Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ed Baker & Lisa Espenmiller: Wednesday Haiku, #88

frog on lily-pad
frog on lily-pad
Ed Baker

From 100 Aspects of the Moon by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

in the gallery
art on Summer walls
outside - the moon
Lisa Espenmiller

the little Buddha's head
a launch pad too...
translated by David G. Lanoue


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Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 141 songs

Sunday, October 28, 2012

China Cat Sunflower: Issa's Sunday Service, #141

Photograph by gira4

China Cat Sunflower by Grateful Dead on Grooveshark

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China Cat Sunflower

Look for awhile at the China Cat Sunflower
proud-walking jingle in the midnight sun
Copper-dome Bodhi drip a silver kimono
like a crazy-quilt stargown
through a dream night wind

Krazy Kat peeking through a lace bandana
like a one-eyed Cheshire
like a diamond-eye Jack
A leaf of all colors plays
a golden string fiddle
to a double-e waterfall over my back

Comic book colors on a violin river
crying Leonardo words
from out a silk trombone
I rang a silent bell
beneath a shower of pearls
in the eagle wing palace
of the Queen Chinee

[Editor's note: Usually, the Sunday Service is good old fashioned, light weight rock n' roll fun. Inadvertently,  today's posting unearthed a serious topic, serious beyond the usual "literary" serious, and what results below was something of a struggle. It is neither meant to offend nor to preach - more than likely, it's come up short in its intent. Just sayin'.]

You can find more information than you could ever want, on this song or any other in their repertoire, at the Grateful Annotated Lyrics site, one of the most amazing sites dedicated to the works of a particular rock group or personality.  Among the many things pointed out there is the somewhat oblique inspiration of the work of Edith Sitwell on "China Cat Sunflower." The song makes it on this list because of the obvious reference to Lewis Carroll (the one-eyed Cheshire) but for the Sitwell, one must dig a bit deeper.

According to the Dead lyric site, Robert Hunter, the Dead's lyricist, mentions Sitwell's influence on the lyrics, with a special mention of the following poem, "Polka":

Polka   Dame Edith Sitwell

'Tra la la la la la la la
    See me dance the polka,'
Said Mr. Wagg like a bear,
With my top hat
And my whiskers that--
(Tra la la la) trap the Fair.

Where the waves eem chiming haycocks
I dance the polka; there
Stand Venus' children in their gay frocks--
Maroon and marine--and stare

To see me fire my pistol
Through the distances blue as my coat;
Like Wellington, Byron, the Marquis of Bristol,
Buzbied great trees float.

While the wheezing hurdy-gurdy
 Of the marine wind blows me
 To the tune of Annie Rooney, sturdy,
 Over the sheafs of sea;

And bright as a seedsman's packet
With zinnias, candytufts chill,
Is Mrs. Marigold's jacket
As she gapes at the inn door still,

Where at dawn in the box of the sailor,
Blue as the decks of the sea,
Nelson awoke, crowed like the cocks,
Then back to dust sank he.

And Robinson Crusoe
Rues so

The bright and foxy beer--
But he finds fresh isles in a Negress' smiles--
The poxy doxy dear,

As they watch me dance the polka,'
Said Mr. Wagg like a bear,
'In my top hat and my whiskers that--
Tra la la la, trap the Fair.

Tra la la la la--
Tra la la la la--
Tra la la la la la la la


In addition to the oblique references, it would seem that pacing and style were perhaps more influential than the actual lyrics themselves.

Another quote which Hunter mentions is from the Dame Edith Sitwell poem "Trio for Two Cats and a Trombone," which has a little more direct connection:

  "To the jade 'Come kiss me harder'
    He called across the battlements as she
    Heard our voices thin and shrill
    As the steely grasses' thrill,
    Or the sound of the onycha
    When the phoca has the pica
    In the palace of the Queen Chinee!"

Hunter quotes Sitwell directly with "palace of the Queen Chinee," so I attempted to run down the term "Chinee," which gives off a vague sense of the derogatory, though I'm not sure about it in the context of either the poem or song. Still, it should be noted; even if not meant offensively, ignorance, on anyone's part, is no legitimate defense.

A couple of databases of racial slurs listed the term as offensive, a couple of others did not; it evidently originated as a back formed singular for Chinese in the plural sense, but probably found bigoted popularity in the inability of Chinese people to speak English well, thereby mimicking their pronunciation of English in a derogatory way. Another source defined the term as a Chinese person living in England.

[More on the Sitwell, after a bit of investigation. "Trio for Cats and a Trombone" was part of a larger musical piece called Façade, which was something of a scandal when initially performed. You can find a great deal of background on it here. Evidently, after being variously condemned on its initial performance (with Sitwell reciting the poems, through a megaphone protruding from a curtain, to musical accompaniment), it became quite popular, going through a number of reworkings and even being the basis for a ballet. Interestingly, Wikipedia, which goes into a great deal of detail, does not mention her use of ethnic terms.]

The All Music Guide, in reviewing Façade, says

"Furthermore, either because she was satirizing the upper crust's casual racism or because she shared it, Sitwell's verse does have some mildly racist lines that are somewhat disturbing today. "

I thought about excluding the song because of all this, but it seemed more honest to face up to it and recognize it for what it is and put it out there to consider. Obviously, the Sitwell piece achieved fame in its own way. Certainly, "China Cat Sunflower" has long been one of the Dead's most popular tunes. I leave it to you to make what you will of Hunter's quote of Sitwell. From the Dead site, it appears to be pure homage. Perhaps, too, something is to be gleaned about late 60s America, around the time the Dead song was composed.

Here is the whole piece, Façade, which runs some 32 minutes in length:

Facade by Dame Edith Sitwell and Chamber Orchestra conducted by Frederik Prausnitz on Grooveshark
If above link is wonky, you can listen here


Besides these references to Sitwell poems, there is the Alice in Wonderland reference, plus the song is jammed packed with other things - allusions to Buddhism (Bodhi), Leonardo da Vinci, maybe Ginsberg and Kerouac's sunflower in the train yard (to say nothing of Blake's sunflower), and maybe even Dylan's waiting on the Double-E.

For Cheshire Cat fans, here's a little something that might be taken as advice for the current, ahem, election season:


For traditionalists, here's a collection of Cheshire Cat scenes, voiced by the incomparable Sterling Holloway:


Photo by Umberto Salvagnin

heat shimmers--
how the cat talks
in her sleep!
translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 140 songs

Friday, October 26, 2012

On Translating Chiyo-ni: Isabel Winson-Sagan & Miriam Sagan - Small Press Friday

Woodcut of Chiyo-ni by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

A note: the following, a set of two translated poems by the haiku master poet, Chiyo-ni, embeded in a haibun style form, was sent along this way by Miriam Sagan and her daughter, Isabel Winson-Sagan. I have always loved Chiyo-ni; her work doesn't get nearly enough exposure to my taste. So, here's a little something to enjoy.

     Fiesta is over, although it is still hot. The sunflower seeds I planted inappropriately in the half barrels on the front porch almost touch the ceiling of the portal, and have finally bloomed. I think the thrashers might be gone--the stick nest in the cholla bush looks empty.

     My daughter Isabel and I sat down to translate Chiyo-ni, probably the most famous 18th century Japanese woman haiku poet--no easy task, but an exciting one. Autumn poems seemed appropriate.

     Chiyo-no writes:

mikazuki ni
hishihishi to mono to


     Isabel showed me how the kanji of the first line which reads in part "3 sun moon" means either new moon or crescent moon. Hishihishi is considered untranslatable and onomatopoetic--translator Patricia Donegan says it is a kind of awareness or feeling. 

     Here is our best effort:

at the new moon
bit by bit
everything hushes


  Then we tried:

hatsukari ya
iyoiyo nagaki
yo no kawari


      Iz was practically acting out the first line, jumping up and pointing--first wild geese! Then we had a tortuous  discussion about the rest which literally just means the nights are growing longer and longer. Where was the poetry? In a figurative turn, it seems.

first wild geese!
growing longer--
migrating night


     By then we were so hungry we had to go to the Tune-Up cafe around the corner and drink our favorite Arnold Palmers. I walked Iz half way home and came back through the dry neighborhood, watching the red ants.


after many nights
telling me bedtime stories
the geese have left 
translated by David G. Lanoue

Photo by Eric Frommer

 Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 138 songs

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Peggy Heinrich & Arvinder Kaur: Wednesday Haiku, #87

 Photo by Houfton

multicolored leaf pile
lately I’ve been missing
the sister I never had

           Peggy Heinrich

Photo by Roger Rössing

games at twilight-
I am given away
by my shadow
Arvinder Kaur

Photo by Earl53

taking turns
down the little waterfall...
red leaves
translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 140 songs

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Supernaturally: Issa's Sunday Service, #140

Photo by Tony Hisgett 

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Sunday Service regular, Nick Cave, steps in for another installment with the song "Supernaturally" from his album with the Bad Seeds, entitled Abattoir Blues. There are at least two literary precursors to this one, which I've mentioned on a previous post a few years back. First, a spirited live performance, then the lyrics, followed by something of an explanation


Through the windswept coastal trees
Where the dead come rising from the sea
With a teddy-bear clamped between her knees
She says, where can my loverman be?
Well, I'm down here, babe, with the Eskimos
With the polar bears and the Arctic snow
With a party of penguins who do not know flow
How I can get back to thee
Well I'm gonna ask you, babe
Hey! Ho!
Oh baby don't you go
Hey! Ho!
Oh no no no
Hey! Ho!
Oh baby, don't you go
All supernatural on me

Once I was your hearts desire
Now I am the ape hunkered by the fire
With my knuckles dragging through the mire
You float by so majestically
You're my north, my south, my east, my west
You are the girl that I love best
With an army of tanks bursting from your chest
I wave my little white flag at thee
Can you see it, babe?
Hey! Ho!
Oh baby don't you go
Hey! Ho!
Oh no no no
Hey! Ho!
Oh baby, don't you go
All supernatural on me

Now I've turned the mirrors to wall
I've emptied out the peopled halls
I've nailed shut the windows and locked the doors
There is no escape, you see
I chase you up and down the stairs
Under tables and over chairs
I reach out and I touch your hair
And it cuts me like a knife
For there is always something
other little thing you gotta do
Hey! Ho!
Oh baby don't you go
Hey! Ho!
Oh baby, no no no
Hey! Ho!
Oh don't you go
All supernatural on me

What might this have to do with literature? Well, first there is a poem by Auden, popularly known as "Funeral Blues":

(Song IX / from Two Songs for Hedli Anderson)
W. H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Previous to the Auden, however, there was a traditional Irish poem/song, adapted by Lady Gregory, known as "Donal Óg":

Donal Óg

It is late last night the dog was speaking of you;
the snipe was speaking of you in her deep marsh.
It is you are the lonely bird through the woods;
and that you may be without a mate until you find me.

You promised me, and you said a lie to me,
that you would be before me where the sheep are flocked;
I gave a whistle and three hundred cries to you,
and I found nothing there but a bleating lamb.

You promised me a thing that was hard for you,
a ship of gold under a silver mast;
twelve towns with a market in all of them,
and a fine white court by the side of the sea.

You promised me a thing that is not possible,
that you would give me gloves of the skin of a fish;
that you would give me shoes of the skin of a bird;
and a suit of the dearest silk in Ireland.

When I go by myself to the Well of Loneliness,
I sit down and I go through my trouble;
when I see the world and do not see my boy,
he that has an amber shade in his hair.

It was on that Sunday I gave my love to you;
the Sunday that is last before Easter Sunday.
And myself on my knees reading the Passion;
and my two eyes giving love to you for ever.

My mother said to me not to be talking with you today,
or tomorrow, or on the Sunday;
it was a bad time she took for telling me that;
it was shutting the door after the house was robbed.

My heart is as black as the blackness of the sloe,
or as the black coal that is on the smith's forge;
or as the sole of a shoe left in white halls;
it was you that put that darkness over my life.

You have taken the east from me;
you have taken the west from me;
you have taken what is before me and what is behind me;
you have taken the moon, you have taken the sun from me;
and my fear is great that you have taken God from me!

In the later are the lines "You have taken the east from me; you have taken the west from me"; in the former, it transforms into "He was my North, my South, my East and West" and, lastly, from our humble little litrock number there is "You're my north, my south, my east, my west." Though it might be thought that the connection between "Donal Óg" and "Funeral Blues is tenuous, the link with "Supernaturally", at least in the case of Auden is obvious, hence today's selection.

Though I can't seem to find the recitation of "Donal Óg" (a jumpy version may be found here) from John Huston's wonderful film The Dead, here is a very fine moment, indeed, from an otherwise average film, Four Weddings and a Funeral, that brought Auden's work back into the popular arena, at least for a few months:

Lastly, for the first person to answer the following question (and how many even made it this far into the post?) in the comment section, a free six-issue subscription (or choice of two chapbooks or a six-issue extension to a current subscriber) to Lilliput Review:

How is the picture at the top of this post connected to what follows?


a finger pointing
to the west...
autumn wind
translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 140 songs

Friday, October 19, 2012

Small Press Friday: John Elsberg, Rest in Peace

  Photo from ČERVENÁ BARVA Press

A while back, a friend emailed me to say John Elsberg had died.  John was a fine poet and the long time editor of the American version (and ultimate the British version when they merged) of the seminal small press magazine, BoggMany of the finest small press writers of recent generations were published there, or wish they had been.

I met John at a small press poetry fest (Chester A. White!) in Pittsburgh back in the 80s sponsored by Harry Calhoun's Pig in a Poke / Pig in a Pamphlet productions. I've posted about that weekend previously, at the time of the death of another participant, Lou McKee.  John was a gentleman and a solid editor and, though I didn't interact with him much that weekend - there were too many far less sober personalities to bounce off of - I got to know him a little better over the years as we corresponded and I ended up publishing a number of his shorter pieces.

I knew I wanted to do a little tribute to his generous spirit, so I started looking around for info about him.

So what's taken so long?

Well, because I could find precious little information. There is a fine short obit here by Wilson Wyatt. Aside from that, not much, at least on the net. So, I contacted a few people from the small press scene who'd met John and invited them to submit their thoughts or, in some cases, poems concerning John Elsberg. Their responses follow.

But first, I'd like to begin though with a very unusual production of John's from 1998, published by Jim Kacian's Red Moon Press. The "book," A Week in the Lake District, was a finalist for Virginia Poetry Book of the Year (Virginia State Library), and below you will get an inkling why.

click to enlarge
click to enlarge

There are some solid poems here - the whole is something of a haiku journal, complete with artwork, as pictured above. There is a sense of observation and a lovely picaresque quality, along with a poem that occasionally jumps out of the narrative that to resonate in a variety. The poems are all monostitch, one-line haiku. Here's a couple, including the opener

arriving    branches brush the side of the bus

If one can image the state of excitation at arriving at one's long sought destination, the branches add a quality that must have been at once nerve wracking and exhilarating.

the hiking guide's wife   her porcelain dolls

Sometimes we see the extraordinary in the ordinary, especially in an unfamiliar locale. This could at once be lovely or horrific depending on the mood, at once pulling the reader into the poem to interact.

warm sun   the sheepdog barks when she finds water

This reminds me of the famous Issa haiku of the dog leading the family to a grave.

       Visiting the graves
The old dog
        Leads the way

In John's poem, the sheepdog, although hot itself, is barking to let its companions know what has been discovered. Both poems, Issa's and John's, bring out the sentient quality of each animal in a truly lovely way.


Following are the responses from a number of small press folks I mentioned contacting. After those, you'll find a broadside entitled Small Exchange, which I published, and is now in electronic form (LR #104, April 1999).

It seems to me that sharing John's work with everyone is probably the best possible tribute I might give him. If anyone would like a paper copy, I'll send it to you free for a standard sized SASE, one first class stamp only  (send to: Lilliput Review, Don Wentworth, Editor, 282 Main Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201). Or you can throw a dollar in the Paypal donation coffer on the right side bar of this with a note saying it is for the John Ellsberg broadside and I'll send it along.

We'll begin with Jim Kacian, then Rick Peabody with a reminiscence, David Greisman of Abbey magazine, Ron Androla with a set of poems for John, Harry Calhoun with a few thoughts and a poem, and then John's broadside


Jim Kacian, editor, Red Moon Press:

On publishing A Week in the Lake District:  That was fairly early in the life of red moon press, and I was interested in trying my hand at some new designs and working with new materials. The "pages" were printed on gilclear, which is non-absorbent, so once we printed them (it was printed locally here in winchester [ed.: Winchester, VA]) we used up all the available counterspace laying pages around so they could dry without smearing, (which) took days. Once dry, the pages were cut into strips, hand-assembled and ordered, then drilled and tied with a ribbon, using a bone catchment, and placed in hand-made slipcases you've seen the result: certainly a quirky book of haiku, but also distinctive. We do have a few copies left though i don't list them on my website, figuring I'll probably sell them at our 25th anniversary, 6 years away

I met John at the Bethesda (Maryland) Book Fair, we had adjacent kiosks in 1994 (i think it was) neither one of us sold much, but we had time to get to know each other. We admired each others hat, which is what started the conversation: they were similar, his a western-style wide-brim, mine from Australia. From that we asked about each other's work, and when he discovered i published haiku (mirabile dictu!) we were off. We've stayed in touch these nearly 20 years, mainly through sharing books and notes, and he's published some of my work in Bogg over time.
I'm sorry to hear he's gone—it’s certainly unexpected—he was always lively and energetic, and though I know it happens to all of us, I didn't expect John to go for some time
You might add that John was a champion of small press gatherings and readings ...


Richard Peabody, Editor, Gargoyle:

John took me seriously when I was starting out. He made me feel comfortable and relevant as both a poet and editor. Somehow he had the ability to glide between the strata of academic poets, indie poets, and open mike poets. He was comfortable talking to any and all of them. He was quick with a smile, an anecdote, a suggestion, a laugh. He was a buffer for me in my early Writer’s Center days because he would maintain my legitimacy to the powers that be who wrote me off as another in a long line of angry brats. He listened to me and I took his advice. When I floundered about with Gargoyle and was overwhelmed with submissions he came aboard as a Contributing Editor in 1977, and after a job offer sent me to North Carolina, he stepped in as Fiction Editor from 1979-1981.

John via Bogg, was my first intro to the thriving British indie press scene. Through him I came in contact with Andy Darlington, Steve Sneyd, Graham Sykes, Pete Mortimer, Tina Fulker, and tons more.

I was just going through his papers and files today with John’s wife Connie. There was a file entitled “Rick Peabody Chapbook.”  We’d talked about that 5-6 years ago. And there was the file. John still planning it as a project down the road. I'm floored.

 When Zenon Slawinski asked me to takeover a floundering radio show on WPFW called “Writer’s Workshop on the Air” I enlisted John, along with Kevin Urick, Eric Baizer, and guests co-hosts throughout our 2-year run back in the 70s. Those tapes are all part of the Pacifica archive.

Impossible to accept that he’s gone.

In a separate email, Rick also mentioned that John contracted liver cancer which took him in 3 weeks from diagnosis to death and that there were only 3 poets at the little get together at the house. There was no service open to anybody but family. 


David Greisman, publisher, Abbey

I did not know John well, but our two or three dozen encounters over the years were something to treasure.  I did write a few words on John's passing in the last Abbey. Rick's got a great remembrance coming out in the Delaware Poetry Review, and Eric Greinke, who collaborated with John on two chapbooks recently, has an equally nice piece in the new Presa.

As I've probably said before, I ripped off John's approach to organizing poems in something other than the standard alphabetical approach.  "Ripped off", yes, but I could never equal the wonderfully sneaky way he'd place poems in Bogg.   John's history with Abbey spread over 32 years and some 21 appearances (including an interview early on in Abbey's existence and later a very funny self-interview in Abbey #100).  I also lucked out to print a number of his poems in that 32-year span, work that was simultaneously precise in phrasing yet never devoid of his underlying passion for language and life.

In some recent emails with Rick, I mentioned what I always thought was a certain twinkle in John's eyes whenever we'd meet up, whether that was at some of our lunches -- we were both for quite a long time federal government employees -- with Rick at The Irish Times just west of Union Station in Washington or at readings at the various Writer's Center locations over the past few decades.   He seemed to relish so much, whether it was family, friends, or literature.  

Not your typical poet/publisher and thank god for that.


Ron Androla, Pressure Press:

Haiku The Dragonfly

(For John Elsberg, r.i.p.)

On reversible water
An orange dragonfly hovers a
Moment in wet time


Winter, as white as
Who I think I have become,
Whirls like an anvil siren


Toast the Potomac
With our cloudy beers –
John, you fill with yes


Precision demands French words
Focus focus & focus
Dreamy, Washington poet


Dragonfly mysticism
A billion eye bulbs burst
Tasting rocks with toes


Evening ends across
Ends of the evening cross
Crucified by poetry

The Moment Of A Poem

(For John Elsberg, r.i.p.)

We crab down pieces of a mossy,
Rock cliff, fast, stop, fast, freeze,
Fast left. Skeleton bone surrounds
Our meat & sense of existence.
Orange shell eggs our cold
Disgust & so much seagull shit
Spatters against this side of the
World. “I wish I was a blue cat,”
You dream you say. A poem is
Always a dream. A toilet bowl fills
With blue crabs, severe cliffs, &
What poets in England discover:


Alone With You

(for John Elsberg, r.i.p.)

My love, her green eye,
Her blue eye, & the flow
I feel of her
Love, touches an edge
Of my gray goatee.
Preceding an epiphany of
Shatter, like a
Proton tambourine,
To be a
Then, with correct
Integrity, shoot a shotgun
Full of blood & veins
At the Moon. My love,
Her mysterious actions,
Her odd, visual renditions,
& the rush I feel
Of her
Love, listens to my last poem.

His Pipe

(for John Elsberg, r.i.p.)

If burning bacon grease is
Music, specifically as intricate
As Jazz, Monk, Coltrane, D.C.

Traffic, brushing teeth with
Black jello, to be a flesh flute
As apple trees turn to dreams

Shuddering against another
Quaking sunset in the center of
History; a black stem

Perspires, the pipe
Is so goddamn, deliciously
Hot. Fire plums at the poets.

They are reading Mr. Williams,
Failing to fit what exists with
What never occurs

Blistering From History

(for John Elsberg, r.i.p.)

Tiny finches, I half-smile
From my office chair.
30 years ago I realize most
Everything that is D.C. Is
Concrete, even a few atoms
Tucked in a blade of grass
Are cement here. I accept
This observational precision:
Eisenhower was our last
President. Read & study.
It amuses me to talk to
Toxic cows.

Face (for John Elsberg, r.i.p.)

A generous, chunky cheese
Sandwich, a pint of whiskey,
A few packs of Marlboro's,
Mags & poems, late '70's
On a 15-hour bus south at
3 in the morning. Arriving,

I am to look into a crowd for a
Man holding an issue of
BOGG in front of him.
This is John Elsberg.
This is John Elsberg driving his
Wife's small car to their

Flat where we feast on
Spaghetti & wine.
This is my first, ever, reading,
Next afternoon at someplace
Named The Writer's
Center – John got me there.


What can I say? You know he came to a few of the Pig in a Poke readings in the 80s and he published for my money one of the great quirky and quintessential small press mags of that period in Bogg. His taste and sense of humor and style will be sadly missed. He was like David Greisman of Abbey with a slightly higher budget.

He was also a fine poet, as you say. One tribute that I can offer to him, and you can share this or keep it to yourself, but a poem of mine that he had the balls to publish in Bogg way back when found its way into my collection of my older stuff, Retro. It's still a showstopper when I use it for comic relief in my readings and I always think of John when I read it. Here it is. Requiscat in pace, Mr. Elsberg. 

In The Hallway Outside The Dean's Office At The College Of Fine Arts

There's a statue of Diana,
the goddess of the hunt.
When I peek beneath
her marble skirt,
I see she has no

real existence
because her legs are sculpted together
at the upper thigh.
No human could live
like that!  I point this out

to a guy in the office
but he doesn't care
about art.  He likes politics.
He shows me a photo
of Reagan giving a speech

under a bust of Lenin.
I tell him I'd rather see
the bust of the blonde
secretary down the hall.
I'm kidding, I prefer brunettes,

but I wonder
why humor and art
so often emerge
from the clothes
we hide them under. 


Small Exchange by John Elsberg, Lilliput Review, #104

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R.I.P., John.


world of man--
in a little stone field
catching fleas
translated by David G. Lanoue


Send a single haiku for the Wednesday Haiku feature. Here's how.

Go to the LitRock web site for a list of all 138 songs