Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Welcome to Carol Alexander!

Tonight I'd like to welcome Carol Alexander, a wonderful poet from Resurrection of a Sunflower, Catfish McDaris and Dr. Marc Pietrzykowski's anthology of works inspired by Vincent Van Gogh.  Reading Carol's poems in the anthology, I was impressed.  I am happy to publish her poems this evening.


We climb the bluffs, greedy for fish gut, tinny brash arcades,
houses stilted in the swamp. A brown run-off: mortality.
Litter lines the beach. Crawl backwards into history.
When light first gilded soil, spoor warped into the weave.
Later, corals branched, small fishes mouthing silvery weeds.
See the whole works flittering. First fingers plucked at vines,
testing swollen grapes. We spelled out humble in our palms
(signing terror and desire, words torn from ruddy flesh).
Our fingers flicked a lipless song. How the fierce storm
muddied all outside the cave.  The youngest warrior died.
Our breasts and foreheads scarified, we mumbled
bones at the pyre, to hills and clouds with pretty nomens.
From the corpus rose a wail, some atonal hymn.

Each animal we butchered fled as smoke, as stars. 

Photo by The Meat Case

Last Show

I strike myself, a circus tent.
The ground is littered with paper cups,
and the salt sea tang's tamped down
by a fug of crushed popcorn and beer.
Three black poodles keen for their meat
while the strong man
cleans his nails with a bowie knife.
A calliope drones in the head.
I remember my dislike of circuses,
await the sharp cries of foxes
when the truck rolls off.
What will they do, the elephant
and the trained ponies,
dogs and dancers and acrobats?
Where will the caravan retreat
after oceans fall oily and flat;
even a fulsome word dries up
when the spider webs
jettison their small aerialists.
Damp hands clutch
at fusty crumbs of the feast;
I won't say how species fade
and blow away, how a puzzled wind
spirals through the hulls of bone.
Oh we are afraid of the dust.

Even our distractions fail to please.

Essential Oils

Ease the way with lemon, lull with cardamom.
Dying. I rub oil into his stiffening feet.
I do not wipe them with my hair. Who is this I
returned from death's lair, close to it
as a paper mask. Melancholia also has a reek.
Swab it down with alcohol. Trailing clods of dirt,
a body needs anointment, bitter vials --
the night nurse with her golden horse.
Dying, he is mythic. I sprang from a grizzled head
when his migraine labored, lumbering me
with his knowledge. Consult his chart.
There is no pill or probe for this bad break.

Mouths stuffed with coins and plums,
shades rise from streams below the streets:
chill, puissant heroes harrying the earth,
their noses keen as hunting hounds', truffle pigs',
or the ancient diviners of disease.
Shades. From bronze lamps the scents diffuse
filling the mirrored halls, perfuming kings
as alembic distills the rich, rare oils.
Dormant fields keep their vegetal cold.
A stink of burning leaves in the room--
so quickly, it is cleansed of us.

If a biker pauses on the bridge
for the sake of day's last gold,
her soul floats expansive, replete.
She might recall a koan
about the self/no-self
and offer up her lungs
to the gray particulates.
What is the meaning
of a cat become a body of thought,
sliced in two by the sword
of abstract argument?
It's healthy to bike the bridge,
not so to breathe this air.
She thinks how they struggled
to breathe. Under a drawn sheet,
feet identical to her feet.
To die, just die. Still.
The witness--neither more
nor less than what she sees.


Carol Alexander's poetry appears in anthologies including the 2017 Resurrection of a Sunflower (Pski's Porch Publishing), Broken Circles (Cave Moon Press), Through a Distant Lens (Write Wing Publishing) and Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, Vol. 1. Her work can be found in numerous print and online journals such as Bluestem, Caesura, Canary, Chiron Review, The Common, Matter, Poetrybay, San Pedro River Review, Split Rock Review, The New Verse News, Soundings East and forthcoming in The High WindowSouthern Humanities Review, J Journal, The Main Street Rag and elsewhereShe is the author of the chapbook BRIDAL VEIL FALLS (Flutter Press). HABITAT LOST, Alexander's first full-length collection of poems, is available from Cave Moon Press and Amazon (2017). All proceeds from HABITAT LOST benefit Waterkeeper Alliance.


Like many musicians born in the 1940s, John Abercrombie played the guitar.  However, he played jazz guitar, exploring a number of different styles.

Here is his "Backwoods Song" from 1975:

"Up and Coming" is from his 2017 album of the same name: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTNqluawm88

Here he plays "Homecoming" with Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette.  Not sure when this performance took place.  It might be the 1990s.

The John Abercrombie Quartet plays "Alchemy": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP9o8ymviJ4

I'll finish with a 1986 performance by Abercrombie and Michael Brecker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9E9eA-RmY4k

Friday, August 25, 2017

Welcome to Claus Ankersen!

Danish poet and world traveler Claus Ankersen continues the 1940s contest and the series of contributions from writers whose work appeared in Resurrection of a Sunflower.   Tonight I only wish that we could dance Hurricane Harvey away, but for now let's dance!

Let's dance - A bilingual Bowie tribute

Let's Dance
To the song they're playing on the radio
Let's Dance the world into existence
Come and dance with the lords of life
Come and break my heart in two
Let's dance you and me
Dance and you can be me
I am that I am
motionless in time
a blooming flower of pure night lit by the serious moonlight
Come and sit on the hands of a boy named Underwood
breathe visions of acid and tears
as gods of the underworld enters the labyrinth – What have we here? A little boy!
smashing open the eye, rendering the world
and black
Let's Dance, little China Girl
In a bar full of men
tell me what happened, when?
Stranger than snow falling up
from below
will you ever find your home, again?

Tap into your own spinal tap dance, mister underwood of everyday life
Tap into the mysteries of the great hall of mirrors
look into my eyes
and fly
Soar thou across the lands of man and break through illusion
shine under the moonlight
bask in the stardust
Dance, magician
Dance, man
Walk the tightrope and walk the path between that which shall be and that which you Will
Walk between the fairy realms of the Thin White Duke
and the Black Fat Cat
Dream your world into existence
to the song they are playing on the radio
if you say hi, the universe will say hi
So dance, little china girl and fly into my eye
see the wonders from the beam of a saxophone tone
be velvet under the serious moonlight
Hold my hand and Let's dance
I am that I am
Motion in timelessness
Ain soph aur
oneness manifest in multiplicity
magical destiny masking as coincidence
a sudden synchronicity of meaning
right here
where we dance
and dance the world into existence
For we all dance
and as we dance, the gods tremble
knowing full well that even in changed settings
the result will remain

# Intermezzo #

England 1962
A boy named George Underwood gets into a fight and punch another boy
straight in the eye. He wars a ring, and hits the boy in his left eye
forever changing his destiny
That boy is called David Robert Jones
In the instant he is hit by the ring, he transmutate
his yin seperate from his yang
and reconnects
his third eye opens as his physical vision blurs
and he is cast down into purgatory
a razorsharp cosmo-cutting shaman, with a spirit name of a hunting knife
He takes off, spreading his wings of music
flying into the serious moonlight
remembering forever nothing
but the here-and-now
knowing nothing but the serenity of I am that I am

Lets say that he was born, instead
in rural Denmark
Lets say the boy was named
David Bovig
Lets say he got into a fight over a girl in school
with a redhaired boy called Carsten Nielsen
who punched his one eye polycoloured

The result would have been the same
cause we dance the dance of life and the world remains
forever changing
forever the same

So come on
and lets dance

Da jeg første gang hørte Let's Dance
i 1983
for kun 26 år siden
var jeg naturligvis fuldstændig den samme
som i dag
selvom jeg gik i røde sko, orange gulerodsbukser fra UFO
stribet kjortel fra den indiske butik
spraglet tørklæde og sort baret
var jeg den samme
åh, ja, jeg var den samme
og mine sko var så røde
det var ecco sko
og de kunne danse gennem verden
og et uendeligt slaraffenland af eventyr og fantasi
de kunne danse lige ud af klasseværelset på de solstråler der faldt ind
gennem vinduerne
og lige ind i vidunderet
og det gjorde de, mens jeg sad og glanede ud i luften
og det gør de stadig
to the song they're playing on the radio
det er en gammel aftale vi har
Bowie og jeg
for når man har sagt A
må man også sige B
og har man sagt Ankersen
må man sige Bowie
no pun intended
just fun intended
motionless in time
timeless in motion
we are that we are
from the kingdom to the crown
cause all my love for you
should break my heart in two
if you should fall into my arms
trembling like a flower

# Intermezzo END #

Thus spoke Siddharta and the sages
Thus spoke the rod of Moses
Thus it shall be written
Thus it shall be sung
Thus it shall be said
and thus it shall be done

Look into my eyes
Look into your eyes
And Dance


Interestingly, Claus told me that this poem has also appeared in a Ukrainian translation!

This version of "Let's Dance" features Stevie Ray Vaughn:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEn3BPsXTbU

I'll also include "Modern Love": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hDbpF4Mvkw

I remember dancing to "Under Pressure" back in the day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoDh_gHDvkk

Mustn't forget "Dancing in the Street" with Bowie and Jagger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G4jnaznUoQ

This is a repeat of "Let's Dance," but the video is very cool and very global.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Welcome to Heller Levinson!

Tonight I'd like to welcome the noted poet Heller Levinson to The Song Is...  and to thank Catfish for referring him as Heller's poems are part of Resurrection of a Sunflower.  Heller is the founder of Hinge Theory.  This theory is  " a revolutionary restructuring practice of poetic linguistics," as Howling Dog Press notes.  Jared Demick adds:"Through Hinge Theory's emphasis on language's cellular nature and each poem's associative leaps, Levinson reminds us that language is rooted in the body and that it ultimately represents that body in social discourse. Relentlessly questioning how we place our words side-by-side, Levinson is causing us to wonder about the way our relationships are structured. It's a sexy politic seeking to change the space we situate our lives in, one rarely pursued since the days of Arthur Rimbaud and Aime Cesaire."

Here are the poems!

Wolf Again

I am a wolf was a wolf

am a man to be a wolf


paw to foot to hand

on all fours the

whole unit body tight muscular

spine fluid

through the woods branch

to branch with leaf there

is no disguise it is all

the body

in movement

four legged wolf movement

there is breath to that

to be a wolf again

paw shack

flexion peel

sylvan bedlam jostle sprays of a tired vernacular



to restore the compromised latitudes

cindered habitat

the sacrificed

the slaughtered

the disavowed

cycling through glades of adamantine surreptitiousness to overcome the terms of a 
fossilized rebuke wherewithal chides the conniver

witticisms aside there is only placation

a gallimaufry compromised by lace

cancelled libertarianism

annulled voyeurism

resuscitant flame groove-tongues-comfort-loops the jawline

thrones of appetite




of plan





forest fells wells ways                    to

par-take                          summon issue

flame flesh flush-throughs

cutting edge       to be on the . . .  cut-ting edge  [leader-ship]  blade

as bloom garden forth from hand


hand:  the hinge enabling man to transition from the arboreal to a 

bipedaling terrestrial creature

“The tool replaced the tree as man’s chief object of prehension:  he went from gripping one kind of thing to gripping another, both in the service of survival.”
in the spurl-juice of enduring adjacencies
rotational contours
fit formations mutual modifications

from hand this blade
in the blade this handiwork

in the thaw of a hibernating pugilism
ballistic snooze
pancreatic alert
munitions emptied of reload muster canister rebuke
the asylums overrun
my rook your pawn
stifling dance halls caterwaul darkness          
congenital fatigue aborts the mission             off
to the autumn trees shores of ivy imperil mere skin this sheen to bombard
rampage rune runnel boast balustrades sickly gangrene bandage void of popsicle sing your hymns you lonely you one-of-a-kind buckshot Annie bastard piety singed with ban breath smirch turpitude shutter-wraps a leprous callisthenic

where in the

I'm not sure if I've posted anything by Albert Ayler before, but here is his "Ghosts first variation" from Spiritual Unity, an album from 1964:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQzJsGAHsVM

This is "Ghosts second variation," also from Spiritual Unity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gYdekQUcUU

This next video is a live version of his "Spirits Rejoice" from 1965: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HShu-cIDwg
I'll conclude with his "Venus/Upper and Lower Egypt" from a 1968 performance with the Pharoah Sanders Ensemble: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puncMmmdsnU

Friday, August 18, 2017

Welcome to kerry rawlinson!

Canadian poet kerry rawlinson has taken a different approach to the 1940s contest, blending her words with the words of the songwriter she celebrates.

Man in a Shed

A Composition of Song Titles, in Tribute to Nick Drake, 1948-1974
“Now we rise
and we are everywhere”.

Through alchemy perhaps, in clothes
of sand, anguish from the morning
composed Magic,
            with the shed door closed
and the pink moon in Mayfair's
northern sky. The place to be:
hanging on a star.

But he'd been smoking too long with
cello song, floating with the River Man.
He played to the fruit tree, to the rain,
            rarely leaving—
but one Sunday when a bird flew by,
we opened the door of the shed
and he was dead.

The poor boy bequeathed us his
harvest breed: the gift
he never chose.
            Strange meetings;
knowing fingers strolling down the highway,
transposing the voices in his head
to milk and honey.

He tried to fly, Rider on the wheel, into
a truer heaven; to break through
and open up the things
            behind the sun. But Tomorrow
is a long time. He found nothing
on the way to blue; and no-one.

Time told me that’s not your epilogue! I cry—
but I’m too late.
The day is done.
Five leaves drop
onto a black-eyed dog,
in a time of no reply.

~~                                            ~~                                            ~~

Song titles by Nick Drake written in black; original poetry in purple.


Decades ago, autodidact & optimist kerry rawlinson gravitated from sunny Zambian skies to solid Canadian soil. Fast-forward: she follows Literature & Art’s Muses around the Okanagan, barefoot. She’s won contests (e.g. GeistPostcards, Poems & ProseFusion Art;and features lately in Pedestal, ReflexFictionpioneertownCentrifugal EyeMinola ReviewCanadianLiteratureAdHoc Ficion; Adirondack Reviewamongst othersVisit: kerryrawlinson.tumblr.com

Kerry is also one of the artists in Catfish McDaris' Resurrection of a Sunflower!  Catfish and publisher Marc Pietryzkowski have done a fantastic job with this anthology.  For more information about it, see this link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0998847607

You may know Nick Drake's "Pink Moon":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXnfhnCoOyo

"Northern Sky" is from an earlier album of his: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3jCFeCtSjk

"River Man" is from his first album:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idcaRTg4-fM

I'll finish with his "Day Is Done":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2jxjv0HkwM


Editor's Note:

I don't want to detract from kerry's poem, but I feel that I must comment on the recent, horrible events in Charlottesville, Virginia.  I pray for this country  that we and our leaders do better. We must build a just society where all of us can flourish. We must strive against racism.  We must get back on track.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Return of Sheikha A.

Tonight I'd like to welcome back Sheikha A., whose poems have appeared here:  http://thesongis.blogspot.com/2017/02/tad-richards-and-sheikha-a.html.  Like Sudeep Adhikari, she is among the poets from Resurrection of a Sunflower, an anthology that deserves even more acclaim than it has received.

Two Crows in a Bin

He hasn't left us any recycles,
lamented one to another.

You're rummaging the wrong bin,
replied the surly one.

Shards, rotting peas, uneaten
drumsticks... listed the nosy one,
no imagining tempers were flung
last night, it continued.

You can't bake pies from false eggs,
surly cut nosy off, stop your
business about pecking bins not
your own.

Uneaten drumsticks and shards spell
quarrel, nosy pressed on stubbornly,
and look, here is a gleaming ring too,
it squawked triumphantly,
I should know it was the man's cooking,
or perhaps, his smelly socks, nosy's
know-it-all tone circling the air.

Let's take it to our nest, surly mocked,
and frame it to the tree.

Shame on your sense of romance,
nosy taunted, I should sneak it back
to his poor, heartbroken bedside.

Oh, let's. That ought to re-spark their romance,
surly's sarcasm equalising the day's swelter.

Nosy did as nosy willed. Next day,
beak poked into the same bin:

He threw the ring away, again! A shrill
lament echoed yester-morning's
but with a note of personal pathos.

Our tree-wall awaits its ornament,
surly revised the idea.

Meanwhile, man glaring at the
two crows from his window. Swift
like a baseball pitch, a shiny black
shoe bonked nosy's head, bouncing
off of the rim, landing a stench on
its drop into the bin.

Meddling mass of feathers! He yelled,
stick to your ecological sphere.
Human emotions are not your realm
of physics, hurling the other pair
missing surly.

Surly smirked: emotions not his realm
of balance either, mock-circling
the clumsily landed shoe on the

Come along, nosy, surly flapped his wings
rising into the air like a grand king,
let's find us new bins to pervade.

You won’t believe

the whispers and the holes
in my mouth;

sometimes the best way to see is
by the breath a kiss releases.

I discard myths every day
after living them every night

and dream of a mountain break
off its roots only to roll away

into nowhere. The ground
covered in thick depth of snow,

white and sheen, like a strike of
thunder in the night. Simple

sights: water from the sky
is pure, but broils angst

in a sea. A shark’s hunger opens
to a dead wolf:

world in the grasp of vain hyenas.
A nightingale is a

unicorn on a tree: airplane hawks
shooting to the ground.

Understanding isn’t the deed
of chaos. The vision is "believe."

Since the theme tonight is birds, I am going to post some videos of Donald Byrd.  Enjoy!  He is/was a jazz musician born in the 1930s.

I'll start with "Rock Creek Park," which he did with the Blackbyrds:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkXh4kRTBVk

I first heard of Byrd on Guru's "Loungin'":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD3BDltkQxY  Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 was one of my favorite albums back in the day.

Let's go back in time to 1959 with Byrd's "Here I Am":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBbph3Umo2A

He also played with Sonny Rollins on "Decision":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyybaelYR8s

I am trying hard to find a version of Rollins' "Don't Stop the Carnival" with Byrd, but this one will have to do:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DZoD8msjpM


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Welcome to Sudeep Adhikari!

Tonight I'd like to welcome Sudeep Adhikari, one of the poets featured in Catfish McDaris' recent anthology, Resurrection of a Sunflower, a collection of poems and prose inspired by Vincent Van Gogh and his work.  This evening a friend and I were looking through this wonderful anthology.  I hope that you will check it out:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/0998847607

Here are Sudeep's poems!  (These are not in the anthology.)

Syntax of Infinity

I have these few pretty eyes of wound,
always looking at me. Hurting me
with something bigger than
 love, pushing me to
 dream across the screaming abysses.

Universe is infinite they say, but
it can't be bigger than the untamed eyes
it can't be lonelier than
 the language nobody speaks of.

How can you not be 
possessed by the sights of waking gods?
You want to wait. You want
 to be all of your  shadows at once.

And you want to grow a jungle
of hearts inside your heart.  Just in case.

The Myth of Dialogues

Some awfully lonely things
we are. Clutching gravity with our
beer bottle in a sea of faces, 
smoking frantic air molecules
under the bass drops bigger than our
 fear of piercing daylights.

A complete impossibility to
hold a conversation, even with our
own sorry ass selves.

Atoms and bits, clubs and World Wide
Waste. We started looking for
ourselves once, but ended up drowning
 in the sewer of selfies 

Bio: Sudeep Adhikari is a structural engineer/Lecturer  from Kathmandu, Nepal.  His poetry has found place in many online/print literary journals, the recent being Red Fez , Kyoto  , Your One Phone Call, Jawline Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Yellow Mama, Fauna Quarterly, Beatnik Cowboys and After The Pause.

Let's play some Bennie Maupin tonight.  I learned about him by watching the documentary I Called Him Morgan (about Lee Morgan), and I've been enjoying Maupin's 1974 The Jewel in the Lotus.

Here is "Ensenada," the first song on The Jewel in the Lotus.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZcGsuDPvOU

This is "The Jewel in the Lotus" itself:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d22L9YruUA&list=PLgY5R6n6NEr2b-6yW7zpUVGFgthtUozFu

Recently he played in Krakow, Poland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryG1C6IaCoU

I'll finish with his "Chamoleon," also a live version:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab9MJgIkauo