Thursday, September 21, 2017

September Moon

(8 quatrains)

1. new moon

the clothesline shadow sharpens on white clapboards:
the wooden pins & dish towels float static

between lilac’s silhouette & the window:
sun crescent at the moon’s invisible edge

2. waxing crescent

crickets babble like invisible water
from all directions at once; white headlights flow

east-west, almost steady; afloat in heaven’s
black river: the crescent moon, luminous leaf

3. half moon

the smears where plums dropped to the concrete grow darker
where black plum leaves screen the streetlights; white roses

flank the dim sidewalk, but it’s clear they’ve gone past—
half moon in nameless purple sky: gaze elsewhere

4. waxing gibbous

kitchen light walks through the backdoor screen, stretches
out on the swing chair a low ginkgo bough holds

up—nothing else is stirring, not even that
moon half hidden in the ginkgo’s higher limbs
5. full moon

that sconce light on the sky blue wall shines inside
the picture window along with the porch light

across the avenue; in the backyard the
moon burns incandescent yellow by itself
6. waning gibbous

electric crimson roses climb the stop sign,
but the blooms don’t seem to listen; sunflowers

bask in light off clapboards: beside a building
made of windows, the waning moon hangs heavy

7. last quarter

clouds at the horizon are such as they are,
far west of the red-lettered gas station sign—

doubtful we’ll comprehend them in this lifetime—
the half moon’s vanishing in more than one sense

8. waning crescent

that flash of a small white plane overhead; I
mistook it for the moon, but it turns north—two

cabbage whites thread through a garden that’s gone past—
this crescent’s a paler cloud, off by itself

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Welcome to another edition of the Sunday music series.

We continue our September feature on composer Toru Takemitsu with a version of his 1974 piece “Gitimalya” (sub-titled “A Bouquet of Songs”). “Gitimalya” is scored for marimba & orchestra; here the marimba is played by Luigi Gaggero, with the accompaniment of the Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin.

There’s a lovely & brief write up about this composition at Allmusic, which can be found at this link.

Hope you enjoy it.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Stage for the presentation of the album "A Bonsai Garden" by Brian Banks, Musical Wednesdays program within the week.” Photo by Wiki user Fraguando (link provided is empty), who makes it available under the Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Time & the River

(Eastbank Esplanade: 9/2/17)

green river like evening air stretching its
hands between the maples beside a distant

river—mother would recognize it in oils,
a canvas I could picture but didn’t paint—

but it’s afternoon & water has little
to do with this solid state blue sky; liquid

fragments stitched with boat wakes & memories &
glimpses in the direction this current flows

the pigeons & starlings feeding on bread crumbs
strewn by park benches are skittish in the heat—

the scrub jay perched on the galvanized railing
turns & turns again, darts to the madrona’s

foliage—a pair of Canada geese on
a sinking log below the bramble cascade

stretch wings, preen in unison; under Burnside
bridge other geese move on indigo shadows

I’m not young; the motorboat churns downriver,
bow lifted; a paddleboat moseys past those

floating geese, but the geese don’t stir; you’re standing
in sunlight, holding the dog on her leash in

a photograph in my mind that’s also you
standing by the railing above green green flow:

a freight train processes west on the Steel Bridge,
its passing infinite for those few minutes

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Flock Descends Into the Pentagonal Garden

We return with music for your Sunday, & continue with our September feature on composer Toru Takemitsu.

Today’s selection is the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of Takemitsu’s 1977 composition, “A Flock Descends Into the Pentagonal Garden”. Gene Tyranny, writing for the Allmusic site, described the composer’s inspiration as follows:

This beautifully titled composition for orchestra was inspired by a dream in which the composer saw a flock of white birds, led by a single black bird swirling around and then descending into a pentagonal or star-shaped garden. The garden, however, turned out to be the star on the back of artist Marcel Duchamp's head in the famous photograph by Man Ray.

I’d encourage you to read the entire Allmusic entry on “A Flock Descends Into the Pentagonal Garden”, which can be found at the link given above, as well as the essay on the piece at this link.

Hope you enjoy the music.

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“A painting  of birds and  flowers”: Kitayama Kangan(1767 - 1801). Circa 1800.
Public domain.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

And don’t tell me anything

And don’t tell me anything

And don’t tell me anything,
that someone can kill perfectly,
since, sweating ink,
someone does all he can, don’t tell me…

We’ll come back, gentlemen, to see ourselves with apples,
the creature will pass by late,
Aristotle’s expression armed
with grand wooden hearts,
and that of Heraclitus grafted onto that of Marx,
that of the gentle pealing roughly…
It’s what my throat told me:
someone can kill perfectly.

kind sirs, we’ll come back without parcels;
until then I demand, will demand of my frailty
the day’s stress, which,
as I see, was already waiting for me on my bed.
And I ask my hat for memory’s ill-fated analogy,
because sometimes I assume my immense mournfulness with success,
because sometimes I drown in my neighbor’s voice,
and endure
numbering the years on kernels of corn,
brushing off my clothes to the a dead man’s tune,
or sitting drunk in my coffin…

César Vallejo, “Y no me digan nada”
Translation by Jack Hayes
© 2017

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Héraclite” (“Heraclitus”): Johannes Moreelse; circa 1630.
Public domain


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Two Octets from Late August

Amazing Grace Octet

this morning's overcast has wound up shredded;
from the next block a hammer’s thud, a nail gun’s

staccato echo an invisible world—
the engine of a parked car turns over

but it doesn't seem to catch the attention
of that lonesome crow perched on the wire

as usual—twin sunflowers try to find
their place amidst unmade clouds—I once was lost


The Time Octet

the future exists already but like so
many other places I haven't been there—

autumn comes to call on the avenue this
noon; one red petunia petal falls from

the balcony, pretending to be a leaf;
outside the tea shop a woman pulls on her

sweater; the bus comes, either late or early:
my shadow moves ahead of me, to the side

Jack Hayes
© 2017

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Dao De Jing 18

Dao De Jing 18

When the Great Way was abandoned, humaneness & morality became abundant;
Wit & cleverness emerged, & hypocrisy abounded;
When harmony no longer held through the six close kinships*, filial sons grew abundant;
When the nation was benighted with disorder, loyal ministers grew plentiful.

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.

* 六親 [liù qīn]
six close relatives, namely: father 父[fu4], mother 母[mu3], older brothers 兄[xiong1], younger brothers 弟[di4], wife 妻[qi1], male children 子[zi3]

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). This image may in fact be a reproduction of the diagram by Hu Wei in his Yitu mingbian (‘Clarification of the diagrams in the book of changes’), dated 1706.” circa 1370; 1706. Public domain.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Eclipse (For Biwa And Shakuhachi)

Welcome back to the Sunday music feature. In September we’ll be featuring the music of Toru Takemitsu.

Takemitsu is a major composer & a few blog posts over the course of a month can serve only as the most cursory introduction & exploration of his music. I’d strongly encourage those who are interested in what they hear to seek out more information at the links given with each post & also to seek out more of Takemitsu’s music, which is readily available.

We begin the series with Takemitsu’s 1966 composition, “Eclipse. This is scored for traditional Japanese instruments, the shakuhachi & the biwa. The former is a bamboo flute, while the latter is a type of lute.
Although Takemitsu was strongly influenced by Western music (Debussy, Messiaen, & Webern particularly) & indeed at one point expressed an aversion to traditional Japanese music—because it reminded him of World War II militarism—he began incorporating elements of Japanese music into his compositions under the influence of John Cage beginning in the early 1960s. Takemitsu’s 1967 composition “November Steps” for biwa, shakuhachi, & orchestra is related to “Eclipse”.

Hope you enjoy the music

Images link to their sources on Wiki Commons:
  1. “Performer playing shakuhachi in 60th Himeji oshiro festival, 2009”. Photo by Wiki user Corpse Reviver, who makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
  2. “A selection of biwa in a Japanese museum”. Photo by Wiki user Jnn, who makes it available under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.1 Japan license.

Friday, September 1, 2017

I am going to speak of hope

I am going to speak of hope

I don’t suffer this pain as César Vallejo. I don’t grieve now as an artist, as a man or even as a simple living being. I don’t suffer this pain as a catholic, or a muslim, or an atheist. Today I only suffer. If I weren’t called César Vallejo, I’d still suffer this same pain. If I weren’t an artist, I’d still suffer with it. If I weren’t a man or even a living being, I’d still suffer with it. If I weren’t a catholic, an atheist or a muslim, I’d still suffer with it. Today I suffer from further down. Today I only suffer.

I grieve now without explanations. My pain’s so deep it has neither a cause nor the lack of a cause. What would its cause be? Where is that thing of such importance it might leave off being the cause? Nothing is its cause; nothing has been able to leave off being its cause. From what has this pain been born, by itself? My pain’s from the north wind & the south wind, like neutered eggs that some rare birds lay conceived from the wind. If my bride were dead, my pain would be the same. If they’d sliced my throat to the root, my pain would be the same. If life were, in short, some other way, my pain would be the same. Today I suffer from higher up. Today I only suffer.

I look at the hungry man’s pain & see that his hunger walks so far from my pain that if I starved myself to death, a blade of grass would turn up at my grave at least. The same with the lover. How generative his blood is, unlike mine without spring or consummation.

I used to believe that all things in the universe were, inevitably, fathers or sons. But here’s my pain today, neither father nor son. It lacks a back for nightfall, just as it has too much chest for daybreak & if they put it in a bright room, it wouldn’t cast a shadow. Today I suffer, come what may. Today I only suffer.

César Vallejo, “Voy a hablar de la esperanza”
Translation by Jack Hayes
© 2017

Image links to its source on Wiki Commons:
“Schieles Wohnzimmer in Neulengbach” (“Schiele's Room in Neulengbach”): Egon Schiele. oil on panel; 1911.
Public domain.