Sunday, December 9, 2018

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press December 2018

FEATURED POET:  GREG SIMON was born in Minnesota, but has spent most of his life in and around Portland, Oregon. He was educated in Seattle, Iowa City, and Palo Alto, where he studied
creative writing with a number of outstanding poets, translators, and fellow students. He is the co-translator, with  Steven F. White and Christopher Maurer, of Federico Garcia Lorca's Poet in New York, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1988. He is currently employed in the wine industry.

2  .  24  .  12
You cannot choose what music
you will hear. It comes fully
dressed, ready to be undressed,
resembling freshwater waves,

or mist from a morning’s rain.
It seeks your skin, rough or soft
or darkened by thin blue smoke
from a fire we built beside

a lake. The goddess and I
did not make love in a tent
below Mt. Olympus.

She wrapped herself completely
in a tight silky cocoon
I could not


03  .  06  .  12
Symmetry, a poet once
wrote, symmetry. And lions.
And panthers. We must change our lives.
But we must live our life,

even if the power of it
rips into us like a coal miner
advancing along dark veins
in the center of the earth

with nothing on his mind
but lust. I want that harsh fire.
I want my center to burn

with what I feel about her
inside me, inside me like
whirling knives, and smoke, and fire!

In Greek mythology, Eurydice was an oak nymph or one of the daughters of Apollo. She was the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music. (Wikipedia)

These poems are a series of sonnets dedicated to her, and Greg does an incredible job of embodying the love poets pour onto the page.

Intriguingly, he sets up a masterful collection of sonnets.  The origin of the word sonnet comes through Italian for "song" and originally from Latin from "Sonus" which gives us "sound" and thus connects poetry in the Western tradition to a deep sense of the musical.  Thus, Greg's poetry about the wife of Orpheus, the renowned poet and musician, are matched with the form he chose.  

Form: Although fallen out of fashion in the 20th century with free verse, there is still a modicum of matching the form to the message.  What vessel (form) are you using for the sweet wine (flavor) of your poem?  Greg matches the vessel to the wine, and the sweetness of his love for the wife of Orpheus comes through in his poetry.

Friday, September 28, 2018

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press September 2018

FEATURED POET:  BETTY SCOTT'S poems are influenced by California, Oregon and Washington landscapes. She earned degrees from U.C.L.A., Central Washington University and Western Washington University and taught in community colleges before retiring into her daily writing life. She enjoys editing her daughter’s novels as well as poetry and essays by colleagues in Bellingham, WA. She is currently writing a third collection of poems and a book of essays.


I wake at dawn to sun and ice
roadway diamonds.

In my yard two deer, displaced-thin
nibble on clover.

I too am rail thin, a short path away
from a milestone birthday, and in

this quiet moment, this devoted stretch
of first-waking thoughts

electricity and love spark.

I listen kindly to circuits.


A dark crow squawks outside his bay window
As I enter Dad’s house this lonely day.
He lies so still, his face a worn pillow.

In his silent home, belongings echo.
“I’m here, Dad,” I call from the entry way.
A dark crow squawks outside his bay window.

In his room, silence moans without sorrow.
I reach for his shoulder, call out his name.
He sleeps so still, his face a worn pillow.

I touch his lips and nose to see breath flow.
Must you be so blissful, I dare not say.
A dark crow squawks outside his bay window.

“I’m a great sleeper now,” he wakes and boasts
“Practicing for the big sleep … on its way.”
He lies so still, his face a worn pillow.

Yet I’ve seen inside the beak of a crow
Blood red and cawing love’s longings and pain.
A dark crow squawks outside his bay window.

He lies so still, his face a worn pillow.

,,,his face a worn pillow.

The master stroke in Betty's poem, here is rhyme and repetition.
Since Whitman and Cummings, we have been averse to these elements in poetry.

So to evoke a picture of her father with this simple phrase, Betty has beautifully used rhyme for the modern ear with a metaphor.  The metaphor leaves us at the bedside of a loved one with love, grief and power.  Brilliant.

Try to re-write Betty's poem within the context of your own life.  Share your pain through rhyme and repetition.
Write the poem on a fast food wrapper from a restaurant you visited on the way to the hospital.  Keep it in your pocket for later.  Be present with the people you love.

Friday, August 10, 2018

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press August 2018

FEATURED POET: Lauro Flores is Professor of Chicano and Latin American literatures and cultures at the University of Washington, Seattle. During his tenure at the University of Washington, he has been Chair of AES, Director of the Center for Chicano Studies, Chair of Latin American Studies, and Special Assistant to the Provost. Winner of a 2007 UW Distinguished Teaching Award, Dr. Flores has been visiting professor at Stanford University and UCLA.

Childhood Trip
           (Dream of Las Canoas)

Do you still remember, dear Alfredo,
that secluded green place nestled
atop a mountain, reclined on its foothills?
Do you still preserve the memory
of your first childhood trip over the grayish
slopes of the sleeping volcano?

Las Canoas, remote village near
the old hill where my ancestors settled,
the place where, on a clear day,
your grandfather, destiny’s rails,
an intrepid short-distance train
and three noble mule drivers took you.

On that concealed hillside,
you discovered kindling for the first time,
and saw the meandering flight of the swallow;
there, you felt, also for the first time,
the fragrance of the woods and spring,
and the persistent perfume of pine resin.

There, you counted the resplendent stars;
you gazed at the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper
until those droning voices,
modulated into muffled harmony,
and the brindled purring of the cat
finally closed your eyes until the following day.

Párvulo viaje

                (Sueño de Las Canoas)
¿Aún recuerdas, mi querido Alfredo,
aquel verde paraje recogido
en un cerro, reclinado en sus faldas?
¿Aún perdura en tu alma el recuerdo
de tu párvulo viaje por las pardas
laderas de aquel volcán dormido?

Las Canoas, rancho remoto, vecino
del viejo cerro, allí donde moraron
mis ancestros, y a donde un claro día
tu abuelo, los rieles del destino,
un intrépido tren de cercanías
y tres nobles arrieros te llevaron.

En aquella recóndita colina,
descubriste el ocote por vez primera,
y viste el vuelo errante de la golondrina;
allí sentiste, también por vez primera,
el aroma del bosque, de la primavera,
y el porfiado perfume de la trementina.

Allí contaste las fulgentes estrellas,
contemplaste el Arado y el Pequeño Cazo,
hasta que las voces aquellas,
moduladas en su sorda armonía,
y el abarcinado ronroneo del gato
te cerraron los ojos hasta el otro día.

How does your poem hold up in another language?
As an experiment, translate your poem into another tongue.
(Even if you use Google translate)
Show it to a friend.  Does it hold the meter?  Is that relevant?

Looking at your poem in another language forces to you to see 
if you are relying on linguistic tricks, (like rhyme) or thematic units.
Neither is good or bad.  It just offers a different path.  Write your poem!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press July 2018

FEATURED POET Finn Wilcox worked in the woods at the upper elevations of the Olympics and the Cascades with Olympic Reforestation Incorporated, a forest workers co-op, for twenty-five years; he planted well over a million trees. He rode freight trains for several years to learn about the life, journeys, and history of the once-respected American Hobo. His first book, Here Among the Sacrificed (Empty Bowl, 1984), includes the poignant images of legendary Northwest photographer Steven R. Johnson, depicting people in boxcars and railroad yards who appear in Finn’s memorable poems and stories. In addition to the full content of Here Among the Sacrificed, Wilcox’s latest collection, Too Late to Turn Back Now contains his poems from Nine Flower Mountain, detailing travels in China; Lesson Learned, a group of love poems; and Not Letting Go, a suite of new poems and stories. With Jeremiah Gorsline, Finn edited WORKING THE WOODS, WORKING THE SEA: An Anthology of Northwest writing (Empty Bowl, 2008). Finn and his wife Pat Fitzgerald live in Port Townsend.

Walking the flats—
through brushed huckleberry
and tall, tough salal—
I find the place
we spread my mother’s ashes
nearly a decade ago.

You can hear the rolling ocean
just beyond this sandy hump
that rises in the silvered-light
of drift-logs,
in thin coastal fog.

I hope she’s happy here.
She was more than just a good woman.
Always that glitter of faith rendered
from a heart
big as these old-growth spruce.

Before I leave,
I make her a headstone

of the perfect blue sky,
above a perfect blue sea

with all its deliberate beauty.


My dog Walt
steps onto his bed
fourteen and deaf as a stone
paws at it thoughtfully
turns in a circle
three times
before setting
his boney ass down

happy as a two-peckered toad.


Serendipity.  As I try to offer encouragement about writing poetry, Finn tells me about his fourteen year-old dog.  At my feet is my son's fourteen year-old dog.  We are dog sitting. So below here, you have one way I have to learn from the masters.  Try to imitate what they do, as flattery and a way of learning.  It works at the Louvre.  All apprentices have to sweep the floor and imitate.  Find your favorite poem and imitate the master.

After Finn Wilcox

My son's dog Selah

shivers, and lays down
fourteen and terrified
the gunshots across the street
tangle her at my ankles
my shadow
before she lays down
her blinking eyes weary

Without a word, I look down, 

Your name means, "Pause"

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press June 2018

FEATURED POET Carol Alexander’s poetry appears in anthologies including Broken Circles (Cave Moon Press), Through a Distant Lens (Write Wing Publishing) and Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Vol. 1.  She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work can be found in numerous print and online journals such as Bluestem, Caesura, Chiron Review, The Common, The New Verse News, Southern Humanities Review, and Soundings East. She is the author of the chapbook BRIDAL VEIL FALLS (Flutter Press). HABITAT LOST was Alexander’s first full-length collection of poems released by Cave Moon Press.  She just completed her second full-length collection ENVIRONMENTS published by Dos Madres Press.  These poems were included in HABITAT LOST.  We're excited to see what she has in her next collection!  An interview about the first collection can be accessed by Spring River Review


In darkness we steal bodies in plain grave clothes.
Freshly dead, eyes membranous, modest;
 it seems almost a crime to snatch a pauper’s rest.

By candlelight we explore their crevices--
four-chambered heart, leguminous kidney, muddy entrails.
We will learn all they’ve eaten, posthumously.

We whisper, cajole; they stare back furiously, knowing they’ve been tricked.
Are silage for our greening field.

We thought only of the kiss of life.

One draws with the silken feather of a goose
coils of dank viscera while another lifts a lung, imagines a sigh.

Purple-black blossoms on the anterior skin—
 this love of everlasting, this anoxia. 
All you beauties.

Within, the roil of internecine gases and salt,
a great ship splitting at the hull . A quick draft of stale beer
before we leave them lonely in the dawn.

For Ghislaine

For Ghislaine
By the board, pupils like black holes, a North Philadelphia schoolgirl, three years in fifth grade, is fragged by the laughter of the back row. The word is Chesapeake, as in the bay. Cheapskate, she tries, bringing down fire.
Desks etched with curses and pleas, oaken stupor of midday, waxy boxes of cool milk, but she gives off the heat of moving targets, stumbling in the
crosshairs. Rungs of chairs implacable, first frost muffles light beneath the blackout shade.We are in the Cold War and could lose even this weak light.
Ghislaine, I wonder at the ignorance: mother plaiting your dark hair, sending you into the tangle of the day, struggles with small hostages. The courage of it, the march to the front lines, the bloodied heels in boots.

My daughter rises now at six, laptop crammed with lesson plans. She greets children off the short bus, who hardly speak, who twirl, who flap, who cool their heels in the special room. Work well, I say, for Ghislaine, who must be sixty-three, a grandmother in a street of houses, peaceful now, this winter day.
In this 


Intimacy.  Poetry, whether out of ancient China, or with Carol allows the reader to connect to the quiet moments that we want to remember out of the roar of dark busyness that drives our every day existence.  "My daughter rises now at six...." Carol tells us.  Someone was watching.  Write your poem.  Eschew the promulgation of formal poetic forms....(in text language my son says I now have to say, jk...)  All the writers that help us learn repeat the mantra of simplify, simplify, simplify.  Simplify your modifiers.  Simplify your purpose.  Simplify your audience.  It is through that discipline that the words strike the reader.  Write your poem.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press April 2018

FEATURED POET Lisa Alvarado is an educator, poet, novelist, and journalist, the founder of La Onda Negra Press, author of Reclamo and The Housekeeper's Diary; originally a book of poetry and now a one-woman performance. Her first novel, Sister Chicas, Penguin/NAL, was released in April 2006. The novel is a coming of age story concerning the lives of three young Latinas living in Chicago. It won 2nd place, Best First Novel in English. (Latino Literacy Now/2007)

Her book of poetry, Raw Silk Suture, with a forward by Juan Felipe Hererra and released by Floricanto Press in 2008, was reviewed by Rigoberto Gonzalez. She has curated multimedia exhibits, mounted her own multimedia piece, Reclamo in the Pilsen art corridor in Chicago; and is currently a contributor to the nationally touring exhibit, Re-imagining the Distaff Toolkit, curated by Ricki Solinger/SUNY.

Check her out at in order to book her for readings or connect on art shows.


En este sueño
estoy completa.
No tengo que guardar
las historias de otra gente.
No tengo que buscar y escudriñar
a través de los restos de sus palabras.

En este sueño
paso mis dedos
através de la cabellera de Frida
Con esa cabellera,
tejo flores obscuras
del color de la sangre.
Y me dice
que el jaguar viene a traerme
su poder.

La medicina que calma este dolor
es como comida para
calmar esta hambre.

En este sueño
hago magia
con el lodo del Rio Grande.
Arropado en corridas y música ranchera,
que son el hechizo y el encanto
que anula la edad
del olvido y el adoctrinamiento.

En este sueño
tengo un amante
cuya cara es de piedra,
como el antiguo marcador del templo.

Su boca es carnosa,
sus ojos están entrecerrados y

“Ven conmigo mi India,
mi pequeña perdida.
Recuerda quien eres.
Recuerda quien eres.”


In this dream,
I am whole.
I am no longer
saving other people’s stories,
scavenging their words;
sifting thru their remains.
In this dream,
my fingers run
thru Frida’s hair.
In this hair, I plait
dark flowers
the color of blood.
She tells me
the jaguar comes
to bring me power.
The medicine
to end this pain,
the food for this hunger.
In this dream,
I have made magic
from the mud of the Rio Grande.
Wrapped in corridas and ranchero music;
are spells and incantations
to undo
the age of forgetfulness
and indoctrination.
In this dream,
I have a lover
whose face is stone;
ancient as a temple marker.
His mouth is full,
his eyes half closed.
He whispers:
“Come to me, mi India,
mi pequeña perdida.
Remember who you are
Remember who you are.”



La medicina que calma este dolor

The medicine
to end this pain

When you write poems, how much of them survive translation?  The West uses extreme forms and rhyme schemes that only function among Romance languages.  How much rigor do you use when filtering the words?  Do you have 14 character modifiers?  Can the reader see your images?

Pain and medicine are global.  Sometimes poetry is medicine. Sometimes it is the poison.  Just like strychnine was used for heart conditions and arsenic for beauty.  

Remember that as a poet you are a witness to healing.  re-read Lisa's poem.  Write your poem.

Monday, January 8, 2018

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press January 2018

FEATURED POET: ABBY E. MURRAY teaches creative writing at the University of Washington Tacoma, where she also offers free workshops for soldiers, veterans and their loved ones. She is the editor of Collateral, an online literary journal that showcases writing about the impact of military service beyond the combat zone. A recent recipient of the Sustainable Arts Foundation Award, Abby has poems in current or forthcoming issues of Prairie Schooner, Radar, and Minerva Rising. 


When you return to Iraq or Afghanistan
you are given new clothes as gifts:
the long robe made of goat fur that, even folded up,
is the size of a small desk. The brown turban,
the rough cotton tunic and pants.
We have photos of you sipping chai in these clothes,
sitting cross-legged in the sun. Your teeth shine
as you laugh with the Iraqi interpreter
sitting beside you, holding bread in one hand.
When you leave he will be hunted by men
who come down from the hills at night
in white garments like stars crashing into Earth.
He will send you messages that say, My brother
until he is rescued by civilians
and sent to San Diego to work as a valet.
On your last day in Iraq he gives you a housedress
pressed flat in a plastic envelope and says
it is a gift for your wife: a woman who accepts gifts
from men other than her husband because she can,
because she does not know sending a dress to his wife
would be as unforgiveable as touching her hair.
The dress is meant to be worn indoors:
orange and yellow with flashes of red,
the color of so many explosions I’ve watched on the news:
balloons of flame that float over mosques and markets.
At home, in our dining room, I pull the dress on
even though I am ashamed of its slim waist
and fussy gold thread, the zebra lamé pattern
stretched thin across my broad shoulders
and barreled chest, the Virgin Mary languishing
on a tin medallion under my throat.
I am too tall, too wide and too plain for this dress,
too impatient for its shimmering neckline
and narrow sleeves. I feel like I am smothering it.
We hang it on one of your good suit hangers
at the back of our closet where it smolders
and gleams between my wool sweaters and jeans,

throws sparks of light into my shoes.


To sit in the simulated living space at Ikea
is to know what sand knows
as it rests inside the oyster.
This is how you might arrange your life
if you were to start from scratch:
a newer, better version of yourself applied
coat by coat, beginning with lamplight
from the simulated living room.
The man who lives here has never killed.
There is no American camouflage drying
over the backs of his kitchen chairs,
no battle studies on the coffee table.
He travels without a weapon,
hangs photographs of the Taj Mahal,
the Eiffel Tower above the sofa.
The woman who lives here has no need
for prescriptions or self-help,
her mirror cabinet holds a pump
for lotion and a rose-colored water glass,
her nightstand is stacked with hardcovers
on Swedish architecture.
The cat who lives here has been declawed,
the dog rehomed. There are no parakeets
shrilling over newspaper in the decorative cage,
no parking tickets in the breadbox.
When you finish your dollar coffee
and exit through the simulated front door,
join other shoppers with chapsticks
in their purses and Kleenex and receipts,
with t-shirts that say Florida Keys 2003
and unopened Nicorette in their pockets,
you wish you could say this place
is not enough for you, that you’re better off
in the harsh light of the parking garage,
a light that shows your skin beneath your skin,
the color of your past self,
pale in places, flushed in others.

"We hang it on one of your good suit hangers
at the back of our closet where it smolders"

Object + Description =  Story Ballad  

Ballads used to be a poetic form that told stories.  
Now we associate them music.  
Abby's housedress weaves in and out and we
experience the all the characters and conflict.

What can you describe with a poetic form, and 
leave the reader with a narrative?  
Deconstruct a cereal box.  Write you poem on the blank side.
Glue the box back together!