Sunday, April 26, 2015

Selections From 'A Year of Mourning,' translations by Lee Harlin Bahan

Selections from A Year of Mourning
by Lee Harlin Bahan, translator

279: Madonna

If birds sing mournfully, or wind in summer
coaxes faint applause from emerald leaves,
or raucous, coruscating riffles murmur
beside this flowering, lush bank that gives

me somewhere cool to sit, consider love,
and write, I realize I see and hear her,
buried yet radiant and alive above,
providing all my sighs a distant answer.

“Why pine away before your time?” she says,
sorry about the state she’s found me in,
“Pain needn’t stream from your unhappy eyes

“for my sake.  Day became unending when
I died. The instant my eyes seemed to close,
they opened to the light that shines within.”

                                                —Francesco Petrarca,
                                                    Rerum vulgarium fragmenta

299: Villon

Where did the forehead go that with a slight
twitch sent my heart this way and that? Where are
the beautiful eyelashes and the stars
that gave the course of my existence light?

Where are her nerve and knowledge and insight?
Her canny, candid, plain, sweet banter?
Where are the beauties collected in her
that made their wishes my commands for quite

some time?  What happened to fine shade cast by
a human face, refreshing my tired spirit
and that place where all my thoughts were penned?

Where is she who had my life in her hand?
What a huge loss this miserable planet
has suffered, and my eyes that never will be dry!

                                                —Francesco Petrarca,
                                                    Rerum vulgarium fragmenta

319: Bing

My mind preserves my days, more light-footed
than deer, flighty as shadow, seeing so little
good that, had I blinked, I’d have missed it,
and some bittersweet hours that nothing clouded.

Miserable world, unstable and mule-headed,
the one who pins his hopes on you is really blind:
you’re where my heart was taken and lies in a hand
the bones and nerves of which disintegrated.

But the perfected version of her that
still lives high in the sky, and will always,
makes me love her every beauty a lot

more and, just thinking what she is today,
and in what place she finally rests, and what
seeing her pretty flesh would be like, I go gray.

                                                —Francesco Petrarca,
                                                    Rerum vulgarium

Bio: Several of Lee Hardin Bahan’s translations of Petrarch translations have appeared in Writers Center publications over the years, and more recently in Natural Bridge and Southern Humanities Review. Bahan earned her MFA at IU-Bloomington. She is the author of a chapbook, Migration Solo, also published by the Center. Her sonnets have appeared in Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, and North American Review, among many other small magazines. She lives in Medora, Indiana.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

[I dreamed you were dreaming of me], a poem by James Owens

[I dreamed you were dreaming of me]
by James Owens

—after Andreea Ghita

I dreamed that you were dreaming of me
I was at once full
of deer and foxes
don’t come near
I cried to you over my shoulder,
laughing, but my arms
were already moving through sleep
that you refused to disavow
too late, you said

don’t you see, on my back
arched into spring,
their claws have twisted,
seeking my mute blood

Bio: Two books of James Owens's poems have been published: An Hour is the Doorway (Black Lawrence Press) and Frost Lights a Thin Flame (Mayapple Press). His poems, stories, translations, and photographs appear widely in literary journals, including recent or upcoming publications in Superstition Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The Cresset, Poetry Ireland Review, and The Stinging Fly. He lives in Wabash, Indiana.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Rumor, a poem by Jennifer Lemming

The Rumor
by Jennifer Lemming

                 For Ezra Pound and his Cantos

He took the murmur and
ramblings that he overheard,
and with his wistful and precise exclusion
left only a trail reduced to the faint wisp
of a rose petal on the wind
or the bitter, spicy perfume
of the chrysanthemum blossom,
trying to distract himself from the echoes
of the ghosts of gladiators marching
in the crowd at the train station.

Pound was alone in Rome
with the Lovesick Blues,
wearing blue suede shoes,
walking and waiting along the Tiber River,
waiting for his personal Caesar.
He paused along the boulevard
of not yet broken dreams.

Wanting something he may not
be able to have, falling back again
on his poetry, his lover-words. Already
at the end of his long walk
the decision stay in Rome

where Pound thought to follow the shadow of Caesar
until he lost himself in rumor.

Bio: Jennifer Lemming lived in Indianapolis for 14 years during which she won first place in the Dancing Poetry Contest in 2004, thirrd place in 2007. In 2011 she was a finalist for the Poems for Mr. Lincoln contest, sponsored by Brick Street Poetry. Her poems and short fiction have appeared in News Verse News, Tall Grass Anthologies, Rufous Press, Earth’s Daughters, as well as other online and print journals. She was a participant in the Poetry in Free Motion project that matched quilters and poets for collaborative exhibits. Her chapbook, “The Clever Level,” was published by Celestial Panther Press in 2012. She now lives in Bismarck, North Dakota.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Harmonic Convergence of the Prose Poem Indianapolis, 2018, by Tracy Mishkin


Harmonic Convergence of the Prose Poem
Indianapolis, 2018

by Tracy Mishkin


Ten thousand prose poets, fans, and groupies converge at the Crossroads of America. David Shumate, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Fogging the Monocle, keynotes the Convention Center. Just months since Indy hosted Super Bowl LII Below and Andrew Luck fired a frozen rope to Fleener for the win. Is the prose poem by nature a revolutionary genre? In Shumate's hands, it is liquid anarchy. We've seen poems on tractors and football helmets. The reunification of Korea via prose poem diplomacy. The Theory of Evolution declared fact by the Southern Baptist Convention. In three months, Time magazine will call 2018 "The Year of the Prose Poem." For now, we're happy with an autographed Robert Hass t-shirt and a copy of The Rooster's Wife.

Bio: Tracy Mishkin is an MFA student in Creative Writing at Butler University. Her chapbook, I Almost Didn't Make It to McDonald's, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2014. She has two poems in Reckless Writing 2013: The Continued Modernization of Poetry and one in Best of Flying Island 2014. She also has a poem forthcoming in The Quotable.


Monday, April 6, 2015

Bashō's Pantomime Blues, a poem by Christopher Stolle

Bashō’s Pantomime Blues
by Christopher Stolle

blown wind smothers night—
moon cannot hibernate like
honey: bare thy bees.

II  Crackle

snow bleeds on tulips—
cold crystals undercover hues
sleeping: wake up, spring.

III – Pop

step toward memories—
anguish lingers quickly: break
through this verdant March.

Statement: “Poetry is what I write when I can’t find any other means by which to express myself. I still write almost all my drafts by hand because it forces me to consider each word carefully. I’ve been writing poetry for more than 20 years, and I’ve published poems in more than 50 magazines and three anthologies. But I still continue to desire to share my poems with people everywhere. You never know what difference you might make in someone else’s life—all because of a few lines of poetry.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Night Sky at Lake Abanake, a poem by Nancy Pulley

Night Sky at Lake Abanake

by Nancy Pulley

We awoke at 3 in the morning
walked out after rain to see the black sky
and stars all over as if some God
had stumbled with a treasure chest.

Straight from sleep, I rose up
into the vast map that slaves
used to steer themselves to freedom.
My head still wrapped in mist,

the mystical road stretched above me.
I tried to open my eyes wide enough,
to open my mind, to waken
the sleepy spirit,  bring light down

through the lens of understanding, suck it
into the black hole of consciousness,
name the glorious, the lucid,
the spectacular common light

that beams forever overhead,
exists as I want to exist; vast, at the edge
of knowledge, far from normal.
I became dizzy and at the same time

as centered as I would ever be,
confused about my place in a dazzling universe,
yet eager to start some ray of light
across the inviting darkness.

Bio: Nancy Pulley is a graduate of Indiana Central College—now the University of Indianapolis. Her poems have appeared in The Flying Island, Arts Indiana Literary Supplement, Passages North, Plainsong, The Sycamore Review, Humpback Barn Collection, A Linen Weave of Themes, and The Tipton Poetry Journal, as well as other journals and publications. She was a recent recipient of an Indiana Arts Commission Individual Artist Grant in Poetry. Nancy has published two previous chapbooks. In 2014, her first full length poetry book, Warren Avenue, was published by Chatterhouse Press.