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Beneath Cherry Blossoms - The Lilliput Review Blog

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

New issues , Pamela Miller Ness, Marvin Bell and more ...


It seems the older I get, the more time there is between issues.  The new issues will be rolling out in November and December, contributor copies going out first and then the full run of subscribers.  Issue numbers 159 and 160 will feature the work of John Martone and Yosano Akiko, newly translated by Dennis Maloney. 

It is very exciting to see up and online a pdf version of Origin: Sixth Series, from Longhouse and featuring the work of the selfsame John Martone and continuing the fine editiorial of the late Cid Corman.  This 370 page journal is a model of both poetry and Internet publishing and is not to be missed.






This week's issue is #127 (November 2002), with a cover by Harland Ristau.  Harland was a great correspondent, artist and poet, whose work had its origins in the Beats.   His recent passing has left an unfillable gap for those who knew him.   From this issue, the following:


About Me

I can see parts of myself

I never saw before

now that the leaves

are gone.

Like I can see

cut rows of corn

with pecking black birds

behind the loosely

woven trees of November.

              --- Carlo D'Ambrosi



Dancing Ganesha

god with elephant head,

lend me

your tusk dipped in ink, let me

write long, long as the Ganges

--- Pamela Miller Ness



To Him:

You have buffed

and waxed poetic,

until your conscience is so clear

it is invisible.

--- Jen Hawkins



sleep on the road.

listen to the autumn wind

you'll know what I mean

--- Basho

      Rendered by Scott Watson 



Finally if  you have a chance, check out Marvin Bell's poem A Campus in Wartime, as read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer's Almanac this past Wednesday.

It seems we always need reminding.


Posted by donw714 at 06:34 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 3 November 2007 06:32 EDT

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Moby Grape's Don Stevenson and Lilliput #126


This week saw the birthday of Don Stevenson, drummer of the legendary Moby Grape, pictured above flashing all of us the secret sign.   Ah, such an innocent time, indeed, when flagging the high sign could be an act of revolution, celebration and immaturity all delightfully wrapped into one.  In any case, this, Moby Grape's first album, remains to this day one of the finest album to come out of the 60's and still remains listenable in a way that elicits nary a cringe.  Check out the live performance on the The Mike Douglas Show (Douglas introduces them as "The Moby Grapes"): the 2 numbers perfectly highlight how they could rock (despite some bad mic-ing) and also write and perform a timeless ballad ("8:05").  What the heck, here's two more that illustrate exactly the same thing with two different songs ("Hey Grandma" and "Sitting by the Window," the former with the fine lyric "Robitussin makes me feel so fine, Robitussen and elderberry wine") from there seminal first album.

Here's some selections from the next issue in our Lilliput Review tour, #126.



           In the drunk's

            "Bless you"

the priest he could've been

- Pat Sweeney









- Ed Baker



a line of ants

carrying the butterfly-


- Brian Henderson




Old Man In The TV Room

There he slumps

an alluvial fan

that once was

a tall mountain.

Years like rain.

- Taylor Graham




And two by Mr. Huffstickler:



We have to learn

not to replace

perception with knowledge.

Forget science.

Pierced by starlight,

I know what a star is.




Write on my tombstone:

Once so easily distracted,

now focused.

- Albert Huffstickler.


Posted by donw714 at 08:28 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 21 October 2007 13:28 EDT

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Harold Pinter and Cid Corman


October seems to be crunch month.  There is so much to do, truly so little time.  Besides teaching a poetry class, there are two guest lecture spots I need to do, all this from someone who became a librarian because he didn't want to teach.  Zip drive crashes, two new issues to get out and, oh, yeah, that pesky full-time job.  So it goes, indeed.

This week was Harold Pinter's birthday and he reminds us how truly awful the state of the world is.  If you have not seen his Nobel Prize lecture, Art, Truth & Politics, it is a must.  Steel yourself for the truth, because that is what you will get and it is doesn't get any uglier.     



Issue #125 of Lilliput Review was something of a celebration of the truth: a broadside by the master poet, Cid Corman.  I've talked about Cid in previous posting and his generosity to even the humblest of publications.  So, rather than belabor you further with my inadequate musings, I'll let him speak for himself.  The broadside was entitled Only.


You're going

to have to


die.  Let life

prepare you.



There are reasons for

reasons excuses excuse

and there you are - here.




To feel what it is

was to be or have been this

only this moment.



Posted by donw714 at 08:50 EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (4) | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 26 October 2007 08:13 EDT

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Laurence Sterne ... Wallace Stevens ... Allen Ginsberg ... Lilliput Review


In the latest reverberations of the current administrations' Draconian policies, the legendary New York radio station WBAI has decided to reverse their decision to play Allen Ginsberg's Howl on the air during this the 50th anniversary year of its publication.   The outrage is well beyond ludicrous; one hardly can blame BAI, a public radio station around since before the Flood , since the amount of the fines now levied by the FCC for "obscenity" could threaten their very existence.

Still, one would hope that someone would take these bastards to court.  I suppose the prosecution team would see their poker buddies presiding, with little chance for real justice.

In lighter fare, I'm currently reading Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne and it is, unequivocably, the funniest book I've ever read.   Swift brings the laughs, but Gulliver is all about satire.  Sterne brings the satire but, truly, Tristram is all about the laughs.

There is a very interesting version of Shandy up on the web here.   It is a hypertext version, that takes you to criticism at specific points and all manner of interesting Sterneiana as well as e-texts on arts, fashion, history, language, music etc., all pertaining to Sterne and his times.  Really, this is the web at its best, at least from a scholarly point of view. 

If this, however, is all too much and you're just in it for the laughs, there is a version in Google Books (a blurry scan of a New York Public Library book, highlighting what's wrong with Google books, hence no link provided here) and a standard e-text version at Project Gutenberg.  For reading purposes, I recommend the standard Penguin version, specifically for the informative notes appended.

As noted on The Writer's Almanac this week, it was the birthday of Wallace Stevens.   One of the great short poems that directly shows the influence of the East and its influence on the Imagists, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird is one (or more, actually) of the truly great short poems.

The Lilliput issue of the week is #124, with a cover by the late great Harland Ristau.  Here are a few highlights.


we slide her casket out-

the small loose stones

under our feet

~ Gary Hotham



Something about voyages,

how the body itself

is not the voyager

but the voyage.

~ Albert Huffstickler



        A click beetle

      Looks both ways

On a page of philosophy

~ Patrick Sweeney



In the house of rain

there are many mansions

~ Albert Huffstickler



Posted by donw714 at 11:02 EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (2) | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 5 October 2007 07:00 EDT

Friday, 28 September 2007

On the run ...

An extremely busy week here in Pittsburgh; I taught a lifelong learning class on poetry at the University of Pittsburgh, sponsored by our local library association (ACLA), am busy making plans for some hiking in the woods and the usual Lilliput things.  Also, some film reviews for the website Fulvue Drive-In, one on Marco Polo and the other on the House of Usher.  Both were pretty horrific, and not in a good way, which, of course made writing the reviews all the more fun.

So, I'll keep it brief.  Today is a day when losers everywhere pause to commemorate the great Arnold Stang.  Here is an interview with him because, well, it's the web and here's an interview ... with delightful picture.

Continuing our leisurely sampling of back issues of Lilliput Review, it's time to skip forward to #123.  #122 is a one poem broadside by David Chorlton entitled And, which would be criminal to excerpt, so I won't.  It is available for a mere buck ... but enough with the plugs, on with the poems.


One Small Poem

  can take you

  a long way


  think how far

  you've come


  to find

  this one.

                       ~ Bart Solarczyk






  3 AM



~ Lonnie Sherman



the face of the child

a snowflake quickens

~ Patrick Sweeney


And the indomitable Albert Huffstickler:


I wanted to understand

so much all at once

but learned:

to understand everything,

begin with one breath.


Posted by donw714 at 10:06 EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (4) | Permalink

Thursday, 20 September 2007

Kesey, Hendrix, Yeats and all ...



This week saw anniversaries for Ken Kesey (birth) and Jimi Hendrix (death).  Known, of course, for Cuckoo's Nest, Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion is a book worth revisting and, in fact, may be every bit as great, if not quite as universal.  From one of chapter headnotes, for which he seems be nodding back to Hemingway, is one of those moments one finds sprinkled throughout Kesey's work as often as that of, say, Thomas Hardy:


   "Time overlaps itself.  A breath breathed from a passing

breeze is not the whole wind, neither is it just the last of

what has passed and the first of what will come, but is

more - let me see - more like a single point plucked on a

single strand of a vast spider web of winds, setting the

whole scene atingle.  That way; it overlaps ..."


And Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix, what can be said that hasn't been already. Well, there are the lyrics, for instance.  Take Voodoo Chile (Slight Return):


Well, I stand up next to a mountain

And I chop it down with the edge of my hand.

Well, I stand up next to a mountain

Chop it down with the edge of my hand.

Well, I pick up all the pieces and make an island,

Might even raise a little sand.

Cause I'm a voodoo chile,

Lord knows, I'm a voodoo chile.


I didn't mean to take up all your sweet time,

I'll give it right back to you one of these days.

I said I didn't mean to take up all  our sweet time,

I'll give it right back one of these days.

And if I don't meet you no more in this world,

Then I'll meet you in the next one and don't be late,

Don't be late.

Cause I'm a voodoo chile, voodoo chile.

Lord knows, I'm a voodoo chile, hey, hey, hey.

I'm a voodoo chile, baby.


And this, Up From the Skies, from his arguable masterpiece, Axis: Bold as Love:


I just want to talk to you,

I won't do you know harm.

I just want to know about your different lives

On this here people farm.

I heard some of you got  your families

Living in cages, tall and cold.

And some just stay there and dust away,

Past the age of old.

Is this true?

Please let me talk to you.


I just wanna know about

The rooms behind your minds.

Do you see a vacuum there

Or am I going blind?

Or is it just, uh, remains of vibrations

And echoes long ago?

Things like love the world

And, uh, let your fancy flow?

Is this true?

Please let me talk to you,

Let me talk to you.


I have lived here before

The days of ice

And of course this is why

I'm so concerned.

And I come back to find

The stars misplaced

And the smell of a world

That has burned,

The smell of a world

That has burned.


Yeh, well, maybe, hmm,

Maybe it's just a ...

Change of climate.

Well I can dig it,

I can dig it, baby,

I just want to see ...


So, where do I purchase my ticket?

I'd just like to have a ringside seat.

I want to know about the new Mother Earth.

I want to hear and see everything.

I want to hear and see everything.

I want to hear and see everything.


Aw, shucks,

If my daddy could see me now.



Issue #121 starts off in something of an enigmatic mood, prompted by the always challenging, probing work of John Harter.










~ John Harter



Shadows on the wall,

flickering reminders of

my heart without you.

~ Linda Joan Zeiser







~ John Harter


And, finally, Huff, perhaps pointing us back to his broadside featured in the last posting, with this poignant poem:


And now your shadow 

falling across the page.

Where are you?

Why have you abandoned

your shadow?

~ Albert Huffstickler 






Posted by donw714 at 07:34 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 28 September 2007 09:38 EDT

Saturday, 15 September 2007

James Fenimore Cooper and the Death of Susie Bowers


James Fenimore Cooper is remembered for quite a few things, not the least of which is his mind cramping, turgid prose that killed the joy of reading for many a high school student.  Fortunately, we have Mark Twain, whose brilliant response has perhaps saved a few of those students from a book-less future (in those little connections the mind makes, I thought of Bono's inspired battle-cry in a similar situation: "Charles Manson stole this song from the Beatles.  Now we're stealing it back."). 

In perverse celebration of JFC's birthday (as noted in this morning's Writer's Almanac), here is Mark Twain's Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses (which were not noted in Writer's Almanac).

In defense of Cooper, who has since high school actually given me some occasional moments of reading pleasure, here is the homepage of the James Fenimore Cooper Society, dedicated to the study of his life and works.

Today is also the birthday of the famed conductor, Bruno Walter.  Though his recording of Beethoven's symphonies have long since passed as the standard to measure others by, call me a romantic, they still remain my personal favorites.  Here is the Second movement of the 9th Symphony, conducted by Walter. 

Issue #120 of Lilliput Review is a broadside by Albert Huffstickler, entitled Dearly Departed.  This sequence of poems was written in memory of fellow poet/artist Susie Bowers, who had taken her own life very recently.  Susie and Huff were close and Huff had his own issues with self destruction and so this hit him as hard as it can.  As was usually the case, Huff talked himself through it in his poems and this was perhaps the best sequence he ever wrote, in my opinion.  The following are from that sequence.


People always want

to know why.

Why is just why.

It doesn't tell you




Suicide is a

great responsibility:

you take from others

so many things that

were never yours

to begin with.



I don't mind

my own solitude

but now you've

left me with yours.    



If you think life

holds a lot of surprises

wait till you see death.



I don't think I want

to understand why you did it.

I can't even deal with

not understanding.



And here we are

and here you go

leaving me

as you found me:

heart divided

words on paper.




       Susie by Huff                   Huff by Susie





Posted by donw714 at 11:50 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 16 September 2007 06:50 EDT

Thursday, 13 September 2007

DHL ... & autumn ...


This week was the birthday of D. H. Lawrence.  Often forgotten is the fact that Lawrence was a master poet, really a poet first, as was Hermann Hesse.  He excelled at all lengths, but was perhaps one of the finest poets ever in the short form.  Here are two examples:


Nothing to Save


 There is nothing to save, now all is lost

 but a tiny core of stillness in the heart

 like the eye of the violet.



Self Pity


 I never saw a wild thing

 sorry for itself.

 A small bird will drop frozen from a bough

 without ever having felt sorry for itself.


Nothing to Save is reminiscent of another great short poem, one of my personal favorites, by James Wright:


The Jewel


 There is this cave

 In the air behind my body

 That nobody is going to touch.

 A cloister, a silence

 Closing around a blossom of fire.

 When I stand upright in the wind,

 My bones turn to dark emeralds.


Taking a look backward this week at Lilliput #119, which nicely coincides with the season.  Here are three short subjects on the coming (and past) fall season:




 One day all the leaves blow away.

 I have been worrying

 about the wrong things.

                               ~ Ray Skjelbred



fall colors -

at the end of balloon strings


                 ~ Barry George



autumn rain 

memories of love

fall into the sea

~ Lee Gurga



Posted by donw714 at 08:35 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 14 September 2007 07:43 EDT

Friday, 7 September 2007

Persevering and Other Things


Persevering with Charles Wright's Scar Tissue has paid off; as with many a poetry volume, a gem or two may be found here or there. 


The Woodpecker Pecks, but the Hole Does Not Appear


 It's hard to imagine how unremembered we all become

 How quickly all that we've done 

 Is unremembered and unforgiven,

                                                                  how quickly

 Bog lillies and yellow clover flashlight our footfalls,

 How quickly and finally landscape subsumes us,

 And everything that we are becomes what we are not.


 This is not new, the orange finch

 And the yellow and dun finch

                                                       picking the dry clay politely,

 The grasses asleep in their green slips

 Before the noon can roust them,

 The sweet oblivion of the everyday

                                                                  like a warm waistcoat

 Over the cold and endless body of memory.


 Cloud-scarce Montana morning.

 July, with its blue cheeks puffed out like a putto on an ancient map,

 Huffing the wind down from the northwest corner of things,

 Tweets on the evergreen stumps,

                                                                    swallows treading the air,

 The ravens hawking from tree to tree, not you, not you,

 Is all the world allows, and all one could wish for.

                                                                              ~ Charles Wright




And the last verse from a poem called Pilgrim's Progress



 In the end, of course, one's a small dog

 At night on the front porch,

                                                   barking into the darkness

 At what he can't see, but smells, somehow, and is suspicious of.

 Barking, poor thing, and barking,

 With no one at home to call him in,

                                                                  with no one to turn the light on.

                                                                       ~ Charles Wright


Yes, it was worth the slog through.  And, yes, it's probably time to pick it back up and start all over again.


When is a blog a journal?   When no one posts responses?  Hmn?


Back to the tour through back issues of Lilliput.  This time it is number 118, which was a broadside of the poet M. Kettner, entitled Highku.  A decidedly skewed take on the haiku form.   The out-of-body experience as prosody ...




 aerial surveillance of self

 patent leather reflecting sun


# 795


 ocean breeze

      on a crate of oranges



 straight all day:

 tar balls floating in water.

 dried bread crust behind the couch.




 Ping-Pong ball caught in a vacuum hose

 parking tickets unpaid

                                              ~ M. Kettner


Next time, homage to Issa - I  hope.   Or, maybe Whitman.  Or not.  Hmn.



Posted by donw714 at 16:34 EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Friday, 7 September 2007 16:37 EDT

Friday, 31 August 2007

Within and Without: Revelation
31 August 2007 06:54 EDT | Posted by donw714

Within and Without: Revelation


As I mentioned before I've been struggling with Charles Wright's recent volume of poems, Scar Tissue.  This morning, Garrison Keillor highlights a fine poem by Wright in his Writer's Almanac: "After Reading T'ao Ch'ing, I wander Untethered Through the Short Grass," from his collection Appalachia.   Check it out, it's worth the click.

Today is the birthday of the Irish songwriter/bard Van Morrison.  Over the years, he has given the world such a wide array of quality music, from the cliched blue-eyed soul through the mystic to skiffle, country and beyond.  One of his least lauded but very best albums, at least for the poets in the crowd, is 1980's Common One.  It is simply, while simultaneously being about, revelation.  Here is "Summertime in England":


Can you meet me in the country
In the summertime in England
Will you meet me?
Will you meet me in the country
In the summertime in England
Will you meet me?
We'll go riding up to Kendal in the country
In the summertime in England.
Did you ever hear about
Did you ever hear about
Did you ever hear about
Wordsworth and Coleridge, baby?
Did you ever hear about Wordsworth and Coleridge?
They were smokin' up in Kendal
By the lakeside
Can you meet me in the country in the long grass
In the summertime in England
Will you meet me
With your red robe dangling all around your body
With your red robe dangling all around your body
Will you meet me
Did you ever hear about . . .
William Blake
T. S. Eliot
In the summer
In the countryside
They were smokin'
Summertime in England
Won't you meet me down Bristol
Meet me along by Bristol
We'll go ridin' down
Down by Avalon
Down by Avalon
Down by Avalon
In the countryside in England
With your red robe danglin' all around your body free
Let your red robe go.
Goin' ridin' down by Avalon
Would you meet me in the country
In the summertime in England
Would you meet me?
In the Church of St. John . . .
Down by Avalon . . . .
Holy Magnet
Give you attraction
Yea, I was attracted to you.
Your coat was old, ragged and worn
And you wore it down through the ages
Ah, the sufferin' did show in your eyes as we spoke
And the gospel music
The voice of Mahalia Jackson came through the ether
Oh my common one with the coat so old
And the light in the head
Said, daddy, don't stroke me
Call me the common one.
I said, oh, common one, my illuminated one.
Oh my high in the art of sufferin' one.
Take a walk with me
Take a walk with me down by Avalon
Oh, my common one with the coat so old
And the light in her head.
And the sufferin' so fine
Take a walk with me down by Avalon
And I will show you
It ain't why, why, why
It just is.
Would you meet me in the country
Can you meet me in the long grass
In the country in the summertime
Can you meet me in the long grass
Wait a minute
With your red robe . . .
Danglin' all around your body.
Yeats and Lady Gregory corresponded . . .
And James Joyce wrote streams of consciousness books . . .
T.S. Eliot chose England . . .
T.S. Eliot joined the ministry . . .
Did you ever hear about . . .
Wordsworth and Coleridge?
Smokin' up in Kendal
They were smokin' by the lakeside . . .
Let your red robe go . . .
Let your red robe dangle in the countryside in England
We'll go ridin' down by Avalon
In the country
In the summertime
With you by my side
Let your red robe go . . .
You'll be happy dancin' . . .
Let your red robe go . . .
Won't you meet me down by Avalon
In the summertime in England
In the Church of St. John . . .
Did you ever hear about Jesus walkin'
Jesus walkin' down by Avalon?
Can you feel the light in England?
Can you feel the light in England?
Oh, my common one with the light in her head
And the coat so old
And the sufferin' so fine
Take a walk with me
Oh, my common one,
Oh, my illuminated one
Down by Avalon . . .
Oh, my common one . . .
Oh, my storytime one
Oh, my treasury in the sunset
Take a walk with me
And I will show you
It ain't why . . .
It just is . . .
Oh, my common one
With the light in the head
And the coat so old
Oh, my high in the art of sufferin' one . . .
Oh, my common one
Take a walk with me
Down by Avalon
And I will show you
It ain't why . . .
It just is.
Oh, my common one with the light in her head
And the coat so fine
And the sufferin' so high . . .
All right now.
Oh, my common one . . .
It ain't why . . .
It just is . . .
That's all
That's all there is about it.
It just is.
Can you feel the light?
I want to go to church and say.
In your soul . . .
Ain't it high?
Oh, my common one
Oh, my storytime one
Oh, my high in the art of sufferin' one
Put your head on my shoulder . . .
And you listen to the silence.
Can you feel the silence?


Well, for a blog that should be highlighting the short poem, that's a stretch.  Today's selection of poems from a back issue of Lilliput Review comes from issue #117.  Perhaps there might be some revelation there:


within and without


    red tulip

~ Ed Baker







~ John Harter




We forget we're

mostly water

till the rain falls

and every atom

in our body

starts to go home.

~ Albert Huffstickler



Posted by donw714 at 07:00 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Robert Crumb, Buk and Lilliput Review #116




Today is the birthday of the artist Robert Crumb, whose work embodies the torturous passage of the generations who grew up in the 50's and 60's.   Truly a marriage made in hell, he did covers and artwork for a number of Charles Bukowski's books, one example being Bring Me Your Love, above.  In recent years, Buk's books are being published by Ecco Press, an imprint of HarperCollins.  Hardly reflective of his small press roots with Black Sparrow, but so it goes, as the poet said.

Continuing the tour of back issues that is the main purpose of Beneath Cherry Blossoms, here are some interesting poems from #116:


A fruit fly found me

up seven flights of marble staircases

one crooked hallway

inside a huge cavernous room

under a wooden beamed ceiling

in Rome

with one tomato.

~ Kathleen Serocki




museum alcove --

    incautious gum chewers

         lean closer to Shiva

~ Ross Figgins




Jacob's Hip (Gen. 32: 24-31)

 Angel of Issac's son

 Whose hip was bruised

 To forbid you part:


 Bright messenger,

 I wrestle too,

 But unlike Jacob

 Bruise my heart.

        ~ Tom Pratt


Posted by donw714 at 07:04 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 30 August 2007 07:52 EDT

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Charles Wright, Charlie Mehrhoff and That One Nagging Question


Today is the birthday of the poet Charles Wright, whose recent volume, Scar Tissue, I am currently struggling with mightily.  More palatable, at least for me, is the poem " Last Supper" by Wright, from his collection The Wrong End of the Rainbow, and posted on the poets.org website.

For a decidedly more small press approach to things, you might want to check out the website of exemplary poet Charlie Mehrhoff, one of our finest practitioners of the short form and someone I've had the honor to publish both in Lilliput Review and as part of the Modest Proposal Chapbook series.   From his collection One Hand Clapping in that series comes the following:


Hammer your  begging bowl

into oblivion


hold that

up to the light.


And this:


All of the oceans,

all of the lakes


and clouds

represent the sum of all written and oral


The skin of the skin of a drop of dew evaporating

is what has been revealed to me,

is what overwhelms my being:

and so little of that am I capable of translating.


From issue #115 of Lillie, this little gem:


on the Conan Doyle shelf

my lost reading glasses

wiped clean

~ LeRoy Gorman


And, hopefully, committing these words to the page, an old poet friend went some of the distance to their denial


All those

I have mourned

will die

with my dying:

my mother's hopes,

and my father's doom:

all the faces,

all the rooms.

~ Albert Huffstickler


A number of Shakespeare sonnets, such as, and Shelley again (see the August 4th entry of this blog) ...


Posted by donw714 at 10:54 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Thursday, 30 August 2007 07:46 EDT

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

John Lee loves Dorothy ...


Birthdays on this day include John Lee Hooker and Dorothy Parker; if ever there was a blues singer who wrote poetry and a poet who had the cosmic blues, these two fit the bill.  Here's one by John Lee that Dorothy certainly could relate to:

One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer
One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer
Hey mister bartender come here
I want another drink and I want it now

My baby she gone, she been gone two night
I ain't seen my baby since night before last
One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer

And then I sit there, gettin' high, mellow
Knocked out, feeling good and by the time
I looked on the wall at the old clock on the wall
By that time, it was ten thirty daddy

I looked down the bar, at the bartender
He said, "Now what do you want Johnny?"

One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer

Well my baby she gone, she been gone two night
I ain't seen my baby since night before last
I wanna get drunk till I'm off of my mind
One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer

And I sat there, gettin' high, stoned
Knocked out, and by the time
I looked on the wall, at the old clock again
And by that time, it was a quarter to two

Last call for alcohol, I said,
Hey mister bartender, what do you want?"

One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer
One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer
One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer


And here's one from Ms. Parker that John Lee could probably have tapped his feet to ...


A Very Short Song


Once when I was young and true

Someone left me sad -

Broke my brittle heart in two;

And that is very bad.


Love is for unlucky folk,

Love is but a curse.

Once there was a heart I broke;

And that I think is worse.


In keeping with the somewhat somber mood, two great short pieces by Albert Huffstickler from issue #113 of Lilliput Review:


Death has

my father's eyes

pale blue and crisp

as autumn mornings.


I will sit and

ponder till

the grass grows

into me,

tracking my veins

to my heart.




Posted by donw714 at 09:12 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 22 August 2007 09:14 EDT

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Small press icons and a Hugh Fox broadside



This past week saw anniversaries of three of the small presses' most influential icons: Charles Bukowski (born 1920), Ed Sanders (born 1939) and Jack Spicer (died 1965).  Also, today is the anniversary of the execution death of Federico Garcia Lorca.

Spicer translated some of Garcia Lorca's poems and a letter to him from Spicer on the art of translation may be found at the Spicer website at the University of Buffalo. 

Ed Sanders, a founding member of the influential folk/poetry group the Fugs, has become known in recent years for his book-length historical poems, such as 1968: A History in Verse.  There is an interesting interview  with Ed posted online by Billy Bob Hargus that's worth a look see.  One brilliant bit of short verse by him from Thirsting For Peace in a Raging Century: Selected Poems 1961-1985 follows:


Your Breath

Your breath

upon the pillow's lace


was like the wake

of a hummingbird's wings


on the wild columbine


And speaking of small press icons, issue #112 of Lilliput is a broadside of the work of Hugh Fox, entitled Slides.



Going back to my forest

through the suburbs

that are only thirty or

forty years old but

look eternal, a white-

haired, white-bearded

man about sixty walks

out of one of the houses

he could be anyone.



Driving back into the old

neighborhood a dulcimer

player on the radio, I remember

what's her name, Cow-Face,

who always came/comes on to me

like spring showers, we're both

always twenty years younger/

more beautiful than we really

are, it happens, but I can't

remember her name, keep

thinking Ludmilla Tcherina,

Babette Deutsch, Alicia

Alonso...home, dark, crickets,

the last day of moving, my head

full of names off old letters/

manuscripts/little mags/

tables of contents, the crickets

finally just crickets, the crickets,

the crickets...and the distant train.


As with all back issues of Lillie, this little ten slide broadside performance is available for $1.  



Posted by donw714 at 08:12 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Charles Simic, Poet Laureate, and Albert Huffstickler


Charles Simic, the newly named U.S. Poet Laureate, knows his way around the short poem.  A native of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, Simic emigrated with his family to the U.S. while in his teens.   Growing up in Europe during WWII, war and its consequences, as well as language, are never far from his concerns.  From his collection Jackstraws:


Mother Tongue

That's the one the butcher

Wraps in a newspaper

And throws on the rusty scale

Before you take it home


Where a black cat will leap

Off the cold stove

Licking its whiskers

At the sound of her name


In a previous posting, I commented on the lack of recent war poems coming into Lilliput considering that the Iraq War has now gone on longer than WWII.  Simic, of course, remembers  (from Hotel Insomnia):



The trembling finger of a woman

Goes down the list of casualties

On the evening of the first snow.


The house is cold and the list is long.


All our names are included.


One of the hallmarks of Simic's poetry is a subtle weaving of the surreal in the real; in the following example from Return to a Place Lit by a Glass of Milk, it leads to transcendence:



Green Buddhas

On the fruit stand.

We eat the smile

And spit out the teeth.


Returning to our twice weekly or so tour of past issues of Lilliput Review, we have the following little numbers by the inimitable Albert Huffstickler from issue #111 (July 2000):


And still the light,

always the light.

Mornings are hardest,

that light so like

that other light,

that light we remember

when we don't remember

anything at all.



I have measured

my solitude on

the scale of

my being

and come up with

a formula

for converting

ashes into sunlight.


Posted by donw714 at 07:30 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2007 11:51 EDT

Saturday, 11 August 2007

The Metro, a Librarian, the Stars, and a Worn Spot


Among the finest "classic" short poems in the English language is the following by Ezra Pound.  Showing the influence of one of the initial waves of Eastern forms on Western poetry, this is a poem that continues to resonate for the today's readers precisely because it captures that timeless Eastern quality that has nothing to do with style:


In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd: 

Petals on a wet, black bough




For cogent, in depth analysis of this little gem, check out Mark Doty's talk, which may be found at


on the poets.org website.  Though analysis in it's many ugly forms leaves me cold, this will keep you thinking.  Meanwhile, in the ongoing stroll through past issues of Lilliput, three poems from issue #110 (April 2000): 








- John Harter





It's strange, I know

but, writing in diners,

I feel

closer to the stars.

- Albert Huffstickler




Old men

in stiff white shirts

moving from room to room,

placing a hand

on a worn spot.

- W. T. Ranney




Posted by donw714 at 10:40 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 11 August 2007 11:18 EDT

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Issa and the Dog Days of August


5:45 am here in Pittsburgh and it is 79° and as damp as a frog's butt on a lightly submerged lily pad.  Ah, the joys of August in the "big" city.  Searching for some relief, let's turn to the master poet, Issa, after one of whose poems this blog is named.  From the "Modest Proposal Chapbook" of Issa's work, Dusk Lingers, the following:



A foot-high waterfall


cooling the evening



- translated by Dennis Maloney



Now that's much better, isn't it.  Well, looking for a bit more relief, there are the following little poems from Lillput Review #109 (April 2000) that remind us of the virtues of dampness as well as cooling relief:



in the darkness

beginning to fade--

snow that just sticks


Gary Hotham




First it was raining.

Now it's not.

I can't find the moment

the rain stopped.


Albert Huffstickler




mist falls on lilacs

   it is the only motion

this fragrant moment


Joan Payne Kincaid





steamy room

the tulip petals

spread wide


Pamela Miller Ness



Posted by donw714 at 06:49 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Wednesday, 8 August 2007 11:35 EDT

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Shelley, Keith Reid and Linda Zeiser


As pointed out in this morning's Writer's Almanac, today is the birthday of Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Since no poem was provided, I thought I'd correct that here with one of his most famous short works:



    I met a Traveler from an antique land,
    Who said, "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desart. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read,
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings."
    Look on my works ye Mighty, and despair!
    No thing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that Colossal Wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.


I always felt that the song "Conquistador" by Keith Reid was a homage to Shelley's poem, so here it is in tandem:



Conquistador -- your stallion stands in need of company
And like some angel's haloed brow you reek of purity.
I see your armor-plated breast
Has long since lost its sheen
And in your death mask face
There are no signs which can be seen.

Though I hoped for something to find
I could see no place to unwind.

Conquistador -- a vulture sits upon your silver sheath
And in your rusty scabbard now the sand has taken seed.
And though your jewel-encrusted blade
Has not been plundered still
The sea has washed across your face
And taken of its fill.

Though I hoped for something to find
I could see no place to unwind.

Conquistador -- there is no time, I must pay my respect
And though I came to jeer at you, I leave now with regret.
And as the gloom begins to fall
I see there is no, only all
And though you came with sword held high
You did not conquer, only die.

Though I hoped for something to find
I could see no place to unwind.



Today's Lillie selection is from issue #108, a broadside entitled Selected Wu Songs by Linda Joan Zeiser.  Linda has been a contributor to Lilliput for many years and is a loving, sensual poet.  Here are two of her beautiful wu songs:


Dazed by longing I reach out in the mist,

searching for her on the Pepper Scented Road.

Black cloud's oppress the heart's deep hope,

while myoga ginger lingers in the breeze





One red petal drops along the path,

flaming-crimson dahlia has her way.

My incense burner is empty again

and the sandalwood is in your hand.



Linda Joan Zeiser




Posted by donw714 at 07:17 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Saturday, 4 August 2007 07:50 EDT

Monday, 30 July 2007

New issues, a broadside and a chapbook ...


Today, the first batch of new issues goes out in the mail.  It takes nearly a month to get all the issues out, as there is much mail that needs attention.  The new issues are #'s 157 & 158.  157 is a standard anthology issue and #158 is a broadside by Mark Hartenbach, entitled Butterfly, Corkboard. 

In addition to the new issues, there is a brand new chapbook by Gary Hotham in the "Modest Proposal Chapbook" series, entitled Missed Appointment.  What follows is a taste of each.  From #158, a poem by Yosano Akiko, translated by Dennis Maloney.  For details on her life and career, click here for an informative Wikipedia article.




   Lying with my lover,

   From the bed I see

   Through the curtain

   Across the Milky Way the parting

   of the Weaver and the Oxherder stars!


Yosano Akiko (translated by Dennis Maloney) 



From the broadside Butterfly, Corkboard, issue #158:



   i will settle for lachrymose

   nostalgia is unaffordable



   i will scratch out lines

   that i don't feel responsible for


   i will squeeze in an interesting ancedote

   now & then



   but for the most part

   i'll sit in silence




   i won't be noticed



   there are no questions


   to jar me

   from this compromise


Mark Hartenbach


Gary Hotham is one of our finest contemporary haiku poets.  From his new chapbook, Missed Appointment, the following poem :


careful steps

rocking the boat

rocking the top of the ocean


Gary Hotham




Posted by donw714 at 06:32 EDT | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007 09:20 EDT

Friday, 27 July 2007

Gary Snyder ...

I've always felt attracted to the work of Gary Snyder, particularly his subject matter and philosophy, but I've never really connected with him in a big way.  While reading some of the nature work of Mary Oliver, I found in a pile of poetry books a small chapbook of Snyder's work, entitled Songs for Gaia.   This set of poems was later reprinted in Axe Handles, under the slightly different title of "Little Songs for Gaia."  Once again, I didn't quite connect with the work, except this opening poem of the sequence:


across salt marshes north of

San Francisco Bay

cloud soft grays

blues little fuzzies

illusion structures¾pale blue of the edge,

sky behind,


hawk dipping and circling

over salt marsh


ah, this slow paced

system of systems, whirling and turning

a five thousand-year span

about all that a human can figure,


grasshopper man in his car driving through

Gary Snyder


From the Lilliput archive, #107, two short poems:


December Dawn

   The sun comes up,

   reining a bleak wind,


   Love is never enough.


   Love is all there is.

Jeanne Shannon



Any day

any moment


Cid Corman


Posted by donw714 at 12:11 EDT | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 31 July 2007 09:28 EDT

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