Porch Swing in September by Ted Kooser

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Porch Swing in September
by Ted Kooser

The porch swing hangs fixed in a morning sun
that bleaches its gray slats, its flowered cushion
whose flowers have faded, like those of summer,
and a small brown spider has hung out her web
on a line between porch post and chain
so that no one may swing without breaking it.
She is saying it’s time that the swinging were done with,
time that the creaking and pinging and popping
that sang through the ceiling were past,
time now for the soft vibrations of moths,
the wasp tapping each board for an entrance,
the cool dewdrops to brush from her work
every morning, one world at a time.

PHOTO: Goldfinches on porch swing feeder (Riverside, California). Photo by Mike’s Birds, used by permission. 

Labor Day by Joseph Millar

new york licensed palinchak

Labor Day
by Joseph Millar

Even the bosses are sleeping late
in the dusty light of September.

The parking lot’s empty and no one cares.
No one unloads a ladder, steps on the gas

or starts up the big machines in the shop,
sanding and grinding, cutting and binding.

No one lays a flat bead of flux over a metal seam
or lowers the steel forks from a tailgate.

Shadows gather inside the sleeve
of the empty thermos beside the sink,

the bells go still by the channel buoy,
the wind lies down in the west,

the tuna boats rest on their tie-up lines
turning a little, this way and that.

PHOTO:  Metal welding work at a construction site in Lower Manhattan, New York City, New York (2016). Photo by Palinchak, used by permission. 

State Fair Fireworks, Labor Day by Maryann Corbett

minnesota licensed jacob boomsma

State Fair Fireworks, Labor Day
by Maryann Corbett

Look up: blazing chrysanthemums in rose
shriek into bloom above the Tilt-a-Whirls,
hang for a blink, then die in smoky swirls.
They scream revolt at what the body knows:
all revels end. We clap and sigh. Then, no—
another rose! another peony! break,
flame, roar, as though by roaring they might make
the rides whirl in perpetuum. As though
we need not finally, wearily turn, to plow
back through the crush of bodies, the lank air,
to buses that inch us, sweating, across town.
As though we were not dropped in silence there
to trudge the last blocks home, the streetlamps low,
the crickets counting summer’s seconds down.

PHOTO: Fireworks at the Minnesota State Fair, near St. Paul, Minnesota.

Poem for Japan by Matthew Zapruder

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Poem for Japan
by Matthew Zapruder

all day staying inside

listening to a podcast

discuss how particles

over the Pacific

might drift

I knew thinking

whenever cloud

scares me

I am not alone

my umbrella slept

in the closet

I placed a few nouns

in beautiful cages

then let them out

touched with my mind

the lucky cat

asleep in the deli

I always scratch

his head he slightly

raises to meet my hand

all over the remains

contaminated shadowmen

in blue suits that seem

ecclesiastical now

that science is

a religion crawl

the emperor

everyone has forgotten

is speaking

no one knows

how to be

loving and also

hope the wind

in a certain

and not another

direction will blow

PHOTO: Kyoto, Japan, shops with orange cat by Michelle Maria at Pixabay, used by permission.

Japanese Poems by Cynthia Zarin

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Japanese Poems
by Cynthia Zarin

Between the bent boughs
of the splayed sumac the silver
owl rests his head.

The perimeter
left by your absence is long
to walk in one day.

The angel in her
credenza of extreme beauty
dogs swim the river

I look for my heart
by the lamp where the light is
skitter in the wet black leaves

PAINTING: “Eagle owl” by Toshi Yoshida (1968).

Kyoto: March by Gary Snyder

kyoto licensed sean pavone

Kyoto: March
by Gary Snyder

A few light flakes of snow
Fall in the feeble sun;
Birds sing in the cold,
A warbler by the wall. The plum
Buds tight and chill soon bloom.
The moon begins first
Fourth, a faint slice west
At nightfall. Jupiter half-way
High at the end of night-
Meditation. The dove cry
Twangs like a bow.
At dawn Mt. Hiei dusted white
On top; in the clear air
Folds of all the gullied green
Hills around the town are sharp,
Breath stings. Beneath the roofs
Of frosty houses
Lovers part, from tangle warm
Of gentle bodies under quilt
And crack the icy water to the face
And wake and feed the children
And grandchildren that they love.

PHOTO: Maruyama Park, Kyoto, Japan, during the spring cherry blossom festival. 

NOTE: Kyoto is considered the cultural capital of Japan and a major tourist destination. It is home to numerous Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces and gardens, some of which are listed collectively by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  Located on the island of Honshu, as of 2018 the city had a population of 1.47 million. The emperors of Japan ruled from Kyoto until 1869, when the court relocated to Tokyo

Volcanism by Jónas Þorbjarnarson

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Volcanism 
by Jónas Þorbjarnarson (1960-2012)
Translation by Bernard Scudder

We are the ever-changing earth
always taking shape
new maps immediately misleading
new upheavals
I was someone and then I met you. . .
people change each other
even cause eruptions within each other
for deep down we are kindled, determined
by all kinds of magmatic associations
and a mountain of love rises—
lifting the landscape of our lives
we are the ever-changing earth

PHOTO: Iceland volcano by Max Saeling on Unsplash

NOTE: The volcanoes of Iceland include a high concentration of active sites. The island has around 30 active volcanic systems; of these, 13 have erupted since the settlement of Iceland in AD 874. Over the past 500 years, Iceland’s volcanoes have contributed a third of the total global lava output.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jónas Þorbjarnarson (1960-2012) was an Icelandic poet, who wrote about travel, within Iceland and elsewhere.

Iceland, Summer by Rafaella Del Bourgo

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Iceland, Summer
by Rafaella Del Bourgo

Returning to the apartment I rented in Reykjavik,
I drive west past the fishing village of Hofn,
its channel to be navigated with care
due to the shifting patterns of the shoals.
The rocking boats, and the seafarers,
safe, for now, in the harbor.

To the edge of Jokulsarlon, the bay
where the glacier calves off into icebergs,
some small as travel trunks,
a few the size of a room.
Some are a celestial blue, some are banded
with dark streaks of volcanic dust.

The lagoon water licks at them;
the tidal pull draws them slowly
under the bridge
and, much diminished,
they sail off to be lost at sea.

Past the black sand beach at Dyrholaey
with its lava pillars rising up from the water,
and an arch stretching out past the waves,
which gives the area its name:
“the hill-island with the door-hole.”

Two a.m. I return to my temporary home.
I push aside heavy drapes to see how
the “midnight sun,”
paints snow-capped
mountains to the north
with a light, relentless and alien.

Road-weary, overwhelmed
by the landscape — at times
bleak, at times beautiful,
always unfamiliar —
I collapse on the couch.
Crawling into my lap,
the resident cat I agreed
to care for during my visit.
Like my tom back home,
he is heavy and orange,
brushes his face against my hand.

I lean my head back.
I am a visitor here,
far from my home port.
This cat is my anchor.

PHOTO: Vestrahorn Mountain, Iceland by Luca Micheli on Unsplash.

NOTE: Iceland is an island country in the North Atlantic, with a population of about 365,000 and an area of 40,000 square miles, making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active, with an interior consisting of a plateau characterized by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, and many glacial rivers flowing to the sea through the lowlands. Icelandic culture is founded upon the nation’s Scandinavian heritage—most Icelanders are descendants of Norse and Gaelic settlers. Icelandic, a North Germanic language, is descended from Old West Norse. The country’s cultural heritage includes traditional Icelandic cuisine, Icelandic literature, and medieval sagas. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I’ve traveled quite a bit.  This poem is autobiographical, and was written in the last five years.  I have family by marriage in Iceland, living mostly in and around Reykjavik .

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rafaella Del Bourgo’s writing has appeared in Puerto Del Sol, Rattle, Oberon, Nimrod, and The Bitter Oleander. She has won many awards including the League of Minnesota Poets Prize in 2009. In 2010, she won the Alan Ginsberg Poetry Award. She was also the 2010 winner of the Grandmother Earth Poetry Award.  In 2012 she won the Paumanok Poetry Award.  In 2013 she was the recipient of the Northern Colorado Writers first prize for poetry and in 2014, the New Millennium Prize for Poetry.  In 2017 she won the Mudfish Poetry Prize and was nominated for the third time for a Pushcart Prize.  Her chapbook Inexplicable Business: Poems Domestic and Wild was published by Finishing Line Press.  She lives in Berkeley with her husband and cat.

Bread Soup: An Old Icelandic Recipe by Bill Holm

Iceland licensed Elena Pyatkova

Bread Soup: An Old Icelandic Recipe
by Bill Holm

Start with the square heavy loaf
steamed a whole day in a hot spring
until the coarse rye, sugar, yeast
grow dense as a black hole of bread.
Let it age and dry a little,
then soak the old loaf for a day
in warm water flavored
with raisins and lemon slices.
Boil it until it is thick as molasses.
Pour it in a flat white bowl.
Ladle a good dollop of whipped cream
to melt in its brown belly.
This soup is alive as any animal,
and the yeast and cream and rye
will sing inside you after eating
for a long time.

NOTE: Recipe and background for Brauðsúpa from icecook.blogspot.com. See below.

Icelandic bread soup – Brauðsúpa

Thriftiness is a strong trait in many older Icelanders, especially the generations that were born before World War II. Everything had to be used up, and throwing away edible leftovers was considered criminal. This thick soup is one way of using up bread leftovers and crusts. (Recipe serves 5)
Ingredients:
200 grams (1 cup) rye bread or assorted bread leftovers. Must be at least half rye bread.
1.25 liters (about 42 ounces) water
2 Tbs raisins OR 4 prunes
1 Tbs orange marmalade (optional)
6 slices lemon, OR orange/lemon zest or a cinnamon stick
2-3 Tbs sugar
100 ml (about 1/2 cup) cream, whipped
Directions:  Soak the bread in the water overnight, or until the crusts are soft. Purée (use a blender if you have one) and cook on low for 1 hour. Add the raisins, lemon slices and sugar and cook for about 10 minutes more. Serve warm with whipped cream.

Recipe translated from Helga Sigurðardóttir’s recipe book Matur & Drykkur, Mál og Menning, Reykjavík, 1986 (1947).

León by Lorraine Caputo

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León
by Lorraine Caputo

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PHOTO: Cathedral of León, Nicaragua (2009). Photo by Brassmaster, used by permission.

NOTE: The Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary, León Cathedral, is an important and historic landmark in Nicaragua. Constructed from  1747 to 1814, the cathedral has maintained its status as the largest cathedral in Central America and one of the best known in the Americas due to its distinct architecture and cultural importance. Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the northwest, the Caribbean to the east, Costa Rica to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the southwest. Managua is the country’s capital and largest city. The multi-ethnic population of six million includes people of indigenous, European, African, and Asian heritage. The main language is Spanish. Indigenous tribes on the Mosquito Coast speak their own languages and English.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: León is Nicaragua’s second largest city. Because of the university there, it has deep cultural traditions—including music and poetry (renowned poet Rubén Darío died in León). According to legend, its cathedral—which has a staircase flanked by two large lions (León means lion in Spanish) leading up to the atrium—was in reality supposed to be built in Santiago de Chile; but the ship carrying the plans for the two churches sank and the saved drafts were mixed up. I have visited León a number of times—but never with a camera.

PHOTO:  Lion sculpture outside the Cathedral of León, Nicaragua (2007). Photo by Elemaki, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator, and travel writer. Her work appears in over 180 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa, as well as in 12 chapbooks of poetry—including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014), Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017), and On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019). She also pens travel pieces, with stories appearing in the anthologies Drive: Women’s True Stories from the Open Road (Seal Press, 2002) and Far-Flung and Foreign (Lowestoft Chronicle Press, 2012), and travel articles and guidebooks. In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada honored her verse. She has done over 200 literary readings, from Alaska to the Patagonia, and journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. You may follow her Latin America Wander travels on Facebook and at latinamericawander.wordpresscom.