Worn out phrases

Worn out phrases

sounds like a plan
that day was a wash
the fact of the matter is
there’s no denying
time and time again
seeing is believing
say what you mean
and mean what you say
at the end of the day
it is what it is

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JR Solonche in Offcourse: inspired by Chinese poetry

JR Solonche is a man of literature. He expresses his love of literature with many forms, more than I can say I know. Read this wonderful verse in Offcourse, penned out of simple love.

One of my favorites posted here; go to the link to read the other four.

 

THE BEGGING CUP

(After an Anonymous Chinese Poem)

A handful of clay
and a birch twig
for a handle.

Be grateful
for whatever
falls in.

Look.
These words
are first.

 

 

Five-time Pushcart as well as Best of the Net nominee, J.R. Solonche has been publishing poetry in magazines and anthologies since the early 70s. He is coauthor of Peach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books) and author of Beautiful Day(Deerbrook Editions) and Heart’s Content (Five Oaks Press). He lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with his wife, the poet Joan I. Siegel and nine cats, at least three of whom are poets.
His work has appeared frequently in Offcourse.

Beautiful Day

After the Rehersal

Wind drives leaves across the road.
Mozart’s Requiem remains in my mind’s ear.
It remains in my ear’s mind and has become a tree of human voices.
The wind drives the leaves across the road, ahead, in my car’s beam.
I hear the tree of voices die.
I hear it fall away voice by voice in the wind.
The tree is bare but for the boom of one last leaf-voice.
Then that too joins the wind as I open the door of the laundry room.

by J.R. Solonche
author of Beautiful Day
Deerbrook Editions, 2015
Beautiful Day

This is one of a few poems J.R. sent not in the collection that is Beautiful Day.

A review of Beautiful Day that appeared in The Lake.

Another poem delighted in on Wherewithall.

Freeing the Hook, poetry by Peter Harris

Here are two favorite poems from Freeing the Hook by Peter Harris. Although this title has been out for a couple of years I want to bring attention to the work because books don’t get discovered without this posting, and it seems folks want to see the work, so what better way then to put pages up.

Peter is a special poet that writes from the heart. These are a couple of sentences from the back cover:

Freeing The Hook takes you on a backstage tour of love, death, family and solitude. Their dark, inquisitive, tender humor is our immunization. Their stubborn compassion is our salvation.

—Tony Hoagland

Freeing the Hook by Peter Harris

Freeing the Hook features a painting by John Marin

Poem by Peter Harris

The Long Answer

poetry by Peter Harris

The Long Answer page 2

Poetry by Peter Harris

Fish Story

In Memory of Naphtali, Gilad, and Eyal by Omer Zamir

I’ve been meaning to post something of this young mans work since he contacted the press back in March. He has a few videos of him reading and hopefully the audio comes through with the embed. I’m also posting a review from Gadfly Online below. Omer’s MS Apotheosis of a Generation is under consideration and this poem is in the collection.

 

Omer Zamir’s collection of poems is deeply reflective and conscientious of the surrounding world. While each poem possesses an individual voice, together they all form a well-bodied collection, critical of the speaker’s generation. In an interesting move, the speaker of these poems critiques society while maintaining his place in it, achieved by the consistent use of “we.” This is a powerful strategy, establishing familiarity with the reader, rallying him to join the speaker’s fight. Everyone – speaker, reader, everyday denizen – has something at stake. Zamir crafts these poems extremely well, with particular attention to form and style. “No Hero to Emulate” benefits from an unexpected cheerleading trope, utilizing a peppy, positive team-mentality to depict a desolate world. The fiery diction of “Un-fathered” mimics the barren society the speaker perceives, isolated from the past and with no real hope of a future. Perhaps the star of the collection is “Adrenaline,” which is written as a villanelle. Zamir turns this typically pastoral, nostalgic form on its head, allowing the repetition to build tension and emphasize the speaker’s acrimony towards his complacent, lethargic generation. With a clear understanding of craft, Omer Zamir’s poetry is immensely engaging and sure to spark interest.

Allison Bohan

Associate Editor, Gadfly Online

 

Futility

Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds,—
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved—still warm—too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?

—Wilfred Owen

But except in dreams

we are never really free. As the song goes. Don’t dreams have a way of working for us creatively and by sorting out big questions of the self? Interpretations are best left to the dreamer and not those who want to make symbols and apply them as meanings to be used again as from a dream dictionary. That is not to say that images will not turn up from ideas, memories, ancient art, alchemy, initiations, stories, and myths. They can make questions bigger or show us something we pondered about in more simple terms, whether or not they actually answer any questions at all, it may be enough to be engaged in thinking about our lives from a dream perspective.

Here is a favorite poem from Where it Goes by Martina Reisz Newberry.

A Cete of Badgers, a Sleuth of Bears

Flint

FLINT       for Penelope

 

The tears. Where would we be
without the brine of tears?
Tasted blurred vision,
pain relinquished, escaping slowly,
heart waste, basted,
tears wrung out, dry tears,
tear upon tear,
tears that will not fall
even in our sleep
from what well of hearts
run down cold window panes,
late November fog,
brain fog, lifted,
sweat on the cold
metal of the mind,
cobweb of relished dreams
glimmering in morning sun,
redemptive tears.

 

Prayer I Should Have Prayed Last Night

Prayer I Should Have Prayed Last Night
by Stuart Kestenbaum from Prayers & Run-on Sentences

When I wake I am still carrying the night with me,
the trembling wind we are awash in, and the wind
outside howls or does what the wind does, which is
not howl but knit trees and leaves together with clouds
and lash the sun together with the moon. I am only
imagining this because I haven’t studied my science today
and so can’t tell the truth of things, I can only tell
what I am making up at this moment when the darkness
departs like a wave receding, and the sea is absorbed
in the dense sand, which lightens as the water travels away,
the same way I lay awake in my bed last night, fear
washing over me and seeping into the mattress,
my vessel, my washed-up raft.

 

 

Since first posting this poem a bright moment occurred:

Stuart Kestenbaum’s new book Only Now had a poem Prayer for Joy, appear on American Life in Poetry, and therefore also on the Poetry Foundation — Also, find the poem Prayer for the Dead, that appeared in 2007 from Prayers & Run-on Sentences 

Thanks to Ted Kooser

This morning’s favorite poem from Prayers & Run-on Sentences, (published in 2007 by Deerbrook Editions, with a number of poems read on The Writer’s Almanac, and is still popularstruck me for the sense of angst but more a reminder of a humanity-even condition faced over space and time, day, night, morning, how one sense of these is flipped over across the globe, this morning is that evening when prayers are not made for an answer but for the connection we cannot find in our fear, in our solitude and longing, to not have missed or be blotted out, to continue in the great moment.

The hopeful have it, not to be compared or limited, marginalized but joined in some silent underground that reasons away violence as a way out when truth and compassion succeed, which means us folk have chosen a spirit of light, forgiveness . . . right you say, like in your dreams, you say, if ever a dream would remove the barrier from your eye, your heart, that man might undo the violence, tooth for tooth, you say, it’s just the way it is, my friend.

On 9/11, one mad said, “How inhuman,” and his friend said, “all too human my friend, all too human.”

The if and when

Another day left on keeps blinking on the brain while the Goodman riff chimes. The water is cool, the fragrance of the South East breeze down the pipes, the bottle gurgles, lips wet. If and when he’s gone, will anyone wonder, take time to look, interested in words here or anywhere, or then just pack it up and stow it? No cloud, no blog post, no auditorium of souls remembering, just an obit, the eventual shoe print in gravel rain will soak away, unrecognizable. Would the cul-de-sac recall his morning shadow as he strolls one last time, cup in hand, for the wood shed half empty, half full.

The Solomon Seal buzzed in the grey light, a bee bumbling for pollen. Maybe that is all we are, or less, like bees bumbling for purposes we imagine, even less a forager than once when digits were eager to meet berries and the Cecropia caterpillar was found.

Remember what you’d miss, were it whisked away one afternoon in the lucky time sunshine, and the anamnesis of childhood plays your sepia tone twilight. Those smoke bush leaves glow in the parting sun as a kaleidoscope through limbs and leaves descending, turning those red leaves to bright amber then back to shadow, evidence of the turning world. Breath the end of May’s evening air traded with the grateful green.

His thoughts had been cynical. He told himself he was becoming misanthropic in his sense of pointlessness but his heart lifted when he saw the bunting and the cardinal. People could be such asses and he had to be crazy, too, but then, unable to tell anyone the difficulty, at least he had not expressed his frustration with Laurie. He felt that might be nobler, delay confrontation, if the disappointment didn’t take hold, especially if he didn’t know if it was he or she. There is always equal blame to go around.

Rain

It finally rained a little yesterday. It’s strange, I never seem to see the rain. It becomes something else. I usually see only wet sidewalks, streets, the moistened-over gravel, only a dab of a shade darker than when it is dry, it seems like. A cloudy gray puddle fills up a pothole. The sky is the same color of gray. My sand tinted car is parked outside, in my driveway, ensconced under tiny, sparkling droplets of dew, and when I open the driver’s side door and try to get in, my right leg always steps in the grass in the lawn next to the concrete driveway, the cold, rough, wet blades of the sea green St Augustine grass pawing at my calf. Then I know it had rained. From these traces, signs, keepsakes of the storm.

In Central Texas, it seems the rain falls only in the middle of the night. My curtains are drawn over my window by the bed, and I would often be woken up during the night by the rain, in fits, one wave after another, splashing against the laminated glass, like the click-clacking of beads on an abacus. Erratic, and abstract. Just sound, no picture. In the morning, I would have forgotten all of this. It’s not until I go out of the house, and see the scattered odds and ends the storm left behind all about my house, that I’ll fit together these two pieces of phenomena.

I watched Blade Runner for the first time late last night. One of the androids said as he was dying: ‘All those moments will be lost, in time, like tears, in the rain.’ Los Angeles in 2019 seems to be eternally drenched in rain. Torrential rain, unrelenting—real window washers, sheets and sheets and sheets. I couldn’t help wondering what their budget for water was. As it was raining outside, it was also raining on television.

by HC Hsu

from Middle of the Night, a book in the works to appear from Deerbrook Editions sometime in 2015
also author of Love is Sweeter, http://lethepressbooks.com/

Sarah White on The Lake & Off Course

Sarah White on The Lake two poems, Ventricular, and The Ballad of Narayama

Ventricular   

Young Fanny Mendelssohn, in petticoats and pumps—
In the lower chambers of the heart
lost every race against her younger brother.
severe arrhythmia gives rise
In their middle years, they raced again and she awoke
to a danger of collapse       
at the gates of Death, alone.

 

Chest compressions may be given
On the day of her burial,
         by anyone, including family members.
Felix heard anthems in an awkward key, and her voice:
       To restore a normal rhythm
“Brother, you’re so pale. There’s not much time.
(about 100 beats a minute)
Take these dark hymns and write my elegy
       electric shock must be administered  …
at lightning speed.

 

 

The Ballad of Narayama

 

A man carries his mother on his shoulders
through the brambles. She will no longer
be living in the village.
They’re going up the sacred mountain.

 

He is weary. He doesn’t want to leave her
up the mountain in a clearing
on her prayer mat, knees crossed,
peering through the brambles.

 

She knows she won’t be living
in the village. The man carries
his mother. He is weary.
The snowfall is a blessing.

 

Narayama is a mountain and a ballad
to be sung in any order—
down from the prayer mat
to the village, up to the clearing

 

where he leaves her, cross-legged,
smiling at the snowfall
and the shoulders disappearing
through the brambles.

 

Sarah White’s most recent published collections are The Unknowing  Muse (Dos Madres, 2014) and Wars Don’t Happen Anymore (Deerbrook Editions, 2015). She lives, writes, and paints in New York City.

  

The Lake 

“All of writing is a huge lake. There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. And then there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys. All that matters is feeding the lake. I don’t matter. The lake matters. You must keep feeding the lake.” 
Jean Rhys

 

Inspired by Jean Rhys’ imperative, The Lake is dedicated to publishing all forms of poetry by new and established poets, highlighting the best of contemporary poetry and reviewing the best of the new books.

 

Also appearing on Offcourse  literary journal in Albany.

JR Solonche returns to the Lake

A couple of poems in December’s The Lake Journal: The Lake poetry

Jacob and the Angel

Afterward in the morning,
already late in the morning,
already near noon,
he awoke,
and no one was about.
His right hand was gripped tightly
on the shin of his leg.
His left arm was under his head
so that the elbow was stiff,
and the forearm was numb
from the weight of his head upon it.
His mouth was dry with the dryness of sand,
and the lips of his mouth were parched as the sand of the desert.
He felt the soreness in his limbs.
He felt the stiffness in the joints of his limbs.
He saw the full light of day illuminating the tent.
The flap of the tent opening was bright with the brightness of daylight.
And even full with soreness in his body,
and even full with stiffness in his limbs,
and even full with a terrible thirst in his mouth, he sprang to his feet,
and he threw himself upon the tent opening,
upon the full light of the tent opening that flapped like white wings in the dry wind.

The Jonah Story

I do not like the Jonah story.
The Jonah story is all
obedience and disobedience,
God calling on the wind
to frighten the sailors,
God calling on the whale
to swallow up Jonah
and spit him out again
on dry land, God
calling on the worm
to desolate the vine.
The Jonah story is all God
calling. I do not like the way
the Jonah story ends.
The Jonah story ends
without ending. It ends
with God asking
Jonah a question,
but really asking one of those
holy rhetorical questions
that God is so fond of,
and that is where Jonah is
left hanging,
on the question mark of God.
And I do not like this because
I want to know what happens
to heroes at the end of stories.
What happens to Jonah
at the end of his story?
What does Jonah do?
Does he go home?
Does he stay where he is
on the east side of Nineveh
where he prepares a field
of gourd vines? Does he
sleep twenty-four hours through?
Does God leave Jonah alone?
Does God leave Jonah alone,
finally, oh finally,
in the shade of the vine?

J.R. Solonche has been publishing in magazines, journals, and anthologies since the early 70s. He is author of Beautiful Day (Deerbrook Editions) and coauthor ofPeach Girl: Poems for a Chinese Daughter (Grayson Books). He lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with his wife, the poet Joan I. Siegel, and nine cats, at least three of whom are poets.