* the 2016 End of Year Reading!

Time once again for my end of year reading here on the Influence! This year has left me with much to be grateful for, from readings in my hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas (Del Mar, TAMUCC, & Moody High – órale!) to getting to be the Visiting Writer at Adelphi University’s Alice Hoffman Young Writers Retreat as well as participate in my second CantoMundo.

I am especially grateful for the journals and presses and their respective editors that have worked with me this year and helped bring more of my work out into the world. Lastly, I want to say thanks to everyone who reads this blog as well as to the community of writers, readers, and friends (three words for the same thing, no?) that have reached out to me regarding my work. When things get dark, as they often did in 2016, community and words bring me back to light.

book of flight cover     Divorce Suite pic IG

For this end of year reading, I have chosen selections from my two chapbook publications of 2016, The Book of Flight (Essay Press) and The Divorce Suite (Red Bird Chapbooks).

From The Book of Flight (which can be read for free on the Essay Press site) I am reading pages 2 through 5. From The Divorce Suite (available for purchase from Red Bird Chapbooks), I am reading the poems below. I learned a lot working with both presses bringing these projects to fruition. Special thanks especially to Andy Fitch, Aimee Harrison, and Maria Anderson of Essay Press, and Eric Hove and Sarah Hayes of Red Bird Chapbooks. And a warm thanks to Pam Dick for writing the intro essay to Flight and selecting it for publication!



The Particular Life – José Angel Araguz

The oak chest holds the scent
of the tree it was made from,
everything placed inside
comes out thick with the smell:
traces on blankets, letters,
notebooks that even closed
show at the edge of the pages
the blot and blurring
of fine lines, a photo
I’d neglected to
rip up with the rest
after the divorce, a shot
where I stand younger
than I am now, smiling,
and then only half-way,
the rest of my face pulled in
as if inhaling deep,
taking in the particular
life that passes
no matter the effort
to shut it away.


Rose Song – José Angel Araguz

“…the rose is out of town” – E. Dickinson

The rose is out of town,
and the wine has moved away.
The wedding ring won’t glint,
the river won’t let it.
Perfumes won’t call me back.
The candle’s on a walk,
lets shadow fill the shelves.

Our secrets tell themselves,
while worries stay to talk.
The wedding dress is slack.
The coat hooks comfort it.
Lost buttons try to hint,
there is no other way.
The rose is out of town.


Happy flighting and suiteing!


* excerpts from a new anthology!

I Collected Dead Things As A Child – Nita Penfold

starting with insects, variegated and delicate,
pinned carefully into the cigar box —
iridescent Tiger beetle, round striped bumble bee,
green stick figure of a praying mantis —
my whispers to them went unanswered.

Then a pheasant wing with my feathers like intricate lace
in the wild thrush colors of earth;
turtle shell green and mosaic-patterned,
raw fleshy part inside rotted away;
small skull I could cradle in my hand,
its bone tarnished with a dark shine.

Each one a message from something large
that beat against my eyelids at dusk
dusting them with mystery.


the-absence-front-cover613This week I am sharing excerpts from a new anthology offering variations on the theme of drought entitled The Absence of Something Specified which features a strong range of poets including Emily Rose Cole, Carrie Etter, John Sibley Williams, and Laura Madeline Wiseman among others. The editors have collected poems that range from a direct treatment of the subject of drought to how it plays out as a metaphor in people’s intellectual and physical lives.

The poem above navigates its meanings through both the mind and body. I’m moved by the way each stanza of the poem knocks on imagery and physicality for something beyond. Whether it is “whispers…unanswered” or the “dark shine” of bone, the absence of the anthology’s title is engaged with a near-spiritual directness and fascination. The poem ends with a turn: the speaker senses their interrogation “beat against my eyelids at dusk,” and the analytical world becomes mysterious again via physical means.

I share my own contribution to the anthology below. My poem, “Reading Hunger” (originally published in Gulf Coast), comes from my experience of reading Knut Hamsun’s stark and stoic novel, Hunger.

Special thanks to the editors – Quinton Hallet, Colette Jonopulos, Laura LeHew, and Cheryl Loetscher – for putting together such a fine collection of poems!


Reading Hunger – José Angel Araguz

after Knut Hamsun

He calls it: the festival of what is not eternal,
then goes on describing
an old man’s eyes
as being made of dry horn,

and you can see it,
the almost animal beauty in each person
when unaware of anyone around.

Each person’s solitude bubbles up
like a spring,

a short-lived light
over rocks.

As the rock dries,
the dark gives
more and more gray.

Soon, you will be like this: rock, no water.


Happy bubbling!


* new work & nomination!

Just a quick post to share that my poem, “Cazar Means to Hunt Not to Marry,” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by December Magazine. This poem is part of my second collection, Small Fires, forthcoming from FutureCycle Press.

This poem can be read at December Magazine’s site along with the other stellar nominees here.

Thank you to December Magazine for the support and community!

See you Friday!


* in solitudarity with dulce maría loynaz


Pasaste por mi corazón como el temblor de luz por la colmada red del pescador.


You poured through my heart like the shimmering light that streams through the fisherman’s loaded net.



This week I have been spending time with the work of Cuban poet Dulce María Loynaz. As can be noted above, the conciseness of imagery and sensibility in her prose make for stunning moments of lyrical insight. Haiku-like, Loynaz’s prose captures a fleeting moment in language, and grounds it in human immediacy.

In the poem below, one can see Loynaz engage with the concept of solitude, one of the major themes of her work. Solitude becomes its own presence and antagonist in her work; in many ways, solitude is the medium through which Loynaz understands the world and channels the work of her poems. In poems charged with its pangs, Loynaz provides the reader the experience of what it feels like to engage with solitude on a level where it imbues the world with its color and meaning.



Tuve por tanto tiempo que alimentar la soledad con mi sangre, que tengo miedo ahora de encontrarme sin sangre entre tus brazos… O de encontrarte a ti menos en ellos que lo que te encontraba en mi ardorosa y viva soledad.
De tal modo te he fundido en ella y yo contigo, de tal modo le he ido traspasando anhelos, sueños gestos y señales, que tal vez nuestro encuentro sólo sea el de dos nubes en el cielo o dos desconocidos en la tierra.


I have fed my solitude so much blood that I’m afraid of feeling nothing when you hold me in your arms. Or maybe I’m scared of finding you less in your embrace than I did in my fierce and fervent solitude.
I have dissolved you into my solitude, and myself into you, in such a way that I have given my solitude my desires and my dreams, my gestures and my traits, and now I wonder if our meeting has been anything more than two clouds passing in the sky, or two strangers passing on earth.


Happy solituding!


P.S. Should anyone else be interested in receiving a monopoem, feel free to send me an email [ thefridayinfluence@gmail.com ] between now and next Monday, and I’ll have one sent your way.

*All English translations are from James O’Connor’s book of Loynaz translations, Absolute Solitude: Selected Poems (archipelago books).

* monopoem giveaway winners!

2016-12-08-10-06-12Just a quick post to announce the winners of the current Mosca Dragón monopoem giveaway: Laura Kaminski & Jennifer Met!

Both Laura and Jennifer were kind enough to share some poetry in their comments:

Laura shared these lines filled with stunning imagery:

the wing patterns of white-tailed dragonflies are tai chi fish
in flight: where his wings are burnished brown, hers are
transparent and in the spaces where his are so clear they’ve
become invisible all that he is missing can be found in her

And Jennifer shared the following haiku whose imagery becomes technical and personal in a short amount of time:

mating dragonflies—
my overuse
of dashes

(Aubrie Cox, Muncie, Indiana, Frogpond 35:2)

Both winners have been contacted and will have a monopoem sent their way shortly.

Should anyone else be interested in receiving a monopoem, feel free to send me an email [ thefridayinfluence@gmail.com ] between now and next Monday, and I’ll have one sent your way.

See you Friday!


* new work online & monopoem giveaway!

Just a quick post to announce some recent publications available online & to give a small reminder of my current Monopoem Giveaway:

!) I’m happy to announce that my poems “On Being Called Jorge” and “Freckles” are featured in the current issue of The Indianola Review! This issue features work by Angela Morales, E. Kristin Anderson, & Lena Khalaf Tuffaha among other great writers. Check out the rest of the issue here.

@) I’m also happy to share that Crab Creek Review was kind enough to feature my poem “Alien” on their blog! This poem along with “On Being Called Jorge” are both in my upcoming collection, Small Fires, forthcoming from FutureCycle Press.

#) Lastly, I am doing a MONOPOEM GIVEAWAY as a thank you to all of you who read my blog. In order to participate, simply leave a comment below stating your interest in receiving a monopoem. I will keep track of who comments and will pick winners at random. The announcement of winners will be on Wednesday, December 14th! Feel free to comment on this post for a chance to win.

A monopoem is a poem and a drawing on a folded sheet of paper. Essentially one of the most mini of self publications. This is the second I’m doing in this series. Here’s a peek at this season’s cover:


Be sure to comment  below and enter by Wednesday!



* haiku & new monopoem giveaway!

I lay down
all the heavy packages —
autumn moon.

Patricia Donegan


reaching the top
of the mountain
losing the mountain

Michael Fessler


losing its name
a river
enters the sea

John Sandbach


say no words
time is collapsing
in the woods

Sonia Sanchez


The above haiku are drawn from Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years, an anthology I spent time with this week as I wrapped up work at the CR for the semester. The editors provide a great sense of the many paths haiku has been taken on in the English language. I like returning to short lyric forms as seasons change. Helps me pay attention to the details.

Before I share more excerpts from this great anthology, I wanted to thank everyone who entered the Goodreads giveaway for Everything We Think We Hear! Winners have been chosen and will have books sent their way next week. The ten winners will also be receiving copies of the latest Mosca Dragón, my monopoem series. This issue features another poem from my forthcoming collection Small Fires.

2016-12-08-10-06-12Additionally, I am doing a MONOPOEM GIVEAWAY as a thank you to all of you who follow my blog. In order to participate, simply leave a comment below stating your interest in receiving a monopoem. I will keep track of who comments and will pick winners at random. The announcement of winners will be on Wednesday, December 14th! Feel free to comment on this post for a chance to win (on Monday, I’ll give folks another chance).

Here are a few more excerpts from the haiku anthology:

rising river
a shadow still wedged
between the rocks

Susan Constable


In the falling snow
A laughing boy holds out his palms
Until they are white.

Richard Wright


till there’s nothing left
of the light

Jim Kacian


mother’s day
a nurse unties
the restraints

Roberta Beary


Happy detailing!



* shifting with yosano akiko

akiko_yosano_youngerThis week I’m sharing tanka by Yosano Akiko as translated by Roger Pulvers.* In a previous post about her work, I focused on the role of tension in her poems. This time around, I have selected tanka that shift narratives midway.

Line by line, the three poems below develop their narrative arc, only to shift in the last two lines. This nuanced skill allows for shifts in perspective (first tanka), a shift in rhetoric (second), or a sudden shift in action (third). Each is a little drama that is accessible to the reader without losing any of its lyrical intimacy.

Two stars deep into heaven
Whispering love
Behind the nighttime curtain
While down below, now, people lie
Their hair in gentle disarray…



Made to punish men for their sins
The smoothest skin
The longest black hair…
All that
Is me!



The girl in a springtime window
Calls to awaken a young priest
Barely a man
His sutras toppled
By her dangling sleeve



Pulvers’ article ends with a final tanka which he prefaces by sharing how the poem was born out of Akiko’s husband, Tekkan, wanting “her to apply his blood to her lips as lipstick.” The manner in which Akiko describes and seizes upon how quickly physical things change reflects the emotional change and reaction to this strange, if intimate, request.

What will come into my burning lips?
You answer…
“The blood from my little finger.”
But that blood is too dry now
For my mouth



Happy tanka-ing!


*Check out Roger Pulvers’ full article & translations here.

P.S.: Check out the giveaway below!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Everything We Think We Hear by Jose Angel Araguz

Everything We Think We Hear

by Jose Angel Araguz

Giveaway ends December 04, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway