Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Lunch with Paul Varley. The last time he had bought me lunch was after successfully defending my dissertation, and that lunch was in the Johnson Hall cafeteria. Definitely a step up.

はう下 に
昔のせんせい と
うみ を 聞く

under the hau tree
with my old professor
listening to the sea

Friday, January 19, 2007


crows in the palm trees
immense black wings
like capes
across the broad highway

two, now three, dot the fronds
dead swimming pool
in December

--Ross Bender

Monday, January 15, 2007

Gone far to the northeast: at year’s end:

tsune yori mo
kokorobosoku zo
tabi no sora nite
toshi no kurenuru

A forlorn feeling,

this time more sharp than ever:

journeying along

under a vast sky where I see

the old year sink to its close.

--Saigyō, tr. William R. LaFleur

Friday, January 12, 2007

le bateau ivre

J’aurais voulu montrer aux enfants ces dorades

Du flot bleu, ces poissons d’ors, ces poissons chantants.

--Des écumes de fleurs ont bercé mes dérades

Et d’ineffables vents m’ont ailé par instants.

I would show children those dorados,

And golden singing fishes in blue seas.

Foam flowers have blest my aimless wanderings,

Ineffable winds have given me wings.

--LE BATEAU IVRE, Arthur Rimbaud, tr. Louise Varèse

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

on the deck

by bus from Seattle to Vancouver, then down again. breath of the Pacific Rim. fantastic cruises to Alaska.

on the cantilevered deck

over Port Susan Bay

the Pacific sun slants

and casts vertical stripes

across the old wood slats

as the sun ascends

the shadowed stripes thicken

striking increasingly acute angles

with the parallel planks

of the old pine deck

in a cockeyed square

the sun burnishes two old pennies

they flash suddenly, gleaming copper

juxtaposed like jeweled game pieces

on some ancient runic chessboard

on the fir tree before me

an irregular rank of fat sparrows

stand like pawns in a row for a moment

then they explode in a flurry

the volcano looms

the pennies fade

to pale fired brown

the sun's hot tongue licks up

the last iridescent jewels of dew

from the old wood deck

--Ross Bender