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The recent busyness of my move back to Oregon have delayed my sharing a number of recent online publications.

First up is the latest issue of Failed Haiku which features four of my senryu as well as illuminating work by Alexis Rotella, Lori A. Minor, Chen-ou Liu, and Terri L. French. Check out the issue here!

Special thanks to Mike Rehling for including my work and fostering such a great community of artists!

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Next up is my poem “Depredadores en sombra” featured as part of Círculo de Poesía’s project #POESÍACONTRAELMURO / #POETRYVSTHEWALL / #POÉSIEVSMUR: POETAS DEL MUNDO, CUARTA PARTE.

I’m proud to have my first published poem in Spanish be part of this important project.

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Lastly, I am happy to announce that I have signed on to be a regular reviewer for The Bind, a review site devoted to presenting creative reviews of poetry books by women and nonbinary authors.

Here is my review of Debora Kuan’s Lunch Portraits (Brooklyn Arts Press).

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20170514_174144-1And lastly, just a quick reminder that my new book of poems, Small Fires (FutureCycle Press), is available for purchase!

This collection features my poem “Alien” originally published in Crab Creek Review.

See you Friday!

José

 

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maps coverIn my microreview & interview of Roberto Carcache Flores’ A Condensation of Maps, I noted how Flores has a knack for working up images that connect on both a conceptual and emotional level. In this week’s poem, “Friends in Rio Sapo,” we see the gradual build up of details and images culminate in a moment of quiet revelation.

The title sets up a moment of connection along “Toad River,” a phrase which is engaged immediately through the image of “passing clouds” looking “like white lily pads / in a heated / swimming pool.” This latter detail is jolting, as it implies a human element amidst an otherwise nature-focused poem. This jarring moment, however, serves to push the reader closer into the other details. As we move from cliff, albatross, mango groves, and stray dogs, just who the “friends” of the title are become apparent.

This coming together of elements continues in the second stanza as the speaker’s communion with Rio Sapo mirrors the arrival of “stray dogs.” At its heart, this poem reveals such communion as one of its gifts. I say gifts because of the third stanza’s subtle tumbling of details. Line by line, the third stanza evokes in words a similar spell as cast by what it describes. Between the sounds (undress, night’s, silence, innocence on one end; croaks, bank on the other) and the imagery presented, this last stanza reveals not the speaker’s thought but their experience before the reader.

Rio_Sapo

Friends in Rio Sapo – Roberto Carcache Flores

The passing clouds
are reflected on
the water’s surface,
like white lily pads
in a heated
swimming pool,
my feet feel
the rocky cliff’s
sharpness,
an albatross
glides through
surrounding
mango groves.

The opening
of a tuna can
and a bag of raisins
gathers some
stray dogs
around me,
their noses
grown tired
of corn meal
and the occasional
drum stick.

The frogs
begin to undress
the night’s
silence
with the
innocence
of their
early croaks,
all along
the moonlit
river bank.

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20170514_174144-1I’m also happy to share that I have received my copies of my new book Small Fires (FutureCycle Press)!

If you’re interested in purchasing a signed copy, feel free to email me at: thefridayinfluence@gmail.com

Copies can also be purchased from Amazon and FutureCycle Press!

This collection includes my poem “El Rio” originally published in Crab Creek Review.

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Happy rioing!

José

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maps coverreview by José Angel Araguz

Treatment – Roberto Carcache Flores

If I could
I’d be your
therapist,
playing
smooth jazz
through
the morning,
one eye
on the clock,
another in
your folder.

I’d browse
through
all those cries
you scribbled
using watercolors
while waiting
for a ring,
to usher
you inside.

My hands
would shake
in yours
like swarms
of moths
around a
lamp shade
until you
grab a seat,
and look me
in the eye.

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Reading through A Condensation of Maps (Dink Press), I found myself again and again impressed by a poetic sensibility capable of creating images that evoke physical and conceptual movement. In the above poem, this work is set up by the narrative implied in the title, “Treatment.” The speaker develops a brief hypothetical scene, the short lines driving home the intimacy of the address. While the first two stanzas navigate the title’s conceit strictly, speaking in the literacy of the therapist’s office, it is the third stanza’s turn that brings all this metaphor work to a human level. As the speaker’s hands shake in the you’s “like swarms / of moths / around a / lamp shade,” there is a double immediacy evoked, that of hands in hands, but also that of a dire need for direction. This need is implied in the moth imagery, and presents both the speaker and the you as driven by seeking. The empathy here is palpable.

Similar moments of visceral imagery happens throughout the chapbook. The first stanza of “The Fordham Sentinel,” for example, delivers a line by line revelation, one that develops and suggests itself as the six lines move:

Have you checked your bed
for all your fallen pens?
Did the blue stains
on your sheets
leave bite marks
the following morning?

The result is a compelling and unsettling synesthesia: as a reader, I am drawn into the narrative of “fallen pens” and “blue stains,” only to be startled by the implications of “bite marks.” When these elements come together, this stanza does the work of a surrealistic tanka, presenting a personal and immediate meditation.

In “Borders Left Behind,” Flores’ particular brew of imagery and lyric sensibility come to bear on the political. Here, the use of the word “borders” carries special significance. For a poet from El Salvador writing in English, each poem is an act of navigating borders of expression and sensibility. These undertones course through the poem, charging the meditation of the first stanza with an objectivity that is quickly subverted into the intimacy of the second stanza. The political becomes personal in a moment full of human risk and need for understanding.

Borders Left Behind – Roberto Carcache Flores

Imagine
stamping
a black seal
on a feather
every time
an eagle soars
too far from
its nest
or questioning
a vulture’s
motives for its
incessant travel.

The only borders
we should cross
lie across
the eyes
of two
strangers,
even as
we travel
on this bus,
your head
on my shoulder.

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bookscoffee-2Influence Question: How does this collection reflect your relationship/history with the short lyric?

Roberto Carcache Flores: The collection is ordered somewhat chronologically. The first poems represent my earlier work. Initially I think my approach was much more ambitious. I often tried capturing the essence of places and even bits of history. This is especially true for my “El Salvador” poems, which attempt through longer verses to convey my impressions of different places in my home country.  I still look back at these poems fondly, but with reservation.

Later on, I tried to focus on shorter verses and poems in general. Hence, the collection ends with works that only contain a couple of verses and very little sort of context.  I think my goal now is to merely replicate a specific sensation or thought, trying to say more with less. It can be something like a type of sigh or the meaning of a certain smile.  For better or worse, I now find myself aiming for poetry that is less expressive and more definitive.

IQ: What writers/forms have influenced your sense of sentence, phrasing, and brevity?

RCF: Two specific poems come to mind, since the list of writers who have influenced me is all over the place. The first is a very short poem by Roque Dalton titled “Miedo” or “Fear”, dedicated to Julio Cortázar. The poem says “Un ángel solitario en la punta del alfiler oye que alguien orina.”.  The translated version goes something like: A solitary angel on the needle tip hears that someone is pissing. I believe Dalton wrote this poem while being a political prisoner. Either way, it has haunted me since the first time I read it and completely changed my views on how poetry should work.

I stumbled upon the second poem more recently. It’s an odd sort of poem by Robert Walser titled “Little flowers stand in the field”. The poem involves Walser walking through lovely gardens, drinking coffee, and eating jam and butter. Like most of Walser’s work however, the lightness of these verses foreshadow a precipice, a deeper insight into the fleetingness of these sensations. The final stanza of the poem brings everything back to its essence: “Earth is a house with passageways / and rooms where you abide, / it is the storm and stress in it / that hurry me outside.”

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Special thanks to Roberto Carcache Flores for participating! To find out more about Flores’ work, check out his siteA Condensation of Maps can be purchased from Dink Press.

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Happy to report that things are moving along with the, uhm, move to McMinnville. We’re situated in a new home and are piecing together who we are from what we have been — which is to say that all our stuff is here, but not fully organized.

Zenith_pocket_watch_insideAs time has been slipping past me during this move, I thought it only suiting to share this week’s poem by Charles Simic. I continue to admire Simic’s knack for images that read with a riddle-like thrill. The subtlety with which one image suggests the next, until we’re left at the “lip” of the poem’s ending is the work of imaginative intuition. Both poet and reader listen with the same “ear” throughout.

Watch Repair – Charles Simic

A small wheel
Incandescent,
Shivering like
A pinned butterfly.

Hands thrown up
In all directions:
The crossroads
One arrives at
In a nightmare.

Higher than that
Number 12 presides
Like a beekeeper
Over the swarming honeycomb
Of the open watch.

Other wheels
That could fit
Inside a raindrop.

Tools
That must be splinters
Of arctic starlight.

Tiny golden mills
Grinding invisible
Coffee beans.

When the coffee’s boiling
Cautiously,
So it doesn’t burn us,
We raise it
To the lips
Of the nearest
Ear.

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Screenshot_2017-05-01-14-54-28-2A quick note of thanks for those of you who have helped welcome my new book, Small Firesinto the world. Copies can still be found via FutureCycle Press and Amazon. I’m really proud of this collection!

Happy earing!

José

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Screenshot_2017-05-01-14-54-28-2This week brought the release of my new poetry collection, Small Fires (FutureCycle Press), which includes the poem “Cazar Means to Hunt Not to Marry” originally published in december magazine. This particular poems travels through a series of memories on the back of two words that sound the same but are spelled different. Language as an experience beyond us acting within us, that’s where I try to go in poems.

I see memory working in a similar way as this in this week’s poem “Rain” by Claribel Alegría. Memory wends its way through rain and stones, until it overwhelms the speaker. By the end, memory becomes a means, something happening within the speaker through which they can love the world “without knowing why.”

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Rain – Claribel Alegria
Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden

As the falling rain
trickles among the stones
memories come bubbling out.
It’s as if the rain
had pierced my temples.
Streaming
streaming chaotically
come memories:
the reedy voice
of the servant
telling me tales
of ghosts.
They sat beside me
the ghosts
and the bed creaked
that purple-dark afternoon
when I learned you were leaving forever,
a gleaming pebble
from constant rubbing
becomes a comet.
Rain is falling
falling
and memories keep flooding by
they show me a senseless
world
a voracious
world–abyss
ambush
whirlwind
spur
but I keep loving it
because I do
because of my five senses
because of my amazement
because every morning,
because forever, I have loved it
without knowing why.

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Happy raining!

José

P.S. Copies of Small Fires can be purchased from Amazon and FutureCycle Press.

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Screenshot_2017-05-01-14-54-28-2

I’m happy to announce the release of my new book of poetry, Small Fires, available now from FutureCycle Press and Amazon!!!

This collection includes my poem “Blade” which won an Academy of American Poets Graduate Poetry Prize selected by Carl Phillips.

Be sure to check out the book and stay tuned for the availability of signed copies later in the month. Also, let me know if you are interested in a review copy.

Special thanks to Diane Kistner and the good folks at FutureCycle Press for giving this project a home! Thanks also to Andrea Schreiber for the cover artwork.

More news to come later this week!

José

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A few big changes have happened in my life that I am barely catching up on enough to relate here. The first is that I have happily accepted an Assistant Professor position at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. I am really excited to be joining a stellar faculty at an institution known for cultivating a great intellectual and creative atmosphere. I am also excited to be back in Oregon, with its supportive and vibrant poetry community, bookstores, coffee (OMG, coffee!), and proximity to family.

What this big turn also means is that we’ve had to leave Cincinnati sooner than expected. The past few weeks have had us cleaning and packing and cleaning again, until we landed in Oregon last week. Hence, the catching up (with consequent catching of breath).

Along with all the moving work, I have also been working with FutureCycle Press and placing the final touches on Small Fires, which is due out next week. More details to come.

Big moves like this one always take me back to this week’s poem by Richard Tillinghast. Tillinghast’s meditative lyric hooks into the symbol of “big doors” and deftly begins to weave various narratives of “Many things never to be seen again!” The energy and clarity of this particular line does the work of bringing the reader closer to the poem, the speaker seeming to be on the level of awed gossip as they relate the rich details and images that follow. As the poem ends, the reader themselves has been on a ride, ruminating alongside the speaker, and, like them, knowing both a bit of what has passed and that there remains so much more they cannot know.

church-doors

Big Doors – Richard Tillinghast**

I have seen with my own eyes doors so massive,
two men would have been required
to push open just one of them.
Bronze, grating over stone sills, or made of wood
from trees now nearly extinct.

Many things never to be seen again!
The fury of cavalry attacking at full gallop.
Little clouds of steam rising
from horse droppings
on most of the world’s streets once.

Rooms amber with lamplight
perched above those streets.
Pilgrimage routes smoky with torchlight
from barony to principality through forests
which stood as a dark uncut authority.

A story that begins “Once upon a time.”
Messengers, brigands, heralds
in a world unmapped from village to village.
Legends and dark misinformation,
graveyards crowded with ghosts.

And when the rider from that story at last arrives,
gates open at midnight to receive him,
two men, two men we will never know,
lean into the effort of
pushing open each big door.

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Happy dooring!

José

P.S. The Influence is now considering poetry submissions. Check out the “submissions” tab to learn more.

**This poem is from The New Life (Copper Beech Press, 2008).

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