Sunday, December 12, 2010

Getting Late....

Hi folks.  I’m sorry not to have followed up with more Music Theory for Poets, but I think I can explain why such posts are neither flowing from my keyboard or my guitar. 

As you know if you’ve been a regular reader here, The Spring Ghazals was published in February of this year, then re-published with better distribution in September.  The book is available on Lulu.com as well as Amazon & its international outlets.  It may be available from other sources as time goes on. 

However, in the time the book has been out, it’s sold seven copies.  In order to break even on the distribution package, I would need to sell 25.  That struck me as a realistic goal, but at this point it really is kind of a questionable proposition.  No books have been sold since some time in October.

Given this fact, I’m really questioning the purpose of this blog, which was intended to introduce people to the book in hopes that folks would buy it.  However, at this point the readership has dwindled to a handful of people at most, & I suspect a high percentage of those who do drop by (based on what I see in the stats) are folks who’ve already bought The Spring Ghazals.  Obviously, I appreciate those folks a lot, but the blog wasn’t intended to “preach to the choir,” as it were.

This being the case, I believe I’m going to lock the door & shutter the windows here, at least for the time being—not to say it’s permanent, but Robert Frost’s Banjo, my main blog, is a going concern & everything takes time.  I’d also like to finish my translation of Apollinaire’s Alcools (which is being posted in book order on my blog of the same name), & that project has stalled quite woefully.

I do think Music Theory for Poets is a good series, & I’m thinking of moving it over to Robert Frost’s Banjo, re-running the first two installments, & then adding more.  It’s possible that over time I’ll move most of the content from this blog to Robert Frost’s Banjo.  Given the much wider readership, perhaps I’ll have at least some more success marketing The Spring Ghazals from that site.

There are some other plans in my mind about The Spring Ghazals, & because of that, I’ll keep the blog online in case I want to return to it at some future point.  For now, I’ll just say thanks to the people who participated here, & especially to those who bought the book, & even more especially to the people who wrote wonderful reviews & interviews in an attempt to promote it. 

Hope to see you at Robert Frost’s Banjo!

Friday, December 10, 2010

‘Tis the Season

Happy Friday!  I’m sorry that I’ve been unable to post a new installment in the Music Theory for Poets series.  This week has been crazy, as I’ve been finishing up a recording project (for hire, not personal stuff) that took up much of the past few months.  Also, as some of you know, things on a personal front have been undergoing a sea-change.

However, I did want to take a moment to remind everyone that in this season of manic shopping, perhaps we could remember the artistic products produced by our blog comrades.  If you look at the Support Independent Artists links list in the right-hand column you can find everything from poetry to t-shirts & artwork, from music to comics & calendars.  The past few years, since entering the blog world, I’ve ensured that every year I purchase at least one or two gifts from fellow bloggers.  Not only are the gifts very good quality, but I know the money is going, at least in part, to someone I know (virtually at any rate!)

You can't go wrong with any of the selections in that list, & that’s only a small sample.  There’s a lot of great creative work being done by people in the blogosphere & twitterverse.  So while I can recommend anybody’s work that’s listed, I’d like to single out a few people who’ve given special support to The Spring Ghazals:

Aaron Wilson, fiction writer: his fiction appears in Cifiscape, vol. 1.  Looking for some good dystopian sci-fi?  Look no further!

Jacqueline T Lynch, fiction writer: Have someone on your list who’s looking for stories to fill her Kindle?  How about Ms Lynch’s excellent comic novel, Meet Me In Nuthatch? It’s available here.

Jessica Fox-Wilson, poet: her first volume of poems, Blameless Mouth is hot off the press!  You can buy it here, on Lulu.  The excerpts I've read are very good, & my own copy is on its way!


Kat Mortensen, poet: her first volume of poetry, shadowstalking, is available for purchase here, & it's a wonderful collection.  Know someone who likes witty rhymed poems?  This is just the ticket!

Sheila Graham-Smith/Tangerine Tree Press: Speaking of hot off the press, Tangerine Tree Press is right on the verge of issuing their first book, The Alchemy of Chance by Peter S. Brooks.  Check it out here.

& of course, I commend my own book to you.  If you have a poetry lover on your list, or if you yourself love poetry & are looking for a gift for yourself, please consider purchasing The Spring Ghazals.  It’s available on Lulu here, as well as on Amazon or Amazon.uk at this link & this link.

I hope to have a new installment in Music Theory for Poets posted before the weekend is over.  In the meantime: Happy shopping!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Spring Ghazals Reviewed on The Sill of The World

Many thanks to HKatz of The Sill of the World blog for an excellent & insightful review of The Spring Ghazals.  You can check out the review here.

If you aren’t familiar with this blog, you’re really missing out.  The quality of writing on The Sill of the World is high & HKatz’ The Week in Seven Words series is a unique concept that’s also executed with aplomb.  If you’d like to read HKatz’ observations on writing, you can check out my interview with her in the Writers Talk series right here.  There’s also a wonderful poem by HKatz accompanying that interview at this link.

Just a few reminders: The Spring Ghazals is now available on Amazon & Amazon.uk (& presumably other Amazon international sites, tho I haven’t confirmed that.)  It should be available on Barnes & Noble within the next several days.  If you haven’t purchased the book but follow this blog either on Blogger or thru Networked Blogs, please consider doing so.  If you have the book, please consider writing a review on Amazon &/or Lulu.  Giving the book a positive rating on either of these sites is also helpful.  The book’s Amazon page is here; the Lulu page here.  Of course, I’d always welcome other bloggers reviewing the book or setting up interviews with me about it.

Thanks for your interest!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Music Theory for Poets #2

Ready for some more music theory?  Remember, this is for poets (non-poets welcome too, of course), so we’re making this as painless as possible!

When I left you last, we were just starting to think about the difference between major & minor chords.  In fact, we discovered a chord called a major 7 that’s a combination of a major chord & a minor chord—music can be pretty witchy that way. 

OK—most folks know do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do.  It’s a major scale—what makes it major?  Actually, there are a few considerations, but for today we’ll just consider the most basic: that’s the interval between do & mi.  If you can sing “do-mi” you are singing what musical types call a “major third.”  If you have a piano or keyboard around the house, play a C followed by an E a couple of notes above it—again, a major third.  A plain old major chord contains just three notes: do-mi-sol.  That’s it!  Here’s that major third:

  C major chord-C minor chord by rfrostbanjo

Perhaps you have a guitar around.  Actually, since you’ll just be using one string, it doesn’t even matter too much whether it’s in tune.  Pluck the low E string—confusingly enough, the “low E” is the string that’s closest to your nose when holding the guitar in any conventional manner.  The high E is the string closest to your toes.  So pluck that low E, then fret the E string on the fourth fret.  In case you’re curious, that’s a G#.  E.  G#.  Major third!  Here’s what it sounds like:

  Guitar major 3rd by rfrostbanjo

Now there are a few differences between a major & minor scale, but for today, let’s just worry about chords.  & I can tell you there’s only one note that’s different between a major chord & a minor chord!  It’s hard to explain using do-re-mi; because the difference would be that rather than singing “mi,” you’d be singing “mi-flat.”  So if you have a piano, strike the C, then strike the Eb a note & a half above it (it’s the black note to the left of E natural).  That’s a minor third:

  Piano Minor 3rd by rfrostbanjo

With your guitar, pluck the E string, then fret the third fret.  You’re playing an E, then a G.  Just a plain old G natural, not G# as you were before.  That’s a minor third.

  Guitar minor 3rd by rfrostbanjo

So the notes of a minor chord are “do-mi flat-sol.”  “Do & Sol” remain the same.  This can be expressed as a pattern of “whole steps” & “half steps,” but this is music theory for poets, so we won’t worry about that right now.  Suffice it to say that sol is the fifth tone of the scale—you can see that easily enough: do-re-mi-fa-sol.  If you’re still at your piano, you will find the “sol” for C is G.  If you play C-E-G simultaneously, you’re playing a C major chord.  If you play C-E flat-G simultaneously, you’re playing a C minor chord.

  C major chord-C minor chord by rfrostbanjo

Now back to the guitar.  We know that if E is “do,” then G sharp is “mi.”  If E is “do” & a G natural is played, it becomes minor.  The “sol” of E is B natural—that would on the 7th fret of the low E string (guitar players—the 7th fret is always the “sol” or fifth of the open string!—also true of banjos, ukes, bass guitars, mandolins, etc)  So E-G sharp-B is E major; E-G-B is E minor.

  Guitar E major E minor by rfrostbanjo

If you recall last time, I mentioned that a major 7 chord adds the tone “ti” from the major scale.  That makes sense because if you count to seven, you’ll see that “ti” is the seventh tone of do-re-mi.  Now it so happens that if you play a C major scale, you’ll hear that B natural is the “ti” note.  Now think about it: a C major 7 contains the notes C-E-G-B.  Think about the C major chord: C-E-G.  The E minor chord? E-G-B.  See how that works?

In the poem “How High the Moon,” I wrote:

 “a trailer truck on Highway 95, the glass slide whooshing guitar strings, a riff existing somewhere between the major & minor modes”

&

“the glass slide existing somewhere between the major & minor modes”

There are a number of guitar riffs, particularly associated with the blues—& therefore by extension to rock & jazz & even country that incorporate the ease with which the guitar can move back & forth between major & minor chords, especially in certain keys.  One of the simplest is this, in the key of E: 

  Guitar major minor strum riff by rfrostbanjo

Here are a few I particularly like in the key of D (with the bass string tuned down to D):

  Guitar drop D riffs by rfrostbanjo

Of course using a slide—which regular readers of Robert Frost’s Banjo know from my Monday Morning Blues series—enables the player to move between tones (& actually even in micro-tones of the established scale) without actually pressing down the strings.  So moving back between the major & minor thirds—again in the key of D, on a guitar tuned to an open major D chord (hey, you know what that means now), sounds like this:

  JH-D slide riffs by rfrostbanjo

That’s all for now.  Next time?  Extended chords!

"The Spring Ghazals" on Amazon!

Happy Wednesday, all!  Great news—The Spring Ghazals is now available on both Amazon & Amazon.uk.  It doesn't appear to be on Barnes & Noble yet, but I'll continue to check into that.  The links are as follows: Amazon is here; Amazon.uk is here.  If people want me to check on other international Amazon sites, I'll be happy to do so—just let me know.

I know a few people experienced problems trying to place an order with Lulu, & I'm hoping the process works more smoothly thru Amazon.  If you want to buy yourself or the poetry lover in your life a holiday present, now's the time!

In other news: fans of Music Theory for Poets: don't fret (pun intended)!  There will be a new post up later today.

We now return you to our regular programming.

  

Monday, November 29, 2010

Music Theory For Poets #1

There are a lot of musical terms in The Spring Ghazals—makes sense: in addition to being a poet, I’m also a musician & music teacher.  When writing lyric poetry I believe the poet’s senses should be engaged, & music is certainly one of the things I hear the most.

However, with some exceptions, the musical references that come up in The Spring Ghazals have less to do with “songs” than with musical moments or musical figures.  In particular, it has to do with chords & scales—after all, these are the building blocks from which music is made.

When talking about chords & scales, one can toss a lot of numbers & letters around.  This is true because a scale, in addition to being do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do can also be expressed in the numbers 1 thru 8; it can also be expressed alphebtically in letters between A & G, with & without sharps & flats.  & since chords are based on various scales, they also are expressed in letters & numbers.

But this is music theory for poets (& if you’re not a self-professed poet, that’s ok—we’re glad to have you along).  Let’s not worry so much about the theories involving various intervals, & instead let’s concentrate on what things sound like.

For instance, one chord that gets mentioned a few times is a chord called a “major 7.”  Here are the examples:

Grace #2

—& here comes another star & it’s just as you say the stars are shattered glass like a C major 7 chord that won’t stop ringing

Helix #5

A flock of guinea hens cackling in the cottonwood
A C major seven a D minor seven transposed a major third
A divided highway at 3:00 a.m.

Cloudland

A daydream sweetly dissonant as a major seven chord swelling in a room—

& here’s what the chord C major 7 sounds like:

  C Major 7 by rfrostbanjo

Isn’t that a pretty sound?  There are several ways to play this chord on a guitar, & they all sound nice, but when I was writing the poem I was thinking of the first way of playing it: low on the neck with lots of deep open strings.  I can tell you that there are four unique tones in a major 7 chord: do, mi, sol & ti.  If you’re good at singing do-re-mi you can probably sing this chord.  The fact that it’s a “C major 7” simply means that in this case, “do” is C.  When do becomes a different note, some ways of sounding the chord will seem a bit different—for instance, you can listen to a D major 7, an F major 7 & an A major 7 & hear that there’s something a bit different about each, tho the overall sound quality is the same.  That’s because the notes are sounded in different order in relationship to each other depending on which guitar strings are fretted & which (if any) are left open. 

  Major 7 in different keys by rfrostbanjo

Now this is a “major chord.” We can put aside for a moment the different intervals that distinguish between a major & a minor chord; but if you have any musical background to speak of, you probably know that a major chord sounds—well—more “happy,” more “bright,” more “positive,” while a minor chord sounds more “sad,” more “dark,” more “negative.”  Yet the major 7 chord has a kind of melancholy ring to it, doesn’t it? 

I do think most folks hear this.  It’s a bittersweet chord.  If you listen to bossa nova music, you hear this chord a lot in various keys—just as one example, a major 7 chord is the first chord played in the song “The Girl from Impanema.”

OK, so if this is a major chord, why does it have that bittersweet edge?  I’ll tell you.  Because if you broke the four tones of the chord down into parts & rearranged them, you could make both a full major chord & a full minor chord.  Wild, isn’t it?  In the case of the C maj 7, you have all the constiuents of both a regular old C major chord & a regular old Em chord.  You can hear these—then hear how the C major 7 combines them! 

  C major E minor by rfrostbanjo

That’s enough for today—almost; you can check out yours truly playing the song “Rubato Kangaroo in the final mp3.  I wrote this guitar part several years ago, & guess what?  It starts off with a C major 7 chord!  


  Rubato Kangaroo-guitar by rfrostbanjo 

Next time around (probably Wednesday morning): what makes a major chord “major” & a minor chord “minor?”  Hope to see you then.

All sounds recorded using my well-loved ’58 Harmony archtop as seen in the pic!  Except "Rubato Kangaroo" was recorded with an electric guitar.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pasta Alleluia

Lots of people I haven’t understood in this lifetime—
& I haven’t seen olive trees gesturing in breezes
overlooking the Mediterranean like evacuees from Bullfinch

except unmoving—the people I haven’t
understood in this lifetime but loved—& holding my hand a few
inches over the sauté pan I can tell the oil’s ready for the

garlic Eberle grew in the two rows she harvests in June—because the
people I loved I haven’t understood, I was busy thinking
about them—lightly browned, the garlic’s set aside, & chopped morels

our friends left for us added now with ground pepper—of all the
people I haven’t understood & have said I loved
—as the mushrooms wilt & soak up oil—

I haven’t walked where the forest burnt last summer, that’s
where the morels have sprouted amongst the blackened
lodgepole pine—of all the people I’ve loved

nearly the best & almost the worst & not
understood for a minute—& Eberle’s pensive in her garden
picking the spring mix—a simple balsamic dressing—of

all the people I haven’t understood & wanted to—
the chopped Kalamatas add lots of salt—about two dozen—&
the pine nuts & the oregano I never measure—

& Dani says, “I wouldn't wish writing poetry on anyone"—
tho there’s nothing else just now—keep the water at
a simmer so it’s ready for the pasta & it’s time

now—of all the people I haven’t loved well—a
guitar song I wrote for Eberle after a quarrel—the lonesome
train tracks leading everywhere past the Russian Olive groves including

Los Angeles—on the guitar she gave me like
love itself she gave me—of all the people I’ve loved yes I’ve loved
some of them like a guitar perhaps—salting the water—

& there’s another language amongst people who love
& a language to speak about it—talking all night like an
alleluia like a mandocello—

the people I haven’t understood—the pasta’s drained &
tossed—this is so far the hardest poem
before the next poem in this lifetime

Jack Hayes
© 2010

Pasta Alleluia – the Recipe

Time for another poetic recipe from the pages of The Spring Ghazals, wouldn’t you say?

I remember the first time I heard about Pasta Alleluia.  I was living in San Francisco & hanging out one day with old poebiz pal Jonah Winter.  What was the context of the conversation?  It may have had to do with eating well on the cheap.   Needless to say, the name “Pasta Alleluia” really stuck in my mind.

It turns on that the name Pasta Alleluia actually derives from the Leone family—Robert Frost's Banjo readers know L.E. Leone—& it's a Leone-ism for pasta aglio é olio, which as you may know is pasta with garlic & olive oil.  As such, it’s a very basic but very tasty dish; & as L.E. Leone's brother, Chris Leone has described in some detail to me, it can be expanded upon with ingredients ranging from humble to exotic.  In the years that I’ve experimented with Pasta Alleluia, I’ve come up with the following:

Ingredients:
About 1/3 cup of good olive oil: Sorry, but most of the measurements/quantities for this recipe are pretty impressionistic. 
Several cloves of garlic, minced: I’ve used as many as 7-8 cloves of garlic, but Eberle & I love the stuff.  Still, I wouldn’t cut that down too much, since the infusion of aglio in the olio is the basis of the whole recipe.
Ground black pepper to taste: Don’t skimp
A pinch or so of salt: Remember—the olives are salty!
About a cup of chopped mushrooms: or perhaps a tad more.  We’ve used the generic store-bought mushrooms, & fresh morels & the mini portabellas, & they’re all good.
Around two dozen olives, pitted & halved: Kalamatas are the best, but any old olive will do (except I avoid the canned variety).
Roughly 1/4 cup of roasted pine nuts
About a teaspoon of oregano
About a tablespoon of basil
1 lb. of spaghetti (or linguini)

That’s it—& remember: everything after the salt (except the pasta of course!) is optional, & you could substitute any number of items; sun-dried tomatoes would be wonderful, for instance.

Heat the oil on medium & then add the minced garlic (I also reduce the heat a bit when I add the garlic).  Sauté the garlic for a few minutes until it’s golden, then remove the garlic from the oil using a slotted spoon.  I keep the garlic aside in a small dish, because I add it back in again at the very end, but this isn’t absolutely necessary.  Then, add black pepper, salt & the chopped mushrooms; sauté the mushrooms for several minutes, then add the olives & the oregano.  You could also add the basil now if you’re using dried basil.  If you’re using fresh basil, wait until just before serving.  Again, sauté for several minutes, then add the pine nuts.  Throughout this process, I use a medium low heat.  After I add the pine nuts, I turn the heat down & cover. 

This sort of oil-based sauce doesn’t like a long cooking time, so by now you should have your water boiling & your pasta ready to cook.  Cook your spaghetti as you usually would, & when there’s a couple of minutes left for the pasta add the garlic back in (if you wish).  Also add the fresh basil right before tossing the pasta & the sauce.  Drain the pasta, & toss it with the oil sauce.

Buon appetito!  My poem “Pasta Alleluia” follows in the next post.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Writers Talk Interview!

Happy Wednesday, folks!  Just a quick note to let you know that yours truly has taken the Writers Talk interview plunge.  You can check the interview out right here on Robert Frost's Banjo—lots of discussion of The Spring Ghazals for your reading pleasure.


& there's some free content, too!  You can see all four "Grace" poems from The Spring Ghazals on the Writers Talk blog at this link.  If you haven't had a chance to read the book yet, the "Grace" sequence is made up of four prose poems that punctuate the books' four sections.


Hope you have a lovely day.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Macaroni & Cheese (the poem)

Macaroni & Cheese

A C augmented chord huffing autumn thru a 12-button accordion
          when
the evenings are guinea hen gray
                                            we have seen so much & forever is so
short a time really the gusts coming down off Council Mountain full of
geese & swans & now it’s March & you said
“You’re making a white sauce,” incredulously because I didn’t know
          any better

Yellow marimba mallets bouncing down a chromatic bass line the
          willow
tree you showed me where to plant is grown into goldfinches chirping
          all May—
6 tablespoons of butter melting in a copper pot with
                                            flour black pepper paprkia
the willow’s leaves the china jade & honey agate rosary beads the
tree of life—time is moving chromatic & crisp & hollow
along the wooden keys—“Dreaming on clouds of butter fat” you said—

Something about our life & the recipes found in a 1933 Fannie Farmer
Cookbook is both the same & alien—whisking the roux & the white
          white
sky in July the smoke from the Snake River valley fires
inexorable as a freight train crossing Oregon
                                            as things breaking down
inside & 3 cups of milk which can be 2% fat if you wish

& things breaking down inside the body that is—the milk & flour
thickening in the whisk—a syncopated flute solo starting on low
E recalling how Yellow-headed Blackbirds
                                            sing guttural & vanish
“Is it really 6 cups of grated cheese?” you asked, astonished.
Yes I said yes & I meant it everlasting i.e. a lifetime is how many years the chokecherries scarlet in autumn the frozen fog sculpting the
          willow in

December the juncos foraging for seeds across the deck a layer of
macaroni (cooked al denté 1st – a layer of cheese—a layer of macaroni topped with cheese & white sauce—repeat—the stoneware
          pot baked at 400 roughly
45 minutes—you know when it’s done when you see it—
                                            I’ve said everything I meant
to say to you—a bowed bass trembling against your body—I’ve really
          said nothing

Jack Hayes
© 2010
 

Macaroni & Cheese (the recipe)

If you’ve read The Spring Ghazals, or even if you only read one or more of the four fine interweb reviews of the book, you know that food plays a significant role in the poems, especially (& obviously) in the “Kitchen Poems” section.  In a nod to that, I thought I’d share a couple of my recipes (yes, I’m the comfort food cook!) for your pleasure, as well as sharing the poems about those foods.  Today’s offering: macaroni & cheese.  This post is a revised version of an early post on Robert Frost’s Banjo.

As a passable cook, I have a knack— or so I’ve been told—for making a mean version of what may be the king (or queen?) of comfort food, macaroni & cheese—thank goodness, because this regal dish has really been bastardized by the various frozen & boxed varieties now being sold in a supermarket near you; & frankly, even a fantastic soul food joint like the late, great Gravy’s in Daly City, CA served a side of mac & cheese that was no better than “ok” (they did serve the best fried oysters ever & amazing fried chicken, though).

Upfront, I should say that my recipe didn’t spring, like Athena, fully imagined from my brain. No, it relies a lot on the Fanny Farmer Cookbook, 9th edition, revised 1951, which for my money is the best comfort food & pie cookbook going. So if you wanted, you could kind of parse the same thing out from that source; or if you wanted, you could pretty much get the recipe from my poem “Macaroni & Cheese” dedicated to my dear wife Eberle—see next post! But to save you the trouble:

First, don’t be afraid of the quantities of dairy goods you see. As Eberle says, eating macaroni & cheese is “like floating on clouds of butterfat.” So you need to grate about 6 cups of cheddar cheese—I prefer sharp; & you know, the cheese doesn’t have to be artisanal, just pretty ok.  In the meantime, cook 4 cups of elbow macaroni just as you normally would— typically 9-11 minutes.

Now it’s time to make the white sauce, which is one of two keys to the whole macaroni & cheese thing. Melt 6 Tbsp of butter in a saucepan, then whisk in a mixture made of the following:

6 Tbsp flour
½ tsp of ground mustard
¼ tsp of paprika
ground pepper to taste—I like lots

Whisk this to a smooth consistency, then slowly add in 6 cups of milk (see, everything except the macaroni is in multiples of three—what does that mean?), whisking all the while—steady & consistent whisking for those not familiar with white sauce (steady & consistent whisking also for those who ARE familiar with white sauce, but we presume they know this). Bring this to a boil, whisking all the while, & let the sauce boil for two minutes, then reduce the heat & let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes (DON’T stop whisking!) Now those of you who are real cooks no doubt have gas stoves, & so have no problem reducing heat quickly & efficiently. For those of us with electric ranges this isn’t so straightforward. What I do is have a burner already turned to low heat, & switch the sauce to that burner after the 2 minutes of boiling—works like a charm, because if you’ve ever tried to deal with boiling milk while waiting for a red-hot electric burner to lose temperature—well, it’s not a pretty sight. By the way, having a second burner in reserve also works like a charm for rice made on an electric range—it’s pretty much foolproof.

By now, you should have your oven heated to 400 degrees. You assemble the ingredients as follows in an oven-safe pot or casserole (more on that in a moment):

layer of macaroni
layer of cheese
layer of macaroni
layer of cheese
layer of white sauce
layer of macaroni
layer of cheese
layer of white sauce

At least that’s the number of layers I get in my stoneware oven pot; & let me tell you, if there’s any chance you can use stoneware, please do so. I’ve also made this for my folks at their old home in Florida in a glass casserole, & while it was certainly good (they liked it a lot), you don’t get quite the same killer crust with glass as with stoneware. The pot you see in the pic at the top of the post—or something like it—is pretty crucial to this recipe.

Bake the macaroni & cheese uncovered at 400 degrees for about 40-45 minutes. You know the whole spiel about oven temps varying, etc. etc. so that’s a caveat. You want to see a golden brown top to indicate that a good crust has formed, but ideally you still want to see it bubbling a bit, too—not dried out.

& in the next post: “Macaroni & Cheese”—the Poem!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review on The Tangerine Tree Press Blog

Good morning, dear readers!  I wanted to take a moment to let you know that there’s a new review of The Spring Ghazals posted on The Tangerine Tree Press blog.  Please drop by this wonderful & literate site when you have a chance: the link to the review is here.

The Tangerine Tree Press blog is maintained by Sheila Graham-Smith, & Ms Graham-Smith did a beautiful job with her review.  She also gives the full text of another poem from the book, “January Morning” (from the Cloudland section), as well as providing an articulate & insightful reading of the poem, bringing all sorts of marvelous elements to her critique.  In case you were curious, the pic leading off this post is a nod to “January Morning”—I’m happy to say this isn’t the view outside our door this morning!

Finally, one last reminder: today is the last day to use the coupon code LEAF305 to receive 15% off The Spring Ghazals when purchasing the book at Lulu.  The offer runs thru 11:59 p.m. today—I just re-checked the original email & noticed they don’t give the time zone on that—a bit unhelpful, but there you have it.  The Spring Ghazals is available at this link.

Hope you take advantage of the offer before it expires, & really hope you take a few minutes to read Ms Graham-Smith’s excellent review.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Interview on the Tangerine Tree Press Blog

OK, so now I’m interrupting my own commercial to let you know, dear readers, that there’s an interview with yours truly about The Spring Ghazals on the Tangerine Tree Press blog—you can read the interview right here.  I found the Tangerine Tree Press questions both challenging & insightful & am really happy with how the interview turned out.  Many thanks to Sheila Graham-Smith for the fine work she did on this!

Admitted: my timing on these posts was less than perfect.  But please do check it out!

Time Is Running Out! & Other Thoughts

Pardon this commercial interruption, folks, but let’s face it—a big purpose behind this blog is to try & get The Spring Ghazals into as many people’s hands as possible. 

So, here’s the scoop—if you’re thinking of buying the book, what better time to do it than when you can purchase The Spring Ghazals for $10.20 instead of $12.00?  All you need to do is enter coupon code LEAF305 between now & 11:59 p.m. on November 15th when you checkout with The Spring Ghazals at Lulu.  Here’s the link for purchasing the book.

I do hope that you’ll consider buying the book.  It’s true that much of the content (tho not quite all) is scattered far & wide across the Robert Frost’s Banjo blog.  However, a series of poems posted in somewhat random order on a blog that includes posts on everything from recipes to musical instrument history to essays on women’s literature—well, they just don’t add up to a book of poetry. 

& The Spring Ghazals is very much a book.  The ordering of the poems—I believe—really informs the book’s themes.  Even the “front matter” is important to understanding what the book is about.  None of these things can be reproduced on a blog in the same way that they can be reproduced in a book.

Remember when people talked about the death of vinyl records?  Sometimes it occurs to me that the “fate” of books may turn out ultimately to be much the same.  Right now, vinyl lps are often sold as a premium item by artists such as Amanda Palmer who are really using the new digital industries to take control of their art, independent of the corporate recording industry.  Poetry publishing of course is much different than the music business—even for corporate publishing houses, poetry books are at best loss leaders.  In some ways, the proliferation of poetry blogs may in fact have literally “devalued” books—after all, if the content is free—even if the form it’s delivered in may not be as satisfying—why pay? 

I hope that’s not the majority rationale, I really do.  I believe The Spring Ghazals is in its own, no doubt small way, a beautiful thing.  It is a beautiful thing because of the poetry it contains—which can be found for free—but it’s also a beautiful thing because of the way it brings the poems together.  That’s the “premium” content.

From time to time, I will post poems from the book on this blog so interested potential readers can get a “taste.”  I don’t foresee making the content freely available all in one place in book order, however.

So, once again, hope you take advantage of this offer from Lulu in the next few days.  & next time—within the next couple of days—I’ll return to non-commercial programming!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Public & Private


I've been too much "in my own head" lately as a very dear old friend pointed out to me yesterday.  These days I've wondered quite a bit about the "personal" or "private" circumstances that seemed to compel my writing The Spring Ghazals.  I think of these things, & I think about how these things aren't really "private" any longer, not simply thru the publication of the book—tho that fact certainly complicates the questions I've had—but also thru this blog & other avenues of promoting The Spring Ghazals.  These considerations, still unanswered in my own mind, have led me to create some questions for you, dear readers.  I'm hoping your answers may bring me some clarity:
 

  • How do you—as fellow writers—deal with writing about life experiences that involve other people, especially people with whom you’re no longer in touch?
  • Are you ever concerned about “private/interior” realities being made public, whether the writing appears on a blog or in a book or is simply circulated amongst friends?
  • Are there ways that you attempt to censor yourself—either consciously or unwittingly—when writing about severe emotional states?
  • Do you think that “confessional poetry”—using the term more loosely than the standard definition—is potentially therapeutic, or does it, as Plato said, only “water the passions?”
  • If you do or ever had, engaged in “confessional” writing (using this broad term, where “confessional” means something like dealing with intense emotional states or circumstances) are you conscious of constructing personae for either the “I” or other “characters” that distances them from actual persons, or do you tend to take a more “head-on” approach?
  • Do you believe this type of “confessional” writing is exploitative, either of the writer’s own self or the selves of those she/he is writing about?
  • For those of you who have read all or part of The Spring Ghazals: were there points at which this private/public interface seemed uncomfortable, or did the poems have enough of an appeal beyond the specific circumstances of their composition.
  • In the case of a “confessional poetry” where there is a broad appeal, what do you think creates the broad appeal?  In the case of a “confessional poetry” where you get more of a sense of “exhibitionism,” what is lacking?

These are some things on my mind, & I’d love to hear from readers on as many or few of these topics as interest them!


Pic shows my study in Charlottesville, VA in 1986

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Virtual Reading #4 (& Questions)

For your listening pleasure: a couple of new recordings of poems from the “Kitchen Poems” section of The Spring Ghazals.  “French Toast” was one of the first few poems written in the entire manuscript, while “Greek Salad” was the last poem written for this section.  The poem “Fondue,” which appeared in an earlier virtual reading is also embedded in the player in case you missed it the first time around or simply would like to hear it again.  Don’t forget: there’s a discussion of my poem “Fondue” by writer Aaron Wilson on his Soulless Machine blog.  You can read Mr Wilson’s post about it here, & you can also see a video I made as background for the reading.

Speaking of backgrounds for readings: I’m tossing around the idea of creating musical settings as background for some of the poems from The Spring Ghazals & then recording the complete package to issue as a cd.  While I realize the readership here is a pretty select sample, I’d be curious if such an item would interest people, either in concept or in actuality.   Or would a cd of “just poetry” be more your cup of tea?  Since Lulu also produces cds, I’m thinking eventually I could make this into a one-stop shopping experience.

Of course, as you will hear, I know I need to invest in a pop filter before I go any further; using our condensor mic I just can’t keep the “p’s” from distorting & still keep the rest of the levels normal.  But that’s a relatively inexpensive item—around $20.  But I also noticed this page has a pretty ingenious homemade design which (per the article) can be built for $5.50.

A gentle reminder: you have less than 10 days to get The Spring Ghazals from Lulu.com at 15% off the $12 cover price.  The discount comes out of Lulu’s pocket, by the way!  Simply enter code LEAF305 at checkout.  You can purchase The Spring Ghazals here.

If you have a moment, please do weigh in on the cd idea; I’m tossing around various musical ideas related to the poems as we begin planning this week for next summer’s fine arts extravaganza in McCall! 

I’d also be interested in any suggestions about topics readers would like me to address here.

Hope you have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What Do I Want?

It’s been wonderful to see the positive reviews of The Spring Ghazals from fellow bloggers; I’ve appreciated the time & effort you folks have put in so much.  It’s gratifying also to see that other folks “get” what I was about & find these poems moving—the latter is particularly gratifying because in so many ways the poems in The Spring Ghazals treat personal—some might even say, private—matters. 

Because I ask myself what exactly it is I want or expect from these poems now that they’re gathered together in a book that people can buy—people, at least in theory, who know nothing about me or about any of the circumstances that led to the poems being written.  Of course, since I have made these poems into a book & made that book available to the general public, that must be what I want.

The “Kitchen Poems” were the first poems written in The Spring Ghazals manuscript, & at first these only intended to be shared amongst friends.  Then later, in the midst of a lot of personal distress, I started the Robert Frost’s Banjo blog.  At first I didn’t intend to post any of my poems there, tho I did write some prose poems in the first couple of months that eventually were gathered into the “Cloudland” section of The Spring Ghazals.  & as the blog began to develop a readership, I slowly began to post my own work—poems from my San Francisco days at first.  The poems drew a positive response from readers.

In the spring of 09, again in the midst of quite a lot of personal turmoil, I started writing the actual ghazals.  Without even as much comment as I’ve offered on this blog as to what was behind them, I started posting them on Robert Frost’s Banjo.  Again, they were met with enthusiasm, & I was grateful for this.

Now the poems have moved from the flickering computer monitor to ink & paper.  They are available at a price.  I ask myself these days—especially as sales still remain extremely slow—what that means & how it fits with what I “want” for these poems.  I’m not naïve—I never thought that I’d make real money off the book.  Did I think I might sell, say, dozens of books?  Yes, I did.  Perhaps when the book moves onto Amazon & Barnes & Noble that still will be true.  But at this point, I think I need to assess what a realistic idea of “success” is.

I wrote this book in a state of emotional upheaval, it’s true.  Of course, in the composing of any individual poem, there’s something like joy—there’s the feeling of being lost & outside oneself, looking at one’s own experiences from a more focused & intent place.  One isn’t in “distress” in the moments of writing anymore than one is abysmally depressed while actually playing the blues.  Does writing poetry cure this sort of distress, as singing may “take your blues away?”  I can’t say that I’ve ever found it to be a long term solution—in fact, there have been times in my life when I’ve thought that far from helping one to surpass distress poetry—at least in my personal experience of it—actually seems to foster it.  I don’t say that this is true for everyone—perhaps not even for most.  It has been true for me.

So what do I want?  In an ideal world, dear reader, I would have liked the person to whom the book is dedicated, the EG I wrote about earlier on this blog, to have the poems & to like them.  The fact that this isn’t the case is beyond my control.  Beyond that, tho, I believe in these poems as good poems—I believe that, despite their personal origin, they can move & interest others.  But now I realize that to a large extent, whether this happens is also out of my control.

It seems there’s an act of letting go that’s called for—perhaps in some way, that’s what’s “wanted,” even if it’s not what “I want.”  The Spring Ghazals have gone past me—even if they only ever find their hands into a small handful of people who read & enjoy them, they are out of my hands now.  Yes, I’ll continue to do what I realistically can to draw people’s attention to them.  But after that, this is all between you—the people who somehow encounter the book—& the book.

Letting go—as it says in the book: “this is so far the hardest poem/before the next poem in this lifetime”

Pic: To add a bit of levity to the proceedings, Hogarth’s “The
Distrest Poet”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Spring Ghazals Reviewed on "New England Travels"

I'm so happy to announce another wonderful review of The Spring Ghazals, this time by writer Jacqueline T. Lynch on her New England Travels blog.  You can read Ms. Lynch's review here

Jacqueline T. Lynch is a prolific blogger & writer in her own right.  She writes Another Old Movie Blog, which is a litertate & incisive look at classic film; Tragedy & Comedy in New England, her look at regional theater; & New England Travels, her virtual tour thru her native New England—a region I'm also from, & which is of course depicted in several poems in The Spring Ghazals.

In addition to her blogging activities, Jacqueline T. Lynch has published articles and short fiction in regional and national publications, including the anthology “60 Seconds to Shine: 161 Monologues from Literature” (Smith & Kraus, 2007),  North & South, Civil War Magazine, History Magazine & several plays with Eldridge Publishing, Brooklyn Publishers, & Dramatic Publishing Company, one of which has been translated into Dutch & produced in the Netherlands.    Her novel Meet Me in Nuthatch is now available as an ebook through Amazon.com & Smashwords, & her recent short story Interfacing is also available as a Smashwords selection here.

If you'd like to learn more about this talented writer, please check Robert Frost's Banjo on Thursday, as Ms Lynch will be participating in the Writers Talk interview series!

Finally, many thanks to Jacqueline, with whom I've had a long-standing cyber-friendship that actually went "3-D" when we were able to meet last March during a cross-country trip I took back east.  I so appreciate her support, as well as support from so many other friends from blogs & Twitter & Facebook.

& remember: you can still purchase The Spring Ghazals on Lulu for 15% off thru November 15th by entering the code LEAF305 at check-out!

Pic shows the Vermont house where I grew up

Sunday, October 31, 2010

“Fondue”

[Hey, everybody—how about a little free content today?  Here’s the poem Aaron Wilson wrote about in his review on Soulless Machine, which you can read here.  At Aaron’s blog you can also hear yours truly reading this poem, as well as watch a video version.  Enjoy!]

Fondue
A curlew whooping & dipping between the dimensions you look up but you don’t see it the ghost swooping into the past & future the present’s
so rarely here in my hands the washed-out yellow & purple 

twilight that lasts forever in early July
                                                                a caquelon first rubbed
with a garlic clove then melting raclette I
want to ask everyone what they want in this poem I can’t 
it’s all up to me now the heat lightning the crusts of
bread the swallows zigzagging toward every cardinal 
point the poems
I wrote & may write & haven’t written & won’t the
words you speak when you’re standing outside yourself &
wonder why all the while
                            dipping between dimensions the pale 
purple twilight melts into the space-time continuum
just another Star Trek: the Next Generation episode the USS 
Enterprise suddenly shifting at light speeds into the wrong place at 
the right time or vice-versa—this happens all the time
the consistent heat that keeps the cheese from burning
it could be Gruyère stirred constantly the ghostly twilight yellow 
melting—tinges of purple—it could be raclette the white sky 
overhead awash with curlews you can’t see I want to ask everyone 
what comes next in this poem it’s up to me of course—the words 
you regret—the words we don’t say of course we mean them so 
urgently we say something else a joke perhaps dipping into
the past the future present’s so rarely here—the natural sustain 
of an archtop acoustic’s low E string humming for seconds & 
seconds until you damp it
                                                                by accident the curlew dipping 
between the Gruyère & raclette patches of sky its call
melting into the poems I won’t write
                                                                        in this pale purple twilight 
at some point I’ve held everything in my hands at some points
I’ve held nothing why can’t I ask everyone what they want in this 
poem a thin crust of toasted cheese—not burnt—what remains
the sky as purple as a bruise in the east—There was a
Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode like this

Jack Hayes
© 2010
Just a quick reminder: you can purchase The Spring Ghazals here, & from now thru November 11th you can buy the book for 15% off by entering coupon code LEAF305 at checkout!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Reviewed on Soulless Machine

Good morning, folks.  I’m happy to announce that writer Aaron Wilson has written a really nice review of The Spring Ghazals on his always interesting Soulless Machine blog.  In the review, Aaron focuses on one poem from the “Kitchen Poems” section of the book, “Fondue”—you can hear yours truly reading it on Soulless Machine as well as seeing my first ever attempt at making a video setting for one of my poems.  I want to thank Aaron so much for his review, & also for suggesting the video, which I was a bit hesitant to try at first, but ultimately was quite fun.  Following this week, with reviews by Aaron Wilson & by Jessica Fox-Wilson, I have to say: Minneapolis rocks!

In other news: Many thanks to Raquel Matos for her great suggestions in the comments section of yesterday’s post.  Anyone who’s interested in self-publishing really should check out what Raquel had to say.  I’d also welcome more feedback on that post, should any of you wish to weigh in on what works & what doesn’t when self-publishing.  By the way, I recommend Raquel Matos’ blogs, Out of the Past—A Classic Film Blog & Thoughtful Eating.   I’ve followed both for a long while & always enjoy reading what Raquel has to say.

Following Raquel’s advice, I joined Goodreads & submitted an application to be recognized as an author.  As it turns out, The Spring Ghazals already was a Goodreads selection.  My author page (pending approval) is here—of course, I only wrote three of the books—the first three in the column. 

I’m also slowly working on a book trailer (again, thanks to Ms Matos) & hope to get that completed over the weekend.

I want to say that I’ve really been touched by the support I’ve received from folks online—it’s really been quite wonderful.  & finally, if you’re thinking of buying the book but haven’t gotten around to it, remember: between now & November 15th you can buy the book for 15% off by entering the coupon code LEAF305 at checkout on Lulu.  The Spring Ghazals is available for purchase right here.

Have a great Friday, & don’t forget to swing by Soulless Machine



Curious about the pic?  Head on over to Soulless Machine!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Works?

After a string of mostly “promotional posts,” I’m returning to an earlier thread on this blog—namely, the logistics of self-publishing. & this is a post that really requires audience participation.

I started this blog just a month ago, & The Spring Ghazals (book) has been available for about 3 weeks. There have been a number of positives in that time frame: the blog has had a very respectable number of page views & I’m gratified by the folks who’ve chosen to follow &/or subscribe. I’ve been touched by the efforts of poet Jessica Fox-Wilson to promote the book on her blog with both a review & an interview, as well as by the efforts of Kat Mortensen to get the word out thru her blogs (here & here). In addition, I appreciate that several folks on Twitter have gone out of their way to help me get the word out. Despite the efforts of these good folks—cyber friends one & al
l—the book has only sold a half dozen copies to date. This is a bit disappointing. My expectations are low (at least I thought they were low), but they are actually signficantly higher than this.

So I ask readers who have self-published: what “marketing strategies” (for lack of a better term) have worked for you? I know there are a few folks in the regular readership who have already self-published their writing, & I’m very open to suggestions. I am aware that readings are a good idea, & I’m working on that. There is zero poetry reading culture in my location, which is a very rural & conservative enclave—& in the west, rural means big distances between places. Given the realities of my location, I’m particularly interested in things I can do via the interwebs. I’d also be interested in knowing anything you tried that didn’t work so well.

This information won’t just be helpful for me—I know of at least two readers who are actively working on books that they’re going to self-publish; I’m sure the experience of others would be welcome to many.

Also: I’ve heard from a few folks about problems purchasing the book on Lulu, but only know the details in one case. Has anyone else had problems with this? If so, please let me know, with as many details as possible so I can follow-up with Lulu. You can contact me at rfrostbanjo@gmail.com

Thanks! I really do appreciate your support & your help!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Virtual Reading #3 & an Interview


The virtual reading continues here on The Spring Ghazals with two more poems from the “ghazals” section of the book. Both of these poems found their titles in the works of others—“don’t think twice” obviously coming from the old Bob Dylan tune & “what can we talk about that will take all night?” coming from a powerful Kenneth Patchen poem titled “Do the Dead Know What Time It Is?” Patchen is a personal favorite. The poem “don’t think twice” falls in the middle third of the ghazal sequence, while “what can we talk about that will take all night” falls in the final third.

Speaking of the latter poem, you can read what I have to say about it, & much more over on poet Jessica Fox-Wilson’s wonderful blog everything feeds process. As a follow-up to her excellent review of The Spring Ghazals, Jessica asked me for an interview, & I was only too happy to oblige
—you can read the interview here. She came up with some good questions—challenging too! I really appreciate her efforts in helping to promote the book.

Remember: if you use coupon code LEAF305 at checkout, you can purchase The Spring Ghazals on Lulu for 15% any time thru November 15th!

Hope you enjoy the poems & the interview.




Pic shows roses on the pergola at Swannanoa, Virginia-detail from a larger photo

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Save Some Dough! & More Besides!


OK, here’s the commercial: thru the largesse of Lulu, you can get The Spring Ghazals at 15% off from now until November 15th! Here are the details as presented by Lulu herself:

Disclaimer: Use coupon code LEAF305 at checkout and receive 15% off THE SPRING GHAZALS. Maximum savings with this promotion is $10. You can only use the code once per account, and you can't use this coupon in combination with other coupon codes. Sorry, self-purchases (buying books that you've published) aren't eligible. This great offer ends on November 15, 2010 at 11:59 PM so try not to procrastinate! While very unlikely we do reserve the right to change or revoke this offer at anytime, and of course we cannot offer this coupon where it is against the law to do so. Finally, Lulu incurs the cost of this discount, so it does not impact the Author's proceeds of the book.

Hey, sounds good to me!

For those who’d like to take a look at the poems before they buy, I have revised the preview on Lulu so you can read a poem from each section of the book; there’s also the ongoing “Virtual Reading” series on this blog, where you can hear yours truly read poems from The Spring Ghazals. & if you want a second opinion, check out poet Jessica Fox-Wilson’s excellent review on her equally excellent everything feeds process blog—Jessica was also kind enough to write a review on the book’s Lulu page—much appreciated, as are the positive ratings folks have left on the page.

Hope you’ll take advantage of this offer.

Now we return to our program—tomorrow: the Virtual Reading continues!


Costs less than shown in pic!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reviewed on "everything feeds process"

There's a version of this post on Robert Frost's Banjo, but I did want to take a moment to note that poet/artist Jessica Fox-Wilson has written a wonderful review of my book, The Spring Ghazals on her blog, everything feeds process.  You can read her review, for which I’m truly grateful, right here.

Ms. Fox-Wilson’s blog is always worth reading—I subscribe & look forward to new posts, which can be anything from poetry to insightful discussions on the creative process to photos taken during a commuter bus ride.  Jessica Fox-Wilson is currently working on her own poetry manuscript, which she intends to publish in the near future.  When she does, I assure you I will be reviewing it!

You also can read some of Jessica’s poetry on our own satellite blog, Writers Talk, right here;  you also can read her interview at this link


I would welcome other reviews, & would be very happy to reciprocate with reviews of your work both in this space & on my "main" blog, Robert Frost's Banjo.  & even if you can't write a full blog post review, I'd certainly appreciate positive short reviews on the Lulu page itself.

Thanks so much, Jessica! 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Meeting Beatrice: the Rest of the Story

It definitely wasn't like this!

Once upon a time, just about exactly 24 years ago (it was an October), a poet who had just turned 30 was giving a reading in an art gallery in a university town.  This poet’s readings were fairly popular events & usually were well-attended.  That night—a Sunday as it turns out—was no exception.  There was a good audience gathering.  & amongst that audience, the 30-year-old poet noticed a young woman & quite immediately lost his heart.

Now, you must understand, this poet had a great capacity for falling in love.  We may find that capacity jejune or neurotic or otherwise objectionable on any of several levels, but this was the truth about him.  Given that, what should have made this evening different?

But he believed it was, & in fact, from our perspective over two decades removed, we must admit he was right, tho probably not in the ways he suspected.  After the reading, he met the young woman, whom we’ll call EG (exampla gratia?  she might get a laugh out of that.) They spent the evening together, & something akin to a romance began.  Unlike Dante, the young poet didn’t just glimpse this woman at a distance.  He came to know her as a brilliant poet in her own right, as someone with a giddy & flamboyant sense of humor, & also someone whose psychological complexities seemed a match for his own.  His poetry took a decided turn—if we look back over all his work, we might say this was when his style started to take a definite & recognizable shape.  People noted that his new work was innovative & exciting.

I imagine you think I could go on at length with this story, & you’re right.  The young poet & EG spent a lot of time together.  Tho she didn’t live in the same town as the poet, her sister did, & she visited often.  The winter passed & the spring came, bringing with it all sorts of promises, as it has since time immemorial.  The poet & EG seemed quite happy, tho their relationship was decidedly unconventional & difficult in some ways.  But she soon
would be moving to the same town.

Then, suddenly, there was a rift between them.  It was indeed sudden & drastic, & the poet didn’t understand what had caused it.  This went on for months, during which the poet (of course) wrote a long poem about it all.  Then, there seemed to be a chance for reconcilation, maybe even a brand new start.  For various reasons, the poet couldn’t bring himself to act on this, because he was afraid of being hurt, & because, for reasons we won't go into here, he believed the relationship was "impossible."  He was in the habit of quoting the line from Five Easy Pieces about “things that get bad if I stay.”  At a certain point, he learned that the obstacles he believed had stood in the way of the relationship were not in fact real, & he felt very hurt.  Still, he seemed to move on with his life, & wound up on the other side of the country.

But he never felt resolved about EG, & in fact, she continued to play a significant role in his poetic imagination.  Characters somehow based on her cropped up in a lot of his poems.  Then, 10 years after the first meeting, the poet—now 40—met an old acquaintance from that earlier time.  The acquaintance knew the story about the poet & EG, & the acquaintance told the poet how EG had never wanted things to happen the way they did—how much she had regretted that & had wanted to be reconciled.  The acquaintance said that EG was now married & successful in Hollywood as a screenwriter; he also told the poet about love poems EG had written to the poet that the poet had never seen.  He asked the poet if he’d like to be in touch with EG again.

The poet felt strangely helpless, as if someone had just given him a glimpse of an alternative life he had let go by.  He was sad—the hurt he’d felt for the years intervening came to the fore on that evening in a San Francisco studio apartment.  But he said, “It’s too late now,” & passed on the acquaintance’s offer to put him in touch with EG.

Then it was 12 years later still, & the poet had moved on to a new life—a settled, middle-aged life, generally full of great contentment.  But he no longer wrote poetry.  In fact, he really hadn’t written poetry since around the time that he met with that old acquaintance who had revealed more of the story about EG.  One morning, he found an email in his inbox.  He couldn’t believe his eyes: it was from EG.  It was almost like seeing a ghost; but after a brief deliberation, he responded.

For a couple of months, he was in touch with EG, mostly thru email, but a few times on the phone.  He was really quite happy, & felt as if everything that had gone so wrong was now redeemed thru this newfound friendship.  In fact, he began writing poems again.

But things went wrong again, rather dreadfully so, & since this is no longer “once upon a time,” we’ll leave it at that.  My father used to say, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” & perhaps that applied to this situation.

The poet stopped writing again, but not for too long.  He began a blog; when the next spring came, he wrote some poems, & then more in the fall & winter.  Once the poems were done
—& the poet knew exactly when that was—he published the book of them.

The book was called The Spring Ghazals.



Image is "Dante meets Beatrice at Ponte Santa Trinita", by Henry Holiday (1839 - 1927)