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

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Featured Poet: Rusty Arquette

Even though Rusty and I have never met we are like old friends. Even though he lives in Florida, and Rick and I live in California, it's like we are neigbors. What a pleasure it has been to look out of his windows and through his rainbow glasses at the world, with a wry tenderness, an optimistic scepticism. He's an observer and a loving participant in the human drama. He's intolerant of militant dogmatism, unkindness and stupidity. He's a lover of nature, wine women and song. He is my kind of poet. Another thing Rusty and I have in common is a great appreciation for Charles Bukowski. My husband and I were delighted recently to be able to attend the presentation of the Bukowski Archives to the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena, walking distance from our home. Buk's wife and friends spoke and read. It is with great pleasure that I present for your reading enjoyment and applause, a few (difficult to choose) favorites by Rusty Arquette. Please notice you may leave comments at the end of the feature.)

Give Me Back Myself
by Rusty C Arquette

I lost me…
the jester in the grin…
pressed into the fly paper
beneath the couch…
beneath the floorboards…
a chalked outline
on the ground…
maybe frightened…
maybe heavy eyed
on the edge
of fractured sleep…
lying alone
in the dark…
in the artificial coolness…
with painful electric skin
wanting to be left

within the quiet…
breathing out…
breathing in…

then I learned
about the alchemy
in the orange plastic
forest on the dresser…
numbers, colors, shapes
holding something
lighter than air…
powders and elixirs
in caps and tabs…
sacraments upon
my snaking tongue…
shoved me into twilight…
made sure I was numb…
made damn sure
I was numb…

I’m no longer sad
or angry
or frustrated…
no longer plagued
with useless anxieties…
I’m barely me at all…

neither moved or unmoved…
neither caring or careless…
no laughs, no tears,
no joys, no fears,
relieved of the negative…
the positive disappeared
as well…

but I think I’m happy…
at least it seems that way…
though this haze
this pharmaceutical castration
of the right and left side
of my muddled brain…

there may be no joy
within me…
but then at least there
is no pain…
I think I’d like me back
but then I’m really
not that insane…
I have to laugh…
but I don’t know why…
give me back myself
I’d like to scream…
but I can’t seem to cry…
give me back myself
I keep saying
from inside my head…

from the edge
of fractured sleep…
lying alone
in the dark…
in the artificial coolness…
with painful electric skin
wanting to be left
within the quiet…
breathing out…
breathing in…

give me back myself
breathing out…
breathing in…

give me back myself
breathing out…
breathing in…

give me back myself
breathing out…
breathing in…

copyright 2006 by Rusty Arquette

Adrift in those Days of Soft Skin and Sighs
by Rusty C Arquette

I know
these looks
found hung on
the weathered faces
of old men…
these worn
wrinkled beings
moving with the sun…
found on park benches
sitting alone
in public places…
pondering a thought…
each in uniform…
their polyester pants
in plaids and paisleys…
with shirts and jackets
decorated with stains
from coffee, tobacco,
and Tuesdays breakfast…

they stare
at the pigeons…
watch the squirrels…
glancing at passersby…
not seeing them at all…
seeming out of phase…
a dull distance
in their eyes…

it’s taken awhile
to understand…
but I know now…
I know that look…
that distant, far away
wondering look…
that mixture of longing
and sweet memories…
fading a little more
with each new sunrise
each old sunset…

behind those eyes
there is longing…
not to hold onto yesterday
not to hold onto old loves
not to hold onto good times
just to hold on…
hold on to that image
of the way they were…
the way we were…
when we all sang
Whitman’s ‘body electric’….

It’s obvious now…
I see that picture…
that milk skinned girl
with a sweet angel face…
unblemished and new…
wide eyed
and wondering…
and I too am longing…

I thought I could live forever…
adrift in those days…
in the gentle ways
of women and girls…
of soft skin
and sighs…

copyright 2006 by Rusty Arquette

All these Ghosts with Young Faces
by Rusty C Arquette

All these ghosts
with young faces…
in afternoon sun
behind tree lined rock walls
outside Boston
and Lexington…
the specters seem to call…
in the stillness
above the mist draped fields
of Appomattox
and Gettysburg…
these phantoms gently yield…
above the snow
on the narrow roads leading
into Warsaw
and Berlin…
the images are weeping…
in the sunrise
in the salty morning breeze
on beaches at Dunkirk
and Iwo Jima…
apparitions left to bleed…
in the passing seasons
in the rain or freezing snow
from Pusan
to Seoul…
hazy figures need to know…
in the pouring rain
monsoon winds whip the rice
outside Da Nang
and Saigon…
lonely spirits search for life…
on blood stained sands
beneath a smoke shrouded sun
nearing desert Baghdad
or dusty Mosul…
these fresh lives now done…
like those
who came before…
from a hundred different homes…
to die in a hundred lonely places…
all these ghosts
with young faces…

copyright 2006 by Rusty Arquette

Author's Note: For all those young boys who've marched off to give their all in fields around the world... RCat

An Ornate Box
by Rusty C Arquette

An ornate box
of rosewood and brass inlay
from the shores of India
bought in a head-shop
with patchouli incense…
a brass roach-clip…
and a copy of Zap #1…
found stacked among
the black light posters
and bongs…

it became a stash box…
holding dreams and trips
the simple tools of ritual…
used at tribal gatherings
among the laughter
and discussions…
a footnote to food feasts
the Moody Blues
and It’s a Beautiful Day…
the candles burning…
babies on the floor playing…
a guitar and harmonica
background in a corner…

a brand new Norman Rockwell...
we came to take it for granted…
as the days spun and on
and the fabric came undone…
change erased the image
slowly blowing it away
like the incense in
a drafty room…

I still have the box…
now a place to keep things…
a place to put my coins
my collection of rocks
my father’s pocket watch…
it still smells of the incense
of the dreams and trips
it remains the same…

it was the rest of us
that changed…

I wish I was that box…

copyright 2006 by Rusty Arquette

Pebbles with Voices
by Rusty C Arquette

I felt important…
bigger than I was…

I was a mountain…
strong, tall, and rugged…
standing unmoving
against a dark
stormy sky…

in whirlwinds…
cold hard rains…
blinding explosions
of lightning…
the concussions
of thunder…

ice and snow…
heat and fire…
for ten million days…
for ten million nights…

I was large
against the horizon…

yet I had no voice…

a time worn pebble…
smooth and still…
I rest among many…
at the bottom
of cool, clear,
rushing water…
unassuming and gray…
life clings to me
as the water
runs surely
to the waiting sea…
no longer large…
no longer tall…
small and content
to gather
in the stream beds
that lead to each
successive pool…

at last…
in my contentment
I listen to the water
gurgle overhead…
it whispers
and laughs
like children do…
all the wisdom
of the ages spoken…
I finally found
my voice…

copyright 2006 by Rusty Arquette

Author's Note: The connection with the universe seems to be everywhere I look wonderful! - RCat-mandu

******* Kath & Rusty: Poetry in Tune*********

Here's a poetic example of how we are inspired alike at the most basic level. We both found our voices in stones! Below is the first of Kath's 18 She Poems, a narrative of discovery illumination.

She Poem #1
by Kath

At the foot of the stairs
the stones lay in wait.
At first,
she felt the heaviness of their silence.
She held her tongue,
and wished to hear a voice.

Later, she began to carry them home.
They gradually took over her house
from all the ledges and shelves
they stared down at her,
with their indecipherable markings.
She was charmed,
and wished to understand.

Her third wish came true
when she began to eat them
one by one.
Luckily, the first was small and light
and it was when it cracked between her teeth,
that she began to hear them speak.

copyright by Kath, 2006

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Featured Poet: Jim Benz

It is an honor to present the poetry of Jim Benz, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, one of my favorite poets. The first poem below was the first poem I ever read of his, and at first reading he gained my immediate respect. It was unforgettable. I find this memorable quality a characteristic of his work. His poetic imagery is rooted deeply in nature and in the intellect. It has a lyrical, emotional strength and a self-conscious poetically self-referential humor. Below you will find a few of my favorites, followed by a short analysis I wrote about his work earlier this year, which mentions some of the poems included here. The final entry is a renga chain that I had the pleasure of writing with him.

Readers note: this is an interactive page, you can leave comments at the end of each feature.

Suppose Two Clocks
by Jim Benz

To remain here, I assume a curve
along which my body moves, reaching
for sunlight. The day is liquid
hurrying across my path. In the shadows,
beneath my eyes, fixed stars move in a circle.
It isn’t clear what can be understood.

There is no dilemma today, nothing
disappears. The minutes are insensible
of life spans, the hours unconcerned
with decay. Suppose two clocks
of identical construction are placed
on the wind: a moment might be compared

to a juncture that no longer exists,
there is nothing more. I assume this
and imagine two mirrors, so arranged
upon vanished eyes as to reflect
a dilemma: these are the clocks, perfectly situated
at their origins, in view of a structure

of passed days, the relative motion
of fixed stars, absorbed energy, ourselves
wrapped in a delicacy of detail, an unspoken word
filtered from the things that happen
each day. This must be so, this is reasonable:
time clutches nothing. Only now.


Copyright 2006, Jim Benz

There is a chair
by Jim Benz

There is a luxury chair in this poem,
an Eaves lounge chair with matching ottoman,
upholstered in soft black leather
over a seven-ply cherry shell
and die-cast aluminum supports. No trees
were felled and no ore mined
to construct this chair and no hide
was ever stripped from a dead cow
to be fitted and sewn around
the individually upholstered cushions.
It will never be sat in.

The chair is located in a sun-lit
oak-paneled room, on a Persian rug
of modern design by Qolam Hossein
Jabini Khiabani of Tabriz. An aging feline,
who now steps gingerly across the deep red weaves
of the natural pattern, will never pee on this rug
even though she has just now entered the poem.
In this illusory context, she will live forever
and never become incontinent or arthritic
nor will the heart-broken author have to bury her
by a large aspen tree growing on a hill
thick with birch, beside a rustic log cabin
built from unfelled trees. When she eats a young rabbit,
the rabbit will not cry and there will be no blood
staining the intricate silk inlay of the rug.

About to sit in the leather chair,
and rest a back that never aches,
is the author of this poem
who contemplates a meaningless violation
of previously stated poetic assertions
alluding to the imaginary properties
of said chair. The poem, however, does not
end when he sinks into the plush leather
of its cushions, because the particulars of this existence
reside within the poem itself and have nothing
to do with the imagined properties
of a luxury chair or an indulgent man.
Even so, the poem ends quite suddenly.

copyright, 2006 by Jim Benz

Family Photo, 1964
by Jim Benz

My father,
sunk into a deep
black chair,
has his legs crossed
exposing a white
hairless calf above his sock.

A magazine
lies open in his lap
and his eyes
have the blank stare
of a man displeased
with cameras.

On the arm of his chair
my mother sits
with down-cast eyes
and one hand
clenched into a fist.
These are my parents.

Taking the picture
is my Grandmother.
She can be seen
only in body language
and the hard stare
of my father’s eyes.

Thirty six years later
I’m sunk into a chair
pulling this photo
from an envelope.
I’ve never seen
these people before.


Copyright © 2006 Jim Benz

through the green of quaking aspen, wind
by Jim Benz

wind, birds, green leaves quaking
in the afternoon sun, a mosquito
buzzes in my ear, wood ticks
tickle my legs, naked

life breeds
in this forest clearing

I lay in a fold out chaise and rest
my back, relax a spasm
in the muscles above my hips, then sip
on a cool beer, watch my wife
working in the sun

with a chicken wire fence

I'm lying in a sparse shade, born
of willow bush and speckled alder
lying among white dandelion globes
that spread seed, gently
on the breeze

between my wife
and me, in the air

there's a soft dusting
of liveliness, busy and random
butterflies, dragonflies
all manner of spore, drifting
to the future

an unknown awakening
a lazy berth

I can't say what's coming
or will arise, what will transpire
whether birth or death, a moment
captured by this life, swirling
through currents, bobbing

I see a white tail
deer, crossing the trail

unexpectedly, crashing through brush, I hear
a hidden bird, in the woods singing, I smell
sweat beneath my arms, taste
the pleasure of beer
on my lips, feel

a breeze cooling my brow, then
the moment passes, a summer wind


Copyright 2006, Jim Benz

Mouth of the Well
by Jim Benz

I stand on the peak
of Kukúlcan’s pyramid,
looking east
to the Mayan ball court, gazing
on its half crumbled temples.
I feel nothing
of the past, only distance
and a sobering wind.
Behind me, a woman is sobbing.

The acoustics
of the pyramid amplify
her vertigo. With each stammer
of terror that escapes from her mouth,
a remembrance is stirred
in the diffident sky.

I don't know how
she climbed this monument
of Mayan culture, this calendar
of the seasonal march, but soon
she must descend.

Below, on the ground, tourists
crane their necks
under the sun’s blistering glare
to see a woman collapsed
beneath the hysterical weight of her fear.

Someone takes a picture of her
sitting on the humid stone platform, quaking,
with knees
pulled tight to her chest.

Her husband tries to comfort her
and kneels
at her side, pleading
gently in German
but I understand none of it
so I clap my hands

and hear the Quetzal bird
an echo of stone. It rings

through the engraved rock temple
at the apex, a spirit
of Maya, sacrificed
by decimation, torn
from the misery of victims, shattered
in a heap below.

Deep within the structure,
a green jaguar waits, with Chaac-Mool,
for a camera click.

copyright 2006, by Jim Benz

Spirit is relation to the relation
by Jim Benz

is serious
but my will (and this is
comical) in the clouds soaked by


Author's Note: cinquain
copyright 2006, Jim Benz

by Jim Benz

I seem to be lost in words,

your words, my words.
I’m almost reading,
but between the cadence
of your clock-setting, on the minute sighs
and observations, a time passes
needles, razors are forged and honed
across our peace

of mind, there is no cadence.

Broken needles,
not even intentional needles,
no rhythm or internal dialogues
coexist in the space
between our ears,

a fracture, a near frantic

looking, of both ways, of waiting
for a train of thought, our necks
on the rail,
or the tv channel

to change again, into chaos.

To change, again pausing
long enough for hope and absent
minded desire, long enough
for the turning of pages, in reverse
between syllables, paragraphs, strophe,

spilt words and laughter strains.

Too loud
a prattle, lost in empty words.
Your words, my words, spoken, written,
read, ambivalent, lost repeatedly,
everlasting, long overdrawn

so far as the meaning of our intent

Copyright © 2006 Jim Benz

**********************on Jim Benz, by Kath****************************

"I have spent some time your poems this morning as I would with any great poet, which I think you are. Noticing themes, stance, voice. Your poem "Three Indians" brought this on, as in it, you act in the moment, with attention and awareness. I admired this quality in your work from my first readings-- the wonderful "Suppose Two Clocks" and later "There is a Chair". Now recently your poems are poised even more languidly and familiarly holding that moment as "on eating an apple" where you "sit right now on the wet concrete of my door step". Over and over again in the rushing world, wherever you are, you are stopping, absorbing, expressing. Yes, the poet's life, exceptionally so. In recent poems, you take a position, as in "self portrait in spring", you are who "sits on the concrete step" and from that position your gaze stops and peels open the moment, simply revealing ...mystery, as in "Mouth of the Well" where rather than on your doorstep you are "Standing on the peak of Kukúlcan’s pyramid, I look east"; "excitement" (as you say in "to have and have not"); and potential, as when in "through the green of quaking aspen, wind" you lay in a fold out chaise...relax a spasm" and "can't say what's coming or will arise, what will transpire...". Now here again you are in "Three Indians" sitting on the sidewalk"... "in the light of this changing moment, about the beauty of them all ... but the moment vanishes" but not for us... as you have saved it for us here, exquisitely as is your want, and talent. What a delight to tell a poet this in the here and now... when you can hear me... that these are the themes and threads I find, this is what you inspire me to see!"--kw, 2006

morning sun (renga )
by Kathy Wilson and Jim Benz

morning sun
cutting through the spring mist
a woodpecker taps

a blush on her cheek
as she opens the door

at the corner
watching a bus pull away
stray dog

lost in a foreign city
lane overgrown with vegetables

under the blue sky
a cat stretching
birds flying

her long hair out straight
twirling parallel to the ground

stopped in mid-braid
looking up
from her pile of colored ribbons

reflective eyes
pensive in the mirror

someone enters the picture
peeks over her shoulder
who giggles first

warm breath on her neck
a smiling kiss

a soft pop, cold bubbly foam
sparkling bottle
two full glasses

on her lips
the day unfolds into stories

gentle wind
mingling with the sunset
a wooden flute

he bikes through town whistling a tune
remembering renga

a bent wheel
idled by a pot hole
a poet cursing

she's home singing into soup bowls
enjoying the sound

lentils and carrots
tomatoes and cumin
no onion?

stopping in a crosswalk
laughs out loud at a private joke

breeze rises floats settles
silk veil covers
five bright flowers in her hair

could this be summer
dancing through my curtains?

how do you find me
in foreign lands?
I wake reciting your poem

Flung from night before the dawn
song of starlings

building nests
amidst ancient ruins
flutter of new wings

floating on the breeze
a feathery sunrise

clouds parted
within the wet grass
my bare feet

fingers spread, palms cupped, eyes meet
gently your face in my hands

my fingers
twisted with scars
find comfort in yours

we're in the same smooth bed
whispering dreams

egyptian cotton
on a hot hot night
so soft and cool

face down on her pillow
a book left open

steam rises
(two heads together)
full morning cups

flirting through nightfall clouds
sun and moon

two lovers
one lingers, one arrives
a pelican dives for fish

thunder shakes my house
but where's the rain?

an hour later
my eyes still in yours
we're drenched

water drips from an eave
hitting the rain barrel

copyright Jim Benz and Kathy Wilson

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Featured Poet: Leanne Hanson

I am honored to present Leanne Hanson, of Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, as our next featured poet. The first time I read one of Leanne's poems on our former poetry site, I recognized her as a brilliant wordsmith, a fine creative wit, and a wonderful poet. I could imagine her as my friend. My first instincts were right, and confirmed on all accounts. Since that day her inspiring incisive commentaries, insights, creativity, and jovial and loyal friendship have become treasures to me and to many who have come to know her as a fellow poet and friend. Distance has been no obstacle, we have come to know one another as if we lived next door. Here are a few gems from Leanne that you would not want to be without! We follow them by an unusual tribute...

The Getting of Wisdom
by Leanne Hanson

Doggerel, Dogma, the Dagda and Dan
All sat around by the burning trash can,
Warming their topics and firing their wits,
Talking of taming the wild hypocrites.

Doggerel in his nonsensical way
Spoke of confusion and shadings of grey;
Dogma spun grey into stark white and black,
Stated his case and then showed them his back.

Dagda the wise spoke of salmon and stars --
Doggerel asked him to hum a few bars,
This was a most unfamiliar tune;
"Faith!" uttered Dogma, "You'll bring us to rune."

Stout Irish Dan, with a Guinness or three,
Called for his comrades to live and let be;
"'Tis too feckin' cold to expect me to think,"
Said Dan, "screw the lot an' I'll drown in me dhrink."

Doggerel, Dogma, the Dagda and Dan
All knew the best for the future of man;
As the stars wheeled, these exponents of right
All bedded down in the park for the night.

copyright, 2006 by Leanne Hanson

by Leanne Hanson

Has no reason or rhyme
Well, not at this time
It's just a word
I wanted to use
I've no excuse
What's real has blurred
The word has slurred
To pershmn

Persimmon, puce and poppycock
Sit like shags on a wobbly rock
Each with a pudding in a cotton sock
And a key to the bishop's car

Make sense of this
You worthless piece
Of over-opiated verse
I know the rules
I have the tools
You have your alligator purse
And rhyming dick
Shunary, sick
Ophantic to the dead
And rotting gods
Of odds and sods
Where none have trod
For fear of losing
Half an empty head

You wander through
And wonder who
Gave me the right
To write of right
And rhyme with right
Not twice, but thrice
Then not at all

I have a few
New words for you
Quite simplistic
Trivial and slightly cystic
Such a sad and sorry state
When torrents of both love and hate
Are trickled into metaphors

Much used by Shakespeare and the Doors
Who burned and raged in equal parts
Though Shakespeare smoked a little less
And had less fun - but I digress

Light up
Lighten up
Sip your sins
From Satan's cup
Seven sins are counted
Seven horses mounted
Minus the three
That wait near the tree
Of knowledge forgotten
The tree that is laden
With persimmon

copyright 2006, by Leanne Hanson

Portrait of Oxygen
by Leanne Hanson

You are the sonnet
I would have written
if I could whisper my need into

You are the ballad
I sing to the plaintive yearnings
of strings drawn tight with desire
tempered with fire and fused
into euphonic dreams

You are the shining pigment
that spreads its elegant
sfumato renderings
across my poor canvas
and teases me
with impressionist love

But were I unlettered
and blind
you would still be
every breath I drew

copyright 2006, by Leanne Hanson

by Leanne Hanson

Serpent sleeping,
Dreams the land in golden
Hues, bleeding in fires of scarlet.
Sacred rock, your people call you brother,
Whose ancient heart will slumber on
Into the gentle dawn
Of another

copright 2006, by Leanne Hanson

Pop Pets

I tried to teach my dog the guitar
And send him to work as a film star
But he got drunk at the local bar
And sings duet with a chihuahua

I thought my cat might like the trombone
A brass pussy would be fun to own
But the cat (who weighed about six stone)
Had a heart attack, so I'm alone

My pets are fickle, won't make me rich
And I've learned to scratch my own damn itch
I'd sing myself, but I've got no pitch
It's much easier to whinge and bitch

copyright 2006, by Leanne Hanson

**********On Leanne Hanson by Kath and "Augustus"***********

An Ode to Lament the Invocation Of
by Kath Wilson and Augustus Bailey

Like a rudderless ship
we drift upon oceans chaotic and formless;
like an ant with no queen
for which to present its sacred crumb; like a mixed Aboriginal child
taken from its ancestral lands and thrust into the midst of white oppressors...

we are abandoned...


abandoned without rhyme or reason,
without feet or form,
we who have lost count
and are without refrain,
lost to our own vilanelless ways,
sestinaed on the shores with our trioletlesness.
oh where is the honeyed voice,
that keeps us afloat
in the muddied waters
of formeless oblivion?


Oblivion! Oh woe!
Oh woe is me!
Land of cutthroats and thieves
those downunders.
They promise wonders.
Clean cuts
to reveal the facets of gems concealed. But instead,
they steal away in marsupial pouches
to the low, morbid rumblings of a didgeridoo
and alone we are left to wander.

What walk-about is this, I say?

As if you could ever convince a Koala
to quit its daily fair
in exchange for porridge.


Live on! Oh joy!
Oh joy is us!
Wand of flutter tongues,
waves from downunder.
Displayed with wonder.
Fine facets of gems revealed to lure us.

Leaps from the marsupial pouch:
her voice
to sing sweet nothings to her gathered flock
above the low, morbid rumblings
of didgeridoos.
Hark, her voice,
her wonderous musings upon our plight
(though unsympathetic)
still we say

oh hear, oh welcome,
oh walk-about amongst us!

We who are intent on koala studies,
imitating their sleeping, mating ways
we have quit our rampant business
and heaved our porridge to the dust...
see here our proud procrastination,
our long naps...
welcome, yet "tread softly
for you tread on our dreams".


So glad that you're outback,
what a great barrier relief,
to Foster our forms
and give them crocodile teeth.
But, Mate, should you take off
again like that Kangaroo Jack
by crikey, we'll just make fun
till you bloody well decide to come back.


What ho-- have we this bit of fun,
while on hiatus thus she goes,
and sees our fun as blooms the rose
and we are tipping on our toes.
So fun again-- and this until
full throated (yelling) yet she will
observe our fun and go away
oh (please) come back some other day.


copyright 2006 by Kath Wilson and Augustus Bailey

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Featured Poet: James Zealy

I have come to know and appreciate James Zealy, of Greensboro, North Carolina, as a creative and enthusiastic poet. He also claims to be "a database administrator and finance person." He embraces poetry as his unique means, he says, "of expressing feelings about things I have witnessed or events I have experienced, so that I can release the event and let it go." Here are some recent poems you may not have seen:

Say What You Need to Say
by James Zealy

Calm as a placid windless lake
A voice barely a whisper
Sears the air
Can you come today

Time has taught
That the time has come
Even though it may not seem to be

On that Saturday
I chose to see
Her gentle spirit one last time

A meek and forceful hero
Who did great things without acclaim
Motioned for me to sit next to her

In typical economic display she sat up
Tapped the bed beside her
Her eyes still clear azure blue

Say what you need to Say
Was her entre for me to
To let go of the frail body
Cancer wracked and spent

She hugged me
She knew I loved her
She knew I valued her
She knew she gave my family a gift
She knew more than anyone I needed to say goodbye

Without further ado she let go
I let go
And barely past midnight on the Eleventh of September
She passed in typical economic fashion


Author's Note: My Aunt Martha died 09/11/2006

Hypocrite's Strut
by James Zealy

Peacock proud espouse
Exact verse parlays
Virtues that do not forgive
I am the pretenders worst desire
A man who has seen the fault
Of the guileless rants
Repeated as if the words were gilded gold

Witnessed from the fruit of my loins
Is a man condemned by all that is unholy
By those that have bastardized forgiveness
In shrouds of intolerance

I see a man that has
All the attributes of
Stereotypical saved souls
Save one, save one

While the pretender's squawk
Pretense filled accolades
And preach against those that seek understanding
For something they cannot control

I witness a gay man
Who is my son
Who is ethical and lives the golden rule
I cannot believe one such as he is condemned

I will not believe that it is so
Regardless of the peacock proud gestures
Spirtuality is not their divinity alone
Is not their divinity alone
Is not their divinity alone

*******************and a few older ones:**************************

Box of Treasures
by James Zealy

The tattered old Cigar box
Brims with slips of paper
Put aside but never forgotten
A remnant of a loved ones legacy

Days turn to weeks speed rapidly to years
The pain of loss so dear
It flashes memories of times dear
Of flowers in spring, of rolling hills of tobacco

A menagerie of life, pets, plants, livestock, people
Flashes rapidly by, building images of pleasant times
The old farm house a testament of life and love
The land so dear, now gone

Time depletes the pain
A renewal of life in the land
Flushes all the past back at hand
With Curious anxiety the box attracts
A heart ready to face the past

Each piece of paper a nugget of days past
Memories long forgotten rise again
As if its keeper is being lead
To rediscover a hidden script

The anxiety fades, exhilaration builds
An Ethereal revelation of memories
Constructed with each unique scrap
Entices the boxes keeper to search for meaning

Cryptic pieces of another’s life
Treasures passed to one who cares
To make things known undefined
A mission of love and care begins


Author's Note: My wife's grandmother died 2 months after we were married, in 1976. Due to health reasons, she was not able to go see her when she was hospitilized. Our marriage was the last time she saw her. One of the remnants of her legacy were some old cigar boxes containing recipes, old wedding invitations etc. For many years she was never able to look at the boxes contents. Most of her fondest memories growing up were spent on her grandparents farm in rural Davidson County NC. In recent years she opened the boxes to begin writing a cookbook.

Muses Moonlight Serenade
by James Zealy

Sing the song of Inspiration
To an audience of peers
Test our Appreciation
Of the gift to our ears

Their singing in the moonlight
Partying with the crew
Of inspirational mates
Our muses let us stew

By george they be on strike
Partying on the beach
While we swelter at the lack of sight
And pray that they can reach

A negotiated settlement
For all of us to sign
So we can fling their words as a testament
To our creative genius in kind

Lord knows what the conditions
Could possibly be
As we wait on the propositions
We will sign any decree

Calliope, Erato and Polyhymnia laugh
As they Lead the negotiating team
While drinking a Goombay Smash
In this Paradise of dreams

We get it guys, just tell us where to sign
We admit we did you wrong
Our intent was benign
Only next time please take us Along.


Author's Note: Well now, it seems our muses are in total control, and we better be nice or they will leave us holding our creative desires in total limbo with no where to turn. By gum they are more powerful and demanding then Teamsters!!!!!!

Wine Tasting
by James Zealy

Let the nectar caress my lips
Tease my tongue
As it pours from the vessel

Tart, flavorful and strong
Round and full
Bold and sensual
Warm and enticing

It envelopes my being
With its essence

Urges wanton crave more
Than the encounter allows
Until I decide to taste again.


Lost Soul's Concerto
by James Zealy

My daughter and I watched the stark images
Entranced by the blacks, whites and shades of grey
As the soulful strings from Schindler's Theme
Wailed with mournful sadness

At its finale
Her musician's instincts
Led her to pick up her student strings
And Play the melancholy melody

Tears marked her cheeks
As she swayed gently with the aching flow
Of the cruelty threaded piece

We lived the angst filled moment
As the music haunted us
For a silent moment
While the lost souls listened


Copyright © 2006 James Zealy

*************On James Zealy by Kath*****************
Well. I wrote a hello to James in an IM earlier this year... and look what took a week or so, what fun!!!

Doin' the Huggley-Buggley(Collaboration with Kathleen Wilson)
by James Zealy

Huggley-buggley my friend James!
Buggley-huggley my friend Kathleen!
(We gots lots of them buggley things.)
If you hugg them enough do day buggg off,
or are the huggs the buggs demise?
Buggs dem eyes?
I'm eyen dose buggs,
I'm a wantin dose hugs.
Dem eyes is bugged
full of them buggs.
Hugs be nice if they ain't bugg hugs,
big hugs are better than bugg hugs
especially in de bedded life.
No bed bugg bites,
love bites are bedder.
Hugs in bedded
slays them bugs imbeded.
Cajoling love bites insteaded
wit de hugs ooh aay
de buggs will play.
A huggle a day keeps dose buggles away.
Huggley-buggley's parlay
sweet huggles alay
Buggles Buffet


Author's Note: Collaboration with Kathleen Wilson, a little stream of conciousness nonsensical fun, bantered back and forth in IM's, Add a little spit and polish (I did the spit she did the polish) and you got something that was entertaining and fun for both of us.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Featured Poet: Stephan Anstey

I am honored to present as our first featured poet, Stephan Anstey, of Lowell, Massachusetts, a prolific writer and leader of the band of Shakespeare's Monkeys. He is indeed a poet I love. He inspires other poets with his dedication and hard work and most of all with his poetry, evident from this small sampling below. This is an interactive page! Your comments are welcomed at the end of each entry. A few of my many favorites:

the cottonseed
by Stephan Anstey

I found a cottonseed by the muddy river
in the little hole where the two-inch wasp leapt and flapped into the hot Mississippi air
the ground was white with fresh wild fibers

and the path smelled of berries and sunlight dancing
with the shadows of unripened grapes
the currents from the river cuddled the slippery banks

where the tiny little frogs dreamed of thimble houses
and hungry gar wearing top hats.
I found a cottonseed by the muddy river

and planted it where the little girl in the flowered dress
wiped her brow, slick with sweat from the hot Mississippi air

Copyright © 2006 Stephan Anstey


a drop of truth
by Stephan Anstey

tin kettle whistling
steam condenses on the wall
mouse drinks silently

Copyright © 2006 Stephan Anstey

1218 steps
by Stephan Anstey

the sound of the siren announcing the end of the day
led to a dozen conversations and pristine thoughts of later
the first steps, I did not count they were merely from the gym to my locker then to the door in the northwest corner of the building.
each step thereafter I cataloged meticulously

so as to place it in universal context
each 12.1 steps: one percent of my journey
my journey, only 1/124,000,000th of the distance to the sun

for the first 8minutes, about half of my walk
the suns rays that browned my skin
left before I'd even gotten out of school.
for the second half of my trip

every ray was mine.

Copyright © 2006 Stephan Anstey


" "
by Stephan Anstey

I didn't say a thing
when she said, " " to me.
and when she repeated, " "
I turned so she couldn't see

I walked a way in silence
but I said to her so loud, " "
I looked up to stifle tears
and prayed she thought " "
Why's he looking at the clouds?"

Copyright © 2006 Stephan Anstey

***************On Stephan Anstey, by Kath *********************

An Extended Clerihew (Anstey Aubade)
by Kath Wilson

Stephan Anstey
always upping the ante
his royal straight poem flush
makes 200 poets blush.
First thing in the morning
he issues a warning:
forget what you thought before,
be spending your mental core
extending your metaphors.
He throws in a sonnet
they're busting their bonnets
to outwrite his majesty
and tumble his dynasty.


****a note from Kath: One morning Stephan Anstey challenged all the poets on his poetry site to write more poems than he would write that day. This was my poem #2 in answer to Stephan's challenge og 3/28/06. I used the opportunity to try writing a clerihew! Invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1874-1956), it is a short humorous biographical verse, often showing the subject from a "limited perspective".
It usually has four lines of irregular length (for comic effect) The first line consisting solely (or almost solely) of a well-known person's name. I extended the form a bit in honor of my worthy subject (and his challenge) and thus the title. I wrote seven or eight poems that day. Stephan wrote about 130 but was out poeticized by our reigning "poetry goddess" Ashley Nicole, a 19 year old student at the University of New Hamphire, who wrote over 150 poems! Hopefully we can feature her poetry here someday.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Welcome Poets to Ephemeral Poetry!

I miss my friends and their poems. I am inviting them to send poems. We can try commenting and continuing here until things are more settled somewhere. Since everything is essentially ephemeral... as we all well know, I called it that.

(Post your comments here, and send me poems and a short paragraph about what you are doing. Include links to your poetry and homepages.) You can send to Yahoo or AIM at: smilingpoetsong or email at