Sunday, May 11, 2014

Unleashed Imagination

Unleashed Imagination, by Enkel Dika.
More artwork, here.

Chinese Pastoral

Once in awhile, I get lucky:

After losing ALL of my unpublished work in The Great Expansion Drive Crash of 2013, I thought I'd go and at least copy my published work off the internet, to help get my bearings and start rebuilding my portfolio. Unfortunately, a couple of the literary journal websites had closed, leaving no archives behind, and that published work was lost forever. I understand, though--I know that editing a literary journal is tough and often thankless work, and being an editor is not something I could ever do. Sites close down all the time. I've seen journals pop up and then disappear within a month, even. It's not a business for the faint of heart, for sure.

Anyway, the editor of one of the longer-standing journals, the respected Hobble Creek Review, made the decision to close its doors recently, as well. HCR held the only copy of my poem, "Chinese Pastoral", but I didn't get to it in time before the site went dark. My expansion drive crash had wiped out all my written work--now, the site with the only copy of the poem was closed, as well (ouch!). But, it's not the editor's job to make sure writers have copies, or to keep archives active, or even to notify writers a site is closing, so I just resigned myself to the fact that the poem was gone. That's why I was so surprised when HCR editor Justin Evans was able to retrieve it, and I'm so grateful to him for going out of his way to get it to me.

A spot of good luck! Who'd have thought, after all that? I'm posting the poem here, which originally appeared in the July, 2012 issue of HCR. I'd also like to thank Justin and wish him the best in his future endeavors--I'll certainly miss HCR.

Chinese Pastoral
(a trptych)

i. Guangxi
Long-haired Zhuang women are singing,
clapping, stomping feet to the drumbeat
in the wooden village house, bells
of their silver headdresses, chiming.

Stopping, they raise hands in unison,
driving it up, past the corn-draped rafters,
up, into the hoary skies, their spells
cast far, to the fickle ears of harvest gods.

Their men don't interfere, but watch
and smoke, as brown as the rice terraces
ribboning the hills, weathered,
as the dormant fields of dragonfruit.

The drum sounds again; again the women
pound the boards, their wool-wrapped legs
jumping, voices ringing over all of Guangxi,
as they conjure the planting season into being.

ii. Jiangsu
Aromatic tea fields sparkle in neat rows.
Women in straw hats bend in a ballet, spry
as the bushes they scratch around, the happy
animals of their bodies, moving in sunshine.

Beans twist up bamboo stakes, the pinch
of manure and soil baking in the nostrils,
play of tomatoes, herbs, and birdsong,
names of every plant on the tongue.

Tractors rumble by, and whistling men
with shovels, who stop to urinate
in the woods. Often, a violent burst
of afternoon clouds, rain tamping dust.

They laugh during tea breaks. They work
long and hard. They work long and hard.
Their young have left for the cities, forgetting
the songs, the land, but sending money.

iii. Sichuan
Before leaving for the upper pastures,
the women are tossing flour to the wind,
toasting skies with strong barley beer,
chanting prayers, singing for the crops.

Men are readying the mills, fixing carts,
slapping backs, and singing their own
kinds of songs. The mules stamp
and snort, game for their bundles.

Husbands and wives bicker, shoot
glances and mutter curses, their hands
raw with work, a cruel sun pushing them
to move fast. All day, the loads roll in.

Tomorrow, the next day, and the next;
these shining meadows of sunrise,
awaiting the songs, the caress of hands
in the soil, with all the loyalty of a lover.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mobli Feature of My Photostream

Awesome sauce--Mobli, a social photo and video sharing website, featured my photostream on their blog today, as part of their #WhoIFollow series. Each week, they choose a different user, then feature ten photos from the account.

I really like using Mobli, way more so than Instagram. Users are quite active on Mobli, so it's nice to get some activity on all these travel photos I shoot. Anyway, thanks, Mobli! You can check out the feature at the link below, and follow the links there to get to my full photostream, if you're interested:

Umbrella ceiling display, Nanjing, China