Sunday, August 30, 2009

Issa's Sunday Service, #18

This week's offering from Issa's Sunday Service comes from the album I would take to a desert island if only one is allowed: Van Morrison's It's Too Late To Stop Now. Ok, it's 2 discs, but you'll let me slide, right? Tomorrow is Mr. Morrison's birthday and, as a present, he becomes the first artist to appear on this weekly feature twice (and this will be, by no means, his last appearance). Not much of present, you ask? He has everything else.

As with so many of the performances on It's Too Late To Stop Now, this rendition of Wild Children is far superior to the studio original. The song itself sums up a generation, for better and worse, and, if I can mix my clichés, this would be the song I buried in a time capsule on that desert island for some far future alien culture to discover when they go on vacation.

As a bonus this week (and just to see if anybody is paying attention), I'll give a free 6 issue subscription to Lilliput Review to anyone who knows who is being quoted in the album's title? (Hint: it isn't because Morrison says what would become the title during the end of "Cyprus Avenue." In the BBC review, linked above, they even have Morrison saying it during "Into The Mystic." Fact-checker, please!)


Here's a poem from issue #25, September 1991, by Michael Estabrook. It was on my short list to read this past weekend at the Six Gallery Press reading. Try reading this one aloud, softening the repeated words (and parts of words) as an echo would.

an echo
The grassy grassy grassy
reaches out across across the road
--the road
cutting man's lifeline line in two two
trying trying to reclaim for mother
--nature nature
what is by all rights
hers and hers and hers
Michael Estabrook

even wild roses
of a downtrodden land
reach enlightenment
translated by David G. Lanoue


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Correction: Ronald Baatz's Bird Effort

Carl Larrson

There were a number of transcription errors, along with a factual one, in the original version of Wednesday's post reviewing Ronald Baatz's Bird Effort, which have been corrected. If you enjoyed the work you read there, you may want to revisit it as the poetry is now presented as it was intended. Thanks very much to Ronald Baatz for pointing this out and for his sympathetic understanding. My apology has been most graciously accepted.

eyes glued to the chestnut
beyond reach
translated by David G. Lanoue


Friday, August 28, 2009

Hot August Night and Captain Beefheart

For those of you who'll be in town and not watching the Steelers pre-season game (both of you), a reminder, along with an updated lineup and new poster, for tomorrow's Hot August Night reading at the Modern Formations Gallery.

For everybody else, here's a little treat from Captain Beefheart and the boys ...

After all, it is Friday ...

When the page was blank
no one thought, suddenly
a flower would appear.
David Lindley, -from LR#148

in the short summer night
wriggling to climax...
maiden flowers
translated by David Lanoue


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bird Effort by Ronald Baatz & a "Hot August Night"

Cover art by Henry Denander

There are so many wonderful small presses out there, doing all manner of work, in all manner of styles. One of the finest operations around is Kamini Press out of Sweden. The quality and care put into their books is obvious even before you hold one of their books in your hands: they are, as the cliché goes, a sight to behold.

Once in hand, first impressions are confirmed: the cover, the art, the paper, and the overall production is outstanding. Their statement of intent from their website says it all. Respect the poetry with the highest quality production possible, the rest will follow. It makes those of us on the lower end of things hang our heads in shame.

All this before even arriving at the first words. The poetry itself.

Bird Effort by Ronald Baatz is No. 4 in the "Kamini Press Poetry Series" and here are two little gems that open the volume:

When the stream overflowed
the long grass
is combed close to the earth

You sing to the bird in me
I sing to the bird in you–
an effort
we love to face
each dawn

There is a depth of feeling in these poems delicately hinted at, subtly revealed:

Leave me bread
at least a few slices
leave me your voice
at least a few words
to go with the bread

Snow this morning
when I part the curtains
after getting out of bed
one rib
at a time

A sudden shift in perspective, and the introspective mode becomes all-embracing:

winter is losing its grip-
in my sleep
I hear the pond's spine

hanging off the hook
in a phone booth
hanging off
the earth

And again:

her canary's grave
she catches the reflection
of lovely orange feathers
in the spoon

The old die old
sometimes the young
die young
and the little we know
the harsh winds blow

This beautiful little book contains 50 small poems, many 5 lines each, all tankas in their mood and construction, beautiful in their revelation. There is a simultaneous sadness and acceptance, a joy tempered by the real, a resonating wisdom. I can't resist - here is one more:

So many crows-
as though the earth
is turning black
from so many bones
buried in it

Can't blame the crickets
for crying out hour after hour-
summer having lied about
how long
it'd stay

This is the small press at its finest, the quality of work matched by the quality of the production, a beautiful reflection of life, work, dedication, and truth.


This Saturday night, there will be a reading sponsored by Six Gallery Press at Modern Formations Art Gallery here in the Burg. There are some mighty fine people reading that evening and so, if you are in the area, stop by. 14 writers for $5, it doesn't get much better than that. It will be my first public reading in over 20 years and will be a mixture of Lilliput work, in celebration of the 20th anniversary, and my own poems. A number of folks, including Kris Collins, Che Elias, René Alberts, Jerome Crooks, and John Grochalski have managed to drag me out of hiding after all these years and I have to thank them all for helping re-energize an old fart. Fortunately for me (and everyone else), there are so many folks reading that our time will be necessarily brief.

We'll see if I'm into this poetry thing after all ...


This week's featured issue of Lilliput Review ,#165 from November 2008, is so new it's still not in the archive. Enjoy.

Autumn's vibrant hues
or is it we who vibrate
in vivid rhythm
Harry Smith

lotus blossom
------evening twilight
M. Kei

no one

Ed Baker

He was a Japanese tourist.
At the checkout
they had to take his check
without proof of signature.
For all they knew
he might have written:
In the eastern garden
on the late chrysanthemums.
David Lindley

cultivated chrysanthemums
translated by David G. Lanoue


NB There were a number of transcription errors, along with one factual, in the original version of this post, which have been corrected. Thanks very much to Ronald Baatz for pointing this out and for his sympathetic understanding. My apology has been most graciously accepted.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Issa's Sunday Service, #17

Here's a tip of the hat to the end of summer by way of one heck of an obscure psych band from the 60's, Fever Tree. The literary reference is even more obscure; not many folks break out the Thomas Hardy referenced rock songs, then, now, or ever. It's one of those tunes you listen to 3 or 4 times though and you just can't stop.

I've been listening to it for over 35 years.


Here's a pair of poems from issue #23, back in 1991, that complement each other well. Enjoy.


the root
of all prophecy
Charlie Mehrhoff

Flat Lands

Fear of isolation comes
with the territory.

This meditation breeds tornadoes.
Paul Hadella

the newly arrived goose
lifts one leg...
deep meditation
translated by David Lanoue


The full list of songs, plus links, from Issa's Sunday Service ...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

René Daumal: Memorables

Longhouse Publishers & Booksellers has been putting out some of the finest publications of poetry, particularly in the short form, for many years. Their little accordion booklet series (4¼ x 11, folded 3 times) has always been a source of wonder and great delight for me. One of their latest publications is a new translation by Louise Landes Levi of René Daumal's 1939 work Memorables.

Memorables is, as translated, a prose poem of 18 individual verses of intermittent length. Each of the individual verses stand on their own, yet the entire work is very much a piece, with a powerful cumulative effect. Each verse opens with the injunction to remember:

Remember your first insult ...

Remember the evenings of terror ...

Remember your accomplices and deceits ...

Remember the day when you split open the web ...

Remember the beautiful mirage of concepts ...

Remember you have to pay for everything ...

At first, it can almost seem as though the speaker is gently reminding her/himself to remember certain incidents, certain pivotal moments. As the poem builds, however, it feels to me that the speaker is using direct address and that the tone is not so gentle.

Of course, perhaps, it is both simultaneously.

Sometimes the instances remembered seem literal, at others metaphoric to the point of being surreal. In any case, each seems to a be a piece of a larger whole, resulting in a fragmented yet lyrical of the collective unconscious.

Remember: your mother and your father, and your first lie, the
indiscrete odor of which crawls in your memory.

Remember magics, fish and tenacious dreams - you wanted to
see, you stopped up your two eyes in order to see, without knowing
how to open the other.

Ultimately the poem is the mystery of existence; the details are real, with the aforementioned cumulative effect just beyond understanding, no matter how focused one's awareness. It is a beautiful, at times frightening piece, finely translated and beautifully produced. I suspect each reader will be moved by different particular verses. These two touch something deep within, a remembrance of a shared dream, true for all, just as ephemeral, yet as real as the setting sun, as the rising moon.

Remember that you have to pay for everything, remember your
happiness but when your heart was run over, it was too late to
pay in advance.

But remember that love is of no one, that in your heart of
flesh is no one, that the sun is no one, blush seeing the
swamp in your heart.

In a recent post at the excellent Longhouse Birdhouse blog, here is the booklet in its entirety. They describe the Daumal booklet thus:

Three color foldout booklet of one long poem Memorables translated by Louise Landes Levi tucked into sky blue papers with signed and unsigned wrap around band. Unsigned $8.95 / signed $12.95.

The signature, of course, is that of the translator as Daumal died back in 1944. Why buy the booklet when you can read it in its entirety at the website? Why, indeed. Well, it seems to me the Arnolds know the answer to that question and the answer is the reason they published it electronically. Holding it now in my hands, I know the answer.

Hold it in your own and you will, too.


For those who might be interested, I recently posted "Why Anne Sexton Matters" over at the Eleventh Stack blog. I've spent the better part of this summer rereading the complete poems of Anne Sexton for the first time in 20 years and am even more moved, amazed, and saddened than I was first time round.

Finally, here's a selection from an issue so recent it hasn't made it into the Back Issue Archive. Issue #167 was published in March 2009. Enjoy.

I recall myself
As I was in the spring
Of my twentieth year
A peony-pale outside
But crimson inside.
Yosano Akiko
translated by Dennis Maloney


John Martone

Mountain River

In the mountains run
--the hieroglyphics of trout
Read them if you will; they will
--nonetheless draw you down into their water.
Jeffrey Skeate

Chrysanthemums slow
to bloom I find
no joy in autumn.
The west wind heartless
Blowing my gray hair.
Dennis Maloney

the emaciated chrysanthemum
into bloom
translated by David G. Lanoue


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Issa's Sunday Service, #16

Babe I'm on Fire by Nick Cave on Grooveshark
If the widget is wonky, click here

Well, after lots of wonderful summer weather here in Western Pennsylvania, the heat's finally settled in. Big-time. So it only seems appropriate to blow things out here at Issa's Sunday Service with a ranting screed just this side of hellfire. Here's a little 14 plus minute litrock number by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds entitled Babe, I'm on Fire. There is so much that is so good about this song, I don't know where to start, so I barely will. I just have to say that when someone rhymes "Picasso's Guernica" with "my wife with her furniture" and means it in a most resonant way, I'm backing up and checking out the exits. On the other hand, it's rather sweet that Garcia Lorca (making his 2nd appearance in 2 weeks) and Whitman are reunited here, however briefly.
Since very recently the regular weekly countdown of issues passed the count up of issues on the Sunday postings, here's a little something from issue #20 that wasn't in the post that featured that issue.

drought wind
hoarse howling
a clarinet
fashioned from
a dried human
pine resin
and locust

Daryl Rogers

flying locusts--
the willow tree too
grows old

translated by David G. Lanoue

To see and link to and or all 16 songs featured on these Sunday postings, see the Litrock website.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chiron Review & an Albert Huffstickler Memorial

Chiron Review is to the small independent press what The American Poetry Review is to university and corporate presses. Founded in 1982, CR has consistently represented the best of small press poets publishing over the last three decades. It is one of my favorite small presses and mostly certainly my favorite that does not focus predominately on the short poem. Edited by Michael Hathaway, CR contains poetry of most shapes and sizes, fiction, interviews, essays, reviews, and general lit mag news. There is an interview each issue with the featured poet; in the issue I have at hand (#86, spring 2009), the poet is S. A. Griffin.

The poetry is expansive, both in quantity and quality. Edited by the renowned Gerald Locklin with his son, Zachary, a nice balance of different approaches is achieved, leaning to the modern open verse style. No ax to grind, no particular approach: quality seems to be the measure. The works are generally grounded in the everyday stuff of existence; there are not many castles in the air here or flights of academic fitfulness. In this issue, there were well over 100 poems judiciously laid out over 48 pages (CR shares the tabloid newspaper format of the The New York Daily News or The New York Post or the above mentioned American Poetry Review) and I dare say there is something here for everyone. Here's a mixed sampling of work that grabbed me:

When I Meet Her by the Seashore
I shall
untwine her time
unravel her travel
undo her mood
unfasten her battens
unmesh her dress
unbutton her bubbles
unleash her fresh.

And then I shall
unwind her behind
uncouple her trouble
unearth her worth
unstaple her paper
unzip her yip
unbuckle her tickle
untuck her lush.
Mary Meriam

stealing nothing from death

---for Shuku

---let the world say 'his most wise
---music stole nothing from death'
----------------E. E. Cummings
There will be a time
my soul smells bad enough
to kill
the canaries.

Live well &
die fast ------------that
is all that I ask. ----For there

will come an instance
when knowledge is dead -&
all that is is all
that is
remembered. ---------There

will be a moment
when the sky is black
& the play of children
is just -------------too

a room

where the music
is just

too much

to bare.

Poem for Miss Ross
After I get home from driving my taxi
for twelve or fourteen hours
I lay down on my bed but it all
keeps spinning back from me:
every face in the mirror,
every street under construction,
every near missed accident,
every stranger's horror story,
every time there were sobs in the back seat,
every time I laughed
to make someone feel better
about being a prick,
every time I got to the pick up
and found no one there,
every time I took a stupid route
or got stuck in traffic
where the silences are long,
every time I looked at poor Miss Ross
as I drove her to her cancer treatment,
white and tiny as an angel
with candy cigarette bones.
Mather Schneider

Noodles in the Backyard
What I remember
of my stray, jet black
is how he'd pause
at a flower,
place his snoot
between the petals
and drink it all in:
The tulip, the grass,
the afternoon.
Ten billion lifetimes
culminating in one
perfect scent.
Robert L. Penick

Southside Janet

her scars precede
the wounds
that cause them
Don Winter

There is fine work here also by Antler, David Chorlton, and Richard Kostelanetz, as well as two autobiographical essays by Lyn Lifshin and an interesting piece by the always perceptive Michael Kriesel about a "new" sub-genre he defines as the "Wisconsin Justified Poem": you'll have to read this one yourself and be the judge.

CR costs $7 per issue, a year/4 issues for $17. It's one of a handful of magazines I read cover to cover and thoroughly enjoy. Don't get me wrong, though; I don't like everything here. I just appreciate the exposure to the variety and quality of work that is consistently featured in Chiron Review. I recommend it highly. If you miss Chiron Review, you will be missing one of the genuine small press magazines that carries on a long standing tradition of literary excellence only fleetingly encountered in the bigs.


I received email this week from Elzy Cogswell of the Austin Poetry Society in which he mentions the possibility of naming a grove of trees across from City Hall in Austin after the poet Albert Huffsticker. I asked and received permission to quote the relevant portion of his email for this post and it follows.

For those of you who were fortunate enough to know the poetry of Albert Huffstickler or have came upon his work, here or in many other small press venues, you know how very unique, poignant and insightful it is. Here is the announcement of the nomination process:

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Alfred,
Lord Tennyson, who served as England’s Poet Laureate
for 42 years. We observe such things, and it’s good for

Albert Huffstickler was not the Poet Laureate of the
United States, although he was recognized as the Poet
Laureate of Austin’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He had
won the Austin Book Award for his collection, Walking
Wounded (1989), but he was not even the Poet Laureate
of Texas. He never won a Nobel Prize, or even a Pulitzer.
He wrote poetry every day all his life, and he was published
almost as frequently. Although he won his share of honors,
I feel closer to the Huffstickler who didn't get rich on poetry.
I share that with him and with all the other poets who are
friends of mine. Huff lived for poetry every day until his
death on Feb. 25, 2002. We who have remembered him
annually in memorial readings also live for poetry, and with
him, we know that beautiful language is for the sake of
people who are ready to benefit from it.

A year or more ago, the Austin Poetry Society Board of
Directors began working toward planting a tree in a public
park to be called the Poetree. Then recently, an opportunity
arose for something better. The city has a very small park
area and wants a name for it. It’s a triangular piece of land
with about eight large oaks, many of them with double-trunks.
It already has a supply of limestone benches in the shade of
the trees. The place is directly across from City Hall in the
middle of the intersection of Cesar Chavez and South First
Street, just north of Ladybird Lake.

The Board of Directors asked me to nominate Huff’s name
for the park. I have therefore submitted this name: Albert
Huffstickler Poetrees Grove. The place to submit names is

If you knew Huff (or if you love poetry), perhaps you would
like to join me in this nomination by asking the Parks
Department to name the park for Huff. If we were successful,
this little jewel of a park could become a focal point for all the
Austin poetry organizations, all the people who come for
special events like Austin International Poetry Festival, and
perhaps most importantly, for individual poets who just
want to sit down and think.

The process is a civic one, so you will see that the link leads to a form. Though it may primarily be for Austin citizens, it might indeed impress the City leaders if some nominations came from outside the community. The form has boxes for your personal info (address etc.), the suggested name for the grove (Albert Huffstickler Poetrees Grove), biographical info, the extent of Huff's civic involvement, his connection to the facility, and the reason for the nomination. Relevant biographical and civic material may be found at Huff's website at:

His connection to the facility (i. e. a grove of trees) is the connection between poetry and nature; Huff's work was always grounded in the natural world. The reason for the nomination you already know if you know Huff's work. This all will probably take 10 minutes of your time but if Huff has touched you with his work in anyway, it is a fitting tribute.


I've perused the 1st ten issues of Lilliput Review and featured a number of poems from them recently on both the Twitter page and in the Issa's Sunday Service count up. They've given about all they have to give, so I'm going to call this round of featuring poems from back issues of Lillie done.

So, I'm not entirely sure what direction I'll be heading in terms of highlighting work from past issues. I can tell you that a great deal of my time over the last few months has been spent in working on two manuscripts, one an anthology of the first 20 years of Lilliput Review and the other a manuscript of my own work. I've been going full bore for quite some time now, on these projects, this blog, Lilliput, the Twitter poem-a-day , and Facebook and need to think through how to proceed. In the interim, I noticed that I hadn't featured any work from some of the issues published since the archive feature began back in July of 2007 on the old Beneath Cherry Blossoms blog. So here's some highlights from #168, from March 2009.

Flash forward 20 years: enjoy.

nose upriver:
I walk away
Mike Dillon

another friend has slipped
into the long and crowded
history of us–
the fish market's
thousands of open eyes
George Swede

i stumble
the pebble shows
its darker side
Natalia L. Rudychev

Rented Rooms
There was a city in her moans
and I resided
in every room
on every block.
Jonathan Treadway

the outer shoals
looking down upon the ocean and the seashore
from my room at the daytona beach hotel,
i felt for the first time like an aging
naturalist writer or painter,
like dr. johnson sick-a-bed by the strand,
separated from both nature's solitude and
the madding of the vacationing crowd,
the subjects of one's art, so near and yet
no more to be embraced.
Gerald Locklin

the I and the U
Shawn Bowman

my dead mother--
every time I see the ocean
every time...
translated by David G. Lanoue


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Issa's Sunday Service, #15

Garcia Lorca by Aguijarro (Antonio Guijarro Morales)

What can anyone say about the Pogues or Garcia Lorca, for that matter, that hasn't been said?

"But Lorca's corpse, as he had prophesied, just walked away
And the only sound was the women in the chapel praying"

Well, that's not bad for starters. Mr. MacGowan had a way with the words and one can only hope that, in the end, he is remembered for just that and not a way with a pint etc. This ode to the great Spanish poet doesn't shy away from the details while evoking a subdued beauty all it's own. As LitRock songs go, it's aces.

And if you are wondering about the Ignacio referred to in the first line of the song, here you go.

Here's a poem from Lilliput Review #17, November 1991, with a touch of a horror, and a fleeting (oh, wait, he said fleeing) revelation, all its own.

My animal face grimaces
---and flees again into darkness
because I've come too close
-----to remembering
David Richard

Lotus Sutra--
the birds remember Basho
translated by David G. Lanoue


PS Been doing this 15 weeks now - here's the entire list so far.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Resonance & Revelation

Last year I was asked, along with 13 other small press editors, if I would like to contribute an essay to the 20th anniversary issue of The Café Review, which was scheduled to appear the beginning of 2009. I was honored and, since it was also the 20th anniversary year of Lilliput Review, it seemed a good time to take a look at what I had done, was doing, and hoped to continue to do for some bit longer. The parameters were specific enough to be interesting to the reader and broad enough to give an expansive horizon to the writer. Basically, the question to be addressed was how you, the editor, choose the poetry you select and why. Also, speak to the current state of American poetry, which I felt distinctly unqualified to address, so I chose to speak to the state of poetry itself, perpetually, as I experience it and how that affects my approach to selecting work for Lilliput. Since The Café Review's latest issue is just out, I thought I'd share the essay, which appeared in their Spring 2009 issue.


- -
Resonance & Revelation - The Café Review Essay

Poetry, in its creation as well as its appreciation, is first and
foremost visceral. It is almost precognitive: the moment of
seeing, close-up and in the wild, a peregrine falcon, or a pair
of mating garter snakes, or a painting before intellectualization

It is revelation.

Even though this is the single most important part of the
process, involving something beyond words, what follows is
almost as important: taking in the falcon, the snakes, the
Klimt, processing the images, the intent, and the resonance.
For these reasons, rarely do I accept or reject any poem on
first reading. Every poem is carefully considered two, three,
four times, and ones that spark a lyrical quandary are often
read many, many more.

Above my desk there is a note: “Clarity and resonance, not
necessarily in that order” and when I am queried about
what I look for in a poem, I pass this statement on (it has
been part of the entry for Lilliput Review in the Poet’s
Market for most of Lillie’s 20 year run). If you equate this
statement to the process described above, I’d have to admit
that it would be missing that single most important element.


In my mind, without revelation there is no poetry. Clarity
is specific to execution, but it also applies to vision, and so
we are back to the visceral and how it might best be
described. And really it is beyond description. Perhaps there
can be an approximation. There is, however, no definitive
answer or this selection of essays would be unnecessary.
One would have sufficed.

All great poetry mirrors life, in its entirety or in some aspect.
There is no definitive answer concerning life because, if there
was one, all the different religions, like these essays, would
be unnecessary. Good poetry rarely posits an answer: it is a
restating of the question. Good poems are a constant
rephrasing of the one unanswerable question. Ah, theory,
theory! But how is it done, how are poems selected, what
makes a poem worth including in Lilliput Review?

Emily Dickinson’s definition of poetry provides a glimmer of
an answer. “If I read a book of poetry and it makes my whole
body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry.
If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I
know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is
there any other way? ”

This certainly is what I have in mind when I speak of
revelation and, frankly, this is no theory.

Lillie is a magazine of the short poem. It is diminutive in size
by design, for a number reasons, but suffice it to say that
form reflects content. Guidelines ask for 3 poems, with a
maximum of ten lines each. These are the only rules. If
somebody has a 10 line sonnet, I’m ready. I receive nearly
a thousand batches of poems and publish on average 8
issues a year, generally 16 pages in length. On average,
there are 2 poems per page, occasionally one or three. I
use artwork so that reduces the page number to 13.
That’s 26 poems per issue, approximately 200 poems
per year out of a pot of 3,000.

Now comes the tricky part; Lillie is a one person operation
and has been for 20 years. So, really, how are the poems
chosen? Well, aside from what is noted above (and if my
colleagues are honest, they know the following to be true),
work is chosen that I personally like. In fact, I can look
back over the full run and see something of a mirror,
reflecting a body of selected work. It isn’t a poet’s
complete poems, but it is something like that. It is
something like a personal journal, a written artifact of a
life’s journey. In all its honesty, foolishness, pettiness,
courage … the full gambit of humanness. Folks often
comment on how issues seem themed but nothing is
pre-planned, though sometimes an issue taps into
something (insert “z” word here). Putting together an
issue is actually a creative act; this is where it all comes
together and this almost singly makes the endless hours
of detail work worth every single second.

So, er, what do you like, Don?

Well, I have a dedication to the short poem. In tone and
flavor, I’d say I have an Eastern predilection. I like
clarity, plain speaking, but I also like something that
resonates, and not necessarily etc., something that
suggests the many realms of possibility. I love Dickinson,
Whitman, Ginsberg, Olds, Issa, Oliver, Shakespeare,
Yosano Akiko, Franz and James Wright, Sexton … I could
go on, but you get the idea.

An example of the perfect Lilliput poem might be The
Jewel by James Wright. It does everything I’ve described
above and much more. Here’s a poem from a very early
issue of Lillie that is emblematic of the kind of work I look

in a fold of
Balzac’s coat
spider eggs
William Hart

This poem, comprised of 8 simple words in 3 truncated
lines, says it all. What really is going on? Is it a Balzac
statue or an imagined episode in his life? It seems to
contain all the stories Balzac ever wrote and writer’s
block wasn’t an issue. There is something ominous,
possibly. Or it’s simply a naturalistic expression of an
imagined or seen event.

And it resonates like hell.

And that is precisely the point. It is all those things,
drawing the reader in and forcing her to participate
in the creation. It is the perfect melding of Eastern
sensibility and Western mind.

And, oh, did I mention – it’s under 10 lines.


This week's selection from the Back Issue Archive arrives at #10, from February 1990. Here's two poems from that issue that still retain their sting. Enjoy.

Status Quo
My father, the stone,
rests in my heart
awaiting his completion
with a dry persistence.

I let him wait.
As all stones must,
he is learning patience.
Albert Huffstickler

Do you ask for mercy?

You will be given a toad
and a bucket of salt,
and nothing more.

Do not ask for more.
There is none.
David Castleman

from beneath a stone
translated by David G. Lanoue


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Issa's Sunday Service, #14

For this week's Issa's Sunday Service, please turn your hymnals up to 11, that's the hard rock setting, and let it rip: it's Willie Dixon's classic You Can't Judge a Book By the Cover, as done by the criminally neglected band, Cactus. Some fine harp, scorching guitar, sweet bass, and a possess'd vocal.

Sometimes, a singer/songwriter just won't do.

This week's poem from the archive comes from Lilliput Review #26, November 1991. Other poems from #26 were featured in a recent post. This one is a long-time favorite.

Like A Rose
like a rose
had to leave us

but Marcia,
like a rose
still remains
Daniel J. McCaffrey

even the willow
is lonely...
rose of Sharon
translated by David G. Lanoue