Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Learning from Ron Offen

Carried away by our April Poetry Month Festival in
Santa Barbara, I haven't found my way back here in
a while.

Thought today I'd register a thank-you to Ron Offen,
editor of FREE LUNCH, who's one of those rare guys who
gives critique when you offer him a submission, I don't
know how he finds the time.

He accepted one poem of mine the other day after helping me
fiddle here and there with improving changes, and took me
in hand about another, where he loved the concluding stanza
but not the one leading up to it, his note turning me on
to a course of re-writing.

Have a glance at these two for the contrast.



I looked everywhere
but could not find myself
until I sensed your inward sense
that once was only beauty
of the body.

We are a thirst that drinks itself.
We are the ringing and the bell
as we fall away
as we fall away
like water.

REVISED VERSION (responding to Ron's urging as to
the need for a stronger, more integrating "set-up"):


Thoughts pass through us
invisibly as breath.
We have no need to find ourselves
who learn to trust an inward sense
beyond the beauty of the body.

We are a thirst that drinks itself.
We are the ringing and the bell
as we fall away
as we fall away
like water.


Friday, April 6, 2007


Back in February I posted some words about my New Year's
resolution, which came down to the intent to work at
understanding the compulsion we all (?) share to overcome
difficulties, resistence, lack, defeat.

That post went as follows:

My new year's resolution, as a life-long striver,
was "to understand overcoming." This turned into
a poem of aspiration yesterday, jotted down on my
last wallet-carried slip of paper:



Then, just the other day, a solution to my self-imposed
koan floated into my mind -- lines from Eliot's "Ash Wednesday":

"Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still."

Yes: at one and same time, to care and not to care,
thus overcoming overcoming. And why, you might ask,
wouldn't one praise and welcome this compulsion to
overcome? Why bother overcoming-overcoming?

Ah, could be...that's YOUR koan!


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Zayre Archive

Time for another Zayre Kaserla piece from the Zayre Archive
(Zayre seldom titles, often sprawls his lines around on the
page, but the Blog-Meister usually insists on regularizing
strictly to left-justification, ah well, neatliness, terrible

only human males
rage hot for sex
in every season
pulsing at chilled iron gates
closely locked till spring

and so in youth we called them
"great women,"
the girls who, miracle!
said "yes," (who knew
what urged them?)

that small
whispered word, it
entered us
and exploded


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Words from one of my FAVES, Billy Collins

In an interview for my poetry column recently,
Billy Collins told me a little story that shouldn't
be forgotten, so I offer it here in his words:

"Poetry seems to provide, more than ever,
an alternative to the din of public language
(advertising, politics, etc) and a more admirable
set of values than we find in consumer-mad
society. I read recently about a poetry
competition held in Barcelona every year. The
third place poet receives a silver rose, the
second place winner receives a golden rose,
and the first place poet--for having written
the very best poem--receives a real rose. So
take that, all you fans of bling."