Natural Wonder

My view is straight but hopeful

that no other had ventured this far,

gone down the narrow trails

and found wide escapes


The blue glides down a deep fall,

watching it clash into soft mossy rock—

a force of echoed


in a violent rapture

of thunder and wind


dispersed white mist

creates houses of colors,

disappearing air

that the sun molds


The distant eyes of a girl,

canoeing onward

upon frothy waves


If she made the passage,

the gulls would greet her ears,

heavy murmurs

of life she’d gone through


Poem: A flight


Image: Cynthia Via
Image: Cynthia Via


A flight that leaves us in distance,

even a mere thought it could be,

perhaps real is the distance,

but once realizing the length of time

apart, I know you’ll stay close,

as day thinks of night

and the heart brings you to mind.



Poem: La Corneille


It springs up from a fence

And its friends are on the

Grass, pecking

This one flies down

I keep walking

It digs me with its call

To something known

The scene carries its meaning

In the black birds

Like the morning when

They lined up on the wire

Leaving at the first of morning

The emptiness of a muddy afternoon

it calls to fill

the day with premonitions


Episode: The power went out

Image: Cynthia Via
Image: Cynthia Via

The power went out and it’s raining outside. I’m contemplating putting on my jacket and going outside with my bike to face the thunder. I miss roughing it out during an unexpected rainstorm. The last time I was caught, I biked in the rain through puddles and broken streets. It felt like I was mountain biking through the urban swamp.  I realize I’m not in the mood to battle the rain and the potholes, so instead I’ll write about my weekend. I swam in a turquoise pool under palm trees, met some older Nola residents, and ate Indian food after a year of not having any. I also edited some photos. Recently, I’ve been going to through the photos I’ve taken here since I moved last year. I’m sharing them through instagram @portraitofjune. Here’s a small poem about documenting the days with my camera.

A moment captured is

Distant and small

The faded house stands slightly off

it sprouts white flowers instead of moss,

changing the neglected memory

A Rabbit as King of the Ghosts

Image: Cynthia Via
Image: Cynthia Via


The difficulty to think at the end of day,
When the shapeless shadow covers the sun
And nothing is left except light on your fur—
There was the cat slopping its milk all day,
Fat cat, red tongue, green mind, white milk
And August the most peaceful month.
To be, in the grass, in the peacefullest time,
Without that monument of cat,
The cat forgotten in the moon;
And to feel that the light is a rabbit-light,
In which everything is meant for you
And nothing need be explained;
Then there is nothing to think of. It comes of itself;
And east rushes west and west rushes down,
No matter. The grass is full
And full of yourself. The trees around are for you,
The whole of the wideness of night is for you,
A self that touches all edges,
You become a self that fills the four corners of night.
The red cat hides away in the fur-light
And there you are humped high, humped up,
You are humped higher and higher, black as stone—
You sit with your head like a carving in space
And the little green cat is a bug in the grass.
-by Wallace Stevens

Story of the day: Wind


The wind is frantic and I’m reading
The wind is whistling
The wind scares me, and I read
Nothing but a glass window
Outside the trees sway, bowing, and curving
To the blowing wind
Sounding like an impending wave about to crash
Washing out the tiny colored houses
There’s a tall palm tree which I will hang to


New Orleans, in poems and photos

Reading Poems of the American South (a tiny book of poems covering four centuries) coincided with my trip to New Orleans, mostly by accident since I found it months before, not knowing if I’d go. From these poems arise the drunken humidity and rain-glistening palmettos.  The book includes poetry from a variety of voices, some long-time southerners, others passing by— those who stayed and were changed by this time and place.  Like myself a few northerners (Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes…) escaped the urban chaos for quiet solitude beneath oak trees. And similarly they longed to stay. In these poems are languid hot days, hush hush mornings, scattered crows beckoning the night to see the sadness and beauty in the ruins.

Reverie in Open Air

Rita Dove

Image: Cynthia Via
Image: Cynthia Via
I acknowledge my status as a stranger:
Inappropriate clothes, odd habits
Out of sync with wasp and wren.
I admit I don’t know how
To sit still or move without purpose.
I prefer books to moonlight, statuary to trees.
But this lawn has been leveled for looking,
So I kick off my sandals and walk its cool green.
Who claims we’re mere muscle and fluids?
My feet are the primitives here.
As for the rest—ah, the air now
Is a tonic of absence, bearing nothing
But news of a breeze.

I Saw in Louisiana A live-oak Growing

Walt Whitman

Image: Cynthia Via

I saw in Louisiana a live-oak growing,
All alone stood it and the moss hung down from the
Without any companion it grew there uttering joyous                                                                                                          leaves of dark green,                                                                                                                                                  And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of
myself,                                                                                                                                                                           But I wonder’d how it could utter joyous leaves                                                                                            standing alone there without its friend near, for
I knew I could not,
And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves                                                                                       upon it, and twined around it a little moss,                                                                                                          And brought it away, and I have placed it in sight in
my room,
It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear
friends,                                                                                                                                                                         (For I believe lately I think of little else than of them,)                                                                                       Yet it remains to me a curious token, it makes me
think of manly love;                                                                                                                                                    For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in                                                                              Louisiana solitary in a wide flat space,
Uttering joyous leaves all its life without a friend a lover near,
I know very well I could not.

Southern Gothic

Donald Justice, for W.E.B & P.R.

Image: Cynthia Via
Image: Cynthia Via

Something of how the homing bee at dusk
Seems to inquire, perplexed, how there can be
No flowers here, not even withered stalks of flowers,
Conjures a garden where no garden is
And trellises too frail almost to bear
The memory of a rose, much less a rose.
Great oaks, more monumentally great oaks now
Than ever when the living rose was new,
Cast shade that is the more completely shade
Upon a house of broken windows merely
And empty nests up under broken eaves.
No damask any more prevents the moon,
But it unravels, peeling from a wall,
Red roses within roses within roses.

Fat Tuesday

W.S. Di Piero


I’ll lick these screwfaced torches all night long

and chew the beads and blue doubloons that sail

from iron balconies mossy in the dark,

I’ll walk down Royal Street dressed as a sweet gum tree

pretending my back is front, big whiskey breath for all

who love this season of preparing. I’ll be ready

for denial, to put away all fat things, all spoils,

the meat and bulky jewels of wanting

anything, even the wish to want.

The King salutes us from his golden dragon.

He is our food today. Eat his bones, his furs,

his crown and scepter. Eat his fat throne and flesh,

his voice that laughs us into easy forgiveness.

I’ll eat the King and break his will inside me

and toward tomorrow mix him with my swallowed

pearls and coins and whiskey and days.

Tropical Courtyard

Joe Bolton

Image: Cynthia Via
Image: Cynthia Via

It is a rage against geometry:
The spiked fans of the palmetto arcing
Like improvised brushstrokes in the light breeze;
Like shadowplay, somewhere a dog barking.

Against the height of new and old brick walls,
Confounding stone, transplanted pine and palm
Lift in imperfection, as heavy bells
That would force order fade into the calm

Of azure and a faint scent of musk.
(Is it eucalyptus or just the past?)
There’s nothing in this warm, vegetal dusk
That is not beautiful or that will last.


Discovered Poets at the NY Chapbook Festival

Sylvia Plath
Sylvia Plath

I’m a little late on this, but I’ve been too tired to face the whiteness of the screen. The Chapbook Festival Award Ceremony took place on April 2. It’s a great event to meet new and veteran poets.  On this particular night in New York City, the 13th St. Repertory Theater was crowded. People were even sitting on the stage and standing behind the last row of seats. “Who knew so many people liked poetry?” remarked the hostess. There was wine and cheese—and plenty of tiny warm smiles.

photo 3-2

The ceremony is part of the PSA Chapbook Fellowship Program that gives new poets a chance for exposure and mentoring from veteran poets. The first judge to introduce their selected poet was Elizabeth Alexander who read for Obama’s 2009 inauguration. Her fellow, Callie Siskel read poems from her Chapbook, Arctic Revival. Her most memorable poem, whose title escapes me, was about a child entering her mother’s house and making her presence known while her mom and presumably a boyfriend were just setting up for a romantic night. The little girl represented her father in that moment when she hurled her school book bag on the floor. I thought it was powerful as it built up toward the ending.

Forrest Gander presented his fellow, HL Hazuka. Gander has a unique way of reading poems, almost bluesy, with ingrained beats while he taps his foot. It was lovely to watch him read Alfonso D’ Aquino’s Fronda and then Mano one of his own poems.

HL Hazuka’s Chapbook, True to Life: cuttings, mechanics & modification are mostly fragments of loose thoughts from films or visuals images. Gander described them as “landscapes in words,” and “how we understand the present.” The writer was not there to read her poems, so we were left without hearing her voice. But nonetheless as conveyed by Gander, we got a sense of her poems’ ethereal lightness similar to clear April morning.

photo 1-3
Eva Maria Saavedra

I was also delightfully surprised to hear there was a Peruvian poet among the Chapbook Fellows.  Marilyn Hacker,  known for her formal yet colloquial style, presented Eva Maria Saavedra’s.  For Hacker, Eva’s poems in Thirst demonstrate “the personal is political,” and that “double-consciousness” often paints the world of immigrants. I’m one of them. I know few Peruvians in New York and fewer Peruvian poets, so it was refreshing and familiar to hear words that felt close to my homeland. In one of her poems she mentioned pampas, meaning fertile plains or lowlands in Quechua. The world alone transfers a feeling and a memory. Here are some of her published poems: After Monet’s Water Lilies, 1919, Abuela Maria’s Refusal, 3 Poems.

Valentine is one of those approachable poets with a friendly smile. Just from her reading you can tell her humor is soft, but wise and she offers it to everyone gladly. Jean Valentine‘s  presented Max Ritvo’s AEONS, and mentioned his “playful deep sense of wonder.” One of his poems mentioned “lyrical company” —and I thought yes one must always have that. He used words in juxtaposition to create something akin to language poems. The language appears to carry the meaning, and his readings are mini performance pieces.

photo 2-3
Jean Valentine

A friend who invited me, managed to ambush (friendly ambush) Valentine, one of her favorites. She took out a copy of Home Deep Blue with big curious eyes: “This is why I’m here!” She headed towards the stage to Jean. Last I saw they were all smiles. Before Eva left,  I said hello, and chatted with her for a little. It was a swell night all around, and everything under one of those spring nights.

You can purchase Chapbooks here.

Upcoming poetry readings in NYC:

04/21 – 09/22          Bryant Park’ s Word for Word

4/26     Queens Writes Poetry Workshop

Various dates  KGB