24 February 2010

Voices and Soul

23 February 2010

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile Contributing Poetry Editor

Some say that Life is a mystery. Some say if we can just cut into it, dissect it and see what makes it breathe and speak; we then will have our questions answered, the mystery will be solved. Will it though? Won't our fears and prejudices interpret or misinterpret what we see? Alexander Pope said, "T'is with our lives as our watches. None go just alike, but each believes his own."

This week's poem by Pablo Neruda, suggests that all of us cast our net out into the world, but all we may end up finding are our own ideas and biases reinforced. Rather than count how many grains of sand make up a beach, Neruda suggests that the beauty of the beach may simply be enough. Rather than mysteries, Life is a collection and assemblage of...


You've asked me what the lobster is weaving there with
his golden feet?
I reply, the ocean knows this.
You say, what is the ascidia waiting for in its transparent
bell? What is it waiting for?
I tell you it is waiting for time, like you.
You ask me whom the Macrocystis alga hugs in its arms?
Study, study it, at a certain hour, in a certain sea I know.
You question me about the wicked tusk of the narwhal,
and I reply by describing
how the sea unicorn with the harpoon in it dies.
You enquire about the kingfisher's feathers,
which tremble in the pure springs of the southern tides?
Or you've found in the cards a new question touching on
the crystal architecture
of the sea anemone, and you'll deal that to me now?
You want to understand the electric nature of the ocean
The armored stalactite that breaks as it walks?
The hook of the angler fish, the music stretched out
in the deep places like a thread in the water?

I want to tell you the ocean knows this, that life in its
jewel boxes
is endless as the sand, impossible to count, pure,
and among the blood-colored grapes time has made the
hard and shiny, made the jellyfish full of light
and untied its knot, letting its musical threads fall
from a horn of plenty made of infinite mother-of-pearl.

I am nothing but the empty net which has gone on ahead
of human eyes, dead in those darknesses,
of fingers accustomed to the triangle, longitudes
on the timid globe of an orange.

I walked around as you do, investigating
the endless star,
and in my net, during the night, I woke up naked,
the only thing caught, a fish trapped inside the wind.

-- Pablo Neruda

(translated by Robert Bly)

22 February 2010

Henry Smith was a former slave who was tortured and murdered at a public, heavily attended and promoted lynching on February 1, 1893 at the Paris Fairgrounds in Paris, Texas.

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night


Justice Putnam

It was a dark a
And stormy night

As I sloshed along
The gale-washed streets
Of a Sam Shepard Paris, Texas

The wooden senoritas
Dressed in their virginal white

The local Padre righting
The fallen-in-the-wind-nativity

The lizards scurrying
Across the rain-lashed
Wind-beaten stones
And sand

The flag of
The Texas Republic
Tattered in
The gusting torrent

Laying claim to
A deeper truth
A deeper meaning
A deeper consideration

Of all that is
And is meant to be

The last Rangers
In flight against
The last lawless
Latin-blooded immigrant

Escaping through

The wind
And the rain
And the dark

To a new destiny

Where the wind
And the rain
And the dark

Are but distant memories

And the tears of yesterday
Becomes the giddy laughter
Of child-like tomorrows

And all of humanity
Is lighted by the
City of Light Paris

While the
Sam Shepard Paris
Is darkened by
The nocturnal blowings

Of wind
And rain

And the extinguished candles
Of a forgotten today.

© 2010 by Justice Putnam
and Mechanisches-Strophe Verlagswesen

17 February 2010

Voices and Soul

16 February 2010

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile Poetry Contributor

Though we know Life is precious, its colors and smells, the flutter of a lover's eyelash on the cheek, sometimes are taken for granted. But when time and existence are telescoped into minutes left; nothing is unexamined. Audre Lorde has chronicled her fight with cancer, not as a survivor, or of the defeated; but with the sweet embrace of Dream. Life is not limited to what we can touch and kiss; it also includes all that we can imagine. It is the poignant tragedy of losing that imagination that makes Life so precious. It is the knowing that these silken threads that tie us fast to life are so fragile. It is the knowing that when we close our eyes for the last time, we are...

Never To Dream Of Spiders

Time collapses between the lips of strangers
my days collapse into a hollow tube
soon implodes against now
like an iron wall
my eyes are blocked with rubble
a smear of perspectives
blurring each horizon
in the breathless precision of silence
One word is made.

Once the renegade flesh was gone
fall air lay against my face
sharp and blue as a needle
but the rain fell through October
and death lay a condemnation
within my blood.

The smell of your neck in August
a fine gold wire bejeweling war
all the rest lies
illusive as a farmhouse
on the other side of a valley
vanishing in the afternoon.

Day three day four day ten
the seventh step
a veiled door leading to my golden
flameproofed free-paper shredded
in the teeth of a pillaging dog
never to dream of spiders
and when they turned the hoses upon me
a burst of light.

-- Audre Lorde

10 February 2010

Voices and Soul

9 February 2010

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile Poetry Contributor

Sharing a meal is the sharing of the Heart and Soul. Heart and Soul though, is not some ethereal matter floating above and around the table; it is an ingredient that is emulsified and blended into the very substance of each dish. Acknowledging the tedium of preparing a meal, Lucille Clifton then shows how Heart and Soul are added. How the anguish, pain and redemption of Love and History, Family and Community are flavors and scents that connect The All with Everything. How is Heart and Soul added? It starts with...

cutting greens

curling them around
i hold their bodies in obscene embrace
thinking of everything but kinship.
collards and kale
strain against each strange other
away from my kissmaking hand and
the iron bedpot.
the pot is black.
the cutting board is black,
my hand,
and just for a minute
the greens roll black under the knife,
and the kitchen twists dark on its spine
and i taste in my natural appetite
the bond of live things everywhere.

-- Lucille Clifton

04 February 2010

Voices and Soul

2 February 2010

by Justice Putnam
Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile Poetry Contributor

On 12 October 1492, Columbus landed on an island he "christened", San Salvador. The Indigenous peoples there had named it, Guanahani. There has been some controversy over the years concerning which island was Guanahani; the original log book has been lost for centuries, and the edited abstract made by Bartolomé de las Casas has been in grave disrepair. West Indies poet Kamau Brathwaite explores historical links and events that have contributed to the development of the black population in the Caribbean. He envisions Guanahani on the day before 12 October, on the long island now called Eleuthera; a word derived from the feminine of the Greek, "eleutheros"; meaning, "free".

Guanahani, 11

like the beginnings - o odales o adagios - of islands
from under the clouds where I write the first poem

its brown warmth now that we recognize them
even from this thunder's distance

still w/out sound. so much hope
now around the heart of lightning that I begin to weep

w/such happiness of familiar landscape
such genius of colour. shape of bay. headland

the dark moors of the mountain
ranges. a door opening in the sky

right down into these new blues & sleeping yellows
greens - like a mother's

embrace like a lover's
enclosure. like schools

of fish migrating towards homeland. into the bright
light of expectation. birth

of these long roads along the edge of Eleuthera,
now sinking into its memory behind us

-- Kamau Brathwaite