November 2, 2022

Ting Li

A LITTLE FLOWER

A little flower doesn’t know how beautiful she is 
She has no such a concept
A little flower doesn’t even know her own name
Not to mention the meaning
On the side of the road
A little flower never feels lonely
She blooms as if she doesn’t know she will wither
She withers as if she doesn’t know what is wither
She just quietly blooms, blooms
Like a ring that is just the right size
Worn on the knuckle of God
 
Translated from the Chinese by the author
 

from Rattle #77, Fall 2022
Tribute to Translation

__________

Ting Li: “I’ve translated poems written by myself in Chinese to English. I seek to explore the relationships between human beings and nature; to be precise, the interconnections between a soul and the creation. In this poem, I observe and reflect on spring, Bodhisattva, trees, flowers, and a shoe.”

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November 1, 2022

Tony Gloeggler

25 YEARS

Sometime during Sunday’s phone call
my mom says tomorrow makes
25 years since Daddy died, right?
Her math, perfect this one time.
He was 64, like my grandfather,
she says. I remember his heart 
stopped working. My brother John 
swears it was the hospital’s fault,
a medication mix-up. I never knew
if I should believe him. I remember 
sitting by his bed hoping the nurse 
with the endless legs or the one
I sat next to in sixth grade, Ann Zanca,
was on shift so we could talk about kids
I hadn’t seen since I stopped playing 
softball and how fucked up they all
turned out to be. I think I thought 
my father was dying since I always
try to prepare for the worst, rehearse 
how to act. I kept trying to get him 
to eat or drink so he wouldn’t die
while I was there. I finished his food 
most nights. The roast turkey tasted 
best, but threw out anything trying to be
Italian. He hardly talked and I didn’t 
know what to say. One night, the nurse
hooked him up to a different machine 
and it was my job to make sure he kept
still. I pulled my chair closer, shut 
the TV off. When he heard Ann leave, 
he opened his eyes, tensed his arms 
and his eyeballs darted across 
their sockets as if he was telling me 
he wanted to run to the window, jump. 
I popped forward, grabbed his hand.
His lips made this half smile, saying
something like sorry, but he had to try.
 
I could tell you a lot of great things 
about my dad: working two jobs 
he hated, us kids opening every gift 
we ever wanted Christmas mornings, 
all those twilights getting in a crouch
playing catch with me, how he beat me
in the 100 until he turned 40, the way 
my friends thought he was the coolest 
neighborhood father, how he took care 
of my grandfather and great uncle Dom, 
took them in when their Brooklyn house 
burned down, always doing what he said 
he would, never letting me get away 
with anything, pressing me hard until 
standing up for myself became natural,
now and then pretending I was almost 
as tough as him. I could tell you as many 
bad things too. Just not right now, OK?
 

from Rattle #77, Fall 2022

__________

Tony Gloeggler: “I started writing poetry because I was always pretty quiet and no one was really talking about things I was feeling and thinking. Trying to turn my thoughts into a poem helped me understand myself and how I fitted and didn’t fit in the world. That’s still what I’m doing whenever I write. I’ve written a lot of poems about people in my life and no one seems too happy about it. I’ve got a number of poems  about my father and nearly all of them have focused on our differences, conflicts. But I’m thinking he might like this one. My mom too. If they ever saw it.”

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October 31, 2022

Take Heart by 
Bonnie Riedinger, abstract painting with blue on top and gold on bottom

Image: “Take Heart” by Bonnie Riedinger. “Fibers” was written by Ashley Caspermeyer for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, September 2022, and selected as the Editor’s Choice. (PDF / JPG)

__________

Ashley Caspermeyer

FIBERS

Mustard.
My silk dress.
My mother’s voice
tickles my memory.
You should have changed.
I’m a crack in the sidewalk
noticed for the wrong reasons
avoided at the cost—
of ruining something beautiful.
Tackle the stain before it sets.
Blot out your mistake before
it seeps into the delicate fabric
of what you’re remembered for.
My fingers tremble at the task.
My cautious smear paints
the blue poppies in pollen,
penetrating their petals,
heavy with the weight
of living.
 

from Ekphrastic Challenge
September 2022, Editor’s Choice

__________

Comment from the editor, Megan O’Reilly: “Both the craft and emotion of Bonnie Riedinger’s painting are delicately reflected in Ashley Caspermeyer’s ‘Fibers.’ As the painting ebbs and flows visually, the structure and music of the poem moves with it. The imagistic contrast of yellow and blue is beautifully suggested in lines like ‘ruining something beautiful’ and ‘petals/heavy.’ While each piece is strong on its own, together they create an elegant, resonant harmony.”

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October 30, 2022

Joan Kwon Glass

ARMISTICE

Where are you going? Where are you going?
Over the mountain pass, pass,
I will climb it alone.
—from the children’s song “산토끼” (Santoki)

As children, we sang a Korean nursery rhyme about a lone rabbit
who ascends a mountain. None of us can remember
learning this song, but all of us know it by heart.
We root for the rabbit, bouncing her way toward the clouds,
determined, stopping to sniff the not yet frozen ground for fallen chestnuts.
 
On my pre-war map of Korea, the peninsula resembles a hare,
steadying herself on hind legs, daughter of three gone kingdoms.
She gazes warily to the west, front paws vigilant in front of her.
I point this out to my students, American 12-year-olds who are already
learning to armistice themselves, determining which wars to surrender,
which mountains to conquer.         If given the choice between going
 
back in time or into the future,         I choose to levitate.
From here, islands pepper the East sea, specks unknowable.
From here, the DMZ is just the trail of a ghost cloud grazing
Earth with her ghost feet, in search of something she can almost
remember, might still imagine.
 
Pulling down a modern world map over Korea, I ask my students
—if you could choose to live anywhere in the world, where would you go?
One girl, a recent immigrant from Turkey, chooses an island,
barely visible. When I ask why, she says, I think there would be less
war on an island.         I would be safer there.
 
As children, we dreamed the rabbit fat with survival.
Now, we teach our own children that home will appear if
they just believe. In the song, we never find out
if the hare makes it to the summit. Even so, we sing it,
raise our hands, fingers hooked in the shape of ears.
We hop, smile, tell our children to climb,
show them how to lift chestnuts from the ravaged ground.
None of us can remember learning this song,
but all of us know it by heart.
 

from Poets Respond
October 30, 2022

__________

Joan Kwon Glass: “My mother was born in Korea and grew up there during the Korean War and in its aftermath. I lived in South Korea there in the 1980s and remember hiding under my bed with my sister during an AFKN broadcast that tunnels from North Korea had been discovered. News like this always brings me back to those days, and the longing for peace beyond armistice.” (web)

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October 29, 2022

Mazzy Sleep (age 9)

THE CITY

Long nights, rivers of streaming
Neon darknesses within
The urban grain of voices;
Each footstep another inch into
The forgetful dawn to come,
And the night remembers when
It had just begun.
 

from 2022 Rattle Young Poets Anthology

__________

Why do you like to write poetry?

Mazzy Sleep:

 

“If not there would / only
Be the image of it / in my head
A lampshade / is there
A pattern, I can see it / the
Animals, the / wait
To be defined / the wait
For the lamp / to be turned on and
So the patterns / dance across the darkness
Each ear each flick / a word
For breath / that really breathes
Otherwise / there is no breath.”

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October 28, 2022

Karmelo C. Iribarren

SIX POEMS

Answers
 
What others look for 
in the moon 
or the stars
I look for
in the rain
between streetlamps at night.
But no luck.
Most likely 
we’re just not asking right.
 
 
 
 
The Horizon
 
It makes sense for it 
to blush
before it goes:
 
it lies to us the whole day long.
 
 
 
 
Sunday
 
There it goes,
 
calling it
a day,
 
the last
train.
 
 
 
 
A Beggar
 
He appeared 
to regard me
from a great distance,
 
though we were 
barely 
a meter
apart:
 
I, standing up.
 
 
 
 
This Morning
 
This morning,
after showering,
before the mirror.
 
Suddenly
—as real and overwhelming
as ever—
 
the word decline.
 
 
 
 
Poetry
 
The autumn has come
and poetry will soon follow.
 
Shorter days and gray skies
—which are what she likes—
will bring her back home.
 
Now I just have to wait and, 
when she knocks, let her in.
 
The pain of your absence 
won’t make her want to leave.
 
 
Translated from the Spanish by John R. Sesgo
 

from Rattle #77, Fall 2022
Tribute to Translation

__________

Karmelo C. Iribarren, born in San Sebastián, Spain, worked—and wrote his poems—as a bartender in San Sebastián’s Old Town for over twenty years. He has published thirteen collections of poetry, most recently El escenario. | John R. Sesgo: “A former bartender and bar owner, Karmelo C. Iribarren writes poems that are simple, sharp-eyed and true. His unassuming lines seem written off the cuff, but are, in reality, expertly crafted: the ‘carpentry’ of his poems (as he puts it) hinges mostly on internal slant rhymes, ‘which the reader hears but rarely notices.’ Alongside his poetry, Karmelo has also published an ever-growing collection of aphorisms, one of which sums up perfectly the tone and appeal of his work: ‘It’s all been said a thousand times, and better. But not like this.’”

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October 27, 2022

Kathleen Dale

TYING THE KNOT

I struggle, spread on the bow, sweat
dripping to wet fingerless gloves,

to tie a bowline in the stiff
slimed hulking rope of the mooring.

Patiently you have told me “out
of the hole, round the tree, into

the hole” but line resists loop, hole’s
edge laps backwards or rabbit

runs around the tree widdershins
and under my hands fall away

to nothing. Neither has my double
hitch held, the second twist

taking a wrong turn, sliding
free, unsnagged, deep

into churning water. You’ve tried
to show me how to plait the figure

eight, infinite knot holding
firm under stress but in calm,

slipping free. I’ve shrunk from the bright
beam of love’s dazzling ring,

that lasso’s unwavering light,
I’ve shied from enclosure, cheered when

the cowpoke’s lariat falls
flat. Yet how tenderly

you would wrap a tasseled cord
round the skittish bones of my wrist

then your own as we’d lace
vows; you’d lead me, blindfolded

mare from a blazing barn,
lash me like that other sailor

to a mast of trust. Show me,
my Houdini, once again

how to tie that automatic
knot, how bitter ends

come naturally to connection,
how blunt, blind fingers find

the way to links that simply last
or loosen on command, even

in the dark of inattention,
even under water, even

in a sunken trunk bound with
leather straps, even as,

expert, lithe, adept, we brim
with, hold each other’s breath.

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004

__________

Kathleen Dale: “I teach writing courses during the year at UW-Milwaukee, so have extended writing time only in summers. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I did it before MFA’s in creative writing were de rigueur. I do it because the writing always teaches me something about where I am and what’s next, and because it’s always a kick to see what new connections the language will make this time. During the school year I squirrel away drafts to work on during the too-short summer. And even during winters, they’re always there on the computer for a quick look, a quick revision, a quick reminder that this is what I do.”

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