September 2000Café Society's Poetry News Update
Do you have any poetry news or comments for the Readers' Letters section? If so, mail me on the email link at the bottom of this page. Competitions and calls for submissions can be announced here free.

An Interview With Neil Ray

Neil Ray is 44 years old, and lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He is married and has two children. He currently works in the floral industry, as a floral wholesaler. He graduated from Terry Sanford Senior High School in 1974. He attended Richmond Technical Institute, for one year, and then joined the US Air Force. He left the Air Force in 1979, and has recently worked at several jobs, until his current position, which he has held for the last seven years.

Neil has a member of the Writer's Ink Guild since 1994, and is the editor of the Guild's newsletter, The Ink Pad. The newsletter has been in publication for the last three years, and is currently up to 750 copies, per issue.

Neil Ray has been published in numerous anthologies: Meditations (Iliad Press, 1994), A Tapestry of Thoughts (Watermark Press, 1995), Homecoming (Old Mountain Press, 1999) and the local newspaper, Fayetteville Observer-Times. He currently has a chapbook out, "Quest…of the Plebeians" (FlamingHeart Productions, 1999). He has conducted workshops for the North Carolina Poetry Society, Poetry to the People, and several workshops at Hoke County Senior High, (Mrs. Timmins, Senior English), and at West Hoke Middle School, (Ms. Fazzio, Ms. Phillips, Ms. Curtis, Ms. Cannon, 8th grade English), Ms. Archambeau (7th grade English), and Ms. Byrd (6th grade English).

He is the host of two open mike events in Fayetteville. "Java Jams" every Sunday night at the Coffee Scene, and "Poetic Expressions" every first Friday of the month, at Artistic X-pressions. Both located in Westwood Shopping Center. He will be hosting a new children's open mike event at Barnes and Noble, on the first Thursday of each month, and was requested by the North Carolina Poetry Society, to assist in the Awards Day presentations in May. He is the champion of the Fayetteville 2000 Poetry Slam Season. Neil is also the in coming chairman of The Membership Development and Projects Committee for the North Carolina Poetry Society.

Says Neil: "...Although, I have no teaching background or certificates to say such. All of my school workshops have come at the request of the teachers themselves, after witnessing my performances at the open mikes, or some other literary event. I truly enjoy working with the kids, because, I can see something special burning in their eyes, during the presentation of the workshop, but it is the poetry writing at the end, that gives them the greatest pleasure. That makes it all worthwhile."

Poetry L & T:When did you first start writing poetry, Neil, and why?

Neil Ray:I wrote my first poem in the third grade of elementary school. It was also published in a childrens' magazine called, The Weekly Reader. The poem was about Daniel Boone, and I believe it was a twelve line rhymer. I wrote the poem, because I liked Daniel Boone, and I just thought a poem would be fun to write.

Poetry L & T:Who are your favourite poets, classic and/or modern?

Neil Ray:I really have a hard time making that judgement, because they all seem to fit the need I require. However, I have been partial to Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Frederico Larca, and Nikki Giovanni.

Poetry L & T:How did you first become involved with The Ink Pad newsletter of the Writers' Ink Guild?

Neil Ray:I became a member of the Writer's Ink Guild in 1994. I was beginning to write poetry again, and I found out about the organization. The Guild had been around for the past 14 years, and and it was shortly after the election of the new Guild President, that the notion of the newsletter came about. The Guild had previously attempted to work with a newsletter, but it become a little bit demanding, and the other folks were unable to spend much time with it. When the issue came around again, another gentleman had volunteered to take control of the project. However, his plans were a little bit to expensive, and it didn't seem to follow the goals of the Guild and its membership. When it seemed as if this newsletter was about to be scratched, I stepped forward, and offered my services for the position of editor, even though I had practically no publishing or editing skills, to strengthen my request. All I knew is that the Guild needed a newsletter, and I was going to be sure they got one.

Poetry L & T:Do you work as an editor on The Inkpadnewsletter, or both?

Neil Ray:I am the editor of the newsletter, with a staff of two. Sean Lohr, who is a playwright, is my assistant editor, and his wife, Eva, is my design editor. Of course, the Guild President, Bill Bailey, is also very active in production of the newsletter, I have the final say on its contents. The Writer's Ink Guild and the newsletter, are in association with the Fayetteville/Cumberland County Arts Council, Inc., but they have no input in the newsletter content. Unfortunately, the newsletter does not have an on-line edition, even though we tried to work one through the Arts Council. Hopefully, that will change this year, because the newsletter is changing, yearly. You should have seen the first edition.

Poetry L & T:What is your criteria for good poetry to feature in the Ink Pad newsletter?

Neil Ray:Beyond the word count (50 line length), I look for poetry that speaks of elements, that dance under the influence of imagination. I guess that makes me pretty arrogant at times, because I hear and read a lot of poetry. So I know what I like, and I prefer the poetry, that speaks for the long term, and not just for today or tomorrow. I like the challenge it presents, and I challenge the writers, because I want to be challenged. I always feel I can do better. But I suppose every writer does, if he or she is true to the craft.

Poetry L & T:What is your favourite poem of all time?

Neil Ray:The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. This is a story with a purpose. No doubt, Sam was on something, and I regret I don't know what it was, (smile)

Poetry L & T:Some people don't like rhyming poetry, they perhaps feel that the rhyme becomes a substitute for the natural music of language, or that rhyme is old-fashioned. Do you prefer rhyme or free verse?

Neil Ray:I enjoy the flow of free verse, but I use rhyme to break the chains of "writer's block". Personally, I think every poet should write a rhyming poem, because it is the block upon which many voices arise. We analyze too much, the form, instead of concentrating on the words and their emotions. You write for the emotion. Not for a grade

Poetry L & T:Do you feel that the internet is useful for poets?

Neil Ray:Yes. It allows greater access for those poets who feel their works may never be seen. Besides, they can reach far more people in a day, than they would if they had a book on the market. It also provides them with other avenues of information, that could be useful in the writing, publishing, and marketing, of their works.

Poetry L & T:Do you have any favourite websites that inspire you?

Neil Ray:Yours and Charlotte's Web come to mind, immediately. I do enjoy a few others, but I don't consider them my favorites.

Poetry L & T:Do you have any favourite retreats, in or around Fayetteville, where you go to write poetry?

Neil Ray:Most of my poetry is written on my patio, at night, when there is only the moon and my dog, to understand my feelings. I travel around the eastern part of the state (North Carolina), and between the people, places, and things I see, hear, and do. I find the inspiration to write my pieces. I love the down home element, but maybe its because I am a Southern Writer. Yet, I try to be as diverse as possible, in my understanding of what I need to do.

Poetry L & T:What, in your opinion, are some of the worst things that inexperienced poets do, when writing a poem?

Neil Ray:I host two poetry "open mikes" in Fayetteville. A lot of the young poets try to stray away from the masters. There are a lot of good contemporary poets out there, and some of the inexperienced poets try to emulate them, instead of first grasping a Poe, or a Browning, or a Sandburg. Second, I think they cling to clicheés. It may fit somewhere, but not everywhere. And I think the thing that gets me the most, is the use of 'profanity'. Some feel it is necessary to express a point, or action. I just think they are not challenging themselves. They shy away from becoming "wordsmiths". I don't use it in my poetry.

Poetry L & T:Finally, Neil, do you have any hints or advice for young poets who wish to improve their work enough to be published?

Neil Ray:

Once again, we come back to the word, challenge. They need to challenge themselves. Read the classics. Attend and participate in poetry readings and "open mike" programs. Study as many forms of poetry, that you can. Always be ready to write. Find your inspiration and embrace it. Good times, bad times, no times. Remember, that if no one else will listen, the page will. It is a loyal friend and confidant. And don't be confused by "writer's block". Every writer gets it, but look at it, as a snake shedding old skin, for new. Each time you break out of the "block", you come stronger and better.

Poetry L & T:Thank you for the interview, Neil.

Neil Ray's Poetry

© Neil Ray

Smoke from chimneys drifts over the valley,
creating an eerie, but fragrant haze along the hillsides.
Tiny lights speckle the dusk, as stars speckle the
evening sky.  They are beacons guiding the weary home,
to warm meals and warm hearts.  An amber glow crowns
the fading peaks, as a quiet darkness descends upon
this world.

God....It is peaceful here.

© Neil Ray

Romantic strains from a Spanish guitar weave and stitch their way along the 
hills and through the valley.  A wind woven melody altered to accommodate 
expectations.  Its haunting reminisce, dancing on the fingers of a recluse, 
discussed in the image of a bronze Conquistador.

She is vigilant to his repose.  A vow empowered by decree, holds fast to 
treasures, safely, left behind.  Subliminal communiqués strobe from  
hypnotic, brown eyes, the mute enticements of submission and release.

His voice is clear and soothing.  His words are as arrows dipped in 
sensuality, to penetrate impassioned air.  She will not render her cause 
futile, nor will she relent, at least to this uncertainty.

She is aware of this place and its fragile majesty.  It is a vast, 
unmerciful realm, void of any resemblance of love and its truth.  She knows 
his nature and his touch.   He is that entity, which creeps into bed, slides 
beneath her sheets, caresses her thighs and kisses her breasts.

When sojourning dreamscapes, she succumbs to his responses.  But here, 
reality is a humble salvation, and each resolve stands on common ground.  
Hands to hands, eyes to eyes, lips to lips.  And the struggle is concealed 
inside of walls, consisting of romantic interludes, sculptured by the hands 
of a stranger.

Yet, he is playing on strings, not of nylon or steel; but, of tissue and 
substance.  The roaming harmonies have lulled her inhibitions useless.  She 
feels the teasing breeze, or perhaps, his anticipate breath, slowly 
encircling, her essence.  She receives courage from within.  Her resistance 
is challenged by the knowledge, that this could all be won or lost, with the 
mere sweeping of a hand.

© Neil Ray

A life....carried in black plastic
three, four, maybe five bundles deep.
A world....held in the strong hands
of a laborer, weightless upon his shoulders.
A gross....exploitation of short comings
exposed unto a mirade of speculation.
A mystery....unimpeded against the flow
reflect vivid in the faces moving parallel.
A face....worn unconscious of emotion
no possibilites.
A step....leaves its imprint on truth
in retrospect of ground which has become whole.
A vagabond....a nomad of the senses
traversing roads of someone else's past.
A vagabond....exiled to this silent crusade
sojourning toward a past, that is your own.

© Neil Ray

                         above sea
     below sky.
              of gravity's grasp.
framed in
              the stillness
                         of time.
are the
             intricate delicacies
       the dolphin dance.

© Neil Ray

The long, slow song sung within the depths of my emotions
Is a dirge cursed by the pain of love and its dying.
Its torturous chorus leaves a bittersweet refrain
Resonating against the textures of an amorous cathedral.
The soothing touch of sleep is elusive and without benediction.
I mistrust my solitude for it gives her shelter.
This damnable deception deducts pleasure from my senses,
Yet, it lives because I breathe, and I breathe because it lives.
Her haunting fragrance fills every room of this house.
Her essence is absorbed by every thing she has touched.
Even a breeze flowing through door and window.
Mimics her caress upon skin inflamed by desire.
And it comes to me in the night like a vagabond prayer.
The long, slow song sung within the depths of my emotions

© Neil Ray

   I am baffled by the struggle of god verses god.
     A lunacy beyond logic
and its conflicts of conscience.
     Antiquated laws and ancient rituals
determine the actions of fanatics.
     They command the resistance of
one will above the other.

     The followers speak of the blessed one
as justification to dreadful deeds done
for the sake of obedience.
     Hear his disciples cryptic prayers
muttered toward smoke stained skies,
or humbled from knees
entrenched in crimson ground.
     They are enveloped in a vindictive divinity.
     Punish those who do not submit to this bondage
of mind and soul.
     Oppress them.
     Deny them.
     Eliminate them from this existence.
     It is the will of the master
and his will is LAW.

     These disciples propose no compromise.
     They are addicted to the will
of J, or A, or B,
or maybe, M, C, or P.
     They possess no moderate nature.
     An intolerant spirit is skillfully driven
into their psyche
and it will gradually consume them.
     They signify their lives with fraudulent impressions
and senseless innuendoes.
     These disciples become armies marching
under altered banners.
     Their frantic cadence storms across desires and ambitions.
     A child is a martyr.
     A house is a shrine.
     The land is a tomb.

     The followers gather in structures that
pierce horizons
elaborate in their humble intentions.
     The followers gather in structures that
speak of worlds absolute and precise,
abundant with sinsister indications.
     They mumble, chant, and sing.
     The blessed one requires repentance,
atonement, confession, and spiritual enlightenment.
     They mumble, chant, and sing.

Still, they emerge no more righteous
that the first face they look upon;
     Yet, that face wears an insight,
of which they know nothing of.
     They will perceive his transgression
greater than their own.
     Make that face a sacrifice,
and they may regain favor.
     And they mumble, chant, and sing.

     They promenade an arrogant ignorance.
     They will attempt to govern with false prophets.
     These pious lunatics have declared holy war
upon a decadent,
corrupt and condemned breed.
     They mandate an unconditional surrender.
     Either be converted or be destroyed.
     It is the master's will,
and his will must be done
for his will is LAW.
     And they mumble, chant, and sing.
     So, diligent in their quest to designate right from wrong.
     So faithful and so obedient,
they have no time for love and compassion.
     Does not the blessed one know
of love and compassion?

     I am convinced they are serving two masters.
     Be not surprised when they stand before them,
one will not listen.
     Yet, they say I am the one doomed
to my own understanding.
     I do not need religious rehetoric to tell me
where the problem lies.
     I know Birmingham, Belfast, Bosnia,
and Palestine.

To contact Neil Ray, email: [email protected]


Dear Poets,

This issue features an interview with the Poet Neil Ray, who edits The Ink Pad poetry newsletter. Neil has recently been featured on his own Charlotte's Web pages at Artvilla. I would like to thank Neil for recently making me a member of The Ink Pad Writer's Guild, which means I can submit work for the newsletter, and enter the regular competitions. Anyone interested in receiving the newsletter or becoming a member of the Ink Pad Writers' Guild can email Neil on the link under his interview and poems. The Ink Pad Writers' Guild is based in Fayetteville, USA.

Featured poets this month include Averil Bones, Fred Wolven, Duane Locke, Richard van der Draaij, Andrew Belsey and Jan Sand.

I would like to thank everyone for the kind messages they sent while I was in hospital, also for getting submissions and articles in nice and early for this issue.

Any comments on this issue or back issues can be emailed to me on the link at the bottom of the page. Please indicate whether you would like such comments to be included in the Letters section. Announcements are always welcome, you can also promote poetry books here but include links to web pages with price details, rather than giving the price.

Any poetry submissions should be in plain text in the body of an email, with a small jpeg picture attached, also a bio, preferably with the URLs of any ezines mentioned, so that they can be shown as links. This will increase chances of inclusion, especially if a submission is sent late in the month, as it saves me time to get a picture and bio at the same time. Pictures are best at a maximum of 520 pixels across, otherwise they take ages to arrive by email, especially if they are in bitmap or TIFF format. Further submission guidelines are available on request.

If anyone would like to send their Chinese, Japanese, Urdu or Hebrew poetry in its original script, please send the English version in plain text with a jpeg or gif showing how it looks in the original language script, no larger than 500 pixels in width so that the English version can appear in a column beside it.

Best Regards,


Featured poets this month include Averil Bones, Fred Wolven, Duane Locke, Richard van der Draaij, Andrew Belsey and Jan Sand.

Many thanks to all contributors.

Averil Bones

Averil Bones, 27, lives in Sydney, Australia. She has studied journalism and native bushland regeneration, and is currently working in the publishing industry.

Averil's work has been included in an anthology of new Australian poets called Sensory, and she is a regular contributor to Poetry Downunder.

The most influential part of her life is the ocean, and she tries to remain an active environmental campaigner.

© Averil Bones

Falling asleep to moonlight's touch and late breezes,
even our feet not touching, but close; and then

waking in slow death of dawn's darkness
to see your foreign face come clearer;

stirring, breathing, on verge of waking;
and I cannot help but reach out to touch

your hair, just your hair,
so that you do not feel the shake in my fingers,

the sick rippling in my belly;
the softness of my hankering and fear.

Without opening your eyes (dawn's rise quick now)
you place one palm on my forearm;

and I feel in my own hesitation your tremor;
some even thrill from deep in primal source.

Melted, I roll into arm lock, tension lost
to be caught up by a million muscles

whose fibre your breathless caress ignites
and whose quiver laughs along with morning's birdsong.

© Averil Bones

The top-most curls of
stone-warmed air breathe,
breathe deep and long,
a mother's touch
long absent.

Sky scraped cirrus
laid out above,
platters of dreams
shifting, changing,
forming, fleeing,
once seen and gone.

Lilac breeze ripples
broad ocean swells of air.

On sunned tipped splay,
stirred lizard backs appear.

    *       *       * 

Cuts come to me,
absorbed in kneecap visions,
hair wet and dripping,
creektouch fresh:
and blood from shattered carcass,
minute against skin pores.

Peace echoes with rapid fall;
water into sandstone;
lulling summer blindness;
inward turned and languid,
laughing at colours, scents,
slit-eyed and demon-free.

Currawong breathes inwards
and launches into spiral song.
He pulls my heart and head
out of reverie
in a moment's time
to see the light begin to fade.

© Averil Bones

Oh you, whose mysteries deep and wide I plumb,
rise with trailing fingers rippling silk,
and bring to life my veins which feel so numb,
that I may drink of sweet creation's milk.
Leave me not to linger shadow-cowed
blind to inspiration's coloured hues.
I will not waste a moment, I have vowed,
but take that which you offer without cue.
Broad mother, with your understanding eye,
bring forth a birdcall to disturb my sleep;
and with delight I'll listen to your cry,
and take your words within to ponder deep.
I only pray all I can offer up
will fill a little mother nature's cup.

© Averil Bones

The tripping of fingers over sound
makes for such sweet music
along rippled fence lines,
thrumming through the city grasses
that press their shadowed backs
against sunned gaol bars, and grow.

[email protected]

is a teaching writer, poet, former editor-publisher of Ann Arbor Review and now of MPG: Miami Poetry & Graphics, is a professor at Miami-Dade Community College in Homestead, Florida - the hurricane capital of the world!

Fred believes "all writing is a form of mediation in motion, a relaxed and interactive exercise involving mind and body." He adds, "such activity is essential in developing my critical thinking and writing skills. With this energy I can soar; without it I remain a doormat."

Long influenced by Michigan-born Theodore Roethke and Tampa poet Duane Locke, Fred admits to an eclectic taste in his free verse form and format. In his teaching, with students such as nieces of Ernest Hemingway and Piri Thomas among them, he sees new writers and former students winning competitions, earning prizes, recording albums, and signing book contracts.

With several chapbooks out and published in periodicals like Wind, Mountain Valley Review, UT Review, Mid-American Review, Sumac, Fred is currently seeking new audiences in ezines. Believing, afterall, that "poetry is more than art, mediation, music, or myth," he notes, "as a poet I am in search of new readers and writers." Recently he judged a poetry slam.

© Fred Wolven

1.  You might say

You might say that's a funny thing to see,
but last night the white cat sort of
stalked a lone silver fox crossing
through the neighbor's yard probably
working its way back toward the brush-
lined banks of a nearby canal or
the Florida pine lot over by the tracks.
Fortunately the fox gave the cat the slip,
and I can't remember the first time some
one spotted a snow leopard on Miami Beach.

2.  After the hurricane

After the hurricane scare diminished
I spent yesterday reading about guardian
angels, and this morning in a Miami sub
shop I wrote about the last poetry reading
in between thinking about, but not doing,
meditation.  Of course, it's not quite
that easy to fashion a mental garden drawing
film-projected lines, real or screened,
of a snow leopard walking on the beach.

3.  I take a deep breath

I take a deep breath, close my eyes
and fading rainbow colors mix and move
kaleidoscope fashion into my view.  Quiet,
finally, I wonder just what do I think
when I think?  Is it really possible
to stand on one's head?  Or is the world
just turned upside down?  Funny or not,
there's no snow leopard in my vision.

4.  I remember studying

I remember studying the wild animals
in a National Geographic photo essay;
the snow leopard was not pictured.
Thus, I continue to wonder....  Will
I ever draw an illustration of my
garden--either the one I once helped
plant, cultivate and plunder, or the
mental state I appear to be frozen in.

5.  His first name is Tom.

She said, "His first name is Tom.
Tom is his first name.  You remember
his last name; you [a three-piece suit]
should remember his first name is Tom!,"
she said.  And I heard it loud and clear.
But today I watched Toby, the fluffy
grey cat follow a creeping bug, his [the
cat's] eyes transfixed, his head bobbing
up and down as for Halloween apples.

6.  On a side street

On a side street, in a small nearly
unnoticed gallery only a block or two
from Michigan Avenue in Chicago several
years ago I remember viewing a rather
realistic Sargent painting of a snow leopard.
Naturally, it wasn't set in Miami Beach!

7.  Sipping on a rum and coke

Sipping on a rum and coke I mull over
changes, made and unmade.  All it takes
is enthusiasm and humor, energy and more
energy.  Sunday, sitting in the yard, I
can feel a stillness in the air.  It's like
some of the outer atmosphere is seeping into
our world through that dark hole in space.

8.  The descending scale of mellow sax notes

The descending scale of mellow sax notes,
unnoticed by the eating, talking crowd,
fades, the bassman's pluck brings out a
solitary applause of recognition, mine.
The keyboard artist chords the accompaniment
alternating between background and lead-in.
No, it is not Saturday Night at the Savoy.
It's Friday on Normandy Circle, and the
snow leopard has still not been seen.

9. Eavesdropping

Eavesdropping is sort of like copying
out a whole Hemingway dialogue or a Sexton
interior monologue just to pick up the nuances
of voice sounds, the musical qualities of
human talk.  I suspect almost everything on
most lists has multiple dimensions, like
    a half-filled wine bottle,
a piece of driftwood,
                            Shakespeare's sonnets,
a paperclip, Rilke's animals,
a Mozart concert,
                        a fountain pen,
a featherduster,
                    an Idaho potato,
popcorn, and
                    a Smith Bros. cough drop,
but no snow leopard on Miami Beach.

10.  Bly has already analyzed

Bly has already analyzed his male shadow.
What more can I learn from confronting my own;
it's a gloomy outline looming too tall and
leaning too far out in front of me.  Perhaps,
it's only a side view, mirror image reflected,
one I would not recognize if I stepped on
it while jumping over concrete cracks (you
know, instead of breaking your mother's back).
I hesitate to view my past up close.  It's the
present I live in and the future I live for...
the day when walking on Miami Beach and
a snow leopard finally crosses my path.

[email protected]

Duane Locke with one of
his paintings

Duane Locke, Doctor of Philosophy in Renaissance Literature, Professor Emeritus of the Humanities, Poet in Residence at University of Tampa for over twenty years, he has had over 2,000 of his own poems published in over 500 print magazines such as American Poetry Review, Nation, Literary Quarterly, Black Moon, and Bitter Oleander, is author of 14 books of poems, his latest being WATCHING WISTERIA (to order write Vida Publishing, P. O. Box 12665, Lake Park, FL 33405-0665, or see or call Small Press Distribution-1-800-869-7553), as a cyber-poet, since Sept 1, 1999 has had 1006 acceptances of his poems by online e zines, photographer, listed in PSA's WHO'S WHO as one of the top twenty nature photographers, currently has 112 of his Alley photos accepted on line (These are pictures made of discards and trash in alleys. He moves in close to find a design that speaks beauty from what people have thrown away), painter, currently having a one-man show of over 30 painting at the Pyramid gallery in Tampa, winner for poetry of the Edna St. Vincent Millay, Charles Agnoff, and Walt Whitman awards, now lives alone and isolated in the sunny Tampa slums. He lives estranged and as an alien, not understanding the customs, the costumes, the language, some form of postmodern English, of his surroundings. The egregious ugliness of his neighborhood has been mitigated by the esthetic efforts of the police who put up bright orange and yellow posters on each post to advertise the location is a shopping mall for drugs. His recreational activities are drinking wine, listening to old operas, and reading postmodern philosophy.

© Duane Locke

Sonneteers sun in cemeteries,
Or under small windows of seminaries
The shadows of cement angels cross
The blankness of their 14 lined scrolls,
Wing shadows place on rice paper arabesques
Of darkness overlooked by the sun-tanned sonneteers
Who only see the ancient as au courant.
The sonneteers confabulate with the dead
If to end-stop or employ enjambment.
The sonneteers with their egotism
Lock sonnets in strong boxes,
Wear bowties, become boulevdardiers
In the borscht boudoirs of Boston.

© Duane Locke

Leaves fell, ground became brown.
Winds came, ground became pearl gray.
Rains came, ground became bright green.

New house built, ground buried.
Inside the house, on the walls twelve pictures of bulls.
All the people inside wear red silk.

© Duane Locke

The green silk kimono embroidered
With golden abstract flowers she donned

For the tea ceremony went unseen
Since the invited never came.

The invited misplaced the invitation
Under pamphlets sent by a man who bored him in a bar.

Pamphlets went unread, for all his time
Was devoted to reading Chekhov about unrealized lives.

In a welfare store he had found a Japanese brush used as pen,
That ended in a point as sharp as a needle.

He wrote to her with jet-black ink
Calligraphic letters on rice paper an apology.

© Duane Locke

Grains of light suffuse through white stems,
White leaves to stripe the oak shadows
Covering the Monotropa uniflora,
Commonly know as "Indian Pipes."

This plant in sphagnum also called "The Ghost"
Has the silky textures of the legs
Of the nude girls stuccoed by Primaticcio
On a lunette above a door at Fountainbleau,

The diffused light in a moist atmosphere
Combined the moment's eroticism with mysticism,
As if nature had studied under Guilio Romano
When he painted Psyche at Palazzo del Tè.

I stared at the white gold heads, the dappled
Long limbs, felt the sacred, sensual commingle.

© Duane Locke

Sensations emanating from things or events
Abstract their essences to become abstract, ornate angels.
The angels fly towards the above, collide, fuse,
Until no individual angels, only a vague
White wing flapping in the fog.

The wind is known by movement of white curtain.
The Bishop feels he has a companion.
He knows he has been accused of intellectual crimes.
The invisible will be his companion,
Fight a duel to prove his innocence.

The curtains part, bring the rapture of watching
Rain spot the hibiscus' yellow flowers.
The globes of rain will roll into oblivion
As they falls from gold mermaid's shoulder into the pool.
All rain will disappear to become the touch of God.

[email protected]

has been writing poetry for a number of years and since Spring '97 has started to be published, first in print magazines such as 'Still magazine' of the U.K., and 'Famous Reporter' in Australia, among others. More recently has seen poems appear on the internet in various poetry zines and poetry- related sites. Motto: "Poetry is Passion!"

Two sites for some of his poetry: and

NOTE: The English translations
appear below the Dutch.

De Dragers van Sera Pelada
© Richard James van der Draaij

De gestalten van Sera Pelada Schuiven langzaam in eindeloze rijen, De aanblik van de bijna dode levenden Vanaf deze rustplaats, iets hoger op de keien. De mannen van Sera Pelada Torsen aarde uit een diepe kloof, Woordeloos, de hoofden zwaar en laag, Voor de roep van 't veilig-kleine leven Reeds lang volkomen doof. Ze zijn als lang vervlogen schimmen, Duizenden geesten in een eeuwige processie, Als ze honderd meter op houten ladders klimmen, De Adios Mamas; wankel, scheef en steil Al dragend dromend van 'n vlucht naar groene kimmen. Ze dromen van het oude gele goud: De macht eens te beschikken over 't eigen leven. Voorlopig zijn zij als verloren, Naamloos, allen slaaf van een diepe grijze slenk Door tallozen getrokken in het eeuwenoude woud. Gevangenen van Sera Pelada 'n Enkeling wordt rijk 'n Ander treft het minder goed, Wordt gevonden in het slijk. De prijs om bij 't edelmetaal te geraken Is te hoog voor menigeen. Maar zwijgend ploeteren zij altijd door, De handen verkrampt, in 't koud en stoffig steen. De dragers van Sera Pelada Het leven heeft ze opgegeven, Ze verkozen nu reeds dood te zijn Nooit opgewekt of uitgelaten, Slechts 'n koortsige glimtrek, bij 't stoten op 'n aderlijn Zelden kijken zij omhoog De lucht is toch te ver, De blik gericht op vuile grond, Beschenen door een trage ster. Cinco zag in 'n miniscuul kleurverschil In de aarde vastgelegd, 'n Spoor van ongekende rijkdom. Hij groef in het donker haastig door, Werd in de morgen opgedregd. Het had geregend in de nacht Water gutste door de schacht Maar Cinco was al blind. Zijn lotgenoten, goedgezind Stonden om zijn stek en lachten. Ze wisten wat ook Cinco wist; Dat in de regen en de mist, De natuurwraak zich doet gelden, Geruisloos, zuiver, in de velden, De velden van Sera Pelada. Translation: The Bearers of Sera Pelada © Richard James van der Draaij
The figures of Sera Pelada Move slowly in endless rows, The sight of these living dead From this ledge, higher up ahead. The men of Sera Pelada Dig earth from a deep dark chasm, Wordlessly, their heads heavy and low Long since deaf to the call- -Of a safe little life. They are like long gone shadows, Thousand of spirits in an eternal procession, When they climb the hundred yards on wooden ladders, The Adios Mamas; crooked, shaky and steep, They dream of a flight to green horizons, They are dreaming of the ancient gold; The power to rule their own lives, In the meantime they are as lost, Nameless, slaves all to a grey crevice Cut by the countless in the age-old woods. Prisoners of Sera Pelada Someone gets rich Another, not quite so fortunate, Is found in the mire. The price to reach the precious metal Is too high for many. Yet silently they struggle on, Hands cramped tight, in cold and dusty stone. The bearers of Sera Pelada Life has given them up, They chose to already be dead. Never cheerful or elated, Just a feverish snarl when hitting a vein. Rarely do they look up The skies are just too far, Their gazes fixed on dirty ground Illuminated by a lethargic star. Cinco saw in the slightest change of colour Recorded in the earth, A trace of fabulous wealth. In the dark, in a rush, he kept on digging, In the morning he was dragged. It had rained during the night, Water poured down the shaft But Cinco was already blind. His companions, kind of heart, Stood around his claim, and laughed They knew what Cinco also knew: That in fog, and rain and morning dew, Nature wreaks her cold vengeance Without a sound, and pure, in the fields, The fields of Sera Pelada. Ik Groet de Dag © Richard James van der Draaij
Ik groet de dag, Met een stille lach, En kijk uit over de wereld, Waar mensenmassa's krioelen, Dieren kruipen, vogels vliegen, Waar een zon het schouwspel beschijnt, Langzaam richt de dag zich op, En neemt mij met zich mee. Translation: I Greet the Day © Richard James van der Draaij
I greet the day With a silent laugh, And look out over the world, Where multitudes of people hurry, Creatures crawl and birds fly, Where a sun lights up the stage. Slowly the day rises, Taking me along with it. All In All © Richard James van der Draaij
Your green eyes absorbed the light that day, When we lay together on the sandy beach, Spring holiday and children's voices, And I already felt old, Your words did not belong to you that day, You seemed upset, although- -Your sense of humor still intact. Time passed, sounds faded away, You looked at me for a moment, We asked ourselves:"Where, why?" Amateur-philosophers no less, When the fiery ball of the Summer sun, Slowly descended into the horizon, You took my hand, I was glad, Then: your sweetest voice, meant for me, A moment then, happy together, A sort of love, all in all.

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Andrew Belsey lives and works in Cardiff, Wales, U.K., where he is a philosophy lecturer at Cardiff University. His poems and concrete poems have been published in a number of print magazines and anthologies since the 1960s, and in two booklets (with a 26-year gap!): "Anaximander" (Outposts Publications, 1974) and "A Collection of Four-Line Poems" (Llwynywll Press, 2000).

A selection of four-line poems by Andrew appeared in
Poetry Life and Times, March 2000 and the "Collection of Four-Line Poems" was reviewed in
Poetry Life and Times, July 2000

Andrew's poems have recently been appearing elsewhere on the Internet in e-zines including:

A Writer's Choice
and, more recently, Charlotte's Web.

© Andrew Belsey

that big old house
with dovecote,
dry swimming pool
swirled with leaves
of autumn,
vegetable plot
in neat rows
of vitamins,
orchard filled with
fruits of wartime,
rooms waiting
three generations,
sharing air
with searchlights.

Listen, Galileo
© Andrew Belsey

What do you think it proves
If it's the earth that moves
And not the sun?
Don't you think that it will be hard to cope
If you destroy our hope
And make the figure of the Pope
Into one of fun?

Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .
Our virgin heroine, young Blanche,
Is looking rather like Jane Fonda
While fighting off an anaconda.

Then Bertold Brecht arrives and soothes the snake
But tells us life is not a piece a cake
And then looks on, with Mona Lisa smile,
While all of us are putting on the style.

With peaceful eyes
At last old Galileo dies,
While sighing, "Yes, it moves,
Why worry what it proves?"

The Sculptor
© Andrew Belsey

"Carve out a life," he cried aloud,
"It's all there in the block of marble."
Granules pressed into form, and fissures
Turning out lathed limbs, lean and long.
But what he didn't know was that the fault
Interfaced where two planes ground their teeth
Left no hope of success or completion
But promised crumbling, ageing time
Being the master, space the studio,
And both subtracting from the work of art.

Another Slice of Irish Mythology
© Andrew Belsey

I took a recipe to bake
An Irish oat and water cake
And all for de Valera's sake.

I heard the ghost of Parnell say:
"Ireland is poor, she cannot pay.
Come again another day."

The hills rang with Cuchulain's laugh:
The god grinned to his better half
And went to feed the fatted calf.

Old Story
© Andrew Belsey

A man came riding across the sands
And there was blood upon his hands.
He was riding from a new world's birth
And sought a grave in his old earth.

He looked at the blood and knew a score
Of enemies would rise no more
But his blood too lay mixed with theirs
And for them all he said his prayers.

Still on he went by the sea's side
While the hard wind blew up a tide.
His horse fell dead, he stumbled on,
But when the tide went he was gone.

Bitter Fruit
© Andrew Belsey

Take my word, cos I've forgotten
More than you will ever know:
Ripe fruit quickly turns to rotten,
All except the bitter sloe.

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Self-portrait by Jan Sand

JAN SAND, poet and illustrator from New York, is a regular contributor to Poetry Life & Times. and the newsgroup alt.arts.poetry.comments. A great deal of his work is about animals, or science fiction.

Recently Jan was published by Kedco Studios Artist Profile Press, on their latest CD ROM e-book, "A Way With Words (Poetry Real and Surreal), which also includes complete books by Dale Houstman, Sara L. Russell and Keith Gabriel Hendricks. Jan's illustrated book on the CD is called "Wild Figments And Odd Conjectures", which is also sold separately, in a limited-edition "single" CD.

To see an illustrated article about Jan's poems, visit the November '98 issue of Poetry Life & Times, and scroll down past the Editor's Letter. He also has his own poetry pages on Charlotte's Web at Artvilla.

© Jan Sand

Mountains there are
To tooth the horizon,
And lakes to trap the sky
In between the forests.
There is no destination,
Only the push to go,
To mingle into strangeness,
Run a finger over rough rock,
Test the strength of a vine,
Watch the sway of tall trees
Against the steady slide of clouds.
Bright green smells of grass breeze by
And birds shoot sharp whistle darts.
Surprises erupt. A rabbit sprints,
A raccoon scuttles, a snake
Like liquid mercury flows around rocks,
Through stalks to vanish
Like a beautiful elusive idea.
Through there the future lies.
Maybe bears, perhaps wildcats.
No dragons, hippogriffs, nor dinosaurs.
No epiphanies with angels, elves, nor green men
Snooping out of flying saucers.
I can still walk, climb, smell,
See even tiny leaves on mosses,
Spot the industry of ants, watch flies hover,
Delight in the colored stars of tiny blooms,
Be startled by the blast of sunlit diamonds
On a dew beaded spider web.
Ahead may be chasms and rivers
And perhaps, at the end,
A reward of the broad forehead of the sea.
There goes a black and yellow striped butterfly,
A Tinkerbell amongst the trees.

Here we go.

© Jan Sand

There are rains that drag fog skirts
Across the country-side in stealthy hiss,
That, gently, in determination
Dampens down the grass with sodden kiss
Of sky to earth as caring as a mother
Calms her resting child.
There are rains of panicked horses' hooves
That illuminate their stampede
With angry lightning flashing on black roofs
While trees sway and shudder in dismay
And water demons pound on window panes.
But some rains come and merely sit
And drum in steady patient siege,
Work soft hammers on the dents and wrinkles of the day
Smoothing anger and distress to flat peace,
Tempt shy dreams to peek from hidden thoughts
And welcome in safe surrender to sleep's release.

© Jan Sand

A short "good morning" says but that
I live and so do you and it is day.
We nod, you touch your hat,
We smile and continue on our way.
But still, that spot at which we passed
Becomes, invisible but monumental
To small delight that does not last
For what, to each of us was merely incidental.

© Jan Sand

I do not argue with the wind
And rain may wet me if it must.
Random events leave me chagrined.
There's not much more to be discussed.

Time passes and bestows its blows
With little logic, not much sense.
The unexpected comes and goes
Bereft of most intelligence.

My weapon is to be aware,
To face into the winds of chance,
To try to see what's lurking there
And brace my legs in happen stance .

© Jan Sand

The biggest difference is the light.
The Moon now penetrates my flesh.
My bones are glass against the night,
My blood and veins glisten in a mesh
To delineate my frame.
My whole world is not the same.

I pass through walls as through a mist.
Trees and plants are my solidity.
I can touch them - they resist
And form the limit of my reality.
All else is vapour - people, animals and artifacts.
I am reduced to vegetable contacts.

Every moment my mind requests,
"Why am I here in ghostly guise,
What superbeing jests
With me in this state? But surmise
Gives no solution why I survive
Any more than those alive.

Spectres are, I suspect, quite rare.
I thought I spotted someone last year.
I ran to see. No one was there.
I waited days for him to re-appear.
It is a lonely thing - to be a ghost,
To be kind of alive - almost.

I try to talk to people, children, beasts.
They retreat in fear - speed away.
Or else, in horror, cry out for priests.
So I sit alone at night, come what may.
I watch the Moon and stars, contemplate
This odd afterlife, watch fireflys, speculate.

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THE PERILS OF NORRIS cartoon, #2: Reginald rat is not appearing this month, being on holiday at the time of going to press.
He'll be back for another "Spot Reginald" contest next month.

Sara Russell,

Congrats on a fascinating and graphically-appealing issue! Especially catching is the interview with Charlotte Mair.

In the issue Duane Locke's poems are the most intrguing, the most fascinating and challenging. I've been reading Duane's work for nearly 40 years, and it is great to see he is at the top of his form. Many of his readers believe, as I do, that he may be the most unrecognized poet of substance today. (Though he is now appearing in many, many ezines!) So it is a pleasure to see you publish several of his poems. And the layout of the poems with the bio alongside is excellent!

Also, I find your cartoon, "The Perils of Norris," drawing me in to want more.

Fred Wolven
[email protected]

EDITOR'S NOTE: Fred also sent a long poem (several poems in one), which I liked enough to use in this month's Featured Poets section.

September 1998

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August 2000

Mail me on: [email protected] with any poems, comments for the letters page, news about your poetry site, or forthcoming poetry events. The September deadline is slightly early - 24th August.

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