Sunday, April 30, 2017

Tabula Rasa

We conclude our brief survey of Arvo Pärt’s works with his 1977 composition, Tabula Rasa, a double concerto for two violins, prepared piano, & chamber orchestra. As was the case with the other works featured this month, Tablua Rasa is written in Pärt’s tintinnabuli style.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
"Wachstafel mit Griffel" (Wax tabley with stylus). Photograph by Sippel2707 at German Wikipediawho makes it available under the following licenses:
the GNU FreeDocumentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts; & under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Peace on Earth

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
"Peace on Earth" in Portland, Oregon; 17 December 2013 by Visitor7 [the link provided is empty], who makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0Unported license.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Columbia River Octets (for Sandy)

Phenomenological Columbia River Double Octet

the single green houseboat moored at the pier’s end,
a bicycle hanging on the bowside wall

knows something singular about the water—
the one cormorant stretching dark wings into

sun & wind from its driftwood perch knew something
deep about the ripples before we walked through

this blue afternoon not exactly the same
as blue under the boat’s keel, in the bird’s eye

sparrows in these hedges stay invisible
though leaves sing, perhaps not because cumulus

clouds drift across the sky blue sky sky reflecting
the river’s flotilla of moored sailboats—what’s

above also being below—river’s salt breath, wind
off the iris slope of Larch Mountain & you

kneeling to catch the imaginary scent
of white rhododendrons mingling with our breath


Columbia River Morning Octet

sky & river both from a black & white film:
stratus clouds, the slategray current, that same flock

of mergansers set adrift, the cormorant
erupting off the water, one song sparrow

perched on the juniper with nothing to say,
a pair of mallards floating across the pier’s

reflection, the crow, a twig clasped in its beak,
flies to the cedar to nest as if it knew

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Back from a Walk

Back from a Walk

Assassinated by the sky,
between the shapes moving toward the serpent,
and the shapes seeking crystal,
I’ll let my hair grow.

With the tree of amputated limbs that doesn’t sing
and the boy with the face white as an egg.

With broken-headed small animals
and the tattered water of dry feet.

With all the weary deaf-mutes
and the butterfly drowned in the inkwell.

Tripping over my face every day.
Assassinated by the sky!

Federico García Lorca, “Vuelta de paseo”
Translation by Jack Hayes
© 2017

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Lucky Strike Date” (1921): Stuart Davis
Public domain

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dao De Jing 8

Dao De Jing 8

The highest virtue is like water. 
Water’s virtue comes from its benefit to the ten thousand things; 
without striving against this, it settles in the low place all men despise, and so is like the Dao.   
The virtue of a residence comes from its site, 
that of the mind comes from depth, 
that of friendship from kindness, 
that of words from truth, 
that of governing from promoting peace and order, 
that of work from competence, 
that of action from timeliness. 
In the absence of conflict there is no blame.

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:
“Scholar by a Waterfall” – Ma Yuan (Chinese, active ca. 1190–1225), Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279): ink & color on silk

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Two April Octets

22nd Ave Satori Octet

electric wind off the MAX train out of sight
behind me, beyond the apple tree’s white eyes

blossoming by the hundreds, my eyes in bloom
too, this sunlight caressing the palmetto’s

fronds, such a head of hair let down in waves of
green memory, sunlight embracing pastel

rhododendrons, laying its radiant hand
on the tea shop’s drawn blinds, reflecting on me


Denver Ave Spring Meditation Octet

two strings of prayer flags & a black bicycle
constitute a porch; this dogwood’s outpouring,

its hundreds of hearts opened to whatever
this honest blue sky with its one white airplane

flying east over the treetops might offer
constitutes spring like that one scarlet tulip,

a cup in its patch of sunlight both empty
& filled past the Japanese maple’s shadow

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

Two Octets with Cherry Blossoms

Sandy Blvd Springtime Octet
the cherry blossom clusters weighing down boughs
mirror cumulus clouds as through a concave

lens—a lemon yellow façade, a takeout
window with awning, a taijitu’s black &

white swirl against another building; dogwood’s
paradise pink opening over my head,

still sparse on dark tangled branches, unfolding
into blue afternoon: the promise of more


Holladay Park Rain Octet

the magnolia’s pink cups catch the drizzle;
one petal has dropped to the walkway amidst

pointillist reflections of sky’s attempt at
light & cedar’s dark boughs; rhododendron buds

thrust crimson into the air, fountain spouting
arches of water into rain, those benches

in a black metal crescent—kwanzan blooms bend
branches under their damp impalpable weight

Jack Hayes
© 2017

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