Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Welcome to Dr. Sunil Sharma

Tonight I'd like to post editor and educator Dr. Sunil Sharma's "Eerie Resemblance," which he described as a piece "mirroring some South Asian realities."  I think you might find that this piece is universal as well.

Eerie resemblance
---Sunil Sharma

He died in a well-lit and clean hospital ward, un-cared by the guys in white robes with dangling stethoscopes, immune to the stink of death, in a pricey set-up.
Death is a roaring business. Pain sells but its source is disposable.
I had cried a lot in the cold corridor, a mere teen, that time, shivering in the wind that came off a choked river few miles down the highway to Delhi, the capital of the country.
Nobody noticed. It was common in that hell---sobbing orphans and widows.
I knew the secret.
Pa, before the cardiac arrest finally took him away, was not alive much earlier also. In fact, the poor man had died years ago but again, nobody in the family had noticed it then.
I found a cadaver roaming the house in a little north Indian town.
Sitting on a cot, in an open yard, wearing a loincloth, bare chested, gazing at the sky, on summer nights that hinted the retreating spring, Pa struck a figure solitary in the crowds.
He would look ahead or up, brooding.
Perhaps, communing with the stars that guide lost souls on gloomy heath and meadows dark.
The breeze kissed a sunken face recovering from terminal illness, eyes blank, soul drained,
The son youngest would not dare disturb the reverie of a man who could have been a good writer, if time would have been kind
He would hardly talk, going deeper inside, remote from the surroundings---like a yogi, preparing for another journey.

Fifty years later, his same son assumes that forlorn position, downsized, forgotten by all.
Sitting in a dark room, brooding, blank inside, the cavities opening up during melancholic nights, a replica of his sensitive Pa,
Watching the stars above the sodium-vapor lights...and the vagrant moon.
Some existential pains have got an eerie family resemblances, texts, textures and postures!
The past repeats.
Pain is a narrative of continuities, despite temporal voids and fissures; a universal saga that death can never conquer and erase by its icy fingers.
In mourning
We all are united by a strange script understood by all!


Mumbai-based, Sunil Sharma writes prose and poetry, apart from doing literary journalism and freelancing. A senior academic, he has been published in some of the leading international journals and anthologies. Sunil has got three collections of poetry, one collection of short fiction, one novel and co-edited five books of poetry, short fiction and literary criticism. Recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award---2012. Another notable achievement is his select poems were published in the prestigious UN project: Happiness: The Delight-Tree-2015.
 He edits the English section of the monthly Setu, a bilingual journal from Pittsburgh, USA:

I'll finish with some music.  Somehow Ahmad Jamal's 1959 version of "Darn That Dream" seems appropriate:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BD8-aYrKew

His "But Not For Me" is from 1958:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkogQxKXwZc

His "Stolen Moments" is more recent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HClD5wy7K5s as is "Lament": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9cb6RrfksA

Friday, August 26, 2016

Rita Marie Recine ...Upon Reflection

Summer is winding down, but the holidays will be with us soon.  To remind us of that part of the year, I'd like to post Rita Marie Recine's "Ode to My Grandmother's Tablecloth."

An ode to my grandmother's tablecloth

the table cloth is set in  the dining room ,
on the table it rests
of golden colour with a tinge of green and red flowers adorns its center

it looks so magical, creating a feast of its own

It  is made by my ancestor,my grandmother
 made by hand .. with needle, thread and twine

In the home the tablecloth took its stand.
 food was placed on it. dishes set....for all the people who crossed their path, for all those they met. 

I reminisce and think,a  dress for the table.. a vestment
the colour  may fade by  years of washing,
  many stains, its  bond remains, no refrains.

The  table cloth has been around for centuries
  Its presence has  been part of quiet conversations or  uproarious laughter from old friends and family too

it has been made by my ancestor, with needle thread and twine
their creation ,my admiration

  Does she hear me ....i do not know.....i utter to myself
i hope so and thank you

it was an empty canvas a piece of cloth...no questions were sought
Her  hands so  refined...i  observe her decor with , love although now  she is up above..

the colours , so  elegant.... diverse patterns ..  so eloquent with all of its glory.. 

all comes together , a tapestry a masterpiece 

with thread, needle and twine white linen or colored my ancestor  crocheted, sewed and embroidered
point to point so pretty.

tablecloth table still remains ..... like the bedsheets.
I imagine her near the fire

the make-up of her craft was voluntary.
tablecloth table still remains as the sheets.

all embroidered with red, white, green
with a beautiful flower in the middle ... a craft, an art of yesterday
crochet  sewing and embroidery

With her magic  she created her art, 
The tablecloth on the dining room table still remains

 A memory, a marvel, majestic
a gift as beautiful as its creator

 My ancestor

an ode  to my grandmother, to the sheets, blankets, and always the tablecloth that remains resting on  the  dining room table

rita marie recine
january 8th 2016


presents a token of appreciation, 
presence ,, forever a celebration
distinguish the two
well wishes are all one needs ,
together united , your presence is of importance
no presents are necessary
your presence is our gift,
sharing with us this sacred day
no glasses, no dishes, no lines please
sit down relax , celebrate with ease

no need for presents  no  need  for a fuss
simply be with us in our journey and celebrate with us
your presence is our present
you are  our guest... the most precious of all requests


Serendipity is it faith or luck?
Is it the plan?

One day  you came to me.
serendipity was to be.

Events and coincidences came my way.
Chance was here to stay.
Sent by a higher energy.
This is what I call serendipity.

Serendipity is it faith or luck?
Is it the plan?

Serendipity occurs at least once in ones lifetime.
Romantic, marvelous, magical.
Two kindred souls meant for one another.
No accident, destiny, serendipity

Adoration, infatuation.
in no order.

Serendipity is it faith or luck?
Is it the plan?

A colourful rainbow . a bar of gold.
Warm or cold.
They met for the first  time.
Admired one another,went their separate ways.
They thought of one another, day by day.
Never had the sense of being alone...Reborn.

Serendipity , a fundamental creation.
Time passed, they grew apart.
Their futures differed ,not the  heart.

Serendipity is it faith or luck?
Is it the plan?

Looking all around feeling each other nearby.

Their lives began to unfold.
Years had  come and gone
Battles were lot , others won
Their lives carried on.

Reunited once again...by a friend..
A blind  date,may have been fate?

This is what I call serendipity.
The moment of time had come.
Their lives once again intertwined.
beginning anew.
A true love shared by few

Together they walked side by side
Hand in hand.
Together they would forever stand
Serendipity was their story.

yesterday's silence became today's harmony.
Content is the heart.
Only in death do they part.

Serendipity,a legend which has been written from the  ancient times.
Serendipity is it luck, fate or the plan
Serendipity, you decide...
I also want to include a link to Rita's poem "The Rose and the Facets of Its Beauty," which is published at an Italian site.  The poem is in English!

Right now my husband and I are listening to Hank Jones' performance of "The Summary":

"Ah, Henry" is also lovely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jImdmFzXClk

I'm going to include "Upon Reflection," the title cut from this album, a tribute to his younger brother Thad Jones:

Let's finish with "Little Rascal on a Rock": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0kSOii3Bdg 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Longer Poems by Karen O'Leary

Recently Karen O'Leary, the editor and publisher of Whispers, sent me some longer poems.  It is always gratifying to see a poet who is stretching herself, refusing to settle for the same lens.

A Piece of Heaven

The waves swish
   along the shore
   creating a white foam.

Sondra closes her eyes
   immersed in peace,
   the breeze caressing her soul.

Tired of sitting
   under the umbrella,
   she kicks off her sandals. 

Tossing her sunglasses
   on the beach chair,
   she breaks for the ocean.

Collecting seashells,
   she strolls along
   basking in serenity.

Sondra glances up
   as a bottlenose dolphin
   arcs over a crest.

Silver water cascades
   from his sleek body
   as he whistles.

She laughs out loud
   as he nods his head
   and wags his tail.

His humor connects
   them for a moment,
   then he swims away.

Refreshed and calm,
   she gathers her things
   and departs too.

Season for Living

Closing her journal
of frosty thoughts,
the fever of mourning
for justice is past.
The army will not
unlock the secrets
of her son’s death.
Two years~~she
will weep no more.


The treasure of summer
is in bloom to behold.
Her neighbor’s whimsical
wind chimes dance
in a magical breeze
beckoning her to join
in the song of freedom.
Twirling on green grass,
she finds life and laughs.

I don't believe that I've posted much Dave Brubeck.  Here is a lesser-known piece from his very famous album, Time Out -- "Kathy's Waltz":

"Strange Meadowlark" is also from Time Out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sgNYrz0b4o&list=PLB35C44F2FB28E90A&index=2

And here is "Take Five": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqCUX3D3cnE&index=3&list=PLB35C44F2FB28E90A

As some of you may know, Dave Brubeck is one of many jazz musicians born in the 1920s, and the contest continues until September 1:  http://thesongis.blogspot.com/2016/04/welcome-springsummer-contests-for-2016.html

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Review of Bill Cushing's Notes and Letters


From time to time, book reviews appear in The Song Is...  Tonight I'd like to post my review of Bill Cushing's recent book, Notes and Letters: A Celebration of Music and Poetry.

Cushing, Bill.  Notes and Letters.  Lulu.com, 2016.  ISBN: 978-1365021527 .  $8.00.

At first glance, as a title, Notes and Letters seems more suitable to an academic journal than to a book of poetry.  Yet, in the hands of poet Bill Cushing, this title is a perfect fit for his intriguing new collection.  Performing in the L.A. area, he recites his poems to music by jazz guitarist Chuck Corbisiero.   In his introduction to this chapbook, Cushing graciously thanks his collaborator for inspiring him in his current projects, including this book, Notes and Letters.  Indeed, this collection includes poems inspired by the music of Miles Davis and Charlie Parker but also poems on a variety of other topics such as travels to the Peruvian city of Cuzco, religion, and the individuals he encounters in Los Angeles.  These topics appear unrelated to music.  Nonetheless, for Cushing, the influence of music is more than the direct influence of specific musicians, whether in performance or in recordings.  Komunyakaa in an interview included in his jazz inspired book Testimony describes his poems as “word paintings”; Cushing could refer to his poems as “word music.”

One particularly striking example of Cushing’s “word music” is “At a Mountain Waterfall.”  Here his diction, line breaks, and formatting combine to convey the experience of climbing past a waterfall.  The poem begins in mid-sentence: “water slaps/my face,” communicating the immediacy of the moment. The subsequent one-word lines cause the reader to focus on each handhold and the strain of each muscle during this climb.  Eventually, the music shifts as vines “begin to/take root” and the poem’s formatting standardizes.  Shortly thereafter, the speaker finds a stable place to stand where he “hold[s] a stone/shaped like an ax/blade” and the lines lengthen.  At the end of the poem, the speaker is able to build on his individual observations and come to a conclusion that “this island/reminds one/of all things/primitive.”  I wonder what this poem would sound like in performance, accompanied by Corbisiero’s guitar to emphasize the music of this poetry.  I would also love to hear a performance of “Cusquenos,” one of several poems set in Cuzco.  This long, richly textured poem juxtaposes observation of the city’s natives, such as its stonemasons at work and its vendors, with the sensations of tourists “attempting to adjust/to the heights.”   Corbisiero’s guitar would add even more texture, not only highlighting the poetry’s musicality but also contributing to the depiction of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cushing also uses his “word music” to respond to music itself.  Full disclosure: two of his poems “Music isn’t about standing still and being safe” and “On Modest Mussourgsky’s ‘Bydlo’” have appeared in this blog-zine, The Song Is…  “Music isn’t…,” a tribute to Miles Davis, like “At a Mountain Waterfall,” draws on diction, line breaks, and formatting to convey its message.  The poet also creates a kind of refrain by repeating Davis’ first name, at times in the punning way that the musician used it in Miles Ahead and Miles in the Sky.  Indeed, one refrain is “Miles/ahead of everyone else.”  This poem is also intensely personal as the speaker remembers his response to Davis live.  At first this response is playful, almost hyperbolic, as the poem’s formatting makes one believe that the speaker literally “walked all the way home” from Madison Square Garden to Douglaston on the eastern edge of Queens, a considerable distance.  Then, as the poem continues, we recognize the visceral nature of the speaker’s response, his “head pounding with sounds” as he rides the subway, then takes the train, and finally walks home. “Listening to Bird” is much less personal, echoing the observations made by Komunyakaa and others about Parker and his approach to music.  With “On Modest Mussourgsky’s ‘Bydlo,’” Cushing shifts gears, showing that his poetry is not limited to honoring one type of music as he moves on to classical music.  This poem draws on a variety of sensory details, most notably in the “[s]weating flanks/of coarse,/matted hair,” which indicate the realness of the oxen pulling this cart as well as the poet’s keen sense of observation.  Interestingly, the poem ends not in a meditation on sound but with an evocation of smells, both the oxen’s “strong pungent odor” and “the sweet sharpness” of the hay. 

Notes and Letters concludes with a series of shorter, more conventional poems that draw on Cushing’s powers of observation.  Like Mussourgsky’s individual Pictures at an Exhibition or Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, these are sketches.  Some are quick and vivid, like “Las Croabas” or “Pelicans.”  Others are more in-depth like “Clarence” or “Easter Island in Koreatown.”  Several appear to be set in or near Los Angeles, the city where the poet is based. 

In this collection, Cushing has shown that “word music” can appeal to both jazz aficionados and readers less enamored of this genre, especially since he writes on a wide variety of topics, not simply music, musicians, and the poet’s response to them.  Furthermore, this collection proves that collaboration with artists in other media enriches poetry directly and indirectly.   It would be interesting to see the poet respond to other jazz musicians who are performing and recording music today, but the indirect influence of music is truly what strengthens the collection.

Since Bill is inspired by both jazz and classical music, I am going to take the opportunity of mixing music, starting with Miles Davis.

Let's start with "Spanish Key" from Bitches Brew:

"Sivad" is from Live-Evil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSpDfuIuftU

My husband just informed me that this "Guinevere" reinterprets the Crosby, Stills, and Nash song:

This past week my husband and I went to the Staunton (VA) Music Festival, so this is a good time to post a few of the pieces we heard there.

This is actually a newer piece: Toru Takemitsu's "Rain Dreaming":

At one point four harpsichords took the stage for Bach's Concerto in A Minor for four harpsichords:

Galina Ustvolskaya's Grand Duet for Cello and Piano was also quite interesting:

I'll finish with Mendelssohn's Double Concerto in D Minor:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Welcome to Ken Allan Dronsfield! (Note revised poem.)

This evening I would like to welcome Ken Allan Dronsfield to The Song Is...  I know that he has been waiting patiently for this entry.  (Note: "White Silk and Whispers" is a revised version of "White Silk and Rapture.")

That Hazy Impression

Bar stools creak and groan like my bones
a shot sits waiting, number 8, I'm very sure
a night-owl lush within icy faceless crowds
spirits help to forget, but who really cares
many thoughts of love creep in and out
desires seem cold, wanton lust dreamer
a sudden breeze clears all my thoughts
the scent of perfume and wine drifts by
essence of female genes waft in the air
like the smells of honey buns on Sunday
in a wink, she's gone, like an express bus
one day I'll get a number, yes another shot.


Hang in there, everyone, fall is coming!

Rusty Leaves

boots of black, covered in green
forgotten memory left far behind
woodpecker tapping upon birch
moss covered granite whispers
deer disappear into fern & pine
partridge drumming in harmony
woodland faeries smiling softly
footpath covered in rusty leaves
gentle breezes calm all serenely
bears move in lumbering ripples
car horns sound in the distance
peaceful surrender...enchantingly.

Strawberry Daiquiri & Silk Roses

motionlessly awake, helpless and heated
desperate for breezes of a coolish content
fans moving air, like that of a hot hair dryer
lazily sit by the pool, watch silk roses frown
ice in the freezer, fruit juice from the frig
rum in the cupboard, blender waits nearby
fresh sliced strawberries in a bowl now rest
sweat on the brow, the mixing time is now
tall glass from the hutch, granny's best crystal
the noisy whirring is done, a stroke of mastery
walking back to the pool with a sheepish smile
drink my strawberry daiquiri, as silk roses grin.


White Silk and Whispers

Lazy mists envelop this land

scarlet sky with a serene azure

working fields of cotton or yam

adrift within a sun dog's rapture.

Awkward stare at waltzing ravens

escape aroma of decayed river silt

prayers come and rise to Heaven

her old wheel spins white raw silk.

A cool breeze blows over the bay,

whispers of death, the devil's desire.

Life at the crossroad relives each day,

as Robert Johnson strums in the fire.


Of Sky and Blood, Rev 2
(Ode to King Richard III)

Temperance of valor,
greet me with shame
steal away with a sword
from my leather baldric.
Grant me a final wish
before ending my life,
place me upon a throne
with defiant sufferance.
Whilst falling in battle
on a muddy bloody field;
although devout of faith,
whom shall pray for me?
Will your great God above
grant forgiveness for my
sinful murderous contempt?
I am a warrior, not a priest,
tiller of soil; nor a follower
guided along pious paths.
Never forget that haunted
shrill of the battlefield cry.
Proclaim your righteous
virtue, sing your victory
song as sky and blood
drain from my pallid eyes.
As the sounds are muffled
and indistinct, I am suddenly
renewed, feeling a rebirth,
if only in an eternal dream.


Ken Allan Dronsfield is a published poet and author originally from New Hampshire, now residing in Oklahoma. He loves thunderstorms, walking in the woods at night, and spending time with his cats Merlin and Willa. He is the co-editor of the new poetry anthology titled, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze available at Amazon.com. His published work can be found in reviews, journals, magazines and anthologies throughout the web and in print venues including: The Burningword Journal, Indiana Voice Journal, The Literary Hatchet Magazine, Belle Reve Journal, Peeking Cat Magazine, Dead Snakes,Bewildering Stories, Aquill Relle, Members Anthology, Book 6, Literature Today, Volume 5, Poetic Melodies Anthology, Creative Talents Unleashed;  and many others.


As I was posting Ken's poems, Frank Sinatra's "One For My Baby" was going through my head, so I think I'll start with it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkwdkUXQ1yo

"In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" is also worth including, too:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ImGP33hcc4

I do want to include some instrumentals, too.  Let's start with "Where or When" with Ben Webster and Art Tatum:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NoFso7eTfeE

Ben Webster appears with Gerry Mulligan here on "In a Mellow Tone":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g3eB5ZpSqVM

I'll finish with Ben Webster and Oscar Peterson's version of "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgHhio6zleM&list=PLEytf81TZ5Sc93EJOrTKaONUfuoJav4fu