My Poem “Between” Is Up On Clade Song

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I thought I’d repost this as it was given short shrift during the 30/30 frenzy.

Many thanks to editors Joshua McKinney and Tim Kahl for including my poem “Between” in the current issue of Clade Song, one of my favorite poetry journals. A recording is also available for your amusement. And please check out the beautiful and intriguing musical piece on the home page – composed of various animal calls, guitar, flute and shaker.

Hail

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Hail

My hands know the sadness of rock,
of unfinished lines and rough

sides tapering to sharpness.
The shape of solitude, turning.

Now the stones fall as water,
a woman lets down her hair

and laughter chokes through silence.
Into this dream I ascend.

 

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An Introduction To Robert Okaji

I feel a tad self-conscious about reblogging this, but am grateful to Daniel for taking the time and effort. Thank you, Dan.

I Am Daniel Schnee

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ロバート・岡地: 天才

Introduction

Poetry is a strange thing. It is often amazing, but also often considered by its detractors as odd scribblings that seem to have nothing to do with anything that makes a difference in our world. How can we understand poetry? The common mental image of the poet is one who lays around avoiding actual work; a precious elitist laying on silk cushions writing pretty, rhyming nonsense, or maybe the Beat poet sitting around abusing opioids and writing strange, dirty things. The real struggle then is to find a path away from the idea of silk pillows and heroin to a place where poems – beautiful ways of saying – matter to us.

Thankfully, the struggle is not a struggle at all when we peek behind words and look at the Logos of a poet, the organizing principle or principles that animates his/her words. And there are few…

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Which Poet, Which Beer (3)

beer

Nebraska Brewing Company’s Melange a Trois, a strong Belgian-Style Blonde ale, aged for six months in French Oak Chardonnay barrels, carries a good bit of the wine, with citrus and a hint of vanilla. A little musty, with an excellent frothy head, which, I believe, could describe me most mornings. But I digress. Deceptively strong (11+ ABV) with a pleasant bitterness. I would pair this with a plate of cured meat and David Wevill’s Other Names for the Heart: New and Selected Poems 1964-1984.

He writes in “Grace”:

… Sometimes lately

a bird you can’t identify has flitted close
and sung from the branches of his hands.

He leaves us touching ourselves.

Over the past thirty years, much of Wevill’s writing has left me with unrequited questions, with an itch to branch out, to learn more, to delve deeper into what makes us human.

But there are those days when introspection flies out the back door into the overgrown backyard, and all you want to do is sit back, watch the football game, relax, be entertained, escape. On those days I’ll break out a few cans of Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap, a German-style pilsner, moderately malty, straw-colored, with citrusy hops evident. A clean, palate-cleansing drink, good with nachos or chips, or hell, even with a Greek salad (heavy on the feta and olives, please). And if you’re like me and can’t devote yourself fully to the game, multitask – dip into Jeff Schwaner’s Goat Lies Down on Broadway, and absorb “Goat Reads the Signs”:

The sun rises like music
every morning. Wind goes
around the world and comes
back in a week or two. Goat
waits on top of a hill, judging…

As do we. Don’t stop there. Continue. Turn off the tube – one team will win, the other will lose. But Goat never wins. Goat never loses. Goat befriends Jerry Falwell. Goat eats Jerry’s tie. Goat ingests Sartre. Goat dies. “Goat is never dead.” A lively read, to say the least.

And speaking of lively, Independence Brewery’s Lupulust is a traditional Belgian-style tripel with a touch of modern hoppiness. It pours with a big head and spicy, floral notes, with a dry finish, reminding me of Karen Craigo’s No More Milk, in which she speaks of life – ordinary life – which, in her hands, becomes like that floral scented, big, hoppy beer. In “Scat with Mourning Dove” the narrator wakes “to syncopated song” and marvels at the bird’s jazz refrains from her place in bed with “a body warm against mine,” celebrating

how God made us, made jazz,
made an instrument of a dove.

Sip this book. Share it with friends. Take it to bed with a glass of warm milk. Savor it.

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My Poem “On the Burden of Flowering” Is Up On Panoply

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I thought I’d repost this as it was given short shrift during the frenzy of the 30/30 Challenge in August.

Many thanks to editors Andrea, Jeff and Ryn for including my poem “On the Burden of Flowering” in the current issue of Panoply, another of my favorite poetry journals. I’m thrilled that they were able to take this piece.

Mole (Pipian)

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Mole (Pipian)

Always the search beneath texture,
layers captured in subsidence,
the drift to interpretation: a mixture, meaning

sauce, and its journey from seed to mouth,
the careful blend of herb and fire,

dismembered chiles,
the crushed and scorched fruit
rendered to preserve for consumption
the most tender qualities

and their enhancement towards art.

 

This is of course not about the mammal with the subterranean lifestyle, but rather a version of the Mexican sauce, pronounced “mo-lay,” which includes, as a main ingredient, pumpkin seeds. It takes a while to put together, but is well worth the effort.

“Mole (Pipian)” made its first appearance here in February 2015.

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Setting Fire to the Origami Crane

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Setting Fire to the Origami Crane (the one floating on Muscongus Bay) at Sunset

Who is to say which comes first, the flaming crane
or the sunset’s burst just over the horizon

and under the clouds? There are causes and causations,
an illness named bad air and another attributed to wolf

bites, neither accurate. There is the paraffin to melt,
and the folded paper resting comfortably nearby, with

a small, unopened tin of shoe polish and the sound of
tears striking newsprint. You know the myth of the

Viking burial — the burning ship laden with treasure
and the deceased clothed in all his finery. But pyres

are lighted to make ash of bodies, to ease the soul’s
transition to the heavens. Think of how disturbing

it would be to come upon the charred lumps of your
loved one washed ashore. And other myths — various

versions of the afterlife created to bend wills and
foster hope where little exists — to which have you

departed? There are no returns in your future, no more
givings, and your ashes have dispersed among the clouds

and in the water. They’ve been consumed by earth and
sky, inhaled and swallowed, digested, coughed out but

never considered for what they were. So I’ve printed
your name a thousand times on this sheet, and will

fold and launch it, aflame, watching the letters that
comprise you, once again, rise and float, mingle

and interact, forming acquaintances, new words,
other names, partnerships, loves, ascending to the end.

 

This was written for the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. To read the story behind the poem’s title (which I was unaware of), you might visit Jilanne Hoffman’s blog.