MAP #81

Theme: Memorial Day

Hello, Poets.

I'm home again, still coming down off my D.C. high. Final night there, I hit the first half of Riverdale Book Shop's standing room only monthly read, got myself a copy of Spiraeas journal of literature and art, then binged at Mango's and you want to talk about righteous? Ask Patrick Washington of Generation 2000, who coincidentally went on to win the slam at Cafe Myth.com (Denise Johnson took #2 place.) Yeah yeah yeah I'm STILL talking about that grooviest of new D.C. venues, graced last night with the slamtastic surprise feature Gayle Danley. Anyone wanting to get on Cafe Myth.com mailing list, contact Nicki Miller at SlamAgent_at_aol.com

Not to sell the Austin poetry scene short, my first night home East Side B&W Poets had its own standing room only read at Ebony Sun Java House, featuring Valerie Bridgeman Davis, accompanied by Element, her son with his own voice to be reckoned with. Valerie will soon be visiting Cheryl Latif's Poetic Brew venue at Claire de Lune in San Diego. For details, e mail Cheryl at clatif_at_concentric.net

II. Featured Poetry

This week's theme: Memorial Day

Theme for Issue #82: Coffee Tribute: Happiness is just a thing called Joe.

Theme for Issue #83: Second Generation: Poetry by the offspring of poets.

For those of you not familiar with the U.S. observance called Memorial Day: originally known as Decoration Day, it was established in 1868 to commemorate the dead from the Civil War. Over the years it came to serve as a day to remember all U.S. men and women killed or missing in action in all wars. I do not advocate war, on the contrary. However, World War I Canadian Lieut.-Col. John McCrae's poem, "In Flanders Field" has ranked among my faves for decades. This week's featured poetry is dedicated not just to U.S. men and women killed or MIA in war, but to all who hold high the torch.

Grateful thanks to all who have contributed your poetry.

1. Gene Hatfield is a Viet Nam vet. His poem "Mia" was first brought to my attention by Sandra Vinson, Literary Editor for "The Wall" website. The poem, which appears on http://www.thewall-usa.com/ is included in the MAP with the poet's permission. The title does not refer to "Missing In Action."

MIA

A long time ago or maybe only yesterday,

I met a girl, and she had beautiful black hair,

and eyes to match.

At first she looked at me with doubt,

because I was a stranger in a land with little trust.

But as time went on we grew closer, and closer...

Every day she came to see me,

and every day we talked.

We talked of happy things, and things to come.

One day I left on patrol, and when I returned

she was gone.

Where could she be I asked

and no one seemed to know...

Later I found out why. This precious person

was but seven,

and lived in a village in Viet Nam.

She died of kindness, killed by VC

for coming to me to talk...

I will never forget you

Mia...

You will always be in my thoughts and dreams...

Killed by enemy fire

February 1969...

© 1999 Gene Hatfield

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2. Sanjay C. Kuttan of Singapore does not celebrate Memorial Day, but asked that I include the following poem for this week's theme:

Anniversary of Silenced Echoes (June 4, 1989)

Honor those interred

in the red bricks of Tiananmen Square

Flesh, bones and dreams

a mason's cement for a new Nation.

Her flag tainted with her children's blood.

Cherished ones buried

deep within many hearts

and within, they remain;

a tombstone of memories

an inferno of tears

ablaze with despair

with pain

with anger...

Cremate their ideals

in the flame of your heart

to foment, for a thousand years.

Candle light vigils

exposing tear stained cheeks

of revetment;

standing in the gnarled face

of the smiling Dragon.

© 1999 Sanjay C. Kuttan

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3. Sometimes I solicit poems for this section, as with the next, by Larry Jaffe. Oh, and congrats on the arrival of Larry's newest grandson Giovanni, whose own webpage at http://www.lgjaffe.com/giovanni.htm includes this poem.

Spiritual epiphany

You embraced your wings today

I could feel the spiritual epiphany

As you climbed goddess towers

And ascended to your own form of heaven

I could feel you grace god’s wings

With your own spiritual touch

I was happy for you my friend

And felt your knowing glances

Of affinity sprinkled with allure

Your kindness speaks for itself

As you climbed yet another staircase of transformation

I wanted to write only of beauty today

So tired of the human course of events

I thought of you my friend

I thought of you…

© 1999 lgjaffe

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4. Melissa McEver of Austin, Texas, sent me this poem for an earlier theme, but got it in late. What the heck, I'll run it for you anyway, Melissa.

John's Eyes

Green-gold eyes as seen through a soft-focus lens

Soft in the world seen, like velvet-kissed harnessed light

From a flash that gleamed the day flesh introduced your spirit

What a bright light that must have been.

This is what the world may see, but there is more.

Green-gold softness cannot hide the paralysis

That harnesses your light, the restraint of your face

To hold the flashes in.

The close eye notices.

Because in the light-whiteness of your insides,

Black, piercing, flashing, bruising holes

Their perfect memory burrows through your skin.

And you must hold yourself against their punctures.

Brace yourself against any opening, to light, to shadow.

The green-gold gleam is a one-way mirror

Trapping most true whiteness behind.

Well you learned to paralyze yourself--there was no other way.

But sparks of light still escape in a soft moment,

And I meet your eyes from across a holy war

And see stars.

© 1999 Melissa McEver