* Oregon: farewell (for now) with a few friends

The Act of Contrition – Sam Roderick Roxas-Chua

It’s hard to exorcise bees
you must start at a young age
and answer only to quiet things,
a hum from the television,
a wick’s last spark,
a pulse from a yolk,
study the many hues
of yellow and black,
flight pattern
and eyelash,
climb atop a hill
and offer your body
as pollen, it is not
until then, their black
bean eyes appear and
your penance begins
with its sting.

*on the road, yo*
*on the road, yo*

Me and mine are set to hit the road this weekend – so I thought I would send us off with poems by two members of the Eugene writing group, The Red Sofa Poets.

Sam’s poem above moves me in the way that it creates a mood and engages you in images – goes from the small to the epic and back again all in the language of, not religion, but sacredness.  The bees are both outside and inside the soul.

Toni Hanner’s poem below enacts the feel of a carnival ride – picking up images as it careens in its longer lines.  The pull of the line is set against the lists detailed by the speaker, the associations of which charge the poem with an undercurrent of immediacy.  In this way, the poem evokes the passing blur the world becomes in the movement and momentum of a carnival ride.


Carnival Ride – Toni Hanner

A dozen black tickets will cost you your shadow but weren’t you tired

of dragging it around anyway, ice box,

carbon paper, skate keys, chalk.  Hand it to the crone smoking on the corner,

ric-rac, floor wax, linoleum, hair nets, she blows

a smoke ring deftly around your face already you’re inside,

there are the girls in silver masks and here comes the ice cream

man with his jingly bells playing a tune you recognize as one your mother

used to sing, you turn to look and there she is, your mother, in her housecoat

laced with burns.  Typewriters, can of worms, chicken feed, fireflies,

and she is singing, your mother, but not that song.

*ferris is fair*
*ferris is fair*

Both of these poems were published in the first issue of Fault Lines Poetry.  The release party/reading for this issue was the first poetry event I attended upon returning to Oregon a year ago.

It has been a good year for the page and for the Influence.  We’ll be on the road for the next week.  Wish us luck!

Happy Oregoning!


* painting found here.

* special feature: Kenneth P. Gurney

This week The Friday Influence is proud to feature the work of Kenneth P. Gurney!

Ken and I struck up a friendship during my brief time in Albuquerque.  He runs the Adobe Walls Open Mic out of Page 1 Books, the used bookstore where I worked.  Once a month – while helping clean up and close – I would get to overhear the great community of poets he fosters there.

His poetry is marked by his background in art – surrealistic images abound – yet, there is always some of his sense of awe and humor throughout his work, something altogether his own.

Find out more about Ken and his poetry here.

Since moving, we have sent poems on postcards to each other.  I am happy to share some of the poems that have made getting the mail – where bills and rejection letters abound – a bit of a treat.


Missive – Kenneth P. Gurney

I wrote a letter to the earth

on the bottom of my bare feet

then walked five miles

on grassy lanes that ran

adjacent to greening fields

and two wood lots.

While resting

under the broad shade

of a century oak

I checked my soles and determined

the blue ink to be all gone

& I considered my letter delivered.


Catastrophe – Kenneth P. Gurney

Spring fails to create the perfect green

as the cat laps chartreuse spilled

from the dropped shot glass

where a trail of mucky pawprints

scub across the sparkling kitchen tile

like so many clouds

unable to congregate

and expel a healthy Albuquerque rain.


Happy congregating!

* jose

* the friday influence & some news

What Any Lover Learns – Archibald MacLeish

Water is heavy silver over stone.
Water is heavy silver over stone’s
Refusal. It does not fall. It fills. It flows
Every crevice, every fault of the stone,
Every hollow. River does not run.
River presses its heavy silver self
Down into stone, and stone refuses.

What runs,
Swirling and leaping into sun, is stone’s
Refusal of the river, not the river.


This week’s Friday Influence focuses on this lovely poem by Archibald MacLeish.

What moves me most about this poem is the great use of enjambment and punctuation to create a sense of the poem’s meaning.  The poem is only ten lines long but covers eight sentences within them.  The start and stop motion of the words play out the tension described in the poem.

Repetition is key as well.  These words in particular: heavy, silver, river keep up a certain strike and pressure between teeth and lip which repeats when the poem is read aloud.

I’m a geek.  I look for this kind of stuff.

The poem also charms with its parable-like structure.  The title leads you in expecting one thing but then you are handed an image, an evocation of tension and loss all in the words.

Small lyric poems are like that: like watching a bug on its back kicking its legs around, that whirred moment when each leg registers to your vision.


In other news, it looks like me and mine will be headed back up to Eugene Oregon at the end of the month.  The move is a positive one.  We’re gonna go pull those clouds over us and dream it all up again.

I’ll let you know what that means as I find out.

The Friday Influence will continue regardless.

Happy dreaming!