107 places

people in 107 countries have come to this blog : albania / algeria / argentina / armenia / aruba / australia / austria / bahrain / bangladesh / barbados / belarus / belgium / belize / bosnia and herzegovina / brazil / brunei / bulgaria / cambodia / canada / chile / china / colombia / croatia / cyprus / czech republic / denmark / ecuador / egypt / el salvador / england / fiji / finland / france / georgia / germany / ghana / greece / guatemala / honduras / hong kong / hungary / iceland / india / indonesia / iran / iraq / ireland / isle of man / israel / italy / japan / jordan / kazakhstan / kenya / korea / kuwait / latvia / lebanon / liberia / lithuania / luxembourg / macao / macedonia / malaysia / mauritius / mexico / moldova / mongolia / morocco / myanmar / nepal / netherlands / new zealand / nicaragua / nigeria / norway / pakistan / panama / peru / philippines / poland / portugal / puerto rico / qatar / romania / russia / saudi arabia / senegal / serbia / singapore / slovakia / slovenia / south africa / spain / sri lanka / sweden / switzerland / taiwan / thailand / trinidad and tobago / tunisia / turkey / ukraine / united arab emirates / united states of america / venezuela / vietnam

30 April 2011

fences fall

Tonight, 'fences fall' in a town
of train and mountain, sea and song.
A town where a poet lives in a 'home, made of just enough wood and white, and the six rooms seem to sink back from the road...
One friend paints his mind as Taranaki, another as noble, as island prophet. I see him as believer, giver, and at any time, I think he might sing.'
Photo: Fence, Texas
Text: 'Fences Fall' is an upcoming CD inspired by the poetry of Michael O'Leary, and tonight a concert of these poem-songs in the town of Paekakariki: http://michaeloleary.wordpress.com/
I will perform my poem for Michael called 'I Think He Might Sing' on 15 May, 4-6pm, Ballroom Cafe, Wellington, New Zealand.

29 April 2011

soft and full

This water runs from a deep boiling spring into three bathing, soothing pools. We were in a night pool, full of minerals, full of softness, and above us, the fully lit moon.
Photo: Water from a spring, Rotorua, New Zealand

28 April 2011

green cakes and tomato ode

I see these as bright round cakes. Heavy, maybe fruity, the way I like. Just down the road they wait. And shine. They make me think of very tall sunflowers I once saw in a Boston garden, and of a bright tomato my sister there once gave me:
'Tomatoes have
their own glow,
...there it is: on
the table, at the summer's
equator,
a tomato -
an earthen sphere,
a fertile and
repeated
star -
reveals
its folds
and channels,
its renowned fullness,
... It's the tomato's
gift to us,
this fiery color
and undiminished freshness.'
Photo: Baleage, Carterton, New Zealand
Text: Today is the birthday of my sister, the artist Sarah Slavick.
She once gave me Pablo Neruda's book, Odes to Common Things,
translated by Ken Krabbenhoft. Sarah's most-loved ode: 'Ode to the tomato'

27 April 2011

warm bodies, warm steam

In this village, warm steam always, where people bathe together in steam and water, where food is cooked by steam, where bodies are not buried six feet under, but three feet above, away from underground heat. Houses live on stone.
Photo: Whakaerewarewa Village, New Zealand

26 April 2011

to love many

This morning, these words from Vincent Van Gogh.
'The best way to know God is to love many things.'
And in the next room, a gathering of flowers
from the garden. Dahlia, rose, hydrangea, zinnia, 
St. John's Wort, orange blossom and a small
unidentifiable red berry. 
Photo: Protea blossom, New Zealand
Protea was named after the Greek god Proteus who could change his form at will

25 April 2011

release

The other day, we burned this piece
of furniture that had been unused
for a long while. Such a release.
And the horse living a few meters away
from the bonfire was unfazed.
Photo: A burning sofa, Carterton, New Zealand

24 April 2011

we shall by morning

Yesterday, a large bagful of mushrooms collected
from the paddocks, and today, Easter morning,
we saw these huddling in the foothills.
I thought of Sylvia Plath's poem which begins
so 'very quietly' and ends:
'We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door.'
Photo: Ten minutes away, at Mount Holdsworth, New Zealand
Text: Excerpts of 'Mushrooms'

23 April 2011

honey sun

There's a soap AS PURE AS A SOAP CAN BE called SUNLIGHT, all letters in upper case. For laundry, for dishes, for the body. Open the box, and on the four honey-
colo(u)red bars are the words, in lower case:
so pure
so mild
Photo: Soap at a friend's kitchen sink, New Zealand

22 April 2011

two pots of it

Today is Earth Day. Here are two pots of it.
Photo: Lobby and crosswalk, Hong Kong

21 April 2011

round and round

Stone, fern, and well, descending. My toes remember
stepping on this edge. They remember walking the wider
circle, the round several-stor(e)y home of earth, defending. 
Photo: A well in Fujian, China 
To see the round (or square) homes / fortresses, click: tulou 

20 April 2011

depending on the story

I walked this red mountain at about noon on a summer day and did not faint.
The mountains run
one hundred kilometers long and ten kilometers wide, and are red from the blood of a slain dragon, or from bits of heaven-fallen charcoal, depending on the story.
Photo: Huo Yan Shan or Flaming Mountains, near Turpan, Xinjiang

19 April 2011

table, table

When this is horizontal, it is an outdoor sales counter for fresh vegetables. It reminds me of a small rattan table made by hand in rural Vietnam, and smoked over a fire to kill any insects still living in the hollows. I carried that table to my Hong Kong home, and for years I could smell that fire.
Photo: Table at a market, Philippines

18 April 2011

ten thousand, one

W. H. Auden says, 'Private faces in public places /
Are wiser and nicer / Than public faces in private places.' Joan Baez says, 'The easiest kind of relationship for me is with ten thousand people. The hardest is with one.'
Photo: Cemetery, Masterton, New Zealand
Text: Auden in 'The Orators', Baez quoted in 'Where the Kissing Never Stops' by Joan Didion

17 April 2011

The center of China is mud

All day, dust lands on Hubei
The center of China is mud

He sits by a field of lotus stalks
Where a whole lake disappears to haze

He walks to The Long River in the rain
Where a man curls up under the army pier

He ponders through a museum
Where a dynasty fell

All day, his words finger the air
To see if they can live

And as the day deepens, he begins to sing
Tonight, in his poem, there is more space

Photo: Entrance and parking lot of a new museum, Shandong, China
Text: 'The Center', written for a friend from Wuhan

16 April 2011

on the other side of the glass

On the other side of the glass rest two eggs
of the kaka, a parrot, endemic and endangered.
It is the underside of this bird that I like, the rust
of the chest, a gathering of orange, red, brown.
I keep one dropped feather in my notebook. 
Photo: One of 13 predator-proof kaka nestboxes in Pukaha Mount Bruce, New Zealand

15 April 2011

36 63

This little castle is a little fairyland of my childhood.
I give the image to two friends whose birthday is today.
One is 36, the other 63.
Yes and yippee.
Photo: Lichenstein Castle, in Swabia, Southern Germany

14 April 2011

space and the eye

When I see this surface, I think of an artist I know who might paint the space, who sees space as essential - physical, intellectual, spiritual.
And this morning, I see these words I had written down months ago. 'Literature is not important. It is the look in a man's eye that's important.'
Photo: A tin shed, an ubiquitous structure in New Zealand
Text: Excerpt from Steal Away Boy, David Mitchell, p. 41

13 April 2011

'light of all kinds'

'I wanted to fill my elegy with light of all kinds.
But death makes us stingy.'
Those are the opening sentences of Nox, a book
Anne Carson wrote after the death of her brother. 
My first poem was written for my deceased brother,
and it opens my book, Delicate Access.
Photo: An out-of-service gas station, Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area

12 April 2011

questions and peace

Last night, we met an author who grows much of her own food, only uses solar for power, lives about twenty minutes from the nearest road, and raises black kunekune pigs. She says her newest book 'The Price of Bacon' is about the way of life on the land. Birth. Life. Death. Renewal.
The first piece of news this morning: China's largest meat processor uses an illegal chemical to make their pork more lean, for more profit.
The quote for the day, from an activist-poet-priest: 'And then there is the question of prayer, which consists for the most part in insisting that God do for us what we are unwilling to do for one another.'
Maybe these people, these stories, and the disintegrating head of the cow in my yard can bring some questions and some peace.
Maybe that is why I write.
Photo: The cow died accidentally, after eating a poisonous plant / New Zealand
The Price of Bacon by Jeanette Aplin, Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan, and pork in China

11 April 2011

Chinese, non-Chinese

I took this photo on one of my first trips into Mainland China, when non-Chinese had to stay at specific lodgings, use a designated currency, and often pay a higher price
What would be done with a Chinese and a non-Chinese traveling together? Once I had to prove to the innkeeper that my loved companion was really my loved companion.
Photo: A shop in Kunming, China

10 April 2011

I know these clouds

A man walks into a room, sees
this photograph, says,
'I know these clouds. It's Paris.'  
Photo: Scaffolding nets, rooftop, Centre Pompidou
The image is part of my 'delicate access' series,
exhibited in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore

09 April 2011

telephone

A good friend telephoned last night.
I could hear many things: Smiles, laughter,
the Hong Kong crosswalk signal, Cantonese, 
bat-lan and bougainvillea, our next swim together... 
Photo: A corral, New Zealand

08 April 2011

the sum of

'An object the sum of its complications'
Photo: Footbridge at a playground, Lyon, France
Text: From the Wallace Stevens poem, Someone Put a Pineapple Together,
which continues, 'seen / and unseen. This is everybody's world.'

07 April 2011

Texas, Pennsylvania, China

The state government of Texas is suddenly cutting their education budget by US$10 billion; teachers have had their 'positions eliminated' overnight.
In Pennsylvania, other cuts. With less public transportation, people are needing to wait three hours to get their bus. 
It is freedom, and information, that is being cut in China, and artists are at particular risk: once they know something, what will they do?
What will we do? Will the examples of Wisconsin and Egypt and Ai Weiwei urge us to question the decisions of our governments?
I think of flax. Sword-like leaves, fiber as strong as rope, sap used in soap. Inner shoots are likened to children, to be protected by the outer layers, the parents and grandparents.
Photo: Flax, one of the oldest plants in New Zealand 
Information on Ai Weiwei: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcRodOfu_s8&feature=related
Ai Weiwei at the Tate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPTFI6VlQZM

06 April 2011

along the creek

These flower buds live in front of the house, in a creek where cattle and deer and horse and sheep drink. Down the way, long stone walls, Clydesdales, a Japanese-owned timber factory, Wairarapa Gun Club where sheep graze around the targets, and a farm that sells miniature donkeys.
Photo: Water iris in a creek of the Waingawa River, New Zealand

05 April 2011

boxes and sound

It is Tuesday, and this is New Zealand, so a poem appears. This week's poem, a ghazal, starts, 'You float like a cloud in trousers / I stand with my cow in the rain'.
In my image today, someone's words have been scraped away. Boxes have swallowed sound.
Photo: A wall near Qufu, the hometown of Kongfuzi or Confucius, in Shandong, China
Text: To read the whole 'Tuesday Poem' by Tim Jones, go here.

04 April 2011

mic, warm, open

The other month, I was in the city where my poetry began: Los Angeles. It was autumn there, almost winter, and what at first looked like a summer fan was now sending off heat. The other night, also autumn, another mic, and a tall red flowing curtain.
Photo: Microphone and heater-fan
at Beyond Baroque Literary / Arts Center
Venice / Los Angeles, California

03 April 2011

like a man I want to love

I took this image near a train line in southwest USA, around midday, as I recall, but the mood reminds me of late winter in China, and the poem North which starts, 'milky air / silent plains / it could be snow / this might be another country.... and the train hums / like a man I want to love'.
Yesterday, I boarded a northbound train in New Zealand, disembarking ninety minutes later, in darkness. I watched the headlights of the train search north. Farther, farther.
Photo: A backyard in New Mexico 
Text: Click here to read the whole poem 'North'
but I have since changed the ending to 'and snow has landed'

02 April 2011

red

This image went alongside a poem I wrote for the colo(u)r red. I chose the image for its saturation, the seductive texture of the cloth, and the way the knotted curtain looks like a large drop or a fist. I probably wouldn't choose this image now, and wouldn't write the same poem either. Here's the poem 'red'.

triumphant advertisement
you saturate reaction

delicious monster
you and sex run a thousand stop signs

Chinese pools
you wet yourself with double happiness and blood-starred armies

ancient purity
monthly drops arrive like warm reminders

Photo: Restaurant curtain and reflections, Guangzhou, China
Text: The poem 'red' is part of a series called 'colo(u)r', published as an e-book in Toronto,
and in my book, Delicate Access

01 April 2011

Birthday, April Fool's Day, Easter Sunday, 1956

Fifty-five years ago today, April Fool's Day as well as Easter Sunday, my sister was born. With that combination of fact, how could she be anything other than artist and activist! And soon, she will have her first book published. I have written Susanne two poems, 'Repair' and 'Quietly' for the way she sees and speaks, with many layers, and with such goodwill, exuberance and eloquence. Susanne, I wish you laughter and joy on your birthday.
Photo: Bushes at a beach in Barcelona; my sister Susanne stood near me as I photographed.
Here is the website of the Pittsburgh-based artist, Susanne Slavick: http://artscool.cfa.cmu.edu/~slavick/