Thursday, February 14, 2013

Karen Audioun Klingman

Our dear friend poet on site Karen Audioun Klingman( Karen Audioun Klingman) has left the world,  the last day of 2012. As the year ended here, we felt close to Karen... as we gathered for New Year's eve.  Karen had given me a beautiful glass "flowery hat" several months ago, as a gift from one of her trips, as a thank you, representing our friendship...
it sparkled in our room last night, I had washed and dried it that morning so it was especially shining. Our friends said how beautiful it was, and I told the story of what Karen was going through, not knowing yet your
sad news, and we all were thinking of her together.

Karen has been our sweet poet friend for years and her sparkling presence,
comments, happy humor and readings of her beautiful bright poetry at our
gatherings. The sparkling flowery hat, which she said reminded her of the
ones I wear, is for me a reminder of how fragile precious life is. I know
she saw it that way too. She carried life lightly and with passion, and we
aspire to do this and carry on in that way of beauty too.

  We held a reading recently...of Karen's poetry which included this
beautiful, mysterious tanka, which was selected and published in Take Five,
Best Contemporary Tanka, 2012:

warmth of lit candles
an uninvited guest
whispers to the host
is no one else coming

The poem was written inspired by a painting by our dear friend Hungarian
artist Susan Dobay, and was part of a sequence published in our Poets on
Site book "On Awakening" 2012.  Also her flowery hat in
our living room, where we met so often and that same hat full of flowers. A
few weeks after she gave it to me I realized it was meant to be used as a
vase or bowl as well as be a "flowery hat"! So perfect as an illustration of
what we can do with life, wearing and collecting blooms as we go.
by Karen Audiun Klingman
Wedded to our clocks, indeed we are!
But time measured by appointments and schedules
Seems to squelch our souls
Like clowns cloistered in familiar pews
Tick tock, tick tock, warm and fuzzy
Secure in our cocoon of knowing what comes next
Check my watch, oops it’s late
The cake is in the oven, the timer set
Your meeting is at 8.
Billy, your piano lesson starts at 4.
Excuse me, do you have the time?
Oh my gosh, I’ve got to rush.
Here comes the bus.
Do away with clocks, then chaos reigns.
But what a lovely world if
We could wander some serendipitous line
Tranquil and serene in our unordered plan
Instead of Father Time’s
Patterned and precise design.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mel Weisburd Celebrating his Birthday

We'll celebrate the Birthday of the great LA poet Mel Weisburd and gradually post some of his wonderful poems and a Bio. This is in his honor, as a wonderful friend and poet, I will start with one of our favorite duets. I've had the honor of being able to collaborate with him poetically on several occasions! Here is one, we performed this together in Pacific Palisades at "Moonday West" earlier this year:

Mel Weisburd/Kathabela Duet: Disco/*in the mouth : *=Kathabela


The languid octaves of the river
ripple into the sea
under the Christmas lights
of the upside down city.

*the lips/of the city hold me/I am/green and double green and double/ a pod/leaping out into the crossing

The mind in the body of bodies together
of a wheeling crowd.

*don't follow/anyone up over gardened rooftops/but languorous/let them all go by

on stems of awkward arms
like flamingoes merging and unmerging
in marble halls of space.

*stream of/knowing the throngs as I/hold open/gargoyle teeth the old architecture/implicit in /this smile/ double decker buses /red bins /decorated with all my friends

'I want to be out there
I want to be out of my cage
I want to be in the middle of a song
I never took the time to be a one man woman
love me, love me, love me, baby
you wrenched me from my head
sent me up the spotlight'

*come near me / I yawn in wind of it all/ going by like whistles

I search for the proper arm length.
to see her limbs, abdomen and breasts
dance before me
Our eyes catch as they pass
*catch streams/can you hear me as /you go /tumbling marbles in the big /city mouth
and I think we are about to surrender
but are disabled by the dance.
*wheels along sleek sound of/ undertone of/clicking boots and the crowd

With the slightest touch of hands
or the double look of eyes
of the parting of lips

*clouds waiting

I am pulled inside out
in remission from long illness

*you're here/ with me before/the closing /

In deep thought, I’m stationary
While she freely comes and goes
fishing me from the mystic sea
and placing the floor of the world
under me.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ranko Damjanovic

Ranko Damjanovic (Beograd, 1971)

"Ranko Damjanovic is a poet who works in silence, away from the public scene. He marked the time in which he lives as the time of “nonexistence”, branded by the war in the ex-Yugolsav states. In his early poem entitled “Awakening” (1993), he talks about the apes on the masts, flags in the gutters, and the speaker” raising his hands as if not belonging to the nation. Each finger carrying a noose for each of us”. After that statement, he kept silence for 12 years.
R.Damjanovih has published several books of poetry, exhibiting unusual talent for playing with words, old and new, intertwining the old meanings still echoing and entwining with the new. Language is not only a poetic tool but also an instrument in “vivisection” of the poet’s mind. In his verse, every word carries more than the face value, not spoken part important as much as the spoken,, even more.
Ranko Damjanovich is a founder and a co-owner of the “Itaka” Publishing House in Belgrade, known for promoting the classics: William Blake, Walt Whitman, Miguel de Cervantes." ~Mira Mataric

Translations of Poems by Ranko Damjanovich :

Encounter I

I gather remains of laughter.
The olive-eyed road points the way
To the boarder with a river.
Silence in the eyes.
Encounters with life as I pass by.
No one stops.
I define past in three layers.
Retreat into my brain.
Falling down makes you realize – you walked.
You start appreciating the height of the sky
And the soothing hues.

Encounter II

Objects reach for me.
Clumsy light peeps.
I stroll through the contours of consciousness.
Yet another dark experience.
Encounters with myself
In despair.
This solitude frightens me
It’s right in my face.
The walls eavesdrop on one another.
No echo.
Artificial light
And the mutilated sun’s brother.
The killed and the killer
Both bragged to me.

Encounter III

I am selling fresh metaphors
To the blind sun.
The taste of weariness in my mouth.
The corners awaiting the dawn.
I summon the voices in my head.
There’s no echo.
An illusion of creation.
Silence, you are a tough tenant.
An encounter with a bluff death
Of the released nightmares
Keeps my blood awake.
I forget to breathe.
Naïve gravediggers
Placed my bones
Into someone else’s mud.
Devour me, abyss,
So I can bathe in your eye.

Ebcounter IV

tall as a paradox
and still alive.
I wiggle, walk, and curse.
passing by, briefly, I encounter God
to apologize
nobody recognizes me
as if I were dead

narrow passages
the ones Hitler used for his escape
press upon me
in my own blood I suffocate
I lose consciousness
“Breathe, Damjanovich
you are a healthy man”
his eyes are bloody,
red lips a trace of an evil sky,
the world dead and spiteful,
waiting to be conquered

Encounter V

Silence of the extinguished light
objects without colors
as they truly are
turning in my bed
like a dead man tossing in his grave
the earth rotates a full circle.
I sneak toward the heaven
like a cloud of smoke
forced prematurely
utterly invisible
lengthy is the journey
to realization you are in the netherworld
and nothing means nothing at all
no countries no borders
Roads or crossroads,
no cracked-open windows.
Emptiness is what you encounter
at each step
like a story without a point.
Loneliness oppresses you so hard
you cannot stand up erect
hauling time on your back
like a convict before his end.
Meanwhile death merely waits
for someone to apologize
for this whole mess.


Like a decaying carcass
you drag yourself around.
Playing tricks on the Devil
tired you down.
Took piece of your consciousness.
Now you are praying to God
to fully restore your mind.
So pray,


At the same place, between waters
The bored sea yawns at me, the Ignorant one.

Some smart thoughts never lead me, twice
May I be led now by a faraway no-way.-

Created randomly
The wind scribbles across the water
Some senseless images
As if someone would stop
To buy a hat for the draught or naught..

I pocket the sea
hang the sun upon my shoulders.

Rale Damjanovic

Rale Damjanovic is a graduate of the University of Belgrade, majoring in the Yugoslav and World Literature, he has written numerous books of short stories, novels, and essays, awarded with several prestigious literary awards. He has been translated into English, Spanish, Chinese, Greek and Slovenian. One of the most outstanding radio reporters and editors, he published numerous works treating linguistics, cultural, social and political issues during the tumultuous years in Yugoslavia and the Balkans. Translated and published on two continents and the Internet, R. Damjanovic has a large number of followers, and admirers both with his generation and the younger ones, due to his good-natured (at times o’henry-esque) and sometimes dry humor born out of everyday situations, combining a well measured emotion with wisdom, traditional values with courage for new ideas and magnanimous dreams in the “small”, least expected people and characters. His texts read easily and with great satisfaction because the love for life and people illuminates all he touches. A master of mood and atmosphere, his knowledge of great literature, music, art and culture as a whole, as well as the grandeur and beauty of nature, makes the reader feel directly and personally addressed while embraced within the human family. His message is positive, enlightening and subtle."~Mira N. Mataric

Ratomir-Rale Damjanovic

The Ascension Day
or Snake Brandy

Translated from Serbian into English: Mira N. Mataric

The last sounds of the Cathedral bells fade away. The chanters are heard at the same moment when the man with the suicide intent straddles the bridge fence. A coincidence. The Ascension Day procession is starting its walk through the streets of Belgrade, but the man is not aware it is the Ascension Day. A tippler sits in front of the wharf buffet like on any other day; I am here because I enjoy this view of Belgrade. Never before have I seen either the tippler or suicide perpetrator. The latter, with his action, disturbs the landscape below the Kalimegdan Fortress, above which the chanting and the church bells cross in reverberation. Even the coincidence may be part of His will; it belongs to another earthly course of events in which He has no part.

“God, save our city, Lord, save its rivers, Almighty, save its reflection in Thy light and suffering…” The centuries-old prayer sublimates historical memory of the city whose catacombs still echo with detonations, in the night reflection of its rippled rivers shivering with the ancient engulfing flames. From their ashes the city has been born, changing its names and faces. As if the hidden meaning of the whiteness from the Revelations of John has been poured from the celestial river into Belgrade’s foundation, out of which, after each war, it ascends into the God’s whiteness.

The man on the waterfront, sitting in the quay cafe, along the Railway Bridge, is not paying attention to the other chap, intending suicide, until he climbs over the fence. Then he takes a long gulp, holding the bottle in front of his face, as if examining his own doubts. Facing the abyss, the suicide intender jerks his body back, lifting his head toward the sky; only then the tippler gets up heading toward the middle of the bridge, unenthusiastically and quite leisurely, all the way tipping the flask to his lips. Whenever he removes it, a dark, ascetic face emerges, more distinct with each step. The day is clear and brilliant, a bit breezy; he wears a “ski” faded jacket, its collar turned up, revealing a black neck roll- shirt.

In Belgrade, the Branko’s Bridge, is more often chosen for the suicide, although the Railway Bridge is safer: there are no pedestrians, and the street cars and automobiles rush as if the devil chases them through the bottle neck, so the “jumper” stays unnoticed.

The European bridges also have their death race. Suspension bridge in Budapest, Mirabeau’s and King Alexander’s in Paris, Charle’s Bridge in Prague, Vasco de Gama’s in Lisbon, and Tower Bridge in London are the most popular. In Budapest it has become a tourist attraction. People come from all over the world to leap into the beautiful, blue Danube. On the Suspension bridge a tally remains. That is the last chapter of the ritual. There are over 200 signatures on the bridge wall turned east. On the north, up the river flow, there are fiftyish. Four by four horizontal marks with one vertical, connecting them into some kind of a score chart, are the only trace of the drama preceding the mortal salto. Next to some marks there is a year, initials or even the name of the victim, sometimes one more, mostly female, insinuating a love story. In my own hands, I had the book by Karoly Egresi The Flight, in which the well-known actor and author of his time writes about the suicide victims of the suspension bridges, researching the causes for that decision. Chance, the comedian, by Milosh Crnjanski, a Serbian writer, who sang about the “foreign bridges” and who, certainly, have been more than a few times “on the bridge”, has arranged for his hero, a theater star, to end his career in the style of his romantic roles. Only one newspaper has an unpleasant testimony that puts to question the dramatic aura of their last role. Royally drunk, after stepping over the chains onto the edge of the bridge, Ergesi slipped when he only wanted to piss into the Danube. The others preferred the romantic story. They are right. There is something romantic, mysterious, and poetic in the dig from a bridge. And something of gambling, of course, because with that act a man leaves his life to the fortune and destiny.

This will be a dive into the middle of the river. Less deliberate stay closer to the shore. The bridges of Belgrade offer at least some kind of hope, as opposed to other European capitals, where the water space is wider, the soar longer, the fall stronger and the rivers more sinister.
Such is the heavy, grey, endless Panchevo Bridge, below which the Danube spreads its banks far apart so that, if the victim survives the current under the bridge, near the columns, there is no chance to swim over to the other shore.

The life savers also mark scores. They appear in the newspapers, give testimonies, and participate in the questionnaire “Heroic act of the year”. Their boats, equipped with ropes and life rings arrive at the last minute, but they arrive. It has never happened that the drowning individual ever refused to take the hand. If someone is taken out of the sure death, the papers venerate the life-savers, writing about the unsuccessful suicide victims dryly and disinterestedly, almost accusingly. These continue living with a stigma of shame in their souls, reassuring themselves that the God’s providence had its fingers in the case and they should not be guilty for surviving. They have fulfilled their imaginary debt.

The suicide-intending individual is observing the drunkard with a corner of his eye, but is not showing in any way that his approaching is disturbing him. He lightly moves his head when their eyes meet, and continues to gaze at the river. The man from the shore stops several meters from him, without a word. “This one will not even last to reach the water”, he thinks when he looks at him closer, leaning forward to better see his face. The outer look does not show a desperate man. In fact, he looks quite decent, almost collected. The only thing that mars that impression is the ice-cold stare of his eyes. Obviously, he is not pretending. The ones who act have least luck. An older man, small and scrawny, as if unaware of the alcoholic’s presence, is waiting for the right moment to jump into the void, concentrated only on that.

The drunkard is rhythmically moving the one-liter flask next to his thigh waiting for any signal from the future victim. He takes a guzzle and waits. “Good”, he comments loudly, above the racket of the street car passing by. With a light move of his hand holding the flask, he offers it to the old man. Almost a full minute passes before he shows that he has heard him.

“For bravery?” he asks bitterly.
“Oh, no. Not that…Take a communion, sip a little…”
“Just for conversation?”
“Not at all. Just so.” And after thinking it over a bit, he adds simply. “For the brandy.”
The suicide guy looks at him, then at the bottle, and almost laughs.
“For the brandy! That’s original! Hand mi the bottle, only…”
“Don’t worry,” says the alcoholic, “this is not my business. Although, you have ruined my day. When you climbed over the fence, I thought: Here is why all this morning I have not felt like drinking. A premonition.”
“If that is so, I am sorry”, the old man says a bit confused with the alcoholic’s somewhat offended tone.
“Oh, well, never mind”, the other waves bigheartedly and places the bottle between himself and the suicide-minded guy who takes hold of the fence and folding himself alongside it, stretches the hand to the bottle like an acrobat. Still, some ten centimeters are missing. He repositions himself back to the previous pose, moves two-or-three feet to the right, folds himself carefully again and grabs the flask by the neck. Then, like quenching the thirst, he takes one long swig, and ungluing the bottle from his lips, exhales loudly.
“A potent shot,” the alcoholic remarks in awe.
“A potent plum brandy” retorts the suicide-candidate, shuddering, “a real dynamite.”
“It is a good slivovitz, too, but also right for you, that is the point.”
“It shook me, really.”
“That’s why we say ‘let’s shake a shot each,‘ remarks the alcoholic accepting the flask readily, after the suicide-considering guy, this time with more consideration, once again refreshes himself. He takes a good look at the old man.
“Where do you get this slivovitz from”, asks the future suicide victim, shaking the bottle and attempting to catch the bouquet in the middle.
“The old reserve. An aged batch left in the cellar and forgotten. My wife asked me to clean the space for her preserves. The other day, looking for something else, I found it. You can imagine how happy I was.”
“I can imagine. And your wife?”
“My wife. God bless her soul, she expects me one day not to return from the river. She deserves to be in heaven, a righteous woman. I take Jaffa cookies to her, sometimes, the one that she liked, and drink to her soul. I would like to ask her something if I could: is slivovitz banned in heaven or in hell.”
“We may find out the answer today already.”
“What do you mean find out” – the drunkard is surprised.
“Well, I will know and will try to let you know, somehow, if I can. Through the water.”

The alcoholic waves his hand in resignation and points to the suicide entrant to give him back the flask. “You have to hurry now. See those two on the shore? They probably believe we are fishing, but soon they will understand. Unless, you intend to give interviews. The café owners have an agreement with the television to report immediately a case like this and, in return, they advertize them. Prepare something catching, about your reason and the life…”
“I have fallen into some kind of a hole,” the suicide aspirant murmurs like to himself. “There is nothing else, nothing spectacular. Some kind of loneness and deafness. Like I don’t know who I am and who those around me are. Understand? Just that, a one way street, no turn around. A terrible hole in the head, for a long time. And getting deeper.”
The drunkard clicks his tongue disgruntled: Tisk tisk tisk.

“I understand, but in this case, I may just kill myself as soon as I wake up. Every morning I get muscle inflammation pulling myself out of the emptiness and that hole in the head. I have all kinds of thoughts but I make sure I don’t do something in haste.”

“It would be a shame because of the slivovitz”, says the old man-suicide-trainee, mockingly and snatches the bottle again.

“That too. Like a brandy- Sisyphus I start every day from the beginning.”
“You are leaning but not falling over onto the other side.”
“Just that. We are, actually, quite alike. Solo drinker is, in fact, a born suicidal trainee type of person. Except that his death is prolonged.”

I am starting to understand you. And this brandy is mighty good. Good aroma, good fragrance, good color, and good bouquet.”
“I made it myself”.
“The Snake Brandy.”
“Bites the tongue?”
“No. There is a part of the vineyard in the village of Resnik. It is desolate and overgrown with weeds…with only some hundred trees, but the plums fall off already rotten, nobody picks them…so, you know why?”
“Because of the snakes.”
“Yes. They had moved in just on that spot. The owner sold me the plot for peanuts. A fine spot, by the river, but the snakes are bountiful like chaff. We pick plums in fishermen’s boots, high up to the waist. And with rubber gloves reaching up to the elbows. First, we cut the grass and the vipers hiss and slither under the trunks and roots. We get fifty liters of “muchenica” the “sufferer” kind for personal use. Only last year the yield was ruined. My neighbor died, the one with whom I picked plums and cooked the brandy. And my boots are full of holes. But this year I am going back to the vineyard.”
”Muchenica” is a good name for a good slivovitz”.
“Well, if you do not jump, you could help me pick…”
“Don’t…don’t start about it…” – the still-suicidal man cuts in and knocks back that specially prolonged swig.
“Hey, slow down with that slivovitz,” the drunkard cannot hold anymore, motioning with fingers as if calling the dog, to return the flask. “If you don’t care for life, all you need is to enter the vineyard barefoot and you are done…”
‘In another life, maybe…”, the suicide-philosopher casts a glance toward the river.
“Have you decided how to leap?” replies the tippler.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, will you jump on your head, feet, frontally or backward? Perhaps the bomb leap?
“I have not thought about it.”
“For me, the best is one of Tarzan’s leaps which I still remember from my childhood. The one from the New York Bridge, when he is running away from the city-jungle. The head-first leap, when he soars… soars… soars…then is missing…missing…missing…, and then he appears again, takes in the air and swims powerfully.”
“I know that scene quite well, Tarzan and I are, so to say, the same generation, “the about- to- execute- the-suicidal-intent old-man jumps in lively. ..”Johnny Weissmiller and Bela Lugosi are our neighbors, Rumanians, and the mother of the latter one, whose real name was Bela Ferenc, was a Serb, Paula Vojnich.”
“I didn’t know that”, the tippler responds, “but Johnny’s jump I do remember…Johnny was the best Tarzan” and he slaps his lips with the hand, like Tarzan before letting his famous elephant call. Then he calms down and shrinks, handing the flask to the fellow with the suicide-still-on-his-mind.

“Do you know all of them have passed away except for the monkey Chita” that one continues equally animated, rolling the bottle in his hands, ”With Weissmiller, and Lugosi, and Jane – Maureen O’Sullivan, Chita is now 76 years old and spending her retirement days in Palm Springs, in a hotel for rich animals. Once, like all other famous movie actresses, she lived a high life, smoked the best cigars and drank the best beverages. Now she does not drink, although I don’t believe she could refrain from tasting your Snake Brandy. They say she has never recovered over the death of Johnny Weissmiller in 1984, therefore to his funeral in Acapulco, Mexico, went her double, so Chita would not undergo stress. You see, I have also read recently that soon her memoirs will be published, entitled “I – Chita”.
“One could read that,” cuts the drunkard softly in and looks in my direction. “human monkeying is an endless inspiration…”
“This is all lasting too long,” the suicidal man suddenly awakens, as if reproaching himself for getting carried away with the story. Absently handing the flask to the tippler, he too lifts his head toward me.
“Yes…It is a bit awkward now…not to jump,” replies the other. ‘They come to us, at the wharf, two men who changed their minds. I always shudder when they tell about the leap. After the testimony, usually there is a round of free drinks, and that is the only good thing in all of it. But, I have noticed, they are troubled by what happened. Honestly, I would never dare to jump.”
“One never knows.”
“I do. Fear of height is stronger than anything else in me.”
The tippler again hands the flask to the other man. He holds it on his mouth, then, wiping the spout, gives it back. He laughs, heartily in good mood, when he notices his trick is successful. “Congratulations, maestro, black humor at the moment of death,” the tippler responds sourly, left with dry lips. Then he looks into the flask through the neck and almost jerks back when he sees his own image in the bottom. He swings like a javelin thrower, steps one step and throws the bottle over the fence. They both follow its short flight and fall into the water, then floating like a duck down the stream, silent as if being on two different sides of the bridge.
“Well, then, I am going to have some beer,” the tippler fidgets, when the silence stays prolonged. “Cold beer is the best medicine for all. Slivovitz leans best upon the cold beer. Construction kind. It is my most favorite part of the day, pouring the concrete. I understand all. I know all. What has been and will be.”
“When you pour the concrete?”
“Yes. Five for one concrete, then slivovitz again. Slivovitz is a magic, you see yourself. You had two choices, to jump or not to jump; now you have three.”
”And you’re for the third now?”
“No. I am always for that third. That’s the difference.”
“Going for the cold beer…” dedicated-to-the-idea-of suicide- man stretches it, looking at the tippler. “Construction kind?”
“Aha. A small one. The small goes fast, bottom up, so it doesn’t get warm. And it’s cold like a snake. Sneaky and cold. Beauty of God.”
“What d’ you mean sneaky and cold…” the suicide man is taken aback and carefully starts turning his face toward the fence.
“Well, it’s working on you and you don’t feel it. The time passes. Suddenly, it is night, one more hard day is gone. You feel relieved. You wait for the dawn to have a drink.”
“That sounds rather strenuous, but if you say so… and if it is cold…” the past-suicide- man completes moving his other leg inside the bridge.
“Toooo leeeeeaaave”, stretches the tippler the TV commercial and heads toward the shore. The other man stops to shake the dust from his clothes, then after turning to look at the river, follows him. The Ascension procession now is passing over the highest spot at the Kosancich Venac, leaving behind the sounds of the chanting drowning in waves between the old houses, sinking down toward the mouth of the river, crawling to the bottom of the walls and back, ascending above the Kalimegdan, changed, fuller, as if only the depth of water gives it the right meaning and tone. One more glance at the landscape which is the most vivid in my terrestrial memory, just as the tippler and the suicide man turn into the buffet with the inscription:”Angels Not Admitted”.

Translated from Serbian into English: Mira N. Mataric

Milan Orlic

Milan Orlich

Milan Orlic's newest poetry book published in October 2009 is named: Longing for Wholeness.

Some translations of poems by Milan Orlic
by Mira Mataric

Zu den Sachen Selbst: The Face of the Matter Itself

Finally, that day came too: before that
I removed
all that was necessary. Added all that,
equally, is
necessary. Here, now, I am looking at the face of the matter
itself. While approaching, I am like falling through the funnel
in which: I am looking at
the beauty of the bare matters’ face: I am plummeting
or dizzily
caving in. Caving in, I almost suffocate.
And when I think
it is the end: my breath suddenly
comes back and rapidly
I mount the stairs: toward the face
of the matter itself.

Zu den Sachen Selbst: Quiet Silence

Outside, from the depth of darkness,
mixed with
slight light, reaches the distant noise
of the City.
The room is covered with quiet silence:
filled with
primeval peace. Missing - only you.

Translated from Serbian Mira N. Mataric, 2009

Zu den Sachen Selbst: Hardly Anything

All has been said before us: left to me is only
to record:
the remaining, in fact, nothing. Hardly anything:
and that which
is the most important. The gentlest or the most
only the face of the matter. From which, out of
the cosmic fog,
came all or almost all: thus, all about which
nothing yet
has been enough, hmm, correctly enough said.

Translated from Serbian Mira N. Mataric, 2009

Zu den Sachen Selbst:
Already Tomorrow, For Sure

A day like any other: the last day,
the one in which we learn all: that
could not
have been known. Never before,
really, it could
have even be suspected. Tomorrow
possibly, I will,
finally, know. Already tomorrow,
perhaps, know,
for sure, this which I cannot even
suspect today.
Tomorrow I will learn, whether
it has perchance
finally arrived, born for me, that
modest day.
Tomorrow already, for sure.

Shrill of the Light Flute

It awakes me, in the middle of the early morning,
shrill of the light
fagot, as if inviting to the joys of hunting, hunting
in the desert.
As if promising for the awakening: camel’s milk
with dates
at noon: in the oasis, under the palms, a shelter
before the dry
and hot hamsin. And in the evening a nourishing
tea. But this
city is an unsung provincial town, an eternal image
of the human soul.
A journal of the sky upon which the most futile
is light of a poetic
star. Before the desert storm rises in which, like
in an old Greek
tragedy, all suffer and no one is guilty: before
that: our hot
daily hamsin freezes blood in our veins. And
a certain quiet
melancholy, like the desert sand penetrates,
deeply penetrates:
into each pore, into each corner of our existence.

Translated into English Mira N. Mataric

Keepers of the Fire: Publish or Perish

While the ocean lovers bathe in the messianic
naïve, like in the ocean of poetry, assured that
for the fire
a large log is sufficient, the fire must be kept
alive: well,
we are those real keepers. It is true we too have
white books,
and in them, black lists: but it must be so. No other
way. For these
black and white crows, for the young lions who
from the old
cellars young wine noisily drink. Holy cows are,
of course,
something completely different. Books we write
with gentle
hands, listening to the tender voices of the holy
cows, the echoes of
silence of their words, housed under the threshold
of hearing.
The spiteful ones call us the gladiators of criticism
but, as I have said,
we are the real keepers of the fire. Thanks mostly
to Us, the eternal
fire is alive. Still practiced the ancient law,
rolling the wheel of the being: publish or perish.

Translated from Serbian Mira N. Mataric, 2009

Milan Orlich
Keeper of the Fire: The Damn Beautiful
Trade of Writing

This is how it had been: writers’ trade damn beautiful,
sometimes perhaps
bitter but only from the outside. It is long, long gone,
the time when
the royal gardener marked the alleys for poets. In his
hands the royal seals
he held. The long winter afternoons in a warm armchair,
with the hot fire
from the fireplace, in the royal palace, he enjoyed .
Openly took pleasure
in the contests for the King’s favors; the competition
of the literary
humpbacks, just escaped from the catacombs which,
at the literary
cemeteries they apathetically inhabited. That time
is gone, long gone
that beautiful time. Or at the tournaments: while they
were arriving
from the faraway kingdoms, for the Princess’s hand,
grace and beauty
to compete. Since our poor King died, the Princess
cheaply sold
for a white slave, with weed and thistle the old royal
garden overgrown,
the writers’ trade is not beautiful anymore: only damned.

Translated from Serbian Mira N. Mataric, 2009.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mira Mataric

It is with great pleasure that I honor our dear friend Mira Mataric, and celebrate her poetry here. She has been celebrated internationally for her work, and received many honors from Serbian Cultural organizations, her homeland as well as recognized writer in the US. Mira is a beautiful poet and writer of novels, stories and autobiographical and biographical pieces. She is a wonderful translator, and champions the work of other wonderful Serbian poets lesser known in the US. We will introduce them here, with her translation. We will hold a celebration of Serbian Culture and the translations of these poets into English on December 17, 2010 at our Poets Salon at our home in Pasadena. Mira's husband Gene pictured below with Mira, will present, along with Mira's program, a series of slides from their trips to Serbia, showing important places and events.

Mira, as well as writing and publishing her own work since for many years, has enjoyed translating and introducing writers in many languages that are dear to her art, and especially new work of Serbian poets, that would not be read by English speakers otherwise.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Richard Dutton

It is with delight and a warm sense of friendship that I present Richard Dutton's poetry here as a celebration of his 75th birthday. Dick Dutton's strong and insightful voice resonates amidst Southern California poets. His unusual points of view, vivacious charm, and wry humor ring true and powerfully with personal vision. He is an encouraging and good friend. He and his wife Pauli Dutton are two wonderful poets. He came to poetry through her influence but his voice is individual and unmistakable.

RICHARD DUTTON’s main career has been as an aerospace engineer specializing in field, systems, software development, operations and performance analysis, and system procurement specifications for North American Aviation, Teledyne Systems Company and Lockheed Skunk Works. While in college he worked at Mat Lab at New York Naval Shipyard, Raytheon Research Division, and the National Bureau of Standards (NIST). He has also had stints as a stockbroker for Dean Witter and an electronics specialist in the US Army. After retiring, he began substitute teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District and elected as a state delegate to the National Education Association where he has been a state contact. He began writing stories and poetry following his wife Pauline’s leadership and inspiration.

SOUND OFF / FACE OFF Richard Dutton (what’s his name?)

People don’t have names now

Their name was the key to opening them up

They have faces

Over time they disguise themselves

Faces can tell a lot

But a friend wants to be able to

Include sound to spill emotions

Telephone works better than silent video

Software recognizes face and voice

It translates speech to text or to commands

Computers in pencils correlate student’s notes

With the audio of the professor’s voice

Talk to programs faceless (so far)

Or to humans on face-book or video

See the earth from orbit

Your abode from different views

The computer is a brain extension

For memory storage communication

We are part of the world brain

(Accessible by voice for less reading)

Has Big Brother spread or caught

Knowledge viruses from the web

Broadcast with evil or good intent?

Too many media police watching you?

Are they changing A.D. to A.I.?

Expert systems can guide the Media-ocracy

The battleground is communication

Design babies can be DNA’d to accept the message

Will octuplet youngsters tweet on twitter?

Either get together or order frozen embryos?

Part of that is slightly late for my generation

Unless I had something like a feel-o-vision suit

Where are my hearing aids?

Can YOU hear ME now?

Umm… What’s your name?

God. is that really your face?


The door … opened …slowly

Father came in

I was four years old

Got a ride on his shoulders

The door … opened …slowly

Father came in.

I was six years old

He showed me how to do chess openings

I won with the opening checkmate he showed me

The door … opened …slowl

Father came in

I was eight years old

He explained Santa’s spirit was all around at Christmas

And that is real after all

The door … opened …slowly

Father came in.

I was sixteen years old

He told me I would be best as a lawyer or as an engineer

The door … opened …slowly

Father came in

I was eighteen years old

He told me he had a friend who became a doctor

And therefore was able to marry one of the wealthiest women

The door…opened…slowly

Father came in

I was twenty five years old

He said, “Put your money in things YOU think have a future”

The door … opened …slowly

I…came in

Was fifty years old

We started a game of chess

I won with the opening checkmate he had shown me

The my mind…opens … slowly

Father …taught me…slowly

By letting me win

Increasing the challenge …slowly

Stretching my perseverance with each win

Eventually he would sprinkle some losses in

This was a help in my life

The door.. to my husbandry… opens slowly

To daughter and wife chess was an enjoyment.

I played them and would take wins there too quickly

That door closed and I don’t know how to open it


Guilty of coasting, ignoring reality

And falling from the grace of higher education

Lying dead in a possible career path

No future in sight

The easy life was gone

Trapped in the purgatory of the Army

Perhaps Jesus would show me stepping stones

I prayed

Then the Army let me finish college and some grad school while I was serving them

I landed a lucrative job that paid more than professors or generals.

Enough to retire modestly

I coasted, ignored opportunities, made mistakes

Broke the habit of praying

Fell a second time into near poverty

I prayed

I was saved the second time by a figurative Angel from Heaven

Who, along with the GI bill, helped me

Get three masters degrees, a modest success and a small family

Now I am coasting again

Could I play the role of Lazarus a third time?

I have been ungrateful

Should Jesus be my friend when he does miracles for me

and I pray only when times are bad

I passed up more opportunities than most people get in a lifetime

Am now frozen in indecision

I know I was supposed to do things for the world

But I have less time left and low resources

I need to “resurrect” the opportunity

God and Jesus know how I feel when I pray

It’s up to them


On and off I lived with Grandma

Had sugar sandwiches and sweet pickled cucumbers

A few times slept on her bed

She would always call me her little professor

On the way home from Sunday school

Stopped off to see her with my bible

She knew I told the truth with her

Gramma said, “When I’m in Heaven

I’ll be looking down watching you”

Before Grandma died Aunt Ada told me

“I’ve been telling her that you’re a professor

So please go along with that”

When Grandma asked me I told her

“No, but I’m making much more than a professor”

Sorry Grandma, sorry Aunt Ada

Later I went for a Doctorate in Business Administration

But didn’t complete it

Sorry Grandma

Was a Witter Critter in San Marino

(Dean Witter is now part of Morgan Stanley)

Apparently marketing securities was not my bag

Sorry Grandma

Later after retiring from Aerospace

I didn’t get that job teaching calculus at PCC

Sorry Grandma

At Seventy One I’m a Substitute Teacher at LAUSD

Sorry Grandma

Maybe my daughter will be a professor

If she doesn’t get married first


I carry you with me

As we are joined

I dream of Yosemite

With the light brown bear…

Waking us, out in

Our sleeping bags

Us down the river on

Air mattresses

You are with me

San Francisco

“Dance your ass off”

Mark Hopkins or the “Y”

You are with me

As I re-travel

Eurail pass

Sex on the ferry boat

Almost missed at the Lourve

You are with me

Or my old stomping grounds

Where we lived, relatives

Church pews, libraries

You are with me

Back stage, dancing,

Poetry, your office

Seeing you those times

on TV and in movies

You are with me

Our college classes together

The parenting of a genius daughter

Now so far away

You are with me

When I walk alone

At night or day

When I am alone at home

I carry you with me, forever

When I walk alone

At night or day

When I am alone at home

I carry you with me, forever


How did I come here?

Or was it a dream?

I did appear

Or so it would seem

Inside the car with my impressive companion

Outside the car must have been time travel -- Fast!

Was there anything outside the windows?

I saw green lights and street signs go past

Did I drive or did we fly?

I did see a beautiful sky go by

But my mind was not on the car

My companion traveled me afar

A dream through life

With my wife


To make it through the day

At home I have an electric heater

She warms my life in every way

She’s so good you can’t beat her

She knows when my power is low

She’s also an electric meter

She charges me up so I can go

I always say, “I love you.” when I greet her

Ever since so long ago

I was so happy to meet her


What do I write?

Checks, Credit card slips, crossword letters

My name on the board, brief reports about work

Who would read those?

But my messages for the world are lost

In the Internet ocean and media swamp

Should I warp myself to sound bites in debates

When warped ideas control the mike?

Screened by Nielsen, viewership, advertisers, ownership

Sensationalism and attention span limits

The current topic is deemed “newsworthy”

And is given the right of way

Entertainment, news and hypnosis have a lot in common

Public opinion is herded like sheep

By two teams of smiling sheepdogs

Where each calls the other team wolves

This breeds split opinion

Which breeds controversy

Which brings in politics

Which brings in money

Oops, I don’t have money!

How can I broadcast my simple ideas?

I’m not trying to write a book

I’m not trying to write a bible

But my truths disappear in a sea of blogs

A local paper might help

If we’re in the same choir

When major media is the battleground

What they want to hear is what I need to write

A timely, sensational, controversial, and entertaining book

To a large segment of society’s delight.

That’s tough to do with my ideas

But that’s what I should write. Right?


Should we call it MEDIOCRACY?




Takes over the republic

And the democracy

Monopolies in the

Flow of information

Worse than oil

Flow in this here nation

Do we realize that

The power of the press

Can usually out-bat

The power of the prez?

And who is who controlling

Pen, mike, camera and election?

But who would advertise it

As they want power and extension?

All of us media zombies think

We can handle ninety-nine percent

But they still spread knowledge viruses

With evil or good intent

High schools, churches and colleges

Are part of media hypnosis

Movies, TV, the net, and books

Is Poetry in this psychosis?


One of the richest experiences I have shared with Pauli and Dick is our collaborations as Poets on Site. Last year we travelet to Sunset Beach, to the Anderson Gallery. Dick, Pauli and I viewed the same painting by Milford Zornes, Greenland and we all wrote our impressions:

Milford Zornes, Greenland,1954, oil painting

Richard Dutton

sun almost gone
mother earth's rising body
obscures horizon
moon above icebergs
families floating on rippling water
with white shawls overhead

Pauli Dutton

snow moon overhead
crystal frosted crowns
float on rickrack sea

Kathabela Wilson

thousand peaked origami cathedrals
tents shimmering with glacial glow of veiled inner moons
one has escaped—our moon innocently knowing
what it was and what is hidden like a word
oh white Greenland of our unconsciousness

One of the delights of Poets on Site is the deep sharing of experience and the presentation of our individual, insightful, simultaneous impressions. A wonderful bonding and heightening of artistic visions.

Poets on Site at the Anderson Gallery: PAULI and RICHAD DUTTON 2nd and 3rd from right. In photo, left to right: poets Mira Mataric, Sharon hawley, Kath Abela Wilson, artist Bill Anderson, Deborah P Kolodji, Richard Dutton, Pauli Dutton, and Wendy Wright.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Celebrated Poet: Constance Griesmer

On August 3, 2008 we honored Constance Griesmer, her poetry and accomplishments with a "Celebrated Poet's Tea" at our home in Pasadena. By interspersing elements of art and biography Constance described in a fascinating program called Light and Shadow Variations how she, as a legally-blind person is able to transcend limitations through creative experience. Constance read her poems and described her visual thinking orientation, as it naturally and strongly influences her poetry. See a short video of her improvised poem on Martian Snow for the Caltech Poetry Club, October, 2008.

On September 6, 2008, Constance was a part of the group Poets on Site, when we presented a performance of poetry, music and art at artist Ron Libbrecht's APC Fine Arts and Graphics's Gallery in Torrance. This event celebrated the work of artists participating with Henry Fukuhara, in the 11th Annual Workshop on Manzanar, the former Japanese Internment Camp during WWII as well as the surrounding Alabama Hills, Lone Pine and Keeler.

Henry Fukuhara, "Symbols of Manzanar, 2008" This is Constance's poem, inspired by his painting.

Dry Gold

It was a while before the shock wore off,
replaced by attempts at living
behind barbed wire.
One day, I wandered into the hills,
looking for new patterns of light
dancing off the rocks,
or for unnoticed flowers—
anything to vary the subject
of my paintings,
the activity of solace
in the drab housing.
Dry wind, sand and brush
flung monotony at my face—
then I saw the road.
I meandered along the unthought path
up and down the hills,
that day and many times afterward,
each time going farther.
At night I dreamed it would lead
to an exotic location
where I would not be called
an enemy, an alien.
I dreamed of the clouds that tended to change
from gold to blue
as I walked higher.

One day, the visit to the path
ended among more hills—
a vista of sameness.
What was the use of a trail
that started nowhere
and ended nowhere,
yielding but few inspirations
from either horizon
or rock formations?

Sometimes I fancied painting
at the high end under the blue starkness.
My mind balked, until I decided
to stay at the bottom,
near the outbuildings,
below the golden tinge.

Perhaps there was more gold in camp
than I had found before.
Reassured, I painted, listening
more closely to the heritage tales
of the camp elders,
walking with them on our balance beam
of injustice
until we were declared free.

Henry Fukuhara at age 93, in the last few years has lost his sight, and paints with assistance. Constance wrote the above poem inspired by Henry Fukuhara's painting after we discussed it. We also etched the abstract shapes on a postcard print of the painting to emphasize the spatial relationships.

Constance reading "Dry Gold" at our Poets on Site performance in Torrance Sept. 6, 2008, at APC Fine Arts and Graphics Gallery

Ada Passaro's,"The Sentinel" — Constance wrote this poem after we discussed the painting.

Redefining Alabama

Purple-gray mountains,
foreboding, majestic
grow ever taller.

Boulder-strewn landscape,
draped with rainbows
fixed, never quite still.

Grasp at fortitude
noble oak tree stands,
proclaiming green


Numb Gray

Dawn breaking over the desert,
Woman steps outside,
Pushes back her front curl,
Yawning slightly,
Blinking a few times
No need to shade her eyes
The colored glow is faint yet
Is that a suggestion
Of sky-red,
Or the fading light
From a planet neighbor?
Flower and sand smells.
Back inside, turning.

Blue Other

Under the late afternoon sun,
standing in water
barely moving,
touching the slight ripple,
looking down at the suface,
lake water dark enough to calm
light enough to reassure.

Cool sensation above the hips
enjoyed alone.
Climbing out reluctantly—
a lady said the water was

Since that day,
blue, often gloom-covered,

appears to my mind's eye

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Featured Poet: Sharon Hawley

The strong, insightful, witty and musical poetry of Sharon Hawley is as heartwarming and inspiring as her personality. A wonderful friend and poet, she was celebrated Januuary 20, 2008, and a subsequesnt encore presentation a few months later, in the first Celebrated Poet's Tea at our home in Pasadena. Sharon's 120 day solo cross country bike trip is featured in the current issue of Glendoran magazine. She will present a slide show of her trip, sign her chapbook, and read poems composed during the journey. You can read some of her adventures her blog in progess, Pedaling West.

Here is a small collection of poems from her Pedaling West chapbook. The poems give you a feeling of the experiece, a poet's eye view while traveling solo across the country.

The Happy Side of Misery

On a country road in mid-Virginia,
a cyclist pulls another hill,
past a house with mammoth lawn,
a dairy barn behind.

Oaks and poplars catch the sun
and glisten with the grasses,
soothing tired eyes with
forty shades of southern green.

Bovine eyes look up from munching,
distracted by a passing beast,
a strange one this, not making sense.
Free from fence and milking,
instead of lying in the shade,
she pants a lonely hill.

Rebuke arose as proud I watched them,
a preacher in a wandering soul.
You fear the pain of fence,
perform the duties you suppose
your hometown breed imposes.

Then came to mind the antsy spirit,
wrestling with norms,
how I give so much for danger,
magnify the little gain.

In the weariness of afternoon,
legs draw concentration,
leave the brain to wander,
strain to hold the narrow way.
No shoulder, but a drop-off,
a coal truck bearing down.

Here I go, a long new road,
like going back again,
not so sure this hilltop hides
just another downhill ride.

The significance of Sharon Hawley
(May she rest in peace.)

Cleanly positioned in clearly marked lane,
Sharon rode in a bright yellow shirt.

Happily driving, son strapped beside,
a young mother chatted, her car pointed home.

Turning right where she always turned,
thinking of baseball, cooking and love,
she snagged the shirt, bicycle and all,
crushed them beneath her car.

For a week after that, her caution improved,
her son rode tense with the change.
she watched with care at every turn,
didnâ?Tt find quite as much to say.

Thus our Sharon affected her world
for the time that she spent passing through,
made a week safer for bikers and walkers
from this one mother of a boy of two.

Now that Sharon's back home, she is often asked "What will you do next?" What is your next adventure?" Always ready for a new adventure, you'll be surprised by her answer... coming soon!

Recently, Sharon inspired Kath's haiku and artwork below (collage and watercolor on handmade paper). Looking north at the snow-capped San Gabriel mountain peaks, most people would see them in the sense of line one. Sharon's reaction, however, is shown in line three!

distant snow mountains
on new year's morning
only a step away


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Introducing: Featured Poet: CaLokie!

With a big smile and a special wink, I am delighted to present one of my favorite poets, known to all who love him (and that's everyone who knows him) as CaLokie. His strong, insightful verse speaks for our time, speaks what needs to be spoken, says what we all want to say and with a critical keen eye and voice, he's salvaging the best and dumping the rest in a society gone mad. He's hilariously funny, and dead serious. He's critically sharp, sarcastic and intense, yet loving, emotionally gentle and dear. Born during the depression, in Oklahama, he came to California in 1959 and taught in the Los Angeles school district for 30 years. His pen name was inspied by the joads struggle for survival in Grapes of Wrath and the songs and life of fellow Okie, Woodie Gutherie. He's published many poems in journals and is loved as a guest reader for his fantastic presence and animated readings. His poetry is always full of bold, unexpected imagery, and his voicing of them adds a dimension beyond the norm, to say the least. I am hoping to add sound files to this page as soon as possible, so you can enjoy that feature of his poetry. Although he made a brief appearance on the former DMV poetry site before it ended, he is mostly not known to online poetry communities, so I feel especially honored to be able to present his work here. I'll also in the coming days add an album of photos so you can get a look at his effect on audiences. We are enormously lucky to have him at our local readings in Pasadena and at the Thursday Night Poetry Workshop at the Wilson's each week. CaLokie's favoritw tee shirt reads: "Peace and Justice: Weapons of Mass Instruction". We'll start with a brief selection.

Love a Duck


love a duck

love a duck in
the back of a truck

love a duck
and a mutt in the
back of a dump truck

love a duck
named Bucky and
a mutt called Butterball
in the back of a dump truck

love a drunk
duck named Bucky and
a dumb mutt called Butterball
in the back of a dump truck stuck in
the middle of the muddle of the race track

love a drunk
duck named Bucky and
a dumb mutt called Butterball
who both throw up in the back of
a dump truck stuck in the middle of the
muddle of the muddy race track of Aqueduct

An Ode to Barbaro

What kind of racehorse would Barbaro have been?
How would he have gone down in history
If, instead of a leg broken at Preakness, it was a win?

He won the Kentucky Derby by a six length margin
And was a champion on dirt and grass like John Henry.
What kind of racehorse would Barbaro have been?

He had run seven races and was unbeaten.
What do you think would be his legacy
If, instead of a leg broken at Preakness, it was a win?

He had this incredible speed and stamina blend.
Who can forget his turf triumph at the Laurel Futurity?
What kind of racehorse would Barbaro have been?

A colt like him doesn’t come along that often.
Would there have been at Belmont a triple crown victory
If, instead of a leg broken at Preakness, it was a win?

Like Keats too soon a promising life comes to an end.
When will we witness again such truth and beauty?
What kind of racehorse would Barbaro have been
If, instead of a leg broken at Preakness, it was a win?

Me and Jim

Jim Feliz is half Apache
but looks more Indian than Mexican
I am a little Cherokee and Irish
some Brit blood
The rest of my DNA--the San Gabriel Valley
Poets Tribe

We both have the same animal guides--
That’s how we met each other
at Santa Anita

Because of his surname kids at school
would greet Jim, ” Felix the Cat
the wonderful, wonderful cat...”
That’s why he always bets on any horse
with a cat in their name like Outlaw Cat
Apollo’s Scat Kat or El Gato Famoso
He also has a feline named Tiger
who’s the light of his life

When we go to the races we don’t sit
in the grandstand as Bukowski did
but at one of the tables
in this pavilion outside of it
Often a lot of blackbirds flock nearby
and so we’ll share with our winged
brothers and sisters any corn chips
or pretzels we may bring

You see we feel we’re a part of nature
not separate from it
like you European Americans think
That’s why we don’t pollute Mother Earth
like you guys are always doin’

We have this reverence toward creation
which, frankly, you non-indigenous
would do well to emulate
I mean spirituality isn’t a go to church
or synagogue once a week thing with us
but something we do daily
Me and Jim, for example, carry with us
wherever we go
our own incense--cigars

When we breathe in its holy smoke
it’s meditation and then after a long
slow exhale
it’s sent back to Father Sky
as prayer

Now don’t get us wrong
When we win a big bet, we don’t do no dumb thing
like say that we give all the credit to the Great Spirit
Otherwise we’d have to blame G.S. whenever bad things
happen to good handicappers, wouldn’t we?
When one of our horses which would
have given us a huge payoff wins
but is disqualified by a steward’s inquiry
instead of cursing
we’re stoical

When successful at the track, we celebrate
with a shrimp taco dinner at Señor Fish
or a double cheeseburger with soda at Tommy’s
When not, we take solace from listening
to the blues on my car stereo

We feast more on blues
than tacos or cheeseburger combos
but hey
a good fast has never hurt nobody
has it?

Every Five Seconds*

I look around and dead people are all that I can see.
650,000 Iraqis have died since the United States invasion.
Every five seconds a child dies because that child is hungry.

President Bush says he'll stick by the figure of 30,000 dead Iraqis.
But still too many innocent have died and he sends his consolation.
I look around and dead people are all that I can see.

25,000 people condemned every day to die from poverty.
720 children per hour, 12 per minute--dead from starvation.
Every five seconds a child dies because that child is hungry.

On 911, 3,000 people died and changed everything it seems.
But everyday 16 skyscrapers of famished inmates perish by hunger’s execution.
I look around and dead people are all that I can see

Nine million people -- six million of them juveniles and babies--
Complete life’s journey by what Nazis called the “final solution.”
Every five seconds a child dies because that child is hungry.

The wealthy few profit from a global market which excludes the needy--
Those whose malnourished bodies will be buried with little, if any lamentation.
I look around and dead people are all that I can see.
Every five seconds a child dies because that child is hungry.

* This villanelle is based on an email post by Marc Norton called, ALL I SEE ARE DEAD PEOPLE and which was first published in BEYOND CHRON, October 20, 2006

A Marxist Mother Goose Tale

This is the house that Jack built

This is the fair day’s wage
that Jack’s paid for a fair day’s work to build the house

This is the apartment
that Jack pays half of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built

This is the malt
that lay in the apartment
that Jack pays half of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built

This is the rat
that ate the malt
that lay in the apartment
that Jack pays half of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built

Jack’s landlord did not buy a cat
to kill the rat
that ate the malt
that lay in the apartment
that Jack pays half of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built
He bought the house that Jack built

This is the apartment
that Jack pays 65% of a fair day's wages to rent
that’s half of the size of the house that he built
And still there’s no cat
to kill the rat

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Featured Poet: Michael Dunn

It is an honor and delight to introduce Michael Dunn, of Frederick, Maryland, as our first featured poet of 2007. I have come to know him as a fine writer over the past few years, and as a true and playful friend, through interview experience, poetic interchange and our humorous tongue-in-cheek exaggerated metaphorical history (more on that later). His beautiful new book Beyond Door's Threshold Light, New and Selected Poems 1995–2005, has been recently published. The collectible hard-cover, and soft cover editions are available online. His next book, poems 2005–2007 ". . . less than forty words per minute." will be available in May, 2007. See his book page for details about this upcoming book. With his permission, I have chosen some of my favorite poems from "Beyond Door's Threshold Light" and the keynote poem for "...less than forty words per minute" and presented them here for your enjoyment:

on the shelf where I used to live

within the small expanse of bookends
where I shared a life with you—

we, no longer of that compass, naïveté
smiles focused one to the other—

did time's pernicious dust gather
upon the fleeting years; until,
having had its final say,

came at last to repose
amongst shards of broken glass

in once-forgotten boxes still
full of memories when

Copyright © 2006 Michael Dunn
from "Beyond Door's Threshold Light"


Time, how insidious you are!
Staring into morning’s clouded mirror,
Through steamy shower droplets,
I recognize you!

Insatiable and inexorable horologe of fate!
You return relentlessly to your quarry—
Youth, transient as rose’s petal,
Ephemeral as morning’s dew.

Copyright © 2006 Michael Dunn
from "Beyond Door's Threshold Light"

Beyond Door's Threshold Light

When darkness settled
within my room
and tears began
to fall, for fear
of what lay hid
behind long shadows
and great walls;

and, beneath the bed,
just below my head,
some scratching and
some sighs, as
curtains blew, the shades
they grew, six arms
and ten troll eyes!

Then her voice I’d hear,
so soft and dear,
beyond door’s threshold
light, saying Hush my
darling, don’t fear my
darling, momma’s here
to make it right.

She was Doris Day,
with a Garland sway,
and soothing was her
sight; as she held me
close, I would quickly
doze, listening to
her song so light:

You may not be an angel
Cause angels are so few
But until the day
That one comes along
I'll string along with you.

Many years have passed
since those fearful nights,
and her song that soothed
my fright; but sometimes,
still, I can hear her voice,
beyond door’s threshold light.

Copyright © 2006 Michael Dunn
from "Beyond Door's Threshold Light"

C'était en Septembre

A rare hurricane torments
open window curtains
angrily leafing well-worn

pages of Balzac on a
nightstand, distracting
attention from perfumed

softness mingled with
womanly scents that rise
from anticipating, quivering

hips in their awkward
nakedness; intruding,
as eager hands, fumbling

with unfamiliarity, longing,
and desire join hungry lips—
wet, pulsating, greedy,

alive in the excitement of the
moment—speaking the language
of passion no storm can quell.

Copyright © 2006 Michael Dunn
from "Beyond Door's Threshold Light"

studying my own epitaph upon an early winter's eve

black locust’s great
moss-covered roots a soul
long-dead still lies and listens for
his muse

Copyright © 2006 Michael Dunn

All Rights Reserved.
from "Beyond Door's Threshold Light"

about me?

there's not that much




Copyright © 2007 Michael Dunn
All Rights Reserved.
from "...less than forty words per minute"


As a reminiscence and tribute, here is the spotlight feature Kath wrote honoring Michel Dunn for the former Poetry DMV, (slightly edited for present use):
An Ode to Michael Dunn (spotlight for July, 2006)

Oh Michael Dunn, he's the one, we're in for literary fun. Now he's here, now he's not, spotlight's caught him, glowing, hot.

Man mysterious, enigmatic bard, loving father, charming, modest, working hard.

His mother's words sing in his heart, his Irish blood's a thing apart. Only one month on Ireland's west coast shores, read what he's penned, you'd thing 'twas more.

For love of Ireland's rich deep soil, his heart does sing, and yearn for more. His one attempt at moving there, he found his love who lured him where?

Right to Fredrick, Maryland, the old bloke, writing technical manuals for nearby Montgomery College folk. He steals a moment left and right to jot a poem, strong and bright.

He's overcome with life's small sights, a photograph, a bug, the light. Inspired by ordinary things, nature's wonder, firefly wings.

He's drawn to forms to play and try, but his heart's own pulse he hears alive. He'll alter those to his own ear, as foremost guide, he knows no fear.

A flood of poems, every kind, all forms and styles, poetic finds since '95. From small to universal themes his verses from his days are gleaned. He'll tip the glass of Irish brew, in fact he'll make a drink for you.

For years he'd type away all day, and bartend nights and drink, he'd play guitar, and sing his songs, but now after work he pens his poems. One job's enough, his true love smiles, we're benefiting all the while!

His poetry began as prose, epiphanic stories those. Bernard Malmud, Joyce inspired, autobiograhically driven, insights given.

Unpredictability's at his soul, undone himself by traits of old. Smitten by the temporary as his rule, he'll follow no one way or school. Profoundly felt, with playful ways, his poems, his patterns grace our days.

And finally, to explain our "exaggerated metaphorical history", Here's Kath's poem that (by default) won Michael's (Irish themed) Contest last year at PoetryDMV, in which she teasingly and facetiously accused him of fathering her children, thus making him her imagined "ex" which we continue with ongling playful banter:
'Tis Michael Dunn That Done It

Now Michael Dunn, what have ya done?
Me belly's swollen tubby!
"Me Donegal lass, ' twas not me
Ye best go ask yer hubbie!"

Now Mic, yerself--their winsome looks--
Young Tim and sweet Colleen!
"C'mere Lassie now", I'll raise me glass,
"Me thinks you've had a dream!"

Now Mic me dear, a grandson hardy,
In twinklin' of an eye...
Tim's wee lad, Dylan MacKenzie, says
Now Grandad, don't be shy!

And many a lovely lass has told
This self-same story true,
They're smilin' all with Irish eyes
Set smartly right at you:

"Now true and fair as I have writ,
'Tis Michael Dunn that done it!"

copyright, 2006
Kath Wilson

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Introducing: Rick Wilson

My smile gets bigger as I present to you Rick Wilson, mathematician, musician, collector and player of historical flutes, artist, and yes, poet. Rick was my best friend for years before we were married six years ago, and it is a fantastic creative relationship. It's natural to introduce him here, as he's been right there reading, critiquing, encouraging and supporting my poetry, as well as commenting on and considering poetry by all of my favorite poets as well. He's a Professor of Mathematics, (Combinatorics) at Caltech, and he's invited to speak at conferences world-wide. So he's brought me along on trips to Japan, China, South Korea, Iran, and throughout the U.S. thereby broadening my horizons and greatly influencing the scope of my writing. You can visit his historical flute pages to see his collection and fascinating discussions on the history of the flute, from renaissance through the 19th century. He gives lecture-demonstrations at coleges and musical societies, upcoming is a presentation for the Southern California Early Music Society on January 13 and here is the program. Rick and I wrote a haiku exchange together, which documents the beginning of our romantic relationship, which I will present here.


Mister Moon guided me home.
Raspberry juice on my shirt.
How are things with you?


Mister Moon rushed back - over our house now.
I finished your glass of cold tea.
Gophers are pulling things down by the roots.


He exceeds the speed limit - (Mister Moon).
I will send you a haiku someday...
But I need more time.


Your swift words rise with Mister Moon,
Hot sesame oil over popping corn.
Frogs are loud in the creek bed tonight.


You are too fast for me.
I need more time.
I suppose you will think *this* is a haiku.

I have been thinking,
yet so far I have but one line:
It is too hot here.


Fishing from shore,
A short line drops into cool water -
Catches a haiku.

Thoughts at low tide
lured by the moon -
Early again at our front door?


Here working,
Too tired to talk-
but sure there is a haiku here somewhere.


No haiku tonight.
Too tired, too full.
This is not a haiku.


Brilliant unconscious night.
Masterwork of denial.
Too funny.


Did we miss the moon?
We smiled and ate a ripe peach-
Sliced in thin crescents.

At work on the moon?
Cashews curve like a question.
I'll watch the night sky.


This is an attempt
At seventeen syllables.
Form can be helpful.

The same shape appears:
Peach slices, cashews, the moon.
Damn refrigerator.


Left behind: a shirt;
pistachios, peas, almonds.
System error 10.


Shirt: could get worn out.
Nuts and peas: could be all gone.
It is not my fault.


80s at the beach;
100 in the valleys.
Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot.


Here the cool night air is sweet.
Have you seen the moon?


Off into the night
Two flutes play in unison.
Their first note is tongued.


Mister Moon is full!
So am I; I had sushi
and the salad bar.


Fed by Mister Moon
My mouth full of your kisses,
I can only smile.


Watching the moon rise
Counting in fives and sevens.
I eat a ripe peach.


Cabagges and kings,
Shoes, ships, sealing wax. Oysters!
Talk of many things.


The beach yesterday.
But no oysters could be seen...
They ate all of them.


Reading your sweet words.
My mouth opens like oysters-
I blush and taste them all.


Driving home last night.
Oh, Kath, Kath, Kath,
I heard myself say.


I saw Mr. Moon!
A sweet smile all afternoon.
He knows about us.


I was wondering:
Will the moon keep our secret?
(I hope he tells all.)


Monday, November 20, 2006

Featured Poet: Paganini Jones

I'm delighted to present Paganini Jones, of Hyde, Cheshire, England, as our featured poet. She has long studied and written haiku with brilliant clarity, as well as other poetry, fiction and drama. She is also a classical violinist and performs with ensembles. She has a zesty wit and lyricism that I love, climbs mountains, jumps rope and makes and poetizes fine soup. Read and look closely here, for this is "Pags" as you have never known her before! For a recent interview with Pags, especially concerning her musical interests see An Interview with Paganini Jones.

Bio:Paganini has been writing poetry for as long as she can remember. One of her earliest memories is of being carried by her father and in payment she sang songs she made up as she went along. One of his skills was being able to sing the words of one nursery rhyme to the tune of another with an entirely different meter! Family games included making stories up 'in the round' making up new words to familiar tunes, singing 'off the cuff', so she still finds it easy to write metrical doggeral that rhymes. Some people like it, she says, but she values it very little.
Poetry was nurtured at school by a teacher who allowed her to write a poem instead of an essay now and again, so long as it was on the correct subject. The earlient poem she remembers writing down was based on 'A midsummer night's dream.' She was just 8 at the time.
Having loved and collected words all her life she often thinks and even dreams in poetry. She can sympathise with Coleridge - she can never remember them properly either when she wakes.
She feels her best writing has been influences by her study and writing of haiku. Her first haiku, written over 20 years ago was unappreciated by her creative writing tutor at the time. More recently the same poem was runner-up in a competition.
Paganini lives with her long suffering husband of 30 years, one dog and a terrapin called Meat Pie. Oh - and she plays the violin too. She would like to paint in watercolours and has taken a few classes. She is currrently working on a recipe book about soup and a novel - Gold and Aluminium.

First, appropriately, some haiku
by Paganini Jones:

fog conceals the garden
in the kitchen loud music
and burnt toast

cemetery (senryu)

by the frosted stone
snowdrops and a note
old man walks away

February 2nd

the barometer
bit me -
groundhog day

a vast crecendo ends -
in the silence
a single piccolo

water dripping
from the daffodils' trumpets
- sudden springtime shower

a bedraggled honey bee
shakes and preens his feelers

sparkling raindrops
bouncing off a grey boulder
- rich green moss in bud

chill evening breeze -
again searching the letters
for one not there

doodled on a napkin
A tiny butterfly


garden fish pond -
a kitten pats reflected
fluttering leaves

so much depends
the sound of water

autumn leaves
flutter and fall;
sparrows amongst bare branches


Cubist Flowers
by Pagannini Jones

4:18 am

baby's first cry.
the scent of pink roses
and milk

7:49 am

she does not hear
the hovering skylark overhead.
learning to thread a daisy chain
her face is solomn
for once

11:00 am

Monochrome photograph.
a single carnation
and fern
in his buttonhole.
She laughs
as they hold the knife
over the cake

2:09 pm

the curve
of her back
as she turns to the door
the toss and sway
of wild poppies in the wind.
she wants to kiss him

6:01 pm

from her knees
she turns to the camera,
waving him away
with a bunch of weeds.
bright yellow buttercups

9:32 pm

her face
pale and dry on hospital pillows.
petals fall
one by one
from the vase


footsteps fading.
aphids cover a small shoot,
suck sap, destroy it.
there is no moon

her daughter
sketching yet again.
a vase of snowdrops
flows from her pencil.
he watches gratefully

copyright, Paganini Jones 2006

Comfort food for a broken heart
by Paganini Jones

Take about a pound of bacon,
more or less - it does not matter.
Those leftover lumps will do
sold cheap at the end of the day -
And chop roughly into bite sized bits.
You held my heart in your hands
and now it is in pieces.

Take an English onion or two
Slice thinly - but
do not cut the root
if you want to avoid tears.
Your words cut deep into my dreams,
My discarded roots are in tatters.

Take a pint of chopped tomatoes -
Do not bother to do this yourself.
Tinned will do, to add red
sweetness, liquid to the mix.
Oh, we had sweetness enough,
Now bitterness taints my tongue.

Throw in drained beans - not green
but any other as you like
And dice four large potatoes,
enough to fill the hungriest family
We were full of each other yet hungry for more
But now I am drained and green

Season to taste with garlic and pepper,
and cinnamon and nutmeg maybe
or ginger and chilles.
Salt is not needed. The mix is salty enough.
You brought spice to my days,
Now my wounds are raw with your salt.

Stir well, cover tightly and leave on the hob.
Simmer very gently 'till tender.
This will take several hours.
Then serve in a comforting bowl.
And eat.
You stirred my complacency
Now leaving you to simmer
I wait.

copyright, 2006 by Paganini Jones

Thoughts on having a first riding lesson at fifty
by Paganini Jones

Like a chair
this beast has
one leg at
each corner

the similarity

In terror
she sits, waits,
sob praying

the big horse

move anything
not a hoof
nor the tail.
it has teeth

has got HUGE


beast has her

copyright, 2006 by Paganini Jones

The Queen of Hearts, The Ace of Sorrows
by Paganini Jones

She sits by the window at a small table, her spinning finished for the day. Shaking back her auburn hair she shuffles a deck of worn playing cards. As the light fades she takes a card and turns it over. She gazes at it a long time. It is the Queen of hearts, bringer of love. She smiles.

Glancing through the window she sees a young man in the courtyard below. His doublet is patched and frayed, his hose far too short. He waves, shouts something she can't quite hear. Nevertheless she smiles to him, then blushes. Turning back to the pack she shuffles it again, again draws out a card. Silently she begins to weep. The Ace of spades, bringer of sorrow and death lies before her on the table.

"To the Queen of hearts
is the Ace of sorrows
He's here today,
he's gone tomorrow.
Young men are plenty
but sweethearts few.
If my love leaves me,
what will I do?"

"Mama," her daughter asks, pointing though the casement, "What's that?" She looks to the cairn in the valley. "That?" she says, sweeping the tiny child into her arms, "They say there's where the young prince was buried with all his treasure."

Later, her daughter asleep at last, she lays cards out on the kitchen table. The knave of diamonds - the young prince's card and the ten of diamonds - bringer of modest wealth. Finally, she turns over the ace of spades, the card she drew from the seer's pack the night before cavaliers came for her husband.

She sighs, and is silent a long time. When she moves it is to light a candle fragranced with lavender, said to soothe sorrow and bring peace.

"Had I the store
in yonder mountain
With gold and silver
there for counting,
I could not count
for thought of thee,
my eyes so full
I could not see"

Once the house is quiet she slips from her bed. Taking a small key from the ribbon about her neck she opens the small mahogany casket wherein she keeps her most precious treasures.

A worn pack of cards lies beside a single sheet of folded paper covered in his beloved handwriting. She takes the paper, reads and re-reads it, smiling gently as she does so. Folding it carefully she replaces it, taking out the tiny, tissue wrapped parcel hidden beneath. Opening it she places the ring encrusted with garnets and diamonds on the ring finger of her left hand.

She thinks of the promise he made to her. "I will write to you when I have made my fortune in Virginia, so that you may join me there". She wonders how soon that will be. She will consult her cards.

She selects a card, turns it over. It is the Ace of Spades. Furious, she flings the cards from her, hot tears starting to her eyes. What would the cards know after all? Hasn't Victoria, the new queen said that such things are superstition and not to be countenanced by modern young ladies?

"I love my Father
I love my Mother
I love my sister
I love my brother
I love my friends
and family too,
but I'd leave them all
and go with you"

It is late at night yet she cannot sleep. Arthritis in her spine will not allow her to get comfortable. Turning the radio on she searches for classical music, and finding the Bach double violin concerto, leans back to listen to the melodies inextricably entwine.

As the music ends, she reaches for her old pack of cards, from habit shuffling them and whispering a secret wish. She draws forth a card. It is the Queen of Hearts, bringer of love. She smiles, remembering. In her mind's eye she sees a young man in doublet and hose. That could not have been, she thinks. Her mind plays strange fancies sometimes.

Shuffling again she draws forth a second card. It is the Ace of Spades, bringer of death. Again she smiles. She is old enough now to know that that death may come as a friend, that there are many worse things.

She hears footsteps on the stairs yet she is not afraid. She recognises that tread though she has not heard it for sixty or more years. A young man with red hair and blue eyes stands in her bedroom doorway. She runs to him, pain forgotten, takes his hand, looks up into his face and accepts his kisses. He strokes her long auburn curls.

"To the Queen of hearts
is the Ace of sorrows
He's here today,
he's gone tomorrow.
Young men are plenty
but sweethearts few.
If my love leaves me,
what will I do?"

It is morning. They come quietly, half knowing, a little afraid of what they will find. The lavender candle burns low. She is in bed, her white hair wispy on the pillows.

Playing cards are scattered about the counterpane and on the floor. On her bedside table are an old letter and a rather old fashioned gold ring set with garnets and diamonds. In her cold, stiffening fingers are two playing cards.

Standing by her bed, they are awed. Her face shows no trace of pain, but there is tremendous love. She is smiling. 'She does not look 94,' they say wonderingly.

One snuffs out the candle. A thin trail of smoke meanders upwards.

15th April 2001
(Note - the traditional song quoted is believed to be at least 500 years old but still delights audiences today. This story is expanded from my short introduction to the song.)

copyright 2006 by Paganini Jones

Below a conversation between Kath and Pags about "The Queen of Hearts":

What is the tune of the song...?

Pags:you can find it, though a little different from how I sing it (that first B should really be a G and the rhythm is a bit strange and lumpy) , at
I have attached the music: you'll need to click on the thumbnail to read it though

A fragment of Joan Baez's version is available on Amazon:

KathIt is beautiful, this whole
scene... the mood---and the words you wrote.

PagsThank you

KathYou should perform it.
Or have someone do it!
You could at least record it, and make a cd.
I would certainly like someone with ability to do so. It has never been performed, or recorded. Do you envision it actually acted out? It is cinematic.

I had never thought of it in that way but I guess it might make a 5-minute short!

teacup haiga copyright, 2006 by Paganini Jones