Friday, December 31, 1993

FATHER HAIKU


RETIREMENT

the day after his birthday, heartsore—
in the wrinkled sheets, death found him
sleeping in the cloistered darkness of the morgue
weeks later, the electric blanket incubated
a rusted carpet of kleenex blooms


BREAKING THE CORONER’S SEAL

beneath the stained mattress
one blank bullet in the gun—
a drowned halo of light in the waterglass


A DECADE  SINCE I SAW HIM

the embalmer gets his mouth all wrong—
with a red rose on the white satin pillow
I say goodbye to the parent of my Akhmatova nose


TO THE FATHER I NEVER KNEW:

the word rests uneasily on my lips—
suddenly jealous of the young man 
who said, He was like a father to me


FAMILY PLOT

where the dead outnumber the living
our shadows circle the casket clockwise
shards of sunlight & whispering feet


LAST DAY OF THE YEAR

after the funeral
I dream of crawling over pictographs
in the desert to find some rest


THICKER THAN WATER

I dream my father’s candle is out—
the slim, musty book he hands back to me
to prove his blood          and mine

My aunt said: He's trying to pleas you.


 DUTIFUL DAUGHTER

welfare child, never saw him much
his precious money went to a stranger
my final inheritance—other than my life


12/31/93

Thursday, December 9, 1993

LAST RIDE (for my cousin Richard Reilly)




LAST RIDE
             In dreams begins responsibility
                —WB Yeats
             for my cousin Richard Reilly
             Dec. 21, 1954 - June 5, 1977

      He loved death more than me
      and so slipped back
      into the bosom of the sea.

The cold rain of memory
cresting each wave of thought—
the half-life of yesterday
approaches the gardens of sleep
takes root, finds the fertile fields
of imagination lonely
for the dream’s embrace.

     They took my new red tricycle
     For his leg, they said; the steel brace,
     a strange, uneasy piston.

I had no reason to face the dawn,
my prince of tides returned to the sea.
My legs ached as I crossed the floor
and though I cried, no fins appeared.
Reality bent itself toward sleep—

     beneath the streetlights’ sodium glare
     patient and unyielding, dark cars
     waiting for the motorcycle’s drone—

Small mermaid, I carried the burden
of that night home to the dream’s final sea.


12/9/93



















Wednesday, December 1, 1993

Poetry Unites the World by Dr. Andrei Bantaş

from
THE REVIEW OF FOREIGN REVIEWS, ROMANIA LITERATURA
5-21 Dec. 1993,
POETRY UNITES THE WORLD
by Dr. Andrei Bantaş

BUCHAREST—From the Pacific Coast, California, there comes to us a cultural surprise and exceptional reading: a poetry magazine—or rather a tabloid review, like our weeklies. It is not a mere publication meant to convey to readers the latest production of American poets (as many other poetry reviews do) but an entirely uncommon one: a sort of Secolul XX (the 20th century) of the Romanians, yet devoted to poetry alone, in order to spread publications which the public has few opportunities to know.

The first issue of Uniting the World Through Poetry (UWP) is devoted to Soviet Poetry Since Glasnost, a 24-page tabloid, with a similar format to our Romania Literatura, is full of translations from Arabov, Slepynin, Lubenski, Soloviov, Kulle and many others—verses written in the last six or seven years.

With the decoration of the journals—or perhaps it’s pop-art—with press clippings, photos, collages, and vignettes, an entire page is devoted to a poem of Oleg Slepynin’s, printed in the shape of a cross, with the title buried in the center: SYNCHRONIC.

Some general data, with a short excursion into history, and with substantial topicalization, are offered in the essay entitled, “A Poet in Russia is more than a Poet” by the Ukrainian poet of Armenian descent, Oleg Atbashian (who, with UWP editor, Maureen Hurley, did most of the translations).

The general presentation of the themes and aims of the review is made by the two UWP editors, Herman Berlandt and Maureen Hurley. Berlandt is chairman of the National Poetry Association, and editor of Poetry: USA, a quarterly, and after more than 30 lectures on this very theme of uniting the world through poetry, he decided to publish these international anthologies with Maureen Hurley (an educator, graphic designer, photographer, and writer, with poems translated into Spanish and Russian.

She is an initiator of an international conference of writers for the 30th anniversary of California Poets in the Schools (CPITS), tenatively scheduled in San Francisco, in October 1994. An earlier CPITS conference, (the 25th) was joined by more than 150 poets from the U.S. and Mexico.)

The second issue of the review is entitled Mother Earth, with the same internationalist motto as the subtitle “Let the voice of the poet be heard throughout the world”. These 24 pages bring together (in translation, or in the English original) the voices of poets from Bulgaria, China, Poland, Hungary, Holland, Macedonia, India, Pakistan, Italy, Israel, Greece, Great Britain, Argentina, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Russia, and—surprise—Romania: Geo Dumitrescu (translated by the late Dan Dutescu with post-translation by Maureen Hurley) and Ana Blandiana (translated by Andrea Deletant and Brenda Walker, as well as by Andrei Bantaş, also with Maureen Hurley). They are accompanied by fine engravings by Victor Brauner and a Romanian stamp.

In the third issue—devoted to East European poetry, Romanian poetry (including Valeriu Matei of Moldova) is represented in over three pages by the same Geo Dumitrescu and Ana Blandiana as well as Nichita Stanescu, Maria Banus, Nina Cassian, Daniela Crasnaru, Carolina Ilica, and Mircea Dinescu.

The translators are the same, with the addition of poet Fleur Adcock, the version being reproduced mainly from Silent Voices: an Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Women Poets, published by Brenda Walker and Andrea Deletant in Britain about 5 years ago (when they also published Mircea Dinescu’s Exile on a Peppercorn—their persons and books were proscribed in Romania—but well-received in Bulgaria!)

Highly valuing these new tokens of appreciation offered by foreign publishers and translators of Romanian poetry (I happen to know of the financial efforts made by these two English women and the editors of UWP), I am taking the liberty of asking two rhetorical questions: What are we doing for ourselves and for our poets, for our literature, as a whole?

Suppose I rounded off my anthology of 20th century poets (Like Diamonds in Coal, Asleep, Minerva Publishers, 1985) with poems formerly banned by censorship as well as with those of Romanian poets abroad, who would publish it? (today, tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. . . .?





Note Bene: Dr. Andrei Bantaş, with whom I had the pleasure of corresponding, in order to collect Eastern European Poetry, was the compiler of the Romanian dictionary, an eminent translator and a Professor of English Literature at the University of Bucharest, Romania. I had no idea of his fame as I embarked blindly on this translating adventure. Those Romanian stamps we used in the collages were Andrei's. —Maureen Hurley