Rhythm

Kim Hye-sun
Translation by Don Mee Choi

 

There goes a woman carrying a teardrop.
Erasing, erasing the world
there goes one woman carrying a teardrop.
Erasing her own face
there goes one woman carrying a teardrop.

There goes a crippled woman.
She takes out a broken leg
from her broken leg.
There goes a woman, walking.

Tears, there’s a woman that you drag along.
The hot rhythm pulls up a woman.
There’s the faint world erased
by the passing rhythm.

Translated by Don Mee Choi

Kim Hye-sun’s (1955- ) poetry first appeared in the early 1980’s, during
a period of intensified political struggle. South Korea fell under a
dictatorship of General Chon after the assassination of President Pak in
1979, who also came into power by leading a military coup in 1961. As
many as 2000 civilians and students are known to have been killed during
the civilian uprising in 1980. During the 80’s, many prominent writers
were arrested, including Ko Un and Kim Chi-ha, but at the same time,
women’s poetry began to resurface. Distinctive voices of women poets
such as Kim Hye-sun emerged despite the fact that Korean poetry has
traditionally been a closed space accessible to men only. Korean women
began writing publically since the early 1920’s, but only the works by
women that are contemplative and beautiful gained approval and
recognition by the mainstream Korean literary establishment. Kim’s
poetry challenges the criteria of gentleness still expected of women
poets. Her work explores the identity of women in the context of
oppressive patriarchal culture, nation. Kim’s poetry occupies a
marginal, yet critical space in Korean poetry.

She writes criticism and teaches creative writing at Seoul Arts
University, S. Korea. March of2000, she received the Korean
Contemporary Poetry Award. She received the prestigious Sowol Poetry Award, year 2001.

Don Mee Choi was born in S. Korea and came to the U.S. as a student in
1981. She studied art at the California Institute of the Arts. Her
poems have appeared in The Asian Pacific American Journal, Hawaii
Pacific Review, disorient journalzine, and Gargoyle. She lives in
Seattle and translates poetry of several contemporary Korean women
poets. Her translations will appear this year in the fall issues of
Arts & Letters: Journal of Contemporary Culture and Luna.

The Ronald Reagan Memorial Poem

Brandon Cesmat

 

Mr. President, given you medical history
the “Reagan Memorial” anything seemed in poor taste to me.
But after seeing your spirit float proudly along your freeways,
through so many schools and over your own aircraft carrier,
the jets taking off and disappearing like many facts,
I now bow to peer pressure and offer this memorial poem.
 
I saw your funeral inside the National Cathedral,
          the camera at a bird’s-eye angle
          the same as God must’ve had:
          ring of mourners around your casket,
          mise-en-scène as if by Busby Berkeley,
          the way you would’ve wanted it.
Your coffin sat to the bottom of the encircling crowd, so
your funeral looked like The Smiley Face gone serious and blind.
 
How appropriate, I thought, not the blindness,
but the respectful space around your coffin,
for it was there the ghosts began to drift:
the Iranians whom Iraq gassed with military aid
you initiated over Amnesty International’s cries. Listen,
we can still hear them weeping for Kurds, Kuwaitis and,
of course, our own.
How good of you to sit up in the casket and salute.
 
Then came the Nicaraguenses, some carrying
their diaphanous limbs lopped off by your contras.
In grace, they piled eyes, ears, breasts,
genitalia and tongues into your coffin.
 
The Salvadoreños wearing neutralized expressions
followed the Afghanis whom your freedom fighters liberated
from life and any happy pursuit not
allowed by a literal reading of the Koran.
 
Finally, the Guatamaltecos crowded
comfortably around your coffin;
they’d been practicing in mass graves at least
since you restored military aid in ‘81.
                                                         
Did you recognize the ghost of Bishop Juan Gerardi?
You were deep in the delusions of Alzheimer’s in ‘98 when
a graduate of Fort Benning’s School of the Americas
bludgeoned Bishop Gerardi for counting Guatemala’s dead.
Genocide plus one.
 
How big of you not to make a fuss when
Gerardi helped you from your coffin and absolved you,
you not repenting and all that.
 
Your coffin loaded with broken bodies, the ghosts
glided beside you riding behind the caisson,
the nation honoring you in death as in life:
remembering nothing but good things:
how you held the picket line at the Warsaw shipyards,
how you stared down the Kremlin guards who took you hostage,
how you freed Tibet and
personally piloted the Dali Lama home on Air Force One.
 
It must have been at that moment of the procession,
you riding backwards yet comfortable in your old boots,
all of us suffering Sympathy Alzheimer’s,
that your mind was healed and
you understood you were on your way to heaven,
to spend eternity with the ghosts flowing beside you,
and that was when you began to cue the horse back
along the trail, so the bullets would revert to dollars,
the ink on the executive order flowing into the pen in your hand.
God bless that horse,
even with you sitting backwards in the saddle like that,
it wanted to obey your cues and turn from the grave,
but, alas, the soldier leading it had other orders.

 

 

Brandon Cesmat has conducted readings throughout The Americas. His books include Driven into the Shade, Light in All Directions and When Pigs Fall in Love. His blog is http://brandoncesmat.blogspot.com/ 

Cesmat currently teaches creative writing at CSU San Marcos and for California Poets in the Schools. He blogs about writer residencies for CPITS at http://cpits.wordpress.com/ 
           

Cesmat’s interdisciplinary work includes performances with the arts ensemble Drought Buoy, collaborating with visual artists at the Escondido Municipal Gallery and California Center for the Arts Museum, a documentary on poetry from the San Diego-Tijuana region titled Cruzando Líneas. He is currently an artist in residence for the San Diego Arts Institute Page-to-Stage program.

 

Happy Godfather’s Day

Brandon Cesmat

 

Mexican vendors prepare me for home
with Tony Montana merchandise.
The way little girls wrap themselves in The Little Mermaid towels
or little boys dream in Transformer pajamas,
adolescent males cover dorm walls with Scarface bedspreads and posters.
Tony, the anti-communist drug lord,
overlooks more pyramids of empty beer cans in U.S. dorms
than all portraits of Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama and Abe Lincoln combined.
 
“Mi padrino,” says the jallero in front of his curios.
Yes, I pray. Our godfather who art lining the way home to El Norte,
hallowed be thy merchandise.
Thy drugs that run, thy empire come,
in Omaha as in Bogata.
 
I look both ways on this street.
Federales stop traffic for pandillas on the way to playas.
Oh Tijuana, with gangland executions in vacant lots,
Oh Chula Vista, oblivious neighbor where Pontiac sells bullet proof Escalades
Oh the Americas, one continent, so many people.
from TJ to LA hear Don Corleone sing,
 
(To the tune of “God Bless America”)
 
Gangster America, land that I whack
from the Indians with casinos
who think they can buy their country back.
From the mountains, to the prairies, to the ocean front I own,
gangster America the land that takes,
gangster America, makes no mistakes.

 

 

Brandon Cesmat has conducted readings throughout The Americas. His books include Driven into the Shade, Light in All Directions and When Pigs Fall in Love. His blog is http://brandoncesmat.blogspot.com/

Cesmat currently teaches creative writing at CSU San Marcos and for California Poets in the Schools. He blogs about writer residencies for CPITS at http://cpits.wordpress.com/ 
           

Cesmat’s interdisciplinary work includes performances with the arts ensemble Drought Buoy, collaborating with visual artists at the Escondido Municipal Gallery and California Center for the Arts Museum, a documentary on poetry from the San Diego-Tijuana region titled Cruzando Líneas. He is currently an artist in residence for the San Diego Arts Institute Page-to-Stage program.

¿Qué sucede en este mundo? What Happens in this World

Pietro Grieco

 

¿Qué sucede en este mundo?

 

Las abejas están desapareciendo
Del aire de la primavera.

 

Los pájaros con el corazón
Quebrado caen del cielo.

 

Los peces de a miles salen del mar
Para depositar sus cuerpos clamando una
misericordia de ojos abiertos sobre las riberas.

 

¿Y los humanos? ¿Qué sucede con
Los humanos?
¿Te refieres a esos ciegos
cadáveres que caminan?

 

What happens in this world?

 

Bees are vanishing
From the air of spring.

 

Birds with broken hearts
are falling from the sky.

 

Fish are coming out of water
And deposit their bodies on the shore
Claiming mercy with big open eyes.

 

And what is going on with humans?
You mean those walking
Corpses who lost their eyes…

 

 

Pietro Grieco is Doctor of Divinity, has an OBD in Administration Sciences, and a Master of Arts in Literature and Writing.  He taught at the Buenos Aires University and Belgrano University in Argentina, and  at the California State University San Marcos, CA.  Mr. Grieco wrote academic essays, poetry and seven books. Some of his articles on spirituality have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

ABSURDITIES IN THE HOUSE OF THE DYING

CV Will

 

 I
Good intentions abound
in the house of the dying
at times they could kill

II
The living are too involved
in life to understand dying
until it is too late

III
Visitor talk to each other
never saying a word
to the people living in the house

IV
How is your husband?
He is dying.
But how is he?

 

 

CV Willplease see author’s full bio in additional works and on the Author’s page.

 

 

 

New Moon

CV Will

 

Tonight is a black well we toss our coins in
with wishes for quiet passage
our hearts beat back terrible fear

We remember days in the sun, garden plans,
our jacaranda journeys for your sketches
the long drives in spring, the seeds planted

The stars shine bright without the moon
we still follow the mysteries we live
clocks tick away and echo through the dark

The wind ruffles by outside, it cannot move
the stars or the absent moon, but it moves us
unseen toward some unknown place where
we must go–a place where no shadows are made

We are so tired in our different ways
but are so very much the same in our needs
to release to sleep–to dream deep into the well of this night.

 

 

C. V. Will is transplanted native of the Midwest who returned to creative writing pursuits after years of writing formal reports.  Will’s poetry has appeared on-line in Today’s Alternative News, The Muse Apprentice and has been published in a number of anthologies.  Will was a founding member of several writers organizations in the San Diego area and enjoys an active association with the Maui Live Poets Society.  CV practices writing and tai chi when and where able. 

HOLLYHOCKS

Kate Harding

 

Three days after my mother died,
her hollyhocks tumbled down
under their own weight. My father had
disappeared. I had eaten the last
of her meatloaf wrapped in wax paper.

She had waved me out of her kitchen.
“No need to learn to cook. You’ll be
a professor.” She ground her own meat,
the red strings wriggling like worms.

Though I only had my learner’s permit
I drove her old Plymouth to the store.

There were whole aisles in Safeway she
never went down. That first day I bought
Bird’s Eye frozen broccoli and macaroni
and cheese.

The mothers of my friends gossiped about me,
told their daughters, “Stay away from her.
Who knows what’s going on in that house?
Parties. Boys.”

There were no parties. No boys. Nights,
I was so lonesome I would call the Time
and a lady would say it is now three oh three.
I made JELLO and Swanson’s turkey dinners.

I asked the gym teacher, perky Miss Butler,
a woman whom a month before I would never
have talked to, about salads. Miss Butler coached

the  Sergeantnettes,  a girls’ marching drill team.
She told me she had polio as a child. I tucked
that away. People could survive all sorts of things.
She said, “Wash the lettuce first.”

I fried hamburger meat, flames jumping
wildly under the iron skillet. A month later,
my father reappeared, moved us to a dingy
apartment across town.

Nights, I would sit in my mother’s car.
in front of our old house. The new owner,
a gardener, staked my mother’s hollyhocks.
I couldn’t see the pale pink, ruby, and yellow
flowers in the dark. But I knew they were there.

 

 

Kate Harding is a Pushcart Prize nominee in both fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including Contemporary World Literature: Journal for the Arts, Poetry International,  Perigee, Today’s Alternative News  and the San Diego Poetry Annual. New work will be forthcoming in The Hummingbird Review.
 

Primal Touch

Lisa Suhair Majaj

 

My newborn’s skin was so satiny to the touch
I worried my hangnails would catch and rip her.
I bent my face to her downy head, touching my lips
to the soft curve of her skull, bones soft
and unmolded, hair wispy and damp,  the odor of birth
still emanating from her as if from a new-baked loaf,
musty and sweet. I could have spent forever
with my lips pressed to her infant flesh, but hunger
had other agendas. Her wail pierced my body,
sent electric cramps through my still-open womb,
milk sparking through my nipple, as her toothless gums
clamped down and pulled, tugging milk fiercely
from my deepest core, flooding us both with the essence
of life. It’s the primal touch we don’t remember
that shapes us.  The first time my daughter opens herself
to another’s caress, will her body recall that first flooding of love,
light touch of lips and hands,  life-force expanding in a milky rush
as I drew her body to my body and gave suck?

 

 

please see author’s full bio in additional works and in the Author’s Page.

Drifting Off, East North East

Beau Boudreaux

 

I’m the one
inside the crowded bistro

reading alone
with an untouched martini

a young woman in floral dress
pedals by

and there’s a boy cross-legged
at the trolley stop fumbling papers

why close the sculpture garden at night…
I’ve never been to Boston

Baltimore or Philly—
the window, people sip
 

outside the coffeeshop
form a patio

may be too much
with myself

like a cheap shot
of tequila after many rounds with friends

is not last year, but a decade
when I sat for the first time

through a matinee
sunshine cooking car seats

a shock sitting into
like biting a lemon

  

 

 

Beau Boudreaux

Beau Boudreaux is a poet and professor in Continuing Studies at Tulane University in New Orleans.  His poems have recently appeared in Antioch Review, Cream City Review, and Margie