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Tomas Tranströmer’s recent passing has me reading back into his work. Always, I am taken in by the immediacy of his line.

In this week’s poem, “The Scattered Congregation,” this immediacy plays out in quick turns. Whether in nuanced phrase or illuminating flash of image, Tranströmer always makes me a believer. Makes me proud to be part of the “congregation.”

* flockgregation *

* poetgregation *

The Scattered Congregation – Tomas Tranströmer

I
We got ready and showed our home.
The visitor thought: you live well.
The slum must be inside you.

II
Inside the church, pillars and vaulting
white as plaster, like the cast
around the broken arm of faith.

III
Inside the church there’s a begging bowl
that slowly lifts from the floor
and floats along the pews.

IV
But the church bells have gone underground.
They’re hanging in the sewage pipes.
Whenever we take a step, they ring.

V
Nicodemus the sleepwalker is on his way
to the Address. Who’s got the Address?
Don’t know. But that’s where we are going.

***

Happy don’t knowing!

Jose

* cinnamontography *

* cinnamontography *

Just a quick note to share that my flash fiction piece “Forgotten Conversation” has recently been published on Apogee Journal’s Blog: Perigree.

Check it out here.

Special thanks to Cecca Ochoa for working with me in shaping the final version.

This work means something special to me for where it took me towards the end, evoking Sandra Cisneros from her Loose Woman poems as a kind of patron(a) saint of the broken hearted!

See you Friday!

Jose

This weekend marks the 3 year anniversary of this blog.

Yay!

This week’s poem – “A Flock of Sheep Near the Airport” by Yehuda Amichai – takes on the idea of attention in a way that ties into the spirit in which I started the blog. The first stanza evokes the kind of conflicted feelings one goes through in everyday life, the “combinations” that “wound” as well as “heal.” The second stanza, with its focus on one sound, evokes for me in a way the act of being engrossed while reading.

Each week I hope to share a poem that has, for a little while, been for me “the only sound in the world.”

I see this as a kind of reader’s blog, a way of putting a bit of good energy out into the world. I’m excited to still be going strong and to have you along for the ride.

* near the what now? *

* near the what now? *

A Flock of Sheep Near the Airport – Yehuda Amichai

A flock of sheep near the airport
or a high voltage generator beside the orchard:
these combinations open up my life
like a wound, but they also heal it.
That’s why my feelings always come in twos.
That’s why I’m like a man who tears up a letter
and then has second thoughts,
picking up the pieces and pasting them together again
with great pains, sometimes
for the rest of his life.

But once I went looking for my son at night
and found him in an empty basketball court
lit by a powerful floodlight.
He was playing all alone.
And the sound of the ball bouncing
was the only sound in the world.

***

Happy sounding!

Jose

First, a bit of news: the new issue of RHINO Poetry is available for purchase! Check out my poem “Joe” – selected for the 2015 Editor’s Prize – here as well as selections of other fine work in issue here. Thank you to everyone at RHINO for their support!

***

This weekend brings with it a total lunar eclipse which is being reported to be the shortest lunar eclipse of this century. In honor of its brevity, here’s the shortest poem I have about the moon:

Moon – Jose Angel Araguz

A widow turning over in her sleep.

 

* blushing moon *

* blushing moon *

Working on a recent manuscript recently, I got called out about the moon: It’s always the moon! And it’s true, I do try to hang too much on it. It’s hard not to. From Li Po getting drunk underneath it and Sir Philip Sidney’s “sad steps” to Philip Larkin’s “lozenge of love” and this week’s poem, the moon keeps being sought after with interest and fascination.

…like a coin we spend, only to find again (sorry couldn’t help it :) ).

This week’s poem – “Moon” by Kathleen Jamie – put the moon on my mind again when I read it earlier this week. It does what I work hard to do when talking about the moon, which is bring it into conversation with the personal in a new way.

Jamie’s poem was featured in The Best American Poetry Blog series “Introducing Scottish poets” curated by Robyn Marsack – find out more about her work and others here.

Moon – Kathleen Jamie

Last night, when the moon
slipped into my attic-room
as an oblong of light,
I sensed she’d come to commiserate.

It was August. She travelled
with a small valise
of darkness, and the first few stars
returning to the northern sky,

and my room, it seemed,
had missed her. She pretended
an interest in the bookcase
while other objects

stirred, as in a rockpool,
with unexpected life:
strings of beads in their green bowl gleamed,
the paper-crowded desk;

the books, too, appeared inclined
to open and confess.
Being sure the moon
harboured some intention,

I waited; watched for an age
her cool glaze shift
first toward a flower sketch
pinned on the far wall

then glide to recline
along the pinewood floor
before I’d had enough. Moon,
I said, we’re both scarred now.

Are they quite beyond you,
the simple words of love? Say them.
You are not my mother;
with my mother, I waited unto death.

 from The Overhaul  (Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2015)

***

Happy mooning!

Jose

Confessional Poem – Rosa Alcalá

The girl next door had something to teach me
about what to air: On the line
somebody’s business gets told
then recounted; it’s best to thread a tale
for the neighbors, an orchestration
of sorts. But I am far from modest
in my telling of lies. There are three references
I put forward: each a past lover
who liked a different kind of underling
to his genius. You wouldn’t know it
from the delicates I roll
into the yard. It’s all the same peek-a-boo lace
and stunted imagination. Of course,
all of this is scanty truth. Who hangs anything out to dry
anymore, when invention has halved the work?

* undocumentaries *

* undocumentaries *

Over the past year, I’ve enjoyed writing reviews for The Volta Blog. My latest review is of Rosa Alcalá’s Undocumentaries. The poem above is one example of how Alcalá digs out the complications to be found behind conventional metaphors. In my review, I break down the above poem, making connections with Sylvia Plath and the tasks (and consequences) a poet sets and works out for themselves.

Due to length considerations, I had to cut a bit of the original ending to the essay. Here’s a cut paragraph that I feel is essential in conveying my own personal connection with the collection:

“What goes unsaid in an essay like this – an essay which boils down to I read the poems, I thought about the poems – is worth considering given the Alcala’s idea of the “Undocumentary.” I read these poems for the first time in my thirty-second year of life. I am back in academia out of some sense of purpose or perhaps a need of one. I haven’t shared a house with my family for over fifteen years – in fact, it has been almost four years since I saw them. So much time apart and yet they keep coming up in my own poems. When Alcala writes about distance, I know what she means: it is the distance between family, a distance both physical and emotional, a distance of language and understanding. It is a distance one tries to cover through words because that is the only thing that is real to poets: real in its unreality.”

Check out the full review here.

Happy unrealiting!

Jose

* pretty owl poetry/issue 5 *

* Pretty Owl Poetry/issue 5 *

Just a quick post to announce the release of the latest issue of Pretty Owl Poetry which includes my flash fiction pieces “Spinster” and “Oceans.” The issue also includes fine writing from Jill Khoury, Howie Good and fellow UC poet and friend Les Kay as well as artwork by Heather Simon.

Check out the issue here.

I’m especially excited for this publication. These two pieces are part of “Reasons (not) to Dance,” a flash fiction/prose poem chapbook forthcoming from FutureCycle Press. The project explores ideas of risks as played out in short prose pieces that range from the fabulistic to the memoiristic. My guides in writing these come from the Latin American microcuento tradition, writers such as Augusto Monterroso and Julio Cortazar.

Thank you to Kelly Andrews, Gordon Buchan, and B. Rose Huber for putting together a great issue!

See you Friday!

Best,

Jose

Here’s another lyrical alignment from Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives.

I came across this paragraph “re-aligned” in some old notes from 2008. The scene is of the enigmatic Ulises character described via another character’s story of him. I often describe Bolaño as a poet’s poet. His writing, like that of Borges, is infused with signs of a rich reading life and often speaks on the craft in an infectious and serious way. The text below creates a fable out of thin air that evokes real places and real struggle.

* is land, no? *

* is land, no? *

Two Islands – Roberto Bolaño

a lyrical alignment*

One day I asked him where he’d been. He told me
that he’d traveled along a river that connects
Mexico and Central America. As far as I know,
there is no such river. But he told me he’d traveled
along this river and that now he could say he knew
its twists and tributaries. A river of trees
or a river of sand or a river
of trees that in certain stretches
became a river of sand. A constant flow of people
without work, of the poor and starving,
drugs and suffering. A river of clouds
he’d sailed on for twelve months,
where he’d found countless islands and outposts,
although not all the islands were settled, and sometimes
he thought he’d stay and live on one of them
forever or that he’d die there.

Of all the islands he’d visited, two stood out.
The island of the past, he said, where the only
time was past time and the inhabitants were bored
and more or less happy, but where the weight
of illusion was so great that the island
sank a little deeper into the river
every day. And the island of the future,
where the only time was the future,
and the inhabitants were planners and strivers, such
strivers, said Ulises, that they were likely
to end up devouring one another.

*text from The Savage Detectives

***

Happy anothering!

Jose

 

 

 

 

 

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