Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blood Poem Number Two

....Blood Poem Number One having been destroyed by the person who received it....

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Cyrus Cassells read today, 22 March 2011, at the luncheon gathering of the Center for the Art of Translation in San Francisco.  He spoke about and read his translations from the Catalan language of poet Franscec Parcerisas, and from his own poetry.  I do not like much contemporary poetry, but at first glance knew that I was going to love his poetry.

Cyrus read most of the Parcerisas verses in Catalan after reading his English translations.

With a wealth of experience around the globe, Cassells is also currently working on a book with various Europeans about youths in World War II.  Then, as now, some of the young can be touched by idealism and incredible courage.  The book will be called THE CROSSED-OUT SWASTIKA, in honor of Hans Scholl who went about in World War II, crossing out any swastikas he saw posted on public walls.  You may know that Hans and his sister Sophie, and others involved in non-violent action against the Nazis, at the University of Munich were part of a group called The White Rose.  Eventually all were executed by the Nazis.  At least one film has been made about them, which is probably accessible for viewing on the Internet, SOPHIE SCHOLL:  THE FINAL DAYS.

In a very circular fashion, The Center for the Art of Translation has directed people to this entry on my blog, and I, in turn, now provide you a link where you may hear Mr. Cassells' presentation at CAT -- low volume for those introducing him, but you can hear Mr. Cassells speak of and recite his translations and some of his own poetry:

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Finding an Old Valentine

I came across this.  A long while ago a local San Francisco station ran a contest in which 4 or 6 people might win a competition for writing about their valentines.  Each of the winners would have a segment on their station, with video of the writer and his or her valentine, as the writer read the text that had won.  I was chosen as one among the six, and I had to prepare for a camera to intrude on a certain still shy person -- In my place I created Tiger Face which I posted on my wall to safeguard me and my valentine.  

My Valentine

"Our love story began fourteen years ago when she left the person she was living with and came to my house.  We were both very strungout – not a good place to begin to learn how to love, but we taught each other; it would require a very long book to describe the ups and downs by which we have come to the place we are now; it’s much less dramatic, but this is where the greater love story begins.

"You would hardly think it romantic that she is dying of leukemia.  Dying heroines excite love in movies and operas, but in our everyday lives we don’t think of sickness and dying as attractive.

"Yet it has been affection that has grown, not any feeling of dread or disgust.  Draped in my arms, her body growing lighter and lighter, it’s as if she were not dying but turning into a silk scarf.  This is the end that should be terrible, but it’s like a long last act of La Traviata with brave Violetta singing her last song over and over,
but never really letting go.  I will go on being suspended in her song even when she is gone.

"A greyness and a whiteness is being cast over her color as if she will disappear under snow.  But the love she has given me will remain, better than words, a big red rose like a cardinal jumping down a snowbank.  You wouldn’t think this was romantic either, but I know I will always smile, after I cry, when I remember the brush of her whiskers against the corner of my mouth.  She does that when she’s hungry for petting, affection, or food.  Love is love, you know, no matter who teaches you, even someone like my dear cat Cirrus."

I suppose you found "the hook" in this piece, that probably assured its acceptance, by the second paragraph, if not right away.  It was a sweet video, I think, but the video played on what I had counted would also cause it to win:  the image of the pathetic old gay guy, lonely, with no friend but his "great love," his cat.  Well, it was not all cunning and ego, and I DID learn to love from my cat, as all cat lovers know.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

A Verse by Victor Gonzalez Perez (AKA Victor Gonzalez)

Victor Gonzalez Perez was born in Aibonito, Puerto Rico.  His parents immigrated to San Francisco, California when he was a child.  His family later moved to Brooklyn, New York. From New York they moved back to Puerto Rico, and then back to San Francisco, California where he spent the major part of his life. He is now retired and resides permanently in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. He wrote this verse in San Francisco in 1971.
Right Now Boxed Into Walls
      by Victor Gonzalez Perez

                 A thin veil bars
                 -- mine and theirs -- 
                 And yet miniscule glimpses
                 -- eyes blinking
                 Gasping for an answer beyond now.

                 Recuerdos (memories)

                 Upon the tiny plaza where
                 sleep the dead heroes
                 the fountain stands
                 eternal vigil.

                 Fire tree leaves
                 -- el flamboyan --
                carpet the promenade
                a lovers' nest.

                Recuerdos (memories)

red faced roofs and balconies like embroidered
mouths where grandma sat on her sugarcane
throne counting the seasons
her eyes of spanish tiles watching green mountains
dangling from the clouds
while the tiny insect troubadors lulled the night
to sleep in its satin hammock

                Ahora (& now)

                The day swallows
                the rainbow garden's
                frail butterfly

                The arch of thorns
                crumbles on its halo
                -- and you and i struggle on
                perched on the brink
                of yesterdays.

                               [November 1971]