back to Five Willows Literary Review main site

Friday, March 6, 2020

Franz Kafka Interviews Tao Qian by Koon Woon

Franz Kafka (briefly) Interviews Tao Qian

Preamble:
Anywhere there is water
There I dip my line
Life can reside in depths

Truth is a bad deal, my friend,
It ruptures the Bohemian night

Fuzzy Wuzzy was he
But logically he was not he

My line drifts

Note:

Neither Franz Kafka nor Tao Qian knew of each other nor cared about fame. And they lived literally worlds apart in time and space. What follows is a brief fictional interview:

F:  Are you afraid of roaches?

T:  Of the kind that moved about, only the kind that moves in high places. I smoke them out.
      They pass legislations and suddenly illegal becomes legal, etc. They eat a meal, walk then as
      far as half a block, and then eat another meal.

F:  I understand that you are a famous poet on China. Is that correct?

T:  Look at it this way, my friend, if you are a successful traveling salesman of restaurant
      cookware, then I am a poet who has drowned himself many times in wine.

F:  I understand you gave up a government post to become a rustic farmer of chrysanthemums.

T:  Yes, my friend, just as you prefer Prague coffeehouses, I prefer anonymity amongst village
      dung. Confucius said there is beauty in all, except some fail to see it.

F:  Thank you, my friend, I must go see my friend Max now.

T: Good-bye, my friend, when you come this way again, look for the house surrounded by five
     willows.


Epilogue:  Friends can be as eloquent as the long Great Wall of China or as terse as a legal brief.                         
                  You can hear each murmur in a crowded courtroom or the silence of a bamboo leaf.

-          Koon Woon, March 6, 2020

.               




.               



Sunday, December 1, 2019

Julie A. Dickson ---- four poems


Rejoice


Single bird perched upon snow covered tree
he huddles, head nestled out of the wind
swaying his thin frame ‘mong branches blown free,
desolate landscape, lone bird wonders when

this storm will subside, the sun to emerge.
Snow covers feathers, his beak under wing.
Lifts up his head, storm seems on the verge;
sun breaks through snow sky, he’s ready to sing.

Flies over meadow now coated with snow,
straight to a farmhouse with silos of corn,
scattered, the seeds, they call from below,
landing to feast on this cold sun-filled morn.

Recalls the chill night he spent in the tree,
rejoice the morning, when storm set him free.


Julie A. Dickson
Exeter, NH



Secret Melon


Lying on the floor in the hallway
unseen
I saw grownups in black slacks,
lace collars
a party in my parent’s house
hidden

I wanted sweet cantaloupe melon,
watching
mother cut fruit all afternoon
fruit salad
for guests she said and only smiled
at my request
for a bite of melon, ripe and delicious
wait, she said,
the leftovers, you can have breakfast
I frowned

I crept into the dining room, under the table
reached up
quickly grabbed a piece of melon,
juicy cantaloupe
I popped it quickly into my mouth,
so delicious.
I crawled back to my bed, still tasting,
happily
I went back to sleep now, waiting
for breakfast



Julie A. Dickson
Exeter, NH



Survival


When words escape me like so many dreams
everything changes, different it seems.
Travel upon memory buried in snow,
while drifts blow over wherever I go.

I trip over roots, hidden -- I fall
on my knees but I realize that overall
the whole point of a journey varies;
some may stumble while others tarry,

confused, might wander among the rubble,
pick through detritus that caused this trouble,
reminisce smiling past times when I knew
a trembling voice, from one of a fool.

Isolated, alone in a din,
Ignored or passed over -- turn myself in-
to the fray, if I  write about life,
will they recognize, imagine my strife?

Yes, overcome, I’ve lived onto this age,
earned the right to own all of my rage.
A pass is issued, somewhat of a badge,
a ticket, an entry to lift up this latch.

Open a new door, within my own time –
appreciate brilliance, begin to unwind,
unravel the voices beneath the snow,
whisper survival through words I now know.



Julie A. Dickson
Exeter, NH



Ashes

I know just where my father’s ashes are interred,
but I wonder if I really knew him.
My mother’s ashes were buried next to his,
but while his were in a faux-granite urn,
hers had been dumped, unceremoniously
from a cardboard box directly into the ground,
by my father ten years earlier.

I thought of this atrocity, this role-reversal,
how much my mother hated dirt,
would have preferred the clean sealed urn.
It was he, who would have wanted to be dumped
into the ground or over the lake he loved,
but instead he was locked inside an urn.

Sometimes I wish I could have torn open his urn,
thrusting him to the wind, scooping up the memory
of my mother, to capture her essence
but then I realize that she is more free
than my father will ever be.


Julie A. Dickson

Exeter, NH






Sunday, November 24, 2019

Jackie Anderson ---- four Cinquains

DAYBREAK


Daybreak
Sipping warm mug
Silent awakening
Newborn day shining pure white light
Clean slate
---------------------------------------------------------


JOLTED


Jolted
Shocked and shaken
Cruel attack rends my heart
Healing faith revives, I will rise
Stronger
--------------------------------------------------------------


MOVED ON


Moved on
Went your own way
Voice smiling through my phone
Like a visit at home today
My son



BROTHER


Brother
Charms, aggravates
My reaching out falls short
In deep abyss of chasm wide
Love hides

Saturday, November 23, 2019

George Held ----------- poem




No Light
   “To Hell in a hand basket”
   “This is the end, my friend”
1.

Only clichés and other folks’ words
come to mind in the lowering dark
of a world gone to pot or to black,
as the pot calls the kettle,

but what are clichés for if not to bring
succor to us suckers who long for light
not necessarily at the end of the tunnel?
But there’s no light in sight, none.

2.

We who are doomed to die salute you
who motor on in the face of bomb
threats, mass shootings, frightening
policies drawn up by crooked governments,

you who warmly welcome a new child,
you who go to church, synagogue, or mosque
to pray, to receive succor, you who feel divine
peace in the presence of God, a god.

3.

But no god’s in sight, none. So what
if I can’t pray or find peace without,
only rarely within, where there’s no
light, just a reptile response to life?

That’s no question for a lyric;
save it for an ode or an epic
or a drama; stow it away
from the gray light of a new day.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Mary Anna Kruch ---------------- poem




Angels in the Evening Woods

Far from the city noise,
I walk the woods,
try to block out a president
who has made life hell
for the least among us --
allowing my imagination to wander
Night approaches; I do not fear the dark.

At twilight, the evening woods
create profound silhouettes,
they rise, a line of stiff, solemn soldiers,
heads touching the navy blue of sunset.
I study how the towering red pines
shelter families of deer who live
beneath their fine-scented branches –
how the trees supply sanctuary
for even the least among them.
It is night, but I cannot close my eyes.

Even during the hunt,
deer, owls, and rabbits
will sleep in the shelter of my soldiers,
angels in the evening woods.
It is night, but I cannot close my eyes.

I think how differently guards
at the border view themselves --
follow orders blindly
strike fear in the hearts
of families with no place to hide in the night.

Where are humanity’s protectors?
Who supports and defends families
 who flee violence and death?
Those families are hunted; they fear the dark.
They may be moved out of sight,
but they cannot be erased.
The woods cannot shelter them.

Where are the protective arms
of civilized duty?
Who supplies sanctuary
for even the least among them?

Even as I walk far from the noise
my eyes remain open.
We must learn
from the angels in the evening woods.


Monday, October 21, 2019

Haiku ---------- Lenora Good

Like thin chocolate
the Rio Grande pours past me
            I thirst.

Dragonflies
tango above the water
            tiny scarlet flames.


Thor's hammer bounces
across the clouds—
            puppy shakes in fear.


Why is it easier
to accept my death
            than yours?

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Three Haiku ----- James Roderick Burns



How dear
the small, lit window!
How distant!

*

Mossy cobbles
flatten and shine under
the wash of tyres

*

Stillness –
the night-bird’s cry flits
from wall to wall



Thursday, June 6, 2019

Three poems by Julie A. Dickson



Rock, paper, scissors


“Paper or plastic”
I call out to the river, as if it has a choice

Un-chosen bit of plastic flotsam
drifts lazily, white billowed mass
undulating in the current,
Market Basket logo still visible -
floating advertisement flows downstream
catching briefly on twigs and rocks

Stick extended, sad fishing expedition,
a sodden reminder of human invention –
cheaply-made goods destined to join
as kindred polyethylene spirits
on gull-swarmed piles of immortal refuse,
floating detritus , an eternal  wasteland at sea

Mind drifts with the river current -
photos recalled:
Distorted turtle shell grown around plastic ring
Contents of dead whale’s belly strewn on a beach
Skunk’s head stuck in a plastic peanut butter jar

Glass grinds back to sand
Paper mulches into earth

Rock, paper, scissors
Plastic prevails



Julie A. [Dickson] Richter
Exeter, NH

Julie A. Dickson ---------- three poems


Rock, paper, scissors


“Paper or plastic”
I call out to the river, as if it has a choice

Un-chosen bit of plastic flotsam
drifts lazily, white billowed mass
undulating in the current,
Market Basket logo still visible -
floating advertisement flows downstream
catching briefly on twigs and rocks

Stick extended, sad fishing expedition,
a sodden reminder of human invention –
cheaply-made goods destined to join
as kindred polyethylene spirits
on gull-swarmed piles of immortal refuse,
floating detritus , an eternal  wasteland at sea

Mind drifts with the river current -
photos recalled:
Distorted turtle shell grown around plastic ring
Contents of dead whale’s belly strewn on a beach
Skunk’s head stuck in a plastic peanut butter jar

Glass grinds back to sand
Paper mulches into earth

Rock, paper, scissors
Plastic prevails



Julie A. [Dickson] Richter

Exeter, NH 



Cavendish


Tendrils of gray smoke
crossed sun rays,
shone through gauzy curtains

Grandfather’s two-toned brown pipe
was filled with tobacco,
Cavendish scent

My young nose abhorred cigarettes
but his intriguing two-toned brown pipe
emitting such a rich fragrance
drew me in

I moved close enough
to taste the aroma on my tongue

His eyes closed as he drew in;
I watched and then closed
my own eyes



Julie A. [Dickson] Richter
Exeter, NH





Violet Dance

Air clear, billowed clouds lay against the blue.
Six oak stood in a circle, near a high rock wall,
capstones toppled into thick grasses.

The six, when night fell, joined low branches,
hands held in a graceful forest waltz.
Ancient murmurs welled up their trunks
reaching tall in joy, swayed and turned.

By morning, the six returned to their places
in the grove; a new patch of deep purple violets
stood as a reminder of their nocturnal dance.


Julie A. [Dickson] Richter
Exeter, NH




Saturday, April 13, 2019

Three poems ----- Julie A. Dickson


Tell me Your Name


You are sad I cannot remember you?
I feel sadness about many things.
Don’t keep asking me who you are –
please tell me your name.
I see a photograph on the wall,
it’s me as a young man
no, I cannot recall
my deceased wife’s name.
Don’t keep asking me, as if
it might come back to me.

I remember I wore a red tie
to high school graduation,
a gift from my mother –
what did you say your name is?
I don’t know where I am,
the people here seem friendly;
can I please go home today?
Now, you look sad again…
I cannot think of any words to say;
did you ask a question just now?

Outside the window it looks like spring;
I’d like to go outdoors, please.
I hear nice music playing nearby;
will you push my chair closer?
I’m sorry I’ve forgotten again;
I’ll try to remember, just tell me your name.


 Aftermath
Camp Fire memorial


Scorched blackened beams
lay crisscrossed over fallen rubble,
ruined walls decimated
into haphazard heaps,
unrecognizable lumps,
someone’s former home.
Among scorched grass and trees,
a brick sentry remains -
lone witness to vast devastation,
burnt embers, smoldering ashes
accumulate among the residue
of unspoken screams.
A squirrel raises his head to listen;
weary whispers quiver in the aftermath
amidst damp decaying debris.


 The Game


Governess looks on
Mary teaches the game to her sisters
Middle holds her hand up to dissuade Lisbeth
from bothering the chess pieces

So serious, this Meg, the thinker…
Governess has seen her sneak books on history and art
whilst Mary dreams of husband and children,
learned chess from the Earl

Their father rarely speaks since his wife’s death
Mary can reach him, smiles and bright colored gown
Lisbeth the silly girl, the youngest
taunts and teases patient sisters

Dresses bound up, braids tight, jeweled bands
baubles saved from a mother long gone
A summer outing, the game
Governess looks on