Day’s end

Who needs gods or heaven or moral philosophies?
Your body at rest on the hammock is worth
more than all the imaginary heavens
of all the religions
ever invented

more than all the first principles
of all philosophies. All you
need to do is look at it
and see. If you listen

closely

you can hear the birds singing

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At the mirador in Noria Alta

Dragons of the earth flashing
red and green and gold
once moved to the galaxies
above cry out, they rage
against fate and thrash
their tails in a glitter
of fiery stars.

Sirens of the ocean weaving
seaspawn and seawrack
removed to the same
night sky, they rage
against time and weep
for their watery home
in teardrop stars.

And we, what have we to do
with dragons, with sirens, we
who see only the stars, only
beauty, we who’ve lost the exquisite
pain of those elemental beings?

We have nothing to do but
await the next wound, await
being ripped aloft from the earth,
soothed for now in soft forgetfulness,
in the bare beauty of the night sky,
where sirens silently weep the more
because they cannot
weep for us.

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I have a bird to whistle

Review of Robert Okaji’s chapbook of poems, I Have a Bird to Whistle (Luminous Press, 2019, 27 pages), by Gary Gautier

Beautifully crafted, each poem is an uneasy marriage of image and concept, of fullness and emptiness. Each is suggestive without yielding a fixed meaning. Meaning, like the sense-rich images, follows geometric curves through space to the vanishing point. The logic moving through each poem is like an extended haiku concatenation, jumping from one discrete image or cluster to another sometimes unrelated one. So far, so good. But the discontinuity, suggestive as it is, is sometimes too much, and I wish Okaji had given us a more stable throughline to hang onto as we move across the flow of language. When I set these prose-poem paragraphs against Okaji’s pre-existing work (see his blog here), for my taste he flourishes better with the more traditional poetic line structure. Still, those who revel in the sheer beauty of poetic language, in the compression of image and concept, in this case coming in bite-sized, one-paragraph chunks, will be pleased with this short collection.

x x x

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