To awaken undisturbed
or at all
I unclench my fist
How to transcribe the dead’s tune?
within they float
fear’s cascading grip transcending sleep
The Sky Refutes East and West
Here, the horizon lingers.
The open eye, the mouth’s shape.
A hoop, the circle without iris.
Does the screech owl acknowledge latitude and hemisphere?
The Semitic alphabet contained no vowels, thus O
emerged as a consonant with a pupil, morphing into a dotted ring,
and later, with the Greeks, an unembellished circle (which of course
they cracked open and placed at the end). The female lays eggs
on the remnants of earlier meals lining the bottom of her den.
If you listen at night you might hear the purring of a feathered
cat (the Texas screech owl’s call varies from that of its eastern cousins).
The difference between sphere and ball.
To pronounce the Phoenician word for eye, sing the lowest note possible,
then drop two octaves. They usually carry prey back to their nests.
Screech owls are limited to the Americas.
Coincidence and error, the circumference of other.
“The Sky Refutes East and West” was first published in Prime Number Magazine, and also appears in my chapbook The Circumference of Other, included in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks (Silver Birch Press, 2015).
We presume affliction by census,
requires no faith.
Is the roofless house a home? When you call
who answers? The vulture
spreads its wings
but remains on post. Shifting,
I note minute of angle, windage. No
regrets, only tension. Breathe in. Exhale.
“Gaza” first appeared in July, 2014, and is included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.
Among falling devilwood blossoms, I lie
on an empty hill this calm spring night.
The moon lunges above the hill, scaring the birds,
but they’re never quiet in this spring canyon.
Another try at an old favorite…
I consider this adaptation rather than translation, but perhaps appropriation or even remaking might be more accurate.
Here’s the transliteration from chinese-poems.com:
Person idle osmanthus flower fall
Night quiet spring hill empty
Moon out startle hill birds
Constant call spring ravine in
So many choices, none of them exactly right, none of them entirely wrong. How does one imply idleness, what words to use for “flower” (blossom? petal?), or for that matter, “fall” (descend, flutter, spiral)? And how to describe a moonrise that scares the constantly calling birds? My first attempt began:
“I lie among the falling petals”
but it seemed vague. The word “osmanthus” fattened my tongue, or so it felt, but the osmanthus americanus, otherwise known as devilwood or wild olive, grows in parts of Texas. So I brought the poem closer to home.
I considered naming the birds (quail came to mind) but decided against. In this case the specificity felt somehow intrusive.
My hope is that I’ve managed to amplify, in some small way, previous iterations, and that while the edges are still a bit blurred in morning’s first light, perhaps they’ll become slightly crisper by the evening.
“Spring Night” made its first appearance on O at the Edges in April, 2014.
Autumn Winds (after Li Po)
Clear autumn winds swirl
below the moon’s glow,
scattering the gathered leaves.
The startled crows return.
When will we see each other again?
This hour, this lonely night, my feelings grow brittle.
The transliteration on Chinese-poems.com reads:
Autumn wind clear
Autumn moon bright
Fall leaves gather and scatter
Jackdaw perch again startle
Each think each see know what day
This hour this night hard be feeling
“Autumn Winds” first appeared in September, 2014. I started the adaptation in the heart of summer, hoping that it would offer a respite from the unrelenting Texas heat…