Sunday, September 27, 2015

ayaz daryl nielsen

Tonight's poet, ayaz daryl nielsen, is known for his haiku, but the poems I'm posting tonight are free verse.  They do seem to have a bit of the haiku spirit even if they don't fit the format.   The photograph above is by W.G. Dayton who took it while on a trip through southwest Colorado.

yesterday’s main streets
all the half-
remembered somethings
moths shuffle
across window screens
a ray of sunshine finds
the long lost button
pesos in the stairwell
of a small shop
under the stairs
cheap seats
with a good view
personal, random
encounters of an
unusual kind
a worn path
through graveyards
grama grass nods
with twilight’s caress
reassurance that
what seems invisible
won’t stay that way
“Oh!”, I say to myself,
refilling the coffee cup
adding a splash of
half-and-half, “oh”

Within these hollow cities
the pallor of shallow nights
when sleep isn’t enough
Loneliness of those born
to sing, empty acolytes
brave enough to wear
invisible robes of gold,
those who have time for
their mistakes, adjust,
and move on to the sweet,
grateful embrace of the genuine  
Because we are, after all, always
somehow someone that is needed.

ayaz daryl nielsen, who has been a hospice nurse and roughneck (as on oil rigs), lives in Longmont, Colorado.  He is editor of bear creek haiku (26+ years/127+ issues) and an award-winning poet with hundreds of poems published worldwide.  His poetry collection ‘haiku  tumbleweeds still tumbling’ is at, and!  he is online - bear creek haiku  poetry, poems and info 
The first song that came to mind was Brook Benton's "Rainy Night in Georgia," a song that oddly enough I associate with driving around Worcester, MA on sunny days:

I'm also going to include Ben Webster's "Solitude."  The pianist on this version is Dick Katz.

Here Webster performs "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" with Oscar Peterson:

Members of the Ronnie Scott Quartet accompany Webster on "Chelsea Bridge":

Enjoy!  I hope that the poetry and music inspire you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Haibun and Haiku by John McDonald

Recently the Scottish poet John McDonald sent me a haibun and some haiku that I'd like to share with you on this first day of fall.

(Thelonious that is...)

Butterflies stop by,
(the man with the funny hats is playing)
dancing, they sashay, shimmy, and soft shoe shuffle.

He dances a little himself: puppet jerking to the tenor's syncopation;

then back to dissecting the blues, searching, trawling the deeper dissonant strain  -

plotting the saddest sadness.

Today, he is gone, the man with the funny hats;

...the butterflies dance on.

holy roller
this is your story
this is your song

my face refleckted  -
smiling in a photograph
among jazz legends

spring fair  -
bagpipes silent
rain paradiddles

'Jazz on a Summer's day'  -
a basket full of flowers
full of bees

music festival  -
jazz in the old churchyard
children dance on graves

a background
of blues  -
clouds improvise

jazz clarinet  -
a black butterfly
dances round the radio

of the stream  -
jazz to hymnal

it starts to snow
the blind musician
looks upwards

I'd like to post some music from It's Monk's Time.  The first is "Lulu's Back in Town": 

Next is "Memories of You,"  which goes nicely with John's last haiku:

What could a song titled "Stuffy Turkey" sound like?  Let's listen!


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Anna Maria Mickiewicz

Apologies to anyone who is on a strict diet, but I would like to set the scene for Anna Maria Mickiewicz's essay "Chocolate"-- although, as she shows us, chocolate is more than just a luscious kind of candy.


Salvador Dali's chocolate mouth shines out from an exhibition at a modern art gallery in London. The marketing pulls people in with the subtitle Red Hot Surrealism.

I don’t remember my first trip to Warsaw very well, but one detail remains – chocolate at Café Wedel. The liquid variety in an intricately translucent fine china cup. Even in times of crisis, the coffee shop smelt of vanilla and sweet exotic spices. It was like a mirage in the urban desert. In a black room behind heavy green curtains, a small coffee shop stuck in the nineteenth century was operating normally, almost furtively. Here it was all elegant furniture, flowers in vases and importantly – chocolate.

"What do you want to be?", people would ask. The moment was approaching and I had to think. “I want to work in a chocolate factory”, I answered, albeit still unaware of Roald Dahl; I’d been inspired by the coffee shop. My reply raised a smile. I often repeated it, mischievously, just for the fun of it. It was the seventies, a brief period when children were allowed to dream in Poland.

Then the cycle of everyday life changed. In the Poland of the eighties, thinking about chocolate was taboo... However, one day I was given a box of After Eight, filled with mint, in special individual little brown sleeves; I cherished them, limiting myself to one a day.

I had only recently learned that chocolate factories actually existed. There was one in San Francisco. Not long after I got there, I saw the brown brick block by the ocean where they made chocolate by the tonne. It was bitter, devoid of sensuality, aroma-free...

* * *

One day I received two emails, from different continents.

Peter from America: you must see Chocolate, a brilliant romantic film, I warmly recommend it. 

Annie from Sweden: That Chocolate, mawkish, two-dimensional characters, how could they have made such a film!

Can anything be compared to Warsaw chocolate?

Maybe a cup of chocolate by Lake Como in Italy, glazed by the sun's reflection; the cold deep clouds, the craggy hills, the elegant women and the sensual mouth of Salvador...

* * *

But in Warsaw, there’s no sensuality now. It’s best represented by the stark reality of the Polish artist, who, disguised as a man for the sake of her art, filmed naked men in a Budapest bath house. 

Anna Maria Mickiewicz

London, 2001

 After chocolate, a walk in the park is good!  The picture above is of Regent's Park, the subject of Anna Maria's next poem.

Regent’s Park

He proposed to

Invisible clouds

In Regent’s Park.

And she

Tangled by a rose muslin

Circled by the sun

Her golden feet

Walked through the glass door

Under the sky suspended

On a steel clock

At the top of Victorian towers

On a misty evening

Anna Maria Mickiewicz

London 2013

The Camellias

Deep in thought, streets of camellias

They wake up redolent with a smell of remembrance
Open their flowers, quickly stealing the sun’s rays

They wait for the Hellenic messenger
For the aromatic waft of sapphire waves

Day by day

Against the gleaming
Rim of the London sky...

Anna Maria Mickiewicz

London 2009

The mystery of time

In a silent garden
The spring snowdrops
Wake Socrates
from Plato's dream
of a dialogue

He makes a covenant
with eternity's evanescent closure
forged with
fragile cobwebs

It will keep secrets
in the blackbird's song

Anna Maria Mickiewicz

After Socrates - poetry

The high wave of the flood passed
            A painful empathy dropped
The homeless man vanished
Mr Green mows the grass
The cavalcade of heaven faded

Anna Maria Mickiewicz
London 2015

 An Angel in London - poetry

I have seen an angel
He was selling carrots, tomatoes and strawberries

A bright face
Surrounded by whiteness
But only his wing was a bit chipped

He lifted his pale eyelids
Lost in languages
He was stammering…

I dropped my head
How can it be…

So young

A Nike lost in London

Anna Maria Mickiewicz 
London 2011

Summer in Seaford

The sun sheds its golden drops.
The sea devours them instantly. 
The sky shimmers. 

The day is snatched from another story. 
We’re arriving, here at the end of the line. 
We convince ourselves that infinite space is an illusion…

We walk through the small English town.
A tiny station, plaster falling unevenly off the wooden beams.
Before us the Channel gleams threateningly. 

In the distance a cliff plunges sharply into the sea.
No chips, no ice cream, no candy floss. 
Dead jellyfish glitter on the pebbles. 
The day passes lazily by 
A ship silhouetted in grey against its face.

On the beach a couple unfold deckchairs
Wrinkled skin 
They read the papers. 
They seem unreal 
Postimpressionist faces
All nonchalant 

We’re heading back. 
The cafes and restaurants are closed. 
Who lives here at the end of the world?

Looking through photographs of the scandalous Bloomsbury set, 
An old snapshot. 
A gaunt young woman and a man in deckchairs.
They are reading the papers. 

What if the woman on the beach was a cousin of Virginia Woolf's? 
Who was the man? 
A poet? 
Or one of her scandalous friends?

Anna Maria Mickiewicz

Anna Maria Mickiewicz is a Polish-born poet, writer and editor, who writes both in Polish and English. Anna lived in California and has now been in London for many years. She edits the annual literary magazine Pamiętnik Literacki (The Literary Notebook), London. She is a member of English Pen. As a student, she was a co-founder of a magazine Wywrotowiec (The Subversive). Her first collection of verse was published in 1985 and her selection of short stories and essays Okruchy z Okrągłego Stołu (Breadcrumbs from the Round Table) appeared in 2000. Her volume of poetry Proscenium was published in 2010.

Anna’s poetry has appeared in the United States, UK, Australia and Poland in many literary journals, including Syndic Literary Journal (California), Kritya, The Exiled Link (UK), Poezja Dzisiaj, Akant (Poland) and anthologies, such as Chopin with Cherries. A Tribute in Verse, (Moonrise Press: Los Angeles, 2010), Through A Child’s Eyes: Poems from World War Two, selected by: Moira Andrew (Poetry Space Ltd: Bristol, 2013), Contemporary Writers of Poland, edited by: Danuta Blaszak (Dreammee Little City: Orlando, 2013).

She regularly publishes poetry and literature in the London-based Nowy Czas - New Time - and has also written for many other journals, including Wprost (Poland), The Davis Enterprise (California), Nowy Dziennik (New York). Her poetry has been featured on the radio in the UK (Poets Anonymous), Australia, and Poland.

I have to include "A Foggy Day in London Town" as one of the songs:

That leads to "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square":

Here is "Softly as a Morning Sunrise" by the Jerzy Milian Quintet, a group based in Poland.

The Polish Jazz Quartet performs "Promenade through Empty Streets":


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Welcome to Scott Thomas Outlar

This evening, before diving back into my student papers, I'd like to post some poems from Scott Thomas Outlar, a poet from Atlanta.  These spiritual poems really fit the transition between summer and fall that we are experiencing, at least in the Washington, DC area.

A Forest of One
I walk to the local park,
make my way into the woods,
and sit on this same bench
nearly every day of late,
where I look to my left
and see the heart
that was carved into the trunk of a tree
at some point in the past.
I think about the happy couple
that branded their initials
into the bark,
wondering if they still feel the same
about each other today
as they did back then,
or if, like most love,
the passion faded
as their time together passed.
Chemical lust is a pulsing fire
of white hot light
that rages without reason
through the heart and mind
of those who fall under its spell,
but the staying power of true love
requires a steadfast will
that only a rare breed
are able to manage and maintain.
I’ve felt such flames
a time or two myself
while making my way
through this strange journey called life,
but in the end it always seems
that my fiery blood
fizzles out after being doused
by the water from a heavy storm.
Feeling lonely in a world
that is populated
by over seven billion other people
is a bizarre sensation, no doubt,
but at least I have the comfort
of these trees to keep me company,
along with a bit of shade
from the sweltering Summer sun
that is always trying to burn
the truth into my eyes.

Nothing Else

I sat on the front porch
in the midnight hour
and listened to two owls
hoot at each other
from a distance,
slowly moving closer together,
until they came to be as one
and shrieked their primal urges
out into the night air.

I thought about you
for the first time
in a long time
and suddenly realized
that nothing else
has ever been as good
as we were.

 Revelations in the Marrow

The vastness of your scope
as I stare into the sky
reveals itself here and there
with glimpses into the absolute glimmer,
yet the mystery remains ineffable
in a context beyond that which
my primitive consciousness can grasp,
and I’m beginning to understand
that the seduction of your existential aloofness
is part and parcel
to the inherent romance in this experience of life.

I cannot come to know you fully
in the spaces of my mind,
but I can feel you in my guts,
in my heart, in my veins,
through my blood, in my bones,
down to the marrow.

These two open eyes
cannot gleam your greatness,
but when they are closed
I can see dimensions
beyond this physical plane of existence,
and I can sense the raw power
which pulses from your source
as it radiates outward
to be divined by those who truly seek.

The names which you have been called by
throughout the ages
mean nothing to me at this point –
simple words babbled from broken tongues
cannot capture the purity of your meaning;
it is your essence
to which I am addicted,
and I will never cease
reaching toward your unconditional love
until every urgent craving in my soul
has been satiated by your presence.

Lung Capacity

Electricity is the Source
in the blood
that brings shivers
across my spine
in the midnight hour
as I silently devour
each laugh that tries to rise

but there is no stopping God-head

Logos fever dreams
bring lucid sleep
where I awaken
on the River Tao

This life is but one breath
make sure to take a big one


The ground
was wet.

The sky
was empty.

The flood
did not live up to its hype.

Though waters raged,
life survived.

Flash Point

Spinning around the dance floor
without a care in the world…
nothing exists but this moment,
no one else matters but us,
because we all need somebody to lean on…
even if just for the night.

Scott's river poems made me want to post Herbie Hancock's version of Joni Mitchell's "River":

He also included "Nefertiti" on his album River: The Joni Letters:

This version of "Tea Leaf Prophecy" is also from River:

Joni also worked with Jaco Pastorius, so I am going to include one of his performances as well:

I'd also like to include a link to Scott's poetry blog:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

More Poems and Flash Fiction from Will Mayo

As the semester begins to pick up and before I fall further and further behind, I'd like to post more work by Will Mayo.   Enjoy!

empty years


Will Mayo

The empty years stretch ahead of me, a desert without an oasis. I begin my journey with some hesitancy, knowing that the roads behind me are all blocked. Yet I cannot stay where I am either. That is an even greater peril. So I go forth on a path none have traveled though knowing I will well meet the passersby in the crossroads from time to time; that thought hangs in the back of my mind, giving comfort to the few provisions of my soul. The sands are hot, burning the bare soles of my feet with increasing intensity, the sun shines brightly over my naked body, but I continue on nonetheless, the burden growing daily from my frequent stumbles and falls. Now and then, I give a hearty greeting to some fellow wanderer in the dust and we embrace briefly, exchanging a hug and a kiss on either cheek before going our separate ways. The sun begins its descent; the moon and stars beckon at some greater distance. Ahead of me, I see the crags of mountains filling the sky like some greater need. I let out a sigh of gratitude and go forward to my destination, the place where horizons meet.

Daniel Delaney

Once when I was young
and the life still dwelled in my bones,
I gathered together
the fortunes of my forefathers
and sent my ships far asea.
Across a trail, from a beach,
over where the rivers rage highest
from some distant mountain.
There lay Fredericktowne,
a distant dream;
a village of scant understanding.
There where the surveyors would plan,
my grandsons and great-grandsons would yet build.
A place for the evening mass
and the crooked thought.
Of the slaves’ early rebellion
down by the creek
where the dead men sat and wondered,
I gave no thought.
I thought only of charts and maps
and the pennies in my pocket.
Shame I shall never see
the sights that brought me down.



Will S. Mayo

Steepled spires and clustered town,
taunting children,
young gagmen,
cantankerous old men of the town,
watchful manchild peering through the town
that raised him up
to be a man,
tore him down
to be a child,
with small town eyes
slanted toward tinted vagaries
for small town norms,
he thinks with
young and old passions,
"This town belongs to me,
and I belong to it."
Garbage sale remedies
and small town blues,
manchild remains a newcomer to memory,
the citizen between steepled spires and clustered town.



Will Mayo

Tell me, was there ever any day like yesterday?
Like the time we stumbled down a grass strewn slope,
landing in each other's arms all out of breath,
hoping school would never arrive?
Or perhaps the time we snuck a beer
in hopes we'd never be discovered?
A kiss stolen quickly from our first girl
(whose name we just can't recall)?
Weddings we attended.
Buddies we buried before their time and ours.
Till at last we grew old ourselves
and longing for some greater past.
Tell me, Brother, was there ever any day like yesterday?

a wisp of smoke


Will Mayo

Caught between the denigration of life
and the whore of paradise,
I wander the earth.
My name, a wisp of wind.
My feet, the dust blowing in the air.
Together, they meet in a duststorm, a waterspout,
a pillar of fire, reaching to the skies.
The mountains are my home
as well as the valleys.
I ponder a sea of air,
a cave of ice.
I meditate in deepest silence
and the cacophony of a thousand birds.
When the will comes, I shall speak.
Otherwise, I listen.
And wait for the sound of thunder.

I'll finish with a few more of Will's flash fictions.

My Father And The Great Bull


Will Mayo

One of those childhood memories I harken to as I get older is that time about 45 summers ago at the family farm when my father, a veterinarian by trade, was attempting to dehorn a bull both for its safety and ours and the bull suddenly let loose from his grasp and went charging towards us little kids helping out with the day to day work at the end of the pen.

My father looked about frantically for something with which to extricate himself from this situation and, seeing an old piece of hide lying about the pen, used it as a makeshift bullwhip.

God damn you,” he said to the bull with the anger of a father who feared for his children’s safety. “God damn your sorry ass.” And rapidly lashed the whip about the ground.

The bull came charging towards us kids anyway and bashed its head and horns against the walls of the corral as we boys climbed the walls of the pen seeking cover. Then turned around and headed toward my father.

My father, with fear rapidly turning towards anger, lashed the bull about its body as it ran about what was increasingly seeming to be a very small space.

Damn you. Damn you,” my father said and whipped the beast about the neck sending it flying out the gate and into the fields beyond our simple catch pen.

With apparent frustration, my Dad, normally a quiet scholarly man in his day job performing research on laboratory mice, watched off into the field with a distant look in his eyes.

I guess we’ll have to start over again,” he said. We climbed down and began to work. It was but another day about the family farm.

The Clearing


Will Mayo

The clearing is a desolate place, full of sawdust, torn timber, and rotting logs. Machinery noises its way to the surface and the air is filled with foul odors and unpleasant emanations. It is a place devoid of all life, save man’s.

Such was not always the case. Once deer roamed the meadow where the clearing now stands, munching contentedly on weeds and wild herbs that grew with their roots so deep in the verdant earth. Surrounding the meadow, the forest stretched for hundreds of miles, pausing only occasionally for a rapidly flowing river or a frothy stream filled with trout, themselves the nibblers of microscopic things that filled the worlds that no animal eye could see, or bird’s either, for that matter.

And beyond all this, in ages long ago, before the reckoning of man or beast, great monsters rumbled through the land, their reptile feet catching many a small mouse-like animal and tossing him into the chasm of a mouth filled with fangs many yards across. This then was the age of legends, when bloodthirst, not minds, determined one’s destiny.

No more. The man with the saw fells first one limb, then another, finally a whole tree. Soon a shopping center shall dawn here, filled with the Golden Arches, a Barnes And Noble, a Tires ‘R Us. Many miles of traffic shall snake along the highway. Passersby will argue at coffee stands and over hot dogs. Housewives will grow drowsy and bored, reading romance novels and dreaming of a knight that will never arrive. Their husbands will grow old at jobs that will never go beyond the corporate ladder. Whilst their children shall play at games that will take them further and further away from the reality of the moment.

The tree slams into the sawdust as the bloody rays of the sun crawl over the last horizon. The man steps away from the clearing, from the place of desolation. Steps into a combustion-powered vehicle, calls it a day.

Overhead, a buzzard floats in languid circles above what was once a meadow, hoping for any prey that might linger too long near the man’s shadow. His mind the absence of any thought he watches carefully as night slowly encompasses the land.

Me And The Stripper


Will Mayo

It began with the strike of a match on a hot summer afternoon in June of ’85 and ended a month later in a beer fogged glaze in a lonely stripper bar, but in there laid a world of difference. I was young then (no excuse at all, I know) and quite literally insane, attending classes on a crowded urban campus by day and making my way through the ways of flesh by nights lit only by a two faced moon. I knew somewhere in there that there had to be something wrong in all this madness but as to what it was I had absolutely no idea. Rather, I continued on as if it was quite all right, attending lectures in post feminist theory in early morning. Then, hours later, to an antiapartheid rally over sushi and crackers. Followed, as if it were only the rightful order of things, to Lady Godiva’s performance on Queen’s Chapel Road.

And who was this creature, born of night, who enticed me so easily like the once legged reptile in the Garden Of Eden? Well, before you, Dear Reader, go on making wild assumptions as to beauty, class, and charm, let me assure you that this girl was by no means a “lady.” Instead, if you were to peer with me into this lens of her suffering, you would see needle tracked arms and legs, a junkie’s listless eyes, and breasts hung like a child’s from shoulders sagging with despair. This was no radiant beauty. This was no class act. No, here, Friend, was the worm of a Tequila bottle ripe for the bite. I have here no illusions in my simple tale, no little men pulling magic tricks behind the curtain as fairyteller Baum would have it. No, Sir, here is only rock bottom despair from which redemption might only come from dirty streets and a whore’s angry cry. There with, beware my tale.

How our paths met was most simple indeed. I sat there at the stage, nursing that All American Budweiser while she, up above, went through her motions about the May pole as she had done a hundred, no, a thousand, no, gang, let’s make that a million times before, oblivious as usual to my sight. Without question, I was just another guy in the bar watching her performance in life’s mud puddle. But, then again, that may never have changed. Only the opportunity presented itself to be proven by the parties in question. Such has happened ever since Jezebel first presented her skirts to the king, and, no doubt, will continue long after we are gone from this earth. That’s the road we walk on, hard and rocky as it is.

Well, I lit my match for the cigarette (bumming it from the tight skirted waitress as was my wont), lighting it on the brown pad that sidled the pack and sliding the whole thing back in my pocket without giving much more thought to the matter. I lifted my beer bottle and my now lit Kool smoke instanteously to my mouth as if to sample both at the same time when my shirt went up in flames. I had not even bothered to blow the match out before sticking the cinder into my pocket! Flames blew up from my shirt as my beer bottle and cigarette went rolling on the floor. Before I knew it, the waitress and the stripper were both by my side.

Do you need some help?” the waitress asked while I ripped out the pocket from my shirt, scattering ashes and soot onto the edge of the bar from the heel of my hand.

Yeah,” I said. “Another beer.”

Right up,” the still dressed girl replied while the naked one hung from her metal pole, saying, “Cool.” And so it began.

The stripper wrapped a robe of green dragons about herself and joined me on the floor, me with my shirt hanging in rags from my forearms, she with but little else to tell. And so we talked. She discussed life on the streets and in rehab centers while I spoke of classes on campus as if she was just another coed from a dorm across the way (now that she was down from the stage that made all the difference in the world). We drank our beers (complimentary drinks were the order of the day) and spoke of matters large and small, from global politics (hey, girl, dig that Ayatollah!) to our choice of smokes, and pressed our still clothed bodies to one another with the ease of practiced lovers discovering some new road to travel. Afterwards, a hug, a kiss, and a goodbye with the promise to meet again. And again. Hell, as many times as possible. While she was possibly in mind of just another trick, I was after some crazed romance, as if this was just an overgrown little boy’s latest bag of tricks. How quickly we learn.

We met every day after classes and stripping affairs, again discussing things as if nothing was the matter. A whole world of futures unknown appeared before us, from new dances to learn to post modern economics in the world of today’s junkies. We met over drinks paid with ill gotten gains and talked about a life together; dreaming both with lust and puppy dog love intermingled together. Tables for two, please. Always.

I mentioned the possibility of her moving in with me. She did the same and then some. We’d meet outside the bar, tongues dancing as her scarred legs might, and discussed this as if it were the most natural thing to do. Never mind that our two worlds would scarce meet in those rooms, filled as they were with pictures of middle class parents and shelves of tattered paperbacks on Post-Beat literature. Until the day came that a fork appeared in the world and we each walked our separate paths. She, to an early grave. Me, well, back to Momma. And so it goes.

One day, it seems, I stopped in the bar after one too many drinks under my belt already and sat at a table far away from the stage, indifferent to her world and mine. She danced her way through another number and sat before a gentleman three chairs from me who enticed her with his silence. I sat peering at the label on my bottle, reading the ingredients (hops, water), thinking perhaps some answer to my problems lay beneath its surface. She waved me to come sit with her and the well dressed (coat, tie) man who stared straight across thin air to his property. Over and over, she beckoned me to her world and that of what could only be her pimp, her dealer, or an animal of erstwhile persuasion, but there was a wall I could not cross even in the state I was in. The beer foamed in my glass. The sweat misted its way onto my glasses. And the next thing I knew, I was on my feet, the half empty mug behind me, the dusk filling the ruddy sky of the doorway before me, my steps echoing in the streets all around.

Behind me, I could hear some strange ragged voice calling out into the night, “What about us?” But I walked on, rendered whole if only for a moment. Home was still a dream away.

The other day I was trying to find a YouTube version of Michael Nesmith's "Joanne", so here it is:
This song is one of my favorites, and I think that it goes well with Will's work.

So does "The Crippled Lion," also by Nesmith:

Might as well make it a trifecta with his "Hollywood":