Thursday, September 29, 2016

Welcome to Yoby Henthorn

Tonight I'd like to post some poems from Yoby Henthorn's volume When Icarus Falls, a work in progress about the poet's bipolar disorder.  These poems are the first published from the series.

Anhedonia is a term meaning "a psychological condition characterized by inability to experience pleasure in normally pleasurable acts" (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).


I stare at the leggy, late summer geranium
 blooms bob in midair
Grass as green  
As In late summer rain is grey.

I don’t wish for fall
For bright gold birches
Skinny, black spruce

I wish for the Browns, grays against
 Thin blacks
Of spruce
Before the first snow
Makes them beautiful.

I don’t wish for soft, deep snow
Falling down,
Muffling sound

I wish for a bench
In a stubbled hay field
Sharp, whistling wind
Blowing snow grit sideways
Scouring my face
As it blows clean
The fields
From Kansas to New Mexico

Persephone’s House

My house is piles, mazes, dust , and string
Heavy grease of fried fish, thin chicken blood, and stale water
Pool, bead and glisten on the kitchen surfaces
My house smells
Like nickel,
Like copper,
Like pig- iron,
 Like salt.

Missing Diana

She’s hunting tornados.
Books , magazines and craft kits
 Avalanche off the table.
We kick them out of our way.
She didn’t buy groceries before she left.
She hasn’t bought groceries in months,
But has left a large, half- finished Victorian gingerbread house, with its half-finished furniture.
Hulking on the kitchen counter surrounded by bowls of royal icing hardened to ceramic.
When we are bored , we flick pastel candy shingles off the roof
When hungry, we break off a piece of wall and run it under water so we don’t break our teeth.
We toss the dog a chair, or a sofa.

Yarn from unfinished afghans snakes around our feet.
We shuffle slowly to some corner, chair leg, lamp base,
Placing the yarn carefully
Weaving a web.

Tornadoes will end come winter.
She will come home.
We’ll snare her.
Make her tell stories for a thousand and one nights
About the nine billion names of God.


Heat waves shimmer from the asphalt road too soon after a cold cloud of depression lifts.
This is what I live for.
Thunderstorms building up, up up.
Lightning storms sizzling my brain.
Softball size
Falling, cracking, breaking, breaking

Green Sky
Spinning sick
Nosferatu’s fingers reaching down, down, down
I bite the wrist and ride.


The chow’s fur
Millions of thin beading needles
He brushes  against me,
Never leaves my side.
Thousands of needles
I pull out every day
And place in a bronze bowl on my nightstand.

He corals me into the bedroom
Corals me onto my bed, yet won’t let me sleep.
As soon as I doze, he growls and jumps on me,
Lies upon me
The needles pierce me no matter how many blankets I use.
I sit up again and pull the needles
Out of me
Out of the blankets,
Out of my shoes.
Small dry plinks as I drop them into the bowl.

He will let me go to the toilet,
But not the shower,
Not anyplace he can’t be with me.
He’s allergic to water.
I wet a towel corner anyway
Wipe my face, my underarms, my groin
Knowing I still smell sour
He’s brushed against the towel
So I let it drop
Knowing it smells sour anyway
Knowing it is too full of needles
Knowing I can splash myself with water
And splash him at the same time

Every once in awhile, he lets me eat,
But only because he is hungry too.
A piece of cheese for me, a piece for him
A tablespoon of peanut  butter for me
A tablespoon for him

My face is as thin as a knife.
My teeth rattle in my gums
His shoulder blades and hips poke through his fur.
He is losing thousands of needles a day.
I wonder which of us will die first.

Ben Williams' "Things Don't Exist" is a good song to start with:

Here is his "Lost and Found" with Christian Scott:

"Black Villain Music" fits well, too:

I'll finish with his version of "Moontrane":

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Tribute to Felino A. Soriano

Recently Heath Brougher, the poetry editor of Five2One Magazine, gave me the idea to set up a tribute to Felino A. Soriano, a dynamic and prolific jazz-inspired poet.  You've seen a fair number of his poems at this blog-zine.  Tonight I thought I'd bring them together for this tribute, starting with "Of This Momentum Song (Forty-two)," a piece written especially for The Song Is and nominated for the 2015/6 Best of the Net.

Of this Momentum Song (forty-two)

                           Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.
                             —Miles Davis                       

    To be near ________,
      is what
   here needs it
      to be, an unnamed
    name is only
       ________ when
mouth closes, excavating
  rhythm in all
 language, when
   then here is again
 and why we ________
   answered atop
 a silence of small
    stone: the flecks
  within the reflect
     hold the hand
   of what watches,
       how or when
 breath of our going,
  _________.  We come
to drink of/from.  The
   promise held to
 how we name the
    unnamed.  Paused
  intuition, we’ve a
     nuance in our
 motivated ________,
  freeing fathom can
 reinvent the mouth.


   Tongue: blurred wing
  song of clapping
     hands.  Hands:
  bilingual caliber, ________
   what we need
to invent, unaltered.

    Organized, we hour by
   the sound of it, sound-
     ing out to open
   in incremental minutes.
  Certain these angles
    plagiarize shape,
 is familiar,

  known then replaced
 into what finds

           a self-outside
   the self, privileged,


Since this will be a long entry, I am going to post one song after each poem or set of poems.  Here is Miles Davis' "In a Silent Way/It's About That Time":  Interestingly, you don't hear Miles' trumpet until about four minutes in.


"Underneath," a tribute to Vijay Iyer, was nominated for the 2014/5 Best of Net.  It is also part of Felino's Forms migrating series.  

I want to live, experiment with focuses, rearrange fragmentations.
Create alternate apparitions, converse across patterned puddles
attempting silent art into an acclimation of open structure.  I’d
live then, if each year didn’t curtail with predetermined fallacies of
bruised resolutions.  I listen, then; the perfect option among voices
hitching and holding onto stories delving, if by thrown, and the sequencing
of truth singing and louder, singing into the dark halls of my eyes’ misplaced

Vijay Iyer also inspired "Morning, this," a poem where you see Felino's love for his daughter.

Morning, this

Swing diagram
deliberate grin.  Her
visual cue said
the crow never
rose higher than the 2nd
version of a moment’s
agonizing realization.
Toward verb my listening
altered.  Running.  Impulse
common her

                             intuition to inspire with voice modulations, concise diction
                             appropriate in the melody of a father’s roaming gather.  Here
                             we speak as do feathers’ neighboring conjoining—aligned or

                             halved in idea and function of purpose. 
I am choosing this performance of the Vijay Iyer Sextet as Felino had told me that it was the inspiration for "Morning, this":

Felino has paid tribute to a number of different musicians, often drawing attention to lesser-known contemporary men and women as well as highlighting the classic figures.  The first poem I received from him was "toward smile and its fundamental creation/for Takuya Kuroda."  Blue Note Records describes Kuroda as a "forward-thinking musician with a bent towards mixing post-bop and adventurous soul jazz."  I would also call Felino a forward-thinking poet with a bent towards mixing jazz and adventurous poetry.

toward smile and its fundamental creation

                                                                   —for Takuya Kuroda

of this listening
and the burgeon of sound
syncopates among
dexterous fascinations amid
these wings and oscillating breathing hands


soliloquies demonstrate preferences of
solitude, silence, danceable articulations
against mirror and/or varied languages
                     styles of brass-blown rhythms
linking into a bouquet’s center
the scent strong and elongated

with gift
sways and

converts hope
into an augmented elation of
Here is Takuya Kuroda's "Rising Son" from the album of the same name:

The next poem "introverted dance and its electronic configurations/for Kris Bowers" draws our attention to another emerging musician.

introverted dance and its electronic configurations

                                                                   —for Kris Bowers

this hall
which leads

a talkative brand of paralleling
visceral exhalations

into each
rolled species of extracting
syllables’ reinforced multiple meanings,
gained and by gathering what leaps from
a spiraling direction of blue/green/gold
led kaleidoscopic configurations

this hall

slim though populated
into pageantries of embracing
eclectic embraces—

never sends silence or
its synonym for chaotic
Kris Bowers gave a TED talk...or shall I say a TED performance in Harlem:

The next set of poems that Felino sent me included one honoring the innovative pianist Robert Glasper.

in this piano-glare fade from

                                                 —for Robert Glasper

&, or of sound speaking spark
from charisma’s fingering spectrum

chorded oranges

greens                     turquoise blearing refuge
amid the dragonfly’s

                    hovering smear spins into webbed pattern
an eye’s version of watching while closed

                                       see: the life of this momentary balance,
of tone & space                                    leaping

                                                            by which loiter explains wait as
gift of hearing this nuanced



                                                                             configured in the approbation
of legacy and brilliant’s articulating


Glasper also appears in the poem that opened my Thelonious Monk contest.

Trio of incorporated interpretations


                   —after Thelonious Monk’s Thelonious

Altered extraordinary focal premises
these plurals arise arrive
dominating left-right hand-hand plurals and pulsing
pushes . . .                               what/who hears
cannot not become altruistic in subsequent
serenades toward emblems of your rise and open
-hand needs
                              . . . solo which rises      thrown
such jubilant architectures of oscillating feet
          feeling freed and
forthcoming more so freedom amid the standing

ovation each hand surprises as the wife beyond

14th circulation of the 2nd volume of each year’s orchestrated


                   —after Robert Glasper’s Thelonious

why (,or, inside the permission of tongues speaking _________,)

the eyewear fits, well, finds, well

and well, this rhythm sits, well, well, aligning
beyond juxtaposed
already in the expectation of

left-aligned memories
pulling what crowds with softened unclosed
fingering selections, the watchers impress their
aptitude inspire their prior silence into
what knowing retains in replayed
motions of what assembles



                   —after Jason Moran’s Thelonious

 as to my father’s waving hand i
‘ve become a somewhat similar he when i
range my talk and arrange my walk with head
or visual tools held toward the right-hand lean
my fedora wears itself, as my

graying ceiling
since youngster style into the middle-portion of
my existence’s mirror and wandering finding

i am interpreting, yes
, what has held in place an examination
prior to my altering infatuation with
musical foundation and language as
advocate of my body’s often-bending
to become what expands within
the generational differences of
same-season reaching
Here is an extended version of Robert Glasper's "Thelonious" with Mos Def:

Christian Scott (whom you may know as Christian aTunde Adjuah) is the inspiration for the next poem:

inflection rally my speech encompasses junction

                                                —for Christian Scott

see,                       bouquet confirmations

left to the hand
framed by the smile
scent carries into twirl
around the head in halo


                                                                    spatial syllables
an escape proximity to/at

where a freedom commends
what wears its natural gold or

glare toward a nascent tomorrow enunciation

expressed against relevance of another’s role as typical

& what extrapolates
they’ve an aim-off agenda

& my unbroken lean
                    containing prose or the ambulation of
these words’

contagious                                kaleidoscopic spirit
To accompany this poem, I've posted Christian aTunde Adjuah's "West of the West":


As I mentioned above, Felino has also celebrated the work of more established musicians.  One is Charlie Haden, the double-bassist and leader of the Liberation Music Orchestra.

vibratory nuances in the celebrated fathoms of music

 —for Charlie Haden

worded braids

bonded water writing letters into assailable eyes—

all aspects of a life’s inward collaboration

with joy & voice

of song & responsibility

to beauty & hand

either / or stone

both or other tools design space as architecture,
body & becoming as

range & serial movement


with invitation
these fingering splays & purposeful designations

respell elation
from a silent theory

toward screams of physical alterations

the need to define this moment’s
answering through haze & form of fogged

sound oh, sound
which whisper first
exposes the forehead
to lean and prosper
walking into halls of
nuanced & radial

—then, & when
the answer rises from the tongue of sole communication

the body

might/must bend

contoured into the map of directional
Charlie Haden and Keith Jarrett's version of "For All We Know" is perfect for this late night with the windows open:
Another is Marian McPartland, the longtime NPR host.

Each crow suspends prior to dedicating movement

          —for Marian McPartland (born 3/20/18)
personal geography
the dance of the body’s turning
an age of trend     an arc of proving rhythms—

near-morning, the
mist of air’s whispering welcome

nothing here hallucinates under the
fingering tributes of wing and plurals of

reconfiguring devotion—

a prose writes
its wandering purpose

into gaze and promise to etch meaning from absence
and within the voice a
curtain of horizontal hands

pause and continue . . .                                             a bowing of
internal reliance with

SUDDEN symmetry :: each rounded sounding

pound of memorizing measure, the associated

figurines of air’s crisscrossing angular levels

paralleling music with the flight of handmade veneration—

the tribute will arrive again, ongoing

mentioning toward the hearers of tonal

Here is her version of "There Will Never Be Another You":

Enjoy this tribute to Poncho Sanchez!

Oh, the joy

                —after Poncho Sanchez’s Baila mi gente

we this aggregation of
fluid wings this
                        articulation of rhythm’s
                        mobile language and prosaic
reinterpret movement

                                           we’ve been an attribute of tonal miracles
 the feet of our listening
erupt and configure

                   pronounced figurines of multilingual

Here is the song that Felino references in the soaring poem above:

I especially appreciate "Listening," one of the poems in the Summer 2015 contest of poems inspired by female musicians.  The musician honored here is pianist Geri Allen.


—after Geri Allen’s Soul Eyes

each gate     wanders, opens          widens,


an interpretation     of a window’s
signature of contouring syllables
shaped by hands of popular
association, —a connected dedication
opens the visual hanker to
align purpose with the prose
of companionship’s configuration,     each
smile of an onlooker holds an embraceable
moment, an emblem stays, hovering
above what portends color to confirm
emotional clarification, and the eyes
will remember each chapter, each
page will ignite imagination’s pageantry,
consecrated contemplation

I know you want to listen to "Soul Eyes":
I'm going to close with a statement of poetics that Felino sent me and that I published with his poems on Robert Glasper and Christian Scott.

Summation of poetics:

My writing stems from the perspective of positing a poetic language of immanent discovery.  Often, the burden of everyday language—one offering a sameness and lack of creative spontaneity—creates spectral desensitization toward environment and the paradigms of interrogating what expands into beautiful presentations.  I am first, an interpreter of what surrounds me; music is foundational, and the found rhythms inspire and dictate each poem’s identity and spatial configuration.  I am interested in language as longevity, in advocating for its limitless disposition toward revealing, —and in this revealing, I aim to uncover/unconceal angles of what is unseen, the belly of a stone’s cool and undisturbed silence.

Jazz works its way into my language, —through rhythm and interpretation, its spontaneous and improvisational qualities augments my desire to create a text that behaves from the perspective of unaltered fruition.  


I wish Felino all the best and thank him for his past & future contributions to The Song Is... and, more importantly, poetry itself.  I don't know how he does all that he does!