Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Issa's Birthday Song

Well, David Giacalone and Rebecca Bush sent along notes to remind me that Monday, June 15th, is the day Issa's Birthday is celebrated so I can't let that pass unnoticed.

at my dinner tray
a sparrow chirps...
spring rain

paying no heed
to Buddha's birthday...

deutzia blossoms, too
on Buddha's birthday
report for duty

translations by David Lanoue

Whenever I think of Issa, inevitably my thoughts move to sparrows, a bird that he just adored and I have to say his is an admiration I share. The house sparrows in our maple tree in the back yard have been raising holy hell of late and I just love it. We planted the tree not long after moving into the house 10 years or so ago and now I realize how very easy it is, indeed, to change the world.

This is Issa's birthday song ...

A few days ago, I was trying to help someone find a poem s/he couldn't remember the author or title of, all s/he could remember was some sensory impressions and that it was either by William Carlos Williams or Richard Brautigan (specifically The Pill Versus the Springhill Mining Disaster). Here's her/his description:

the only thing I remember is that it may have had something to do with a storm or disaster, and it tasted red and ashy. It was rather short as well and the final line was rather final.

Also, s/he remembered that it had been on the left hand page side. I felt from the last line that it was more likely to be Brautigan than Williams, so I went off to look through the Brautigan. I skimmed through the left sided poems but nothing. Than I realized that s/he had read it in one of those Brautigan omnibus editions and I thought the pagination might be different, so I skimmed the right sided poems. Nothing.

Well, not really nothing, because, though I didn't find the poem, I got totally rejazzed on Mr. B. I had reread The Pill last year and though I'd enjoyed it, it hadn't quite been the overwhelming experience I expected. Seems I must have been in some kind of funky snit because this time round I was delighted, cajoled, appalled, and all choked up in a fine mix of emotional falderol.

He had me at one, as the au currant saying goes.

Here's one by Mr. B. that grabbed me and that you don't see all over the net everyday:

To England

There are no postage stamps that send letters
back to England three centuries ago,
no postage stamps that make letters
travel back until the grave hasn't been dug yet,
and John Donne stands looking out the window,
it is just beginning to rain this April morning,
and the birds are falling into the trees
like chess pieces into an unplayed game,
and John Donne sees the postman coming up the street,
the postman walks very carefully because his cane
is made of glass.
Richard Brautigan

For those who might be interested, here's a link to a post I did for the library about how I became a reader. It explains a couple of my, er, eccentricities.

Lilliput Review #24, today's selection from the archives, comes from the distant land of September 1991, and is a broadside issue by one of today's best small press poets, Charlie Mehrhoff. He brings it big-time in a way today's household names rarely even dream of. Here's a taste:

with the dawn of fire

with the music
of the stone hammer

with the birth
of the ancient drum
hear now
hear now


prophet of the godless landscape
he sends his voice
into the cold stones
at the river's bottom
there to awaken
in the springtime
of broken ice

The Raven

said to her
are you into scarification

will you wear the leather mask
will you make me forget
the day of my birth
the eyes of the idol
the child of god
of rain

the impact of the poet:
one soul falling

& she wants the whole world
delivered in a second

i give her bells,
tell her to wait.

Charlie Mehrhoff

the Buddha pretends
to be born...
bells and drums

translated by David Lanoue

One final note: did you Stravinsky today? I did.



sam of the ten thousand things said...

I really go for the Brautigan piece, Don. Especially the lines...

and the birds are falling into the trees
like chess pieces into an unplayed game

An amazing image.

Also liked the visit, as always, to the archives.

Thanks for the post.

Charles Gramlich said...

I had sushi and Kirin with David Lanoue on Monday and he's busy busy with writing and translating.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks, Sam ... more archive stuff, when I remember, on Issa's Sunday Service (forgot last week I was so caught up on the Anne Sexton/Peter Gabriel piece) ...

Charles, good to hear David's busy ... he's fantastic.