Nocturne (Blue Grosbeak)

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Nocturne (Blue Grosbeak)

Why tremble
when nothing
arrives to be seen?

The architecture
of the day
comes and goes

in the same
heartbeat,
a disturbance

more felt than heard.
But listen.
The grosbeak sings

his presence
and departs,
leaving behind

the echo
of a motion
blending with night.

The air is cool.
A leaf utters
its own message

and falls
unnoticed.
Nothing awaits it.

 

This first appeared in February 2015.

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A Poem from My Recently Published Micro-Chapbook has been Nominated for a Pushcart Prize

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The editors of the Origami Poems Project have nominated “Parting from Wang Wei,” a poem from my recently published micro-chapbook, No Eye But the Moon’s: Adaptations from the Chinese, for a Pushcart Prize. Many thanks to Jan and Kevin Keough for this honor. The chapbook is available via free download from Origami Poems Project. And please peruse their site for other titles and folding instructions.

 

Arthritis

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Arthritis

If at night I stray in thought,
dreaming of nimble fingers

and my departed dog’s walk,
will you smile

when I scratch his absent ear
and apologize for the times

I failed him? Even combined,
all the words in these unread books

could never soothe the guilt
of leisure and complacency, nor

match the joy of jumping
for the kicked ball, no matter the

outcome, despite the consequences.

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The Stone Remains Silent Even When Disturbed

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The Stone Remains Silent Even When Disturbed

In whose tongue
do you dream?
I fall closer to death

than birth, yet
the moon’s sliver
still parts the bare

branches and an unfilled
trench divides the
ground. Bit by bit,

we separate – you
remain in the earth,
recumbent, as I gather

years in stride.
Even the rain
leaves us alone.

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This first appeared in December 2015.

 

Sighs of Autumn Rain #3 (visiting Tu Fu)

Check out Ken Gierke’s masterful adaptation of a Tu Fu poem!

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Sighs of Autumn Rain #3 (visiting Tu Fu)

Who would notice this common man in Chang’an?
Within his walls, watching through the gate
Cloistered, too old to tend to the weeds
In the rain, children pass by without concern
Hastened by the early cold in the wind’s sighs
A lone goose struggles overhead, wet wings weighted
The white sun has not been seen this autumn
Will the mud ever dry?

Literal translations of classic Chinese poetry can be found at chinese-poems.com. I first learned of this from Robert Okaji, who has written several interpretations of some of those poems. This is my interpretation of a poem by Tu Fu. The literal translation, as provided at chinese-poems.com, is as follows:

Sighs of Autumn Rain (3)

Chang’an commoner who notice
Be locked in weigh gate watch surround wall
Old people not go grow weeds
Child without worry walk wind rain
Rain…

View original post 31 more words

Stone Path (after Tu Mu)

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Stone Path (after Tu Mu)

High up the cold mountain a stone path rises
to the village in the white clouds.
I stop the carriage and inhale the evening fragrance,
its red, frosted maple leaves richer than any spring flower.

I may have inserted a bit more of myself into this adaptation than is my usual custom. I hope it does not intrude.

The transliteration on Chinese-poems.com reads:

Far on cold mountain stone path slant
White cloud live place be households
Stop carriage because love maple forest evening
Frost leaf red than second month flower

* * *

This adaptation first appeared  in October 2014.

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Fifty-Word Review: Greenhouses, Lighthouses by Tung-Hui Hu

Tung-Hui Hu’s Greenhouses, Lighthouses highlights lyrical precision in poems that bounce between such diverse launching points as photographic sequences, Euripedes, union slogans, woodcuts and even an historical seaman’s guide. His language placates and challenges, whispers, cajoles and insinuates, and overflows with layered possibilities and nuance. You must read his work.

This first appeared in January 2014.

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Sensing My Dismay at the Election Results, My Wife’s Dog Presses Against Me

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Sensing My Dismay at the Election Results, My Wife’s Dog Presses Against Me

And when I roll over, my toe finds a hole in the not
inexpensive 400 thread count percale sheet and rips

down its length, and I wonder if I should extend this
metaphor to include walls and the unbearable weight

of societal collapse, or hatred with small hands and
minds or faces like pale disks of whitewashed emptiness

glaring at my friends, or, well, my wife and I, across
the restaurant’s laminate booths or the potholed street

by the bus stop. I recall the woman’s sneer and hushed
commentary that afternoon, and though I wanted to

correct her mistaken assumption (hey, lady, I’m not
Hispanic) and redirect her bigotry to the correct ethnicity,

I chose instead to smile and wave goodbye, to drive to
the polls and cast my ballot, one drop in that dark bucket

of nothingness, floating alone, perhaps to coalesce with
others and attain some sense of parity and belonging,

or to remain outcast, bewildered, wondering how this
could be, what’s happened to us, my home, our country.

real-patriots

 

 

Shutters XII

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The final of a series of twelve, originally published in Terra Firma in 2004, and posted here in 2014.

Shutters XII

To, or for, in opposition, as in prayer,
as in declining an opened
space and accepting the edges’

offer, a history of minutes
held in abeyance. Limits unfold and present
options, remnants of incomplete

light, low clouds rising to reveal
a window’s apparition, the original eye
betrayed and released to reason.

Intent upon one, the others escape.

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