Friday, June 29, 2007

Rules for new renga: found poetry?

We're looking for rules for a new renga. After having considered the variety of rengas we could take up, the most appealing one (suggested by Sneza, fleshed out by Janet, constructed by HAT) is the idea of renga comprised of found poetry. As I said to Sneza and Janet: I think it would be interesting to restrict ourselves to finding poetry within certain titles and subtitles of books and plays but no films or music. It is a way of paying homage to the great body of literature of which we are part. It may also be a way of paying homage to (or mocking or parodying or idolizing or defiling?) the writers whom we envy/love/idolize/imitate.

The only thing we're missing is a particular theme or subject around which to build this renga. Something traditional like love or war, or something wildly different? I would prefer something wildly different, but my only concern is that we maintain balance. Should the experimental conceit of found poetry renga be balanced by some traditional subject? So much to consider...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Renga: Cityscapes

The following kasen was written with the collaboration of Darby, Janet, Sneza, and HAT, from May through October of 2006. The idea of this particular renga was to capture images of city landscapes, wherever we are in the world. The successful completion of this kasen is a testament to the globalization and glocalization of poetry and technology, as well as a testament to the intermingling of the two seemingly different fields -- poetry in the world of bloggers. To review the rules for the Cityscapes renga, click here.
Saigon: motorbikes
Jammed at stoplights, exhaust fumes
Scattering insects

Towers in the east are there
so she knows she is here

Poised in the center,
flung to the edge of the
roundabout turning

From the bus window, the miles
float under well-traveled wheels

The coming of storm?
Trees in the margin
italicized by the wind

Interpret the messages
The speech of cogs and branches

Beveled histories
facades of pilaster, plinths
speak, La Place Vendome

Peering down on the plaza
speckled with light and foot traffic

Filmy fog distances blue
structures, milks signals
from the tips of antennae

Speedbumps glazed with yellow paint
Sleeping roadway log lizards

Labyrinth turnpikes
on the daily commute—
tolls along the way

She sketches loops and spirals,
pencil resting against her thumb

Leaf in clover leaf
Cartoon school bus wiggles by
Scattering the wind

Ideas of her self lurking
underneath overpasses

Plastic covers sag with rain,
cranes halt above
the future hospital

Yellow bulldozer snorting
launches a swirl of seagulls.

Wings rise east
misguided by burning treelines,
charred city – a speck, a speck

Still – we’re under the spell of the
alphabet of retaliation

Each to a word, lines
traced in wartime letters
maps to our past

Imprints of hands on windows
just before shattering

The line snakes over
Boat rail, turbulent water
Dead fish on the pier.

Fishboats at the marina,
City of water and ash

Migrant workers camp by
the millennial library:
the wait, the weight

Jackhammer shredding sidewalk
Farmer’s market crushed berries

Plate stained purple,
typewriter minus letter H,
free with any purchase.

Alphabet soups for sale, one
by one, constructing letters

walk into the café,
to the back of the room
to the one face, beaming

Hiss of espresso monster
conversation bubbles up

Carefully prepared
in an old fashioned homestyle—
come home to old friends

Mother’s microwaved dinner
Salty with laughing crying

Steaming custard buns
white surface, one dotted red
Mars hangs in night sky

Make-up kit spilled on the 3rd ave. bridge,
Minneapolis, red leaves, red lights.

Street lights splice traffic,
Provinces of fire-blown trees
perilous paradise

Today: one more baby born
or border crossed, 300 million.

Rainfall will end
up with a thin ice crust,
synchronizing storm drains.

Pins drop into a steel cup.
The shake of a passing train.

- Collaboration with D. James, J. Salsman, H. Tran, S. Zabic. May-October 2006

Renga: Ars Poetica

After several months of painstaking work, we've successfully completed our Ars Poetica Renga. The following is the complete kasen, from beginning to end to beginning. To review the rules for this particular renga, click here.
Always the new: first,
sharp graffiti on a train.
Then, a blur speeding past.

Images running one in-
to the other, borderless

Is it the words or
The pictures in the spaces
Between our buzzing ears?

Bodies on beaches, faces on mass transit:
I see birthmarks I don’t wish to see.

An ocean filled with
Sounds, running to the edges
On any given page

Silen sand symbols scrawled—
Roar of rocks, water, air

Verse freed from “be-
autiful,” from “org-
anic.” Always engineered.

Sounds, textures, rhythms – leaping
Fragments of dislocation

Dirt and orange peels
Root fingers reaching water
Green joyful shoots rise up

behind the clouds: pale blue rain,
morning comes in fresh blank pages

calligraphic rain
stream lines of textured water
read reflect release

risks in an alphabetical order
waking up the dictionary

Slogan on truck door
Rolls in, out of bridge lights, flash
Of reflection, dark.

Next, producing at a level
People can afford to buy.

Random thoughts for sale:
Lightly used, binding still new—
Buy one, get one free

Threads from old books’ spines
Woven in entangled texts

Tuesday like Monday
Poem its own analog
Watch—tick its time.

Violin, piano, cello:
Each, unworded concertos

Oily residue on the keys
Sleeve dipped in coffee,
Empty screen still empty.

every word screened by keystroke
after keystroke: deleted

Piano plinking
spitting out sounds, thunder clap
begin again silent

Noise increases, grooves
Deepen under the needle.

Rich pages in wine country,
Savored glasses filled with
Deep wines red of heart

A round is around
is aroused, is Rose

Words mumbled sleeping
hand over dream trail end like
benediction, curse

Against this window: black rain
Sheets washing away the grime

Windshield wipers
Measure accents
Across state lines

A book of my nights in cities
In yellow gray geography

Uphill downhill turn
signals flash dappled green shade—
where are we going?

Along sandy shorelines, words
Bathing on beaches naked

Tell the truth: magic
makes meaning from bloody guts—
Root around and see.

Grains in your lines,
Ridges along your nails

Above thin trees sweat-
ing pollen, stark raving sun
lashing lashing lashing

Bee clouds gather, suck, pack up
the sun, make it food for gods.

Down here we place verse
on verse on verse, teeth
on lips, tongue on teeth

And then, oh then, it ends like
A snake, like a breath, like death.

- A collaboration between S. Zabic, J. Salsman, H. Tran. Januaury - April, 2007

Monday, June 04, 2007


And then, oh then, it ends like
A snake, like a breath, like death.