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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Black Stone on a White Stone


Black Stone on a White Stone



I will die in Paris in a rainstorm, 
a day I already have in my memory.
I will die in Paris—and I won’t run away—
maybe a Thursday, like today, in autumn.

It will be a Thursday, because today, Thursday, as I prose 
these verses, I’ve put my humerus bones
on wrong, and never as today have I turned back,
on every one of my roads, to see myself alone.

César Vallejo is dead, they beat him
without his doing a thing to them;
they hit him hard with a stick and hard

with a rope too; his witnesses
the Thursdays, the humerus bones,
the solitude, the rain, the roads.


César Vallejo, “Piedra negra sobre una piedra blanca”
Translation by Jack Hayes
© 2017


Image Links to its Source on Wiki Commons:
Fotografia de César Vallejo en el Parque de Versalles: Photo by Juan Domingo Córdoba - Photo restoration: John Manuel Kennedy T. 1929
Public domain.





Tuesday, March 28, 2017

“Crow on the Wire” Publishing Announcement



It’s my great pleasure to announce the publication of my most recent book of poetry, Crow on the Wire. The book is currently available for purchase along with my other books at this link on the lulu.com website, & will soon be joining the rest at Amazon.com as well as Barnes & Noble online. I’m also hoping to make them available at some local booksellers here in Portland, Oregon, but I have to admit I’m much better at writing poetry than at marketing it.

Crow on the Wire has the odd distinction of being both the longest book of poems I’ve ever written—the book is 188 pages & contains 231 poems—& also being the book written in the shortest amount of time. Ullambana in Portland was published at the end of September 2016, & I began writing the first poems for Crow on the Wire just after that. The final two poems for the book were composed on February 23, 21017—a pace that was exhilarating, unprecedented, & yes, at time even alarming. To quote the book’s Preface:

These poems were composed in a rush of inspiration between the beginning of October 2016 & late February 2017. Although I’ve been seriously engaged in writing poetry for the better part of 40 years, I’ve never before enjoyed such a fruitful period; it was a blessing overall, & I’m deeply grateful. On the other hand, as Arvo Pärt has said of music, while poetry is my “friend” & “comforter”, & indeed a source of “liberation”, it can be “also a painful thorn in flesh & soul.” Nonetheless, as I hope this book suggests, we must strive to accept the gift as given.

The poems in Crow on the Wire are very loosely based on the Chinese lüshi & jueju forms, & so are all in eight & four line lengths. Some poems double or even quadruple the eight-line form. The poems don’t rhyme—as the Chinese poems do—& there’s no way to duplicate the pitch patterns or concision of the Chinese language. But in addition to the line lengths the following formal considerations have been retained: a strict syllable count; the couplet as the primary building block; & presentation based on parallelism & a series of images.

Crow on the Wire is the first in a series of three planned books that will form a poetic journal over a 12-month span, more or less from one “mid-autumn moon” to the next. Poems from the second book have been appearing on the blog for a few weeks now, & while they retain the same form, they have changed in voice & focus as the season changes. As was the case with Crow on the Wire, not all the poems from the second book will appear on the blog.

Thanks as always for your interest in my poetry & in Robert Frost’s Banjo. Both mean a great deal to me. Finally, to quote one last time from the Preface:

The crow on the wire stands poised between earth & heaven, between the ever-present now & the ever-emerging future. The crow—pervasive in this urban landscape—plumage dark as letters on a page, forthcoming, intelligent & savvy, sociable but wary, guided by its own rules of conduct: now on the wire; now on the wing.

Dao De Jing 4



Dao De Jing 4


The Way is a vessel poured out, used but not filled.
It is an Abyss, as if the ancestor of the ten thousand things!
It blunts the sharp edge,
It unties what is tangled,
It tempers bright light,
It settles the dust.
So deep! As though it only seems to have existence.
I do not know whose son it is,
An emblem of what existed before God.

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:
This is a photo of a (or part of a) Major National Historical and Cultural Site in China identified by the ID CNGD-754-055; described on Wikipedia as “A zaojing depicting a taijitu surrounded by the bagua.”
Photo by Wiki Commons user Kunwi (link to user’s page is dead), who makes the image available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.



Monday, March 27, 2017

Vancouver Ave Fairy-Tale Octet


cherry branches cold forged in that white streetlight:
metallic, sure, but a galvanized finish—

wrong time of the month for an 8 o’clock moon,
wrong season for twilight; crabapple’s budding

maroon though: blood pricked in a kindermärchen
promise in the last glimpse of the west’s blue eyes

before sleeping—such a long time—that other
streetlight might shine off the cedar’s highest bough



Jack Hayes
© 2017

Sunday, March 26, 2017

"Spiegel im Spiegel" – the Esmerine version



My apologies to fans of the Sunday Music feature for today’s post being so late.

We wrap up our series on Esmerine with something a bit different—their version of Arvo Pärt’s “Spiegel Im Spiegel”. It’s actually how I discovered Esmerine, & also serves as a lead-in to announce that next month we will be featuring Pärt’s music—& there are five Sundays this April. Of course five posts will scarcely even begin to introduce Pärt’s work.

Esmerine dedicated their performance of “Spiegel Im Spiegel” (which means “Mirror in Mirror”—a symbol of infinity) to their deceased friend, Lhasa de Sela. They also recorded a song titled “Snow Day for Lhasa” in his memory; this was included on their 2011 Constellation release, La Lechuza.  You can listen to a live version of that song here.

If you’ve enjoyed this series on Esmerine, please consider supporting them by purchasing their music.




Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
130 - Grove Of Mirrors, Hilary Arnold Baker

Date    22 May 2010, 11:17


Photo by Rob Young from United Kingdom, who makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.




Friday, March 24, 2017

Celestial Fremont St Octet


half arc of the rainbow realized in one
flash curving over floating traffic signals,

vanishing back of the windowless high rise,
housewrap transfigured in sun surfacing, gold,

going down all at once, those clouds to the west
mirroring the yellow effulgence, except

rolling on, rolling on toward the blue north
counter to the one crow’s diagonal flight



Jack Hayes
© 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

March Evening Poetics Octet


the rain is typing letters on my shoulders
or is it poems? poor rain, a poet too—

fallen stars—but optimistic—daffodils
nod & take this all in against the stone wall—

rain’s phrases glint so fast across the pavement’s
mirror pages, there’s no way to follow—still

soul gets no break in that bamboo thicket where
syllables take shape: drizzle leaf flower love



Jack Hayes
© 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Dao De Jing 3

Dao De Jing 3

When the gifted are not valued & employed, there is no strife;
When expensive & rare goods are not valued, thieves are not created;
When things longed for are not made visible, there is no disorder.
The sage ruler, then, will empty the heart-minds of the people, will fill their stomachs, will weaken their willfulness, will make their bones strong.
He will constantly keep the people in a state of not perceiving & not longing, & will keep  those who do have perceptive knowledge from daring to act.
When non-action is practiced, then all is put in order.

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:
A painting of the Daode Tianzun ('the Heavenly Lord of Dao and its Virtue'), the deified Laozi, one of the supreme divinities of Daoism.
Public domain (as stated by Wiki Commons).

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sleepwalker Ballad


 Sleepwalker Ballad



Green how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship on the sea
and the horse on the mountain.
With shadows at her waist
she dreams at her railing,
green flesh, green hair,
with cold silver eyes.
Green how I want you green.
Under the gypsy moon
all things are watching her,
and she can’t see them.

Green how I want you green.
Big stars of frost
arrive with the fish of shadows
that clear the way for daybreak.
The fig tree scrapes the wind
with the sandpaper of its branches,
and the mountain, crafty cat,
bristles its acrid agave.
But who will come? And from where…?
She stays at the railing
green flesh, green hair,
dreaming of the bitter sea.

—Friend, I want to swap
my horse for your house,
my saddle for your mirror,
my knife for your blanket.
Friend, I come bleeding
from the gates of Cabra.
Kid, if I could,
the deal would be done.
But I’m no longer I,
and my house is no longer my house.
—Friend, I want to die
decently, in my bed.
One of iron, if possible,
with Holland cloth sheets.
Don’t you see this wound I’ve got
from my chest up to my throat?


—Your white shirt wears
three hundred maroon roses.
Your blood oozes and reeks
all around your sash.
But I’m no longer I,
and my house is no longer my house.
—Let me climb at least
up to the high railings;
Let me climb! let me
go up to the green railings.
Rails of the moon
where the water resounds.
Now the two friends climb
toward the high railings.
Leaving a trail of blood.
Leaving a trail of tears.
Tin lanterns
trembled on the rooftops.
A thousand crystal tambourines
struck the dawn.

Green how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The two friends climbed.
The long wind left behind
a rare taste in the mouth,
of bile, of mint and basil.
Friend! Where is she, tell me,
where is your bitter girl?
How many times she waited for you!
How many times she would wait for you,
fresh face, black hair,
at this green railing!

Over the cistern’s face
the gypsy girl was rocking.
Green flesh, green hair,
with cold silver eyes.
An icicle from the moon
holds her above the water.
The night turned intimate
as a little plaza.
Drunk Civil Guards
beat on the door.
Green how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship on the sea
and the horse on the mountain.






Federico García Lorca, “Romance Sonambulo” 
Translation by Jack Hayes 
© 2017



The video gives a reading of Lorca’s original Spanish language poem. “Romance Somnambulo” is often sung as a flamenco piece.






Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
Árboles de Alsasua: Aureliano de Beruete, 1876.

Public domain.





Monday, March 20, 2017

Two Esplanade Poems


Esplanade Eternal Return Octet


the sparrow has left the Atlas cedar to find
a place even more ragged to sing: brambles

trailing down to the flotsam & jetsam swirl—
spiral walkway, its columns dressed in ivy,

people ascending two-by-two follow its
repeating curve into undecided sky—

between the Morrison & the Hawthorne, eight
floating seagulls signify infinity


                      


Esplanade Metempsychosis Octet


weeping willows, side-by-side with chartreuse braids,
why so sad? that crow who perched in the cedar

flies straight over your boughs past Hawthorne bridge, the
daffodils swell, the dandelion smiles its

innocent smile above brown dirt, four water
fountains bubble over into brass basins;

if red oak’s leftover leaves are spent cocoons,
look! the plum petals spawning as butterflies


Jack Hayes
© 2017

Sunday, March 19, 2017

“Barn Board Fire”



It’s time for another edition of Sunday Music here at Robert Frost’s Banjo.

We continue our feature on the band Esmerine with a live performance of their piece “Barn Board Fire”, shot at Château de Monthelon.

“Barn Board Fire” is a more recent composition than the music we featured the previous two weeks; it appears on their 2014 Constellation Records release, Dalmak.  Esmerine composed the music for the album & began recording it during a year-long residency in Istanbul; in fact, “dalmak” means “immerse” in Turkish. The recording was completed back in Montreal in 2013. For more information on the recording process, you can follow this link to the Wikipedia entry on the band.

If you enjoy what you’re hearing, please consider supporting Esmerine by purchasing their music.




Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
Château de Monthelon by Wiki Commons user Serein, who makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0Unported license.




Friday, March 17, 2017

Two Mississippi Ave Octets


Existential Mississippi Ave Octet #1


sky has made space to the west for one airplane
though it chooses perhaps to steer into clouds—

who can say what this wind had to do with that?
the cars traveling south utter golden words

formed in fiberglass lungs; the cars headed north
speak in a crimson language electric with

vanishing & absence; going before me
a single leaf scrapes pavement, lonesome from birth


                                           ◦                      


Existential Mississippi Ave Octet #2


breeze through the bamboo whispers something yellow
I can’t make out—then what it has to say turns
                       
green tinged black; the red metal bench catches light
along its contours—do people sit there at

times? orange bikes have come home under ash trees
across the avenue; bike racks on this side

stand vacant; if I could catch the bamboos’ drift;
if we could get lost in words on that red bench



Jack Hayes
© 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Absence In Oregon Park Octet


green iridescence, brown mottling in steelgray
rainlight, the mallards wade into the puddle,

discover it’s just that; at some point fallen
sweet gum pods & fir needles will merge in brown

soil—for now that metal slide draining water,
unoccupied blue & yellow see-saws, two crows

calling from high above as sky unravels—
years we haven’t been together, these days, hours



Jack Hayes
© 2017

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Dao De Jing 2




Dao De Jing 2


All under heaven understand the beautiful as the beautiful, & this creates the ugly.
Everyone understands the good as the good, & this creates evil.
So being & non-being create each other, difficulty & ease complement each other, the long & the brief arise by contrast, the lofty & the low flow from each other, musical pitches & tones are known through harmony, leading & following are created by sequence.
The sage, then, manages affairs through non-action & teaches by saying nothing; the ten thousand things flourish & he is able to let them be; acknowledges their existence without needing to possess them; acts without expectation. The work is completed, but not dwelt upon, & because of this it is not lost.


Laozi, 道德經
Translation by John Hayes


Note: The concept I’d like to highlight is 無爲 (wú wéi), here translated as “non-action”, which is a common translation. Wu wei, as it is often romanized, is a major idea in both philosophical & religious Daoism, though its meaning is difficult to translate, & it can have two quite different meanings in Chinese. According to Sinologist Herrlee G. Creel, Wu wei can mean both an “attitude of genuine non-action, motivated by a lack of desire to participate in human affairs” & also a “technique by means which the one who practices it may gain enhanced control of human affairs.” While the first meaning is particularly exemplified in the writings attributed to Zhuangzi, Creel draws a connection between the concept of Wu Wei in the Dao De Jing & The Analects, specifically this passage from the latter, here in Waley’s translation—Waley translates 無爲 as “inactivity”:

The Master said, Among those that ‘ruled by inactivity’ surely Shun may be counted. For what action did he take? He merely placed himself gravely and reverently with his face due south; that was all.

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 it source on Wiki Commons:
“Confucius meets Laozi”: Shih K'ang, Yuan Dynasty (1261–1368)
public domain




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hotels



Hotels

The room’s a widow
Each man for himself
New arrivals
It’s rent by the month

The landlord doubts
If we’ll pay up
I spin around
Like a child’s top

The racket of taxis
My ugly neighbor
Who smokes a foul
English tobacco

O La Vallière
Who limps & laughs
At my prayers
The bedside table

And all together
In this hotel
We understand language
As they did at Babel

We shut our doors
With double locks
Each man supplies
His only love



Guillaume Apollinaire, “Hôtels”
Translation by Jack Hayes
© 2017


Note:
La Vallière refers to Louise de La Vallière, mistress of King Louis XIV.


Image connects to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Rue de Constantine, Paris” 1855
Charles Marville
Public domain

Monday, March 13, 2017

Three Octets from Alberta St



samsara on alberta st octet


whoever painted the bus stop bench next to
7th had a bright yellow palette; hard not

to notice this, & heavenly bamboo’s red
growth as it stands up from black earth; the sidewalk’s

not exactly black though puddles are, at a
distance—then you see the gray sky in them like

a memory of light—the crow flies past me,
head high; hard to keep dying & coming back



                      


alberta st state of being octet


it's pleasant to wait & look at the raindrops
beading on the daphne leaves, its magenta

buds opening to white petals; heavenly
bamboo berries lend their scarlet gravity

to stems; across the street a red bicycle,
its basket filled with artificial flowers—

here a string of lights in the cherry, unlit,
its fruit the dangling plug; nowhere else to be


                      


alberta st state of becoming octet


to the left: utility pole’s transformers,
its wires forming angles; to the right the spire

& cross topping a Catholic church; between,
a half moon in blue sky, white bowl tipped, spilling—

three pairs of sneakers walk on air—another
direction—sun glows along cloud fringe, shines then

vanishes; three crimson heart balloons tied to
a street sign with white ribbon; home is that way


Jack Hayes
© 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

“Sprouts” & “Nohna's Lullaby”



We return to Sunday Music with more on this month’s featured ensemble, the Montreal-based chamber rock group, Esmerine.

Today’s selections are from a 2012 “take away show” (concert à emporter) or informal gig at la GaîtéLyrique in Paris. If you have some French, you can read about this show at the Blogotheque site here & find out why Esmerine’s music is like opening a set of Legos on Christmas morning. But even if you don’t know French, you can certainly enjoy this wonderful performance.

The selections are “Sprouts” from their 2011 Constellation release, La Lechuza; & “Nohna's Lullaby” from If Only a Sweet Surrender to the Nights to Come Be True, released in 2003 on the Madrona label.

If you’re enjoying Esmerine, please consider supporting them by purchasing their music.




Image links to its source on Wiki Commons
Théâtre de la Gaîté, 3 bis rue Papin, Paris 3e. Vu depuis le boulevard de Sébastopol.
22 February 2011
Photo by Wiki Commons user Mu, who makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Friday, March 10, 2017

high lonesome friday evening octet


always that guitar shaped from tear-choked cypress,
always monstera’s open hands reaching past

the glass jar’s lip, always you by the sea in
a photo under the lamp I’ve just switched on,

always two black-streaked plantains nestled in their
bowl with the garlic, always that black-covered

Dao De Jing slanted across Du Fu’s poems,
always a folk song, its echoed train whistle



Jack Hayes
© 2017


Thursday, March 9, 2017

fairy-tale for thursday octet


asking these katsuras one after one in
a line with their red-brown buds & naked limbs—

asking these camellias thronging in a row
leaning scarlet & blush above the fence rail—

asking these white birches with their torn pages
fluttering in the air’s raw exhalations—

asking these five crows that keep shifting places—
asking infinitesimal rain where you’ve gone



Jack Hayes
© 2017

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dao De Jing 1





Dao De Jing 1


The Way that can be talked about is not the unchanging Way—
The Name that can be named is not the unchanging Name—
Nameless, it generates heaven & earth;
Named, it is Mother of the ten thousand things—
Always free of attachment observe the unchanging cause
Always holding onto attachment observe the outer boundary—
These two aspects come from the same source, with different names, but together they are named the Profound—
The Profound within the Profound is the door to the essence of all


Laozi, 道德經
Translation by John Hayes



NOTE: Although there are many aspects of this passage that could be noted, the one I want to draw your attention to is the opening line. This contains an untranslatable pun:  道可道,非常道 [dào kě dào fēi cháng dào]. The character 道dào carries multiple meanings, including “road, journey, method, skill, method, law, doctrine, to speak, to talk; in its own way, 道 is as untranslatable as the Greek λόγος [logos], which we know from the beginning of the Gospel According to St John, though it’s a concept in Greek philosophy dating at least as far back as Heraclitus; in fact, 道 shares several meanings with λόγος.


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:
Bagua diagram by Zhao Huiqian ("River Chart spontaneously [generated] by Heaven and Earth" 圖河.自地天). Circa 1370. Also found in Hu Wei’s “Yitu mingbian” ("Clarification of the diagrams in the book of changes"), dated 1706.
Public domain.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Outside the Ring



Outside the Ring


I walk in a ring
around all there is.
And inside this ring
is your world.
My shade fell an instant
on the window glass.
I walk in a ring
around all there is.
And outside this ring
is my world.



Steinn Steinarr (“Utan Hringsins” in the original Icelandic)
Translation by Sheila Graham-Smith
© 2017


Steinn Steinarr (born Aðalsteinn Kristmundsson, 13 October 1908 – 25 May 1958) was an Icelandic poet.

Many Icelanders regard Steinn Steinarr as their greatest poet, although he remains almost unknown outside of Iceland, due perhaps to a lack of effective translations of his poetry.


Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) “Circles in a Circle” – 1923
Public domain.

Monday, March 6, 2017

preliminary sandy blvd octet


one cirrus cloud refracting pink & green, west;
who’ll tell its story when I’m no longer here?

you will; but it’s already been absorbed in
that gray cloud using the sun for a headlight—

so many raindrops fleck the mirror glass, &
one bullet hole & my walking reflection—

so much traffic along the boulevard’s slant,
& I alone am escaped to tell the tale



Jack Hayes
© 2017


Sunday, March 5, 2017

“Histories Repeating as 1000 Hearts Mend”



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

The featured artist for Sundays in March is the Montreal-based ensemble Esmerine. Esmerine has been described as a “chamber rock” group, but whatever term or terms we choose to describe their sound, to my ear it’s unique & exquisitely beautiful. The combination of cello & marimba (& bowed marimba at that!) is just wonderful, & Esmerine brings other instruments to their mix as well, while eschewing the guitar sound—which even (or especially?) as a guitarist myself, I find refreshing.

Esmerine formed in 2000 as the duo of percussionist Bruce Cawdron and cellist Rebecca Foon. The ensemble’s current line-up is Bruce Cawdron, Rebecca Foon, Jamie Thompson, & Brian Sanderson, while past members include Sarah Pagé & Andrew Barr. The groups members are associated with other Montreal-based acts such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, Saltland, Fifths of Seven and Mile-End Ladies' String Auxiliary. They’ve released five albums, & I’d encourage you to support these fine musicians by purchasing their music.

Histories Repeating as 1000 Hearts Mend is included on their 2005 Madrona release, Aurora.



Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
Esmerine, 19 June 2014
Photo by Rfphotos who make the image available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unportedlicense.



Friday, March 3, 2017

The Ash Wednesday Octets


ash wednesday octet #1


why expect cherries to bloom white froth in this
land of cinderblocks & pale yellow clapboards?

the sound of a plane where the sunlight’s smeared on
big clouds, the sound of a car, a train whistle—

people are talking in the parking lot; notes
played on a harp with dandelions woven

through its strings emanate from a far off land—
the sky east of the cedars: entirely ash


                      


ash wednesday octet #2


not the stories I was going to tell you:
photons from track lights glistening on the skins

of citrus; watch them scatter beyond even
onions & yams in their bins—loving kindness

meditation for everyone I don’t
know, which is everyone—contrary sky

tears its clouds into white rags floating on
blue blue waters—by turns brilliant & ashen


                 


ash wednesday octet #3


a pair of sunglasses with heart rims & no
lenses left for dead on the parking strip grass—

you see that every day of course—weeping
birch catkins dangle their promises too, stirred

in a thin breeze, & the crow pecks orange peels,
fragments of a summer sun torn to pieces;

that blue sneaker next to the door has no mate:
sky’s had it up to here with incense ashes


Jack Hayes
© 2017



Note: I know I said I was going on a blog vacation until Sunday, but things happen.