Nov 012015

wang ping 2


What Is Magic? Raul Asked

The bird sings because it has a song in its throat
We move because we have a dance in our spirits
The wind blows to play with the rivers and valleys
The raindrops fall as messengers upon the earth
The fish swim because it has an ocean in its belly
The children run because they have the world under their feet

This is the secret of magic
Hidden in our minds
The people and their small things
If all taken, what would we miss?
The rustle of oak trees at dusk
The foaming river from the window
The smell of the children running home
Cheeks red from the snow
The little thing you say that’s not funny
But I laugh anyway just because…

The birds can’t be imitated
The flowers can’t be colored
The sea can’t be dammed
The mountains can’t be spoken

This is the sound of magic
Running in our veins
Moving the sky and earth
Passing through us like rivers
All the noise on earth will die
But not this silence of faith
This innocence persisting to believe
To see more than what can be seen


Our River Temple

At sunrise, I row. This morning the river is choppy. Behind me in the bow seat, Master K is silent. I feel his patience, my own frustrations. My body is slow, slowing down to the change of the season, a dam of dampness and heat building to shore against the oncoming of a cold front.

I’ll give myself needles tonight, I tell myself, to dredge the damp and alleviate the stagnation along the liver and gallbladder meridians.

Master K has a grand piano in his grand living room that makes its own music when a key is played. He bought it after his wife left with their two children. When snow falls on the Mississippi, he goes to Thailand, meeting the local women, fighting with the local men. When the river thaws, he comes home to row and carves. Master K is also a master carpenter. He eats vegetables only and raw, for thirty years.

The river heaves. Our boat cuts the waves…

Along the riverbank, jeweled weeds stand next to stinging nettles and poison ivy, an antidote for the burnt skin. Their translucent stems look like human bones and joints. Plants resembling human organs will heal those organs, I learned from my herb master, like strawberries for the heart inflammations, pears for cooling the lungs, and avocados to warm and moist the uterus. Will the jeweled weeds ease the pain in joints, and connect a torn tendon or ligament?

Master K sprinkles a seed into my palm. It’s tiny, a period at the end of a sentence.

“Touch it, gently, with your fingertip,” he says.

It explodes in the center of my palm and flies off.

“The seed contains so much energy. Just a touch, and it takes off.”

We come out of the water drenched with the river.

“How did I do this morning, Master?

“You didn’t do worse,” says Master K, smiling.

Later I learn from my friend that in Philippine, it’s called Makahiya, the shy one, the reticent one; their nerve endings open to the slightest suggestion.

In my herb class, I learn that the seed is called touch-me-not. It soothes inflamed hearts and heals scattered spirits.


Sonnet I

The geese are painting the sky with a V, my lord
The Mississippi laughs with its white teeth
How fast winter flees from the lowland, my lord
And how’s the highland where songs forever seethe?

At the confluence, I sing of the prairie, my lord
My joy and sorrow soar with rolling spring
Its thunder half bird, half mermaid, my lord
No poppies on hills, only ghost warriors’ calling

Today is chunfeng—we say shared spring, you equinox
Two spirits, one on phoenix wings, one on lion’s seat
Across the sea, kindred spirits, my lord
Prayer through breaths, laughing children on the street

Let’s open our gift, acorn of small things
Let river move us without wants or needs


Sonnet IX

No one claims rivers at the end of game
Swans trumpet from Head of the Mississippi
Along the trails—snow, dogs, woodpeckers–same
Difference as children slide with whoopee
Laugh, and rivers rumble like summer nights
On sandstone bluffs, lovers watch crew boats dart
Like insects. Walking on water is not a sleight
Of hands but an instinct, echoes of distant stars
And sturgeons charging without food or sleep
Keep going, says the master, one stroke at a time
Breathe between waves…his voice steep
from tumors, yet he stands, furious and sublime

What arrow points us to grace, here and now?
A swan’s touch, neck bending into a bow


Sonnet XIII

For Chen Guangcheng, the Blind Lawyer from China

This is my eye—blindly—in the river wild and fast
Through the steely gaze, towards a promised freedom

Rumors storm, back and forth, between ocean currents
Machines clank to grind a small man’s plea for freedom

Not for asylum or paradise, not for money or fame
All I want is a room in this giant country, a freedom

To take children to school, to guide my sisters out
Of the maze, free to be mothers again, free

To raise the young, grow old in peace, a place where
Hunger, prison or death can’t blackmail freedom

Where the poor, the blind, the small and defeated
Can live in dignity and joy. Freedom is never free

Must pave with eyes, ears, hands…brick by brick
With a heart willing to bleed till it breaks free

—Wang Ping


Wang Ping was born in Shanghai and came to USA in 1986. She is the founder and director of the Kinship of Rivers project, a five-year project that builds a sense of kinship among the people who live along the Mississippi and Yangtze Rivers through exchanging gifts of art, poetry, stories, music, dance and food. She paddles along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, giving poetry and art workshops along the river communities, making thousands of flags as gifts and peace ambassadors between the Mississippi and the Yangtze Rivers.

Her publications include Flying: Life of Miracles along the Yangtze and Mississippi, memoir (forthcoming from Calumet Press), Ten Thousand Waves, poetry book from Wings Press, 2014, American Visa (short stories, 1994), Foreign Devil (novel, 1996), Of Flesh and Spirit (poetry, 1998), The Magic Whip (poetry, 2003), The Last Communist Virgin (stories, 2007), all from Coffee House, New Generation: Poetry from China Today, 1999 from Hanging Loose Press, Flash Cards: Poems by Yu Jian, co-translation with Ron Padgett, 2010 from Zephyr Press. Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China (2000, University of Minnesota Press, 2002 paperback by Random House) won the Eugene Kayden Award for the Best Book in Humanities. The Last Communist Virgin won 2008 Minnesota Book Award and Asian American Studies Award.

She had many multi-media solo exhibitions: “We Are Water: Kinship of Rivers” a one-month exhibition that brought 100 artists from the Yangtze and Mississippi Rivers to celebrate water (Soap Factory, 2014), “Behind the Gate: After the Flooding of the Three Gorges” at Janet Fine Art Gallery(2007), “All Roads to Lhasa” at Banfill-Lock Cultural Center(2008), “Kinship of Rivers” at the Soap Factory(2011, 12), Great River Museum in Illinois(2012), Fireworks Press at St. Louis(2012), Great River Road Center at Prescott (2012), Wisconsin, Emily Carr University in Vancouver (2013), University of California Santa Barbara(2013), and many other places.

She collaborated with the British filmmaker Isaac Julien on Ten Thousand Waves, a film installation about the illegal Chinese immigration in London, the composer and musician Bruce Bolon, Alex Wand (Grammy award winner), Gao Hong, etc..

She is the recipient of National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council of the Arts, Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bush Artist Fellowship, Lannan Foundation Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, and the McKnight Artist Fellowship. She received her Distinct Immigrant Award 2014.



Oct 052015

pre and beach 7 11 092


Book A:  Nominative part one:  israël (from Genealogy of the First Person)

iii.       israël             To begin without a book: the eye of all reversals caved into nothing. long walked the I beneath this name, its banners. Not this name; the voice is cavernous, leads into an underworld, an invisible place. The voice speaks another one, a son of a father who never departed. I am not that one. The voice speaks another one in whom the future blossoms as stars upon heaven’s abyss. Whither the name of another self, a self before the event of g-d’s hands on a thigh of perishing? If only the wind would smite one self that the other comes to light. To light in shadow: the self out of names, rekindled to ashes. a future. Future without writing, without the book; a future less vivid.


*                                                          *                                                          *


the song breaks
over the genealogy
of the first person

illumined places

between two rivers
of satisfaction
& desire


a song of crisis

………..two futures coiled
…………………within you
………..two forces rend
………………..the unbroken wheel

……… holds one

………..the greater shall serve the lesser [25.23]



*                                                          *                                                          *

I am bound to another.                   I am a self                  divided. The other self
walks ever ahead, walks                              apart                           from my walk, strikes

fire on ragged skin                           is a grip upon the heel and ankle



            *                                                          *                                                          *



(his grip was light on the river’s meander                      light on the distant mountain)



*                                                          *                                                          *


another self
that I am
I am behind
the other
turning self
that I
am not



*                                                          *                                                          *


someone forbade my father, saying

……………………………………….do not go under
                                                …     remain upon this
                                                     ….. .      land.    [26.2]

and my father was laid open to all seeing and blessings
and oaths of old washed over him, over me

and the lord appeared and the lord spoke, saying

………………………………………do not go under

….                                                into the west, emblem
     ……                                                       of down-going,

                                                ….a river cleaves
                                                ….sunder desert
                                                ….sands untold.

 …                                                I will overflow
     …                                           the stars of heaven
         …                                       within you

 ..                                                a sacred land                 

                                               ….a          garden
                                                   ….         from
                                                     .  ..     my voice a great
                                                …tree of intricate
                                                    .  ..      design

                                                 a law of signs & things to come        [26.4-6]



*                                                          *                                                          *


am the living
of dissemblance: I

make an
other self

as my father
his father
before him.

I am the other self    that                 I           am not.

a tide of promise
drifts me
among herds
and beasts
of burden.



*                                                          *                                                          *


……*the second fourth day*

twin lights rose out of the g-d’s poetic hand

one light pursues the first
first light of first beginning
caught by the heel

a second light disseminates
itself as stars

a fractured light to overcome
the principality
of day

and so it was, the fourth day                      [1:16]



            *                                                          *                                                          *


(his grip was light on the sea          on the desert sands)



*                                                          *                                                          *


(every moment

I was                                                                                       I was




*                                                          *                                                          *


In the dream I am a lapsing cave. From the scree a boulder tumbles slowly, alights
upon a spring and I am the water and the rock.

The spring is quiet.

The boulder rests.

A voice opens from beneath the spring and the rock is split and I am not the voice. I
am not
the voice.

I am the unsounded echo on the cusp of the voice’s word.

Across a land of bone and sand like stars the echo’s course flows: the echo is the un-
open spring, the quiet spring; containment is a destiny of beginning.

A generation not yet arrived.

In the dream I am not yet myself.

In the dream is no self but the future self. The echo of a word                        formed
in the distant past (another life) not yet sounded.



*                                                          *                                                          *


a name is not a conclusion not a thing accomplished

a name is that toward which one strives. a locus
of yearning.

a future.



*                                                          *                                                          *



I begin in another name, a name
clung to wings of flame, to
a body of fire.



*                                                          *                                                          *


I am the other self    that                 I           am not.



            *                                                          *                                                          *

(his grip was light on the wind-swept cedars       light on the dome of heaven)



*                                                          *                                                          *


(In the dream I am at the edge of a broad ford. A fortress is carved into the sandstone beyond the river. The mountains are the horizon, the sky is the cradle of my self.   The river is red. I am the edge of the river, its bank. There is a man of light, a man of voluted noise. A trumpet sounds from his face which is no face—emptiness recedes beneath his hood. My leg dies.)



*                                                          *                                                          *



master of all appearance
like unto the one lord
and g-d           I cloak my-

-self in the skin of an-

I am interior
(-) guised ever
in the other
self                  the torn
self from first

mantle of hearth
put aside, don mantle
of one who is ever shorn

just as the g-d edged
over the surge, the
heaving deep of oblivion, edged,
guised as the breath
gathers itself towards
speech & the word & the alienation
of making

I vanish          as a self
into another & another & another



*                                                          *                                                          *


(his grip was light on the riverstones        on the bulge of my thigh)



*                                                          *                                                          *


My father spoke, I heard through the tent slit; another self faced him, clothed in ruddy, bristled hair :

………Summer was on the face of your mother and the men of a strange land
            enclosed her in desire. Fear pulled itself over me–

                        “she is my sister.”

            And the Lord blessed me, then, in the formation of dissonance.
            And I was increased & I grew abundant and I was exalted
            unto the Lord and I was sent away.

            In a canyon I settled and there I dug my wells and I named them with the names
            my father had named them. I sank a well in the canyon floor and I found
            there the spring of living water.        And we did battle over the well
            and we named it a different name:               Injustice.         [26.7-20]



*                                                          *                                                          *


(his grip was light on the canyon rim       on the villages far away)



*                                                          *                                                          *


closed selves in
search of other
selves, a garden
of concealment:



what is

the quietus
of self.



*                                                          *                                                          *


every moment                       I was                           I was               already                       not.



*                                                          *                                                          *


I           was     alone.



*                                                          *                                                          *


veil of night, before
me my people

ford the great waters

exposes me



of another life—
from everywhere
crests out
of the swift
from the dust


face before
my face


in its


poised, sway
in ancient gripe &
against, against

strove beneath
the wheeling night
torn from its roots

immanent daybreak un-
force that is undone
a force that is
no force

without my
force, my

the flattened thigh
the grasp
of the divine

I wrest a fate
from its
cavern of oblivion

electrocuted, a
deadened thigh
a light
ascendant, jerked
free from
night’s hold

a voice, a handle
on my whole soul—


broke from
his word

his word broke the night, opened

……….you are night & day, you
            are earth & water, you are
            cloven self:      image of g-d.              [32:25-26]

I spoke into
the daybreak
of the other voice—

……….give the night & day
            unto me, give me stars                      [32:27]

and the other voice
at once
spread over
the canyon of self
and self

another name
a blessing

the voice rises

……….among g-d, among
            men, their faces blooming
            for an instant

            another name, name
            of struggle—  no longer Iakob—      Israël

            among g-d, among
            men, their faces
            blooming for an
            instant            your grasp encloses
                        a destiny, the force
                        of all down-going
                        the broken night within your
            ……                                                          self                  [32:29]



*                                                          *                                                          *


I am alone in the brittle morning  my people before me
beyond the river. The day shears words from my doubled

………………………..this place

I hear the words
grist the
fractured earth

………………………..this crossing
                                    of gods & man:


words fallen
to the fractured
earth, scuttled
over red earth
just above the


………………………imago dei


the name
springs from my breathless face


…………………….imago dei.                   [32:31]



*                                                          *                                                          *


In the dream that is no dream I am dead in the thigh, I limp to the water, I peer
into the early light scattered on the other shore.



*                                                          *                                                          *


image to image         seeing place against seeing place   seen and unseen

(clutches the joint, handle
clutch the other
voice, I
grasp & grasp, ruined
on the leg, strife
guides me)

the place
is an origin

light of day
from middle-



*                                                          *                                                          *


In the dream the g-d shapes a ladder of darkness, strikes it into the earth & into heaven. The g-d’s messengers, the angels rise & descend: they climb as light, as lesser shadows pass through & across a cloud of darkness. The g-d forbids the terror, avows protection

I am sand, numberless
as sand
& starlight.


& when wakefulness arose within me I spoke to the g-d, saying:

……….g-d in this place
            amidst my oblivion—a crisis
            of fear & wonder.

            here:    the g-d’s house.

            here:    the gate of heaven.”               [28:16-17]


I sink a tall stone upon the ladder’s lower end; I am an agent of dissemblance.

I encrypt the g-d’s house, the one path of up & down, the tether of shadow joining heaven & earth.



*                                                          *                                                          *


(his grip was light in the lightning settled on my thigh
…………………………………………………………… the circling wonder of my eyes)



*                                                          *                                                          *


altered gate
a step

upon me the sun rose


—D. M. Spitzer

Read earlier portions of this poem:

Ishmaël: from Genealogy of the First Person

Isaak: from Genealogy of the First Person

After undertaking graduate studies in liberal arts, philosophy, and classics (each at different institutions), D. M. Spitzer completed a Master of Fine Arts in writing (poetry) at Vermont College of Fine Arts.  Mr. Spitzer’s first book, A Heaven Wrought of Iron, will be published by Etruscan Press in Spring/Summer 2016. Current poetic projects include:  the afterword to a collection called mousika, which presents transfigurations of T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets & the Latin texts of the psalms used by Igor Stravinsky in his Symphony of Psalms; an essay to accompany a new transfiguration of the poem by the early Greek philosopher Parmenides, tentatively (re-) titled Figures of Being; and continued work on the large-scale hybrid project Genealogy of the First Person. Mr. Spitzer is currently a doctoral student in comparative literature at Binghamton University (SUNY), where he  concentrates on the relationship of poetry to philosophy as it occurs in early Greek thinking and the work of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and others. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with his wife & their three children.


Sep 132015

Dean city


Murder mile

I saw girls in ball gowns drinking wine on murder mile,
traffic passing,
the great round circus where we drank beer in your flat before
still there off the high street.

I crossed it holding hands with girls I can’t remember and
talked about my friend from Argentina.
The Caribbean men yelling by the chicken shop.

You never think of now til now,
one room begets another just the same,
one life itself, again
but something moves, things evolve
and we forget, thank god.

These streets all tapered into non-specific
City when I got here first, consulting maps. Houses and shops and sky beyond.
Stories tapered too / the known-tale-courtyard
and the end: flat shops shut up, painted onto wooden boards
The scenery of ending, hiding in the future from the now.

God that desperate lust to write won’t go until
you give up hope and then at last /can/ write, dispossessed
and outsidered, lost,
your legs take you, and what you hunted
is with you everywhere.


the city’s silvered-over to the skyline

We drive to Primrose Hill and walk over the hill


beneath the rain. You’re cold. Before a friend


was talking on and on about his money and


his records til I made him stop the car and I got out.


It rained then too, the wet boughs shining and


the grass soft underfoot, relieved. Soft pressure and percussion


overhead, I trespassed through the emptiness that


humans hate, the grey skies sighing sympathetic


and the telecom tower misted in a veil like memories of the


80s. You and I are imposters here I think


beside her, far away as


deserts and the sea, hand in cold hand,


the rain comes down around us like before


and the city’s silvered-over to the skyline.


Out of food and you

Out of food and you fading

we lay down dying

thin, white and weightless

as a breath.

The tumblers made tall

shapes in the mortuary

the cap-man peering down in

mock concern before

collapsing dash and


              twists claps and


             they all lithe and well-fed.

Our windows then were

televisions to the

sorry east end pale

light and lost souls’ hustle

blue sirens bansheed by

and lorries stole

heavy cargo off like

rockets fresh from

Palestine, the passing pressure

tightening ribs in crushing waves.

I wanted you in your skirt and

satin knickers with your classic unwell

face straight from the 19th century

pneumonia days of sweats and worrying in waistcoats

but it felt too wrong

too happening elsewhere in

places we weren’t

and people we weren’t

and I didn’t want to

wake you.

              Where we were

the ashy sheet stretched

over the chipboard frame

     —like Heat tales of

anorexics’ faces tight stretched over bone —

stopped it wrinkling into

valleys as we slept.

My boots in the

kitchen, faced the oven

where had I

bacon, or money for the gas

I would stand.

I saw myself there

In them — weighted and

bright — missed him — felt

dead and old, alone and

jagged while you tossed

your head like black salad

               humming occasional

songs of drunk girls

glee and laughing Muslim

kids walking to mosque with

wizened grandfather kind and

slow-moving, the beggars and

hookers, pimps at the bus

stop picking out hotspots;

and here are we, lost as stories.


Empty City

When the use-everything drove there, the signs


it strangers breathing again. Moving, room-source: smashing garden,

woods gone to dead long town burn


               chosen the endless thought

the sad strange forwards

beginning through, outside (read: room)

imagine garden-thousands going home,

they wouldn’ how, or Why


[For Carolina]

From your room the windows bracket the city.


The light rises at dawn and falls like a sigh into night.


The wind blows and we shiver at the thought of outside,


rain is lost on the glass, the lightning flashes


and the thunder roars and rolls over us, fading into silence beyond.


In here time ceases, we cease it, it tries but can’t reach us.


You type and I smoke, you talk and I kiss you, we hide in the dark


And outside the city lights mark out their loneliness, great spaces between.


From your room the windows bracket the city.


The light rises at dawn and falls like a sigh into night.


Porcelain girl

Porcelain girl
………………..    my tiny pupil
……….your foot into your
………………..gauze-purse all stuck through
with ashy silver
………foils pointed
through needle-tips drip run
……………………………in your ink into our lost infinities
………this dispersion space
and soft recovery sofa
………hospital bed
……………………………………. in that old room
………out where the shouting
and you safe and I safe and you
…………………take not the glittering edge
but of wit
………………………………………………… write with
………..nor do you

scrawl releasing air for safety’s sake
………..or stir my tea with that dark spoon taken
………………………………………for our cups of tea in prospectus
…………………..conversation and mothers dress or curtain picking
and grandfathers shouting at the dog
……………………………………….in fond secure passion outburst
for tis a sad thing
……… lost one

                            your deathbed power tools strewn across
some-open shirted sweating desk by candlelight on lakes we drowned in
………………………………………..       dreams
defeat all our childishness
and with their written purpose rule our loneliness

—Martin Dean

Martin Dean

Martin Dean is a writer and Poetry Editor at Minor Literature[s] (@minorlits). Follow him on Twitter @martin_c_dean

Sep 102015


Vibrantly alive with the ancient spirit of the Mediterranean world, Rossend Bonás Miró is a Catalan poet, traveler, and teacher. For decades he has worked as a translator, interpreter, and lecturer in many countries, including Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Morocco, and Spain’s Ebro Delta region. Bonás is also the cofounder—along with fellow Catalan poet Arnau d’Oms—the pen name of Joan Vernet i Ribes (1952-2014)—of the independent press Els llibres del Rif (Rif Books). This press has been the imprint for several volumes by both poets.

Bonás published his first book of poems Preuat ostatge de les ciutats d’Orient (A Precious Hostage from Eastern Cities) in Barcelona in 1975. Another book of his poems El Emir de Tortosa (The Emir of Tortosa) (2003) was printed in the southern Catalan city of the same name where he lives when he is not making one of his regular trips to villages in the Moroccan Rif and Atlas Mountains. In fact, Bonás says that each of his books has been printed in a different city. Other volumes of poetry over the years have included Tothom ho sabia (Everyone Knew It) (1986) and Mercader d’essències (Essence Merchant) (1992). Summertime 2015 finds Bonás in northern Morocco, editing his forthcoming book of poems Perdut en la gentada (Lost in the Crowd), due to be printed in Tangier.

An artist of eclectic interests whose mission is to help build bridges of cultural understanding, Bonás uses both his Catalan given name Rossend and his adopted Arabic name, Rashid––as well as its Catalan cognate, Raixid.

In addition to his numerous books of poetry, Bonás has also collaborated on the creation of an illustrated Spanish-Arabic vocabulary book for students, about which he and the other authors write: “We hope that this book can be another channel for improving communication and understanding to build with the inherent richness of diversity, a better world where respect and peace hold sway.”

His ideals and poems echo the compassionate spirit of the great medieval Sufi poet Ibn Arabi (1165 – 1240) of Murcia, who wrote:

My heart has become capable of every form:
it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
a temple for idols and the circling pilgrim’s Kaa’ba,
the tables of the Torah and the scrolls of the Quran.

I follow the religion of Love:
whichever way Love’s camels turn,
that is my belief and the faith I keep.

In addition to a body of poems fascinated with the human spiritual journey towards union and understanding, and the non-human life of creation and the natural environment, Bonás is also a student of art, history, and culture both traditional and contemporary. He publishes his articles regularly in Fotent’s Blog ( A son of Iberia, he is naturally fascinated with the intersection of European and Arabic influences that informs Spanish history, as shown in recent posts about the aesthetic power of Islamic art; the Spanish outpost city of Tétouan on the shore of North Africa; and the powerful, geometric compositions of glazed tile work of al-Andalus, ancient decorative art that influences Spanish and Portuguese design sensibilities down to the present day. Other postings by Bonás have focused on such important Catalan artists as the painter Joachim Patinir (1480-1524) whose landscapes were influenced by Hieronymous Bosch; the photographer Francisco García Cortés (1901-1976) who was a correspondent for the EFE Agency in Tetuan, a graphic collaborator on Diari d’Àfrica and an official photographer for the Spanish High Commission in Morocco; the great artist Antoní Clavé (1913-2005), a master painter, printmaker, sculptor and stage designer; and the painter and poster artist Josep Renau (1907-1982). Bonás’ fascination with the specific personality of different cities is evident in a recent post he wrote about the poetic symbolism of windows, with photographs of the many beautiful and different styles of windows in his city of Tortosa. His love of people and places also inspires a keen, clear, critical voice concerned with the problems of multinational socioeconomic policies that degrade life for many and prevent cultures from living healthy, progressive lives:

As his friend and collaborator Arnau d’Oms (Joan Vernet i Ribes) said about him:

“Rossend Bonás’s poetic work goes hand in hand with his life, and thus, he has written poetry in the same way that some trees drip sap, and others provide us with lovely shade, while others give elderflower to clear our sight.

His books, published outside of commercial circles, are like rare jewels. Unusual discoveries. Simple, yes, but illustrated or designed by other artists.

Bonás is Catalan from Catalonia, where most people are not of any single race, although he claims to be among those with the deepest roots in this small country of transitions and permanences, with Iberian, Roman, and Saracen roots.

In his own style, he again mixes the unimagined with the unthinkable, the sacred with the profane, and recreates that time when the southern lands of Catalonia were Muslim and the northern frontier of Al-Andalus.”

On the matter of poetic composition, Bonás himself states: “The first raw material of poetry is sound, and that sound causes the reaction in the human brain. Over time, the reader knows that poetry, to capture all its nuances, should be read aloud. Or rather, should be recited or declaimed.” However, he affirms, there are those who read silently and “delight in pure literary love of the word, of the prosodic devices, of onomatopoeia, repetition and polysyndeton.” Either way, as far as the poet’s role in this relationship goes, Bonás contends that “When you finish a poem, you lose it, it’s no longer yours, you relinquish your authority over it to whoever reads it.”

In that spirit this article presents a generous offering of Bonás poems, selected by the poet himself, in their original Catalan and translated into English, which should provide readers with a splendid introduction to the verses of this timeless, visionary seeker.

— Brendan Riley

Als seus ulls

veig pregoneses
que no sé si hi són
ni si altres les veuen.

I see her eyes
deep proclamations
so deep I doubt
nor know if others see them.

* * *

Aquest vent que apareix
i desapareix sense avisar,
com els mals moments arriba
i, al cap de poc, se’n va.

Però torna,
insistent i regular,
i un bon dia fa tombar
la fulla més resistent
de garrofer o d’alzinar.

This wind that appears
and disappears without warning
comes like the worst moments
stays a while, flows away

But it returns
regular, insistent
and on any good day
it comes to tumble
the most resilient leaves
off the oak and carob trees.

* * *

Ígnia cabellera.
Encesa torxa
de rulls en cascada.
Volcànica lava.
El foc, semblava
que el diua per fora.
Però no, i ara!
És dins que cremava.

Her igneous hair
a burning torch
curling cascade
Lava from the volcano.
Like she was dressed
in a mantle of fire
But no, the perfect inversion
She was burning from the inside out


* * *

Wadi Lau I

Sota les palmeres de fulles remoroses
voldríem desxifrar el missatge del vent.
I a l’aigua de les sèquies, silenciosa,
espurnes de llum treu la lluna creixent.


Wadi Lau I

Under the palm trees’ murmuring leaves
we try to discern the wind’s message
And from the silent water pools
sparks of light engender the rising moon


* * *


—Si som en el temps,
que és moviment,
consiència pura;
si som consciència
en el còsmic moviment
i si és aquesta consciència
un privilegi…
¿per a què el vull, Senyor,
què n’haig de fer?—
rumia el pastor
mentre es bressola el ramat
amb la lenta i greu monotonia
dels cicles naturals.
-¿I no haguera pogut ésser
consciència d’ase o d’ovella,
i no haguera pogut ésser
atzavara, poniol, insecte
o la primera figa
que l’estiu madura?

If we reside in time
which is motion,
if we are consciousness
in the cosmic movement
and if this consciousness itself
constitutes a privilege
Why do I desire it, Lord
What business is it of mine?
Thus wonders the shepherd
while the flock meanders
with the slow solemn monotony
of the natural cycles.
And would not have been possible
consciousness of donkey or sheep
and would not have been possible
agave, mint, and insect
or the first ripening
fig of summer?


* * *


El pecador, que no en tenio prou amb el perdó, demanava, a més a més, l’esperança.

¿O hauré de veure com m’apago,
trista, anònima i lentament,
sense tan sols el comfort plaent
de l’esperança, resignant-me,
com el ruc corbat sota sa càrrega?


The Sinner, Not Satisfied with Being Forgiven, Asked For Hope As Well

Or will I have to pretend how I fade,
sad, anonymous, and slowly,
without even the pleasant comfort
of hope, resigned like the donkey
plodding beneath its heavy load?


* * *


Exposició col•lectiva d’Art basada en poemes de R. Bonàs

Aquesta exposició és el resultat d’una proposta en la que 12 artistes fan una lectura gràfica dels poemes de Raixid Bonàs.


Seguim en aquest món serè
enduts per remolins de passions
banals i no gens descabellades,
en un estiu accelerat que,
tot just començat, ja és ple.


La ment, ¿pot fer avinent
l’oblit de mi mateix
amb el ‘jo’ treballat
tan àrduament?


Seguint els cagallons
de les cabres de l’Olimp
pujàvem pels camins
flanquejats de margallons
baladres, atzavares i pins.


La realitat dels fets tossuts i quotidians
desafia, il•lògica, candor i fantasia.


Si simple titelles som
de la gran representació
al Teatre Universal…

moveu-nos els fils, Senyor,
que puguem representar
moltes funcions
en Vostre Honor
i per a satisfacció de tots!


Com descriure el dolor tens i larvat
després d’una separació definitiva?

S’endu el vent el lent treball dels anys
i l’íntim plaer de la mútua companyia.


Collective Art Exhibit based on the poems of R. Bonás

This exhibit is the result of a proposal in which twelve artists perform a graphic reading of the poems of Rossend Bonás.


We endure in this serene world
driven by whirlwinds of banal passions
still sane not at all hare-brained,
in an accelerated summer,
one freshly inaugurated
yet already teeming full


Can my mind be called
to recall my self-inflected
oblivion with the oh-so
arduously overwrought “I”?


Following the dark pellets dropped
behind by the goats from Olympus,
we pushed upwards along the paths
flanked closely by palmettos
oleander, agaves, and pines.


The reality of all
our stubborn daily deeds
illogically defies
candor and fantasy.


If we are merely marionettes
of the great representation
at the Universal Theater…

move our threads, Lord,
so we might mirror
a purposeful multitude
of movements
in Your Honor
meant to satisfy all!


How to describe the tense
and tightly wrapped pain
a dark cocoon
after a definitive separation?

The wind carries away the work of years
and the intimate pleasure of mutual company.

— Susana Fabrés Díaz & Brendan Riley


Rossend Bonas3

A native of Barcelona, Spain, Susana Fabrés Díaz is a teacher and artist. She wrote the first, working draft of these translations from the Catalan.

Brendan Riley

Brendan Riley has worked for many years as a teacher and translator. He holds degrees in English from Santa Clara University and Rutgers University. In addition to being an ATA Certified Translator of Spanish to English, Riley has also earned certificates in Translation Studies and Applied Literary Translation from U.C. Berkeley and the University of Illinois, respectively. His translation of Eloy Tizón’s story “The Mercury in the Thermometers” was included in Best European Fiction 2013. Other translations in print include Massacre of the Dreamers by Juan Velasco, and Hypothermia by Álvaro Enrigue. Forthcoming translations include Caterva by Juan Filloy, and The Great Latin American Novel by Carlos Fuentes.

Sep 032015




Like light from the stars, all’s been decided,
nothing to do now but watch.
The time between stars is vast,
but the sky shows them all at once,
an impression, the spirit of the thing,
like a field of frail hair-stubs on the plain
urn of the head. An impression
of an ancient vessel with its slight fault-lines.
I peeled a golf ball, in the days
when it was rubber-bands all the way,
not gel in the center, down to
a marble-size ball near the end made of
only itself, fiercely spirited.
My golf-ball head, my memento mori.
Stay, I say to my head, looking back at me
in silence. Stay, I say to my love,
who runs his hand across his memories.
Always, he says, even though I am inside-out,
pink and surprising, burning
with the residue of past civilizations.



It is raining here. If we flew to Vegas
it might not be raining, but everything
would be so different, rain would be
the least of it. Water is dripping off
the roof right in front of our eyes,
repeating, as if we were idiots, “See,
it’s raining.” If it’s not raining where you
are, you can imagine our rain, individual
drops coming so fast they merge into
a pale roaring through the downspout.
While you’re at it, you might imagine
sheep in the field, wet but not soaking,
because of oil in the wool. Happy enough.
And lots of scattered rocks, because we’re
in Grasmere, in a B & B called “Raise View,”
with blue hills through the rain. We
don’t care if it’s raining because we’re in
Grasmere, and that’s part of the ambiance.
How nice that we’ve gone there, if only
for the moment: that morning with
the delicate teacups and scones, and rain.



I was just thinking about the paradox of the word chemotherapy–that it’s healing/curing: therapy, a word whose root has very much to do with care also–ministering; in the Iliad and Odyssey even a squire could be called a therapon–
the one who administered to the hero, putting on and taking off his armor, etc…

And chemo is chemistry, potentially substances that aren’t normally
encountered in the body…But you know what? I thought a little further in my
nerdy little etymological brain, and I believe the “chem” part, taken from
alchemy, is originally the Egyptian [khem], which is the precious fertile earth
from the Nile flood, the black gold from which alchemists tried to derive the
metal gold.

So, that may be something. “Ministering to the body with precious black-gold
…………………………………..–my student Ela

The molecule that oddly binds to a cell’s
hollow tubes, that holds them in paralysis, that stops
…………..their wild replication.

That requires all the bark from one rare yew
in the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest to save
………… person. Also the home

of the rare northern spotted owl.
Now you’re up against the press of need, of cost.
………….The bloody essence, the drug-war

of it. Everyone’s stake. Don’t sleep under the yew
if you don’t want bad dreams. In ancient English graveyards,
………….where the yew’s planted

over graves, rats die. Let the roots
talk to the dead, as the Druids did. There was the woman
…………..who only touched

the hem of Jesus’s robe and was cured.
Likewise, it turns out that simple needle-cells grown
……………in fermentation tanks,

a brew, an essence, is enough. But will this
life be saved? Won’t it? I ask this with reverent earnestness,
………….as the complicated foreignness

enters my small vein, chilly as a stream
through underbrush: Taxol, making a pressure, an ache
…………..farther down my arm,

where the nurse places a warm pack
to loosen the valves, the barriers, to keep death’s molecules
………….going where they’re meant,

into the deep forest of the body,
mine, mine, only one of me in existence. Who touched me?
…………..Jesus asked, so subtle the solution.


Blue Angels

………….When, for example, you’re running
the lint roller all over your black dress
before the party, up and down to the hem,
you may notice the grace in this preparation,
its turning and gathering,
the tiny flecks that look black against
the white but looked white against the black,
and that strangeness may make you smile,
a small thing, but it’s as if the sky cracked
open a bit, the sky that all your life
keeps trying to draw close,
like bedcovers.

Angels can come from anywhere,
a host from inscrutably high tearing straight down
toward your ice cream, your partially
melted scoops, one Dutch chocolate, one salted
caramel, before they turn and climb, leaving
the sky split open in their wake.

Angels can also nose-up and slide
as if they had no care in the world down
before they slowly right themselves, a sign
to you that righting is the proper
thing, really—the mundane engines, right to left,
left to right—the other an aberration.
Still, the one you cheer for. The steep climb,
the riotous splitting away
into a sky-flower of vapor trail.



A fawn the size of a cat with long legs was left
in the tall grass in her yard. Mothers do that
until the fawns can keep up—they come back
and get them in early evening. M— knew it was there
because it stood up once. So sweet!
She waited all evening for the mother to come,
the reunion, the way they nuzzle and the baby nurses.
Around 9:30 a doe came and left. Then two more
came and sniffed. The fawn has no smell.
Usually it stands and they spot each other.
It got dark and then cold, cold rain,
even lightning. M— was in agony, truly.
She lived so far out of town, each event was hers,
only. How was the fawn to survive
without the mother’s warmth?
She felt she was in charge of life,
……………………, it was the weight
of watching, the inability to look away.
It was her country that had abandoned its delicate
balance, the armored tanks, the night-vision
goggles. Nothing but window-glass between her
and foreclosing darkness. Should she try
to warm the fawn in her studio?
What if the mother came? All night she lay,
worrying. She almost got up several times, as if
stirring and pacing would solve this.
At 6:30 a.m. she went out. The fawn was gone.
Mother? Coyotes? Then she saw
the mother’s hoof-prints with the tiniest hoof-
prints beside. For a moment she felt
shallow-rooted, with nothing, nothing in sight,
to show her how to withstand
such violent alternations, such grace.

— Fleda Brown


Fleda Brown’s eighth collection of poems, No Need of Sympathy, (BOA Editions, LTD) and her collection of essays, Growing Old in Poetry, with Sydney Lea (Autumn House Press) came out in 2013. Her memoir is Driving With Dvorak, (University of Nebraska Press, 2010). Professor emerita at the University of Delaware, past poet laureate of Delaware, she lives in Traverse City, Michigan, and is on the faculty of the Rainier Writing Workshop, a low-residency MFA program in Tacoma, Washington.

Aug 112015

Kate Fetherston paintingSpring: watercolor/oil pastel/graphite on paper 11”x15”.


I dream we argue about money, which is to say, about toast
and how it should be made, if you really loved me. You

lobby for your birthright to pile striations of mail across
horizontally opportune surfaces. That is: everywhere. If I

loved you, I would see this. I would celebrate your scattershot
genius. The next night, I dream prime numbers in bad

moods bump shopping carts in the produce aisle and slam
bananas to the floor with a fury that says, I am

special. And you don’t love me enough for it. After
weeks of this, one evening around midnight, I slip

out of myself, a stranger to the usual
conflagrations, and dream we muscle

through buoyant water as seals slapping
backsides. Our flippers splash each

other’s whiskery snouts as we loll
in sunlight we didn’t earn. When I open

my eyes, there’s music again. I stroke your stubbly
beard and dream of the Sargasso sea.


IMG_1178Hidden Gold: oil on paper 22” x 30”.



Your pick up line, “What kind of farm animal are you?” could use some work, and you never said where you’re from. But I to you of a white goat am mothered, my manners dainty and feral. Don’t invite me to the company picnic. I’ll bat my eyes at your boss while nibbling his flip-flops. Senseless, these conventions. My beast-like heart has no strings. You could play me like an accordion. My lungs swell with the sharp air of not-yet spring. I have the kind of hope acquainted of a tin can, desiring nothing more than to remain shiny. I to you am fatherless, gotten of a wild boar, an 80’s punk rocker. See, my mouth filled with thyme and laurel. I can’t sing a lick but my braying is the talk of the county and there have been several offers for my hand. I would like a comfortable barn and an acre of mint for my wedding day. I would like to lie down in clover. You could know me real well, buddy, or keep pretending you don’t want it. Either way, baa–aaad boy—the tab’s on you.


IMG_1376Pieces of Self: collage on cardboard. 20”x 15”.



Tell us how you successfully met past challenges
and why you’re applying for this job.

Weary of mere hallelujah, I held the moon’s dark
backside and lounged on my netherworld throne. People
yammered and I tried to listen. For awhile, to get my
attention, small burnt  animals smoldered on every
hillock, then my inbox burgeoned with cracks
about my outdated skill set.  They gave feedback
on my goals.  They wanted me to improve. They wanted
rules to break.  They wanted selves.  Expectations,
evaluations: a poverty of imagination for which I take
full responsibility.  I dressed for the job I had instead

of the gig Lucifer snatched, so I rocked it
invisible. I did vocalize my needs through burning
bushes, giant snakes, dragons,  unicorns, poets,
an Al Gore or two, but nothing slowed the bloodbaths,
pyramid schemes, political stupidity. People bludgeoned
each other no matter what. Praise and lambast
piled up like junk mail and the universe
became unmanageable Maybe I didn’t
have good boundaries.  I tried tough
love.  Leaked news of my death and hung

with Saturn for a while.  His party
presence relies on a few glum
syllables and splitting a can of Spotted
Dick, but at least he’s not
demanding. But, folks seemed
lonely so I packed a lunch and parked
outside Lincoln Center in a plastic
chair for a couple of weeks. Of course, that’s
the most quiet I’ve enjoyed in millennia. Only
psychotics stopped to schmooze. Maybe higher

intellectual pursuits were the ticket, so
I eavesdropped on philosophy:  If p = q, why
is there no water in the gorge? What
were they even talking about? I had to skidaddle
the hell out of there to make that refresher
course on how to be a supreme deity and still
have time for myself. It’s all about balancing self-
care with busting ass. But I knew this gig was toast
when I no longer loved tender acrospires busting
snow laden earth. Yes, when the moon’s white

thigh rose over spring fields I waited
for the sun to gutter out. So I’m available
to start immediately.  Or, since time
is my plaything, before.

The panel appreciates your detailed response. However, in light of your already overtaxed schedule, we feel you are not the ideal fit for us.  And—off the record, that was quite the bar rant, Mr. G. To promote your success in future interviews, might we suggest job coaching—or medication—or, for God’s sake—both?


IMG_0679Field with Light: watercolor/oil pastel/sgraffito on paper 9” x 10”.



Grandma Dubie, day after day, hunched
splay legged over a bourbon glass balanced

on her chair’s cigarette-burned
arm and flicked cards with a loud

snap, each laid down with a private
purpose. Pastel squares on her

ancient rug functioned as a
game board for us kids. Made-

up crosswords: blue six down
by dusty pink three

across for a prize of burnt
toast. Once, unminded, my little

brother Sam gleefully pried
open the china cabinet, wrapped baby

fists around thin-skinned
teacups, and, determined as

a journeyman, dropped them
one by one on the dirty

floor. Without a word, she hammered
it shut. Shooed outside, we shadow-

boxed dust motes adrift in sour
apple trees, their rotten fruit

slippering bunchgrass that struggled
through what she didn’t

think of as neglect. We played with dead
Uncle Somebody’s toy soldiers. We hid

in the smelly basement, wiggling murky
Mason jars to see when, not if, they’d

explode. We tried climbing into the extra
fridge that, thank god, wouldn’t

shut. Eventually, nothing
else to do, we’d belly flop

back on the rug, singing tonelessly
while clicking Grandma’s jewel

clasped cigarette case. Finally, Grandma yelled
at Mom, I can’t take it—Bring

them back when they’re
housebroken or old enough

to drink. As if we could change
ourselves. As if that

would change us. Today, phone
held sideways, I swish virtual

cards with a finger—tick, tick—and my
fingers become my grandmother’s—now that I

too, lost in the cross hatching of love and irreparable
damage, need for something, anything to come out

all right. And the ache of blue shadow glides with winter
sun along walls of that other room I never left.


IMG_1360Navigating the Underworld: watercolor/oil pastel on paper. Four 9”x10” panels.



October hunkers on drab hindquarters
spattered with a few resonant

golds and rusty
oranges. She no longer cares to dress
for dinner or other occasions of vulgar

admiration; company is such
a bore. Spiny deciduous trees bristle

against a dirty palate
sky, and the old year lies down beside a mouse-
brown river.   To sleep she might say, if

she were speaking, but the truth
is colder and grief hardly

original. At the local coffee shop, I sift
some poetry through my early
morning confusion while at the next

table two mental health consumers-
slash-respite workers conduct a convo

with their payee. “That money
is coming to me,” says one. “I played
World of Warcraft all weekend. So don’t try

to play-sate me.” The caseworker
unrolls an I’m-Being

Very-Patient tone. In a small voice, guy number
two makes acquiescent I’m no
trouble noises, then says, “I’ve done

everything to lose
weight and it’s not my fault I hurt

my back. Can I get
some Oxy from anyone at your office?   Is anyone
hooked up?” The caseworker’s inaudible

response is sure to be
appropriate. We’re all in need

of respite, right? My seventeen year old
cat purrs and wants to sit close
but, thin to thinner, she’s disappearing. Her once

shiny black hair is drying to chick fluff. Where
is she going? The dwindling year

can’t be bothered for information. You’ll have
to go through channels, she’d say. If I asked
her to whisper god’s secret

name. Buttoning my coat against
a sharp wind coming off the railroad

tracks, I lean over the riverbank where
water is language enough. Red leaves circle
in widening ripples, then move on.


IMG_0555Summer Storm:  watercolor/oil pastel on paper 9” x 10”.

—Paintings & Poems by Kate Fetherston


Kate Fetherston

Kate Fetherston’s first book of poems, Until Nothing More Can Break, was released in 2012.  Her poems and essays in numerous journals including North American Review, Hunger Mountain, and Third Coast.   She’s received grants from the Vermont Council on the Arts and Vermont Studio Center.  Kate was twice a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry and has several Pushcart Prize nominations.

Kate’s visual art is inspired by the line between feeling and seeing.  In this series, she’s is interested in playing with process and form to reinterpret landscape as it connects with internal space.  Kate’s art has been shown in California and Vermont.


Aug 082015

Louise Bak



air smell washed, sidewalk’s shipping crate’s uncollected newspaper’s
high-ranking officials. a forecourt photo’s tousled abbey blouse in the
cart’s overstretched stocking of uncollected tea. a news portal’s picked
out simpler juk syun for “disgusting,” zip maai, broke up with slowed
forward, fingers indenting flat yoke of a dress, at palm molding’s atta,
at x eyes, worsted on lops around its hem. 5:15 a.m. cheep from leaf-
crumbled clump, green “pass” certificate more rigidly vertical than a
sandwich board’s “destiny reform” skill. stripped up sleeve as part of
sock runs down from knee, wind’s whup of glass panel set in wall, at
a cricket in a see-through tube, crosses into wet dab of cotton, where
it drinks. glancing across small hexagonal mirrors, i-ching coins, the
dry-pivot needle at centre of a diviner’s board, its line for north-south
dire, hooded by a lock charm. inscription of tian chang’s perpetuality

is worn, as waxing moon, flat-bottomed clouds rolled, when lurched
off, a watch’s claymore sword style hands, to inside of hand by egely
wheel, glass-boxed. surrounded with more of palm, sighed sensation
to clockwise flit, tensed legs respread at quavered turn, to more brisk
mincing on a redox ring. slid at fifth finger’s dip joint, cocked doubt-
fully, at contrition and defiance of a mayor, caught by cp24 reporter’s
“but … i … i …” appallingly told to newsroom, while uhn shrugged,
that atleast not toronto sensible, to pieds-à-terre towers underway, to
go up to 915 ft, perks of built-in speakers, forced-air heating, but the
scratches on some velux windows to overlook side elevation deemed
“those grandmas, thinned by the first week.” bumptious, timbre on ga
yull, to hurt the sale of units, remarking the walked direction at a few
khata scarves, that the ring musn’t stay on a finger without movement.

advancing warm front curdled the surface pitting of pomes, in swelter
formed within packages. separated husks of roasted watermelon seeds
from seizes of gold premolars, that handed over from long bus back, a
bottle’s semi-cola-colored water swished, bent stiffly, in heard versing
a younger generation’s “can give just 10 (or whatever) hours for free.”
by a stairwell’s tarpaulin, slither of alu foil paper, where the extension
ladder weighted it, leaking “hiraeth,” at blown sauveteur sticker, stuck
on cigarette butts on steps, to more metallic candy wrappers, cornering
the entrance. tpl tee still draped on boxes stacked against the wall, from
hardly picked detritus of a branch’s vhs titles. lust for life’s outstretched
razor on cobbled path, in static-lined chase. sticking drawer opened for
twist-tied villous amomum fruit, pericarps’ longitudinal cracks marked,
in which negatives were under such compression, that some coursed to

floor and off a bowl of liang pi’s starch paste formed at the bottom of it,
water risen to the top, cupped with a polymer note of 100 yuan, china’s
century temple on its backside dampened more, from lain on boxed rice
and in way of slammed gemel bottle, blots ambroxan, like pervading of
men’s aisles. tongue’s stagger to inside of cheek, to noodles-thickness as
a pen’s coating, braided and lashed on a table, without arresting forward
motion, ungained run skips. cordoned outside, steps’ cascading of blood,
after stabbed female, without vital signs taken to hospital, relayed by the
entering of road restrictions and area resurfacing on a keyboard. the okay
asked in writing, so it could be known what to be meted, while a queased
quiet, ambled crossing a tank’s sanddab. its maxillary reaching below the
anterior part of a lower eye, reported borne franticly, splashes from cloth.
bony ridge mid eyes, twained on one side, cam border’s hanged seriatum





zip maai, conceal, bury (Cantonese)
tian chang in phrase tian chang di jiu, everlasting
ga yull, (to add oil) – to cheer someone on by saying “go, go go”!
hiraeth, homesickness (Welsh)
liang pi, literally “cold skin,” a noodle like Chinese dish



the red one-button gleaming in the semi-darkness, dropped with
the bracket. in her securing it on the chair, it thwacks blinking at
the half rail. taps at the concentrated liner, melted down a corner
of an eye, on a faint swelling at the lateral canthus. she stretches
from scoop neck to roomy sleeve, for the pressured itch, finding
bands of smooth skin in the sanitized blandness. reaching for the
blouson sweatshirt, she pulls it towards her, making it taut at the
neck hole, only to have it weighted like grain jar with ruyi heads,
while its endless knots circling its shoulder nears temporal ridge,
she feels an overall push outwards, to waist ties undone with the
raglan flopped. uncrumpling the sweatshirt to its inset, the mesh
with garlands surrounded by gimps, that’d go across the sides of
arms is more torn to the “sashou” with the scrape on outer thigh,
red-anemone shaped, punctate with black-blue dots, lappet at its
margin. fingers oilier from being rubbed together to pressing for

the bandeau. the upended nip of elastane, rather the snapping up
just under her sturnum, she sees a girl with a long lilac fringe on
the side of her short hair, who retrieves the arcuate bottom glued
scoop, on the bed lined on the other side of the hallway. tugging
on its pre-assembled paper to a convexity with fried oil luctance,
“pmt 5 worstever” said so dryly, with the anodyne account of the
1 baked potato = fist, heard to her more earnest. a turn diagonally
with pulling at integrated thumb hole, few inches along the index
comes away like a puberlous stipe. smarting in the dark garment,
clasped at its upper medium area, the rest of it bunched at her left
underarm. drawing her cheeks back, so that her lips aren’t smiling
to gingival tissue, correspondingly shaped to upper lip’s overlying
skin, slightly tender, seeing the setting off toward the stray ribbon
and the barge on its positioned “gewt,” close together in iridescent
spring pea. the moving the wrist downward while facing the palm,

while an aide steps from a room ahead of her, fidgeting with a slot
behind the finger tab of a magazine holder. the wrist leaned across
the lovatt’s crossword section at the extra page holder. chain marks
blanchable are indicated and got from the sculpey of kagura, while
there’s the turning to a subsequent page, murmuring at just 9 down,
hued “thicko,” old au pair from latvia. a reproving riffle, in tucking
fingers down, but the index raised, to the flexing of airy fabric with
its full 66” sweep, the right arm craned over head, at the reinforced
twill tape, sliding from the slumped bustle, byakuei’s aching crenate
without let-down, voicing “schutt.” a sidelong glance at her leaning
her torso back on a forearm, her knees drawn toward her chest, as if
a pealing heart. edges of the cabinetwork’s minimal nursing supplies
appears with iritis shadows, brief jerks like the contractile tails of t4
bacteriophage, mnemic length-wise pieces of polygonatum rhizome
in the clip note organizer, separated from the receipts and the mom-

and pop cards, with sections like actions, indications and symptoms
adhoc staffed minutes, sturdied fingered extended ketai strap with a
orbicular rehmannia. lined with irregular transverse curves, pressed
to dust grains fluorescing in a pallor, in a tachyonic stretch, neurons
misfiring, radiations on cell membranes, vacuity breakpoints, while
suddenly, a mid-sentence sprung, smoky of “no uniforms -no flags –
and no medals when we are brave.” sheets stripped back, feeling the
blue scalloped thread design of the blanket, from the inside surfaces
of her knees to shoulders drawn together, head and chest lifted, half-
seating to the set back tightened sound that you’ll get out in about an
hour. inclining to discern, there’s a shot where a barer dietrich arrives
at a small sand rise, taking the rope around a donkey’s neck from one
of the other women. they slowly disappear down the other side, while
her eyes closes in on rouched detailing of her faint teal bra, crammed
between a lady palm and greeting cards also on the footwall. glancing

on the evenness of the vct flooring, the aide carrying a folder moves it
in pulling some dented drop solution from a side pocket, grappling the
other, with brows relaxed but slightly raised, that something’s missing.
striding a step back from the door’s frame, she states “get ready to go,”
sweeping her hand about, to straightening the notice, with its phase of
reorganization, often going on for years -mumbles “shmeed’s charger,”
in turning back. leaning the back strap on the legwarmer, its gunmetal
studs, to the desquamation of her lips, pressed back from the kneaded,
slack of under stomach. the flyby of striped nylon brace, the half of its
clasp’s edges, pushed askance, shortly injected upon left scaphoid fold.
crawling on the reticulate wrinkles of psoralea seeds, said to be able to
expand coronary arteries, while scattered in the rattan chair, light, open
vine stitches of the glove’s pom pom, straight-cut, speckled with pieces
of soft root. rushed from from the double-handled herb knife, the straps
fallen of undershirt, in leaning in toward her of mimosa bark, clasped at

her wrist, used for hundreds of years to soothe emotions. tenebrous, the
bands on each nail on the right, slipped over to the left, curled at the top
edge of the package’s knobby contents, balanced on the outside edge of
left inset, shy of exaggerated frill running at sleeve hem, in the apology
for being so juk maa, fil coupé detail of a looped bow, reddened filmily,
wrackful, like a psc cloud. a leaflet is jounced with her grieved sling of
blue slippers. looking up, lumbering with the identification bracelet and
the emitted “erdbeer” on the gauze compress over a cart, pausing by the
wall to watch that she isn’t on her way back. the dull coated paper seems
malleable in her unfurling, as if it was creased and folded numerously to
a hexagonal star, from its starting in a zig zag. hearing the shuffle of one
just assigned and leaving a room, the “bleats” from the oversized pencil,
halting like it’d take an hour to go down the lines just for her coordinates.
“cuttings,” “smears,” scanned in an order that could only be hers, before
mottled burgundy “smaug,” at the afterward’s “statistically insignificant.”





sashou, trifling, little (Japanese)
kagura, the heroine of the story Ga-rei, who controls byakuei, a white dragon, from the seal on her back and a long chain that connects her soul to his. any damage the dragon receives also damages her as well.
schutt, rubbish, debris (German)
juk maa, disgusting, ugly (Cantonese)
erdbeer, strawberry (German)



arm clutched higher on side of a lecturn, with hand hung from
tickling midst yarn of a balloon, mylar airship drifted, stopped
when bumped at start of greimas square’s actants of turdsinker
squeezed in larynx, where it opponent chalked, whoudi, while
slumping far over opened textbook’s bragg lines on a brillouin
lattice that shoulders rose above, jerked wheeze, flicking over
by cover edges more bumped to a division house, age spots in
outer margin. dripped from choana, greyish gob pliable across
but not obscuring a few words, liquid of eyes knotted, bai zhu
it can’t be helped demurred. pitch in seat, rounded tip end of a

pencil stilled, midscratch forearm. bled hazed “sus,” glancing
up, as if raisiny touch like kokuto, poster’s headphoned pullip
arm’s seaming of differing lace swung. “datu thing is,” began
as inadequate breath, to a louder “moe,” at hiki-room’s hetalia
kite, peeled neath cos-hop conveyed with cresset points, burst
in stamp shaped seal pricks on sternum, dessicated coconut of
candy listed, where scratched inkless, stratus clouds’ openings.
tap of calendar, masses of ink caps, darker in stems’ exudance
as squared cat’s eye glasses stared at space mid desks’ smocks
tiered, vacuumformed armor. briskly pitched 1” pin button of

“i ❤ terror” with lagged tacks by marks of dupe opi polish on
front of shirt. stood at desk frame’s epoxy coated tubing, with
lean where knee and end of pant straight, meager grinned are
you sure you want to do this? fingers halfway in open face of
metallic getup up wagged, peered in eyelid twitches adjusted
as calla lily bead cap repinned in false moustache’s tip pulled
down more, below end of lip on side of turned strides. quake
wirier beneath nose, rubbed and shook of head, in three time
rows, as “tha fat” lapped by “loid,” neared third in umbonate
cut, stood over encamped amoeba table’s inaba rabbit mask’s

painted acrylic scraped, from couldn’t help it slaps of umami
bag, cranium’s gold crown cake topper. gruff uptick of don’t
deserve to be around. seated closed fist with balalala craned
had already coursed past hand’s wound-up ovals, contracted
to hip pocket’s water caltrop hitting casing of cell, rearward
spun, while pustule more pressurized below lips, pressed on
poly bag’s several spine creases of chew comic. cover’s kind
of cyber-luchadore rooster, got free at some clothing $6 bag
bag wednesday. indentation at faceplated crest, palm facing
just short of straight up, el santo y blue demon hood’s luster

midst mid-weight socks, puckeringly sour chaw of suan mei
at back of throat. brass stamping of belt buckles declivity at
upper back, photo of burnout jersey back of vest, press-stud
detail at collar, shoulder hair like straggly cat ear flaps, with
having been wbv patter. haste of next posted image, drag of
drop sleeve of jumper, pregnant-looking temp, as girl across
two way rack of joggers, pointed beneath elbow pit, shirttail
hem wrenched, chewed breccia-hued gelate, flim of kleenex
tossed , its lower cursive on-wee dabbed, as bandage square
unasked of why she had such, muffled breaking wind thuds

in steps, as elasticated side of plimsoll pulled, kicked out in
cotton of polo shirts. sections arranged by apparel type with
halting mid-colors of glassed re-ment minis, several sprouts
on teapot and croquembouche’s thin threads, finding cordial
lined, implying pieced together, gone to several-days-starch
syruped haws, glister from tug of coated skin, teeth motions
on sides of zipper match ups in good condition, as shuffling
over sesame rong bag, stacked heel bumped on loose pieces
of gravel, from snagging of display shelves. quickly dashed
left choppings of peanut coating, snagged mǎzai crag gooed

shudders, arched lower back up, felt droop of harness vest’s
block shaped hood, repeated with waist traced rotating from
right to left, in circular motions. screwed round gaze, string
lit near tang suit hat on banh tiêus, layout of silk’s longevity
signs with panels of vinyl’s printed mesembs, sections hand
sewn, moments of even stitches midst “you closing eyes in
that photo? can never tell with you,” inattention settings on
their over/under offs. shirt’s shawl collar of pliable tissue in
dragon garland wouldn’t pass muster, pulling a voucher out
of handbag’s packets of dispensed kari-out lady, as twisted

red cloth of cord hurtled, dimmed sockets whined, to wave
of arm ended wagged in air, turned at window’s scrabbling
with a paw at fur missing half-way up a cat’s torso. noticed
too at base of tail, disappearing to tetra pak bottle’s caramel
shake shell, slanting neck’s dipping of angostura in a shrub,
limply dribbling, further extruded rings of cheez-it, judged
liquidy-ish sick down front column linen shirt. avoided the
ignoring eyes’ moving of oval hook clear plastic of glasses’
“either that,” to snagging on lego tie tack. golden laminate
bumps sped off ear of crooked sack cloth double crescents.

middle fingers crossed over, pointer fingers hunched overs
of random tut waded at nonpareil rack’s highschool jackets,
a sailor moon dress, by sparse “medic” smocks and apron’s
long neck tie unlaced from a tubular hanger’s holster garter
and tried out foam latex galaxina mask, stretched out, as in
mouth moved apart. grasped cotton drill by underline at its
knee, shook at upper its knee’s solid fibrefill, as the not too
ott lace at sides of male zentai suit left, it lain on bale of no
longer suitable for reuse. waist down to the vent area where
back of the thighs hitched lower body’s quality of miniscule

marquise galloons on card, with longdashed globe. pouter’s
heta uma at weight of breath near to bangle’s ballchain and
adhesive streaked, a cut more inside the edge of a glass tile
over wicking of donut bail’s not fabricated to be repeatedly
opened and closed on below ear hair, in press on square of
agloe, made-up map trap. adjustment of centring hold with
town labels, route lines, to pleated details on shoulder of a
shirt, lain in a used hide-a-bed’s straightening of three way
zip through crotch, in who else was looking and what was
being seen, smooths of agglomerated cork, willable sound





bai zhu, a chinese herb, with a rhizome clenched like a fist
kokuto, black sugar candy
moe, a slang term referring to the sexual attraction to idealized people
hikikomori, a social phenomenon, involving withdrawal, reclusive patterns of adolescents or adults in Japan
inaba, in Japanese mythology, there’s a tale of coming upon a rabbit stripped of its skin and crying. It was told it’d recover, by washing off in seawater, but doing so, things got worse
wbv, refers to weight-based victimization
mazai, chinese pastry made of strands of fried batter, with a sticky syrup, with historical associations, including “[I’d like to] kill that guy on the horse.”
zentai, a term for skin-tight garments that cover the entire body
heta uma, concept of bad technique, good sense (Japanese)

—Louise Bak

Louise Bak is the author of Syzygy (DC Books), Tulpa (Coach House Books) and Gingko Kitchen (Coach House Books). She’s the co-host of Sex City, Toronto’s only radio show focused on intersections between sexuality and culture. She also curates/hosts a salon series called The Box, which encourages communication across literary and artistic borders.




Aug 022015

Amber Homeniuk



1.  the one who takes everything in its hands[1]

fat and downy, wee washer-bear descends head-
first, back feet backwards, bushy-ringed
champion omnivore, incognito i.d.,
tactile thinker in the night,
haunchy smartypants
unlocking memory,


2.fmy brother’s kits

our uncle shot their mother,
gave us three chimney cubs
with needle teeth, teddy ears,
and bottle-gripping hands

milk-whiskered, growing,
they tumbled in a row
after Tom, marching barefoot in pyjamas,
his grinning jammy mouth




stuck in Scarberia, I hated campus on sight—
dank concrete bunker hulked over dim valley
up the creek, too many trees, and posters
plastered every door: missing, Elizabeth Bain
staring, dark-eyed

Rocky Raccoon, the ubiquitous totem,
charmless hail-fellow in a stuffed suit,
handsy caricature, button-nosed buffoon,
his big-headed bump and grind

tie-dyed frosh, the Purple Jesus party, packed
picnic tables, Tanya playing Three Man with fuzzy dice,
bedsheets strung from crowded dens, there was Jodi
her frizzies and braces and I drank eight beer!
and Ramona always barfing, needed carrying upstairs

skeevers from The ‘Shwa, pedophiles of Pickering,
rapists in the Guild, so bushy-tailed
and boys who saw me only halfway home—
we all wore shoes we could run in

our grads Bernardo, Williams
years too late unmasked:
who else did that asshole Rocky cheer
with his eerie plush leer?


4.ffoaming at the mouth

on the grounds crew in the valley, 1993
clearing winter-damaged trees, notching trunks and
chipping limbs, still looking for Liz in the forest

the skull was in a stand of cedar,
bottom of Old Kingston Road
near Highland Creek—
a young raccoon, smooth cap of yellow bone,
all of her biters and elegant arches
cupped in my hands

that morning in the parking lot
a masked mother, fierce and frantic,
her babies trapped in a dumpster
’til from the safety of the truck bed
we slid a long branch in

at break, we read in the paper over bagels
how Karla and Dirty Debbie went dancing
when Karly Curls met her Paul—
in the photo, dark roots and frosted tips
feathered stiff, framed bludgeoned black eyes,
the horrors inside her drooping disguise



late for work again, I flew the near-empty concessions,
burned past farms behind a cherry SUV I couldn’t pass,
dogs lolling out both its rear windows, sweltering
coats flat black against back window decal,
a baby on board

noon, three raccoons hopped out of the deep ditch
gallumphed across the road, day-blind
tangled with those fat tires up ahead, terrible timing
thump rolling chaos I braked hard, swerved clear
and two bandits ran from disaster
but striped fur whipped circles in my rear-view
while the road hog with the dogs drove on,
turned a corner beyond the stop

shimmers hovered above hot pavement
I reversed fast, braced myself, missed
last bits of life ticked, I worked the transmission
and long back feet kicked, clenched and spread little toes,
black velvet pads in thick cream
paddling the air like an infant’s
offered up, soft belly,
that helicopter tail


6.  mentor

Oh old boy

you’ve taught me all you can,
your dousing days are done.

Lie down with your snout at the stream
to rest in woods behind my brother’s house.

Let season’s green weave through your nest of sticks,
set age along the top of your white brow
with sutures fused, full sagittal crest

and quiet
those sore worn teeth.


Them Apples

1.  Pick

among the ghosts of September
are days emphatic as egg-calling hens
tilting on their pegs like cotton candy

I stretch to haul the red-cheeked harvest down
and smears of mealy rot and crumbled bark-
stained fingers poke through

your old gloves: with how many holes
can they still be good?
which rungs do ladders need?

lips grip curves and woodsmoke
suck the sour near the core
green stems slide, catch between uneven teeth—

I cast off the not-worth-its, the stingy and gnarled
save the bird-bitten and the bug-holed
with their healed-over tough-skinned hearts

truth rolls under my ankle
fills buckets
its roundnesses bobbing in water


2. Cut

slice and cone
dig for twisting brown tracks
free jagged curls of skin

grinding knuckles wrap the knife
work wet wood, erode bone
brass tacks emerging

think of swords

notch out the cores
open them like mouths
break their silence


3. Stir

bruises surface from the rosy deeps,
flesh wounds seep, sticky black grains in wrinkles,
peelings divine a cidery stink

my mill churns all afternoon, spits out pith
into steam: blisters, jars, rings, lids
counted by feather-layered light

arms loaded, feet worm into moccasins
heated by back room sun,
another half-wheelbarrow

I also carry your knotted fist, a spot
just here at the back of my hip
folded like a wing


4.  Keep

afterwards, heart-queasy and acidic,
my hands are wizened little mummies
helpless as when our girl stopped eating

last pot off the stove and cooling,
joints squeak like dry flakes of paint
jarred by every lid-popping echo

sealing up sauce in glass like myths, in this
odd season of double yolks, northern lights
and doorknobs falling off, mixed in with rattling

stars, fruit still dropping from the branches,
the thuds of celestial shot putt
tremor loose small yelps and toads

I’ve gathered the burrs and the catkins of you
caught in my clothes with memory and cinnamon
pockets full of seeds

at the edge of the field
deer pause, chewing,
bone chips hiding in their meat


Late Bloomer

1.  Born Late

I am past due
the days already gone to seed
know it in the bass-heavy pulsing of myself
all throbbing aorta

this old jacket shrunk and wilted to the touch
me and last year’s apples and the quiet ground
and shine-worn split trousers—lived hard in, discarded
I have outgrown even my shoes
done with these thrift store threads

I will ease grief from my throat

heat calls me up from the earth
grave-risen all the way through the rotting roots
come to moult
I hook myself on and haul away at the tendons
braced against light, working

all the doors from their hinges
cracked open, oh my frail and soggy new self
herniating out through the tender razor-scraping edges

I will shed my skin, busting raw and wet
climb right out of my hide and fly away, drop it
gently as cicada shells from bark


2.  Cicada

diving head-first and backward into deep air
my eyes without their lenses
I am sawn in half, kicking my legs out
shoulders up around my head

I will breathe open glass-paned wings to the next life
leaving behind gravity
and my clawed digging arms

just one entomological Rapture
your deserted hands
pinching crisp brown casings

trees all heaving and veiny lungs, my work half-done
distension rocking the sky
with songs of rods, reels, and muted brass
cooking, casting, and resonant monks rattling distant joy

I will bring warm and sticky life from my humming pockets

you think it won’t end—the pain or the singing—then it does
borne late into the season
my belly tympanic in the empty
our whole selves arched, hairy with need and
fast unhooking days from the year


3.  The Singing Season

with each wing-click, I flip this mirror
trading dark packed dirt for dusty leaves

these vibrating voices turn tall cliffs to liquid
richer than sap from the source

when sound soars shaking so far
over creaking crevices and lines of vicious little ants
I will remember that I could be somewhere else

you may yet hear me keening in the branches
or hollering downhill with my feet lifting off the pedals
back-slit like coffin clothes, the living gone on from here

—Amber Homeniuk



Amber Homeniuk works as an expressive arts therapist and sustains a variety of individual and collaborative arts practices. Her writing appears in The Malahat Review, The Fiddlehead, and here at Numéro Cinq, as well as in Windsor Review’s tribute to Alice Munro. Amber’s poems are anthologized in Beyond the Seventh Morning (SandCrab, 2013) and Window Fishing: The night we caught Beatlemania (Hidden Brook, 2013). Her first chapbook is Product of Eden: Field of Mice (Norfolk Arts Centre, 2013). So far this year, she’s been a finalist in the PRISM International poetry contest and shortlisted for Arc Poetry Magazine’s 2015 Poem of the Year. Amber lives in rural southwestern Ontario, blogs groovy outfits at Butane Anvil, and is kept by a small flock of hens.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Holmgren, Virginia C. (1990). Raccoons: In Folklore, History & Today’s Backyards. Capra Press. p. 157.
Jul 082015


This is the pleasure of Jandl’s Reft and Light. Not only does it introduce us to Jandl’s originals, it goes on to show us how any poet trying to wake up tired words can do so by putting an improvisational spin on them… What Jandl’s wordplay accomplishes in general is a toning up of the poetic muscles. Over the years it has provided me with several good workouts, and it has been a reminder that recess is part of the kinesthetic education of a poet, too. — Julie Larios

reft and light


Ernst Jandl’s book Reft and Light opens with this word of warning from editor Rosemarie Waldrop: “Most of Ernst Jandl’s poems are so engrained in the German language that they are impossible to translate.” Notice that she doesn’t say “extremely difficult.” She says “impossible.” That doesn’t bode well for English-speaking readers who, like me, know only a few words in German – principally those used by fictional Nazis in old WWII movies – “Achtung! Verboten!” – or for readers who, also like me, have been puzzled by the long controversy over whether John Kennedy, in a 1963 speech, called himself a jelly donut or declared himself to be a citizen of Berlin (“Ich bin ein Berliner.”)

The jelly-donut controversy no doubt would have pleased Ernst Jandl, an Austrian poet and translator, whose work often explored the strange malleability of words. He was philosophically if not officially a member of  the Oulipo school of experimental poets (the moniker “Oulipo” formed from the French words Ouvroir  de Litterature Potentielle, meaning “Workshop of Potential Literature”) who played with formal constraints as a means of re-examining or re-awakening language. Inventive word-morphing, reconstructions, deconstructions and deliberately misdirected readings and soundings of words at the sentence, word and phoneme level – these were his strong suit, at least as far as Reft and Light is concerned. Waldrop’s note introducing the book helps explain why few people in the United States have heard of Jandl, despite his popularity among German-speaking readers. Reft and Light is one of only two collections translated into English (the other is Dingbat, translated by Michael Hamburger) and Jandl’s “poems” in this book are not lyrical in the traditional sense nor are they narrative. I’m not sure I would characterize most of them as poems; in fact, and I can’t recommend Jandl’s other work to you since I can’t speak German.  Reft and Light is not likely to satisfy people looking for poetry with a capital P. But for people looking at language at the word level and taking pleasure in innovation and experimentation, reading the book is like spending recess on a school playground.

I was handed Jandl’s book several years ago by Christine Deavel of Seattle’s poetry-only bookstore, Open Books. “You’re the perfect reader for this,” she told me, and she was right. I’m a recess junkie when it comes to poetry, which is not to say I can’t go back to the classroom and enjoy the quieter lessons when recess is over. But I admit to liking the dizziness of a ride on the dangerous Big Spinner, word-wise, especially if it creaks and groans at unnerving intervals, and even more so if I feel like I might just be thrown off by the G-forces at work, heels over head and away. Jandl’s book is for punsters, anagramists, riddlers, jumble solvers, Scrabble players, crossword addicts, and poets who respond to sound as much as they do to images and ideas. You get off the ride and don’t quite know which end is up.

So if his work is untranslatable, as Waldrop states, how successful is Reft and Light? The entirety of her Editor’s Note tries to explain:

Most of Ernst Jandl’s poems are so engrained in the German language that they are impossible to translate. But their procedures can be imitated. Here is an experiment: several American poets respond to each poem so that original is encircled by multiple English analogues. The responses (which range from close imitations to freewheeling versions that continue Jandl’s thinking into other semantic areas) form the first part of this book. The version that seems closest to Jandl’s text is usually the first to follow the German.

Part II presents, in roughly chronological order, poems by Ernst Jandl either left in their original form (including visual poems and poems that he wrote in English) or translated/adapted by Anselm Hollo or myself.

The characterization of the translations as “analogues” is a good one: they are comparable, but not equal to. They are not literal translations. They are re-interpretations; they “continue Jandl’s thinking” and find ways to express his thought-process in English. Take this short experiment (again, not what I would call a poem) where Jandl turns a simple counting list inside out:



The correct German numbers 1-10 would be ein, zwei, drei, vier, funf, sechs, sieben, acht, neun, zehn. Translated literally, the title means “series” and Jandl’s list reads (if I’ve got it right) ice, twig, fresh, cattle, fill, groan, syllables, oh, new, zinc. We hear the similarities in the German pairing – ein/eis, sieben/silben, etc.  But how to translate this into English when all the wordplay involves German sound variations? In Reft and Light, various poets try their best with a comparable English version of counting 1-10. The poet Keith Waldrop offers this basic possibility:



It’s a simple enough bit of play. I often asked my students at Vermont College of Fine Arts to give it a try, just to shake up the way they hear their own language (in the firm belief that we stop really hearing our own language because it’s too familiar – idiomatic speech is sometimes inaudible and metaphors are flattened by over-familiarity. Finding alternatives for the numbers is not hard. But if I asked my students to take it a step farther, to see if they could create a narrative of some kind out of the words, it became more difficult and more interesting. Here is an excerpt from Julie Patton’s extended variation on Jandl’s wordplay; her version incorporates both German and English equivalents and moves beyond sound imitation toward storytelling – it “sounds” like it could be counting from one to ten, but it’s not:


Ray di Palma’s versions (five lists) even play with the title “series,” changing the title for each list to cherries, ceres, seers, jerries and cerise. This is the pleasure of Jandl’s Reft and Light. Not only does it introduce us to Jandl’s originals, it goes on to show us how any poet trying to wake up tired words can do so by putting an improvisational spin on them. In another example, “Otto Mops,” a univocalic, Jandl goes for the o’s to tie things together, sound-wise:

ottos mops trotzt
otto: fort mops fort
ottos mops hopst fort
otto: soso

otto holt koks
otto holt obst
otto horcht
otto: mops mops
otto hofft

ottos mops klopft
otto: komm mops komm
ottos mops kommt
ottos mops kotzt
otto: ogottogott

Okay: it’s not W.B. Yeats. But Jandl is not going for mystery and moonlight. He’s going for Abbot and Costello, in their classic skit, “Who’s on first?” He wants to make us sit up and make us notice how confusing and playful language is. With my meager German and a good dictionary, I can discern this loose story in the Otto poem: ottos pug defies / otto: away, pug, away / ottos pug hops away / otto: so so. // otto brings coke [can that be right?] / otto picks fruit / otto listens / otto: pug pug / otto hopes // ottos pug knocks / otto: come pug come / ottos pug comes / ottos pug throws up / otto: ohgodohgod.

Notice that the poem uses only the vowel “o.” And notice that the German words do more than rhyme, they morph in terms of sound: trotzt, fort, soso, koks, mops, obst, horcht, hofft, klopft, komm, kommt, kotzt, ogott. Elizabeth MacKiernan’s English version, below, uses only u’s and o’s, having changed Jandl’s o’s to ooh’s. Our Hero become Lulu rather than Otto – fair enough. MacKiernan loosely follows the narrative thrust of the original but her words rhyme a bit more, morph a bit less:

Lulu’s pooch droops
Lulu: scoot, pooch, scoot!
Lulu’s pooch soon scoots.
Lulu brooms room.

Lulu scoops food.
Lulu spoons roots.
Lulu croons: pooch, pooch.
Lulu broods.

Lulu’s pooch drools.
Lulu: poor fool pooch.
Lulu grooms pooch.

Lulu’s pooch poops.
Lulu: oops.

This play with vowels is typical of some of the best known work by Oulipo poets. The French writer Georges Perec made enough of a splash in 1969 with his 300-page lipogrammatic novel La disparition (in which the vowel “e” is never used) that a translation into English (The Void) was commissioned – the translator was Gilbert Adair.  This was followed three years later by a companion novel, Les revenentes in which no vowels other than “e” are used (it was translated by Ian Monk in 1996 and given the title The Exeter Text: Jewels, Secrets, Sex.) 

GeorgesPerecGeorges Perec

One of Jandl’s sound experiments is a little more haunting, less comedic; more zen, less Big Spinner:



völlig beraubt



völlig beraubt

Translated loosely, this says “all/ all / without // completely bereft // canzone // all / all / without // completely bereft.” Jandl arrives at this quiet moment by way of the original Italian word “canzone” (song, ballad) — to any German speaker, “canzone” sounds immediately like “ganz ohne,” which means “all without.” Gale Nelson offers up this English equivalent:



wholly undone



wholly undone.

The English version doesn’t work quite as well because “sadly full” does not match “madrigal” quite as well as “canzone” matches “ganz ohne.” But it does continue Jandl’s thinking.  Jandl also offers up a form which changes how we see the relationship between two words when a single letter gets replaced by another. He places the words on the page so their similarity is clear (this isn’t rocket science: it’s easy to imagine a good elementary school language arts teacher having her students do the same):

fr   sch

In German, “frosh” means frog and “frisch” mean fresh. The Englsih translators do even better with this form:

…..i………………   is……………….o………………n…………..s
chmp   ||    poon   ||   ||   bo   y ||  .re  . olve
….o……………….  ti……………….i……………….d…………..v

Occasionally, the serious side of play shines through, as in this poem:

tee……….:….ein stück
lieber…..:    tee
ich……….:   tee
[er nie].:tee

Craig Watson comes up with an excellent translation:


all a…….:….tease

Is this a poem? I think this one is. Are some of the other, simpler experiments poems? Not in my opinion. What Jandl’s wordplay in Reft and Light accomplishes in general is a toning up of the poetic muscles. I was grateful that Christine Deavel put the book into my hands. Over the years it has provided me with several good workouts, and it has been a reminder that recess is part of the kinesthetic education of a poet, too.

Here’s one last Jandl poem, written in English late in his life and cited in the obituary the New York Times published when he died:

When born again
I want to be
a tenor saxophone
if it’s up to me,
theres gonna be
total promiscuity.

Ernst Jandl was born in Vienna in 1925 and died there seventy-five years later; he was called up into the German army during World War II but was strongly anti-Nazi and criticized the Austrian government for its cooperation with Germany during the war. I can’t tell you whether the majority of Jandl’s untranslated work consists of poems that play less and paint more. I’m only familiar with Reft and Light, which might be the sorbet in between other courses of a more substantial meal, serving to cleanse the palette. I do know that Jandl was voted one of the ten most important German-language poets of the 20th century by a group of 50 writers, scholars and critics; the fact that he has next to no name-recognition in this country makes him qualify as undersung by any standard.

As an experimental poet, Jandl is not to everyone’s taste – experimentation, by definition, is not mainstream, and to honor sound at the expense of image and meaning is dangerous. But an old-fashioned playground is dangerous, too.  At the very least, be brave, whether reader or writer or both: Climb up on the equipment and give it a spin. Try some of Jandl’s experiments: break up words, bend them. Above all, re-hear and re-fresh them. Meanwhile, keep the sound of that Abbot and Costello bit about “Who’s On First?” in your head. Why does that classic routine continue to appeal to us? Comedy is often located in miscommunication, and confusion makes us laugh, makes us wince, makes us listen more carefully and sends us new directions. Not a bad agenda for the creative spirit.

—Julie Larios


May 2011 - Jackson Fishing at Lake Commonwealth

Julie Larios  has contributed several Undersung essays to Numero Cinq over the last two years. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and a Pushcart Prize, and her work has been chosen twice for inclusion in The Best American Poetry series.

Jul 052015

Lynn Crosbie by Laura MeyerAuthor photo by Laura Meyer


Where Are My Teeth

Ou est mes dents? my father—whom I have never heard speak French, asks.
He is fluent, it turns out: he and Sofi, the blonde orderly, talk and listen to the same

50s hits CD: she holds his hand and spins around his chair.

His teeth go missing for two days.

I have his spare set, and send them express in a quilted jewelry box.

These are the ones he had made for him in Curacao, that turned out to be absurdly tiny, as if he had a necklace of seed pearls in his mouth.

He grew a mustache until he was able to replace them.

“Where did you put them, Dad?”

“I threw them under the railroad tracks.”

They turned up with the dirty sheets and towels.

In 1955, Elvis sings, “Train, train.”

He sings about a sixteen-coach monster that takes away his beloved.

And never will again.


Horticultural Savage

Is what my father calls Lily, whose roses are returned to me because “she will eat them.”

Every day in bright lime green, and beaming: we have all been called here, after he fell and would not wake up—

“His breathing is bad,” the nurse said, handing over the keys to the palliative room.

I made it there in a few hours, calling to him, “Don’t go, don’t go” and somewhere in mid-litany he sat straight up and asked for water.

We arrived on our mother’s birthday after all,

She looks wrung out and small as she opens card after card,

Holds up her sponge cake after the candles have been lighted.

The night I arrive, Jim has to get Mary and I clamber over the bars of his bed
And lie beside him.

Comme une singe, I later explain to the amused orderly.

I put on Motown hits and we talked as the sky changed from dead blue to
A rush of black,

And we talked about feeling badly for not doing enough; about little Michael being like an angel on loan and seeing the Temptations on a sunny day;

We talked until the others came back and Mary, so relieved, spun like a top and
Made up a song called “Papadoo,”

And we planned what we would do the next day, after tucking him under the fuzzy blankets he likes, with the snowflakes and stars.

We will get him 7-Up and a peanut butter sandwich, clean clothes and a board game.

And open the door a little nervously.

Still stuck between our shoulder blades the knife that says “Your father is almost dead,”

That holds in the blood of remorse and guilt, the vast stream comprised of all of the little losings so far and the red ocean to come.



Dad can see the grid of streets from his window, a slice of the Oratory.

Sometimes he sees my mother, on the balcony in just a light sweater, and worries.

Falling golf balls: they are birds, I tell him, and he is embarrassed.
“I’m just trying to figure things out,” he says.

What and when he sees is a mystery to us: suddenly, the bed screws are buttons that the cats might choke on;

The restraint on his wheelchair is one of his torturer’s devices.

One night, he must have spotted the enormous Laura Secord Easter egg my mom
Left on top of his closet.

She came at lunch and, seeing the empty box, asked if it was good.
“Yes,” he said, and smiled.

At Easter he would hide tiny foil-wrapped eggs everywhere.

For months I would find them in hampers and drawers; once, in the slot behind the telephone.

I dragged a chair to reach in the cupboard above the fridge and found one there.

This was proof to me of an Easter miracle. “My dad can’t reach that high,” I told one of my friends.

I had some problems with logic and magical thinking when I was a kid.

I ate paint chips, hearing only chips when my mother complained about the damaged ceiling.

I also slept lightly and cannot imagine how the big Bunny managed to hide so many eggs in our little apartment,

How the Bunny reached the top of that closet, how he stood up without help,

How his silken ears twitch, as he remembers the rush of yellow yolk then the sacred sweetness of the shell.

—Lynn Crosbie


Lynn Crosbie, father and brotherDouglas Crosbie, Lynn’s father, reading to her and her baby brother James.


These poems are from the collection The Corpses of the Future, which is being published by the House of Anansi in 2017. Lynn Crosbie‘s most recent novel, a post-punk mystery featuring Kurt Cobain, is called Where Did You Sleep Last Night.

Jun 182015

Sydney Lea


Tuesday. Somewhere I’d guess around the 4000th
one of my life, and I’m washing my coffee pot
and putting it onto the dish rack, the way I’ve done
every Wednesday too, every Thursday, every Friday,
Saturday, Sunday, Monday for many years–

most of the 72 by now– so there’s nothing
that you’d call thought in the process, and then with a whoosh,
like thrilling cascade or comet, in broadest daylight
a broadwing hawk swoops in and scatters the finches
from the feeder, which, whatever we try, is a feeder

for squirrels as well, both red and gray. It’s a gray one
the hawk has his eye on, and the hawk seems big as a hog,
though he’s lithe and deft and unbelievably quick
in his stoop. Which misses, however. His quarry cartwheels
under a stunted pine I’ve meant again

and again to hew to better the view we have
through this same kitchen window. And now, as something you might
call thought returns after all, I’m pondering whether
I’m glad to have left it standing. The hawk was lordly,
as much as the eagle my wife reported seeing

last week, which started an almost identical dive
but flared up the ridge when he found no game out there
among spilled seeds, where the blood on wet March snow
would in either case have shown so gorgeous, so brilliant.
The look of the writhing squirrel would have been pathetic,

no doubt about that. The world’s a puzzling place.


Old Lessons

The metaphor struck me so quickly that it felt trite:
I wanted my son to depend on me forever,
But wanted him also to learn to ride a bike,

First phase of course of a first child’s setting out
Away from his father –farther, always farther.
Speed up. Please stop, I thought. Mixed feelings. Trite.

Knuckles pale, he clutched the hand-grips tight,
Cried Hold me! Hold me! Which of course I did
For week after week as he learned to ride a bike,

Until, while one June day slumped into night,
I took my hands away from fender and seat,
And he pedaled off into darkness and distance. Trite,

Looking back, to figure our future lives,
The changes that would come, the way he’d speed
Away on years, as I stood behind that bike.

It’s right, of course, that he no longer calls me to hold him–
Have confidence, I recall, was what I told him–
Though it never was really a question of riding a bike,
Nor were my sentiments ever entirely trite.



Our old dog threw up today
Nothing new nor convenient
I kept myself from cursing
She didn’t mean to do wrong
True some words pushed at my lips
But I recalled the Psalmist’s
Caution on the loosened tongue

To describe it too mildly
Wrath can be too enticing
That tongue harder to govern
Than any ship or blood horse
Says the scripture I summoned
I thought that of the seven
Deadliest anger might be worst

Though I leave room for pride which
Is kin but today my calm
Seemed to me a miracle
The poor dog looked so contrite
Nothing she had done her fault
Now I must go to the vet’s
The thawing wind came last night

Bringing other things to do
Snow slid off our metal roof
Into a mass on the drive
Which needs to be cleared away
A job of course I despise
But that is where duty lies
And there’s where I need to be

I always wanted to be
Somewhere else I don’t know where
Earth must be the place for me
Sometimes I must laugh at how
Coaches say they want their teams
To play one game at a time
What in hell else would they do

Play two or three at a time
But I’ve been likewise silly
In my crazy history
I take one day at a time
Look for an easy does it
Stance toward life on this planet
Death once beckoned me and I

Rushed there I won’t give detail
Opiate Cutter Gunfire
Mustard gas Sprint Infernal

These were some crossword problems
I pondered last night in bed
Of course they’re not connected
Except in that I saw them

Together I solved just three
Before sleep overcame me
I did not feel frustration
Nor too much inner protest
I know our dog will be fine
I know I’m a lucky man
I’m grateful for peace and rest

I spoke an awkward prayer
If that’s in fact what it was
I only spoke it within
And in ignorant belief
That it might just land somewhere
I thanked some hidden power
That I never carved my life

Quite to hell nor did I race
To needle blade pistol gas

—Sydney Lea

Sydney Lea is Poet Laureate of Vermont. He founded New England Review in 1977 and edited it till 1989. His poetry collection Pursuit of a Wound (University of Illinois Press, 2000) was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Another collection, To the Bone: New and Selected Poems, was co-winner of the 1998 Poets’ Prize. In 1989, Lea also published the novel A Place in Mind with Scribner. His 1994 collection of naturalist essays, Hunting the Whole Way Home, was re-issued in paper by the Lyons Press in 2003. Lea has received fellowships from the Rockefeller, Fulbright and Guggenheim Foundations, and has taught at Dartmouth, Yale, Wesleyan, Vermont College of Fine Arts and Middlebury College, as well as at Franklin College in Switzerland and the National Hungarian University in Budapest. His stories, poems, essays and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and many other periodicals, as well as in more than forty anthologies. His selection of literary essays, A Hundred Himalayas, was published by the University of Michigan Press in September, and Skyhorse Publications just released A North Country Life: Tales of Woodsmen, Waters and Wildlife. His eleventh poetry collection, I Was Thinking of Beauty, was published in 2013 by Four Way Books.


Jun 162015

Lady Rojas Benevente


Lady Rojas Benavente’s poetry fuses her countless — and sometimes clashing — identities as a Peruvian-Québecoise woman, who immigrated to Canada in the seventies and has lived in the interstices of various nations ever since. While some of her poems evoke a certain nostalgia for an idyllic childhood in Peru or describe the country’s history and its Incan culture, others are starkly candid about the realities of the immigrant experience and existence as the proverbial “Other.” In the poems chosen for Numéro Cinq, Lady Rojas Benavente playfully depicts her upbringing, schooling and first teaching jobs. Her meticulous manipulation of the sounds of the Spanish language is difficult to render into English so the translations are instead instilled with a teasing tone. These poems come from Rojas Benavente’s collection L’Étoile d’eau/Estrella de Agua published in 2006 by France’s prestigious L’Harmattan in a bilingual (Spanish and French) edition translated by Nicole Barré.

—Sophie M. Lavoie



Encierro interior
biblioteca redonda
leo a Rilke,
y me imagino
a Beauvoir
encima de Sartre.

Pasadizos circulares
donde recorren
mozas detrás de los monjes
y se les agria la leche
entre las piernas.

Confesionario barroco
he pecado padre,
peco con mi hermano,
y pecaré hijo mío.

Comedor gigante
los vientres
cuartos que engordan
y noche.

Auditorio inmenso
la fe
en la música
la esperanza
en la religión
y la caridad
no me acuerdo para quién.

Patio al aire libre
se anuncia
que tomaron
a los guerrilleros
que cayó Heraud en su río
y todos los comunistas.

A santiguarse,
a comulgar,
a rogar por todos los maleados
y en especial por mí
pecadora entre los hombres.



Interior seclusion
round library
I read Rilke,
and imagine
on top of Sartre.

Circular alleys
where lasses
run behind the monks
and the milk turns sour
between their legs.

Baroque confessional
father I have sinned,
I sin with my brother,
and I will sin, my son.

Gigantic dining hall
we sated
our tummies
rooms that get fatter
and night.

Immense auditorium
we show off
our faith
in the music
the hope
in religion
and charity
I don’t remember who for.

Open air courtyard
it is announced
that they caught
the guerrilla fighters
that Heraud fell in his river
with all the communists.

Off to cross yourself,
to take communion,
to pray
for all the degenerate
and especially for me
sinner amongst men.

(Note: Javier Heraud Pérez was a guerrilla fighter and poet who died at the age of 21 (1963), fighting with the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) in Perú.)



Atrás el malecón de Chorrillos
y las jóvenes
se hechizan en sus mareas.
Sus bustos se mecen
y en el vaivén del agua
giran sus cometas.

Leemos Trilce
Vallejo les guiña abiertamente
“Y hembra es el alma de la ausente.
Y hembra es el alma mía”
les hace cosquillas
“Lavandera del alma…
que sí puede…
azular y planchar todos los caos.”

Cerca el bramido alocado
de todos los suspiros
una se ahogó de pena
y se lanzó en el corazón de la ballena
con un grito hembra
de tres agonías.

Las monjas rezan,
Cristo continúa
en su cruz.

La primera espina ajena
se grava
en el pizarrón inmenso
de mis veintiún años.



Beyond Chorrillo’s pier
young girls
become bewitched by the tides.
Their busts rock
and with the water’s swaying
their comets swirl about.

We read Trilce
Vallejo winks at them openly
“And female is the soul of the absent-she.
And female is my own soul.”
he tickles them
“laundress of the soul…
yes she can…
blue and iron all the chaoses.”[1]

Not far the wild roar
of all the sighs
one girl suffocated from sorrow
and threw herself into the belly of the whale
with a feminine shriek
of three agonies.

The nuns pray,
take notes,
Christ remains
on his cross.

The first foreign thorn
the immense blackboard
of my twenty-one years.


Río Rímac

Tu agua golpea los pedrones
y corre veloz
por tu cintura limeña.
silbando entre la maleza.

Colegio del Rímac
tu vaho de letrinas
me revuelve
la papa a la huancaína.
Los muchachos duermen
sobre las carpetas.
No hay psicología
ni lógica
que los despierte
después de ocho jornadas.

Visto minifalda
y me pifean,
les crece el macho.
qué quiere decir
y sueño latente
y sexo?

En un instante eterno,
la sierra calla
te seca la matriz
ya no hay cauce
sino un basural inmenso
que como gangrena
va borrando tu “fina estampa”.

Los chicos giran alrededor
de la loca,
la acorralan,
la pellizcan, la manosean.
Un día se desaparece.
Se cuelga
del cable del televisor
que le regaló su mecenas.

Lloro al joven-niña
mirándote Rímac
con tu pus a cuestas.


Rímac River

Your water hits the pebbles
and runs quickly
skirting Lima.
You dillydally
swishing through the brush.

Rímac middle school
a whiff of your latrines
shakes up
my Huancayo-style potatoes.
The children sleep
on their binders.
There is no psychology
nor logic
that will wake them
after eight workdays.

I wear a miniskirt
and they jeer at me,
their manliness grows.
what do wet dream
and suppressed desire
and sex

In an eternal instant,
the mountains are speechless
your spring dries up
there is no longer any riverbed
but a huge heap of garbage
like gangrene
gradually expunges your “elegant fascia.”

The boys encircle
the crazy lady,
corral her,
pinch her, grope her.
One day she disappears.
She hangs herself
with the television cable,
a gift from her benefactor.

I weep for the young girl
watching you, Rímac,
burdened by your purulence.

—Lady Rojas translated by Sophie M. Lavoie


Lady Rojas Benavente is a Professor at Concordia University. Her PhD (1991) is in Hispanic Literature from Laval University and her current research on Peruvian Women’s Narratives: Violence, Racism and Gender in National Post-Independence was funded by SSHRC (2011 – 2014). She has published 8 books (2 of which are poetry) and over 50 articles in Latin American women’s literary work, especially on Peruvian and Mexican authors. She is president of the Society for Literary Criticism of Spanish American Women Writers’ work (CCLEH) and has served as a Board member of several publications such as Alba de América, a literary journal from the US, and Voces, a Peruvian cultural magazine. She lives in Laval, QC.

sophie lavoie

Sophie M. Lavoie conducts research in the areas of women’s writing and social change in Central America and the Caribbean. Her studies focus on women in contemporary Nicaragua during the first Sandinista era (1970-1990), but she is also interested in other revolutionary movements in the area, such as Cuba and El Salvador and in women’s writing in Latin America. Her current research project focuses on the link between women’s writing, empowerment, and revolutionary action during the Sandinista era in Nicaragua. She has published articles in Canadian Women’s Studies/les cahiers de la femme, Pandora, Centroamericana, Cahiers d’Etudes Romanes and Descant. She is Associate Professor at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, NB where she teaches Spanish and Latin American Cinema.

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. Vallejo, César. The Complete Poetry: A Bilingual Edition. Clayton Eshleman, Ed. & Trans. Berkely/Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007.
Jun 092015

A Anupama


Why God fucks us

A moment ago, I was wondering where I was.

I was holding my legs, my arms around them.
I sit like this so often, head resting on knees.

God finds me in this pose, and leaves me to sulk.
I suppose then I get angry and chase Him down,

and He can’t be found anywhere.
He knows He is torturing me, and He laughs.

So, I go into the kitchen to make curry, and while I am slicing onions
and crying, He comes up behind me and caresses my breasts.

It’s good that He’s impervious to the knife in my hand.
I suppose that I could have told Him to go away,

but it’s God after all, and I like it against the kitchen wall.
He likes this too, and I am hoping that I will not lose all of me

or stab anything that shouldn’t be stabbed with a kitchen knife
while He is having me. He is here again?

Chasing doesn’t work, so I stand here, being a woman,
and I am lucky that way. Do men wish they’d invented a goddess?

Instead of the guy in robes? Maybe, I don’t know.
Does God like it that He’s a guy?

Yes. Why else would He fuck us all so often?



I couldn’t look at the river anymore
so I drove north to Rockland Lake.
I passed the hospital, where Oak Hill cemetery
presses close to the road. I passed Hook Mountain
where it broods over the Tappan Zee,
and I drove to the far side of the lake, where in old times
men had cut and hauled blocks of
ice from its clear hard surface.
I parked the car and stayed in it. I looked at
the ice. I thought about the hook in my
watery place, the new-conceived baby,
the ill-conceived affair, and how I was
now caught where the darkness pressed close
and thought about going to a clinic for an abortion.
Then the thread of my thought, which
had been unraveling from some invisible seam
near my right shoulder, grew taut. I looked around.
I pulled my arm forward, but it wouldn’t
give any more. I went back home.


Carrying Lila

Durga threw up in the bathroom this morning a second time, and she was tired. She went through the bathroom cabinets looking for the Sea-Bands. She found them. She went to the radio on the counter and turned it on. Madonna was dressing him up in her love, which sounded good. Durga moved a little, catching the beat. The nausea lifted a little. A little meant a lot. She turned up Madonna a little louder. “All over your body,” singing salty sex in a pregnant soupiness.

She looked at the Sea-Bands and felt disgust. Another drawer, where was the vibrator? Durga put a hand on her hip and rummaged. No, not there. She searched another shelf and then went to their bedroom. Mahish’s bedside drawer was locked. Why locked? she wondered in annoyance. The diaphragm, who cares? But the vibrator too.

She walked back to the bathroom and put a Sea-Band on her wrist. It pressed her acupressure points. She couldn’t imagine it helping. The nausea swept in again with the Air Supply song playing now. She moaned softly, put her head down on the cool counter and then a conch shell appeared in her hand. She put it to her lips and blew and felt a vibration start inside it and end in her whole body.

Another Sea-Band on her second wrist, and now a sword appeared in her grip. Shining like the sea, and sharp as seawater in a cut, it gleamed a power to open the drawer by splitting it in two. Durga chuckled, knowing she wouldn’t have to since she already had the conch.

Next Sea-Band, on her third wrist, brought a chakra, blowing a cooling breeze on her hot flushed pregnant face. Another Sea-Band and a bow appeared, stretched taut like her belly, stretched out like Kama’s bow. It shot, taking out Mahish, who was in his study. She didn’t notice.

A Sea-Band on another wrist, and now the scepter, like a trident. To rule over the tides of this nausea? she wondered. And on her last arm, the Sea-Band’s plastic nubs pressed her wrist, twisting her hand up—a mudra. Her hand opened out and away from her, away
from her belly
where Lila
lay dreaming
a tiny dream.

The mudra lifted from her hip to her navel. Then Durga felt a muscular body under her thighs. A tiger moved there, sleekly.


Climbing of a tree

“When a woman, having placed one of her feet on the foot of her lover, and the other on one of his thighs, passes one of her arms round his back, and the other on his shoulders, makes slightly the sounds of singing and cooing, and wishes, as it were, to climb up him in order to have a kiss, it is called an embrace like the ‘climbing of a tree.’”

—from The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, tr. by Sir Richard Burton

Once, half way up your thigh,
my calf twisted around yours
while my hands clasped behind your ears
like the tender tendril ends
of wisteria, leaves still
furled together.

Now I am chopping these down
whole woody coils fall
each time I stop to cover my face
and cry. I feel them,
lying heavily on the ground
and dragging as I walk.
I smell them, living green,
and they coat my hands, sticky sweet.


Kodaikanal vacations of my childhood

Minakshi steps demurely over the Vaigai River and proceeds firmly out of town toward the Palni Hills. She gets tired of the sweltering heat in her palatial temple on the plain. We follow her between the rows of tamarind trees to the place where the road starts to climb. She takes the short way up, a graceful leap, and she arrives at the beautiful lake, where the air is thin with altitude. We drive up the winding road, past fruit stands, forests of eucalyptus and waterfalls.

When we arrive, she is standing waist-deep in waterlilies, making garlands for herself by dipping her body into the water. We hire horses and ride around the lake, looking at her from every angle in this mountain-place. She reveals herself here, in the cool air closer to the burning sun.

We visit Coaker’s walk and gaze at the plain in the evening, when the electric lights flicker on as the heat lets off. Shiva winks at her from there, we notice. Minakshi laughs brightly behind us and leaps over us, gliding down on everything.


Ars poetica

Sometimes a jam jar full of jam
is broken,
and jam is spilled on the floor.
My children asked me to write a poem
about that because it happened just
after I read a poem at their school
about my jam jar filled with peppercorns.
I am writing this in pencil
because I cannot bear to spill
anything else
or have it spilled indelibly
and inerasably.
And how can I write it this way
for my children? Do they know yet
about the indelible stains?
The sharpness of glass
in blueberry jam?
They saw it with their own eyes today,
just now,
and they chortled with delight
because I write.

—A. Anupama


A. Anupama is a poet and translator whose work has appeared in Fourteen Hills, The Bitter Oleander, CutBank, and elsewhere. She studied at Northwestern University and Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she received her MFA in writing. She currently organizes literary community and is a founding editor of the literary journal River River,, and a Contributor at Numéro Cinq. She lives and writes in Nyack, New York. Find her musing at

Jun 022015
Jowita Bydlowska photograph2Image: Jowita Bydlowska, ice & fog series
“Amorous absence functions in a single direction, expressed by the one who stays, never by the one who leaves: an always present I is constituted only by confrontation with an always absent you.”

—  Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse, trans. Richard Howard



There should have been a meridian with bleeding cloudlines ransacking the view while the cowslips sunk under a spell as your feet fairly fell them         Neither of us can recall the urgency we felt on top of a skyscraper to take six buses into the middle of the countryside (in March, no less); neither of us can remember what we had hoped to find in green-arbored labyrinths—the azure blur of a sky spotted swellingly with eerie moorland gusts—apart from solitude yet here we are still joined like marionettes at the hip with no fortunes in our hands and no lethal means of severance         Binocular vision you hawk your gaze askant and swear you can see Snowdon in the east so I turn west toward where Snowdon actually is and say nothing encountering only fog and lowlying smoke which I thought we had left the city to avoid         On an outcropping of rock I imagine the primed back of Friedrich’s wanderer and his planted dangerously dangling toe and feed you pieces of applewood cheese straight from a knife’s serrated edge almost wanting to draw blood but smiling pathetically instead         You do not even touch my skin, I can no longer remember the last time you spoke my name aloud while looking me head-on in the eyes, I look upward and around to view nothing but to sense rather the perilous power of nature and a sublime kind of erection and I no longer wonder if what I sought was the same as what it was you did         (the same horizonline refusing a pattern resisting a building’s pointed linearity the same banal mood that stems from the threat of rain the same stench of our lackadaisical bodies—yours rank like a dying lamb’s, mine bold as a guillotine’s—the same sound of potent silence between us which not even touch being absent can assuage)         I take a mossy patch of stone beneath my skull for a pillow and shut my eyes against the balking barrenness of fields the yawningly monotonous hillocks pretending for a moment a moment quicker than the flick of that steed’s tail that you and I are back in the city—the smell of you helps the memory along its fiction—with the same gulf between us only less room than the moors serving now to exaggerate rather than to obfuscate

st-jerome-writing-caravaggioSt. Jerome writing, Caravaggio, detail



Wings were never heavy but with time
quadrilles distending their forms
lolling veins and elbows loosed quick

behind a trick door in wrought paneling
so that even we lost count     I swear
ghosts would prefer this interlude

to the fortune tellers lines so obscure
no gesture no future no bird can be sure
A quick lull tarnishes the tune so that

all bodies go placid facing one another
expectant eager erstwhile     You bow low
but I sense the breeze shard a shutter

neighboring pairs rescind wrists singly
collectively renouncing in a moment
of delusion     Amorphous colors

croon casually still the wind always wins
I spy a swallow behind your shoulder
neck low as if it is being bled     I see

the trick door open and then close again
but there is no mirth when a hand crashes
down upon a boned key in disrepair

No one knows how to move but you
yet we all see stillness as a weakness
What happens in private remains uncharted

our future wants only a veil to be told.

The_Incredulity_of_Saint_Thomas-Caravaggio_(1601-2)The Incredulity of St. Thomas, Caravaggio, detail


A Conjuration; A Demolition

The trees never enough when our moon forked across leaves leaving a trace of freckles where once there had been pitch and a dull hum of distant trains         What tongues I knew then I can no longer say but I crushed my fingers into fists and spoke for hours on end in time with you I believe and the intransigent twitch some swallow made nocturnally in its nest

Did we conjure anything dangerous or did we manage to dispel definitively the demons along 9th Street where once there were tongues of a different sort who can say?           A vacant lot now where a derelict church used to seep solace across a street corner whose ends they’ve elevated erasing the languorous lengths on which we took childish chances with ancient words

I still gaze into the sky sometimes think fondly of hunters’ belts but there is an emptiness now where once we had seen vastness has necks worth all risk         Scarce memories running naked such sickled oaks you and I beneath deluding ourselves we were waxing I can honestly say from higher ground my tongue knew no thing no matter what spells from it you supped

Michelangelo_Merisi_da_Caravaggio_-_St_John_the_Baptist_-_WGA04154St. John the Baptist, Caravaggio, detail




Splayed you recall a language I have lost
red anemone shouting city to shatter
a slumber sketched in southern hues

the crass linen folded under arched thighs
an expectant autumn raged sluggish
to score all that we said and all that we did

I asked you what you saw in that darkness
from what chaos you returned primed
eager keen to greet the canvas haphazardly

to quell an impending sacrifice to convey
all that we were and all that we had yet to be
mounting you was mounting me the geometry

skewed that the city offered only bones
I gnawed you shrugged I withered you throve
in one tight moment the legs flailed

like a murder the hips pushed back on oak
as if insisting the narrative was subjective
how to carry you how to ask you carry me



Red anemone shouting city to shatter
an eager autumn expecting you to say yes
I watched you sleep your jaw skewed

to flatter the light the branch outside cracked
and we came together again it is enough
it is never enough in that scene scored slow

to allow for the proper rise and fall
southern pitch of highway the road east
where bone meets thighs where hips

are incidental to the narrative withering
the chaos from which you return sluggish
heaving crass to greet any morning lover

who would keep you from answering the call
gristle grooved but it is all that we share
we say all we can say and do all we can do

like a symphony conveyed and stretched
your hands holding the image by its tips
your eyes pleading in a language I have lost

David_and_Goliath_by_CaravaggioDavid and Goliath, Caravaggio, detail


Moses, Part 1

My brain full of you he showed up uninvited with a chain demanding signatures     the legalities of putting the Red Sea between us sotto voce as if anyone still held sway over whether or not the guillotine would crash     Worthlessly I fell into bottles like a sibyl whose prophecy fulfilled only the worst I had heard him spill some oceans ago when I cared for dogma and restrictions some language ago I’ve since lost shaken from my tongue like tea leaves or unwanted cum     I tried to make good with you but my touch wasn’t enough and I’ve lost you like I lost myself nearly a whole decade ago     A connection surged     I knew you like no one for a spell and however many miles we traipsed along city streets I was bent on building a narrative with you around across in between     I wanted to tell you about him but thought that my lips were enough     I stood in the rancid wind and the blistering sun for two straight hours trying to move from the spot where I had rooted myself in speaking out to you my own fears     your song would somehow do     A passing man spoke to me passingly about the end of days rattling a cup in my face like a temptation or an accusation the train looped in a tunnel like he might be right then stopped     last night I slept in fits with your hip against mine and I blamed some other man the whole time for the river being closed where for once I lacked the gall to call in the fucking gods


Moses, Part 2

When once we were familiar     your scent on angora a reminder of your weight
pressing on grinding into me those moments when we were one     and I
alone watching you sleep openmouthed like a baby in need of burping a thwack

across your back break my mother’s back please     the travesty of hospital lights
and a father who flatlines awake claiming to have seen the light     the word
his creed returned to him and I only know you can act as interpreter or guide

What books must he devour to make his god which is your god see him go
with no regrets and no bad blood     I wonder at silence after you and I watch
a documentary about Israel’s moment of silence whole cities motorways people

falling to their knees for the dead     for what is memory but a constant war
between what happened and what continues to happen in dreams over which
we have no control     and yet we keep returning back to the scenes of crimes

like monstrous voyeurs     When once you loved me I could see orbits in your eyes
a cosmology I recognized but could not name     pain was behind it all I see now
so bring out the leather the whips the buckles notch me a good one before

you leave    I have welts on my palms like a stigmata I never earned     how
to tell you the truths I know     a man who named my body his for four hours
locking me in a bathroom the size of a prison after I had swallowed poison

trusting too much for my palms were always open     despite the marks
not even the priests knew what to do with me calling me faggot witch heretic
When once you read me like a book that was the book of books     we ran

in fields in dreams we never shared like illusions were enough to save us
our hands embraced from an eventual severance     Solomon knew what you
were on about just as I knew playing Bathsheba would never keep you close

how to make you love me desire me part me like a sea     red and swollen
I take him inside of me and pretend his face is yours     the beard
you grew for me Jesus on a poplar tree     upside down like the fool in a Tarot pack

and perhaps we were fools     the sun for you was where you dove
into books with indecipherable languages in susurrant tongues     you saved for me
something like mockery in a carpark or a switch shaved for a poppet’s hiding

When once I skinned you     tomahawk in the crux of my hand like a blade
I wanted only to keep you mine forever     foolish frenetic failing each time
you spoke but did not mouth the word love     calling me dear as if that were enough

when you see somehow what you have done to me     When I see somehow what
on earth I have done to your heavens perhaps there will be a bridge between
the godless me who is always caught with his pants down in rivulets that would rival

the reddest sea your namesake scaled as if it were child’s play     a bridge between
that cleaved part of me and the stoic part of you     a prophet mine if I had believed
and yet when it was too late when all of the blood had crusted over like copper

left to weather     when all of the stories my body still had left to tell you
were silenced gagged rendered mute     I see you in some window reading a book
that has nothing to do with me but which is me all the same     I am there

imprisoned waiting to be claimed redeemed but your god has told you in runes
I am not worth salvaging     I park at the bottom of the carpark to write this
in the hollow of my hand across an expanse of thighs     When once you were mine

I could have translated this for you     I could have made you understand I was yours
and you were mine no matter what the tablets said     A man whose name
I do not know plays charades and I make him turn the lights out to feel bristle

against clavicle     he is not you but he will have to do     In losing me
you have lost the book we were writing with gods and demons and love
that is something as harsh as menses but always strong on your lips like mine

those words we made that no scholar can unravel when once you knew
before you did not know that we were saved     that the desert was ours to blame
as we let the sun shine on our bared skin like a new religion     a backward prayer

entombmentEntombment, Caravaggio, detail

—K. Thomas Kahn


K. Thomas Kahn‘s work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, The Quarterly ConversationMusic & LiteratureBerfroisBookslut, Numéro Cinq, and other venues. He is Reviews Editor for 3:AM Magazine and Words Without Borders.


Jun 012015

Victoria KennefickVictoria Kennefick

Victoria Kennefick’s debut chapbook, White Whale, already a winner of The Munster Literature Centre Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition, I am delighted to say has (in the last few days) also won a Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet and well deserved too!

While discussing White Whale (with its recurrent images of the sea and that great white creature of myth) in a recent interview, she stated that “the sea is my context. It is how I understand time and space…. I can’t imagine life, or my poetry, without it.” Indeed her writing reflects that fluid quality, the poems possessing the same illusionary motion of waves: their words, like the sea’s water particles, staying in place while transferring their energy to the next word (particle) in line creating a distortion of our external reality to yield up an internal truth. Kennefick, it should be noticed, is not, like a sailor, using the fixed stars to determine time and space but the sea itself. In this way, perhaps, she resembles more the whalesmen of Melville when he writes, “in maritime life, far more than in that of terra firma, wild rumors abound…they [the whalesmen] are by all odds the most directly brought into contact with whatever is appallingly astonishing in the sea; face to face they not only eye its greatest marvels, but, hand to jaw, give battle to them…”

—Gerard Beirne



I turned my back on aeonian coffee dates,
I have no patience left to watch you eat a pastry,
sawing it into tiny, bite-sized portions
to nibble at with milk teeth that refuse to budge.
Please know it’s because I felt like a savage.

I put out the lights on looping walks around
the Lough, Fitzgerald’s Park, the entirety of the city.
I like to walk in silence, alone, I do not need to burn
the way you do. I’m glad you have a dog now.
Please know it’s because I felt lazy.

I left the room when you cried at birthdays, graduation,
my father’s funeral. I do not want to sweep up your broken
porcelain face from my floor anymore, not at my wedding.
Sometimes it’s about me. I am happy you found love.
Please know it’s because I felt selfish.

I shut the door because we talked in circles, spiralling
into the centre of our own darkness. Your devotion
flattened me. Old friends thought we were lovers.
I could not pick you off, like a plaster I had to rip.
Please know that I am sorry.


Marie Céleste

I am too young for this body,
it cracks and snaps.
My mast broken into points,
my sail flaps in tatters, loose angry skin.

My mouth is full with tongue,
wooden and dumb.
My hair locked in coils,
breaks on dry shoulders.

Paint flaked off like old make-up,
the green of my eyes died.
Above an albatross shrieks
at this body open like a cave.

Yawing wood unclasps,
ribs collapse, fingers untwine,
whining to float on grey water,
washed out, broken.

Fall into the blankness of the tide,
leave behind the old and splintered thing.



Because she demands it,
the rain comes.
Everything stops,
conversations drip with it,
eyes water.
I ask villagers what she did.

The priest says he saw her dance
in a white nightgown,
a fallen star not knowing
where to land. The doctor
noticed drops fuse with her skin,
fizz like sugar.

Calm as a mushroom, I watch her,
safe underneath my umbrella.
Hear her when she squalls,
‘The rain will dilute everything,
set lakes and rivers free.
Then you’ll see an ocean in me.’

After a few days, the rain stops;
sun dabs puddles like wounds.
There is no flood, we are glad.
She sits alone in steaming clothes
bleeding white on wrinkled skin,
her sky seems clear forever.


On Reflection

The sea
a shell rippling open
puts itself in the shallows,
leans over quivering panes,
dips tippy-toed to look at itself
now it’s low tide.
It squints up at us shivering,
our breath clouds of brushed cotton.
Goose-fleshed toes burrow
down to where worms squirm.
Sand, hands cupped, holds us up,
my head in view, flat on the water
in the sky, pupil in the eye,
turned in on itself, and out,
and you and I, and me and you,
and us, pinks, blues, periwinkles,
a cockle, kelp.
The ocean takes us all,
the sky too,
on reflection.

—Victoria Kennefick


Victoria Kennefick’s poems have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry (Chicago), The Stinging Fly, New Irish Writing, Bare Fiction, The Penny Dreadful, And Other Poems and elsewhere. She won the Red Line Book Festival Poetry Prize 2013 and was shortlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize 2014. Her pamphlet, White Whale, won the Munster Literature Centre Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition 2014 and just won a Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet. You can follow her @VKennefick.

May 102015

David Spitzer


Book A:  Nominative part one:  Isaak (from Genealogy of the First Person)

ii.    isaak        I watch light fracture, shape itself along the bronze edge.  it radiates out of the hip of my father; it rises.  the sea is vastly overhead.  pine and cedar spindles tinge and reverberate the knife’s call.  everything smolders beneath the midday sun.  something from below.  from above—its arcing sea-wave, a wave of pale air, a voice, a temblor, an open storm.


*                        *                        *


I       ………  am sacrifice.

I      ……….  am paradox.


I    ……….    am promise, covenant—future in the instant; presence.

a people thousandfold            like stars.


*                        *                        *


through the dust rising
like daybreak
behind the pack-animals

mountain of uncertainty, of


*                        *                        *


eyes whirl   ……….     to the light, in
the light.

the light
is the message,… ..   an angel
of the g-d.

all eyes
roll towards the teeming waters
above us.

Abraäm”  [22:11]



the voice of g-d mirrors
itself and all
else within the mirror of it-
-self. ..   a window.
………….a voice
…………………….of mirrors.

empties itself in the paradox, the double.  I hear

from ..    the very center of his bronze knife.  speech
the air distancing light   …. earth  …      perpetual waters of the above.


I.”  [22:11]


an angel is a lightning-tip, a
of primeval
water.  a word
a vessel— ……..       lightning strikes, reduces itself
………………………… on the surface of heaven.

volting heavens of a worded sea, angel:


“Not    upon
the neutral ground
the play with no player

Never.”  [22:12]


*                        *                        *


I watch light fracture, shape itself along the bronze edge.  bronze light radiates out of the hand of my father; it rises.  it falls on the dry earth.  the sea is vastly overhead.  pine and cedar spindles tinge and reverberate the knife’s call.  everything smolders beneath the midday sun.  something from below.  from above—its arcing sea wave, a wave of pale air, a voice, a temblor, an open storm.  a storm of precipice, open, unbroken.  immanence in a torrent upon my eyes.


*                        *                        *


negatives slit

the fabric of    vocables, air;
rent on a  ….   seam, a shorn

jagged edge of too too solid flesh,


I        …………am not

the hewn pine, not
the torches’ resin, the pyre’s

not    ………   the father, is
………………..not the blade is

not..    the light.  light
………… not the sound, not fury.

sound     ….   is not voice; voice not echo.

…….is not    light.

I   ….. am not    messenger, but
……………………….the message, the sign.



the chasm of heaven and earth and the chasm
once more of earth as air is

……………….self, ……………       fissure.



plural        …………is the number of the first
………………………………………………..person;    negation inside self; negation




…………………………………………………………………………………………………its other.


*                        *                        *


through the dust rising
like daybreak
behind the pack-animals

mountain of uncertainty.


*                                                *


I     ……………………………..                   am         …………………………….               now.




[the moment is the self, an eternally sudden ‘now’ and the present tense as such; victim to the annihilation of the moment into its next instance.  the self, as isaak, is sacrifice to the ephemeral, is the ephemeral in its flashpoint, the day’s relentless arc to later day and later day and twilight and night.

the moment, as isaak, works as an object to others, for others; a blank in the continuum of willing, not as isolated units that accumulate to the whole of time, but instances of a hurling out or hurling into the path of others; of the self.  a suspension of the ethical:  not mere conformity with universal—which requires no such suspension because the ethical always presents itself as the ground and backdrop on & in which the individual acts and for the sake of which the individual commits the tragic ethical action (city, people, et cetera)—but an outburst from the universal into the region of faith, whose field is the absurd.

isaak is no ethically invested institution but a beating heart straining itself to live as its individuality on the field of the absurd, the ‘apart from the silence, the unspoken-ness of what is.’

isaak is the ego in his aspect of the beating heart upon the ground of the absurd; the object of a divine promise; paradox.  all that is ethical depends on the ego and its preservation, while faith and its unspeakable depth hinges on the will to sacrifice it into the starless void of the eternal:  the very essence of the ego at rest on the knife’s edge.  the threat of immanent and absolute annihilation renders the ego in its most interior moment, the moment of its initial posture towards the exterior in faith.]


*                        *                        *


I watch light fracture my reflection along the bronze edge.  it radiates out of the eyes of my father; it rises.  the sea is vastly overhead.  pine and cedar spindles tinge and reverberate the knife’s voice.  everything trembles beneath the midday sun.  from above— a voice, its arcing sea-wave, an open storm.


*                        *                        *



a word …..       atom-  …..      -izes



now        ……..a focus, a
…………………center in flames.

…………………still, one:  an offering
…………………of smoke; dis-

rise I like unto stars, ten-thousand eyes of heaven written on the name I am (given).


I          …………………………….              am       …………………………….                 given.


*                        *                        *


first, my voice says:

…………………………………..“father.”  [22:7]


I am a sacrifice replaced by a ram on the mountaintop.

there is a pyre beneath every
action I take.  when
will the god arrive to spirit
away this volatility?


this frailty—


*                        *                        *


inside this

frailty, spirited away as   …. i



i:   the laugh of an elder upon an eternity of parchment, of sand


*                        *                        *


and……..       called an angel of the lord

……Abraäm, again
……out of heaven, speaking


just as the stars of heaven
and just as the sand gristing the
sea’s lip,

a blessing to you, where blood is
water to flow
into water, where
bone is smoke
for the air, where
my voice is all—


turned away Abraäm toward the children of his own and uprising they made their way together toward the spring of the oath.  and down settled Abraäm upon spring of the oath.  [22:15-19]


*                        *                        *.


I am light fractured along the bronze edge of the g-d’s voice.  I radiate out of the mouth of earth, and of sea, and of air.  heaven is vast.  the earth is blood and emanating the knife’s voice of blood.  everything bleeds under the sun.  something stirs itself up from below.  from above, something has fallen, something risen, a wave of blood-tinged air, a voice of water, an open storm.  where I end the world quivers, sands give way into stars.  a merciless sky.


*                        *                        *


through the dust rising
like daybreak
behind the pack-animals

mountain of certainty, of

—D. M. Spitzer

After undertaking graduate studies in liberal arts, philosophy, and classics (each at different institutions), D. M. Spitzer completed a Master of Fine Arts in writing (poetry) at Vermont College of Fine Arts.  Mr. Spitzer’s first book, A Heaven Wrought of Iron, will be published by Etruscan Press in Spring/Summer 2016. Current poetic projects include:  the afterword to a collection called mousika, which presents transfigurations of T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets & the Latin texts of the psalms used by Igor Stravinsky in his Symphony of Psalms; an essay to accompany a new transfiguration of the poem by the early Greek philosopher Parmenides, tentatively (re-) titled Figures of Being; and continued work on the large-scale hybrid project Genealogy of the First Person. In fall, 2015, Mr. Spitzer will begin work on a Ph.D. in comparative literature where he plans to concentrate on the relationship of poetry to philosophy as it occurs in early Greek thinking and the work of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and others. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with his wife & their three children.


May 092015

Macdara Woods Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival 2014Macdara Woods at the Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival 2014 — photo by Robin Parmer

Macdara Woods unquestionably possesses one of the most singular voices in Irish poetry. He has published eleven collections of poetry since 1970 with his Collected Poems appearing in 2012. In addition he has published two collections in Italian and has poems translated in twelve languages. In 2002/3 he worked on two collaborative commissions: the first, In The Ranelagh Gardens, a sequence of  twelve new poems to go with four new pieces from the Irish composer Benjamin Dwyer, first performed by both, in Dublin, in the Bank of Ireland Mainly Modern Series, February 2003.  In July 2003 he completed the second, The Cello Suites, a six-part sequence of 480 lines, in response to a performance of the Bach Solo Suites by US double-bassist Richard Hartshorne at Verbal Arts Centre, Derry, in 2002. It was premiered by both in Harrisville, New Hampshire, December 2003, and performed again in Toronto, New York, and Dublin. He has read and lectured extensively throughout the world over the last fifty years, most recently in Brazil and Argentina.

Perhaps Bernard O’Donoghue, in his Irish Times review (2001), put it best, “Macdara Woods has been an absorbing and relatively unplaceable presence in Irish writing since the 1970s, because the internationalising tendency of his poems to push the boundaries of Irish poetry outwards was always balanced by a rooted use of Irish language and tradition.” And push those boundaries he has, but in a careful measured way. While living mainly in Dublin, he also resides as much as he can in Umbria, where the poem featured below, Sons Are Older At The Speed Of Light, is located.

Macdara has described this poem as “a serious statement of record and intent arising out of a nightmare progression of medical catastrophe, starting from a fairly routine surgical intervention.”  Five days after the routine surgery he collapsed with a severe near fatal sepsis which necessitated a second surgery and a further eleven week stay in hospital. Upon release, he suffered excruciating pain in his back and leg which ultimately led to a hip replacement, “but I was so wrecked from the sepsis, and because I also had a still open wound, the surgical team was very hesitant about going ahead. So they hit upon the idea of keeping me semi-knocked out, to try and control the pain, until January when they hoped I might be stronger and a bit more healed. In the event, two days before Christmas Eve, there assembled round my bed 4 serious faced harbingers, the man who had done the first and second operations, the man who would be doing the hip replacement, a beautiful and high-powered Romanian anaesthetist, and a microbiologist. There to tell me that I was getting worse instead of better, that in fact I was as good as I was ever going to be…”

The following day he had his hip replacement which required him to learn to walk all over again. It was more than a year after his initial surgery that Macdara was finally well enough “to get back to Umbria, a place I had begun to feel I was never going to see again, to start reassembling myself.” The poem was written last September after he managed to climb up to the top of the hill-town of Nocera Umbra.

—Gerard Beirne


Sons Are Older At The Speed Of Light


My father did not finish things
Such things as rows
Or playing parts ..And breakdowns
Retiring early ..Died too soon
His final words to me — A
Half a question ..Half unasked
At no point answered ..Comes there
Any answer ever? ..Do you…
Do you remember…When…and there
It stops unfinished in my head
Do you remember when we… ..Lost
The points of contact maybe
Or lost the faith ..Or lost our nerve
Lost certainty along the way
As is the way of things ..And now
That I am gathering speed
The train tracks meeting in the distance
Far behind ..The fearsome nameless
City rearing up in front ..where I know
No one ..and none know me
But where we all get off
It is too late to even think of asking questions
And of whom? ..The young Eastern
European with the tea-urn
Has passed up and down the corridor
Three times ..has disappeared
And gone for good
As has the man who checks the tickets
And the district nurse ..who is
The only one that anyone could trust
Out of the whole shebang and calaboose
Or – to use my mother’s phrase –
The Slaughterhouse
This travelling slaughterhouse on wheels
We call a life
……………..But not an unconsidered one
Out of the four last things
This one remains ..Impervious to fashion
Time or doubt: ..the flame flickers
And goes out
The bird across the banquet hall
No more than that
………………………..And yet we
Mostly ..stand our ground ..because
It is expected
And what I am trying to understand
Even now at this late hour
Is your unhappiness and thus my own
Beyond the dopamine deficiency
And those endorphins
Creatures of ..the vasty deep
Who do not come when they are conjured



Yesterday I climbed ..lungs heaving
Up the earthquake damaged street
……………………….Nocera Umbra
Much ..chiuso per restauri
And simple minimal beautiful
So free of traffic of noise
Mid-Wednesday afternoon
One self-conscious policeman
Checking doors so tightly shut
Not even dust could penetrate
And near the top
Two men are laying cobble stones
In sand ..tapping them square
Into the roots of time
In shadow
In the lovely buttered ..honey light
Of mid-September
……………………..This constant need
For rehabilitation ..Spells in John Of God’s
Cataracts removed
Colonoscopies and cardiograms
Or how in 1991 in Moscow
So many Metro escalators stopped
Seized-up ..steep egress from the underworld
Sotto Restauro ..everywhere Ремонт
Remont ..we climbed up from
The marble bowels and chandeliers
Of Kruschev’s dream made real
But lacking maintenance
The way we do not finish things
Where entropy comes in Auden’s
Sinister cracked tea cup
And the Watcher in the shadows
Who coughs when you
……………………………would kiss
Or coughing ..labour upwards
On a stick and artificial hip
To the Civic Tower and campanile
La Campanaccia at the top
Built nine hundred years ago
And standing straight ..full weight
Erect proclaiming ..Eccomi
For I am here and have been here for all to see
And have been seen
………………………..As I too am here
And have been seen ..been part of this
Small space today between the Tower
And the Cathedral
All chiuso per restauri ..Have seen
The maintenance and putting things
In place ..Knowing that they must
And will go wrong again
And be put almost right again
Poor transients —
Until the Heracliten lease runs out



And one day indeed the words ran out
And we ..with nothing ..left to say
Consulted over menus
Read bits of news ..repeated saws
To get us through the silence — you
Didn’t know
……………………..And I had yet to learn
That few words ..A simple few
Could be enough ..could tell it all:
A tendency to stagger to the left
And sometimes teeter backwards
Which could explain
My dreadful fall in Fiumicino
Too much saliva
Varied tremors ..Hands and chin:
And sometimes fingers clawed
In sudden spasm
…………………….Do I go on
Into the realms of dysgraphia
Staccato speech ..Shoulders stooped
A slowing of the gait?
I prefer
To watch the dancers in the village square
The ballo in piazza
Sunburnt mirth ..Provencal song
That so caught Keats’ fancy
Out of reach
And I have had a longer run than that

And not yet reached Astopovo:
Still travelling
………………..To places all unseen
Invisible to those with open eyes
It needs a certain antic 20 20 vision
To housepaint in the dark
As we have done ..And plastered walls
Without a light in Fontainebleau
Not cowboys then or now
Just battling with addictions
………………………Drink and pills
And work ..At labouring ..And selling
Two hours of life to buy a third
The hell with that bum deal
I said ..And I have now grown old ..And someone
Cooked the booksbooks
……………………….Along the way
The way we knew they would – So
Who owes what to whom is moot
Irrelevant ..We last from day to day
No more than that ..That’s it .Enough
For now
The diagnosis works ..Of course it does:
Who ever died a winter yet?

………………………………September 19th 2014

—Macdara Woods


Macdara Woods was born in Dublin in 1942. Has been publishing work since the early sixties. He is a member, since 1986, of Aosdána, (set up by the Irish Government to honour those who have made an outstanding contribution to the Arts in Ireland). Recent reading tours include Austria, Russia, the United States, Canada, and Greece. His Collected Poems were published in 2012 by Dedalus Press and his pamphlet, From Sandymount to the Hill of Howth, was published by Quaternia Press in 2014. He currently lives in Dublin, and when he can in Umbria. He is the founder-editor of the magazine Cyphers (1975 to the present). He is married to poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, and they have a grown-up son, Niall, a musician.


Apr 102015

David Zieroth travel pic


DAVID ZIEROTH IS A GOVERNOR General’s Award winning poet and memoirist. His writing career began in the 1970s with his first publication, Clearing: Poems from a Journey, which was nominated for a Governor General’s Award. He won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 1999 for How I Joined Humanity at Last, and the Governor General’s Award for English language poetry in 2009 for The Fly in Autumn. After a 25-year career as a creative writing instructor at Douglas College, in New Westminster, BC, Zieroth has retired to write full time.

I met David in 1999 at Douglas College. We’ve remained in touch largely through a mutual friend and enjoy comparing our reading lists. Once every summer I look forward to discussing literature with David over a glass of wine on a brick patio overlooking Shoal Channel in Gibsons, BC. He’s broadly read, has an incisive mind, tells traveller’s tales with aplomb and loves to laugh at his own failings.

In the 1990’s David reclaimed his first name, leaving Dale Zieroth behind, a moniker attached to him by a first grade teacher with two Davids in her class. Since, he’s come into his own as a force in Canadian literature working in a variety of forms: poetry, memoir, and creative non-fiction. He has been praised for his “intelligence that sometimes moves with staggering speed.”–—Brian Bartlett, Fiddlehead. The Governor General’s Award winning The Fly in Autumn received this citation from the jury: “In The Fly in Autumn, David Zieroth addresses our common and defining human fate—the loneliness that is a rehearsal for death—with a tenderness and buoyancy that shows the reader ‘how to walk in the dark with flowers.’ The intricacy and exuberance of rhyme and the breadth of vision are stunning.”

On an unusually bright November day, I met Zieroth at his favourite coffee shop in North Vancouver. We sat down with cups of coffee in the busy café, and immediately we both broke out bags of books.

—Kathryn Para



KP (Kathryn Para): I first knew you as a creative writing instructor at Douglas College, and you were a bit sharp and very intimidating. I think it was late in your tenure and you were tired of teaching, and yet I remember worlds opening in that class. In The November Optimist your protagonist calls himself a “Conscious Curmudgeon.” Is curmudgeonness difficult to keep out of your work, or do you naturally gravitate to the generosity particularly apparent in The November Optimist?

DZ (David Zieroth): When I start writing, there’s a certain necessary lack of editing, and sometimes that curmudgeon is strong. There’s less of him than there used to be, because, of course, it’s my job as a human being to refine that curmudgeon a little bit, to balance him. I used to be more aware that he was there – and his perspective is valid – but I’m less bothered by his presence now.

No one wants to read a curmudgeon’s writing. Unless it’s that of Thomas Bernhard, the great Austrian writer. His work is so acid it’s almost unbearable, but you can’t help but love it because of the incisive skewering.

KP: What are you reading now?

DZ: I’ve got five books with me: On Being Blue: a Philosophical Inquiry, by William H. Gass; 1913: The Year Before the Storm, by Florian Illies, which is about writers and artists of that time, about Rilke having a cold and Kafka writing his endless marriage proposal; Let Me Go, a holocaust memoir by Helga Schneider; Heinrich Böll’s Irish Journal; and The Hundred Lives, by Russell Thornton, a remarkable poet who lives right here on the North Shore.

I spend quite a lot of time in second-hand book stores because it seems I’m more interested in books that I’ve missed than in books that are coming. Perhaps that’s ironic or paradoxical, or perverse or worse, for a writer to say. I said once that I was going to read new books until I was 65 and then reread, but it hasn’t worked out that way.

KP: How did Marcus Aurelius’s work come to your attention, and why is it important to you?

DZ: It must have been in university, a long time ago. He went away and then came back decades later. I was reading him when I was writing The Fly in Autumn. And he appears in “Vindobona,” a poem in Albrecht Dürer and me. What I like about Marcus Aurelius is that I can hear his calming voice from across the 2000 years. Plus he has a strong moral vision that appeals to me.

KP: The Education of Mr. Whippoorwill: a Country Boyhood is an autobiographical work, and personally, my favourite piece by you, partly because it’s so familiar—I grew up on a farm—and because I love the tone: the recognition of a hard life, and the compassion completely free of sentimentality. How did growing up on a farm help develop that sense of compassion?

DZ: I did see that animals suffer: they were tired, cold, thirsty. The cows came in from the field, and they rushed to the water trough. Also, there were people worse off than my family: those passing through, those who were poor – poorer than we were – and those who were just unhappy. My parents were stable, decent folks, aware of the strange people and the people who might not make it through the winter. You learn from the sense of community that surrounds you.

KP: In Crows Do Not Have Retirement, in the poem “Question,” you write: “when I was afraid to say/ I had a soul…” Were you afraid? Why? What is the concept of soul to you now?

DZ: Years back, the notion of having a soul—I had trouble with that idea. Do I have a soul? The poem brought that up. Now, instead of asking if I have a soul, it seems obvious that I am a soul. That’s a different perspective. The soul has these things it has to do, and some things are hard and some things are easy, some things it loses control of and some things it tries out anew, and it’s all the work of being human.

KP: November is a grey month, but particularly so here in Vancouver. I dread the loss of light and the short days, but here we sit in an unusual arctic chill and bright sun. I made it through last winter on such a long bright chill. Does the light make a difference to you? If so, why stay here and not return to the prairies where the sun shines on a regular basis?

DZ: I’ve lived in North Van since the seventies, so almost by accident it’s become home. In July, August and September it’s paradise, so the secret is to get away in January. And it doesn’t have to be Mexico. I don’t mind the cold, I don’t mind the snow, it just has to be light. I suffer from SAD, and it can be startling what a difference light makes. It’s hard to articulate that to people who don’t have it. It’s not the rain, it’s the cloud cover you’re wearing like a heavy, huge hat! I like the prairies, I have friends there, family there, but… And the best thing about Vancouver is: no bugs.

KP: In The Fly in Autumn, the poem “All of Life We Practice Dying,” you write: “slowly he unearths that asking why/ is a way to prayer, to soften and/enter the quietus after rage.” Is there prayer for you? Does it offer peace?

DZ: No, but I take the question to mean, do I have a spiritual practice of some sort. There are so many different ways of praying. For me the practice is writing. Not that what I’m writing is necessarily prayer-related, but the practice of writing is a way of centering, of clarifying and creating, and no matter what the poem is about, just the actuality of writing it, creating it and making it right is a jubilation. I can’t imagine not writing. It’s very healthy, it’s who I am, and not to do it would exact a tremendous cost. The peace that comes from writing is the peace of satisfaction, of fulfillment, even of surprise, because of course in writing there are always those moments that make you think, Where did that come from? You’re inside something going on inside you.

KP: In How I Joined Humanity at Last, which was the first volume by you that I had read, you wrote a poem called “Foot Rub,” which is the poem I recall first. I couldn’t get over its intimacy, and the strength of the image has remained, the father holding the daughter’s foot. How do you survive the intimacy of publication?

DZ: The old chestnut is, “Poetry is what you say to yourself, and prose is what you say to other people.” There has to be an element of heart in the poem, and because you’re talking with yourself, you explore the images and ideas that come to you, and intimacy is natural. The kind of writing I’m doing needs to touch other people; it’s not dazzling in its language, it’s not formally a masterpiece, so it has to have an element that will reach across to the other. As for publication, I don’t think about it too much, but, yes, there is a vulnerability involved.

KP: The November Optimist reads like an ode to loneliness. It’s so intimate and the device of including the reader with the “you” construction gives such a personal focus for the desire of the narrator. It was very easy to put myself in that place. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by saying that the object of desire is not achieved, and the narrator returns to books as the more real or satisfying experience—“the return to the pages’ dream” (page 88). How is the intimacy offered by literature, poetry or prose, a replacement for love?

DZ: Anybody who’s been in love knows that there’s no comparison, there just isn’t. There’s nothing like love. But having said that, if there isn’t love, what’s lovely about books is that they’re such good company, in a wide range of voices, and they offer intimacy. All the books I’m reading now offer that quality, where you can hear a person thinking, feeling, mulling. And it’s not just feeling, you’re also privy to their technique, their art. Books are no replacement for people, but they’re an excellent second best.

KP: As the winner of Canada’s most prestigious literary prize, what can you say about the value of prizes?

DZ: The value of the prize was very personal. The best thing about it was how happy my friends were. In some ways they were more excited than I was. People would say heartwarming words to me, and it was gratifying to see that I lived in a community of people who were so supportive.

The money meant I could fix my teeth, pay off my debts, and I could travel. Our country recognizes the importance of writing by placing money in the jury’s hands. The validation meant that my other books might get read a bit more. I didn’t need the validation – though I might have needed it two or three books before.

The larger question? Awards acknowledge achievement, but they also create losers. Think of all the writers who didn’t win the award. And I think it’s hard on writers who win an award too soon. That kind of attention can cripple them. They have this perception that a lot of people are waiting for the next book, and they’re not able to get back to that necessary solitude of the self without thinking of all these people waiting. Is this what they want? Is this what I should be doing?

Earle Birney said, you always want to discourage writers, because the real writers will continue anyway. I don’t know if he actually said that, but there’s some truth to it.

KP: How does the Alfred Gustav Press fit into the new world of publishing?

DZ: I wanted to work with paper and with poets and coloured pencils. I’m in production right now. I draw every cover, and there’s a temptation to go quickly, but I have to slow down and be patient. There’s a value in working closely and carefully, with every cover different because each is hand done, and a physical pleasure in collating pages and stapling them together.

I named the press after my father, a lover of winter reading; he was also the kind of person who could fix things with nothing, or so it seemed. I’m trying to create beautiful books in the way he repaired machinery on the farm. And of course it’s about the poetry, about the manuscripts that come to us, and about the way we decide on the ones we publish.

KP: Juggling the meanings of words in the series of poems, International Relations, reveals your delight in language, although as a poet, that seems a given. In, do me a favour, you leap from the literal translation of láskavosť or kindness into the figurative, then into abstraction, then turn gracefully to a concrete visual summary of the concept. What technical choices are you consciously making here?

DZ: I am not conscious of technique when I write, and the idea of paying attention to technique while writing is bewildering to me, and so I have very little to say. I don’t use that language.

I write intuitively: Do the words speak, do they catch at that something that is there that is more than words? I’m not thinking, or not just thinking, because of course I am assessing, weighing, accepting, rejecting words all the time (and certainly when I’m revising even if already the first joy of the thing is paling) but always in such a fashion that I’m open to what is wordless up until then.

All of which sounds different from the way it actually is, which is both lightning fast and dead slow. At any rate when I’m writing I’m not thinking about line breaks et al; rather I’m trying to grasp the whole experience engendered in the inspiration so that it can be more than me. And sometimes it works!

And sometimes I get in the way and block my own openness to whatever thought is singing through me, my own preconceptions taking over and stalling the growing poem. And sometimes I don’t hear enough in the first place. Then I go back to the couch and the novel. Or to such a travel book as D. H. Lawrence’s Etruscan Places: “The soul stirs, and makes an act of pure attention, and that is a discovery.”

KP: Your newest book of poetry is Albrecht Dürer and me. What can you tell me about it?

DZ: Travel was an opportunity the Canadian taxpayer gave me when I was awarded the Governor General’s Award. I wasn’t planning to travel, because I didn’t have money or time, and then my daughter married an Austrian and they live in Vienna, and gradually I began to travel, and now I can’t live without it.

So the book emerged as a surprise. I wasn’t thinking about writing a book of travel poems. The book is really about someone who is looking at what it’s like to live away from home and to rethink ideas about home and elsewhere. Travelling is both thrilling and confusing. On the back of the book it says, “these are poems that could only be discovered through dislocation.” And that’s true, the book’s about what one learns from dislocation but also from surprise, art, history, music and people. It’s a pilgrimage in a way: there are poems about James Joyce, Sigmund Freud, W.H. Auden, Gustav Mahler, Anton Bruckner. The audacity! Who am I to write about these famous people? But the Auden poem, for example: We borrowed a car and went to the Vienna woods one day, and Auden’s grave is there, and something about it spoke to me, and I asked myself, am I really going to write this poem? I resisted for a while; then I thought no, this wants to be done, so I’ll do it. It was very satisfying.

—David Zieroth & Kathryn Para


The following group of poems is new work inspired by an unexpected friendship that began with meeting a random stranger in a café, a visitor to North Vancouver from Slovakia. We ended up meeting regularly over a number of months, exchanging language lessons, sharing our fascination with each other’s language. I thought of calling these poems “International Relations.” —David Zieroth



means not important in Slovak
but as the word emerged in greater
context I heard it come closer
to BS, the way Miro tossed it
as we entered and left a store

a Bratislava citizen, he attempted
to tune my friends’ ears and mine
to the soft ‘l’ we could barely
hear, certainly not pronounce
just as he had trouble with the ‘v’

in Vancouver, which he managed
beautifully by the time his four months
ended and he flew home, leaving us
to wonder what else besides the
softness of a consonant we had missed

his self-containment we understood
a sportsman’s, blue-eyed focus
and the way old houses brought him
joy and awakened his village within—
a world before money

which rekindled my own child-self
climbing without fear into a wagon
to sit between two strange men
horses waddling ahead, tender
joking I understood as kindness



means rattled in Slovak, he said
the morning he told about
leaping back before a big car
ran him down, the white hand
untruly telling him he was safe

I said the sun must have blinded
the driver’s eyes, sun so rare
and you’re invisible, Miro
I joked, like all Slovaks here—
when last did we see a Slovak?

rattled, because usually traffic
here is polite, unlike his city’s
where pedestrians have to cross
cautiously, cars are king
and walkers never smile, too long

under the realm of closed borders
some wary of what others say
their language owing a debt
to history, more Russian than
English available for curses

if over 30 you’d know Czech
and German and other fears
a nation the size of an island
surrounded by five larger ones
and far from the calming sea



means star in Slovak, and
that evening we thought
at first Venus was a plane
landing at YVR except
it didn’t move just brightened

above the city, the sky
behind deepening into black
Miro cooking his country’s
famous kapustnica soup
and when we ate our fill

I looked into the night sky
and heard myself wonder
that I might have been born
elsewhere, hours of air travel
away, perhaps where paprika

grew in a garden and wise
hands grated cabbage
into sauerkraut and added
salt and blessings—or where
men rode in war machines

stars on their shoulders—
instead, fortune found me
in good company, half dozing
(driemajúci), and distance
no more than a table length



means happy in Slovak but also
lucky, a good pairing of the near-
impossible, I said, and Miro
laughed, understanding jokes
a sign of his improving English

then he showed me how
to stretch the mouth sideways
to say the word: as one grins
with lips in a line, his language
using more mouth, less tongue

than mine—and slowly
I heard a door open
where he once had lived
amongst the days he owned
then, a boy whose father

whistled from a window
time now to come home
all the hours he played
so freely with his friends
in the gardens, on streets

I heard that door again
as we bent over sushi, a first
for him, when its freshness
made him speak of food
his mother made each day



means sad in Slovak, maybe
homesick—everyone knows
how the struck chest sags
how the twist in the valves
yields an arid song

we must turn our faces
away from friends when
such feeling builds, fearing
kindness will trigger
the up-rush of tears

when asked ‘What gives
strength?’ Miro looked away
said ‘Boyhood returning
before sleep,’ sweet warmth
he savoured, a nakedness

that gave for one moment
assurance to continue—and if
perturbing events prevailed
to je život—it is life—not
to diminish but to accept

that fullness extracted a price
he paid at evening
in order to arise next morning
reborn, the old smutný cloak
not to be worn at all that day


do me a favour…

…I said to Miro, please say
favour in Slovak láskavosť—
which also means kindness!
my head tilting at their linking
as if I’d misheard…

then leaving favour behind
I leapt on to nuance instead
eager to explain that
yes, he was kind to his mother
but he was not her kindness

unless of course truly he was!
he the part in her that let her
love the world so that she left
cruelty behind when he was born
an only son, always a favour

from the gods few believed even
lived anymore, how at the instant
of their demise they kindly
cut us free before they themselves
dissolved: vapour, steam, heat rising

vanished, only present now
when a mother made soup
filled the house with vegetable
smells, the tug, animal:
umbilical, primal and always kind


pie in the sky

…I explained as aspirations
beyond natural capability
a meaning that engaged us
much less than choices
we might make with mouths:

apple—jablko? I thought
of my mother’s raisin creation
brimming with dark sugar
and a crust of rising gold

I chomped through thoughtlessly
presuming everywhere
had such fare, surely not
a rare great expectation
from a naïve boy’s point of view

(even if famine in China
came in waves back then)
and prompted by time I asked
Miro for his impromptu sky-
target—a ticket to Bhutan!—

we both looked up as if to see
hovering in the heavens more
than sun, then instantly loved
its vastness we could not live
without, food for our light within


speak of the devil…

…I said, and Miro understood
said hovorit o čertovi back to me
his example classic: talking about
certain person X who just then
enters the room!—although

no horns on him, no black cape
flowing back into searing flames
no fork ready to pierce us even
though we’re not believers in either
this fellow or his angelic counterpart

later, on the street, we met
a deranged man—and I heard
my own mind thinking heedlessly
‘the devil take the hindmost’
but I intended the local madman
no further harm or worsening run

didn’t mention the phrase’s arrival
as we walked, deemed it puzzling
and worthless—until I thought
was not that the way the devil
worked, squeezing himself in

wherever he could?—and so many
entryways waiting! I was made fearful
but then breathed again, knowing
my friend, upright and near, would help
to save me from myself, if need be

—David Zieroth

David Zieroth’s latest publication is Albrecht Dürer And Me (2014), poems. The November Optimist, (Gaspereau 2013), is part memoir, part fiction and part poetry. The Fly in Autumn (Harbour, 2009) won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in that year and was nominated for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and the Acorn-Plantos Award for People’s Poetry in 2010. He has also published The Village of Sliding Time (Harbour, 2006), a long poem; Crows Do Not Have Retirement (Harbour, 2001), poems; and The Education of Mr. Whippoorwill: A Country Boyhood (Macfarlane Walter & Ross, 2002), a memoir. He won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize for How I Joined Humanity at Last (Harbour, 1998); his work has been shortlisted for a National Magazine Award, and his poems have appeared in over thirty-five anthologies, including A Matter of Spirit: Recovery of the Sacred in Contemporary Canadian Poetry (Ekstasis, 1998). He has also published five chapbooks: Hay Day Canticle (Leaf Press, 2010), The Tangled Bed (Reference West, 2000), Palominos and other poems (Gaspereau Press, 2000), Dust in the Brocade (The Alfred Gustav Press, 2008) and Berlin Album (Rubicon Press, 2009). He was born in Neepawa, Manitoba, and now lives in North Vancouver, B.C.


Apr 062015

George Szirtes



That night I spent my last nickel to call Steve.
The box was empty bar the usual cards
advertising the usual services of night.
One lives for such small favours, such rewards.
One lives for what night keeps up its loose sleeve.

Steve, I said, come down. It’s quite all right,
there’s no one here to speak of, just a queue
waiting to get into a show and they’ll be gone
once the doors open. It’s just me and you.
We will be reasoned, affectionate, polite.

The stars collide and break up one by one.
The street is empty now. I’ve seen the show
already and it’s fine.  There’s a decent bar
in the next block. I’ve seen the headlights glow
then vanish. There is nothing to be done.

So Steve came down, it wasn’t very far,
and then it started raining as it does.
I felt the usual tightening in my throat.
It was the same then as it ever was.
It’s what we were before. It’s what we are.

Let’s talk then, you and I, as if by rote.
Let us repeat the words and walk past doors
as if they weren’t there and neither was the rain.
These streets and bars are our familiar shores.
But let’s head out now Steve. Go get your coat.


Photograph of a face

Should someone ask me what life is, I’d say
this is, knowing it is only you, but reading
your face, the light enveloping it, into all faces
for what a face might mean when it is loved
and stares into the dark room of the world
as though that too were life, the light as kind.



They were writing Valentines to each other when the words began to splinter. They are more beautiful like that, they thought. Tiny and clear.

He drew a word from his pocket. It was old and yellowed. Give it to me, she said. I’ll wear it when it occurs to me to do so. Maybe tomorrow

So he bought her a dress of words and she put them on. Now try dancing, he said. You spell them out first, she said.

See this word ‘love’ he said. You can have it. I have more back home, but none as nice as this. Try it. It was hotter than she had expected.

She held the word at arm’s length. She had the most beautiful arms. The word was not important. It was the arms. The hands. The fingers.

The word ‘sex’ was never mentioned. It stood outside the door looking at its shoes so she came out and polished them.

I am sure it was in my handbag, she said. Then he drew it out from behind her ear. It sounded like the word but it was only a close rhyme.

What is the right word for your body, she asked. I couldn’t possibly pronounce it, he replied. But I have written it down.

There is a word in my mouth, she said. Open, he said. Yes, I think I can see it. Breathe gently. It’s one of mine. Now blow.

She put the word down by his hand. He picked it up and examined it. It was breathing. It had a scent. He popped it into his mouth.



My mouth was empty
when the words flew out, light, free,
loud, unencumbered.

I watched them swooping
over rooftops, their flight path
dazzling and certain.

They were beautiful!
How marvellous to master
the air and let go!

They made shapes in voice
and light. They were the language
of grace in movement.

Being so dazzled
I forgot everything else.
I was blank, weightless.

I became language,
a hot mouth, a form of flight
powered by rapture.

I could be written
out of the world, be nothing
but the cry of birds.

My mouth was empty,
there was nothing left in there
except a hot tongue.

Fly home dear words. Nest
in my mouth. My tongue is hot
with yearning for you.

Let me believe you.
Speak me into being. Sing
the heart of the house.


A Low Flying Plane

Somewhere in a sky
purring with cloud and light, planes
talk to each other.

What is the language
at the bottom of the throat,
that deep-lying growl?

When does it enter
the hangar of the stomach,
how does it park there?

From nowhere at all
the planes appear. The sky cracks
under them and bursts.

I’m trying to hear
the subtext of this, the blown
language of such noise,

the sense of low flight,
the way it presses dense air
into liquid shape.

Then the plane is gone
but things have changed. The tongue,
the ear, the dead sound.

—George Szirtes


George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948. He is the author of some fifteen books of poetry and a roughly equal number of translations from the Hungarian. His New and Collected Poems (2008) was poetry book of the year in The Independent. The Burning of the Books (2009) and Bad Machine (2013) were both short-listed for the T S Eliot Prize which he had won earlier with Reel (2004).


Apr 032015

cid corman and gregory dunneCid Corman & Gregory  Dunne

Cid Corman was born in Roxbury, Boston, in 1924. His seminal magazine Origin was one of the first to publish poets such as Charles Olson, Gary Snyder, Denise Levertov, and Robert Creeley. In addition to the magazine, Cid, a poet and translator, organized poetry events around Boston and started the country’s first poetry radio program, This Is Poetry at WMEX featuring readings by Creeley, Stephen Spender and Theodore Roethke amongst others.  In 1958 he moved to Japan where he continued to edit Origin and in 1959 published Gary Snyder’s first collection Riprap. He began to translate Japanese poetry, in particular work by Basho and Kusano Shimpei. A prolific poet, he published over a hundred books and pamphlets. In 1990 he published the first two volumes of his selected poems Of. In all there are five volumes each containing 750 poems. Volumes 4 and 5 were just published in January of this year. Although described as a selected poems, Corman did not necessarily see it that way. He saw it as a single book that told his life in passing. Cid Corman died in Kyoto on March 12, 2004.


I am grateful to Greg Dunne, not just for the extract from his new book but for the wonderful opportunity he gave me back in 2000 to spend an afternoon visiting with Corman in his home in Kyoto. I had been travelling with my wife and young children in China for several months and stopped off in Japan on the way back to visit Greg. Over the years I had heard the story many times of how after moving to Kyoto Greg had stopped in at a coffee shop, CC`s, that sold western style ice-cream and cakes. The shop turned out to be Corman’s and Greg soon joined with a small group that met with him every two weeks for gatherings that lasted five hours or more. Cid read and talked poetry with them, discussed their work.

That afternoon, however, we talked to Corman about his work and his life. I got the feeling that he liked visitors so that he could relate the stories of his past to them, and through those stories reaffirm his true relevance to American poetry. This seemed to me to be borne of disappointment, sadness even – an awareness that his decision to live in Kyoto had left him largely forgotten in his home country. Nevertheless, it was evident that deep-down he knew that the poet’s life was exactly that – a life, a way of living. And he talked that day too of not even wanting his name on his poems at all, at refusing publicity when it occasionally came his way.

He excused himself at one point and left the room briefly returning with a copy of the first issue of Origin. He was proud of it, and rightly so. He spoke then of his writing routine. His morning began by writing letters, long letters to anyone who had taken the time to write to him. “If you write to me,” he told me, “I will write back.” After his letter writing he began work on his poems. He took me in to see his study. It was stacked high with manuscripts, heaps of paper across his desk and all around the room. “I write a book of poems a day,” he said. Most of these pages would probably never see the light of day. The act of writing to him, it appeared, was akin to the act of breathing – a breath in/a breath out, a word given/a word taken. This was not a rushed process; it was not a mountain of first drafts, of beginnings, but an ongoing expression of self.

Cid Corman

Later we took a pleasant walk to the post-office to mail off his letters and then said our goodbyes.  Despite his generous offer, I never did write to him. I regret it enormously of course but, in some ways these feelings of regret seem apt – a more fitting response to our short afternoon together.

—Gerard Beirne

quiet accomplishment cover


What is theoretically innovative, and politically crucial, is the need to think beyond narratives of originary and initial subjectivities and to focus on those moments or processes that are produced in the articulation of cultural differences. These ‘inbetween’ spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood – singular or communal – that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself. …….~ Homi Bhabha

A boundary is not that at which something stops but, as the Greeks recognized, the boundary is that from which something begins its presencing.…..~ Martin Heidegger

IN 1990, CID CORMAN PUBLISHED the first two volumes of this five-volume magnum opus book of poetry, of. The work was monumental in scope – each volume consisted of 750 pages of poetry. The book included many translations of poetry from around the world and from many different time periods that stretched from the earliest of times – Greek, Hebrew, and Chinese texts – up through contemporary poetry translations. In an unusual move, Corman left his translations un-sourced, that is, he did not attribute his translations to their original authors openly. Some fellow writers, notably Clayton Eshleman, found Cid’s practice suspect and wrote to Cid concerning it. Eshleman explained his dismay in the following way: “I was shocked to find Cid’s translations here, of Homer, Sophocles, Catullus, T’ao Ch’ien, Montale, Villon, Rimbaud, Basho, Malarlarme, Rilke, Ungaretti, Char, Celan, Artaud, and Scotellaro, treated as Corman poems. So I wrote to him questioning such appropriation” (Eshleman).

To do justice to the book, a book of this size and scope, and a book that is the culminating event in the life of a significant American poet, more attention is warranted in exploring the act of his incorporating un-sourced translations into the book – how it was accomplished – and what rationale there may have been for the move, assuming the act is not simply one of appropriation. To understand, appreciate, and comprehend more fully what Corman was up to then, one needs to begin with his poetics, with what informs them – his sense of poetry and its role and place in culture, society and life.

Translation came early to Corman and through the activity – within it – he found himself drawn into a larger community of poetry that would sustain his interest and attention throughout his life. For Corman both the writing of poetry and the translating of poetry developed at about the same time when he was in high school. Here he began translating Greek and Latin poetry. Later, during the war years (World War II), when he stayed home from the war due to his youth and illness, he went deeper into translation. In conversation, some years ago (1994), at his home in Kyoto, he told me about his start in poetry and how intertwined it was with his activities in translation:

…The first quatrain I wrote one Sunday two weeks after Pearl Harbor was… (shakes his head in disapproval)… almost like a translation from ancient Greek, because I had been translating the Agamemnon of Aeschylus at the time. I had studied Greek in high school, and I was very interested still in Greek literature and read quite a bit at University, mostly on my own, this was not for any course. is was just for my own satisfaction. I had read no translation of Aeschylus that struck me as being accurate or true to the thing…. when I started out… I wanted to know about meter. I wanted to understand how poetry was structured, why they used rhyme, the way poetry moved. (Corman, APR 25)

The translation of poetry affects his poetry. Even as a young man, he was able to see the effect that translation was having on his poetry. The force, or influence, is so strong that he seems to recognize a need to disassociate the two: he is unsatisfied with his own poem because it reads too much like the work he has been translating: “. . . almost like a translation from ancient Greek, because I had been translating the Agamemnon of Aeschylus at the time.” The translating of poetry is shaping this poet – the translation work is exerting an influence that Corman recognizes and understands as becoming a part of him. Though he seems to understand the influence can be negative at times, he does not disavow the overall positive influence that the practice is having in teaching him how to become a better poet. In our conversation that day, he went on to make the following points:

By the time I was a sophomore, I was studying Baudelaire, Rimbaud, and Mallarmé. And those poets struck me very strongly. They were new to me, and they were different than American poetry. But, I figured by translating I had a way of getting closer to what they were doing, and by doing that, I could learn.

So… it was the beginning for me. So I translated almost all of Les Fleurs du Mal for myself. They weren’t meant for publication. To learn. So it was for me, my education. (Corman, APR 25)

One sees from these comments that Corman understands his beginnings as a poet to be closely associated with his beginnings as a translator. We see also his passionate interest in non-English poetries, and his interest in translating as a means of education, of educating himself as a poet. In looking at the poetry of others, at other poetries, and translating that poetry into his own language, Corman put himself in conversation with other poets, and more importantly found himself within a conversation of sorts that involved poetry – a community of poets that carried him beyond the borders of language, state, and time. In this community, poetry itself became a unifying force –– a center that actually did hold, at least for Cid Corman.

We see further evidence of Corman viewing himself as working within a tradition and within a community when he collects his prose writings and publishes them as one book in two separate volumes. The first volume, Word for Word: Essays on the Arts of Language (Black Sparrow Press, 1978), contains essays related directly to his own poetry and poetic theory. The second volume, At Their Word/Essays on the Arts of Language (Black Sparrow, 1978), concerns itself with translation, and with the work of other writers: “At Their Word.” The two volumes make for a whole; with each volume informing what is said in the companion volume. Corman knows how essential translation has been in helping him to shape and refine his own understanding of poetry and how, in turn, his poetics have informed his translations of other’s poems.

And as it turns out, the first two essays in the second volume take up the topic of translation. Here, in the first essay, Corman offers five translations and commentary upon those translations: “translator’s notes.” The poems he offers are from Rilke, Baudelaire, and Montale. In his prefatory comments at the start of the essay, he offers the following explanation:

The versions here offered (my emphasis) are representative of different approaches possible. In all cases, however, the poems are pieces that have been savored and put into English originally for no other purpose than to prolong the translator’s own pleasure and perhaps to discover some possibility in them for his own tongue. Only where the results seem felicitous poems too (my emphasis) have offerings (my emphasis) been made to a larger audience. (Corman, ATW 10)

Corman’s use of the term “offer,” underscores his sense of giving – or gifting – the translations to the reader with humility – he makes no claim that the translations are definitive. They are offered – the reader can take them, or leave them: “The versions here offered . . .” They are being offered because the original poems were poems that he appreciated so deeply that he was moved to translate them, poems he “savored and put into English to prolong his own pleasure.” His versions of the poems, and only those versions that have become poems in English, and thus deemed worthy of being shared, become “offerings” to a wider audience. Corman’s explanation, particularly his use of the word “offerings,” implies both his giving something of himself to the reader – his work as a translator – and also – and more to the point here – his gratitude for the gift of the original poems. In this gesture and use of the word “offerings,” he implies his awareness of being part of a community that has involved many others over time.

He shows this attitude of gratitude towards the original poets and those who have translated the poem when he speaks of titling one of his translations, in this case the Baudelaire’s poem, “La servante au grand coeur dont vous étiez jalousie.” Unlike other translators who have tried to approach the untitled poem by translating the poem’s first line as the title and coming up with titles such as “The Servant” or the “The Kind-Hearted Servant of Whom You Were Jealous,” Corman titles his translation simply “after Baudelaire.” In his “translator’s notes,” he explains that “’After’ . . . is quite honest, for countless versions over many years achieved this result – which is finally a sort of homage to feeling shared.” The word “homage” as in the case of the word “offering” suggests an awareness on Corman’s part of being involved in a community – a world poetry – and a world that can be shared across time, space, and culture. Here is Corman’s version of Baudelaire’s “La servante au grand coeur dont vous étiez jalousie:”

after Baudelaire

The bighearted nurse
you envied, buried
sod, merits flowers.
The living thankless
rest between warm sheets
while the poor dead feel
all alone, no one
to bring them fresh trash.

If, at the good fire,
I saw her sitting,
some December night
found her in my room
crushed from the long bed
gazing at this child,
what cold worlds tell her
tears filling those eyes?
(Corman ATW 10)

Corman felt a need to translate, as well as a need to share his translations of poetry with others: To make “offerings” to a larger audience. We see further evidence of this in the story of his coming to translate the poetry of Paul Celan and to publish that poetry in his magazine Origin.

After leaving the University of Michigan, and after a few years back in Boston where he hosted a weekly poetry radio program, Corman was awarded a Fulbright and traveled to France to study at the Sorbonne. In Paris, Cid wrote poetry and immersed himself in translation. During this time, in 1955, he met the poet Paul Celan, virtually unknown in North America at the time, and began translating his work into English. Some years later, when Corman wanted to publish his Celan translations in his magazine Origin, he contacted Celan to ask permission. Celan refused to give permission and threatened litigation against Corman if he pursued publication. After some consideration, Corman went ahead and published the poems in Origin and, as promised, Celan wrote an angry letter to Corman threatening “persecution” – an ironic typographical error, as Corman would later remark to me, considering Celan’s persecution by the Nazi’s during the Second World War. Celan had meant to write “prosecution,” of course.

In 1994, when I asked Corman how he first meet Paul Celan, he told me the following story:

My friend. I was living with her at the time: 1955, in Paris. Edith Aron (German, but reared mostly in Argentina, of Jewish descent too) who had helped Paul Celan get a job with UNESCO introduced me personally to him one day. He seemed very dour to me and they did most of the talking. Both near my age – early 30s. And she gave me his first two books and suggested we translate from them together. We did. And I did the first English versions ever and a few were published in Toronto by Ray Souster at once. I didn’t like those first two volumes as much as what followed. And I bought each of his books as they occurred thereafter and translated each – with someone native to German assisting. I met him just as he was really coming into his own. And I have translated all his work – much of it still unpublished.

I asked Corman what specifically attracted him to Celan’s work, and he answered in the following way:

His depth of language use – not as technics (cf. Zukofsky) but as the only way to get language to tell what life humanly is – touched me. I couldn’t /wouldn’t be as obscure and “difficult” as he allowed himself/his language to be, but I could feel the truth of what he was doing, or trying to do. And that moved me. To want to share that work – despite his challenging me. (Corman, APR 26)

Corman speaks in terms of feeling “moved” to translate the work, feeling compelled to share the work of Celan with others. He decided to publish the translations despite Celan’s “challenging” him. His rationale being, in so many words, that he felt compelled to share it – that he could feel “the truth” of what (Celan) was doing: “His depth of language use . . . as the only way to get language to tell what life humanly is – touched me.”

One might find fault with Corman’s rationale as stated here. Is his desire to share the work reason enough to publish his translations without Celan’s permission? But in questioning Corman rationale, one would also do well to consider Corman’s passion and sincerity to share the work. Every- thing about Corman’s life in poetry suggests that his reply to Celan was sincere. Of course, I do not mean to assert that passion and sincerity, in and of themselves, make Corman’s actions right or absolve him of honoring the wishes of Celan. What I do want to point out is that Corman was deeply motivated to act in the way that he did act, and that his action speaks to his understanding of poetry in the world, and per- haps also to questions of ownership of it.

Corman felt Celan’s work should be shared – that it needed to be shared. This desire to share poetry has remained consistent throughout Corman’s life: his poetry radio program in Boston was a way for him to share poetry with a wider community. It was a way of creating a community around poetry, for poetry. His founding of the magazine Origin was another way in which he worked to share poetry with a larger community: he wanted to get poetry into the world, particularly the kind of poetry that mainstream poetry magazines were not taking seriously, at least not taking seriously enough to publish.

Written correspondence was a further way in which Corman shared poetry with others. Correspondence, i.e. letter writing, was a central part of his life as a poet. In conversation once, he referred to it as his “life-line.” When I asked him if there was anything that stood out in the letters that he received – anything remarkable? He told me, “Everything. Every letter is my news. Is poetry” (Corman APR 26). At the time, I didn’t think he meant that the letters were themselves really poetry – but over the years I have come to doubt that first understanding – maybe he did mean it, literally. After all a letter, like poetry, involves the experience of one person sharing news, to use Pound’s word for poetry – news that stays news with another. Letters and poetry are correspondences, if you will, that share an experiential quality about them: the words of the writer being shared with the reader in an intimate way. So for Corman, this idea, of letters being “poetry,” is not as far fetched as it might at first sound. Perhaps his feeling on this accounts for his publishing letters right alongside poetry in his magazine Origin. In the first series of Origin (1951-1957) Volume XIV/Autumn, for example, he published the following section of letter by the Canadian poet Irving Layton:

Letter to Cid Corman

Lac Desert, County Lab
August 5, 1954

Dear Cid,…

In all these poems I’ve tried to express the idea “in the image,” for although as a rule I leave theorizing about poetry to others, there are one or two work-a-day rules I try to govern myself by when writing verse. For me, rhythm and imagery usually tell the story; I’m not much interested in any poet’s ideas unless he can make them dance for me, that is embody them in a rhythmic pattern of visual images, which is only another way of saying the same thing in different words. If I want sociology, economics, uplift, or metaphysics; or that generalized state of despairing benevolence concerning the prospects of the human race which seems to characterize much of present-day poetic effort, I know my way around a library as well as the next man. Catalogues are no mystery to me. I regard the writing of verse as a serious craft, the most serious there is, demanding from a man everything he’s got. Moreover, it’s a craft in which good intentions count for nil. It’s how much a man has absorbed into his being that counts, how he opens up continuously to experience, and then with talent and luck communicates to others (my emphasis) without fuss or fanfare or affectation, but sincerely, honestly, simply …

Yours, Irving

This letter appeared in Origin alongside Layton’s poems. It was not set off as a prefatory statement of any kind but appeared on the page as if a poem, in the flow of the poems presented there, with several poems preceding it and several poems following it.

Poetry is a craft, according to Layton, that demands much of the poet: “demanding from a man everything he’s got.” It is also a craft that demands the poet open up “continuously to experience,” a craft that calls upon the poet to communicate to others “without fuss or fanfare or affectation, but sincerely, honestly, simply . . .” These ideas are all in sympathy with Corman’s own poetics, as editor and as poet. Certainly, an open- ness to experience, and a direct form of communication/address are characteristic of Corman’s poetry. Here, Layton’s letter may be seen to be a poem in Corman’s eyes in so far as it achieves a rhythmic liveliness in its prose while communicating in a direct, unaffected and sincere way. A piece of writing that opens up to experience and communicates with others. In publishing the letter, we see Corman, the publisher, opening up to the experience of the letter and sharing that experience with others. In placing poes and letters in the magazine in such away, Corman seems to ask, “Why can’t a letter such as this be read as a poem?” Corman opens himself to the possibility of the letter being read in such a way – opens himself to that experience. In publishing the letter, Corman participates then in a reciprocal gesture of gift giving, and communicating with others – he shares Layton’s letter with a wider audience.

Corman’s active life as a correspondent is legendary, and the books of correspondence that have been published over the years indicate this – no doubt more books will follow.  The many letters between Corman and Charles Olson, for example, were edited and published in 1987 and in 1991 (Charles Olson & Cid Corman, Complete Correspondence 1950 –1964 Volume 1 and Volume II. Ed. George Evans, National Poetry Foundation, University of Maine Press); Olson’s letters to Corman were published earlier in 1970 (Charles Olson, Letters for Origin, Cape Goliard [London] and Grossman [New York] Ed. Albert Glover); a collection of Lorine Niedecker’s letters to Corman was published in 1986 (Between Your House and Mine: The Letters of Lorine Niedecker to Cid Corman, 1960 – 1970, Ed. Lisa Pater Faranda, Duke University Press); a more recent volume of Corman Letters was published in 2000 (Where to Begin, Selected Letters between Cid Corman and Mike Doyle, Ed. Keegan Doyle. Ekstasis Editions).

The contemporary American poet and translator, Andrew Schelling provides a telling and instructive story of his coming into correspondence with Corman through the aegis of Clayton Eshleman, who had known Corman in Kyoto years earlier and knew first-hand of his approachability, and his willingness to help younger poets. As Schelling recalls in a tribute that he wrote after Corman’s passing in 2004, he was a “fledgling poet . . . just beginning to publish . . . in the early to mid eighties” when he first corresponded with Cid Corman. Clayton Eshleman told him he had “to get in touch with Cid Corman.” Eshleman’s suggestion was a piece of “true counsel,” and not simply “a piece of advice.” Schelling listened to Eshelman and contacted Corman and they began corresponding. In short order, Schelling and Corman became correspondents. Corman replied “to every letter instantly,” Schelling says, expressing wonder at Corman’s generosity and attentiveness: “his aerograms usually leaving the day my own had arrived. Always an aerogram, always every patch of space on it filled with typewritten words—almost always a small poem or two or three typed onto the outside.” (Schelling)

As a poet living far from the American scene, one might expect Corman to have less to offer Schelling than an elder poet based in the U.S. and familiar with contemporary American poetics. Schelling however did not find this to be the case. While it was true, Schelling concedes, that Corman was not always up to date on the latest developments on the American scene, and that poetry news reached him “in curiously winnowed ways,” Schelling felt that Corman had something special to offer. According to Schelling, Corman’s “expatriate status gave him an in-touch status hard to qualify but completely visible to all who knew him. He was more a citizen of the world than are most American poets. His correspondence permitted him equal access to friends in Japan, Australia, Germany, Canada, and Mexico.” Corman was in his own curious way at the center of things – his correspondence had him in touch with poets around the world. For a young poet like Schelling, a poet interested in translation, Corman’s international contacts and his active engagement with translation had much to offer Schelling.

Corman wrote tens of thousands of letters to contacts around the world during his lifetime. His correspondents included friends, family members, and poets, as well as politicians, philosophers, artists, and religious figures. His correspondence with others was something that he wanted to share, that is, he wanted not only to connect with others through correspondence, but he wanted to connect others to others through correspondence. If he thought that one of his correspondents would benefit from getting to know another of his correspondents, he would try to put them in touch with one another. Through his correspondence then, Corman tried to introduce different writers to each another. When I first began corresponding with Corman on a regular basis, he frequently went out of his way to send me contact information about writers he thought I should connect with.

When one looks at the sum of Corman’s life then, one feels convinced that Corman felt poetry was, in large measure, about sharing and community. He felt that one of the most fundamental qualities of poetry was found in its ability to bring two individual lives together – to create a community of two: a conversation between the reader and the poet. This sentiment is found throughout his oeuvre. Here are four poems that demonstrate some of this:

Poetry becomes
that conversation we could
not otherwise have.
(Corman, ND 86)


As long as you are here –
Would you turn the page?
(Corman, APR 23)

The Call

Life is poetry
and poetry is life — O
awaken — people!
(Corman, APR 21)

There’s only
one poem:
this is it.
(Corman, ND 121)

In elegant and conversational language, Corman asserts the primacy of poetry in human relations in these poems: “Poetry becomes / that conversation we would / not other- wise have.” Poetry is unique and solitary in what it offers – nothing else is quite like it.

In the second poem we see a humorous and yet quite serious invitation for the reader to participate actively in the reading of the book. It is as though Corman himself were reaching out through the poem to make contact with the reader and participate in the reading of the book: “Would you mind turning the page?” The poet shows up and speaks directly to the reader – let’s the reader know that he, the poet, has thought of him. The poet has envisioned the reader one day finding himself on the page and reading. This is the community that Corman values – the interaction of one person conversing with another through the medium of poetry. Corman moves through time and space in doing this, he is aware of the poem’s ability to transcend time and space and remain relevant – to still speak. Here he quietly alludes to times’ passing and to the ephemeral nature of life: “As long as you are here.” This conversational line, a line we commonly hear, is brought to bear its full measure of import within the poem: the weight of intonation and stress falls precisely on the word “are:” “As long as you are (my emphasis) here.” If Corman were not the poet that he is, he might have written “you’re” instead of “you are.” Corman wants the reader to sound “are:” “As long as you are . . .” In other words, as long as you are here, and alive, will you turn the page?

This subtle gesture points to one of the enduring qualities and strengths of poetry: the poem speaks to the reader even when the poet is gone. It speaks to the movement of time, the movement within a lifetime, to the human condition of being here now and knowing we will not always be. The poet after all, is not really with the reader on the page in the present moment of reading. He has passed on. The reader in reading the poem understands this, feels it through the poem.

The final two poems cited above get at similar notions as the first two poems. “The Call,” again announces the primacy of poetry, equating it with life itself: “Life is poetry/and poetry is life – O.” And the final poem makes the playful and, at first glance, seemingly audacious statement, that “There’s only/one poem:/this is it.”

Of course, in a real sense, Corman means exactly what he says, and that is, that the impulse behind the writing of a poem, the engine of the poem, the origin of any poem, of all poems, is the same at its source – it is the impulse to speak, it is the “O” of breath and being – the reaching out of one to another through language – the poet and reader together – the song that brings one to another. It is at base a connectivity, and communication, a form of communion, or community: ”the conversation/we could not otherwise have.” Seen in this light, we understand the claim that the poem makes: there is one poem and it resides in our very breathing and breath. It is life.

This poem, this last one, is an especially helpful poem to consider in relation to Corman’s book of and his questionable act of incorporating un-sourced translations into the book alongside his own poems. I say this because in this poem, we see a clear statement which may be seen as supporting what Corman has done in the book; that is to say, he makes his poems and his translations one book, one unified book, one poem: “There is /only one poem:/ this is it.”


Of is, at first glance, a strange title for a book. How many books can one think of that contain a preposition for a title? Strange as it is, it is a title that is precise and telling, and one meant to draw attention. When one opens the book, one finds a preface that immediately addresses the rationale behind the titling of the book:

for those who find themselves here
and sounding the words care to be

this is a book of a life as exacting as any
other, not in chronological order, but
through as for all time: a small proportion of
what has occurred to me and to which the work
unseen is complementary

the title reflects a precisely physical metaphysics:
the meta the indissoluble unfathomable fact: the
genitive case: to which we are all beholden and
within which we remain hopelessly particular

and to the extent that a poetry can, these poems
articulate it – which humbly (meaning – aware
of there being no choice) reveals transparently,
whatever else may be felt, I trust (trust implying
you), wonder, gratitude, pain, and love.

(Corman, of Vol. I, 2)

The Preface begins by immediately engaging the reader: “for those who find themselves here/and sounding the words care to be.” The reader is said to be “sounding” the words, suggesting that the reader is actively involved in both sounding the depth of the words – the depth of their various and associative meanings – as well as physically making the sound of the words in their mouths – “sounding” them. The words themselves are said to be things that “care to be,” underscoring Corman’s emphasis on our appreciating “words” as having an existence beyond the individual’s control – emphasizing, reminding the reader that words exist independent of the individual speaker – that they are thus shared within a larger community. If words did not possess this characteristic capacity, of what use would they be? To the extent that words are shared, they carry meaning and significance for us, and they bring us together, allow us to communicate with each other. Readers can “find themselves here” (my emphasis) precisely because the words on the page belong to the reader as much as they belong to the writer.
 As Corman says, “The title reflects a precisely physical metaphysics,” that is, it attempts to underscore the existent relationship between the individual and the world beyond the individual to which the individual is both separate from and a part of: “the genitive case: to which we are all beholden and/within which we remain hopelessly particular.” Language is thus the bridge, or the “connectivity,” as the post-colonial scholar Inderpal Grewal refers to it (Grewal 236).

Corman continues to elaborate upon this theme on the following page of the book with another epigraph. Here he translates the Greek of Philo of Alexandria (20 B. C. E. ~ 50 C. E.). It is salient to note that Philo himself was writing a literary work in Greek that was based on the older Hebraic writings of the Bible (Genesis), namely the Old Testament. Thus Philo too, like Corman, was involved in translation – the crossing of linguistic borders. Corman translates the epigraph as follows:

The soul of the most perfect is fed by the word as a whole; we may well be content should we be fed even by a portion of it.

PHILO: Allegorical Interpretations of Genesis. III, Ixi, 176.(Corman, of, Vol. I. 1)

In this epigraph, Corman once more alludes to there being a whole to which we belong: “the word as a whole.” With my layman’s knowledge of ancient texts, I cautiously interpret Philo in the following way: I take the “most perfect” as referring to God. Following upon this, I understand God is fed “by the word as a whole.” I read “the word as a whole” to refer to the whole of humanity, and that humanity’s offering God prayers, songs, poetry – praise feeds God. If the word as a whole is what God – “the soul of the most perfect” – is nourished by then we lesser ones might be sustain by, and should be “content” with, even a portion of it, the word: our own individual languages. The divine world and the human world are bound by, and through, the word. For Corman then, poetry is nothing less than manna – an essential thing – meant to be shared. Further, it is the diversity of languages that Corman is signaling as being of importance. It is not one particular language but the word as a whole – all poetries contributing to the whole that feeds the most perfect.

With this title, preface, and epigraph, Corman makes the case, rhetorically, for including un-sourced translations from many different languages and time periods into the book. His gesture is to say that we are OF this material – that the poetry of the world belongs to all of us. Moreover, he means to suggest that we are shaped by our inheritance of these languages, poetries, and cultures. We are of them – born into a scene and situation that we did not ourselves wholly create. He honors the inheritance.

In 2000, Corman responded to the charge of appropriation – whether or not his use of un-sourced translations in of was a form of appropriation. Did he deliberately leave the names of the original authors of his translations off the page? In his characteristically frank way, he acknowledged that he had done so while emphasizing that he did so with a purpose:

Yes, of course. Take Eshleman, who I know very – have known very well: very angry at me for doing that, not to give the credits. But anyone who’s really interested could easily recognize… Most of them are very famous pieces; the others, often the title gives it away, where the source is. Anyone who’s really interested could easily find out. But the point is precisely I don’t want the names introduced. My dream, even when I first began, the first year I wrote poetry, was to be anonymous; and if you look at my books that I myself designed without fail, my name is not on the title page. This is unique: there’s nobody else that ever has done this and I do it deliberately. My name is put as a signature at the end, but actually, I would rather have my name not in the book at all…

(Corman, ICPR 1)

“But the point is precisely I don’t want the names introduced.” Corman doesn’t want the names introduced because he wants the work, of, to be that whole that he alludes to in the epigraphs. His own poems will be part of the book, but they will find themselves within a community of poetry – his poems will be at home within a greater whole.

While I think it is understandable how the charge of appropriation could be leveled at Corman – for he does incorporate translations of others’ poems into his book – I believe under close analysis the assertion of appropriation does not stand up. “Appropriation” doesn’t adequately come to terms with the nuanced complexity of Corman’s gesture, and it is in the nuance and carefully balanced aesthetic manner in which the translations are brought into relationship with Corman’s own poetry that matters. The manner in which the translations are incorporated allows for them to be felt as translations, known as such, while not overtly crediting them as translations nor naming the authors.

Corman asserts in the interview that anyone really interested in finding out the source of a poem can easily do so because the poems are well known, or they are tagged in a way that allows them to be identified: “But anyone who’s really interested could easily recognize . . . Most of them are very famous pieces; the others, often the title gives it away, where the source is.” In other words, Corman maintains that the translated poems remain in some fashion distinct and particular, in some way known and sourced.

This is in keeping with what he announces in the Preface and through his use of epigraphs. In some measure, “a precisely physical metaphysics” is enacted in the book: the translated poems remain particular within a constellation of other poems, including Corman’s own. The ability of Corman to translate poems and incorporate them so that they become both distinct and a part of the whole is one of the signal achievements of the text. And in so much as readers experience the poems as translations within the book, that is, poems different from Corman’s own poems, a multitude of voices are allowed to enter the book and circulate through and between Corman’s own poems.

For Corman to insert the names of the original authors on every page where a translation appeared would be to break (brake) the resonant play of the poems echoing off each other. It would be, in short, contrary to the aesthetic intentions suggested in the titling of the book. This is to say that the listing of sources would break the text into discrete parts and detract from the whole that Corman is trying to create.

When readers encounter translations in the text, the readers should understand that the poetry is other than Cor- man’s own. When Corman’s friend and fellow poet, Clayton Eshleman read the book, he had precisely this experience – he recognized certain poems as translations despite their lack of citation. The first poem, for example, is entitled Shingyo; as such, it immediately signals a foreign language – in this case Japanese. The poem is actually a translation of an ancient prayer, a sutra that comes from India. Just as Philo’s use of the Genesis story demonstrates his awareness of precedent, Corman too chooses a work that demonstrates his awareness of precedent, and the way in which languages and ideas cross borders and are shared among and within communities. The sutra, which is well known in Asia and in- creasing in the West, was written in Sanskrit at around 350 C. E. Later, Buddhist monks brought the sutra to China where it was translated into Chinese. Then the Japanese brought the sutra to Japan, and translated it into Japanese. Here, the sutra, known in English as “The Heart Sutra” is a work that has passed over and through many national borders, languages, and cultures to be shared anew through further translations. Interesting to note, and apropos to what Corman has said about his own wish for anonymity in poetry, the poem he begins the book with – his magnum opus – is an anonymous work, a poem that has been chanted by many different people of various cultural backgrounds for ages.

Beginning the book with this poem amplifies the theme struck by the epigraphs and the Preface, that is to say, the poem moves us to confront the paradox that we find ourselves in – we are particular and yet each exists within a community – in relationship with others – our shared language tells us as much: no one person invented the language, and no one owns it. It is shared. Shingyo speaks to a condition of enlightenment, which would have us acknowledge being both a part and a whole, a poem that celebrates non-duality:


Seeing reflecting sense nonsense
Friend – here is emptiness here is form
Unborn undying – untainted
unpure – no more no less – therefore
Friend – nothing to know or not to
to come to this – the suffering
reaching where it is and is not
Come – body – and go – body – no
body – gone to the other – gone.
(Corman, of, Vol. 1. 5)

The poem speaks to a sensibility that is unified, a non- dualistic sensibility – one that recognizes both the part (“body”) and the whole (“gone to the other”). It reaches through both – goes beyond opposites – to locate a site of commonality in a singular word of compassion “Friend.”

It is not only by titling the poems carefully then, as in the case of “Shingyo,” and by including well-known translations that Corman indicates which poems are translations: Corman also employs other techniques that quietly signal translation. The entire first section of the second volume of the book, for example, is indexed in the back under the title “Offered,” echoing the title of the book, of. Indexing the poems in this way, suggests that the majority of the poems in the section are translations, as they indeed are.

And it is not only by his unobtrusively marking the poems as translations that Corman succeeds in building the polyphonic quality of the text; He also succeeds through skillful translation. Corman is careful to honor the text, to honor the rhetoricity of the original. This is to say that his translations are distinguished by what the post colonial scholar Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak refers to as “fraying,” a manner of translating that eschews the long searched-for equivalency between the original and the target language in favor of acknowledging qualities of the original that may be better left un-translated, giving the text a frayed or roughened feel. As Spivak puts it, “The task of the translator is to facilitate love between the original and its shadow, a love that permits fraying, holds the agency of the translator and the demands of her imagined or actual audience at bay.”

Corman’s translations leave the text open and rough with possibility. When balanced between the translator’s agency and the reader’s expectation, Corman honors the rhetoricity of the text. In 1964, long before the term of fraying came into use in translation studies, Corman spoke about his willingness to retain Japanese words in his translations. For example, in the Preface to his translation of Basho’s Oku-No-Hosomichi, (Back Roads to Far Towns, Munjinsha 1964) he and his fellow translator decided to retain original Japanese words in the translation. Corman expressed their decision this way:

If the translators have often not accepted Western approximations for particular Japanese and/or Chinese terms, it is not to create undue difficulties for readers, but rather to admit an exactitude otherwise impossible. As a result, notes may be needed in greater profusion than before. (Basho, BRFT 10)

Corman is not going to smooth the text out so that it reads comfortably in English if that means compromising too much of the complexity of the original. The original words, rich in associative meanings, may offer a complexity that the English words cannot adequately represent, that is, the English equivalent is not accurate enough. This decision on the part of translators (Corman and Kamaike Susumu), make it is necessary for them to use original Japanese words in the translation. In translating Basho’s Oku-no-Hosomichi, Corman and Kamaike retain original Japanese words in both the prose and the poetry. Here is some of their translation work – the poetry following the prose:

Afterwards off to the Sesshoseki on horse sent by
the kandai. Man leading it by halter asked for a
tanzaku. Beautiful he wanted one:

across the meadow
horse take your lead now from the
(Basho BRFT 25)

In this brief passage, Corman and Kamaike retain four Japanese words. Their notes in the back of the book relate the following:

kandai: Castle overseer
Sesshoseki: Still exists, though fenced about. The legends associated with it are told in Noh of the same name.
tanzaku: Narrow strip of fine paper to write poetry on; a poem
hototogisu: Japanese cuckoo, whose name is its song.
(Basho BRFT 122)

In using original words the translators intend “to admit an exactitude otherwise impossible.” They bring the Japanese flavor of the original in – they “admit” it – because English does not have similar words that are reliably precise. By retaining the Japanese words the translators allow the shadow of the original to be felt and appreciated. By “shadow” I mean to suggest that Corman and Kamaike’s translation emphasizes that while it is not the original it does retain some of the original’s defining qualities. Hototogisu, for example, is the Japanese cuckoo, but more to the point – and the point Corman and Kamaike want the reader to experience – is the fact that the name of the bird IS the bird’s song. When the reader reads “hototogisu” the reader hears what the Japanese themselves believe the bird sounds like when it calls. And it just so happens that this has a further meaning (or possibility of meaning) – the sound of the song is imaginatively thought to be the sound of a Buddhist sutra. Thus, the bird is thought to be, figuratively speaking, chanting a sutra. The bird and its call are steeped in the folklore of Japan, and its literary history and culture. The reader gets the onomatopoetic sound that the Japanese themselves feel best represents the sound of the bird. The reader is thus connected in this way with Japan: its animals, culture, language, and people.

Corman frays many of his translated texts in of in similar ways. When he translates Catullus, for example, he uses the Latin title of the poem and translates the poem in the following way:


Happy, my life, to me you propose love
This ours between us perpetual be.

Great gods, see that she really can promise
And she say so honestly and from heart,

So that it be ours all life to continue
Eternal this trust of blest affection.

I will tell you the secret.

(Corman, of, Vol. II, 30)

Encountering a poem such as this would lead any observant reader to conclude that she is indeed reading a translation. Why else would the poem be titled in Latin? If this doesn’t wake the reader to the fact of the poem being a translation, the reader could Google the title and find the poem ascribed to Catullus. In other worlds, the poem calls out to be understood – read – as a translation. The fraying one finds in the translation makes this even more abundantly clear. This translation is not rendered in Corman’s contemporary American English, but in a distinctively textured, tonal, and syntactical manner quite foreign to it, resulting in a poem that sounds ancient. Some of the ancient sounding qualities of the translation come from Corman’s mining the possibilities of the original Latin poem. Corman draws our attention to the word “ours:” “Happy, my life, to me you propose love/this ours between us perpetual be.” Here, “ours” functions as a noun and retains its Latin sense of something not only as something shared between people but something alive and living, and “ours” that is, “perpetually to be, a love that comes “honestly” and “from heart.” The word “ours” is struck again in the penultimate line with stress and weight – “So that it be ours all life to continue.”

Beyond the polyphonic and the symphonic qualities that the book achieves by bringing in such a rich variety of voices from various cultures, languages, and time periods, Corman’s book, of, reminds us that we come from this stuff – from this poetry – and that our languages and poetries have played a role in shaping the world we live in – the way in which we see and understand ourselves and the world.

Homi K. Bhabha, the literary scholar and cultural theorist, in commenting upon the contemporary Mexican American musical artist Guillermo Gomex-Pena, who travels between Mexico and American to sing songs on both sides of the border, both old and new songs – a man who sings to different audiences – Spanish-speaking audiences and English-speaking audiences, may provide us with the clearest lens yet by which to discern and appreciate what Corman achieves in his own crossing of boundaries – the boundaries of time, space, languages, cultures, and poetries – not to mention his crossing back and forth between his own poems and his translations.
 According to Bhabha, Gomez-Pena’s actions of performing songs in both languages on both sides of the Mexican and U.S. border – songs that are traditional as well as new – creates a generative “inbetween space” that allows for the artist to elaborate “strategies of selfhood – singular or communal – that initiate new signs of identity . . .” This “inbetween space,” he asserts, is a site of “collaboration, and contestation.” (Bhabha LC 336) Corman’s work too creates such an inbetween space. It also creates a site of collaboration and contestation in so far as we see him collaborating with other poets through the act of translation, taking their poems and translating them into English. We can see the contestation in terms of his own voice, his poems, asserting themselves through the surrounding poems, many voices vying, if you will, to be heard.

In fact, Bhabha prefaces the above comments by saying that what is “theoretically innovative and politically crucial is the need to think beyond narratives of “originary and initial subjectivities and to focus on those moments or processes that are produced in the articulation of cultural differences.” It is precisely this activity that opens up what he terms “the inbetween space which leads to new signs of identity . . . in the act of defining society itself:”

What is theoretically innovative, and politically crucial, is the need to think beyond narratives of originary and initial subjectivities and to focus on those moments or processes that are produced in the articulation of cultural differences. These ‘inbetween’ spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of sellfood – singular or communal – that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation, in the act of defining the idea of society itself.” (Bhabha, LC 337)

Corman’s inclusion of poems from many languages – translations – poems both old and new – creates an “inbetween space” that is at once familiar and de-familiarizing – Corman’s own poems written in vernacular contemporary American English sound familiar to the American ear, whereas the translations, such as a poem like “Shingyo,” sound much less familiar because they are sourced in different languages, time periods, or cultures and because Corman’s renderings in English of those translations tend to be deliberately marked or frayed, creating a degree of dissonance between his own poetry and the translated poetry. In this way, Corman creates a gap, a space, and in-between, that allows, admits, a larger world of poetry to enter. He gets beyond, as Bhabha would have us do, “originaries and initial subjectivities” and allows the reader to experience a larger world of poetry by allowing her “to focus on moments or processes that are produced in the articulation of cultural differences.” It is through this performance, this act, that Corman succeeds in initiating “new signs of identity,”which would lead to “the act of defining the idea of society itself ” (337).

The new identity that Corman wants us to embrace says that WE are OF this stuff, this material, this poetry. It is an identity that includes others – other languages, other poetries, other stories, and it accepts them graciously and identifies with them as human stories, familial stories. The new identity implies that the poetry of the world is gifted – offered – in the way that language itself is gifted to each of us, that is, handed down to us by our mothers and fathers, freely given. Corman’s move is deliberate and provocative – an insurgent act – and we should understand it as such and appreciate it as such. Rather than apologize or become defensive in responding to Eshleman’s question regarding appropriation, he becomes more assertive: “. . . the point is precisely I don’t want the names introduced. My dream, even when I first began, the first year I wrote poetry, was to be anonymous” (Corman, ICPR).

In placing translation directly beside his own poems, Corman forces us to ask questions about poetry and poetry’s role and place in the world at a time when cultures and languages are crossing borders more rapidly than ever before. He asks us if we are ready to hear what a world of poetry has to tell each of us about the nature of our existence on the planet. Do we understand the generous loving gesture that the poem itself is offering each of us? Can we approach not only poetry but each other with a larger sense of gratitude, or, as he would say in another poem, can we listen to the poem and each other?

What is it – you ask?
I keep telling you:

(Corman, ND 64)

Corman wants us to understand that poetry is as important now as it’s ever been in helping us through the night in helping us understand who we are, and what we are – even if poetry is nothing but cry in the night, even if it’s simply one person reaching out to another. Corman is not concerned with copyright issues, or questions of appropriation. It is as though he deliberately pushes these concerns aside in order to get at something more elemental and vital, and that is to remind us that poetry bring us together into a conversation – that language itself comes before ownership, that it is held in trust and commonly constructed. What ever it is that compels a person to write a poem, or for a person to read a poem, gestures toward shared community.

Corman’s magnum opus, of, by combining both translations from other poetries and placing them beside his own poems in a single book allows us to think beyond boundaries into new spaces that allow for a world of poetry to open up, a large world we find ourselves a part of. In doing this, the book reminds us that poetry, to be worthy of the name, to remain vital in our lives, must remain within the community as something offered and shared.


We know it is love
Because we are – as
The stars are – because

Dante and Shakespeare
And Homer were and
So many others

Who never leave us
Alone – light shining
Under the closed door.

(Corman, of Vol. II 378)

—Gregory Dunne


Works Cited

Bhabha, Homi K. “Locations of Culture.” The Transnational Studies Reader: Interdisciplinary Intersections and Innovations. Ed. Peggy Levitt. New York: Routledge, 2007. 233-237. (Print)

Corman, Cid. At Their Word: Essays on the Arts of Language. Vol. 2. Santa Barbara, California. Black Sparrow. 1978. (Print)

Corman, Cid. Back Roads to Far Towns. Buffalo, New York: White Pine Press. 2004. (Print)

Corman, Cid. “Cid Corman in Conversation.” Interview with Philip Rowland. Flash Point Magazine, 16 Sept. 2000. (Web) 06 May 2013. <http://www.flashpoint>.

Corman, Cid. Interview. “An Interview with Gregory Dunne. “American Poetry Review. (July/August 2000): 25. (Print) Corman, Cid, Mike Doyle, and Kegan Doyle. Where to Begin: Selected Letters of Cid Corman and Mike Doyle, 1967-1970. Victoria, B.C.: Ekstasis Editions, 2000. (Print) Corman, Cid. Nothing Doing. New York: New Directions,

  1. (Print) Corman, Cid. of. Vol. 1 and 2. Venice, California: Lapis. 1990.

(Print) Corman, Cid. The Gist of Origin, 1951-1971: An Anthology.

New York: Grossman, 1975. (Print) Dunne, Gregory. “Getting the Secret Out of Cid Corman.” Poetry East: 44 (Spring 1997): 9 – 23. (Print) Eshleman, Clayton. “Cid,” Cipher Journal. 12 June 2004. <

html> (Web) Grewal, Inderpal. Transnational America. Durham and London: Duke. 2005. (Print)
Heidegger. Martin. Poetry, Language, Thought. Trans. Albert Hofstadter. Harper Colophon Books, New York:1971.

(Print) Niedecker, Lorine, Cid Corman, and Lisa Pater Faranda. “Between Your House and Mine”: The Letters of Lorine Niedecker to Cid Corman, 1960 to 1970. Durham [N.C.: Duke UP, 1986. (Print)

Olson, Charles, Cid Corman, and George Evans. Charles Olson & Cid Corman: Complete Correspondence 1950- 1964. Orono, Me.: National Poetry Foundation, Univer- sity of Maine, 1987. (Print)

Schelling, Andrew. “Schelling CC Death Notes.” Web log post. Schelling CC Death Notes. Cipherjournal, 28 Mar. 2004. (Web) 03 May 2013.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “The Politics of Translation.” Destabilizing Theory. Eds. Michele Barrett and Anne Phillips. London: Polity Press, 1982. (Print)


Gregory Dunne is the author of two collections of poetry: Home Test (Adastra Press, 2009) and Fistful of Lotus (a handmade book by Canadian printmaker Elizabeth Forrest, 2000). He has contributed to Strangest of Theaters: Poets Writing Across Borders (McSweeneys and the Poetry Foundation, 2013). His poetry and prose have appeared in numerous magazines, including the American Poetry Review, Manoa, Poetry East, and Kyoto Journal. He lives in Japan and teaches in the Faculty of Comparative Culture at Miyazaki International College. Quiet Accomplishment: Remembering Cid Corman was published by Ekstasis Press in 2014.