Sunday, April 23, 2017

Silouan's Song

Welcome to Music Sunday. Today's post will be brief due to time constraints, but I do hope you enjoy the music.

We continue our feature on
Arvo Pärt with his composition “Silouan’s Song”. Scored for strings, this piece is an appreciation of Silouan the Athonite, & is based on his writings about yearning after God. You can find more information at the links provided.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Silouan the Athonite Силуан Афонский
Photo by Jack1956.
Public domain.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Peace Piece

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Dahler Straße in Neuenrade, 30 May 2009. Photo by Frank Vincentz who makes it available under the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version & the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. He states "You may select the license of your choice."

Friday, April 21, 2017

Two Octets for Sandy

Light & Sound Octet

after you read the next poem I write, not
this but the one after, you’ll love me; small rain

touches the kwanzan blossoms with its light touch,
perhaps as electric as clasping your hand

in the car under the white streetlight striking
those same blossoms with its shower of photons;

particles of light shimmering in your voice,
sound waves rippling the evening in your gaze


Mississippi Ave Rainy Evening Octet

of course rain came just then, sky between dark &
light, you walking toward me from the other

direction, the one I didn’t expect, past
the pear tree, myself under the hawthorn’s new

leaves because I’ve grown used to thorns; evening
came too, word shower, amber tea, glass cups; comes

night, precipitous, altered, gentle—because
the admirable rain does know its season

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Dao De Jing 7

Dao De Jing 7

The heavens are everlasting & the earth is long-enduring.
The heavens & the earth endure because they don’t exist for themselves.
Thus, the sage puts himself last & yet is first; he puts himself to the side & yet he thrives.
Is it because he is unconcerned with self that he can achieve his ends?

Laozi, 道德經
Translation by John Hayes
Unlike with my original poetry & poetry translations, I don’t asset a copyright claim on my translation of the Dao De Jing. It may be freely used under the terms of the Creative Commons license.
Image links to its source at Wiki Commons:
Hua Shan. Photo by Peretz Partensky from San Francisco, USA, who makes the image available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Poem to be Read and Sung

Poem to be Read and Sung

I know there is someone
who looks for me in her hand, day and night,
meeting me each minute in her shoes.
Doesn’t she know night is buried,
spurs worn behind, in the kitchen?

I know there is someone composed of my parts,
with whom I integrate when my waist
goes horseback across her exact pebble.
Doesn’t she know it won’t come back to her box,
the coin that came out with her portrait.

I know the day,
but the sun has escaped me;
I know the universal act she did in her bed
with someone else’s courage and warm water, whose
surface frequency is a mine.
Is this someone perhaps so small
even her own feet step on her?

A cat is the boundary between her and me,
right beside her portion of water.
I see her in the corners, her robe opening and
closing; it was once a questioning palm tree…
What can she do but exchange her crying?

But she looks for me and looks for me. It’s a story!

César Vallejo, “Poema Para Ser Leído Y Cantado”
Translation by Jack Hayes
© 2017

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Leitungsstangen” (“Utility Poles”): Paul Klee. 1913
Public domain.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Octets for the Triduum

Sheer Thursday Interstate Ave Octet

the katsuras have put on their new green leaves
after winter’s frailties; the camellias

blossom & blossom, opening crimson
hearts behind the metal fence then letting go—

beyond them, a stone fountain, but it’s gone dry
despite this drizzle; between me & the train

clanging north in the path of unburdened clouds,
six dogwoods verging on red inflorescence


Good Friday Multnomah St Octet

sky’s crying jag came cold & sharp, shattered, stopped;
sharp as the thorn tree, its green & scarlet shoots

spiraling into points, as sun striking glass
then metal, that inexorable red line train

west, neither slow nor fast just adamant; six
rhododendron blossoms, their petals’ white skin 

beaded with raindrops that turn to diamonds,
if diamonds were more tears than I can count


Black Saturday Octet #1
(Glisan St: 4/15/17)

light falls from all directions & rises back:
each quince blossom’s small Sagrado Corazón,

each dandelion a shaggy halo in
lawn’s tall grass—as if this was all transported

to a meadow at a busy street corner
in heaven where the bus pulls over next to

a blue sign, sighs, a different blue than this
sky looking down on the bus as it pulls up


Black Saturday Octet #2
(Buxton St: 4/15/17)

one crow carrying grief above the maple,
two crows carrying joy to the roof; one crow

flying toward the pear tree, the one with white
flowers—actually those are tears the wind will

wipe away on another afternoon; two
crows on parallel wires above two snowbell

saplings making their green decision while two
paperback maples wait, dark pages turning


Sandy Blvd Easter Octet #1

sedge & the yellow-blooming Oregon-grape
move in a ring where wind takes them, but these clouds

being everywhere have no place to go;
white sun sinks in a haze; I think of paper

lanterns swaying scarlet in this morning’s breeze,
the white walk sign, this asphalt painted with lines

& one curved arrow: simultaneous up
& down motion, walking & falling forward


Sandy Blvd Easter Octet #2

life has arrived at this moment then the next:
couples enjoying yakisoba & phő

through a restaurant window, all the blossoms
vanished from those three star magnolias, all

the kwanzan blossoms coral pink weight on boughs
five bamboo culms rising in a planter where

the street curves, rose mural climbing a yellow
building: let me go up to the high railing

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Two Octets from Borthwick Ave

Dreaming & Waking Borthwick Ave Octet

two waxing crescents float side by side across
gray waters, the very definition of

tranquil; this is the onset of the cosmos,
its black & white films, its flickering kisses

on an evening when a single star looks down
on Interstate, cyan blue eye in that space

between twin cherry trees, the real moon turning
its light on my eyes, film projector of dreams


Borthwick Ave Observance Octet

the weeping plum by the playground has shed its
pink tears—where have they gone this morning? beside

concrete steps tulips open their orange cupped
hands as if to catch something falling; a cherry’s

clustered blossoms drop one petal, one petal,
one petal between parked cars; there’s no one else

watching but the daffodils’ hazel eyes, that
Japanese maple moved in an unseen breeze

Jack Hayes

© 2017

Sunday, April 16, 2017

“Spiegel Im Spiegel”

Welcome to another edition of Sunday Music on Robert Frost’s Banjo.

We continue our series—admittedly all too brief & cursory—on Arvo Pärt with two versions of his 1977 composition “Spiegel Im Spiegel”, also written in his tintinnabular style.  For more about “Spiegel Im Spiegel”, you can read the entry on Wikipedia or this excellent write-up on The Cross Eyed Pianist blog.

Although I’ve featured other versions of “Spiegel Im Spiegel” on the blog in the past, I believe an introduction to Pärt should include this piece, which also has a great deal of personal meaning for me.

I do hope you find this music meaningful & moving.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“This is one of Kusama's first Mirrored Rooms she created that are now so popular.” 1 September 2015; image supplied by the Helsinki Art Museum, The Broad, which makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. 

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Two Early April Octets

Mythological Fremont St Octet

evening sky draining off blue making space
for night & the moon as it grows, now floating

amidst gray clouds, wings of big mythical birds,
themselves transmuted from fish in an unseen

river connected somehow to this cross-hatch
of power lines & a corrugated roof

as dark magnolia grandiflora leaves
reach as far as they reach into fading air


Early Morning Mississippi Ave Octet

one crow at the linden’s pinnacle watches
clouds under full sail across a lake of white

light & blue spectrum scattering, north & north
again—two crabapples’ maroon parasols

open in an unsure daybreak, foliage
on the one hawthorn tentative, five tulips

hold their scarlet hands tight as the crow takes off:
people in black hoodies dozing on the bus

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

Dona Nobis Pacem

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons: 

Saints Kings Church, 3000 Río Consulado Avenue, Venustiano Carranza, Federal District, Mexico: “Pax”. 15 February 2009. Photograph by Enrique López-Tamayo Biosca, who makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Two Octets from Sandy Blvd

Poetics on Sandy Blvd Octet

three star magnolias down to their last blooms,
the alphabet of a poem brief as day—

three ginkgos express themselves in new leaves,
these green words sprouting monosyllabic on

the tongue, all the crucial words from that poem—
this is my heart, here in the wind & the sun

that shows its face, gets lost in those fast gray clouds:
images merged in the mind of this instant


Rest & Motion on Sandy Blvd Octet

a single yellow rose for a last goodbye
painted across an amaranth stucco wall,

static; but the crow launches from the wire past
ash trees moved by the wind; one red one yellow

balloon strain on their ribbon, twist in circles
swooping around the power pole—I’m waiting

for the walk light, watch saucer magnolias
shed their big petals behind the chain link fence

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dao De Jing 6

Dao De Jing 6

The Valley Spirit does not die,
Her name is the Profound Female.
The gateway of the Profound Female is the root of heaven & earth.
Unbroken yet fine like a thread, seeming to exist;
It works without effort.

Laozi, 道德經
Translation by John Hayes
Unlike with my original poetry & poetry translations, I don’t asset a copyright claim on my translation of the Dao De Jing. It may be freely used under the terms of the Creative Commons license.

Image links to its source at Wiki Commons:
Art of the Ming dynasty明朝1368–1644
Chinese immortal painting of Queen Mother of the West Riding Foo Dog , Ink Color & Gold on Paper Xi Wangmu portrait with the symbols, Scarf with black cloud .
The crown decorated with black heaven cloud, blue-greyish plants, pheonix feather splayed out in nine straight feathers at the top with rising flames,colored water droplet in almond forms,red green blue and in the middle with white for west.

This file is made available by Wiki User King Muh (the link provided with his user name is dead), who makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0International license.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017



I was born on a day
when God was sick.

Everybody knows I’m living,
that I’m wicked; and they don’t know
the December that comes from that January.

There’s a void
in my metaphysical air
that nobody must touch:
the cloister of a silence
that spoke at the brink of fire.

I was born on a day
when God was sick.

Brother, listen, listen…
Okay. So I won’t go
without taking my Decembers,
without leaving my Januarys.
Well, I was born on a day
when God was sick.

Everybody knows I’m living,
that I chew…and they don’t know
why my verses screech,
the coffin’s dark sorrow,
polished winds
unscrewed from the Desert’s
inquisitive Sphinx.

Everybody knows…And they don’t know
that the Light is consumptive,
and the Shadow obese…
And they don’t know that the Mystery synthesizes…
that it’s the musical and
sad hump that denounces from a distance
the meridian passing from boundaries to the Boundary.

I was born on a day
when God was sick,

César Vallejo, “Espergesia”
Translation by Jack Hayes
© 2017

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Image of the Great Sphinx of Giza from The Earth and its Inhabitants by Elisée Reclus, Ernest George Ravenstein, A. H. Keane, 1886.
Public Domain

Monday, April 10, 2017

Two Octets from Last Thursday

Kerby Ave Temporal Octet

cherry blossom snowfall with pink cast after
morning rain, the sight of it puts me in mind of

yesterday as a concept; rain not felt, just
circles flowering in puddles until each

corolla dissolves: pondering tomorrow
scrub jay, now still on the trellis now halting

on damp grass refrains from comment; the flicker
taps in sevens with rests against a plane tree


Mississippi Ave Translation Octet

two magnolias rustle by the bus stop;
I’d like to give their leaves names: alegria,

saudade, violão—& you’d understand—
of course this sky’s a minor chord mingled with

a major chord, like the man selling roses
from a five-gallon bucket at the corner;

every petal given its name too, you see,
in memory of leaves: joy, yearning, guitar

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Sunday, April 9, 2017


We’re back for another Sunday Music post featuring the music of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt.

Today’s selection is “Fratres”, which Pärt composed in 1977. “Fratres” also employs Pärt’s tintinnabuli technique, which was discussed in last week’s post. According to Wikipedia, quoting Deutsche Grammophon’s Sinfini Music website, the composition is a “mesmerising set of variations on a six-bar theme combining frantic activity and sublime stillness that encapsulates Pärt’s observation that ‘the instant and eternity are struggling within us’.” (Note that Wikipedia’s link to the article isn’t working because the Sinfini music site is closed). 

“Fratres” was composed “without fixed instrumentation”, & many combinations of instruments have been performed & recorded. The most common are violin & piano & cello & piano, but it’s also common to see wind ensembles, cello ensembles & various string ensembles, often with percussion added. However a search on YouTube turns up some more unusual combinations as well, including two pianos; cello & guitar (an interesting arrangement, but to my ear a six-string guitar lacks the force & depth to really carry off its part—it would be interesting to hear an arrangement for a guitar with extended bass strings); marimba & vibraphone; & violin & accordion.

I’ve chosen two versions from the many; do hope you enjoy them.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons :
"Ewigkeit – Sinnspruch an einer Wanduhr in Meersburg, Bodensee" by Evergreen68 who makes the image available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unportedlicense. The clock inscription in English: "The Golden Age flies to Shadows; O Human, recall Eternity."

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Da Pacem Domine

Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris

Give peace, O Lord, in our time

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Peace dove graffiti in Madrid, Spain, with the word "¡PAZ!" (English: "PEACE!")
20 December 2006 by Daniel Lobo, who makes the image available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Two Octets from Division St

Division St Cinematic Octet #1

that faded arc of prayer flags looks a lot like
laundry across the porch; perhaps this drizzle

adds to the effect, or the gable’s peeling
saffron paint, or the black & white film of three

crows overhead—despite this, the tulip pair
blossoms under the black wind chimes, & I won’t

tell you they’re Technicolor but they could be
two real mouths in a film about forgetting


Division St Cinematic Octet #2

behind three hawthorns contemplating blooming
a string of lit paper lanterns hangs almost

straight & a bicyclist pedals past making
her cameo in the restaurant windows—

in a window down the street two tinsel strands
curve in front of a curtain: the room’s gone black—

that young couple under their superfluous
umbrella casts two blue sidewalk reflections

Jack Hayes

© 2017

Thursday, April 6, 2017

That Sunday Octet

lily magnolias open their wounded
hearts all over town—I watched them morning &

afternoon; it's true the water bottle stood
almost invisible in light filtering

through that big window; as you suggested, white
cherry blossoms turn voluble right now, I’d

like to translate their language: word after word
unfurling, falling, petals from a white cup

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dao De Jing 5

Dao De Jing 5

Heaven & earth lack sentiment & treat the ten thousand things like straw dogs;
The sage lacks sentiment & treats the people like straw dogs.
The space between heaven & earth is like a bellows:
Empty yet unyielding.
The more it is worked the more it sends forth.
Much discussion impoverishes it:
Instead conserve the core 

Laozi, 道德經
Translation by John Hayes
Unlike with my original poetry & poetry translations, I don’t asset a copyright claim on my translation of the Dao De Jing. It may be freely used under the terms of the Creative Commons license.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Tourists at Longhu Shan; photo by Tyler from Shanghai, China who makes the image available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Little Viennese Waltz

Little Viennese Waltz

In Vienna are ten young ladies,
a shoulder for death to cry on,
and a forest of mounted doves.
There’s a fragment of tomorrow
in the museum of frost.
There’s a parlor with a thousand windows.
Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this waltz with its silent mouth.

This waltz, this waltz, this waltz, this waltz
of itself, of brandy and death
that dips its tail in the sea.

I want you, I want you, I want you
with the armchair and the dead book,
through the melancholy hallway,
in the dark attic of the iris,
in our bed of the moon,
in the dance the turtle dreams.
Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this waltz with its shattered waist.

In Vienna there are four mirrors
where your voice and the echoes play.
There’s a death for piano
that paints the boys blue.
There are beggars on tiled rooftops.
There are fresh garlands of tears.
Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this waltz that dies in my arms.

Because I want you, I want you, my love,
in the attic where the children play,
dreaming the aged lights of Hungary
through the buzz of a tepid afternoon,
watching sheep and iris of snow
through the dark silence of your brow.
Ay, ay, ay, ay!
Take this waltz of “I want you always”.

In Vienna I’ll dance with you
in a disguise that holds
the river’s headwaters.
See my hyacinth shores!
My mouth left behind between your legs,
my soul in photographs and white lilies,
and in the dark waves of your stride
I want, my love, my love, to leave behind
violin and sepulcher, the ribbons of the waltz.

Federico García Lorca, “Pequeño vals Vienés”
Translation by Jack Hayes
© 2017

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Liebespaar (Selbstdarstellung mit Wally) Lovers (Self-portrait with Wally):  Egon Schiele - gouache and pencil on paper; 1914 or 1915.
Public domain

Monday, April 3, 2017

Two Octets from a Monday

Unsettled Monday Octet

they tell me I’ll wake up some morning not cold—
I no longer buy their words; one crow calling,

from a cedar I’d like to think, as this sky
scrambles gray & white & blue without any

chance of a caress from the maple’s fingers;
the roofs have no names, the windows no prospects,

wall heater sighs like a freight train lost in rain:
the crow is speaking in invisible ink


Monday Epistemological Octet

the truth comes out: what you’re seeing isn’t real;
what’s unseen is likewise unreal—an airplane

aloft descending through a major scale, that
guitar on the sofa just out of sunlight,

the monstera vine traversing a table,
one black bag so very empty on a chair,

unfolded gold foil chocolate bar wrapper;
piano chords that die inside black speakers

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Sunday, April 2, 2017

“Für Alina”

It’s with great pleasure that I devote the Sunday Music feature to an artist whose work I hold in the very highest regard: Arvo Pärt. Obviously a blog series of five posts (& at least there are five Sundays in April this year) can only offer the most superficial introduction to a composer of Pärt’s stature.  Because I devoted some posts in January 2016 to Pärt’s choral music, I’ve decided to forego that very important part of his œuvre for this series. You can find those earlier posts by searching under the “Arvo Pärt” label.

Indeed, although Pärt has a major reputation in music circles, his work isn’t widely known among the general public, so I’ve decided to focus on “greatest hits” as it were for these posts. In (I believe) four of the five posts, two versions of a piece will be offered.

We’re starting today with his piano composition “Für Alina”, which was written in 1976, & is considered an essential example of his "tintinnabula" technique—according to the Arvo Pärt website

More specifically, tintinnabulation involves the predominance of a single triad in one or more voices. In a four-voice context, it is likely that two of the voices will sound only notes of a single triad, while the other two voices move in a step-wise fashion. This triad is, in most cases, the tonal center of the piece from which Pärt rarely departs.

Pärt himself has written:

Tintinnabulation is an area I sometimes wander into when I am searching for answers – in my life, my music, my work. In my dark hours, I have the certain feeling that everything outside this one thing has no meaning. The complex and many-faceted only confuses me, and I must search for unity. What is it, this one thing, and how do I find my way to it? Traces of this perfect thing appear in many guises – and everything that is unimportant falls away. Tintinnabulation is like this. . . . The three notes of a triad are like bells. And that is why I call it tintinnabulation.

As written, “Für Alina” is a short piece. The two selections here today are improvisations by pianist Alexander Malter & chosen by Pärt for inclusion on the essential Alina, released in 2000 by ECM.  You can hear Pärt at this link discussing the piece in an episode from 24 Preludes in Search of a Fugue, in which he describes the opening as “Like two people whose paths seem to cross, & then they don’t.

This is sublime music. Hope you find it meaningful & moving.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Composer Arvo Pärt, 5 January 2011. Photo by the Estonian Foreign Ministry, which makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Friday, March 31, 2017

March Moon

(8 quatrains)

1. new moon

sky looks even darker in sidewalk puddles;
not that black exuding light from three crows near

this bus stop though, where hawthorn limbs sway east, west:
is this dark enough to make a beginning

2. waxing crescent

traffic tells a story without lacunae—
still early after all, people punctuate

this sidewalk; above, on clouds’ turning pages:
skewed white comma erased, rewritten, erased

3. half moon

night sky’s torn page struck through with three power lines
glinting in rain & streetlights; two cherry trees

throw up gnarled empty hands in resignation—
half-circle smudged in cloud marginalia

4. waxing gibbous

lights constellate between saplings & painted
restaurant facades, all golden, some blinking,

stars that haven't quite fallen, seeking a myth:
white eye flashes through cinematic sky swirl

5. full moon

sedge lets its hair down, dozes pale on the slope;
big cedar watches over it, green boughs gone

blacker than sky where airplane & star flicker:
fullness lingers in cherry tree’s naked arms

6. waning gibbous

the hawthorn branches twist in these gusts, corner
to corner; one crow swoops sideways through straight rain—

one umbrella’s ribbed hemisphere draws nearer:
morning sky stretched solid, also breaking down

7. last quarter

sun burning white just above the roof peak; six
dark windows below out of its view; one house

facing it, glows with a reckless acceptance:
half moon sinks into clouds, the cherry tree’s breath

8. waning crescent

three gulls circle & circle, above, below
the Burnside’s arc; gray cumulus tinged white rings

the sky tall maples reach into, draw back
in wind that carried the last moon past the blue

Jack Hayes
© 2017