Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Juan Tituana and Jerry A. Scuderi Return to Puerto Rico

On the last day of the fall contest, let's return with Juan and Jerry to Puerto Rico!  It's really not that cold in Maryland, but it's still winter-bare, so I will certainly appreciate their images and words of the island's countryside.


A week in Puerto Rico – Part 2 (by Juan F. Tituaña)  (Photography by Juan F. Tituaña) 
Once my work conference was over, we headed south east of Old San Juan to the famous Yunque National Forest – the only tropical rain forest in the US.  A narrow trail lead us down to the forest through steep slippery steps and various captivating creeks. The hike down reward was the popular and spectacular La Mina waterfall pouring over a group of bathers, families and children. La Mina is one of the small eye-catching treasure chambers inside the rain forest so I was anxious to snap as many amazing shots as I could. After a long tiring day of hiking, our colleague friends, my wife and I left the forest but really had to stop at a local bar and grill outside the main entrance for some good food, beer and laughs.
With only a few days left in Puerto Rico, the following day my wife and I headed west of Old San Juan – on a “claim your own beach” mission road trip.  A local street bohemian that I chatted earlier persuaded me to go west and not east as many tourists were headed.  To capture the soul of the island, he suggested I follow my own path, search my own beach and claim it for myself.  There, he said, when you see an empty beach you like, stop, close your eyes, hear the waves, smell the beach and touch the sand.  It was due to this thrilling drive along the narrow palm tree scenic routes that I witnessed many eye catching isolated beaches. 
We drove for hours stopping at local restaurants along the way. The beaches we saw were nearly empty, just few locals, fishermen, and surfers I stopped to chat (see photos).  But on our last day, right under a beautiful sunset, one particular beach at a distance caught my attention.  My mission was over!  I readied my camera, it’s been ready for a week.  As I quietly soaked in this breathtaking scene, I saw my wife’s footprints in the deep moist sand (see photo).  There, I finally closed my eyes, listened to the waves, and touched the sand.  I had found the soul of Puerto Rico.  The soul of the island for me is a blend of the spectacular golden red sunsets, its beaches and soft sands, its rain forest, its historic past, its language, its cheerful people, its delicious food and its popular salsa music.  I realized then I was truly at home in Puerto Rico.  I vowed to return and stay longer, to explore new places, discover other exquisite dishes, dance even more and make more friends along the way.  Once again I will claim other isolated beaches and touch its sands.  And with my camera in hand, once again, I will close my eyes and feel the soul of my Boricua island … over and over and over.

Below is the dance between Juan's images and Jerry's words:
Soul Maiden

Photography by Juan Tituaña

Photography by Juan Tituaña

     Trek Rica maiden
through tropical greens ;
seek a paradise
among east island scenes .
 Photography by Juan Tituaña

 Photography by Juan Tituaña

 Photography by Juan Tituaña
     Quick paced spindle legs
fly up coral steps .
Envy moss-ed falls
your sleek sparkling pep.

  Photography by Juan Tituaña

     Rendezvous empty heart ;
present serenity to him .
Accompany your soul beach
in its sun setting dim.

 Photography by Juan Tituaña

     Court oneness with suitor
of bronze chest and abs .
He offers abundance
of shrimp , clams , and crab.
 Photography by Juan Tituaña

  Photography by Juan Tituaña
     Foot print turtle cape ;
track little flippers .
Acquaint the Caribbean
under stars of the dipper .

Photography by Juan Tituaña

     Nestle on a marine throne .
Search eyes ; find a kiss .
Tomorrow’s poor solace .
Too soon gone , . . . hurting , . . . and . . . missed .

Here is Juan's guide to his photographs so that you may plan your trip to Puerto Rico.

Yunque National Rain Forest
1) Yunque National Forest 
2) Rain forest hiking trail 
3) Forest steep climbing steps 
4) Locals blend in with nature for photo ops
5) Famous La Mina waterfalls

6) Beaches – north west of Old San Juan
7) Wooden benches - overlooking the ocean 
8) Footsteps in the sand
9) Local fishermen 
10) Marine turtle nesting grounds

He has also shared with us some video scenes of the rain forest, salsa music, dancers and poetry from Puerto Rico

La Mina Waterfalls, El Yunque National Rain Forest, Puerto Rico (a must see in PR)

Puerto Rico Salsa (Christmas) – Gran Combo de Puerto Rico Puerto Rican salsa and dancers

"This poem is dedicated to Julia de Burgos, the poetic gem of Puerto Rico who was an advocate for Puerto Rican Independence and one of the first to write poetry in English spearheading the Nuyorican Poetry Movement." – Caridad de la Luz (La Bruja) – Puerto Rican poet 

Puerto Rican poet Mariposa dedicates a poem to Ntozake Shange, poet, playwright and author of during the Pedro Pietri Hand Awards presented by Puerto Rican Embassy and El Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños and held at Hunter College, NYC 2009.

Enjoy Juan and Jerry's work!  

As I type, this is the last day to submit work for the fall contests.  See below for more information.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Martin Willits, Jr.'s Entry in the Gene Clark Contest

With the weather we have been having in Maryland, it is hard to believe that December is almost over and so is the fall contest.  Tonight I'd like to post Martin Willits, Jr.'s poem, an entry in the contest honoring Gene Clark.  Martin has been a musician as well, which gives him an especially pertinent perspective on this contest.  Enjoy!

Now That You Are Gone, When Are You Coming Back?
Based on the song, “Without You” by Gene Clark
There is no sadness without you there
to tell me that the world is alright.
Without you, there is no reason to feel
the sunshine through the rain.

Now that you are gone, the world slides away.
Now the seasons have no words to tell me
you are coming back and it is going to be OK.
Now the sidewalks seem to go on forever.

Without you the clouds are erased
and there is no color, no wind, just silence
never telling me what is going to happen next.
There are no cardinals in the empty yard.

Since you have been gone, I cannot go on.
Since you died, there is no more being with you.
Now every moment seems so senseless.
I wish you were here but I must go on.


While I'm online, I'd also like to post a link to another of Martin's books, Playing the Pauses in the Absence of Stars.  This book contains a number of his poems inspired by music:  http://mainstreetrag.com/bookstore/product/playing-the-pauses-in-the-absense-of-stars/

He also has a free web book, "Late All Night Sessions with Charlie "the Bird" Parker and the Members of Birdland, in Take-Three" (A Kind of Hurricane Press,2013)  https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B-DuKJaq66ClZTFyWmpGZTZ1bmM/edit?pli=1

In addition, here is a link to one of his poems inspired by John Coltrane:  http://issuu.com/homebound/docs/the_wayfarer_issue_1/12

I'll finish with a few songs to inspire you to finish up your poems for the contest.  First is, of course, "Here Without You."  This acoustic version is from 1990, towards the end of Clark's life:

Going back to the Clarkophile's Top 50, I thought I'd post "Hear the Wind":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sgt9TdH_CxE

Mustn't forget Thelonious Monk!

Here is his "Epistrophy":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZ9El7k4mNo

In this version of "Trinkle Tinkle," he is playing with Coltrane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WjW5orDM2c

There they are again in "Monk's Mood": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-_45lXgHZw

Hope to see your poems in The Song Is!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Ed Schelb's Dogbelly Auditions to Play the Ghost of Elvis

Even on the west coast of the US, Christmas Day is practically over, but I thought I'd post Ed Schelb's poem as a Christmas present....or as a post-Christmas treat.  Enjoy!

Dogbelly Auditions to Play the Ghost of Elvis

Damn easy to be mistaken
for Elvis— with skin bloated
as a mutant shellfish
with a bacon and barbiturates
moonglow. Eye surgery sunglasses.
Sequins. Pucker up and blow.
Honk if you love chili dogs,
you rockabilly corpse,
with your body brittle
as a harpsichord
full of dead junebugs.
Straight up, boss.
I remember when Elvis died
on the Cross and I tried on
his rhinestone suit
that fit me like a bowl
of plastic fruit,
hugged my hips like eternity
until my lust became
a shooting spree,
before my groin
went all sickly sweet
and transfigured
into wavin’ wheat
easy street Paradise in a .45
flip side of some down-home
electric glide.

I’ve got a future
in dead things,
my voice nostalgic
as motel bedsprings.
So I’ll get out my horse clippers
for muttonchops.
Grease up and eat bird-eggs
like gumdrops, carve all fifty states
into my skin
and assume the throne.
I like the thin way you stare,
checking out my potential
dividends. Careful bucko –
take it slow or get the bends
from these eyeless depths.
Don’t take it all
in at once. Savor
my phosphorescence.
Fake it till you make it.
Channel the spirit of the King
until the battery-powered starlings
take wing and fly
to Bethlehem to be bored
stiff. Look around.
You need a scorecard
to tell these players.
They’ve all plum sucked down
into the image
like livin’ petroglyphs.
So what. I’m blowin’ my shot.
I know it. Shootin’ myself in the foot.
Some snot-nosed pretty boy’s
gonna’ get my starring role.
So I’ll have to be content
with preserving my soul
like every other
mockingbird bliss-monger
just puckerin’
for that Judas kiss.
Sure as shootin’. Destiny calls.
I walked away empty-handed.
Nearly sat down to pray
to the gods of booze
and flea-bag insomnia
for a sign. A sweet theophany –
burning bra fiery law
tablets under my parched tongue
some inner swelling
hornet-stung and raw.
I need a new mythology
desperately. Hot licks
and blues’ll set you free
just ain’t cuttin’ it.
Neither is Aphrodite
and her sea-foam lonesome
moon calf groan.
Plumber’s putty
to plug up my holes’ll
do for now.
Put the pedal to the metal.
Burn out the engine gunk,
let the funk all fossilized
lose its skunk-hour savor
Maybe I’ll be just coast,
the ghost of Cochise
riding shotgun,
making the most of soybeans
and cattle pens and stock cars
with my head as raw as a turkey buzzard,
with nothing to lose, nothing to gain.
The sweet smoky smell
of the burning plain.
Gomorrah a-go-go.
Jumping-jack flash.
Rock the casbah and count your cash.
The union wages sure would’ve been nice.
Don’t take it personal, cowboy.

Only a roll of the dice.


And now let's play some Christmas songs with Elvis.  Okay, the first song is actually about Elvis Costello...."Elvis Costello Saves Christmas This Year":

Elvis Costello, Stephen Colbert, et al sing "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding."  Technically, it is a Christmas song as it's from the Colbert Christmas album:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB5r6HeOA-8

Now, here's Elvis Presley singing "Blue Christmas": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW3DnN2zLKQ

He also sang "White Christmas" as well:

We'll finish with his "Silver Bells" and "O Come All Ye Faithful":

Monday, December 22, 2014

Poems by Pijush Kanti Deb

It's always nice to publish a poet for the first time!  (Hint, hint.)  Tonight I have the pleasure of publishing  the poems of Pijush Kanti Deb, an Indian poet and professor of economics.  

A Devotee or A Beggar
                        Composed by- Pijush Kanti Deb
It’s not universally applicable
but some devotees of the divinity,
seem to be beggars
in the guise of humble devotees.
As a disguised beggar,
a devotee becomes a flatterer
throughout his devotion to the God
as he keeps oiling him again and again,
dropping his crocodile’s tears
in begging for his self-centered happiness
but drops neither tears
in showing his true love for his divinity
nor his selfless formal inquiry
‘’How do you do my God ?’ 

Your Cat and My Dog
             Composed by- Pijush Kanti Deb
I am ever-cautious of the cat on your lap
along with its hidden claws
waiting for directing the dual
between your ‘yes’ and my ‘no’ and vise-versa,
but my compromised heart never calls for a duel
rather well ascertained it is
with the regular scanning of my heart and brain
to maintain an eclectic equation
that embellishes my eyes
with a sophisticated vision of verified tomorrow.
Maybe, my office-schedule tightens its grip
or my dog at my feet barks at your cat,
our evening tea-hour, nevertheless, is well trained
to extend itself to decade or more
provided that
your cat and my dog interchange their masters
and my eyes are fearless to kiss
your awesome fingers-
embellished with sharp and polished nails.

Two Languages

At night,
in our bed-room
all stories are seemed to be good.
Though my wife talks to me in two languages
and I use my ears and eyes to listen
yet nothing is there to handicap
our mutual understanding.
Very often I am amazed
at the contradictory longings of her two languages
as her lip-language hides the truth
while her body-language is so simple
to simplify the truth.
Though in the bed she embraces my lying body
keeping her face on my chest,
legs on my legs
and delivers her body-language
to pour oil in the fire
yet her lips say in drowsy tune, ’’Let’s sleep early’,
but I am prompt to justify
both her languages with love and care.

A poor Hand

Composed By- Pijush Kanti Deb
A poor hand- quite naked and flexible,
needs an impenetrable amulet
made of rhino skin
and a goggles to cover up
its ocular confusions and hesitations-
the outcome of a duel fought in its heart
between its limited ethics and unlimited wants,
to extend itself near to a purse of someone else-
heavier than its own purse
either by uttering the traditional hymns of begging
or by roaring the thunderous dialogues of pillaging,
otherwise, within a fraction of a moment
its nudity will be caught by the fielding eyes,
the sores on it will be brought under the scanner
and the consequent humiliation
will be active to contract the poor hand to its origin
leaving even its own poor purse somewhere else.

Though She Is My Best Friend
                              By- Pijush Kanti Deb
She knows how to cast aside
one’s passionate solicitation
and carry her point of reluctance
with a sweet smile.
Though she is my best friend
yet I can’t see eye to eye
with her smile
that sees off her refused boy friend
and multiplies itself too at his disappearance,

with her prompt party with me in a canteen
where she looks as the happiest one
in her gossiping and laughing with me
and pulling the waiter’s leg for fun

and with her unabated making up
with the new boys one after another.
that brings into play the same stories-
solicitation ,refusal , smiling
and a party with me respectively,
but a new query in my mind,
“is she a stoic or a sick?”
Before I cut the link
with her hazardous company
I look her in the face and ask,
“How can you smile at other’s tears?”
She looks daggers at me
and shouts in her reply,
“They could smile at my mother’s tears”.

Here is the poet's first-person bio:

I am Pijush Kanti Deb and a new Indian poet with more than 180
published poems and haiku in more than 50 nos. of national and
international poetry magazines and journals print and online like Down
in the dirt, Tajmahal Review, Pennine Ink, Hollow Publishing,
Creativica Magazine, Muse India, Poetry Pacific, Teeth Dream Magazine
and so on. At present I am working as an Associate Professor in

Welcome, Pijush!

Recently, the Clarkophile, a blog devoted to Gene Clark's body of work, published its list of the fifty best songs he wrote and performed.  I will post a few of the songs mentioned here:  http://clarkophile.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-complete-list-1-50.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheClarkophile+%28The+CLARKOPHILE%29

Unfortunately, this recording of "My Marie" is marred by some chatty ladies, but the song is not as easy to find as some of the others are: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0r3j6kKmNBo

"Give My Love to Marie" is not on the list, but it is easier to find: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eg1kJ6K0_-A

"She Don't Care About Time" is more in tune with Pijush's poems:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oJAuDKUKu0

Finally, here is "Polly" from the Dillard and Clark Expedition: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjNA0q5YY2A