Jackboy’s Pride


Abused, abandoned and left to die of thirst or predation more than a dozen years ago on a largely uninhabited county road terminating at our rural property’s entrance, Jackboy brought much laughter and comfort to our household. Tireless shadow, friend, writing partner, loyal companion and protector, he was, and will remain forever, a good boy – in his estimation, the highest possible praise. It has been two days. We miss him.

Jackboy’s Pride

Through patience,
recognition eases in: the patterns

of repetition and praise
and joy in task. The orange ball. A scorpion’s

tail. How we delight in sharing each
victory. And with the breeze

runs other unspoken tales – a neighbor’s
cruelty, bones, the pregnant raccoon

lumbering through the cedars. But nothing
deters the jump and the following drop.

He nips heels where none exist. We follow.


The Emptiness of Wang Wei

Another take on the famous poem. Wonderful!

Atomic Geography

Karen recently gave me 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei.  This small book is a compilation of 19 translations of Wang Wei’s (7th century Chinese poet) poem, Deer Park,  alongside an essay by Eliot Weinberger, and a concluding essay by Octavio Paz.  This helped deepen my appreciation for Wang, and motivated me to attempt to transduce the poem myself.

Transduce seems a better word than translation for what I’m doing. It is an attempt to transform a distant literary energy to a local one. It follows in the footsteps of Ezra Pound’s Cathay poems.  As Paz points out, referring to a TS Eliot remark, Ezra Pound invented Chinese poetry in English.  He did this without in fact knowing any Chinese, but working from, as I am here, literal translations.

Here are the literal and poetic translations from Chinese Poems.

Deer Enclosure

Empty hill not see person
Yet hear person voice sound
Return scene enter deep forest

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Shutters VII


The seventh of a series of twelve. Originally published in the anthology Terra Firma.

Shutters VII

Wherein the glass changes hands and becomes
framed, failing, without reference
to resolve the internal process:

solid to liquid, the uncertain union
rendered in the idiom of
illumination, one’s transparent shade responding

to light, another’s subsumed, joined in
the essential plight of taste and
taster, preceding the other, but lost, alone.

From eye to lip, the inevitable differs.


Laolao Ting Pavilion (after Li Po)


Another attempt at adapting Li Po. A note on Chinese-poems.com stated “at this time, the breaking of a willow twig was part of formal leave-taking.”

Laolao Ting Pavilion (after Li Po)

Where do more hearts break under heaven?
This sad pavilion, where visitors part,
the spring wind whispers bitter goodbyes
and willow twigs never mend.

Transliteration from Chinese-poems.com:

Heaven below damage heart place
Laolao see off visitor pavilion
Spring wind know parting sorrow
Not send willow twig green.


Tell it Slant: How to Write a Wise Poem, essay by Camille Dungy


Few essays on writing poetry grab me by the collar, slam me against the wall, and say “Listen, dammit!” But this one did.

Camille Dungy’s words sear through the fog. She tells it slant. She tells it true. She explains how some masters have done it. If you’ve not read her poetry, seek it out. You’re in for a treat. If you have the good fortune to attend a lecture or reading by her, do so. She’s energetic, wise and kind. She knows.


Shutters VI


The sixth of a series of twelve written at a shuttered window. Originally published in the anthology Terra Firma.

Shutters VI

For instance, the pear blossom’s coiled
descent, whispering its way to the
earth, or a cold spiracle

releasing air in time to present a new flower,
the exhalation entwined and open
like a small door to a place the sun won’t

touch, the center trembling and pale.
The between, the interval of now and
now brought to fruition. A sudden thought.

What carries it aloft cannot be held.


Shutters V


The fifth of a series of twelve written at a shuttered window. Originally published in the anthology Terra Firma.

Shutters V

Corners coincide with
spheres, as from the corner of one’s
eye, or through the belt’s loop to its end.

And how, when I look through the window
may recognition delay the moment’s
gain? Water descends and the line begins moving,

always moving, for it is in motion that we express
the simplest desire, the closed hand in which light grows
when opened, the narrowest aperture laid bare.

The end, as always, chooses itself.