Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Meng Wall Gap

Meng Wall Gap

a new house by the Meng Wall gate;
of the ancient trees, fading willows remain—
who will live here in later days?
his grief will be vain for him who came before

Translation by Jack Hayes
© 2017
based on Wang Wei: 孟城坳
mèng chéng ào

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:

“Sitting Alone by a Stream”: Fan Kuan. 11th century; hanging scroll - light color on silk.

Public domain

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mississippi Ave Metamorphosis Octets

Mississippi Ave Metamorphosis Octet #1

moss on the retaining wall looks like rust in
three dimensions—despite this, the thistle blooms

purple & spiked as an undersea creature
brought up into sun & concrete & the drone

of the #4 bus downhill, the folded
crimson sidewalk umbrellas, the locked black bike—

over wine at the picnic table, their arms
entwined, the couple meld into someone new


Mississippi Ave Metamorphosis Octet #2

crow flies up the avenue hangs a right on
Skidmore, is gone—one person on crutches waits

at the bus stop—Japanese maple below
that white enamel pot dangling & dented in

the restaurant window has been restored to
green—what had seemed so certainly a dogwood

inflorescence flies off as a cabbage white;
catalpa’s heart leaves caw a crow’s waltz time song

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Today we continue our Sunday series on cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir with a video of her performing at Vox in Maldegem, Belgium in 2010. The composition is her piece “Whiten” from her 2009 Touch Music release, Without Sinking. Although the video itself is not of the best quality, the audio is good & the performance is beautiful.

If you’re enjoying the music being featured this month, please consider supporting Hildur Guðnadóttir by purchasing her music.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Waterdruppels op plastiek tuintafel” (“water drops on hydrophobic plastic garden table”) by Wiki user Kreta [], who generously has released the image into the public domain.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Interstate Ave Affirmation Octet

                for Sandy
all day you speak inside me: this gentle rain
whispering kisses to the leaves & birch trees

nodding yes—catkins scattered on the sidewalk,
they’ve given it all up to the elements—

these dogwoods nodding yes & yes again, pink
hands open to what the sky has to offer—

train pulling out of Prescott Station chiming
nothing so clear as your clear voice speaking yes

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Dao De Jing 11

Dao De Jing 11

Thirty spokes converge to form a wheel;
but it’s the empty space that makes the cart useful.
Clay is shaped to form vessels;
but it’s the empty space that makes the vessel useful.
Windows & doors are chiseled to form a room;
but it’s the empty space that makes the room useful.
Thus what it formed has its advantages,
but the empty space creates usefulness.

Laozi, 道德經
Translation by John Hayes
Unlike with my original poetry & poetry translations, I don’t asset a copyright claim on my translation of the Dao De Jing. It may be freely used under the terms of the Creative Commons license.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Proto celadon jar with ears and vertical stripes. Warring States period (475BCE-211BCE). Photo by Wiki user Uploadalt, who makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sleepless City

Sleepless City

Nobody sleeps out in the sky. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody sleeps.
Moon creatures sniff and prowl their shacks.
Live iguanas will come to bite the men who don’t dream
and whoever flees with a broken heart will meet at the corner
the unbelievable still crocodile under the tender protest of stars.

Nobody sleeps out in the world. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody sleeps.
There’s a dead man in the farthest cemetery
who moans to himself for three years
because he’s got an arid landscape in his knee;
and the boy they buried this morning was crying so
they had to call the dogs to quiet him.

Life isn’t a dream. Look out! Look out! Look out!
We climb to the snow’s edge with the choir of dead dahlias.
But there’s neither oblivion nor dreams:
living flesh. Kisses bind mouths
in a tangle of fresh veins
and he who regrets his hurt will hurt without rest
and he who fears death will carry it on his shoulders.

One day
the horses will live in the bars
and the raging ants
will attack the yellow skies that take shelter in the eyes of cows.

Another day
we'll see the ressurection of the mounted butterflies
and still walking through a landscape of gray sponges and mute ships
where we’ll see our ring shine and roses flow from our tongue.
Look out! Look out! Look out!
Those who still carry the marks of claws and cloudbursts,
that boy who cries because he doesn’t know about the invention of bridges,
or that dead man who no longer has anything but a shack and one shoe,
we have to carry them to the wall where the iguanas and snakes wait,
where the bear’s teeth wait,
where the mummified hand of a boy waits,
and the pelt of a camel bristles in a violent blue shiver.

Nobody sleeps out in the sky. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody sleeps.
But if somebody closes his eyes
whip him, my boys, whip him!

There’s a panorama of open eyes
and bitter, inflamed sores.

Nobody sleeps out in the world. Nobody, nobody.
I’ve said it already.
Nobody sleeps.
But if somebody has an excess of moss on his temples,
open the trapdoors so he can see by the moon
the fake goblets, the venom and the theater’s skull.

Federico García Lorca, “Ciudad sin sueño”
Translation by Jack Hayes
© 2017

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Brooklyn Bridge”: Joseph Stella. 1919-1920.; oil on canvas.
Public domain.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Three Octets from a Wednesday

Kerby Ave Aspects of the Moon Octet

where the white dogwood bracts lay open in noon
light: full moons by the dozen; the cabbage white

floating amongst the bluebells: another moon
moving across a blue sky; the rickety

pergola’s naked archway leads toward that
gray-shingled cottage—does anyone live there?

hours still until tonight's moon comes in view;
the cabbage white rises above the lilacs


Vancouver Ave Childhood Octet

the ladybug moves down the rose leaf’s slope
like a drop of water down a slight incline--

the wasp darts from stem to stem as each angles
out from chain link like these photons scattering

in brilliant noon; the cabbage white threads between
three plastic rocking horses guarding front steps

like a breeze from a spring afternoon you half
recollect, half tell yourself in this story


Greenwich Ave Gardening Octet

in one raised bed a cracked green teapot next to
a bent tomato cage listing slightly north—

one vermilion metal hummingbird, larger
than life, & one pale yellow watering can

found in a second—two pink flamingos, shards
of a ceramic vase show up in a third—

the beds yield their crop of dandelion clocks
& each one’s set to a different hour

Jack Hayes
© 2017