#amreading: Rosebud 67, Spring 2020

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Poetry Tuesday: Simeon Dumdum Jr.

When Is a Poem Already a Poem

from the Likhaan Book of Poetry and Fiction, edited by Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr. and Ricardo M. de Ungria (University of the Philippines, 1996)

I wasn’t listening when you asked that question.
I was looking out the window, at the boat
That was just then leaving the port of Dumaguete.
One more day and already I imagined
Myself on that boat, slumped in a chair,
Holding a book like a cup of coffee,
Hoping that during the passage across
The strait I could read without spilling
A word, but then I remembered I still
Had to send someone to buy me a ticket,
And there was your question, and how far the boat
Had gone out in the poem of the sea, now
That I wished someone there would think of us.
From the boat someone could see the mountains, but not us.
From the boat someone could see the mountains, but not us.
Already we had become the Cuernos de Negros.


Simeon Dumdum Jr. is a Filipino judge on the island of Cebu, and a well-known poet. We met in 2009, at an International PEN Conference. Have loved his poetry ever since.

Poetry Monday: T’ao Ch’ien

On Returning to My Garden and Field

— translated by Wu-chi Liu

(1)

When I was young, I did not fit into the common mold,
By instinct I love mountains and hills.

(2)

I plant beans at the foot of the southern hill;
The grass is thick and bean sprouts are sparse.
At dawn, I rise and go out to weed the field;
Shouldering the hoe, I walk home with the moon.

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Side yard: Self placed the Chinese character for longevity beside the gate.


Self studied Chinese poetry under Prof. James J. Y. Liu at Stanford University, who became her advisor.

T’ao Chi’en (365-427)

Popularly known as Tao Yuan-ming, he was born the son of an official’s family near what is modern-day Kiangsi. During his youth, the family fortunes declined, and after several frustrating attempts to find an appointment, he gave up all worldly ambitions and retired to his home and gardens while he was still in his early forties.

Poetry Saturday: Molly Peacock

Among Tall Buildings

from the collection Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2002)

And nothing, not even the girl you love
with the mole on her arm, will be left. Huge
trenches will be dug just beyond the stove
the whole northeast corridor will become
and the dead will be piled in each rude gouge,
even that girl whose left ear always sticks
slightly out beyond her hair. To fix
the names of who died on tape won’t be done
since they’ll dig quick to prevent disease. Nobody
likes to hear this kind of talk. I always
hated to hear it myself until I began
loving the mortar between blocks, that cruddy
pocked cement holding up buildings so a man
and a woman can embrace in the maze
of what they’ve built on the errors of their ways.


Molly Peacock is the author of How To Read a Poem and Start a Poetry Circle (1999) as well as a memoir, Paradise Piece by Piece (1998). Former President of the Poetry Society of America, she was one of the originators of Poetry in Motion, which placed poems on subways and buses. A more complete biography can be found on the Poetry Foundation website.

Reading Gemino H. Abad

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The Nothing That Speaks:

The poems come thick and fast today. I cannot cope. Poem after poem, half-words — and without words still.

I hardly cope.


Gemino H. Abad is a poet, literary critic, historian and professor emeritus of literature and creative writing at the University of the Philippines. In 2009, he received Italy’s premiere literary award, the Rome Prize.

Poetry Saturday: Ernest Hemingway

We ate well and
cheaply and drank
well and cheaply
and slept well and
warm together and
loved each other

Poetry Saturday 2: Kyi May Kaung

MR. SMOOTHIE

from the chapbook Pelted With Petals: The Burmese Poems (Alaska: Intertext, 1996)

This is what
you’re paid to do
spin doctor to put
a good
surface on
things —

your side says
we’re rude —
you’re recognized
by the UN
no less
defacto —
you don’t lose
your temper – polished in your
polyester
suit – cheroot burn in your
tie – big hole in the center –
but remember
truth is sometimes ugly
often ugly —
lies can be beautifully
crafted —
the smoothness of a surface
is not our criterion
lies make us angry – we shout –
blood comes out
through our
nostrils and
all our
bodies’
other
orifices —
what can be
uglier and more
truthful than
blood.


Kyi May Kaung received her doctorate in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania. She is originally from Rangoon, Burma and has written four collections of poetry and an allegorical novel, She Monkey Goes West, which was a finalist for a Pew Fellowship for fiction. Much of her poetry addresses oppression in Burma, now called Myanmar, as well as the experience of being a woman in relation to others.

Poetry Saturday: Brian Komei Dempster

OVER THE EARTH

— Nanking, 1937

“Over the Earth” by Brian Komei Dempster from Topaz (c) 2013. Reprinted with permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.   

I don’t want us
to end here, wondering
who will be first,

our eyes lowered
as the soldiers raise
their blades,

slicing those
ahead of us.
Kneeling by the gutter,

I conjure our home
in fading light.
At the kitchen table

you opened
a bottle of plum wine,
unwrapped paper,

lifted the vein
to filet soft meat.
Now their swords strike

closer, the ground shifts
with each head cut
from its stem,

I hear the thud
of your rolling pin
pounding flour,

the dust rising
like bone smoke.
The edge is near, my love.

Skies darken
into our room,
the clouds a line

of ivory buttons
on the blue silk
of your dress.


Brian Komei Dempster was editor of From Our Side of the Fence: Growing Up in America’s Concentration Camps (Kearney Street Workshop, 2001), which received a 2007 Nissei Voices Award from the National Japanese American Historical Society, and Making Home From War: Stories of Japanese American Exile and Resettlement (Heyday, 2011)

Haiku Tuesday: Des Dillon

SHAVED HEAD

from Scunnered: Slices of Scottish Life in Seventeen Syllables (Luath Press, Edinburgh, 2011)

You don’t understand
because you are fuckin thick.
That’s the art we like.


Galloway writer Des Dillon is an internationally acclaimed award-winning writer and stand-up comic. His novel Me and Ma Gal was shortlisted for the Saltire Society First Book of the Year Award and won the World Book Day ‘We Are What We Read’ poll for the novel that best describes Scotland today.

Poetry Saturday: Jackie Gorman

Met Jackie at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig. Self ordered her collection The Wounded Stork, as soon as she got home.

Oh, wondrous.

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Shorn

Pale blue eyes looking up,
I put nitroglycerine under your tongue,
as we watch the football and
hum Nessum Dorma.
I help you to shave or tie a Windsor Knot,
each time noticing the beige circle
on your cheek,
melanoma erased by radiotherapy.

In July, you planted a rosemary bush.
Covered in ancient toil and sweat,
I help you undress in the hallway.
Closing the bathroom door, seeing you bare,
all of you was vulnerable and shorn,
shivering like a frightened lamb.
My skin burnt silently and slowly.

You looked at me and
I write you a poem with naked eyes.


Jackie Gorman has been published in a number of journals including Poetry Ireland Review, The Lonely Crowd, The Honest Ulsterman and in anthologies such as The Windows Anthology. She was part of the 2017 Poetry Ireland Introduction Series, a national programme to profile and support emerging poets in Ireland.

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