the lose to me
of places that had become essential to my routine,
places rich with karma and feng shui,
places where legions of trees could fall in the forest
and I would neither hear nor care..

those places gone
and not likely to return
I now ensconce myself at Borders in the morning,
quiet enough most times, other times, like today
overcome with screaming children and mothers
so accustomed to the screams of four-year-olds
that they seem not to hear, as if their children
were screaming in a forest and if they refuse to hear,
no one else would either...

but even on the quiet days
I feel so much older here in the company of old men
who gather each day to curse the Democrats and queers
and others of similar radicalistic bent -

and how I miss the young girls at Ruta Maya
who danced in the morning to the music overhead
as they brought my coffee and pan dulces

and that's why I sit here,
singing polly wolly doodle all day,
thinking about places I use to like to go
that have shut down in the past 12 months

a bad night

a poor night's sleep last night

my brain refusing to stand down,
scrambling instead with the errata of seventy seven years...

old injustices
unresolved, old rages
still smoldering, lovers dead and dying,
as do they all

foolish preoccupations, like trying to run on ice,
slipping, skidding, getting nowhere,
with questions like

_ why do we say kidnaping?

nanny's nap kids, it's kidnappers who nab them -

just stumbling through the night and my brain trips
over something like that and the whole rest of the nap
is crap...


or this whole conservative/liberal thing
that has been bugging me for weeks
and now invades my dreams -

how someone can define their being and the being of others
on the basis on some shallow political gospel...

who can ever possibly ever be just one or the other?

like me,
I support the death penalty on the liberal basis
that the money being spend every year to keep murderers alive
could be much better used educating children,
feeding them,
keeping them healthy

and even though I see it as morally questionable,
I support abortion rights on the conservative principle
that government should have no claim of control
over the bodies and moral decisions of its citizens,
male or female


and what about this "back and forth" thing? people say?

what rip in the space-time continuum is required before
a person can come back
prior to journeying forth?

or this whole handgun thing?

as a pragmatist I say if people want to carry handguns,
let them, as long as they carry them in the open
where all can see who are the potential murderers among us


and my very first dog when I was a little child...

she slips into my mind for the first time in years

Mitzie, a fat old fox terrier, mother of many litters,
until finally, one day, tired, lying down on her stop
in the corner of the kitchen, closing her eyes...

what's wrong with Mitzie?
I asked my mother

she's dying , mom said, stay quiet 
so she can sleep through to her end


all these things just swirling and whirling in my brain
when I would much rather surrender to the night

so that I can sleep, so that Mitzie can find her way
in the stillness

moving on

the moon,
bright silver coin against a cloudless, starless sky,
the clouds held back at the coast,
the stars washed away by Day's lesser Goddess,
radiant in Her temporary dominance

and me, again,
under the light, again like a great white
stranded on a grassy beach...

but not really again,
for the moon is higher tonight, more directly overhead
than last night, aimed to settle in an hour between the trees

not really again,
because there cannot ever be again in a universe
where all move in a collaborative dance of orbits
and forces of push and pull

the moon never travels the same path twice,
and neither does the sun or the Milky Way Galaxy
upon whose stage we totter, 
and neither do we, you and I, for whom
each moment lived is a moment of life taken
as we dance in our collaborative, conflicting orbits,
some days we pass, some days we seek other passages,
some days we turn our faces, some days we reach
for a hold as we pass...

but never can we grip for our orbits are our own
and there is never room for more than one in each


it is the physics
of all things,
as we  travel, always,
fast and light

can you hear me now?

another poet speaks of the constant drone
of a radio in a faraway room,
an intruder in the night, a cross-dimensional irritant
from a place you are not and don't want to be

it is modern life -

the life we live in a world with too many people,
too much other people's 
and sorrows
always bubbling in the periphery of our lives,
turning us into a community of hermits,
bound and forever never alone
with thoughts entirely


the fella over there is trying to sell something
to another fella over there,
and some piece of that mostly unheard conversation
will be with me the rest of the day...

and over there, a man reads the newspaper,
talking to his wife about something he's just read
while she works on her computer, uhhuh, uhhuh, she says
as he talks, marital static, every married person knows
that three-quarters of what we say to each other
is just static, in and out, ear to ear,
except that not all that goes in goes out,
some just hangs there, something remembered
like a dog barking at night is remembered as a dream


uhhuh, uhhuh, 

it 's the way we live,
acknowledging the buzz without ever seeing the bee
that flits from blossom to blossom collecting 

but it is the job I take as a poet to be different,
to listen to the murmurs of my fellow hermits, to find 
the bee, to follow the bee as it collects the makings of its honey -
it is what I try to be this morning; it is what I try to do
every day...

as I pretend to know someone hears me
amid the noisy confusion of this day's living

fat lady with a parasol passes

     then fire truck
     then another ambulance

morning rush becomes
morning parking lot four lands across

     crash on the interstate
     going west

fat lady with a parasol passes\
on a bicycle, fat feet pumping on the petals


     so I guess it's over
     for someone

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, iBook store, 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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