some recommendations :: roy chicky arad

translated by lisa katz

I recommend to my readers not to fall in love

and to eat herring

eat herring with onions

don’t fall in love

women are trouble

men are mud and heartache

pickled herring

won’t do anything bad to you

I recommend Tolstoy’s biography by Henri Troyat in two volumes

to my readers

read the part in section two where the elderly Tolstoy gets a bike

and get back to me

I recommend to my readers

to sleep in socks

despite the recession

because of the recession

nothing will happen if you sleep in jeans

I recommend eating sweetsops

Tsachi, a party animal friend of mine told me they’re very healthy

even though the last one I bought

wasn’t ripe

and turned gray in the freezer.
I guess I did something wrong

if you are musicians or poets

I recommend that your next work be

emotional or danceable

don’t try to be too smart

or too stupid

it’s better not to try too hard

it’s better not to do anything if you’re musicians or poets

you can learn to do nothing slowly. my advice for success and luck –

invest in your toilet paper!

that’s the only superstition worth believing in

listen good my readers! it’s better not to do anything. invest your money there!

Get some great, expensive, high quality toilet paper, even if you’re poor

triple layered, quadruple-layered and even quintuple-layered

politicians will disappoint you and won’t move a finger when you’re fired

they’ll send you to your death for a photo in the free tabloid “Israel Today”

but nice toilet paper will console you


I also recommend a trip to Cairo

and drinking cold Karkade juice there

in the cheapest café

I recommend to my readers

never to buy more than one book and never to agree to take more than one book

I advise all my readers not

to sleep with the same person

day after day

don’t sleep day after day

with the same partner

So no one will get used to the idea

I recommend to my readers

to join at least two labor unions

I recommend to my readers

to sit near the window

and to avoid war any way possible

nothing good will come of it

not even a motel. the bother is a real waste.

I advise my readers

to make use of construction in the city

to watch the cranes at least

ten minutes a day

to look at the holes in the ground at the building sites

to bang your head into the metal fence, even if there is a warning sign

and to look deep into the stormy shafts at the building sites

and to love anyway

celebration of the body :: daisy zamora

I love this body of mine that has lived a life,
its amphora contour soft as water,
my hair gushing out of my skull,
my face a glass goblet on its delicate stem
rising with grace from shoulders and collarbone.

I love my back studded with ancient stars,
the bright mounds of my breasts,
fountains of milk, our species’ first food,
my protruding ribcage, my yielding waist,
my belly’s fullness and warmth.

I love the lunar curve of my hips
shaped by various pregnancies,
the great curling wave of my buttocks,
my legs and feet, on which the temple stands.

I love my bunch of dark petals and secret fur
keeper of heaven’s mysterious gate,
to the damp hollow from which blood flows
and the water of life.

This body of mine that can hurt and get ill,
that oozes, coughs, sweats,
secretes humours, faeces, saliva,
grows tired, old and worn out.

Living body, one solid link to secure
the unending chain of bodies.
I love this body made of pure earth,
seed, root, sap, flower and fruit.

We like these poets! Here’s another who will be at the SF International Poetry Festival.

couplings :: menna elfyn

translated by joseph clancy

Life is a house in ruins. And we mean to fix it up
and make it snug. With our hands we knock it into shape

to the very top. Till beneath this we fasten a roofbeam
that will watch the coming and going of our skyless life,

two crooked segments. They are fitted together,
timbers in concord. Smooth beams, and wide.

Two in touch. That’s the craft we nurture in folding
doubled flesh on a frame. Conjoining the smooth couplings

that sometimes arch into one. Aslant above a cold world,
hollow wood wafting passion. Then stock still for a time.

And how clear cut the roof, creaking love at times,
as it chides the worm to keep off and await its turn.

Yet another poet from the SF International Poetry Festival! Check it out =)

underwear :: lawrence ferlinghetti

I didn’t get much sleep last night
thinking about underwear
Have you ever stopped to consider
underwear in the abstract
When you really dig into it
some shocking problems are raised
Underwear is something
we all have to deal with
Everyone wears
some kind of underwear
The Pope wears underwear I hope
The Governor of Louisiana
wears underwear
I saw him on TV
He must have had tight underwear
He squirmed a lot
Underwear can really get you in a bind
You have seen the underwear ads
for men and women
so alike but so different
Women’s underwear holds things up
Men’s underwear holds things down
Underwear is one thing
men and women have in common
Underwear is all we have between us
You have seen the three-color pictures
with crotches encircled
to show the areas of extra strength
and three-way stretch
promising full freedom of action
Don’t be deceived
It’s all based on the two-party system
which doesn’t allow much freedom of choice
the way things are set up
America in its Underwear
struggles thru the night
Underwear controls everything in the end
Take foundation garments for instance
They are really fascist forms
of underground government
making people believe
something but the truth
telling you what you can or can’t do
Did you ever try to get around a girdle
Perhaps Non-Violent Action
is the only answer
Did Gandhi wear a girdle?
Did Lady Macbeth wear a girdle?
Was that why Macbeth murdered sleep?
And that spot she was always rubbing—
Was it really in her underwear?
Modern anglosaxon ladies
must have huge guilt complexes
always washing and washing and washing
Out damned spot
Underwear with spots very suspicious
Underwear with bulges very shocking
Underwear on clothesline a great flag of freedom
Someone has escaped his Underwear
May be naked somewhere
But don’t worry
Everybody’s still hung up in it
There won’t be no real revolution
And poetry still the underwear of the soul
And underwear still covering
a multitude of faults
in the geological sense—
strange sedimentary stones, inscrutable cracks!
If I were you I’d keep aside
an oversize pair of winter underwear
Do not go naked into that good night
And in the meantime
keep calm and warm and dry
No use stirring ourselves up prematurely
‘over Nothing’
Move forward with dignity
hand in vest
Don’t get emotional
And death shall have no dominion
There’s plenty of time my darling
Are we not still young and easy
Don’t shout

I first heard of Lawrence Ferlinghetti in Billy Collins’ reference to “the bicycling poet of San Francisco” in The Trouble with Poetry. Lucky Bay Area folk have the chance to hear him read as well in the San Francisco International Poetry Festival!

poetry :: ignatius mabasa

Clink clink, clank clank!
Culinary noise ain’t cooking
It may just be noise of pots ‘n pans
Knocking bottoms, flirting with spoons

Poetry is not big words
Poetry is not confusion,
Mystification, chaos and noise.
Poetry is not about ranting rage
Like stock exchange bulls and bears
Nor is it all about romance and roses.
Poetry is not about neat, polite lines.

Neither is it about rhythm and rhyme
Idioms, proverbs and all their rude cousins.

Poetry is an old man in dusty fields
A scarecrow, talking to himself
Poking the stunted rapoko crop
And asking himself
‘What happened to the land
That the government redistributed?
Was it all taken by the news-reader
Because he got the news first?’

Poetry is written over the wrinkles
Of an old woman in a hospital ward
Next to her dying daughter
Who no longer talks, eats or blinks,
Shitting herself without apology
And the old woman thinks:
‘Death never used to be so sophisticated!’

Poetry is storytelling
Only that it does not tell
Of stories in a far, far away land

Poetry is in the eyes of a broke policeman
Who waves your car to stop at a roadblock
And goes round and round your car
Like a miserable mangy dog chasing its tail
Looking for a fault to get a bribe from you
For him to buy a loaf of bread for his kids.

Poetry is speaking the unspoken.

Ignatius Mabasa will also be reading at next week’s San Francisco International Poetry Festival! See the original Shona version of the poem here.

i have a broom :: yongming zhai

(Original title: 我有了一把扫帚)

I have a broom
that is to say
I’ve a colorful life
fresh air and
a path that is my own
I’ll ignore neighbors’ ridicule
the obstruction of relatives and friends
I have a broom
I’ve work
I sweep away today’s and yesterday’s garbage
clear away the filth in the streets
and in people’s minds
I put on new work clothes
Looking in the mirror, I now understand
the mildness of my mother’s eyes
I’ll never again have to cast perplexed looks
into the street
into a corner
at the colors of billboards
neither in the pained wrinkles of my mother’s brow
must I dodge fears of my inability

With the blessings written out by my mother’s eyes
I brandish a broom
and move on greeting the morning breeze
behind me, a clean street

Zhai Yongming will be reading at next week’s San Francisco International Poetry Festival! Check it out