Change is often just a question of position
More serious the question of evolution
Changes for twins are mostly doubly made
Looking the same a simple solution
With the weather one can hope for something better
I welcome the dawn of earth’s daily rotation
While our cities are slowly dying from pollution
When can we expect a fitting solution
The air of repulsion swirls in many countries
Thousands clogging the squares for a revolution
The future sometimes holds little promise
So many unable to reach wished-for solutions
Daily crossword puzzles are a good distraction
But they never leave us a final solution
If the day is filled with constant consternation
My night can be a welcomed closing solution.
THE PLANET MARS
With the planet Mars there are many features
Yet red prevails as its obvious feature
The Greeks once looked at Mars and named it Ares
The sight of bloody wars bore Martian features
Babylonians named the planet after Nergal
God of their underworld matching this feature
With such attire, for Chinese it was all fire
In the Far East, red too was its main feature
Mars, your face is still red but we want to know
Will we find little creatures with your features
I know of many artists but none who drew in outer space
Yet there their pictures are for everyone to see in space
They drew with lines unseen and shaded the sky with blackness
Then from star to star stretched a string across empty space
Some were surely sailors mapping the stars for varied routes
What else for them to do those nights afloat wide-ocean space
Surely some were lonely dreamers who soared to higher realms
Alone during nights they played with time in heavenly space
Children sitting in yards looking up to the lit-up sky
know all those constellations are figures in desert space
All sort of creatures and lots of mystifying persons
Ursa Minor and Ursa Major are bears disguised in space
The Big and Little Dippers ev’ry child does quickly find
Are the ones I remember and easily eye in space
The sky is everyone’s space and just the next night away
These sky artists have left us something of theirs to trace
Graphic by John M. Bennett & Gyorgy Kostuitski
INTO THE SKY
Where do you sleep? In an abandoned steeple.
A night light? I don't blow out my candles before sleep.
What dreams? A gray ghost whispered, "Mirrors always lie." Not that kind of lie.
And when you wake? The sky.
in his lap, the glint
Notes from the Gean 3:4 March 2011 http://notesfromthegean.com/
So what happened? Leaf-shadows cross my writing pad, cloud-shadows crisscross the lake. I’m trapped in a net of memories: of a girl half a century ago, both hands gently stroking my face—before she lowers the boom; of a red balloon floating away from me across a furrowed field, a teen-aged Japanese nurse holding my hand; of honeysuckle-colored light striping the wall of my father’s bedroom the morning he won’t wake up.
Then I look up: there, cool, gray, trapped in a soft web of lilac blossoms, floats the day moon.
a bird call
I’ve never heard before
PORTRAIT OF A LADY
Eighty-three years old, she lives alone in a fairy-tale house by the lake. With its unexpected nooks and crannies, a short flight of stairs that leads nowhere, and one of two tiny bedrooms she uses for painting the mountain apple trees of a Hawaiian childhood, the house isn’t so much a reflection of her as it is her—or so a neighbor has observed.
She appreciates the solicitousness of neighbors, though she’d rather be alone, even in winter, when the lake freezes over and she can watch eagles, coyotes, and red foxes make a meal of the dead elk dragged onto the ice by a neighbor astride a small John Deere tractor. In early April when the lake begins to thaw, she stations herself on the tiny rickety deck with a pair of binoculars, waiting for Canadian geese migrating north.
Childless, widowed for nearly forty years, she knows she’ll die alone in this house, almost welcoming the thought, though she’s in good health. I know what they’ll find, she thinks with a trace of amusement, a half-finished mountain apple tree on the easel and my head on the pillow. More than twice she’s told neighbors who pretend to admire her
paintings: They tasted like a rose smells. At night she dreams of the lake in summer;
/Hawaii’s salmon-pink twilights; blank canvases—and the touch of her husband’s hands on her back.
four a.m. —
cry of the same raven
sun low in the sky
never quite right—
color of the apples
BEFORE A COLD FIREPLACE
To me, what makes contemplating never seeing a beloved person again cruel and unbearable is that eons will pass, stars will blossom, wither, and die, comets will fizzle out and the earth be swallowed by the sun—all Creation fading into a thin, cold haze—and I’ll still be bereft of that person. When I talk like this to friends, they roll their eyes and accuse me of lack of acceptance. I accuse them of lack of imagination.
Then—inexplicably—I burst into laughter.
. . . .on her ninth life
the old cat
THE PATH NEVER TAKEN
(For Rev. John Budwick)
Gerard John Conforti
There are infinite paths never taken. Paths I can view and paths I can’t see which are there of which I’m not aware. I’ve walked my paths in life. Paths that were clear to walk and others filled with snares. The paths with snares, I’ve come to understand when they were in view. I was able to escape with my life on those paths.
The paths which were clear were as clear as pools of rain which were filled with stars. Those paths were infinite and led up toward the universe. These paths have been invisible, yet, known only by viewing the clear blue sky.
There were paths that were never taken. Those paths will be for others to take; other than myself. There have been paths I took a chance walking. Those paths were blocked with shrubs, and the trees in the woods. I did not know if they were safe or not, but I took courage and strolled them just the same.
There have been paths where they would lead me down into the silence of day or night. Those paths were filled with fear and uncertainty, but I walked them anyway.
And then there are the infinite paths of the universe; our final journey into the unknown.
Just the same, we were born alone, live alone, and finally die alone in spirit where our souls have infinite space to go through to God or stay on earth or else – where, if it isn’t our time to enter the gates of heaven. This is the last path and it is never-ending.
The spirit of winds blow through the walls
I knock on the door
MAPLE TREES IN MAY
On the maples, furled buds leap skyward, bursting into scarlet blossoms. Delicate tendrils reach toward one another—and the sun. You loved this harbinger of greener days to come in the roadside woods.
by the river a fiddler plays the first stars
I can’t imagine all this going on someday without me, you said, turning your head to smile at me.
I let clear water run
through my fingers
Before I married, the West was a great unknown. Gradually, the mountains and plains grew familiar, and Denver became my favorite city, not just the place where my in-laws lived. It welcomes me like another home now: from Colfax to Indian Creek, from the
dizzying energy of Red Rocks to Barr Lake ruffled with white pelicans.
day of departure
on the bedroom crucifix
Graphic by John M. Bennett & Gyorgy Kostuitski
Trees were the landmarks of my childhood, marking expanding boundaries where I was allowed to roam—to play and daydream and explore.
The first boundaries--huge maples that surrounded the house. They were shade for summer days, golden beauty for autumn. Perfect for climbing, crotches’ hidey-holes for my sisters and me.
flying out and out
feet touching the sky
As I grew, the boundaries broadened—a willow oak, shady canopy by the barn where we played house, making do with logs, leaves, acorn cups, moss; the tulip poplar I passed on my way to the school bus, its yellowish blossoms streaked with orange opening my eyes to beauty; sycamore by the gate to grandmother’s house, my sanctuary where I was loved beyond question; by the cave spring, a persimmon laden with orange fruit, detour from my search for the milk cows; hickory and walnut by the branch where we filled tow sacks with nuts for Christmas baking; in the orchard—apple, peach, pear, plum—where I feasted under laden trees.
And overall, red cedar—in fencerows, woodlands, thickets, barrens. The aromatic scent permeated my life—chests, tables, Christmas trees, kindling, whittling sticks, the dinner bell pole.
a mound of dirt
under a red cedar
THE GIRL WHO SINGS
In my thirties I worked at a university counseling center. Most of my patients were undergraduate students, many of whom had problems easily understood within the context of their time in life. The stories they told merged into one great story. Like musical variations on a theme tales of leaving home, making friends, finding love and choosing a path were spun out hour by hour in my pretty, windowed office. That
those problems seemed to merge didn't make them any less significant. On the contrary; seeing one young person after another had the effect of suggesting the universal. This is mankind in its youth: each individual an occasion of a larger and more common experience.
One girl's struggle in particular was memorable to me. She had the soft, freckled face of a child just beginning to emerge into womanhood. Her slight figure had the skittish aspect of a deer pursued by some danger.
Her mother had died several years earlier. She had a younger brother of about twelve. The father didn't sound like much of a prize. According to her he drank and had periodic fits of bad temper. Often she slept on the couch to place herself between her brother's bedroom and the door through which her father would enter. The family home abutted a graveyard. Remarkably, her mother's grave lay just behind their house, visible from the girl's window.
of their mother's stone
two children grow
The problem the young lady came in to discuss was the tension between her desire to transfer to a music college and her worry for her brother who she would have to leave in order to do so. She told me about the musicians she admired, shifting in her seat to demonstrate the lively movements of a singer on her piano bench. Dancing in her
chair, her face was animated, her eyes bright. In just a beat her face darkened but without resentment. She said only, "but really, I can't go." I wondered if she was a saint.
she wants to sing
her own words on stage
how can I tell her
Rooster at six. Scratch biscuits and homemade mayhaw jelly. The back door open. Cool damp air and bird song. Fried eggs over easy, toast and grits. Real fresh butter. Orange juice mashed out on a juicer. The back door slapping at seven. Clamor of tractor
engine firing, and the whiff of diesel exhaust. Burl setting off down the dirt row; Shadow the collie close behind him, barking.
calendar on the wall –
days X'd off
IN FULL SUN
We have been coming to this remote cemetery once or twice a summer for more years than I can count. Last year, someone on a 'ride-em' lawn mower had cut all the wild plants between the deserted Lutheran Church and just above the 29 graves of the Slovakian immigrants who call this their final resting place.
Among them are my maternal grandparents, my maternal uncle and aunt and, now, my mom, who made her final journey here in early January 2012 to lie among her family
and old neighbours.
This coming spring/summer, as in all the years before, my husband and I will take some time to just enjoy the white daisies and grasses as they sway among and all around the (now) 30 graves. I know that will stop to kneel beside a new mound of earth and cry away the ache in my heart. If this were a natural meadow we would just leave everything alone and be on our way. However, this used to be a forest and the soil is rich and peaty. Springing up among the wild daisies and grasses are: willows, white poplars and spruces. It wouldn't take long for these small trees to become very large and push out not just the undergrowth but many of the grave sites as well.
In speaking to the farmer who lives just south of the cemetery, we learned it was his wife who rode the small tractor to cut down the saplings. He told us that very few people
come to visit the graves and that only Dick and I seem to care enough to visit on a regular basis. How sad it all seems.
We are both getting quite elderly. However, as in all the times before, this year Dick will mow around each and every grave and I will gather old silk flowers and replace them
with new ones. We come to this place out of love and respect and, as long as we can, hope to hold back nature for a little while longer.
a hard freedom
in northern Alberta
Slovaks conquer the wild
FIVE VOYAGES TO JAPAN
First voyage 1964 September
The first trip happened because my husband who was a deep sea diver at the time was sent to the South Pacific on a diving project.
We lived in Hawaii. He thought that while he was away I could take a trip to Japan, a land he had visited and found of great interest. So he booked passage for me on a large ship, Hawaii Yokohama.
I was perched on the upper deck with motley travelers, talking with some of them. After a 10- day trip we reached Japan. From Tokyo I traveled South toward Okinawa where another ship would take me back to Hawaii.
a new familiar
I went to Kyoto, to the Miyako Hotel where a guide introduced me to Mr. Mori Keijiro. He invited me to his house, He had studied at Tufts University in Boston and had married an American woman. After his wife’s death he came back to Japan. He showed me his Japanese house, he also had a Western house. We went out with his young companion to various sites and restaurants in the evenings and told each other our life stories. There was a deep affinity, as though we had always known each other. I told him I had sailed across the Pacific on a 45-foot ketch with 4 other people which seemed to fascinate him.
In the daytime I went with a small group who met at the hotel to visit the Golden Pavilion, Nara, the Great Buddha and the deer park, Ryoanji, and other beautiful and famous sites in Kyoto. These places took my breath away. I felt I had entered a world that was strange and yet familiar to me. I was enchanted. At the end of my stay Mr. Mori and his friend brought me to Kobe where I embarked on a ship on the Inland Sea.
a small maple leaf
marks a page
in my travel journal
I will always remember Mr. Mori smiling, so tiny at the pier waving goodbye to me waving from the upper deck of the ship. He became one of the symbols of hospitality and kindness of Japan. He had become a friend, we understood each other. I still have his photo with his father as Mori-san himself as a young man took a ship from Japan to go and study in America, a very rare adventure in those days.
The Inland Sea is beautiful, dotted with green pine islands. On the ship was a group of young men who were studying photography. They took hundreds of photos of me, probably the only Western woman they had ever met and one of them actually sent me his photos.
reflected torii . . .
we speak in two languages
somehow i understand
We landed in Beppu and I visited the hot springs and Kagoshima before flying to Okinawa. My husband’s diving assignment had been shorter than expected and he had flown to Okinawa to meet me which I did not know. By chance we found each other via telephone when I called to confirm my return trip, he was at the shipping office inquiring about me. We spent a few days in Okinawa and then flew home to Hawaii. For me
this was a trip that opened my eyes to the arts, gardens and temples of the old Japan and left me with a wish to return to a land where kindness is a daily practice.
sweeps the dust of this world
far out to sea. . .
Graphic by John M. Bennett & Gyorgy Kostuitski
this high room
for thinking dreaming
castles in the air
looking at the mountain
son and daughter how i wish to share this time
with you all daily things quite miraculous
making plum jam quince chutney
leaping through meadows with cat Anise four little eyes of two kittens white with russet spots looking
at me wondering who this creature is who puts out food and plays with them moving a peacock feather
along a small yellow rug just for the fun of it
i feel rich
yellow roses are in bloom
the clear spring’s
through autumn leaves
During my journeys abroad, I always felt deep emotions when I saw ruins. Ruins are found in every country. This fact shows that the world is in constant flux. In the West, Father Time is described as a cruel old man devouring his own children. In Japan, a hermit said, the world is like "the river that constantly runs down, its water never the same."
However, ruins strike us partly because they are symbols of human glory. We put up a fight against time although we know we are fighting a losing battle. I became aware of this when I climbed to the Parthenon. This was once a shrine of Goddess Athena. For many people, she represented human wisdom. That is why she is often accompanied by an owl. Even today, the Parthenon is a perfect building, quite unlike the other buildings in the world. At the same time, though, it is a symbol of human folly. It was once used as a powder magazine, and an explosion half destroyed it. Later, its beautiful sculptures were removed and taken to museums in far-off lands. Nothing seems to me more foolish.
Rome is also filled with ruins. To name just two, we have The Colosseum and The Baths of Emperor Caracalla. They are both huge structures and built for practical purpose: to please people. It is probably for this reason that they lack the nobility of the Parthenon. They serve their purpose well, but honestly, they look like bombastic ostentations. Edgar Alan Poe once sang about "the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome". Well, grandeur often leads to arrogance.
Britain is full of ruins, mostly churches and castles. Many churches were ruined during the reign of Henry VIII after he started the English Reformation. Tintern Abbey in the Wye valley is famous because William Wordsworth wrote a famous poem about it. Its roofs are lost, and its ceilings, perhaps decorated once with stars to remind us of heaven, are also gone, but even today its stone walls soar towards the sky, and some traces of triforia are visible in its windows. I cannot help feeling that stripped of all its decorations the Abbey as it stands now is more properly a house of God. Ruined castles are quite common in the Border Country, Wales and Ireland, but for me Kilcolman stands out, because it was once the residence of Edmund Spenser. When I went to see it, I had a hard time finding it because all the local people I talked to on the way said they did not know it. Spenser came from England and helped to colonize Ireland for his Faerie Queen. So it is not surprising if the Irish people regarded his castle as an eyesore. They probably did not wish to know anything about it. I finally found the skeleton of the Castle, a lonely tower overgrown with ivy. There was a pond in front of it where swans were swimming. In this Idyllic landscape, I thought of Spenser's ambition and frustration. His castle was sacked by the Irish people, and he only managed to save his own life by escaping to London by a ship. He lost everything he had acquired. Ben Jonson tells us that Spenser did not even have enough to eat in his last days.
America has its own ruins. The deserted cave houses of Pueblo Indians are famous, but here I should like to mention the ghost towns I once saw in mountains of California. These towns were built by gold miners who dreamt of making a fortune overnight. At one of the towns, I thought I heard the rugged noise of bygone days behind its deep silence. Bret Hart has an interesting story about "the Roaring Camp" in which the sole woman in the camp, a prostitute named Cherokee Sal, dies after giving birth to a child. When I heard the creaking of a heavy iron door of what was once a bank, I wondered if Cherokee Sal herself had used this bank. The mountains where miners dug gold were in their autumnal glory.
Of numerous Japanese ruins, I shall first mention one castle, following the example of Basho who wrote a famous haiku about "the summer grass, all that remains of the dreams of the ancient warriors". It is Oka Castle in Kyushu, celebrated in the famous song, "The Moon over the Ruined Castle". When I saw its stone ramparts, I almost wept thinking about the past glory of the warriors. For me, however, the epitome of Japanese ruins is the farmhouses and small shops in remote villages and towns that are now falling into disrepair. Farmhouses are abandoned when their owner passes away, and small shops are closed unable to compete with modern shopping centers. We like to think that we live in the age of prosperity, but it is amazing that so many houses and shops are falling into ruin. I find it almost unbearable to think of them. In England, too, many villages were deserted during the Industrial Revolution. Oliver Goldsmith says,
But times are altered; trade's unfeeling train
Usurp the land, and dispossess the swain.
But the situation we face now in Japan is even worse. No one wants to buy the lands or the houses. They are just abandoned and allowed to fall into ruin. Yet, as Thomas Gray says, "the short and simple annals of the poor" must not be despised, for we find in them genuine pleasures and sorrows the human heart can feel. I felt so strongly, looking at a village graveyard.
All Soul's Day —
the white glory under the moon
of the Parthenon
the Emperor's baths,
slave women in summer clothes
engraved on the tiles
Queen Anne's lace abloom,
where Kilcolman Castle stands
covered with ivy
after the gold rush
the Roaring Camps are silent,
just autumn colours
a heavy snowfall,
the roof a farmhouse sags
and crashes at last
once on a mild September day
when Maria and I were young
and healthy as fresh sunflowers
we were eating fish tacos
at a small café on the coast
and I looked out to the blue horizon
through the golden afternoon light
and felt so blessed for all the Good Lord
had done for me throughout my life and how I did not deserve oneounce of it but I was not looking
ahead any further than that moment just thankful to be with my wife
talking and laughing savoring a wonderful meal
and drinking a nice
glass of wine in that
place and in that time
both of us forgiven and carefree with our whole lives
still to come there on that beautiful shore
on the open sea
our lasting love
First time out of Iowa, he writes from a Jamaica-bound steamer, describes how he feels at seeing the ocean for the first time, the rumble and tremble of the boat, moving through a vaporous world without horizon, the storms, the smoke, and finally islands with volcanic mountains rising out of turquoise water. Dotty appears in his letters soon after, an island woman who, he says, cooks and cleans, and he moves up into the mountains where the night winds are cool and a parrot rides on his shoulder and shouts his name wherever he goes and wherever he goes he’s the boss. Then, his letters stop coming but he keeps on traveling. Lighting airfields for the Allied war effort: Jamaica, Sao Paolo, Uruguay, Recife, San Salvador. Never one much for patience, his wife sends an ultimatum: Come back. And don’t bring your black concubine with you.
the adventurer spins stories
from his recliner
WHAT HEAVEN 17 SAID (Finally in Sepia)
I'm good for nothing, worse at much more. I'm a stalking cat slipping into your shadow. I can't see Shhh, don't look or speak, just listen. you. When I left I ripped your flesh deep cuts that exposed your worth, Let your core that had been hidden for the length of each cut. I finally saw you me whole as you never intended me to, expected me to. The life of every earthly creature is finite but once lost survives in the clatter of raindrops
my blood on the rocks—
fast as it the wash* rises
into the pool
*wash - a weak shot of heroin produced by boiling the filters used to draw up previous shots
Mafiosa left her dentist's office, where they had worked around 17 gaps between her teeth and then studied spoken lyrics' sound effects. The experience made her rethink the role of short poetry. She became the first one who proudly started and ended a story as a true 3-liner.
Doctor Nobelle read about it in Seasonal Illusions. In a panic that she may expect triple birth he rushed her off to emergency at a far away hospital. The certified nurse on hand diagnosed a disorder of her tongue and kissed her goodbye like Ling, her acupuncturist used to do when she left her to see Chen, a dermatologist. Ever since Mafiosa went on fudging together both, 3-line and 5-line-stories, each build alternately over the same pivot: spit.
The 3 as well as the number 5 twinkle at exploiters. "Attention," claim their curves, "in our bulging cheeks we are chewing a longer poem prostituting itself." Wasn't Sappho introspectively visualizing strange waves of foam bubbles endlessly composing sound around her naked toes?
In most countries outside Japan, there are no more binding rules for counting lines, let alone syllables - in poetry or prose. As the best works of poets confirm for about one-hundred years, we gave up this early state of mind-boggling and now judge irrational factors as more operatively serviceable and goal-oriented, signifying the state of our spiritual development.
For example: Only if almost an unidentifiable space-concept is built into a contemporary written text, dominating the readers alertness, then the physics and the quality of quantum leaps can take effect in the direction of writer reader, seeing things they are - in relative terms - like in a net-video when dating
on her plate
a painted swan takes off
the white of porcelain
THE MOON GARDEN
A Post-Modern Noh in Six Scenes
(To my Mother and Father through Whom All Things Material Became Possible)
OLD WOMAN: 94 years old, still mentally alert and emotionally warm with a quiet grace of carriage that has never deserted her. She is white-haired and brown-skinned, dressed in a white/silver top and dark grey underskirt and black slippers, a large crystal necklace around her neck.
DANCER: Wearing an old woman mask yet a younger more energetic version of the OLD WOMAN, barefoot, she wears the same clothes.
[The sound of summer insects and the scent of pine trees.]
[The OLD WOMAN enters and walks down a side theater aisle with the beginning of “Clair de Lune” by Gabriel Fauré and steps onto the stage by its conclusion.]
[The sound of summer insects swells to fill the theater then subside to a background murmur.]
[Except for the last haiku recited by the OLD WOMAN, the haiku and tanka are heard as the DANCER’s voice over the theater’s sound system.]
within a dream
the dreamer dreaming dreams
the way out, the way
I, I, I, I, I – absent from the mind, where am I?
Am; not am; am and not am; neither am nor
not am – There is no path where am is. How
gorgeous the Milky-Way tonight!
Sitting on that window sill age three at 2
o’clock in the morning, staring at the moon,
telling me: "I’m thinking, mommy, I’m thinking."
That's my son, not the composer, but the
performer, no voice, but not so bad.
His piano’s better.
[The OLD WOMAN snips some lily-of-the-valley.]
Aha, lily-of-the-valley, hiding down there, you
can't hide from me. I want bunches and bunches:
there…, there…, and there….
[She gathers blooms all through the next five scenes that she puts into a basket she carries over one arm. The scent of each flower picked should fill the theater.]
My son loves western music, my daughter west
African dance. All one to me: mind flowers.
Husband hunts possum and fishes in these pine
woods and likes his cards, the thrills of
strategizing and competing, a little corn liker.
I sewed all my clothes, deft fingers, a seamstress,
my daughter’s clothes even her wedding gown,
pearls and peau de soi.
There’s an old pond back among those pines.
[Another frog splash and a rifle shot.]
There he is trying to get that old possum.
[Another rifle shot.]
He never does. I still have all my marbles though
maybe a little chipped and not so shiny, but I’m
still capable of a good game. I am fit: heart,
lungs, liver, pancreas, stomach, brain still good
so reads the autopsy report. But I move more
slowly even now even here. At some point, I’ll
probably stop moving altogether. Like any watch,
I don’t care how advertised.
Self-confident with a strong will and
decisive actions yet a diplomatic negotiator, a
middle child, I still valued myself. And a little
rebellious, I went my own way... even at the end.
There were not that many of us left that
mid-winter, a last wave after so many leaving
the shore. I’m not lonely, alone, so few of us left
standing so many more gone on before. There
are my flowers and tonight’s coming moon so
sad and so beautiful.
coming and going
where there is no there
no here either
[Sounds of the pond’s frog occasional croaking and splashing and the call of a whippoorwill over the ever present sound of insects surging and subsiding, surging and subsiding.]
Ahh, flowers, nothing but white flowers and so
many of them. And to think, I couldn’t imagine
astral travel. But here my tools and water cans
even here wherever here is this night luminance
of white flowers under moonlight. Earth, air, fire,
water bring us here and one or more of the four
will take us back.
[The OLD WOMAN selects some poppies.]
I always loved growing things. In my living room,
I had no curtains, only plants over all the windows.
Covering her head and eyes from the sun, a niece,
sleeping over, complained it was like waking up
on a park bench. How we laughed.
And children loved my laughter and energy, my
patience. They climb on my lap and touch and kiss
my face and play with my fingers. Looking in my
bag, they could always find peppermint candy.
Ohh, at least several of you, solemn consoling
poppies, such heavy heads and heavy scents.
Such a long way to get to this garden through the
pine trees from the house. But I want an oval like
a womb, not a 3-sided proscenium space facing
the back of a house.
It’s the anniversary of my death. I would have
been 95 that year, almost a century. In a way, too
long and in another, not long enough. And if I had
to do it all over again?
the present moment
being all there is, is all there is
Click here to read more. . .
Jenny Ward Angyal
the sound of water
from the spring
on the hillside
my mother’s voice
at a deeper spring
in times of drought
on emerald moss
a dowsing rod
seeking a source
that will never run dry
I teach myself to read
with a book in a tree
by the river
flowing past roots
it generates power
soft rain begins
mingled in dreams
autumn dawn –
she sees a white hair
in my mustache
on a stone bench
mother fingers her wrinkles
autumn dawn –
mother serves white rice
on an almond leaf
... lungi shivering on
the beggar's face
hot eucalyptus, mother
rubs into my chest
ice box ...
your last word
resonates in me
Graphic by John M. Bennett
TANKA FOR FATHER
looking through the rubble
for a sign
a bird feeder
hangs in the tree
he turns the pages
with his thumb,
pours another half –
I see why he comes here
Brother Brown a hard man . . .
alone until admitted
four days before death
when romantic moments
appeared on the screen
he twinkled to one side
“there’s sumthen gwoin on
between they two”
laughed till he cried
at Tom & Gerry time
“there’s sum violence
on television these days”
the 440 yards at naval school,
sat on the dressing table
in the wardrobe
his naval uniform
on the backs of chairs
he embroidered at sea
the only time
he came to watch me play
“you had the best boot
on that field”
he told me the story
of the three bears
always the same
it could have been one bear
doing nothing forever
the Goudges and criticised
Thatcher was a no go
but Scargill was alright
he shows me two poems
he wrote himself
about goings on at the pub
when the landlord was away
the hard man
softened into listening
money for the children
“I shan’t need it,” he says
not long now
I have to go back
he says goodbye
on the doorstep
tears in his eyes
ten years later
on the wall of the pub
with the rope
TROUBLE COMES KNOCKING
new heart polygraph
three downticks reveal
an “electrical event”
if my heart can seize
while I feel nothing
how numb is my love?
waiting to get started
I stress out
up a rubber road
I run for my skin
three of us
watch my heart galloping
on a monitor
I loved willy nilly
and stormed against the wind
why not heart attack?
near to my heart
may they become dear
time for your happy pill
nurse says to a fellow
laid back on wheels
murmurs in the twilight
the parents downstairs
talking after bedtime
the sound of rain
turns out to be trees blowing
will not be slaked
of the waters of the past
in the Traveller's Friend
with a foamy glass
and fifty good years
a long time
in the same place—
some of the neighbors
none of the dogs
when the dirty sky
burst through the ceiling
I decided to move
for having known
all you sports fans
as this life of mine
LIKE HEAVEN II
snowfall at sunrise
my wife and newborn child
skin to skin
catching the corner
of my eye
a corner of the moon
this is enough
healthy at home with my wife and son
savoring a cold beer
I would like to ask my son
a thousand years from now
if he is happy
on the wall reflecting
all my ancestors
the silence before
the long caw
of the raven
the sound of your name
shredded by the wind
a rabbit cloud
SUCH A DANCE
the days go too fast
it takes time to settle down
to go in deeper
such a dance I do before
jumping into the pool to swim
on Valentine's day
in this dimly lit restaurant
I ask questions
shining light in a way
that disrupts the mood
like an interrogator
I shine the light too brightly
and hurt your eyes
turning the light outward
I end up in the dark
to judge every utterance
I can just listen—
in this space of discovery
fear dissolves, all is new
today I caught
a whiff of entitlement
wafting from my chair ~
using position for
my personal advantage
the well is deep
the source within
not in others
moments in between
the tasks of everyday
silence that settles
despite this busy mind
instead of holding back
makes all the difference
the sun just shines
it does not pick and choose
Graphic by John M. Bennett
RAG AND BONE MAN
she swipes my door
I pretend to sleep
her touch on my shoulder
her caress, I rise
high and hard
as the moon
turns to sleet
turns to snow . . .
in litter-strewn undergrowth
he searches for his bottle
on my whittled down
at the end of the money
my hand full of hers
together we fly and
break through the horizon
in my hand
I stretch sundown
to a squat
at the end of my giro
in a city
in a street
in a house
in a room
to big for me
Sosui (Nobuyuki Yuasa)
1 mercilessly / all the dreams of vernal things / crushed at one stroke
2 buds of the flowering trees / hearts of men and women
3 March 11 / an earthquake of M 9 / struck us unprepared
4 hid myself under the desk / breathless, seized with utmost fear
5 screams and cries arose / intense like mid-summer heat / so close to my ears
6 the surging waves devoured / my house with other houses
7 till her last breath / she shouted, ‘run for your life’ / her way of loving
8 A rich harvest in due course / I had prayed for nothing else
9 like the calm moonlight / fallout from the reactors / drops down on us
10 stinking debris all around / where indeed can I find hope?
11 a scrap of rice malt / alive on the barrel wood / tomorrow's sake
12 inside the snow-roofed shelter / a chorus of 'Home, Sweet Home'
begun April 25, 2011
finished April 30
for the morning commute
soft sunlight ebbs through
my head, not buried in books
glances at the melting ice
as I write
my final final exam
I admire the style--
during the time that I've been here
on the last two days
handshakes and well-wishes
from those who couldn't do it
those who chose not to
no longer a frustration
there's no hurry now
students sprint off to class
as I eat my sandwich
my last impression
of the east atrium
I remember hours spent here
reading Locke and Rousseau
(when it was new)
walking down the back hallway
with my instrument
greets me as if she'll see me
the day after tomorrow
hearing Zelda tunes
notes played on request
I gather my belongings
time slows as I eject myself
into a soft and chilly world
walking the familiar path
neck craned for the first stretch
memories over shoulder
playing in the baseball field
in the corner of my eye
paused I behold the building
as snowflakes glide past my face
words whispering echoes
in silence cyber breakdown
taking up a PEN!
scratching sounds scarring paper
a marvel --- by hand --- once learned
and still a scratchy
shoots upwards . . .
I check the email
for acceptance of my poems
if I could linger
under trees I would implant
myself to bar
the wind from luring petals
to their deathly dance
the parallel lines
of the railroad tracks -
thankfully, her tears
are over an onion
and not me
ayaz daryl nielsen
as we kiss
ayaz daryl nielsen
sleepless night . . .
the moon and I gaze
at each other
the same moon I saw in Vietnam
where it’s down at this hour
yellow leaves begin to fall–
what fruits are in season now?
it’s been so long since I left
hold more meaning
her old cane
leans by the door
once an oak tree
I open the front door
this apple, so red,
I hesitate before biting..
the inside, so white
ayaz daryl nielsen
the sparrow's song
tickles my lips
through the key hole
each droplet a window
to the sky
tracing my face
so many bouquets-
yet, not one
to tell her
and the mirror
the font on my laptop
in the estate agent’s doorway
the homeless man
sorority house –
unending racket and
a letter to mom
ayaz daryl nielsen
remove the city grime
till rush hour
I say thank you
and a minute later
I say thank you again
you already said that you say
but I didn't mean it the first time
Nebraska hayfield –
uncles, cousins I and
grandma's dinner bell
ayaz daryl nielsen
every distant contour
Graphic by John M. Bennett & Baron