Send Your Poem to the Moon

Send Your Poem to the Moon

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That’s right, the moon! Brick Street Poetry Inc. will be publishing three volumes of an international anthology which will be launched aboard the Space X flight scheduled to depart for the South Pole of the Earth’s moon in 2023. The deadline (February 15!!!) is fast approaching, so please click on this link to check out submission details and the themes for the anthologies. The goal is to include a new poem from every country on Earth.

Ghost

dictionary

Ghost 

You keep returning and I can’t say why.
I wake in the shrouded room and lie still for hours.

Sometimes you speak through the siding’s wind rattle,
in the rasping shingles or the gutter’s drain.

But who interprets these phrases?
No friend. No dictionary.

The dog barks at nothing and chases his tail
to exhaustion. Unlike sound,

light cannot penetrate these windows.
Perhaps the answer lies in the page’s hollow, between

words, or at the free end of a kite’s anchor,
wedged within clouds, echoing

like a cough in a decade’s breath
hammering down after a long illness.

I question afterlife, but dying continues.

* * *

This first appeared in Shadowtrain.

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Snow with Moose

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Snow with Moose

Guide to the incremental, to the sifted mass. The Phoenician mem shifted
shapes, but always suggested water.

Moose likely derives from the Algonquian descriptor “he strips away.”

The Japanese character for water, mizu, evokes currents.

Moose are solitary creatures and do not form herds. A bilabial consonant,
M is a primary sound throughout the world.

The prehensile upper lip undresses branches and grabs shoots.

Wavering, I share the lack of definition, of clarity in design and choice.

The sound is prevalent in the words for mother in many unrelated tongues,
from Hindi to Mandarin, Hawaiian to Quechua, and of course English.

Eleven strokes compose the Japanese character for snow.

A smile would reveal no upper front teeth.

Long legs enable adults to manage snow up to three feet deep. Under water,
individual flakes striking the surface sound similar, despite size disparities.

It can also accurately be classified as a mineral.

Solitude to connection, dark on white. The lone traveler.

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“Snow with Moose” first appeared here in December 2015.

Lament for Five White Cat (after Mei Yao-ch’en)

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Lament for Five White Cat (after Mei Yao-ch’en)

Five White cat always made sure
no rats gnawed my books,
but this morning Five White died.

On the river I offered up rice and fish,
and buried you in its lazy currents,
chanting my lament. I could never neglect you.

One time you caught a rat
and carried it squealing around the yard
to frighten all the other rats
and keep my cottage clear of them.

We’ve shared space aboard this boat,
and although the food is meager
it’s free of rat piss and droppings
because you were so diligent,
more so than any chicken or pig.

Some people speak highly of horses,
saying nothing compares to them or donkeys.
But we’re done with that discussion!

My tears prove it so.

* * *

The transliteration from Chinese-poems.com:

Self have 5 white cat
Rat not invade my books
Today morning 5 white die
Sacrifice with rice and fish
See off it at middle river
Incantation you not you neglect
Before you bite one rat
Hold in mouth cry around yard remove
Want cause crowd rat frightened
Thought will clear my cottage
From board boat come
Boat in together room live
Dry grain although its thin
Evade eat drip steal from
This real you have industriousness
Have industriousness surpass chicken pig
Ordinary person stress spur horse drive
Say not like horse donkey
Already finish not again discuss
For you somewhat cry

A Song Dynasty poet, Mei Yao-ch’en (or Mei Yaochen) died in 1060. His great poems live on.

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Directive to the Circumspect Texan

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Directive to the Circumspect Texan

When the vowel trips through the consonant and knots
the tongue, remember this: artifice. A making. In one

hand, a knife. On the table, cured flesh and fermented
products. Imagine uncertain lighting, laughter, a narrow

opening and the uphill walk three days into the parametric
world of occlusion. Tell no untruths. Mention refrigerators

and your proficiency with duck. Admit failure and order
a second pilz. Listen. Discuss heat and issues of space,

personnel logistics and the pleasure of July departures.
Cite advertising and Ashbery. Savor what is rightly not

yours. Embrace inadequacy. Forego dessert. Express
true gratitude. Say y’all. Shake hands. Find the door.

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“Directive to the Circumspect Texan” first appeared here in December 2015.

Nocturne with a Line after Kees

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Nocturne with a Line after Kees

I close my eyes and see nothing but rain.
And after, take pity

for what turns beyond sight: the wretched
flower, a hiss from the road. Last night the wind
stole sleep from my body,

leaving me alone, wordless, listening
for her next breath. An alchemist,

I transmute the memories of old wounds laid open.

 

*****

This first appeared in Ijagun Poetry Journal, in December 2013.

 

Antique pharmacy

 

Resurrection (Cento)

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Resurrection (Cento) 

Everything we love
returns to the ground.

Each syllable is the work of sabotage,
a breeze seeping from the heart of the rocks.

They are my last words
or what I intend my last words to be.

I think just how my shape will rise,
a miracle, anywhere light moves.

*****

A cento is composed of lines borrowed from other poets. “Resurrection” first appeared here in January 2016, and owes its existence to the poetry of Tishani Doshi, Paul Auster, Antonella Anedda, Sean Hill, Emily Dickinson, and Ruth Ellen Kocher. I urge you to seek out their work. It astounds!

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After Before

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After Before

A return to that
time when silence

reigned. The neighbor’s
guinea fowl have long

departed, but three cedars
drop needles in the driveway

even as reluctant growth
pushes out from the oaks’

limbs. Nothing circles
below the clouds, no

roosters crow. Feeders
hang still and empty.

The wrens remain
cloistered. You read

these events as separate
birdless chapters, all

hushed in the dappled
air, passages carried

yet confined by nearly
soundless threads

suspended from the
persimmon tree. You admit

a status as sentient
protein, one meal among

many, while you rest
and absorb

the soft ticking
of eighteen eager

juvenile mantises
on the porch screen.

feeder

“After Before” first appeared here in December 2015.

Lake Pavilion (after Wang Wei)

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Lake Pavilion

The boat carries the honored guest
so regally across the lake.
We look out over the railing and sip our wine.
Lotus blossoms, everywhere.

As is nearly always the case, I had more questions than answers when I first considered this adaptation, beginning with “what is happening here?” Yes, someone crosses a lake to meet a guest, they drink wine and see flowers in the water. But what does this signify? From my 21st century Texan viewpoint, the poem seems to be a piece about spiritual passage, and I colored my version with this in mind, using visual references to capitalize on and support the theme – crossing a body of water, looking outward, and of course, observing the lotus flowers, which hold great symbolism in Chinese and Buddhist culture.

The Chinese-poems.com transliteration:

Small barge go to meet honoured guest
Leisurely lake on come
At railing face cup alcohol
On all sides lotus bloom

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This first appeared on the blog in November 2014. My, how time has passed.

Where the Word Begins

 

Where the Word Begins

I end, or so it seems.
Small comfort

in the light of that lamp
reflecting from the window,
a low, interior moon
subject to whim and
circumstance.

And how do we retract
those unsaid lines,
heartfelt and meant,
but never expressed?

The hoot owl voices my response.

 

 

“Where the Word Begins” was first published in December 2018 at Amethyst Review. Thank you, Sarah Law, for accepting this poem.