Friday, December 9, 2016

Ullambana in Portland: The Review - Part 3



[The third installment of Sheila Graham-Smith's review of my book Ullambana in Portland; the series will conclude tomorrow.]

PART 3

In the short biographical note included in the book the author calls himself, among other things, a flaneur. The word flâneur, with all its associations of wandering, observing, synthesising the city, is perfect. According to Baudelaire and Victor Fournel, the flâneur understood the city, and for Walter Benjamin his perambulations facilitated “a way through significant psychological and spiritual thresholds.” (1)  Ullambana in Portland is built on the understanding gained through wandering, observing, and synthesising, but the poems in the second section especially find their various ways across those significant thresholds.

There are 16 poems called sutras in the collection, each of them dedicated to some particular person or persons, except the final one, “walking sutra”, which is the poet’s own.  Sutra means, literally, string, or thread, from the root word siv, that which sews or hold things together.  Wikipedia, quoting A History of Indian Literature, says “In the context of literature, sutra means a distilled collection of syllables and words, any form or manual of "aphorism, rule, direction" hanging together like threads with which the "teachings of ritual, philosophy, grammar or any field of knowledge" can be woven.” The definition is important as it points out the connecting role of the sutra poems, all of which explore, one way or another, themes related to the idea of tending, whether to people, to the world, to life, or to the ideas and thoughts that help in the struggle to make sense of any or all of this.


 
“cloudy day coffee sutra”, for instance, poses a series of questions that wrestle with the way language both opens and closes possibilities in the way we relate to people and the world.

what would you call that sky?
what would you call that tree?
what would you call those passersby?
what would you call that?


Why would someone ask such questions about the view from a coffee shop not far from their home? They sound as if they might be things asked by someone learning a new language, but that isn’t the case. The poet himself – plainly a more than adequate English speaker – is putting the questions to some unnamed you he is having coffee with, at the same time as he puts them to you, the reader.

what would you call that sky? dissolving to
mist unfit for paper birds all falling
ash-gray slate-gray nickel-gray falling in
counterpoint with yellow leaves—what
would you call that tree? gray limbs in taijiquan
gestures reaching & reaching—that low sky
can’t be grasped those folds upon folds of
clouds this massive origami not what it seems this
tonnage of ice & water as if the Pacific mirrored it
self in what some call heavens—

vapor rising from
two cups of coffee on this counter, trans
muted liquid: you know, language is like that
too paper birds afloat in the mind &
folded with no beginning no end the speech
of birds in an ash tree scissoring loose its
leaves, gray branches the lichen mottled cream
white milk-white what would you call those
passersby no two alike no two different all
looking for something not apparent you said
god is like that too the water droplet within the
ocean seeking the ocean  -
                 that sky lowering, that
bird in silhouette that Chinese character’s
brushstrokes tracing black green blue in one
syllable what would you call that? quadrillion
raindrops paper birds imagined branches this
coffee steam rising up these people walking it
goes without saying all one all undiminished

A poem as intricate and complex as the origami birds it mentions, folded with no beginning or end, but one of its themes is caught in the vapour rising from two cups of coffee – “trans-/muted liquid: you know, language is like that/too”. Transmutation - the action of changing or the state of being changed into another form. “cloudy day coffee sutra” plays with this idea of change, both as it applies to the world and as it applies to the language we use to describe that world. Hayes is a self professed “dimestore Buddhist” and the poem reflects the idea that, as he puts it, “the phenomenal world is ever arising & ever renewed; just as the only actual time is ‘now’, so the only actual existence of the 10,000 phenomena is in the current instant. As such, the phenomenal world is radically dynamic, whereas the act of naming is radically static. It accounts for things in a sort of Platonic sense, but not in a dynamic sense of ‘becoming.’(2)

That ungraspable low sky, for example, a tonnage of ice and water shifting before our eyes, but captured, however imperfectly or momentarily, in “the folds upon folds of a massive origami, not what it seems, the Pacific mirroring itself in the heavens”. Not, notice, ‘as if the Pacific was mirrored in the heavens’, but ‘as if the Pacific mirrored itself in the heavens’. Lacan claimed the ‘real’ is un-representable and supersedes any attempt to give it a coherent and comprehensible form, including in language. (3) It can only be defined through paradox. According to Kierkegaard the ultimate paradox of thought is the desire to discover something that thought cannot think (4), and the “cloudy day coffee sutra” discussion of the interplay of language and reality is riddled with just that sort of thought – “the water droplet within the ocean seeking the ocean”, for instance, or “those passersby no two alike no two different”.

The tension here, is between the idea that the truth of things is inherent in their particularity, that the particularity itself is ultimate, and the idea that the truth of things is in their oneness; an issue not really resolved in the context of the poem - it couldn't possibly be – but suspended there, held up in delicate balance to be examined. Hayes has pointed out elsewhere that “as a poet one is also trying to conjure reality back into its real existence by naming it. So there is both the distancing of reality from the one, or…what is, but also the reconstruction of reality.” (5) In other words, “there are always these people walking it goes without saying all one all undiminished”.

The problem of the one and the many, reflected in the stream of images garnered from day to day life in the city, runs like another thread through much of the collection, nuancing thoughts about time and art, about memory and loss and love and desire and death, constantly challenging the reader to consider, and then to reconsider. 



“new moon cello”, written after a Zoë Keating concert at the Aladdin Theatre in Portland, states its thesis in the opening line - Loss is constant across dimensions - and gives a series of beautiful examples supporting its claim –

loss is constant across the dimensions:
an entire Chinese bestiary achieving form & gone:
waning crescent moon melting to new moon’s
hollow, this improvisation soaring beyond &
beyond the vanishing point in this theater’s
                     sapphire light, that flock of
crows rising off a frozen pasture in March, grass
stubble ragged amidst corn snow: faces
taking form & gone—the helicopter blasting
cherry blossoms westward off 
                        boughs in Waterfront Park that perfect
blue Thursday, sun a halo of
grief: now May, & ghostly
                        rhododendrons nod—notes swell
& fade & swell & fade, the sinews drawing
                        pangs travail transcendence across
four strings to that foursquare city built beyond time

“It’s in the nature of things”, as Ms Keating said after she played a beautiful improvisation to open the concert, only to discover the sound man hadn’t recorded it. Another loss, and if you know Zoe Keating’s work, you know it was a significant loss, however true her response may have been. Meanwhile, outside the theatre, in the wider city:

                                                black Willamette
rolling past bridge lights, polyphony rolling past
stage lights now violet now emerald opal amber;
the heart’s daily shattering

There is a clear parallel between the way Keating’s music and Hayes’ poetry is constructed. Lou Fancher, in her article "In the Loop with Zoë Keating" uses the word ‘polydimensionality’ to describe the effect created through the layering of music saved and looped through a computer and the music being produced in any given instant of a performance, (6) and it applies perfectly to the way Hayes’ simultaneously produces and builds on a relentless flow of imagery. In a 2010 interview, he mentions that “if you have these very fluid & rarely ever end-stopped lines & you rely a great deal on sensory data (as opposed to abstract concept or pure language) to construct a poem, that sensory data may seem overwhelming”; but he also connects it explicitly to “the idea of poetic writing as improvisation” and the need “to start at a point & develop the idea in different directions”. (7)




There is meaning embedded in each image, in the juxtaposition of images, the layering of images, in the memories evoked by the images and the thoughts provoked by them, in the echoes, the trajectories of joy and the half life of pain, in the restless ghosts and the quiet ones. Analysis fails to do justice to either Hayes poetry or Keating music. Its significance is as much in the flow and shift as in the unified whole that emerges in the end.
“new moon cello” moves to a close with an allusion to another moment of personal loss, and then, significantly to the mention of two women bent over great pieces of art;

you absorbed in a poem where a butterfly disappears
                  within crimson blossoms: dark cello,
waxing crescent silver hair wave, eyes closed in unlit
night amongst such profusion of quavers our incarnations
brief & brief then brief again

Significantly, the lines of the Du Fu poem that absorb the poem’s you are left in the darkness at the margins of Hayes’ poem and Zoë Keating’s performance, but they comment beautifully on both the poetry’s and the music’s profusion of quavers and on their incarnations brief & brief then brief again.

the wind & light proclaim flow & shift as one:
why should we not enjoy time’s brief passage?
     crooked river #2, Du Fu 曲江二首 (translation by Jack Hayes)


 Sheila Graham-Smith
© 2016



1. Bobby Seal, “Baudelaire, Benjamin and the Birth of the Flâneur”, Psychogeographic Review - http://psychogeographicreview.com/baudelaire-benjamin-and-the-birth-of-the-flaneur/
2. Jack Hayes, private correspondence
3. Stephen Ross, “A Very Brief Introduction to Lacan”, University of Victoria. http://web.uvic.ca/~saross/lacan.html
4. Soren Kierkegaard, Philosophical Fragments Chapter 3 The Absolute Paradox - A Metaphysical Caprice
5. Jack Hayes, private correspondence
6. Lou Fancher, "In the Loop with Zoë Keating" - https://www.sfcv.org/events-calendar/artist-spotlight/in-the-loop-with-zoe-keating
7. Sheila Graham-Smith, “An Interview with John Hayes, Author of The Spring Ghazals”, Tangerine Tree Press and the Tangerine Tree Press Review. November 12, 2010. http://tangerinetreepress.blogspot.com/2010/11/interview-with-john-hayes-author-of.html



Please check back tomorrow for part 4 of Sheila Graham-Smith's review.

Information on the Images:
1. Steel Bridge & Chinese junk: photo © John Hayes
2. A Sanskrit manuscript page of Lotus Sutra (Buddhism) from South Turkestan in Brahmi script. Public domain. Image links to its source on Wiki Commons.
3. Aladdin Theater Sign: photo © John Hayes
4. Cherry blossoms at Waterfront Park: photo © John Hayes

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ullambana in Portland: The Review - Part 2


[We're continuing with Sheila Graham-Smith's review of my recent book, Ullambana in Portland]

Part 2

An interlude translation of Li Shangyin’s “Ornate Zither” introduces the themes of transformation and the wanton heart, both integral to the eponymous Ullambana in Portland section of the book.

Master Zhuang was perplexed by his daybreak butterfly dream:
Emperor Wang’s wanton springtime heart entrusted to the cuckoo—

Time seems to have passed since the last raintown poem, and significantly, the view of the world has shifted. 


 
“the camellia rag” opens with a strange image – a “spinet piano transmogrified to dormant tree” - which, oddly enough, is the city’s first appearance in the Ullambana poems, a reference to a spinet that sits outdoors in a courtyard on North Williams Ave. The spinet has been painted with the bottom of a bare tree and the rest of the tree is painted on a brick wall immediately behind the spinet. Two things change with the appearance of this image. The first is related to the dormant tree. Portland is famous for its trees. There are a quarter of a million of them lining the streets alone, and they show up in almost every one of the raintown poems. The narrator could identify some of them but one of the indicators of his isolation, his status as a stranger in a new place, was the remark —“it devastates me not to know the trees’ names”. This painted image of a leafless tree is the last reference to the anonymity of the flora. From here on in the poems pay intimate attention to everything that leafs out or blooms or goes to seed, or sheds its foliage, and they share all of it with the reader. The second change is related to the spinet the tree grows out of. The soundtrack of the raintown poems was synthesised from bird calls, snatches of overheard and reported conversation, the sound of rain and water, but the spinet in “the camellia rag” introduces the entire acoustic ecology of the city, and the music that grows out of it –
an A# diminished scale’s black & white keys
tumbling into this January sky—

there is nothing to resist:
hoarfrost on green lawns, a single camellia bloom
dangles in a welter of branches, a red quarter note—

exuberant felt hammers,
the song sparrows in their boxwood hedges—
the syncopation of breath & step & peripheral vision,

the many walks I’ve taken down this very street
with you, yes, you

There is music everywhere, accompanying “the many walks I’ve taken down this very street with you, yes, you”. And with that “you, yes, you!” comes a third change; the mysterious, mutable, interchangeable, multifaceted “you”, who will play such an important role in the remainder of the collection, appears, moving it, decisively into a more intimate relationship with the city at the same time as it reflects a much more intimate view of various personal relationships. Our poet is on foot, in contact with the pavement and everything and everyone on it.

The word Ullambana refers to the traditional Buddhist Hungry Ghost Festival, during which ghosts and spirits come up from the underworld to visit the living, but the spirits in this Ullambana are not necessarily those of the dead. In fact, for the most part the spirits are living people – friends, lovers, muses - from Hayes’ past and his present life. 





The single exception to these living spirits is Hayes’ parents. His father, dead for several years, is beautifully met in “black ghost sutra”, amidst “aromas of Carter Hall pipe tobacco &/pine sawdust jumbled”. Memories of 

              a shop light’s fluorescent
quaver, shellac’s jagged odor, fly-tying vise
gripping a number 4 hook, yellow saddle
hackle & white maribou & peacock herl:
remnants of birds

move from the creation of the black ghost lure, to its apotheosis through swift water, and from there to a quiet glimpse of the poem’s second ghost.
             the brook trout’s copper & gunmetal
flash where Cold River churned: above us white
birch with green moss veneer, below the riverbank
brambles: a cast into autumn waters beneath
floating golden leaves:

    black ghost streamer darts: alien in-
animate visitor in a world of motion it mimics:
feathers in that current, spasmodic, darting at
the play of your wrist:

                              as you sit hunched
immobile in these small hours, briarwood
spent, you must require tending

That last line, with its image of the poet looking back at his father in his workshop, gestures obliquely at the Ullambana idea. The key word is “tending”, in its many meanings - to turn one's ear, give auditory attention, listen, hearken. To turn the mind, attention, or energies; to apply oneself. To attend to, mind. To apply oneself to the care and service of (a person); now esp. to watch over and wait upon, to minister to (the sick or helpless) To bestow attention upon. 


The veneration of the dead is intrinsic to the ghost festival, and filial piety involves, and indeed requires tending the visiting spirits of one’s ancestors in all these ways. No words pass between the two of them:


                        by night you appear
aloof as though living yet: head bowed, bald pate
hemmed in by the usual crewcut, gray-faced,
wordless: 
The older man bent over his work, the younger, with his mind turned to his father, waits and attends.

"lullaby in violet & green", on the other hand, is essentially one half of a conversation between the poet and an unknown person we can infer is his mother.




Immediately rooted in time – back in an indefinite personal past when there was still static snow on the television screen – and place – somewhere in Vermont, east of some unnamed hills – the poem opens with the white noise produced by disrupted signals.
static on a tv set broadcasting
weather from Poland Springs, that Vermont
horizon purple above the neighbors’ big
oak & the pine fringed hills to the west

And yet, the second stanza opens with a clear voice, not one that is transmitted over radio waves, but a reading voice in a room alive with the memory.

you reading aloud "The King of the Golden
River" at blue dusk in a bedroom with one
open dormer window, curtain floating
on the scent of lilacs blooming like twilight—

The poem has moved from the wider Vermont landscape to a bedroom, from the nonspecific past to blue dusk and early summer, from a context defined by “neighbours” to the intimacy of you reading aloud from a childhood fable of kindness and compassion, wrong righted and evil undone. Who is this you who reads? We have no idea, beyond what is given us by the shift we’ve made into relationship with the speaker, who lures us with the quiet reader, the scent of lilacs, the floating curtain, the blue dusk. We have moved in.

How far in?

can you sleep? can the train whistle sing in
harmony with the whip-poor-will in the green
night in a summer that existed once
beside a river & the brown-gray riprap?

Can you sleep? is a very intimate question, unless it’s your doctor asking. A question full of concern, and knowledge. Things have changed. The you who read aloud once upon a time in an attic bedroom is on the receiving end of concern, the summer is long gone and the tale of a valley flooded and destroyed by the river that made it rich has been replaced by a more ordinary but much safer river armoured and controlled by riprap. And where does that leave us? Have you ever entered a room and felt the charge of an unknown argument, or discussion or whispered confidence, that left you discomfited, unsure of whether you should advance or retreat? The poem feels like that, but here, you’re forestalled. Before you can act on your unease the speaker interferes – “but time doesn’t move in summer’s direction—though it does stop:”

He’s speaking to you, the reader, and also to that other you, the one who read aloud in the childhood bedroom, the one who does or does not sleep and is reminded of that long-ago summer. Time doesn’t go backward, but it does stop going forward. The voice shifts, we’re given what appears to be the speaker turning over his worries about the you who can or cannot sleep. We have moved, within the closed circle of the poem, from an evoked image of a child being read to in bed, to the bedside of the reader in old age.

at day’s end always so much
undone & where you are it’s snowing snowing
now because you have no winter blanket

It is winter, day’s end, both literally and metaphorically. The lullaby drifts from the realm of a childhood bedtime to a voice singing on the threshold between life and death, the falling snow provides the only necessary blanket for a final resting place, and the narrative voice is still attending.









 Sheila Graham-Smith
© 2016



 Please check back tomorrow for part 3 of Sheila Graham-Smith's Review.


Information on the images
1. Steel Bridge & Chinese junk: photo © John Hayes
2. Piano & wall art on N Williams Ave:  photo © John Hayes
3. "Step One In Fly Tying -- Securing The Thread and Flash" by Mike Cline, who has released the image into the public domain. Image links to its source on Wiki Commons.
4. King of the Golden River - Title page. Public domain. Image links to its source on Wiki Commons.
5. "Chinese floating lotus lanterns on a pond." [from the Ghost Festival] by Mike, who makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Image links to its source on Wiki Commons.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ullambana in Portland: The Review - Part 1


[Note: I'm humbled & deeply grateful to Sheila Graham-Smith for reviewing my recent book Ullambana in Portland. Sheila is not only my de facto editor, & as such, intimately familiar with the work, but also my collaborator in an ongoing Chinese poetry translation project. In the past she served as managing editor of Tangerine Tree Press. The review, which will post over the next three to four days, is intelligent, insightful, & a wonderful piece of writing in its own right. I know you will read it with interest.]

PART 1

you count the steps you take—history is always like this,
in motion in increments along this sidewalk—
(“february sidewalk satori” from Ullambana in Portland)

There is no shortage of odes to cities – “CITY of orgies, walks and joys!... O Manhattan!” – “LONDON, thou art of townes a per se”
and there are even collections of poetry spotlighting their setting, but there are few collections so shaped, so informed at every turn by the city that gave rise to them as Jack Hayes' Ullambana in Portland.

In many cases the city, named or un-named, is a stand in for something else. It becomes, as Richard Wohl and Anselm Strauss put it, an “evocative and expressive artifact” (1), a symbol of despair or a symbol of hope, of alienation, of anonymity and therefore of a certain sort of freedom, of opportunity, a state of mind, the embodiment of the American spirit, the heart of America, a crossroads, or a melting pot. We seldom see a city as itself.

We often see the city described:  "Call Chicago mighty, monstrous, multifarious, vital, lusty, stupendous, indomitable, intense, unnatural, aspiring, puissant, preposterous, transcendent-call it what you like-throw the dictionary at it!" (2)  Hayes however, never speaks of Portland adjectivally. Nor does he deck it in metaphors. There are no flatly carnal beggars in its smile, no censers swing over the town as it receives the gift of the holy spirit, it is not Super-God’s house, not the home of the new Colossus, not New Troy, not Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, not even a sea-maid in purple dressed, wearing a dancer's girdle all to inflame desire. The Willamette River never flows “this side of Stygia” and if its bridges are clamouring for tales we aren’t hearing about it in the poems.


 
Hayes doesn’t personify the city of Portland, impose a character on it, address it directly or use personal pronouns when speaking of it, nor does he gives it the ability to act on history, society or the observer. The only agency in the poems is human. “Analogies of cities, personifications of them, or mere lists of their attributes in a succession of adjectives – all these represent conscious efforts to establish those distinctive qualities which help explain or rationalize the swarming impressions that crowd in on the observer”, (3) and Hayes is not interested in containing the crowd of impressions.  In the final lines of the final poem in the collection – sometimes our ends really are in our beginnings, and vice versa – we find mention of “the 10,000 phenomena in a JJ Newberry’s downtown on the square I can’t let go of in this life” and understand that if Portland is anywhere characterised in the book, it is there, as the department store that holds “The 10,000 phenomena infinitely connected together” (4)

Ullambana in Portland begins with a nine poem sequence called raintown, and an opening tercet introducing the city;

watercolor gray white sky the
aerial tram swings into its 45 degree
descent towards the Willamette’s yellow barges—

We’re all set up for an Albert Ruger drawing of the vast almost-grid of Portland’s streets stretching in all directions, with the confluence of the Willamette and the Columbia rivers over there, the airport slightly to the east lying along the river bank like a Nazca geoglyph of a thunderbird, and further to the southeast, the great punctuation mark of snow capped Mount Hood, but what we get is not the view from up there. We get, instead, a catalogue of what registers on the mind of a quirky, compassionate, almost promiscuous observer:

a wheelchair the fogged glass a green
oxygen tank a cell phone—a child grasping
his mother’s shoulder—cyan blue

streetcar’s reflection in mirrored
plate glass windows, & mosses’ awkward
hand against a weeping birch trunk

A “green coffee cup half filled” – we should note it is neither half full, nor half empty – on an empty seat, and we’re firmly placed on Portland public transit, moving through the city:

the Willamette River viewed from the
Steel Bridge—impasto ripple
in oils running slate gray under the

Broadway Bridge—

until suddenly the focus shifts:

on the bus someone’s words
overheard, half understood—the
bare tree on the lawn surrounded by

slick brown leaves & hung with un-
gainly gold-blue-red holiday decorations
and the piece ends, not with the cityscape, not with the many snippet views caught on a journey through it, but with the what the cataloguing mind has concluded from what it has seen:  you are not alone

 
Going through this opening sequence you get the feeling the writer is a relative stranger in the city, at a post crisis point in life. The trees are unfamiliar, he’s devastated not to know their names, disturbed by the absence of familiar birdsong in familiar trees. He observes from the windows of buses and streetcars, moving back and forth between a hospital clinic and an apartment complex nowhere in particular, overhears snatches of conversation, reads the writing on the wall in the scrawl of graffiti - tonight I can write the saddest of all lines— his main human contact apparently with nurses wielding sharp implements, with the exception of one odd encounter:
standing next to the
wrong car something happens that

can’t be explained—two bodies close for
instants & an aftermath of imaginings—

This serves, more than anything, to throw the general sense of isolation into vivid relief. Even the birds he encounters collude in the impression:

crow carves guttural “o” & “zero”

cawing into gray air as if the words
“one” “impossible” “isolation” con-
sisted of all plosive consonants—
And yet, at the end of every one of these poems there is a concluding comment or question that points elsewhere: will mercy ever be sufficient - our death unswerving comrade - none of us being merely broken - the biggest mercies are what we are spared.

 
The opening raintown sequence concludes on a rainy March day, three or four months after it began:
last autumn’s leaf-fall mulched

brown as an old bloodstain along the
sidewalks’ edge—the nurse’s 3-year-old
son is getting a drum for his birthday—

her hands in lavender surgical gloves she
wears a purple bandanna—two men a-
cross the room discuss bone marrow transplants—

“better in the long run” one says—
outside Multnomah pavilion camellias
bloom crimson against the wall in thick

drizzle—on the bus a woman knits doll
bathing suits discusses the expression
so ist das Leben

So ist das Leben—hart aber dafür gemein. “Such is life, hard and mean.” But as we’ve already come to understand, the circumstantial details of place and moment don’t have things all their own way, and some greater truth, given by the city and the life around him, has the last word:

across the lot on the roof
the brown gull stretches its wings nearly angelic



Sheila Graham-Smith

© 2016


NOTES:

1. R. Richard Wohl and Anselm L. Strauss, “Symbolic Representation and the Urban Milieu”. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 63, No. 5 (Mar., 1958) https://www.jstor.org/stable/2773079?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents  Pg 8
2 Julian Street, quoted in The Chicago Literary Experience: Writing the City, 1893-1953: Frederik Byrn Køhlert;  pg 42
3. Anselm L. Strauss, Images of the American City.  Pg 15
4. Mo Zhao Ming, Inscription on Silent Illumination. 




Please check back tomorrow for part 2 of Sheila Graham-Smith's review.

All photography © John Hayes

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

alberta st octet

japanese maple nods in the planter box,
blood-red next to cedar lattice; rain beading

on a sign: garden seating— unoccupied;
blue bicycle staple lean & vacant near

the line of puddles where an amur maple’s bare
limbs shimmer, outstretched & oh so empty—blue

push pin stuck in a burl’s dense flesh: not one scrap
of poster left behind in this reflection



Jack Hayes
© 2016


11/15/16-11/19/16


Note: Only one octet today due to the sequencing of upcoming poems.

Monday, December 5, 2016

rainy monday quatrain

the pine’s elastic gestures in this wet breeze;
below, three white-framed windows, blinds opening—

beyond this picket fence’s circumspection:
landscape of rain, your eyes' difficult landscape


Jack Hayes
© 2016



11/14/16

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Le Fils des étoiles


Today we begin our series of December Sunday music, which will feature Satie’s piano works. The initial piece actually was written as incidental music for a play of the same name by Joséphin Péladan. The music, which apparently was scored for flutes & harps, was composed in 1891 & premiered in 1892. No manuscript of the original score exists however, so it’s impossible to say how the scoring was arranged.

In 1896, Satie published a piano reduction of the score, which is what we’re hearing in the video, as played by an accomplished amateur pianist, Dider da Silva [http://dansesdetravers.blogspot.fr/]

For more information on Le Fils des étoiles, please see the Wikipedia entry.





Image connects to its source on Wiki Commons:
Original edition of Satie's Preludes from
Le fils des étoiles (1896). This was Maurice Ravel's personal copy, which he later gave to Alexis Roland-Manuel
Public domain

Saturday, December 3, 2016

december 1st quatrain



december 1st  quatrain


japanese maple leaves, so many red stars,
spangle the corner in a streetlight's white gaze—

nothing else this afternoon, just clouds blown east:
accept the gift as given—it will vanish


Jack Hayes
© 2016




Image:
Japanese maple foliage
N Borthwick Ave, Portland, OR 11/26/16