C. P. Cavafy: “Amilianos Monai, Alexandrian, A.D. 628 – 655”

Still searching for closure, comfort, clarity, after the horrible events of the past week.

Turning to the poet C. P. Cavafy.

Specifically, his poem “Amilianos Monai, Alexandrian, A.D. 628 – 655.” Here’s how the poem begins:

Out of talk, appearance and manners
I will make an excellent suit of armor;
and in this way I will face malicious people
without feeling the slightest fear or weakness.

They will try to injure me but of those
who come near me none will know
where to find my wounds, my vulnerable places,
under the deceptions that will cover me.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Not Your Usual Boundaries

Self likes playing with the concept of boundaries, this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge.

For this post, her examples of BOUNDARIES are:

a Rothko:

Every painting by Rothko is about boundaries.

Every painting by Rothko is about boundaries. Layers are boundaries.

a window. A window is more than just a means of ventilation. It also frames a landscape. It imposes a boundary on the “outside” and turns it into what we think of as quote unquote view:

It's just a window.

A window is not just a window.

a river. Rivers are boundaries. Self took this picture from a bus heading to New York City from New Hampshire, March 2015:

The Last Gasp of the Industrial Age? Hard to believe this was taken just this year.

The Last Gasp of the Industrial Age? Hard to believe this was taken just this year.

Self really loves ruminating on this week’s theme. In honor of the last, an excerpt from a poem called “Coming Into New York,” by John Updike (Who knew he wrote poetry?) in the Oct. 5, 2015 issue of The New Yorker:

After Providence, Connecticut —
the green defiant landscape, unrelieved
except by ordered cities, smart and smug,
in spirit villages, too full of life
to be so called, too small to seem sincere.
And then like Death it comes upon us:
the plain of steaming trash, the tinge of brown
that colors now the trees and grass as though
exposed to rays sent from the core of heat–

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Jane Shore, “Encyclopaedia Britanica” (The New Yorker, 7 September 2015)

Self began to love poetry because of The New Yorker.

She began subscribing over 20 years ago. There have been breaks of a year or two, it hasn’t been one continuous subscription. But she usually reads it cover to cover.

When she was growing up in the Philippines, she did not connect with any of the poetry she had to read for school: Shelley, Keats, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Walt Whitman.

But in the pages of The New Yorker, she saw that poetry was actually like little slices of life, like flashes of insight. The lines were plain and unadorned and she did not have to look up any words in the dictionary.

Here’s a poem self read this evening, by a poet she knows nothing about: Jane Shore.

It’s called “Encyclopaedia Britanica.”

The Encyclopaedia Brittanica (the books, not the poem) has been replaced by Wikipedia. Are there any libraries that still stock the Encyclopaedia Britanica? In the Philippines, her home had two different encyclopaedia series: The Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Book of Knowledge. Never did she need to look up stuff in a library, she could just go to the bookshelves in her home. Thanks much, Dearest Dad! He was such a bookworm and lover of learning.

Here’s part of the Jane Shore poem:


We were as excited as when we’d bought our new car,
and it, too, weighed a ton, the entire history
of the world and everything in it
on two whole shelves in our family room,
sitting like a judge over our new color TV.

We fact-checked over dinner
to settle arguments erupting like Etna (Volume 8)
while the Caesar salad was being served.
In which movie does Charlie Chaplin eat a stewed shoe?
What was the exact date of Kristallnacht?
Before we had our Encylopaedia Britannica,
everybody had opinions instead of facts,
which they stuck to, uncorrected, unto death.

But you couldn’t pick a fight with the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Even saying its name upped my IQ.

And that is about all self will quote for now.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


For the first time, this issue of Your Impossible Voice is coming to you on-line, free of charge.

Contributors in the latest issue are:


Adam Klein * Andrei Babikov (in a translation by Michael Gluck) * Chin-Sun Lee * Courtney Moreno * Harry McEwan * Joe Baumann * Roger Mensink * Thea Swanson


Diane Payne * Morgan Christie * Wilfredo Pascual


Evan Hansen * Jen Schalliol * Jessica Murray * Satoshi Iwai * Scott Beal * Simon Perchik * Theodore Worozbyt

The issue’s cover is by artist D-L Alvarez.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Generation Gap, by Joan McGavin, Hampshire Poet for 2014

With the Armistice declared,
school was closed
and the children all
ran hilty-skilty
down the brae.
Mum burst into the house —

her brother’s photo
already three years
on the mantelpiece.

promoted corporal,
he holds
the swagger stick
glances to the side.

And now she’s gone,
and those questions
one could ask about him
— dead on the Somme —
will need books,
the internet, research,
for any hope of answers —

and between me and my uncle
only the red hair
and my mother
forever saying
how much I reminded her of him.

— by Joan McGavin, Hampshire Poet for 2014

Villanueva + LOCAL NOMAD + Flash =

The theme of Local Nomad’s Spring 2015 issue is KILLING GROUND.

As the editor puts it:

  • KILLING GROUND — a place to be within, where we go to be other, to be against. Fraught moments, places of fear and striking out: territories, borders, streets, bodies. The barbed line we cross to do harm (or to seek compassion). What we call war, protection, or defense, what we call hatred or expediency.

Here are the stories included in the issue:

  • David G. Tilley’s “Jisei” (“Driving eastward on the way home from the dermatologist, I hear myself singing carcinoma to the tune of My Sharona.”)
  • Self’s revisionist Biblical story “The Ark” (“There were great stores of food laid up, for Noah knew that the flood would last a long time.”)
  • M. Leland Oroquieta’s “Postcard for Hong Kong” (“The fake blonde who doesn’t love me is in my Jag again, searching for peace and composure in the Prada bag I had bought her recently.”)
  • Leny Mendoza Strobel’s one-paragraph story “Erosion” (“The erosion of desire flows toward the ocean of Nothing.”)

Yeah, quite an array of styles there. One thing the pieces have in common is: they are all dark.

Here’s an excerpt from William Doreski’s poem “The Big Departure”:

The local hospital has collapsed
in a heap of yellow brick, crushing
the nurses with long painted nails

and the doctors who bought Porsches
to overcome midlife crises.
So I’ve come to the city where screams

linger in the jagged night air

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Reading Dionne Brand

from her poetry collection, Thirsty (McClelland & Stewart):

would I have had a different life
failing this embrace with broken things,
iridescent veins, ecstatic bullets, small cracks
in the brain, would I know these particular facts,
how a phrase scars a cheek, how water
dries love out, this, a thought as casual
as any second eviscerates a breath

and this, we meet in careless intervals,
in coffee bars, gas stations, in prosthetic
conversations, lotteries, untranslatable
mouths, in versions of what we may be,
a tremor of the hand in the realization
of endings, a glancing blow of tears
on skin, the keen dismissal in speed

Self met Dionne Brand in Banff, just this past April.

Life-changing encounter. Forevermore.

Writing can change people.

Another excerpt from Thirsty. By the way, it’s Sunday in Ireland:

There was a Sunday morning scent,
an early morning air, then the unarranged light
that hovers on a street before a city wakes
unrelieved to the war fumes of fuel exhaust

Stay tuned.

Poetry Monday: “There for six months”

A student wrote this years ago, shortly after the first Gulf War (You know, the “shock and awe” war). The class was Composition & Rhetoric. The assignment was for students to write an autobiographical essay. But self didn’t have the heart to grade the student down for thinking outside the box, especially after he told her it was the first poem he ever wrote.

She really liked the piece. Dear blog readers, the fact that this piece got written at all is something of a miracle.

She was reminded of it by a poem in J Journal’s current issue.

After The Hurt Locker, after Zero Dark Thirty, after American Sniper, self finds the perspective of the poem very refreshing:

There For Six Months

Underneath Pink Floyd’s alluring rhapsody
the phone was ringing,
Hey you, out there on your own,
sitting naked by the phone, would you touch me
and my older brother is telling me that
come January, he’ll be in Iraq,
serving his time of duty for six months
in the war
see also: abuse of power, see also: corpses

Meanwhile, people all around are nestled away in their cozy,
unobtrusive shells: human anti-socialism,
one thousand and one bloody bodies, our own an afterthought.
Warming cups of soup, chicken-noodle flavor,
and stacks of crackers on a folded napkin, for dipping.

Hey you, don’t help them to bury the light,
don’t give in without a fight
And my brother is telling me that if he makes it back
there’s a good chance he’ll be based in the west coast,
see also: home, see also: happiness
There’s shake and shiver undertones in his voice
when he keeps saying, Don’t worry,
they trained me how to live, but all I can wonder is
if they trained him how to die.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Poetry Monday: Dionne Brand

One of the dearest people self met at the Banff Writing Studio was Canadian poet Dionne Brand. For not only was she brilliant, she would go out of her way to talk to self about her WIP, the one that got her accepted to the program. Dionne is one classy, classy lady.

Dionne is up for a Trillium Award this week. Naturally, self hopes she wins.

Here’s an excerpt from her poetry collection, Thirsty:



you can’t satisfy people; we long for everything,
but sleep, sleep is the gift of the city
the breath of others, their mewling, their disorder,
I could hear languages in the lush smog,
runes to mercy and failure and something tender
a fragile light, no, not light, yes light,
something you can put your hand in, relinquishing

Today, self is off to Saint Bride’s, which Cassandra Clare used as the setting for the London Institute of the Shadowhunters in her trilogy The Infernal Devices. A copy of Clockwork Prince has been in self’s tote since she arrived in London. She researched how to get to St. Bride’s on the Underground, and found that the closest stop would be Blackfriars.


Be still, self’s beating heart! Blackfriars Bridge was where Jem Carstairs and Tessa Gray met each year for one hour, a ritual they fainthfully maintained for the next (500+?) years.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

London After Hours, Great Russell Street: Off-Season 3

Self is finding “Off-Season” to be a very interesting Photo Challenge.

She isn’t sure that these series of shots she took last night are really “off-season” — except when viewed in one sense. But she’ll post anyway.

She took these pictures last night, when she was hunting for a cheap place to have dinner.  She was on Great Russell Street. The British Museum, and all the shops along that street, were closed. So she peered in through the iron gates and the barred windows:

The British Museum After Hours

The British Museum After Hours

A Closer Look Through the Barred Gates of the British Museum

A Closer Look Through the Barred Gates of the British Museum

Across the street is an Antiquarian Bookseller named Jarndyce (How very Dickens). When self peered through the barred windows, this caught her attention:

Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, Directly Across from the British Museum

Jarndyce Antiquarian Booksellers, Directly Across from the British Museum

It was a Sunday evening. She happened to be reading (in addition to the ever-present Clockwork Prince, ha ha ha!) a copy of Dionne Brand’s poetry collection, Thirsty. And here is an excerpt from Poem II:

The city was empty, except for the three,
they seemed therefore poised, as when you are alone
anywhere all movement is arrested, light, dun,
except, their hearts, scintillant as darkness

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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