Friday, September 6, 2019

Welcome to Brian Rihlmann

Recently, people have been seeing more and more poems by Brian Rihlmann on Facebook.  Here are a few more!  These poems are striking in their simplicity and resonance.


inside an oval frame
that hangs dustless
and polished
on the wall
of his mother’s house
a smooth cheeked
younger version
bloomed with angst
amidst a thicket
of familial smiles
the eyes blazed
with dark fire
the jaw was set 
against the punches
he knew were coming


on a chilly October evening 
a lone dandelion
gone to seed
stands in the midst 
of a green field

its puffy head
having somehow
survived the whirling blades
of a recent mowing 

it stands stiffly tall
a white haired old man
awaiting immortality 
in a gust of wind
or a child’s wish

Photograph from K-State Research and Extension


While sitting on the curb,
I see a rusty old bolt
laying on the pavement. 

I pick it up,
turn it and feel 
its heft,
its cold edges,
my fingers 
now stained orange.

I run fingertips 
over threads 
still sharp,
not stripped.

It once held
something together,

and still could.

I sometimes still
hold out my hand
to those who laugh
like hyenas 
who smile like wolves
with bloody canines

and then draw back
a stump
shocked, but smiling 
as I mock the mirror me
and say “I told you....”

Photograph by Steen Jepsen


A bright summer's day
trapped outside my window.
I peer from under blankets,
as a love song echoes
in my mind.

Notes drift through 
shadows shifting
on the walls,
a sad melody,
the needle caught 
in the groove.

I roll in twisted sheets
stare at the ceiling
then shut my eyes,
sleep off the day's music
like a hangover.

But each time I wake,
notes wash over me, 
like your ghost.

You're not dead, 
but lost 
in a time I cannot grasp,
or understand,
a time I was loved.


Brian's last poem put me in mind of Eddie Reddick's cover
of The Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain":

Here is saxophonist Mark Maxwell's version of 
"Just My Imagination":

This song is billed as a Motown version of a song by 
My Chemical Romance:

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

About j. lewis' a clear day in october

Before we know it, it will be October again, so I'd like to promote j. lewis' book, a clear day in October.  Let's start with the forward to his book by Laura M. Kaminski.


I was stunned and honored when j.lewis invited me to write the foreword for his first full-length collection of poetry, so much so that I agreed without thinking ahead about how exactly I would manage to do that. 

My expectation of a foreword is that it serves as an introduction, something along the lines of Reader, meet Poet. But how do I go about introducing a poet who has written the line: “i never felt i needed describing”? 

Alternatively, a foreword can serve as history and prescription, explain where the poems came from, and what the reader ought to think of them. But I can’t pretend to know either of those things well enough to blithely presume to tell you. Or you. Or you. 

So how do I set your expectations so that you are somehow prepared before you begin to turn the pages? Offer up a pre-departure checklist? Bring your eyes, there are exquisite pictures. Bring your appetite, there’s pizza. Bring your ears, there’s music so loud you can hear it.

Dust off your own memories of childhood desires and disappointments. Open the quiet closet of your experiences as a parent. Find the twins – reverence and irreverence – bring them both. Bring along the bridges you have crossed, bring the ashes of the ones that you have burned.

Clean the surface of whatever device on which you receive the news of grief in other places, other cultures, other nations. You are cleared through security to travel, enter hospitals and prisons. Tuck a handkerchief discretely in your pocket just in case. 

Are you ready to walk past empty rooms, sit in a café, read a recipe for sacrifice and faith? Are you ready for rain, for grief? Are you willing to slop pigs? Are you willing to be torn and mended, blessed? 

Then come, and welcome. You’re invited to make your own contrails across this sky, this clear day in october


Laura M Kaminski

Here are a few reviews from Amazon:

Very Sherry Terry

5.0 out of 5 stars  Well done, Jim! This book is fantastic!

August 14, 2017

Honestly, I'm not a fan of poetry. Then I met a friend at her job for lunch, and she had a copy of a clear day in october. She thought I might like the pictures as I love photography, so I borrowed it. What an unexpected delight I found in the words. I fell in love with the poetry, and I felt compelled to leave a review.

Jim Lewis has opened my eyes to the world of poetry with a clear Day in october. I loved this book. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. Not only are the pictures worth 5 stars, the poems are exquisite and deserve the highest rating I can give as well.

I loved the poem, Empty. The haunting words struck a chord in my heart and the photograph with it brings the feelings home. It haunts me still. Quietly, for Mother Theresa was a beautiful tribute, and First Lie will speak to everyone.

Jim brought out all of my emotions with his lovely words, and the pictures make me want to do some traveling. He's a fantastic photographer, and the book is worth having on your coffee table just for them.

I highly recommend a clear day in october for anyone who enjoys poetry, photography, and a warm feeling inside.

CJ Clark

5.0 out of 5 stars  Brilliant, heartwarming and thought-provoking

January 18, 2018

You know that feeling after a chilled day of slogging through obligatory tasks, when you come home to your warm house, make a cup of steaming cocoa and settle on a comfy chair to gaze at your Christmas tree and a crackling fireplace fire-that moment when you exhale and your bones settle and the world feels perfect? That feeling is A Clear Day in October. The first poem I opened to was All I Want. I had to dab away a few tears because it is exactly how I feel about my dog. Each poem, each photo feels like unwrapping an eagerly anticipated gift. Brilliant.

James Keane

5.0 out of 5 stars  A natural tour de force

February 1, 2017

“a clear day in october” by j. lewis is not a work of art. It is two works of exquisite art. Stirring, top-quality poems, inspired and driven by a lifetime of experience that lewis has gained in his unflinching embrace of both the joy and pain of human nature. Presented in concert with lewis’s beautiful, professional-quality photographs, his manifold testament to the vibrant presence of physical nature in all its varied, authentic and exhilarating beauty.

If you would like to purchase j. lewis' book, here is the link:

You can also contact him at his Facebook page about purchasing the book:

I was just browsing through j. lewis' photographs on Facebook, and they are quite amazing!

Here is Art Pepper's "The Breeze and I," which complements the photographs nicely:

His "Autumn Leaves" will give you a foretaste of our next season:

I'll finish with his "Patricia":

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Dustin Pickering's Review of Guitar of Love by Vatsala Radhakeesoon

Vatsala Radhakassoon’s Celebration of Life
Review of Guitar of Love by Vatsala Radhakeesoon
RealVision Inc. Publishing 

Music is as universal as Time itself which is its very basis. Rhythm coalescing with lyrical abandon creates soothing harmonies and genuine reflections in the greatest music. In Guitar of Love, Vatsala Radhakeesoon explores her favorite singers and the buoyant effect of their music. However the poems encompass deeper themes of eternal love, illusion, beauty, romance, and philosophy within the central concept of the splendor of song.

   In “Sing, Sing Dear Singer” Radhakeesoon explores nostalgia for youth brought by her favorite singer. She writes, “for you, I’ve become / the teenager again…” as if addressing the musician personally. Her reflections often float into 2ndperson, creating an effect of experiencing her emotions as an observer rather than listening to a confession. For instance, the poem “Bach’s Music” tells of a woman’s broken heart. The woman is presumably the poet herself.

  In the tone and imagery of St. John of the Cross, Radhakeesoon pursues spiritual themes comparing God’s love to light, “reality as it is”, the “twin flame”. God’s love is the guitar itself playing throughout Nature. What the poem “The Giant Seashell’s Song” calls “the lyre / of the Oracle” is the music of Time played by God’s hand as He strums the guitar of love. Hints of Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus bleed through the work at times. Such is the case with the poem “The Lord and I”:

“Thus keeps turning
the wheel of my life
without any fright
throughout all days
and nights
I relish the golden lyrics
that the Lord writes
with sun rays ink”

The Romantic mysticism present in this poem appears in other verses such as “The Wake Up Song” which contains hints of Shelley’s “The Masque of Anarchy”:

“Recognize your true self
Awaken it
Let go of slumber”

Here, liberation is the formal recognition of Selfhood rather than political liberation from tyranny. In this respect, Radhakeesoon owes her thinking to the Vedas.

         In “The Woman and the Philosopher”, classical themes are employed to illuminate romantic love: “now you’re burning / in mad passion’s flame / like enraged Dido…” The portrayal of Dido as enraged shows a superior understanding of her role in Aeneas’ destiny. Dido refuses to speak to Aeneas in the underworld.

      However, Radhakeesoon advises the reader to “Be the stable charioteer / of your mind” revealing her relationship to the spiritual works that advise patience and charity. Her mystical depth is serenely personal. God is her foundation and his music enraptures her with pleasure. God is like Orpheus or King David with the lyre, a symbol of harmony within Nature and balance of the soul. It is no coincidence that love poems are included. Love can be between a mother and child, two lovers, God and His disciple, and the hearer and music. As the poet writes:

“Music’s eyes 
boldly reveal
the reality 
the truth
as they are…”

Music is characterized and personified as having eyes to observe. Music becomes a beam of light that sees all workings on Earth as a divine Sun. Music is akin to the Holy Spirit—it is wisdom of the Earth and God’s communication.

      The poet makes no secret of her love for music. She even attributes her role as Poet to music. She glorifies Poets as warriors of the age, fighters for compassion. 

          Vatsala Radhakeesoon is a profoundly mystical poet in the tradition of St. John of the Cross. Her poems read like hymnal exclamations of sacred love. In her seeking, she employs classical imagery and Vedic themes. Being no stranger to holy texts, Radhakeesoon writes as a spiritually illumined mystic. The unique culture of Mauritius informs her serene tribute. Guitar of Love is not only a homage to music. It is also a celebration of life. 

 To purchase Vatsala's book, please go to this link:

Her wonderful book is available in print and on Kindle.

Now to add the music that I had wanted to include on Sunday!

I'll start with "Avant de partir" by Roch Voisine:

As one of the trio Forever Gentlemen, he has covered "Fly Me to the Moon":

Here is some jazz from Mauritius, Vatsala's home.  LIB is playing "Night Note":

Linley Marthe, the bassist of Island Jazz, is from Mauritius:


Friday, August 16, 2019

Welcome to Vatsala Radhakeesoon

Tonight I'd like to post some poems from Vatasala Radhakeesoon's book Guitar of Love.  Her book is already drawing positive notice, so I am sure that you will enjoy reading her wonderful poems!  Let's start with the title poem.

Guitar of Love

I’m the swirls
of ecstasy,
I’m the tears
of grief

your inspiration,
your consolation,
your desolation

O, sensitive singer!
I know each corner of
your heart,
your mind,
your soul

In your world
of songs' creation,
                                    I’ve vowed to be                                   
your life’s companion

O, sensitive singer!
You and I,
bonded by
Music’s immortality
On planet Earth
will forever shower
the songs of Equality.

Vatsala Radhakeesoon

Image by Doreen Sawitza

Divine Song
The soul of the universe vibrates,
Planet Earth opens its third eye,
The learned Acharya
with a meditative look
detached from illusion
with cleansed heart
sings the message of God

A song of unity
A song of morality
A song of Equality
A song for humanity
pulsates in dawn’s wisdom

Convincingly the melodious voice
up till the morning breeze blissfully
“ God wants all children
to be merry,
to hold hands in harmony,
to live lives where
thoughts, words and actions shine
like a million golden lotuses
bearing the un-flickering light
of permanent ego-less purity

Vatsala Radhakeesoon

Photograph by XIIIfromTOKYO

Favourite Singer
(for Roch Voisine)

Blessed with uniqueness
is your voice,
To my ears,
it’s the mysticism of cool sea;
Your lyrics
sad, happy, profound, funny
on my musical ladder
shine as first choice.

During my teens,
on my room walls, you smiled,
To my locked girlish diary
you often flew and said
Your songs in the morning breeze
met my poems shy
and you became
my gentle muse,
my artistic guide.

Swiftly have the years flown
but amidst my Poetry’s sun
to your songs on YouTube
I still turn,
I sing along with you
‘ L’idole’, ‘Bye-Bye’ and ‘Helen’,
I’m all thrilled
with ‘Forever Gentlemen’.

O Favourite singer!
To my mind, soul, heart
will speak your songs forever
Your fan fidèle*
I will be forever.
Vatsala Radhakeesoon

Music My Maker

My soul has fallen in love
with your guitar
Your lyrics speak
right to my heart

Shy and scared,
I’m not ready to follow you
but in my world
I silently weave words

I’ve chosen an art
that compliments you
one that is a subset of you

O Music!
Through your love
I’ve discovered
the elegantly written art

O Music!
You have made me
a poet.

Vatsala Radhakeesoon

Jane Seymour and Ian McKellen in a 1980 production of Amadeus. McKellen played Salieri

Mozart and Salieri
(Inspired by the movie Amadeus)

Mozart was gifted
He could turn
all music pieces
into perfection

Salieri got disciplined
a firm believer of God
and worked hard
to produce quality music

Both great composers
but Mozart’s music
proved unbeatable
It touched
each heart
each soul

“O, God !”
exclaimed Salieri,
Then he asked the Supreme
“Why have you blessed
me with Music
when I’m doomed
to be merely
the second best?

Deep inside
Salieri’s soul
was tormented
by Envy’s pain

Drowning into
useless anger
and Mozart’s popularity
kept diffusing
in all countries

For centuries
ambiguity has prevailed
upon Salieri being
the murderer of
the genius Mozart

What a life!
How undignified
is the fire of fatal

O Human Race!
Learn your lesson
from those composers
If you’re at Art’s service,
be selfless
appreciate colleagues
learn from them
compare yourself
to No one
Run your race!

Thus, the Divine
will surely bless you
with eternal peace,
eternal wisdom.

Vatsala Radhakeesoon

I Let You Go

Each of my songs
sung under the sun
of the magical guitar
has the imprints
of your love

Oh, I did love you
Maybe I still do
We’ve met in this life
and as a twin flame
I’ve recognised you

But since you have
some karmic debts
towards your own
your kin,
the Lord has entrusted me
the most painful duty
the toughest task
to let you go

With invisible tears
in my artistic heart
and an Amazonian smile
on my determined face
I let you go

My logic rarely fails
My intuition often wins
So in this life once again
I let you fly, dive
to your daily duties
to some unfulfilled
past lives’ karmas

Please complete
the practical circle
Leave no blanks
Skip no question marks

And once many cycles
of seasons for aeons
they got are complete
then again, the Lord
himself will guide us
and with all his blessings
joyfully he’ll unite us.

Vatsala Radhakeesoon