Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Two Octets (Grand Ave & Multnomah St)

grand ave octet

grimy blue shirt wrapped around a sweet gum’s trunk;
foliage curling in a tattered circle—

storm cloud escalates west above Koin Tower,
nimbus glare envelopes layers gray as fish—

lime green streetcar accelerates past this
leaf shower; no one notices one touching

down next to my sneaker, one caressing the
crook of my arm: you really should have seen it!

◦    ◦    ◦

multnomah st octet

tight crabapple clusters against a white sky;
omnipresent crow on a soaring light pole

as if you were watching; the line of hornbeams
bare upright limbs, each sprouting a fern from rough

bark—there’s no other response; pansies’ sad dark
faces droop as if in thought, reflect the self

in one sense; speckled roses shrink on tall stalks:
if you would stand in that dormer you’d see them

Jack Hayes
© 2016

11/9/16 & 11/12/16

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

november moon (8 quatrains)

1. new moon

crow on the roof scrambling black shingles;
persimmons droop ripe orange in afternoon

drizzle; chinese takout box dissolving by
the bus stop as that black disc melts unnoticed

2. waxing crescent

geese sing, guttural, on the black green river;
the current’s unintelligible patterns

flow; black tracery of dormant cherry boughs
reach: white curve brushed on cloud’s dusk calligraphy

3. half moon

a plane’s red flash glimpsed through the pine bough’s arc;
catkins’ sparkle under the food cart’s white bulbs—

café window absorbs the sidewalk; above,
this symmetrical taijitu blurred through haze

4. waxing half gibbous

this watercolor sky, blue blanching to gray;
clear above while cirrus wreathes the horizon—

crows have all flown to roost except that one crow
flashing now past the mottled semicircle

5. full moon

succession of headlights magnifies fine rain
to needles; black street casts back traffic signal’s

green sway, cloud’s white hair hovering: still higher,
white disc inscribed gray, indecipherable

6. waning gibbous

two red pencils, two blue pencils, unsharpened
on a retaining wall; pruned ironwood branches

snarled curbside—white rose shrinks petal by petal
under silver light darkening right to left

7. last quarter

sedan parked by the electrical meter:
nickel gray; bronze elephant statue weathered

emerald; pigeons wheel from the fire escape:
silver bowl tips into western overcast

8. waning crescent

white black gold balloons tied to a sandwich board
lift & bob; the storm drains clogged, puddles swelling—

black wires trace connections against the sky—
stagnant clouds have absorbed this month’s white remnant

Jack Hayes
© 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

Two Octets (Hawthorne Blvd)

hawthorne blvd octet #2

on the one hand, the row of locked orange bikes;
on the other, the cherry’s burnt orange leaves—

black metal tables & chairs under a black
& gray awning; streetlight’s yellow sheen although

noon’s scarcely past—the bus across the river
kneels, drives on; a mattress in plastic leaning

against a stucco wall; in pebbles outside
a brick building, the tiger lily’s asleep

◦    ◦    ◦

hawthorne blvd octet #3

mei-kyo’s frayed pink petals next to pallets
in that unstable improbably blue stack—

beside the crêperie food truck lavender's
bloom is mostly past as clouds sail slantwise east—

black purse rests on a picnic table under
the red umbrella’s stiff blossom as pigeons

take gray flight to the power pole; the stoplight
turns green as the sky opens blue above the birch

Jack Hayes
© 2016


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta 4 – Allegro molto

We conclude this month's appreciation of Bartók's Music for Strings Percussion and Celesta. For more on this composition, please see the AllMusic entry or the Wikipedia page.


Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Timbales de la Civic Orchestra of Chicago.
Date     21 May 2007, by sheila miguez from Chicago, IL, who publishes it under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Two Octets (Shaver Ave & Hawthorne Blvd)

shaver ave octet

the tire’s black circle hulks on parking strip leaves;
a pair of ankle boots dangles from the wire,

steps pigeon-toed through clouds—crushed water bottle
washed up on the storm drain grill—not to mention

the half dozen gray stones at the lawn’s corner,
unknowable pattern, unlike the clover

in ragged grass amongst dropped chestnuts; within
ribs broken once like sticks, unmended heartbeat


hawthorne blvd octet

except last night’s rain the galvanized planter
holds nothing; within accreted canvas &

corrugated, the market’s boxed apples about
to spill—this sky’s not promising unless you

count inevitable November drizzle—
but not now: next to the parking lot brown-eyed

susans; a friend from crosstown, unexpected,
waves from the cafe window, averts her eyes

Jack Hayes
© 2016

11/8/16 & 11/9/16

Friday, November 25, 2016

Two Octets (Burnside & Broadway)

burnside st octet

two paper plates discarded in wet grass,
sodden; a paper cup too, & an orange

shattered graffiti across curved window shards;
posters, out-of-date anyway, under masking tape—

after yesterday’s rains brown maples leaves
melt into pavement near the one paper bag—

one pigeon descends to the stoplight array:
the rooftop flock basks in unexpected sun

◦    ◦    ◦

broadway st octet

red columns beside the Chinese restaurant’s
open glass doors, one bowed right recalling

a tree bending toward light—two empty tables
outside the noodle house under black shingled

overhang, but after all the hazy sun
inches past the meridian behind it,

fluttering ghosts of last summer’s cabbage whites—
how fallen leaves radiate in shifting wind!

Jack Hayes
© 2016

11/6/16 & 11/9/16

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

esplanade quatrains


green river lapping against the gray riprap;
yellow leaves carried north in current’s fingers—

on the wire fence, padlocks fastened as tokens:
some with names, some anonymous as water


four geese preen on the pier, four bathe amongst
leaves & driftwood as a boat’s wake undulates

toward bank’s gravel & brambles; gull circles
its reflection—a bicycle bell jangles

Jack Hayes
© 2016


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

sunday morning quatrain

gingko’s leaves dangle yellow, limbs stretch upward,
rising & falling at the same time—black crow

swoops west past a billboard, white gull swooping east;
hello blue sky, so vacant, so fraught with clouds

Jack Hayes
© 2016


Monday, November 21, 2016

Two Octets from a Saturday

november saturday octet

drizzle’s message tapping a windbreaker hood:
terse unbroken light & shadow describing

a wrist tattoo of the character for rain
to accentuate a 40-year-old scar—

on a wire over pink roses shriveling,
crow shakes its wings once, croaks & trills that leafless

white birch splitting the pavement, your tattoo's ink,
oncoming light rail train's relentless pealing

◦    ◦    ◦

albina ave octet #3

insect hatch flickers near the rhododendron:
reflection of light rain’s glint around the spurge—

wrought iron balcony watched by two plastic
owls —under the taco truck’s lime-green

canopy a red-checked tablecloth shimmers,
arm chairs have their existence, minus people—

the bus exhales, reaches Blandena shelter;
pick-up surges through the stop sign: life goes on

Jack Hayes
© 2016


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta 3 – Adagio

We continue with Bartók's "Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta"; today's post is the third movement, the Adagio. One interesting part of the Adagio is the opening xylophone solo, apparently based on the Fibonacci sequence; it employs the rhythm 1:2:3:5:8:5:3:2:1, though of course in this case the sequence mirrors itself, as it works by subtraction after reaching the number eight. For more about this composition, please see the AllMusic entry &/or the Wikipedia page.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Xylophone (model Antonko AXF-09), marimba (model Antonko AMC-12)
11 November 2008 by Vassia Atanassova - Spiritia, who publishes it under the following licenses:
GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License; & the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.    

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Two Octets from the North End

albina ave octet #2

variegated yucca in umber earth;
behind maiden grass, an upturned stainless steel

bowl—black umbrellas above picnic tables
some folded some open in this silver mist—

amber lights strung between two posts shine only
as an afterthought on an ashgray Monday

afternoon—passersby appear to sleepwalk:
as if you’d never passed here, even once

◦    ◦    ◦

fremont st octet

a scrub jay’s unanswered screech from a side street;
dry leaves whispered skitter across dry pavement—

the mind so rarely quiet, chest constricted:
dyspnea & fret; the 4-line bus heaves its

inexorable northward groan past plastic
swan & angels overturned across the lawn’s

uncombed hair; beyond vine tangled chain link fence
sunflower seed heads shrink black—the gate padlocked

Jack Hayes
© 2016


Friday, November 18, 2016

Two Octets (Skidmore St)

skidmore st octet

leaves & seedkeys scatter the intersection;
restaurant’s glass door afire with begonias—

chrysanthemums droop under their purple weight;
crow settles on the streetlight above I-5—

concrete wall under heaps of white clematis;
someone wove crimson fabric through the chain link—

looking west at those indigo cirrus clouds—
in the gazing: a single paralyzed tear

◦    ◦    ◦


skidmore st octet #2

fern at the corner in imperceptible
breeze nods; on two stone steps moss glows neon though

the sun’s hidden; up the street an empty corona’s clear glass
diagonal intersects chitalpa leaves—

I-5 dissonance hums, drones, reverberates
past banks of ivy blooming November bees —

rectangular restaurant sign & parked cars:
indifferent through maple leaves’ yellow drifting

Jack Hayes
© 2016

11/1/16 & 11/2/16

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Two Octets from a Sunday

mississippi ave octet #2


the linden, leaves flaring, swathed in fairy lights;
orange chrysanthemum petals dripping rain—

in the parking strip, a push broom, bristles up;
yellowed newsprint shrouds the laundromat’s windows

under sleek bamboo two locked black bicycles;
under a narrow green awning asking, go

on or go back
; rain keeps irregular time:
look! two tea roses clenched against November

◦    ◦    ◦

sunday evening octet

this rain sparkling like metal filings through lights
fixed next to the gutters; shimmer in the lot

where puddles ripple darker & the weeping
cherry too blazes next to the playground’s wet

primary colors; kitchen walls in one window
flash white, compass star potholders mother

pleated in life hang still; who’s that in shadow—
radiance drawing near from each direction

Jack Hayes
© 2016


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Two Octets

albina ave octet

seeing that bamboo, the urge to say gracile
like a name; but tiki lamps rise up unlit

yet; white stucco storefront a blank page behind
the blue bus stop, black grillwork entrance open—

unintelligible moss scrawled up & down
the staircase climbing to a canopied door—

two crows sweep low from a cedar’s heavy boughs:
black frolic & speech down a side street, gone, gone

◦    ◦    ◦

interstate ave octet #4

a helping of uncooked ramen noodles strewn
across wet concrete for the avenue’s crows—

sardine tin spilling over rainwater on
the lawn’s fringe; spires of norfolk pines in back of

a barn red fence; right sneaker drenched through the sock,
hands crimson & tingling in jacket pockets—

black umbrella cast on the train station’s bricks:
another thing left behind in autumn rain

Jack Hayes
© 2016


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Two Octets from Sunday

willamette river octet
        for Colby


cold light growing to the southwest: cloud fabric
tearing; reflections emerge on black water

toward the bank—the cormorant’s fishing: each dive
radiates concentric circles as the head

goes under; how much light penetrates with its
beak’s jab—who can guess, as cloudbanks close again—

murky river with flotsam: the cormorant
breaks the surface with a fish sparkling like hope

◦    ◦    ◦

tilikum crossing octet

the bridge deck mirrored, dark shifting bow across
the striated current with its gulls & clouds—

plum-red streetcar pulls over the crest, glides east;
minutes later aqua streetcar west passes

pedestrians—all subdued as clematis
at my feet tumbling over arched red brambles—   

cables’ outlines slash the overcast, carry
immense curved weight, stark symmetry of what is

Jack Hayes
© 2016


Monday, November 14, 2016

19th ave octet

19th ave octet

crow on the wire tilts its head up in thin rain;
in the background the weeping birch limbs droop bare—

wires criss-cross, neutral & live overhead;
to the east overcast spreads its gray-white silk,

veiling all things not crow nor wire nor tree limb;
cold drop after cold drop striking eyeglasses

gazing skyward
the crow’s not ready to fly;
this balance this late afternoon: joy & tears

Jack Hayes
© 2016


Note: It's been my practice for 8 years (with one exception) never to use an illustration or photograph to accompany one of my own poems. I'm going to change that from time to time over the foreseeable future. Of course this image was already featured as a photo of the week back when the poem was actually written. The blog is quite far behind the actual writing schedule, which has been a bit intense! As a result, I'm also adding composition dates. The poems are not all appearing in the order they were composed.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta 2 – Allegro

We continue our appreciation of Bartók's "Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta" with the second movement, the Allegro.

The Allegro in particular features the piano, which Bartók grouped with the percussion instruments. For more about the composition, please check the AllMusic entry or the Wikipedia page.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:

Action of the Grand Piano. Mechanism keyboard actions. 2007, by Jorge Royan
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

hawthorne bridge quatrain

span lengthens green trusses toward the western sun:
there where the weeping willows let their hair fall—

oak leaves gesticulate crimson above rocks
dim gray as textured water’s flowing shadow

Jack Hayes
© 2016

Friday, November 11, 2016

autumn blossom octet

garden spider stockstill in rhododendrons
long since gone past; bee haunts the white camellia

down the avenue; rough cat’s ear inches up
yellow, scrawny afterthought taking root at

that intersection under a sycamore;
empty park where desire dissipates in light—

thursday’s suburst turns the sky invisible:
in this brilliance death flowers inside my chest—

Jack Hayes
© 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

flower, no flower

flower, no flower

flower, no flower;
mist, no mist—
midnight arrives;
daybreak departs—
arriving like a springtime dream how many times
gone like morning clouds with no fixed place

Jack Hayes
© 2016
based on Bai Juyi:
huā fēi huā

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Branch of Flowering White Jasmine: Zhao Chang; ink and color on silk.
early 12th century.
Public domain.

Monday, November 7, 2016

interstate ave octet #3

boards weathered gray screwed off kilter to posts:
a corral for a plywood-clad gas station—

plum leaves curled at the edge drop next to the fence;
I wish you could see them float this afternoon

as westward light opens involuntary
as eyes; katsuras lining the hospital

sleep naked: this raw gust catches my breath short:
sun divides black clouds with blinding white surprise

Jack Hayes
© 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta 1 - Andante tranquillo

Our musical offering for Sundays in November will be Béla Bartók’s wonderful “Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta”, one of the four movements per week.

“Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta” was composed in 1936, & was given its premiere performance in Basel, Switzerland on January 21, 1937 by the Basler Kammerorchester, conducted by Paul Sacher. The version I’ll be using on the blog is the 1989 recording by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Levine.

In the first movement, Andante tranquillo, Bartók gives us a fugue with the tone center of A. Themes that are presented in the first movement continue to be explored through the rest of the work. As is the case with all four movements, there is no time signature given for the Andante tranquillo. For more about this composition, please see the AllMusic entry &/or the Wikipedia page.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Celesta belonging to Stetson University.
Contributed and licensed under the GFDL by the photographer, Gregory Maxwell.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 only as published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

sandy blvd octet

autumn sunset flash through cirrus wisps over
evergreen hills & rose alloy skyscraper—

traffic’s red shift moves east: so much reflection;
oak leaves oxidize curbside, wet & static—

no there, just here: but the radio tower
rises outlined above Marquam Hill: distance

is real after all; as the light changes green,
two clouds punctuate trees & one gull circles

Jack Hayes
© 2016

Friday, November 4, 2016

killingsworth st octet

pavements’ fragmented black mirror casting back
street signs’ geometry these tree limbs’ Rorschach—

sidewalk tables glazed with red leaves & drizzle;

Asian market’s clapboards & bent tin chimney—

black tupelo’s upsweep into liquid air
where flocked crows inscribe your name in black & white—

train cascades past the stop’s corrugated roof:
as afternoon falls I’ve been turned inside out

Jack Hayes
© 2016

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Photo of the Week 11/3/16

Rowing crew preparing to embark on the Willamette River
Eastbank Esplanade, Tuesday 11/1/16

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ullambana in Portland – the Book

It’s with great pleasure that I’m announcing the publication of my fifth collection of poetry, Ullambana in Portland. The work is available for purchase through the lulu website at this link, & will also be available at Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble online within the coming weeks. We’ll also work to get some local distribution here in Portland, Oregon, at least on a limited basis. News of such things typically can be found on my public Facebook page, The Poetry of Jack Hayes.
Ullambana in Portland includes all of the work I’ve done since moving to Portland, from the 2012 raintown series, continuing through the poems written under as “AK Barkley”, & finally the sutra poems & related pieces composed over the past two years. As the book came to be assembled, it was gratifying to realize how seamlessly the apparently disparate parts cohered.

Sheila Graham-Smith, who was instrumental in the book coming to be as reader, editor, fellow poet, & understanding friend, graciously provided me with the following short response to the collection to share in this post:

Ullambana in Portland is a play by play of dozens of walks through an urban landscape, reporting on things seen as through a magnifying glass, a telescope, binoculars, a camera lens and the very naked human eyes behind the narrating voice. In flashes of insight and meditative consideration we are given, not only the city of Portland, its avenues and bridges and waterways, its birds and trees and flowering plants, its skyscapes and buses and litter, but also the tireless perambulations of a questing heart.

I’m filled with the deepest gratitude to Sheila for all she’s provided to this work, & am so appreciative of her deep understanding of the poems.

Of course all of these poems are scattered hither & yon on Robert Frost’s Banjo. But as was especially the case with my book The Spring Ghazals & the intervening chapbook Union Pacific, this was put together as a “book” as opposed to a “collection”. Also, differing from my practice with past full-length books, there won’t be any blog that reproduces the “book order” of the poems.

Ullambana refers to the Buddhist “hungry ghost festival”. The book contains 60 poems—55 original works, four translations from classical Chinese poetry, & a translation from Apollinaire. There’s also my translation of the opening of the Ullambana Sutra, which is used to introduce one of the sections.

Thanks so much for your continuing interest in my poetry & in the Robert Frost’s Banjo blog.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

autumn meditation #4

autumn meditation #4

I’ve heard it said Chang’an is like a weiqi board;
the events of the past hundred years: grief beyond bearing—

the mansions of princes and nobles all have new masters;
civilian and soldiers’ attire: different than in the past—

due north in border passes, gongs and drums resound;
westward, carts and horses speed feathered dispatches—

fish and dragons are silent: the autumn river runs cold;
the homeland at peace: alive in my reflections

Jack Hayes
© 2016
based on Du Fu:
秋興八首 (四)
qiū xìng bā shŏu (sì)

Line 1: Every English translation I’ve seen insists on translating 弈棋yìqí as “chess.” But he clearly means what is now known in China as 圍棋 wéiqí, which is better known in the west by the romanized version of its Japanese name, Go. Per Wikipedia: “The first reference to chess, called Xiang Qi, in China comes in the xuán guaì lù (玄怪录, record of the mysterious and strange) dating to about 800.” Du Fu’s poem dates to 766. On the other hand, again per Wikipedia, “The game [go] originated and was invented in ancient China more than 5,500 years ago, and is still the oldest board game continuously played today. It was considered one of the four essential arts of the cultured aristocratic Chinese scholar caste in antiquity.” Benn’s China’s Golden Age makes a point of how popular go/weiqi was during the Tang dynasty.

As always, grateful acknowledgement to Sheila Graham-Smith for her research & editing, as well as to such major Du Fu translators as Stephen Owen, Burton Watson, William Hung, & David Hinton for their scholarship.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Woman Playing Go”: Anonymous - Color on silk. Tang Dynasty.
Unearthed at the Astana Graves in 1972 from the tomb number 187.
Public domain.