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.

WRITE YOUR POEM
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.


LA PUSH
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,
luminous,
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.


HOW TO WRITE A POEM

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

happy as a two-peckered toad.

WRITE YOUR POEM

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.

HOW TO WRITE A POEM
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
she
becomes 
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


Anatomy

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 

WRITE YOUR POEM

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 lisa@lisaalvarado.net in order to book her for readings or connect on art shows.

Reclamo

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
murmura:

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


Reclamation

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.”

WRITE YOUR POEM

结束这种痛苦

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. 

YOUR INTERPRETER SENDS ME A HOUSEDRESS    

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.

SITTING IN A SIMULATED LIVING SPACE AT THE SEATTLE IKEA

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.

WRITE YOUR POEM: 
"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!


Tuesday, December 12, 2017

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press December 2017

FEATURED POET: Gerry McFarland worked in healthcare for thirty years with drafts of poems folded up in his pocket. In 2011, he graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing from the Rainier Writer’s Workshop. His poetry has appeared in Crab Creek Review, Bayou, Switched-on-Gutenberg, Zyzzyva, Contemporary American Voices, Cider Press Review, Salt Hill Journal, and, most recently, War, Literature, and the Arts: An International Journal of the Humanities, among many other publications. He is currently working on a memoir. He and his wife, Allegra, an avid gardener, live and create in their home on the Olympic Peninsula.


THE MAKING
               for Tim

Closed on a hammer his hands

Are like hills,
Swollen places
On the earth;
Palms open,
Become
Rough plains, each line

A minute stream bed circling

Discolored
Calluses. At evening
Seated
Under kitchen light, elbows
On his knees palms open

As a stubble field,

He picks at scabs,
Fingers newly blistered faults
In a ritual of reparation
To the God of the Unfinished.

Tomorrow his hands will make a house.

Mute instruments
Will build from air
The fact of wood,

Join opposing forests. There must be

A new word for such making.

In morning light, on the hill,
Pine studs will frame the house
Of the new word,
The molten sun

Light the house’s bones.

The hands
Will start things off.
Blocks will hold promise
And the smells of pine,

Sawdust, earth, and rain will be new.

WRITE YOUR POEM:
"...To the God of the Unfinished..."
Poems put a space between the certain and uncertain...
Maybe that is even a poet's role.  To witness the truth in ambiguity and throw off the didactic.

The trick is that you can use the form for either priority.  No worries.  In your next poem ask if your punchline is pointing to the certain or uncertain.  Either way, 

write a solstice poem to a child and light a candle.  Let them decide.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

洞月亮 Cave Moon Press November 2017

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 is Alexander’s first full-length collection of poems.

                                       



DEAN STREET

By the bus stop, dayshift workers gray-skinned in the April chill, stand lean marbles, granites, samples carved with exemplary names.

She’ll have eaten dinner, girded with a bib, in the last fastidious shafts of 
light. Our talk was of the flowering crabapple tree,
its quivering, avenging burst of bloom.

Rain blurs into bluestone snow the heft of ancient dolerite. And the fire-tipped shadows of dusk curtaining the windows of the hall have frightened her.

The bus, its exhalations choked with grime, is bearing down. Even now, I can’t describe for her the weight of this unwieldy, this inhuman thing.


BALANCE

You write, this is not fun. Two rockets arc above Tel Aviv
and in the streets, sirens and rubble. I forget you for weeks at a time
until you write about a trip to Mount Hebron, bellflowers, mignonette,
the grandchild’s bit of tooth, a logy rock agama in the sun.

I hope you’re getting a balanced view. There are bodies in red rags,
pensive cups of coffee after dawn, the drawing heat of the day.
Ordinary death proceeds with its modest civilities, prayers in shul.
In Khan Younis, a family shatters like a crystal cup; no prayer
will bind flesh to soul, no cool wind tame the burning of the coast.

Tell how it is for you, a garden with tall weeds, a son in the hills.
On your land, figs are slowly ripening despite the spider mites,
despite the lack of rain, the sirens louder than a mullah’s call.
Heat underlies the very ground where traders shook out silk.

You hope the dusty rocks and rags will be reported truthfully.

You hope, worried by tomato rot, to grow old

WRITE YOUR POEM

Modifiers. Do your modifiers create focus for the reader or focus for an English lit major?
Adjectives.  Adverbs.  Create a picture for the reader.  When we used to use SLR 35 mm cameras we had control of the focus?  Focus your poem for the reader.