I'm sorry to report, another fine small press poet has died: Leonard J. Cirino. Over the years, I've published a few pieces by Leonard in Lilliput Review. He was unique; what appealed to me about his work was a lyrical quality that displayed a fine mix of detail and philosophy, with a faintly Eastern sensibility. Indeed, he loved the classic Eastern poets, as in the following:
The Road Going Nowhere after So Chongju
The road going somewhere always leads to an end.
Sadness, like a red blossom, also comes to an end.
The limbs of a willow bend to the stream, the moon
descends. Sorrow, an ache laced with opium, and joy
that never ends. The floating worlds go on in a dream.
What of the taste and stiff scent of blood?
Its stain? The road long coming home?
Leonard J. Cirino
Lilliput Review, #176
The poet and friend of Leonard, RD Armstrong, has done a fine tribute over at the Lummox Writers' Press Club. Check it out if you get a chance, it's a fine modern elegy. In addition, listen to Leonard being interviewed by RD over at Blog Talk Radio on The Jane Crown Show or via the following widget:
A couple of Leonard's poems, the first from his last book and the second, originally published in America back in 2007.
Forty Years of Nightmares
Here the clouds are great churches – Deborah Diggs
Judged harshly by my enemies, I say,
Let them cast the first stone. I’ll know
the last judgement when my time comes;
with the clouds and seas as my proper
form of worship, along with the streams,
mountains, the trees and stones.
I never had to stay in the dark of my room
or stand in a corner. Life never punished me
until madness ran amok with my body,
my brain. i could have been Frida
struck by a bus, or Deborah falling,
jumping from the stadium’s heights.
Let them cast lots among the shadows like ghosts.
I know my place in the dark and the light.
from Leonard's last book The Instrument of Others
Pygmy Forest Press
Accept the Gift A Letter to James Wright, Deceased
Like snow, the poem breaks into petals
and crystals, sharp things like stilettos.
It is just now April, or mid-May,
the shadows of flowers lie neglected
in the garden while cedar and fir hang
lovely in the long-gone frost of March.
Why does it take some happiness
and a loneliness one can only cry for
to make these poems? I’m sorry you had
the gift. It makes for a miserable life.
How Ohio lived in you, your verse freed
and standing on its own, like a colt,
or an orphan removed from the nest
only to have its illusions shattered
in the world wide enough that you can’t
know yourself, or any part but Ohio,
and all things west, north, south, the distance
from home one calls a map of the earth.
Published in America Magazine April 30, 2007
Leonard reading "I Dream Your Voice":
And these 3 are for Leonard. I believe he would like them very much ... rest in peace.
The moon drops one or two feathers into the field.
The dark wheat listens.
There they are, the moons young, trying
Between trees, a slender woman lifts up the lovely shadow
Of her face, and now she steps into the air, now she is gone
Wholly, into the air.
I stand alone by an elder tree, I do not dare breathe
The wheat leans back toward its own darkness,
And I lean toward mine.
Saying Good bye to MenHao-jan
at Yellow Crane Pavilion
You said goodbye at Yellow Crane Pavilion
and sailed west, down into the valley
through the flowers and the mist of spring
until your lonely sail vanished
in the blue sky's horizon.
and I was left watching the river
flowing gently into heaven
translated by Sam Hamill
you're growing old...
but what a voice!
translated by David G. Lanoue
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