Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Radio Interview with Close Advisor to Obama on Syria and the Smart Drone Threat

Today we are pleased to have Johnny Ostenopolis, advisor to President Obama and privy to the deep thought processes that transpire in conferences on major international events such as the shell game of weapons of mass destruction. Do you think the Syrians have drones?

According to sources at the table, they not only have drones but they have smart drones.

Can you describe these smart drones for our listeners?

Sure. Smart drones are armed and lethal robots that shoot anything that moves, women, children, three-legged dogs, whatever touches your heart, kiss it goodbye.

Does America have these?

Of course we do. Ours are the prototypes being shot down and stolen by rebels in Afghanistan who send the pieces to China where they are reverse-engineered, mass produced and sold to rogue states like Syria, Panama, Luxembourg, and Quebec. One YouTube report claims even Mercer Island is arming itself for Armageddon.

Whose drones are smarter? According the very reliable and unbiased Rand Corporation highly sophisticated research report, I quote, “By gosh all them bad ones and we good ones they bad we good, we want to go too, make us happy, make us go fast, faster; heat-eating sensors, laser nanotech itchy under the collar.”

Sublime. Dudes really know what they are doing. I honestly don’t know how anyone in the defense business like Obama could cross a chemical Syrian street without the jujitsu those guys lay down in the mud like mink coats for lady was a tramp.

Whose stocks should a patriotic American Mother Courage buy to cash in on the bombing of Syria and the good it will do for promoting war and all the peace, and peace of mind, and pieces of American minds, it brings to American minds.

Very well put. In my mind you can’t go wrong with the big war profiteers listed by USA Today, especially Boeing, boom-boom-boom, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and General Dynamics, and most of all Lockheed Martin, a big boomy-boom-boom. As Obama said, he personally expects to be compensated by the entire lot of 25 biggest defense companies in the USofA, upon stepping down, of course. If Cheney and Bush can do it he can.

There you go. The real color barrier is right there with the big guns.

You know it, he knows it, but do the big 25—really 47—know it? Who knows….


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Fashion Update

Boys in Helsinki wear layers of wool
while on equatorial Galapagos they strut in ripstop trunks
with built-in liners, left untied for comfort
show off a swagger like soldiers in Kashmir
waiting in khaki and beige along rocky valleys.
Men in NYC’s hard waxed leather black out
in denim laps, the sprawling burlap smiles of country boys
near Bogota leave passersby breathing deep the odors run over
lazy hot days. Let Tel Aviv girls in green twill ankles
spray graffiti on the steps up Gonen near the occupied Golan.
Boys in pink knit terry drag slippery vinyl side bags down cliffs
scurrying to the bay to lose themselves in stories
with rough-and-tumble merchant marines
at the nudist beach near UBC.
Let manly girls in Barcelona and girly boys in Brazil
have shoulders exalted in duchess satin
have their faux-leopard-fur stilettos
as teens in Oklahoma City cling to their Harris tweed dinner jackets
on Saturdays while in the fields cheesecloth boys
run around in gauzy frayed and severed hems.
In the shadow of Mt. Shasta hippie girls
sew their mother’s hemp over holes torn in jean hems.
The disappointment of missed stitches, and raveling silk
tangles Shanghai boys fingering in the park.
Reversible boys in Berlin sport gingham hats and sail cloth shirts
by open windows on commuter carriages
while in Bombay girls bear patches of graffiti
on unbleached seersucker T-shirts
and boys alone in Westminster sleep in Thai silk boxers,
and boys in Antwerp prefer soft, crisp alpaca with cheap antung lining,
and flannel panty girls in Osaka are charmed
by gathering seams on the strapped chintz box with frog arms,
while polyurethane boys in Taipei pair giggling in white plastic glasses
and the magic touch of linens is surprisingly cool Jakarta summers.
Boys on San Francisco beaches
like fun snaps on synthetic batiste bikinis.
Retro girls in Bratislava tie home-dyed gauze at ankles,
the orange and red colors of sunset gurus.
Boys in Kafka’s Prague bear the reverse twill weave of herringbone to class
and a lone girl in Santiago dances
under the sheer swish of red and yellow organza
while polyester boys in St. Petersburg with camel hair sweaters
gather at the convenience store.
Boys in Hong Kong slide into the stainless steel tube
in quilted viscose jackets, no liners,
and West Side Latinos wear print boxers rumpling above the belt.
A boy in Winnipeg brushing the nap of his shoulder bag down sends signals.
On a chartered bus back from Crystal Mountain
couples doze in white nylon jump suits.
A Milan boy folds away his stiff gabardine raincoat,
and on Wall Street in lycra socks
it folds down a foulard bag flap, acetate and easily fraying.
Sicilian boys like sharp-shouldered blazer cloth
tailored soft to their waists, striped, the nap down.
Ladyboy legs are wrapped to the shins in the wet look of cire.
Paris girls tuck in the sheer, blue chiffon and yellow charmeuse blouses.
Boys in Tashkent go for loose tricots in basic colors.
Toronto teens space in flannelette pajamas
and blue pacifiers on transparent rose chains
while the boy in a looping boucle sweater
sidesteps not to snag the crowd on the Tokyo underground.

(Appeared in Going Down Swinging, Australia)

Friday, 23 August 2013

Amiable Superegos

Superman as servant to capital.
Wanting you
in a democratically open jar of society
secrets come at a price,

call it a gossip tax
to cut show winners the way amoeba

under a slide in domed cities
multiply strands passed

footballs from huddles
that explode on and on

as long as they are fed.
Outside, we concentrate on finding
banana peels to slip along

mixing our words up
not to make anyone feel bad

or we'll find ourselves daydreaming all over
a land before inflation
when a loaf of bread was always on sale
and D.C. radioed neighbors for any harebrained scheme
cluster-mines to defend the oceans
drill the tundra for loans.

Then Superman rolled in to testify
against kryptonite. Congress wouldn't listen,
dragged their feet, failed his roll call
to clone some spine back into the house,
called him pagan (wondered if walking back on Krypton
under the alien gravity from whence he came
might be more feasible).

They wouldn't listen to his story
about the end of his world
and no place to call home.

They said, sorry, but flying dudes are old news,

a new economy of terracotta and rutabagas was retaking the wilderness.

(Tacoma 2003; revised 2013)

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

36 Verses and an introduction to linked poetry (renku 連句)

Introduction to Linked Poetry

Traditional linked poetry (連歌renga) is a Japanese verse form usually written by a group of poets. Though not as well known as haiku (俳句), haiku itself originated in renga writing practices, being written as possible opening verses for renga writing sessions. It is helpful to know that out of serious linked poetry, with high literary aspirations, there emerged a more popular form called satirical or non-standard linked poetry (俳諧の連歌). Modern linked verse (連句renku) takes even more liberties with the form, including short sequences of 12 or 20 verses, and becoming more stylistically open in terms of tone and poetic lexicon.

Writing linked verses has always been a social occasion as well as an opportunity to engage a literary tradition centered around waka (和歌). Depending on the host who selects the format and rules, judges and even edits the verses during and after the writing session, the poetry can vary from dry and formal to buoyant and risqué. Participants may range in number from one—solo renga (where the social element exists in a Bakhtinian sense of implied dialogic others)—to as many as are allowed in a given session. Even a basic understanding of the principles of writing renku and rules can be tedious to learn. Knowledge of season words is necessary, though the specifics are flexible (especially in non-Japanese verse). In our writing sessions we discovered some Japanese seasonal associations did not correspond with Chinese or English ones.

Verses written in English have lacked both a mature matrix of poetic associations developed in Japanese traditional verse and also the opportunity to write against this tradition as such. English imitations of Japanese verse forms often tend toward the naïve, sentimental and mundane. It is not because these verse forms are inherently confined to smiling happy reflections on the everyday; it is due to stereotypes about the nature of Japanese verse—depicted since the 1950s in haiku handbooks as simple verses reflecting a Zen (Buddhist) moment, which gave license to confused, ahistorical absorption in details as profoundly other and beyond explanation in words. That said, the haiku tradition developing in the English-speaking world today, even with its Orientalist misreadings of Japanese poetry, at times shows signs of beginning to mature into a form capable of manipulating words so as to evoke matrices of associations similar to those found in Japanese, as well as tapping Anglophone modes of literary production. This bodes well for anyone trying to write Japanese forms in English, for the audience will be increasingly prepared for the variant modes of expression found in this intertextually rich poetry of allusion.

In leading this session with two students in an experimental creative writing class, I encouraged distant links between verses (to avoid being too literal) and tried to mix in an undercurrent of implied love topics, if only to assert a variant reading of the form, which like other Japanese forms in English, has been pegged “nature poetry.” For me, the forte in Japanese poetry is its nuanced love poetry, which derives from the sense of love cycles depicted in Heian (平安) court poetry and narratives (物語). Emphasis on the seasons and love in renga derives from the predominance of these themes in the seminal first imperial waka collection, the Kokinwakashū (古今和歌集905). Reading this collection and later ones can give potential renku writers a sense of the poetic tradition from which it hails, and something to parody and write against.

The primary structural element distinguishing linked poetry is simple: every given pair of verses should offer some possible illusion of continuity, but every third one following this pair should break away clearly from the first verse of the three. The renku tumbles forward in this globally disjointed, but locally connected manner. It is important to note that its very structuring inhibits narration. Narrative elements are to be encouraged only in isolated details found in a single verse or a pairing, and not over the course of the 36 (or 100) verses of a typical sequence.

Readers interested in how to order a sequence may readily find examples and templates online, along with bilingual Japanese-English season word lexicons. The main idea in ordering the sequence is to vary the appearance of a handful of verses on a given season (in no particular order of the seasons) and to have some non-season-specific verses appear between the season-specific ones. The appearance of strings of verses on love is also important, and certain places for the moon, flowers and so forth may also be included. An important rule to keep in mind, especially in shorter sequences, is that one should avoid repeating words and images.

I hope readers may enjoy our experiment in linked poetry and be inspired to gather some friends and write your own verses in any language you like. As it is a first attempt for us as a group, we beg your kindness.

Bao De-le (Dean Brink), July 2, 2008, Hualien

[Appeared in Frogpond 33.1]

36 Verses
bd – Bao De-le
cc – Charles Chang
ck – Claire Ku

Bao De-le
The withering wind
brings down the leaves—your fingers
touch my brow and eyes
Charles Chang
Plum blossoms—the only tracks
floating away on the ice
Claire Ku
The last snow
did not cover the lost shoe
of the fisherman’s son
A north wind blows nets up high
stars fade away in the winter night
Approaching the gate
your Pekinese barking,
father’s light goes on
Streamlight Stinger searching darkness,
The daffodil shadows grew still
Retiring diva
Luna removes her makeup
little by little
Out of the fog for how long
overhead—migrating birds
Stepping off the train
heads down, a chilly wind blows
their coats open
Quails sneaking behind the bush
are still swallowed by sunshine
Chilled to the bone
I peddled twice as far
as we’d gone long ago
Fresh footprints in the mud
I follow your path alone
Halfway through the woods,
beside the singing creek
nothing but your shoes
Forgetting our breakfast date
my phone stops ringing at lunchtime
Chirping birds drown out
the call to board the last train—
a lost traveler
Under the only light
the homeless start to gather
New Year
On a hill deep in
the forest preserve, we look
out on the first sunrise
New Year
Lighting firecrackers in blowfish
washed ashore, the rich boys run
toxic clouds follow instep
with homo sapiens
At the edge of the forest
mother still rings the bell
Deep-fried baby trout,
pickled radish, cheap sake
for father and friends
Under cherry trees, the East wind
comes along, blows off blossoms
While we ate fiddleheads
at the dive facing the waves—
an old couple sang
The drunken sailor whirling
his red scarf—the tranquil night
Maiko walk away
from the okuya, kimono
sweep the stink away
Bamboo block the view from the bridge
where we once took Polaroids
Crossing the dried riverbed
the tea-picking lady
goes into the hills
Doves fly off in the downpour—
the wood shivers in the wind
Our umbrella torn,
North Shore so far—and you say
you love rainy days
Soggy socks under my chair,
you go smoke in the bathroom
The old clock stopped—
I count the minutes alone
the day you went away
In short-sleeved shirts again
our arms brushed as we walked
Last time at your house
new tea steaming between us
we drank in silence
Greeting the flying fish,
coconut palms wave from shore
Boys in uniform
corner an eel in the canal—
hold it overhead
Bended wing hanging loose,
a waterfowl soars upward

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Walking the Future

In the land of Dolly the models model
ovulated faces, a countenance that
takes high bones to melted neutrality
so that it is hard to tell us apart.
Is there something missing? No, not at all.
Not any will do—there is always more.
But when you marry you never know the flower
tucked away in the bones, only the generic
nose, eyelids, straight-leg legs.

The rest of us man our windows of worry
in deference to the Barbie overlay
for discriminating customers, as if
there could be no one love
but in a generic love, a shared matrix
lurking in the dead of north, a winter warming
of natural beauties as if they’d won the Cold War
hands down, not blinking an eye, defibrillated by a smile.

Boys, too, permanently depilated, are granted
white teeth, shoulders filled from the gut or overdone butt
and six-packs whipped up by private trainers.
It makes a cruisy sidewalk, everyone done up
and craving to be watched, everyone a mirror
carrying spare mirrors: taking cell-phone snapshots, 
always double-checking now then
then, other beauties taking the catwalk
sidewalk—beware of the stilettos, jabberwock:

look at me, you miserable bastard!
Now, then make sure the memory of the moment
is always youthful in the eternity of our stroll,
always anti-aging in layers of lotions massaged in
under the bite of the wind,
always unforgettable, an everlasting Amen,
a quiet constant jouissance rising
rising just right now, then just just right—
don't turn away, it's just right, ah!
damn you! you turned away!
It was it, just right. Are you blind?

(Seoul, 2010; Taipei 2013)
(Revised after attending 
Hsiao-hung Chang, 
"East Asian Faces," at Tamkang University, 31 May 2013)

Monday, 22 April 2013

Pointillist Roundup at the Changing of Guard

Whispers raise the wall on nostalgia,
retrofit a preemptive uplift for a latte,

lead-ins ticking off a lonely pensioner
depending on one nice Joe. A step

on the tube in the wrong election
paints the town a lost-cause sauvignon.

Handfuls of Velveeta gather behind a church 
a hundred times I won’t, I will, just short

of detritus standing out of class
to write his name a hundred times, no matter

broken enough. We return to a bulletin
of tunas fished to the seed of death.

The sushi, from a long line of Secretariats,
is finely marbled and fresh from a local corral

at least until the Petri chicken is flown in.
May I recommend a man or a woman, but hey, it’s your life.

Nouveau riche penguins drag nature and are taken.
Birds and bees also have tools

and microtransmitters. Possums are marching north,
leave little wind-ups on the back porch.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Live at the Enclave

The broad notes of Brahms braid a new age drone.

Cameras arrive with miner’s lights mining us for numbers

and panning grey bricks with names on walls and walks.

Smiles spread with light rounds of applause.

It’s the same story recorded in immaculate times
before the rise of timetables and the collapse of markets,

the ocean as we knew it, always readying for the tap

of every quake or storm flood to break our bananas and oranges.

Nothing irks us who knew better, not even some other us

a step ahead, almost vegan. But hungry buddies arrive

and want us to come around to seconds on the fowl

as long as the sea and sun will support the ritual.

Even in all the sunlight they worried about who’ll arrive

at the beachheads asking for handouts at every doorstep,

sailing so far from so many language groups

urged to bypass coral closures and volcanic chaos offshore,

leaving the rest ready to divvy up what’s left all over again

before it all ended, as if time swelled as we retreated

with mountains full of mountain peoples waiting to lend a hand.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Angry Beachcomber

Sunday we scanned shores for traces of foreign lands
as if over the horizon driftwood from Africa would arrive
marble and immovable, but fragrant
while birch would dissolve just days from Sakhalin
and soft fir from across the Pacific bring only bad news,
splintering with salts and barnacles.

All the shapes we bring home we can lean together into a lean-to
for cooling off in some shade, nap in the curves
and cure the tough turns of the day.

It has been a hard year of bursting onto shores
and no one understands true art, especially our driftwood,
leaving us rather starkly high on our horses
like statues of dead dictators quaintly marching off into woods
kept growing around them. The city is encircled now, all of them sent off
on the lookout. I'm sure my quiet voice is part of the problem—
how else to explain outbursts ruining days
and with elders there, not up to fretting anymore,
just letting the world go in tides of its own
to survey with a usual doctoring of salt.

Nov. 2007, Hualian

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Anecdote of a Fable

by Antje Kaiser, my mother, missed dearly
[Note: this poem is from 2006.]

I keep telling my dates I’m looking for love
but the more I look the more I doubt it.
It’s nice to rest my head on a living pillow
but as contacts multiply
my aunt reminds me of my Mercury Moon,
how an aura of Medieval toads
is nothing to drop my guard for
for any princess as when I refilled my barbecue
along Tacoma Avenue—hands, face dotted with warts. 
No matter, I used the pen handed me
not to make anyone feel funny.

I’d asked for it, with a vague idea of joining the fun,
getting in with others into changing their own oil
and heading for the hills to get blasted, if not
busted, together forgetting we were ever there in the dream.

I dome the wart each morning in salicylic solution
softening it in remembrance of walls let to collapse
in the humidity that makes us sultry, a city of April
improved, new sunset tints on the cheeks.
The drops show it who’s boss, but one morning
it drains too easily and one wonders
if the cure shuttled too deep—to the point of poison,
riveting viewers while all proceeded on schedule
from the time we wrapped ourselves as boys
around ropes climbing up to whatever gymnasium ceiling
someone pointed to, just to see
how small the eye holding the rope was
up above the empty bleachers, inching higher
into the victory lights, unstoppable cheers from buddies
falling in line with the peering geometry
of windows painted in local sponsors
mirrored on T-shirts, gathering below,
panting on each others’ shoulders.

 (Tacoma, Washington; June, 2006)

Thursday, 7 February 2013

3 haiku / 3 俳句


To see the sea neighbors fell all the old treesthe chestnuts!



A litter of possums in circles groping in the last snow



The scentwiping tables
the waitress leaves a fern


(Tacoma 2003; Tamsui 2012; photos by D. Brink; many thanks to Prof. Horikoshi Kazuo for comments on earlier versions of the Japanese variations)