Monday, October 22, 2018

POEMS OF THE WEEK: MEN'S VOICES: HANK, FRANK AND LEE SAN

It's time to listen to the voices of some of the men in our community, fellow poets, so today we have poems by Hank Kaykuala, who writes at Rainbow, Frank J. Tassone, who blogs at American Haijin, and Cheong Lee San, more familiarly known to us online as dsnake, who writes at Urban  Poems. You're going to love them. Let's dive right in.







EMPTINESS IN THE SKY

Evening lull but an
emptiness in the sky to
bring throes of longings

where you were but now
shadows of apparitions
dancing in the void

unsatiated
sudden and mysterious
you left unannounced



Sherry: I can feel that emptiness, when someone has departed unexpectedly.

Hank: When Chev at Carpe Diem presented a prompt, yuuuagi (an evening lull),  a summer kigo, Hank's thoughts went back to some past events. Hank was leafing through an old tattered photo album some years back and discovered a picture of an old flame. It was just as tattered and long forgotten. It was a brief encounter Hank remembered. It could have developed further, as she was such an adorable little lass. It was stifled when she left without a word. 

The above was the background musing in Hank's head when thinking what to write then. 

Sherry: Old photos are certainly full of nostalgia. Sigh. Thank you for sharing, Hank.

Frank recently wrote about a departure in a poem that truly touched my heart. Let's take a look.







The woosh of passing wind as I move on,
the bam!bam!bam! of hammers fall away.
These wheels that crunch on gravel just beyond,
a highway exit ramp to the blue way,
where life slows down with every town I pass;
and burdens born from crow-caws to day’s rind
yeild to a precious peace I know won’t last,
but let the growls of grief slip from my mind.
Where, then, can I lay my head for the night,
remembering her ever-waking snores,
until the clock’s cukoo at dawn’s first light,
sets me once more on my own tour-du-force?
But where else can my happiness endure
than in your arms like all our days before?

cricket songs
silence from your side
of our bed
  

Sherry: That silence from the other side of the bed speaks loudly, Frank. Thank you for sharing this very moving poem. I admire the way you introduced so many sounds. 

Frank: This sonnet-haibun demonstrates how the writer and reader construct meaning together. I had intended a humorous jaunt, inspired by Shakespeare's "Sonnet 130", in which the narrator undertakes a journey to escape his wife's snoring. A few understood it as such, and Bjorn actually discerned the inspiring sonnet. Many other readers, however, perceived a heartwrenching story of grief.

Looking back on the poem, I can see their point. I was struck by how sorrowful the tone was, and the stark imagery in the haiku clearly did not portray the light-hearted humor I intended! It's as though the poem took on a life of its own and presented the mournful journey of a widower seeking-in-vain to escape his sorrow over his lost love.

From a craft standpoint, I find sonnets a challenge, so I'm delighted that it worked well in conjunction with the haiku. I enjoyed writing it, and I'm happy it was so well received.

Sherry: Wow, Frank, thanks for this explanation. I totally read it as a poem of loss and grief and am smiling to think how we bring our own interpretations to other peoples' poems. I am relieved this is a poem of humour and not heartbreak. Yay! And you executed the sonnet very ably!

The following poem by Lee San will close this feature with a note of hope for the times we live in, when it seems values we believed were steadfast are shaking in  unfriendly winds.








"Can we not raise our hands in anger?
beat our swords into ploughshares instead?"

and Peace 
raises her hands and releases the white petrel
where it circles the storm clouds

says Hope
and the golden flame in her hand
flickers but still burns strongly in the wind

says Love
and the stalk of red rose
bends with the wind but does not break

says Faith
and her hands cup the the sunrise
weighing the golden orb of the growing sun

and they look at the grey skies turning black
the sea sneering and scattering the dunes

and they are not afraid.


Sherry: The imagery in this poem is so beautiful, Lee San. I especially agree that these virtues may bend, but do not break.

Lee San: This poem is the response to a picture prompt by Rick Mobbs, a talented painter from New Mexico. Weekly, he would place one of his paintings on his blog for us writers to ponder over it. That was somewhere in 2008.

So around two years later I came around to writing a poem over the painting (you know how tardy I can be). The names Peace, Love, Hope and Faith came to me quite easily and I wrote the poem and promptly forgot about it. At that time I thought it was not that 'complete'.

Recently, I came across it on one of my thumb drives (that's my tardiness at work again). I did some minor edits and decided that it would be a very good and appropriate time to post it. You know, the crazy times we are living in now? So I added in a link to a Pink Floyd song and that's it.  And hope that with these four sisters, the dark tides will turn. :)

Sherry: We need to cling to these values more than ever before.  How we long for the dark tide to turn. Thank you for this note of hope, Lee San. 

We hope you enjoyed these poetic offerings, my friends. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!



Sunday, October 21, 2018

Poetry Pantry #425




Hi Friends -

Sometimes I am amazed when I look at the number of the Poetry Pantry I am preparing.  This week, did you notice, it is #425?  Considering we take breaks for winter holiday and I think have occasionally taken a summer break, this is at least 8 1/2 years that Poetry Pantry has existed.  If I were ambitious I would look back and see when Poetry Pantry #1 occurred.

Do scroll back and read Mr. Moto's Confession which Rosemary shared for I Wish I'd Written This.  It was really an enjoyable poem, and Rosemary shared lots of interesting details about the poet as well.

Next week Sumana's Midweek Motif will be Winter.  I find myself wondering if I am ready for it!!!!  (I think not.)

Monday Sherry is featuring poems by three of our prolific male poets!  You will definitely recognize the poets and enjoy the poems being shared.

With no further delay, let's share poetry.  Link your one poem below.  Stop in to the comments to say hi. Visit the poems of others who link.  Look forward to seeing you on the trail!

Friday, October 19, 2018

I Wish I'd Written This

Mr. Moto's Confession

The famous Tokyo detective looked as if he'd taken a shower
in his linen suit and then slept in it.
He mopped his shiny forehead with a handkerchief.
"Pascal was right," he said, his tenor slightly nasal.
"Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to
another form of madness. What's more," he added, the cat
eyeing the canary, "contradiction is not a sign of falsity,
nor is the want of contradiction a sign of truth—Pascal again."
He took out his fountain pen. I saw my chance.
Mr. Moto, I asked, should I believe all those stories
I've heard about you? "Please do not," he murmured. "I do not."
He was writing something on a cocktail napkin.
"In fact," he said, his pen continuing to move, "my real name is
Laszlo Lowenstein. I was born in Hungary. I drove myself crazy
as an actor in Zurich and Berlin, and now that I live in Hollywood
I have bad dreams. Last night one of them told me
I'll end up buried alive in a tale by Edgar Allen Poe."
He coughed politely, capped his pen, and getting to his feet
handed me the little piece of paper. "An ancient Japanese
poetic form." he said. Even as I stared at it
the little cairn of characters, each a tiny, exotic bird cage
with its doors open, blurred, melted, and reformed as if rising
to the surface of a well, where these words trembled
but stayed clear enough to read: As evening nears, how clearly
a dog's bark carries over the water.


– By Jonathan Aaron
from The Best American Poetry 1998



When I came across this poem, I fell in love with it – because it seemed quirky, even a bit mad in a good way; because everything it said was delightfully unexpected; and because of the beautiful description of the 'ancient Japanese poetic form' ('the little cairn of characters' etc.) followed by such an exemplary haiku. (I even wish I'd written just that bit.)

Then, in Googling to find out more, I discovered that – as some of you, dear readers, will surely already know – Mr. Moto is a fictional character featured in books by John P. Marquand and movies based on them starring the unforgettable Peter Lorre. 

I have no idea why Aaron chose to make a poem about Mr Moto, and I don't know how accurate his portrayal is, in terms of being true to the original creation — though it is apparent that he has taken the character further, influenced by the movies, conflating him with his actor. (Wikipedia informs me that Peter Lorre was born in Hungary and his real name was the one given in the poem.) I expect that the conversation and the business about the haiku were imagined by Aaron.

I found out all that, only after choosing this piece to share with you. Obviously the poem works beautifully even when one is ignorant of its source or background details.


I didn't know anything about the poet either. There are few of his poems to be found online, and his Amazon entry suggests that in a long career he has produced only three books, quite far apart, the first shared with Anthony Hecht. However, what I have been able to find shows that the seamless mix of realism with flights of imagination is not limited to this poem alone. I have to say, it's an approach which enchants me! You will find some examples at Poem Hunter.

I also came across a scathing review in The Unofficial New Yorker Poetry Supplement, from someone who is not in the least enchanted by Aaron's work – just in case you'd like to check out an opposing view.

Information about the man is equally sparse, but sufficient to indicate a distinguished career.  Even Wikipedia is brief, but does tell us he was born in 1941, wrote a fourth book not listed at Amazon (so presumably out of print), that he is a native of Massachusetts, where he still lives, is a college professor, and has received many honours for his writing.

The Wikipedia article also includes this lovely quote, from an unattributed review made available via Creative Commons:

“Dreaming is after all a kind of thinking,” Jonathan Aaron writes in this new volume, his third in almost 25 years, and it’s hard to imagine a more succinct statement of his poetic method. Aaron has always used the peculiar instability of poems to his advantage: he builds tension from a poem’s ability to slip on no more than a phrase from the real to the symbolic, from the hypothetical to the unalterable.

The New Yorker has a 2008 interview with him, in which he discusses his process and influences.

I prefer reading ebooks, but his books don't come in that form. I might have to buy the paperbacks. I do want to read more of his work, and that seems to be the only way. (I might also try a Mr. Moto novel; some are available in Kindle. And the movies are on YouTube!)



Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors