Poets’ Basement

Ghazal after Fukushima

At my desk waiting– the pencils are there–
inspiration?  The roof pings – but joy is nowhere under the rain

Water washes, nourishes,
tears away houses, villages, cities under the rain.

Men gamble with nukes while the children walk singing,
unaware of the dangers in living under the rain

Clouds pass like trains with a cargo so heavy– plutonium
strontium, cesium–  we must beware under the rain

Beautiful or deformed, fertile or sterile, whatever flowers that rise
will do so without care after the rain.

An old woman Barbara has been shouting for decades,
her voice carried away into thin air under the rain.

Barbara LaMorticella lives under the rain in Oregon.  She lives in the woods outside Portland, and tries to see the forest and the trees.  She is a host of KBOO radio’s Talking Earth Poetry Program.  Her second collection of poetry was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award.  She can be reached at barbala@teleport.com.


Under Tones

Those little slights melt away
when jazz men make it sound easy.

Even funny valentines, funny strange as
addictive behaviors figure less than
Greek of mouth running over,
all over their break.
She longed for overhearing bass lore:
players talking shop, of horsehair color
gut string or wound? merits of amusing
voicings, pickups, turnarounds.
But no, horn honker opened mouth to speak
something confrontational
scuttlebutt with hostile, sexist blunt,
“Excuse me. You’re a big one, Steamroller.”
That’s what he said, oh my he’s high!
She knows it could be worse
but not that he could care, change a hair.
Next set their bassist wails out root
fine heart-stopper of an under tone
open wide in space
where every amateur with handheld
liquid courage, tale or need, plies trade
in goods that neither chicks nor fellas
closely hold much expectation to succeed.

And yet, those little slights sound easier
real jazz men make them melt away.


Oil and Whine Don’t Mix

I’m drinking Reposado
puro de agave
over frozen mango cubes
nobody gave me recipe
I made it up
improv-iz-ing on sangria.
Lacking what the absent man
salacious calls
“our wine”
(he’s not about to just appear
with any just in time)
I substitute tequila.

Takes a while to register
inebriate toxicity of
ingesting half a dozen
booze-soaked cubes of fruit
and triple fingers’ worth of
salty juice

Eventually realize dizzying damage done.

OK now that I’m high I’ll whine
a simile: it takes a while to register

but quite a good deal
shorter than the year or so it took
for me to learn that microbes dumped,
miraculously gobbling BP’s
geysered crude in Gulf of Mexico,
were engineered genetically
new life that also eats mammalian cells
this air and water borne blue flu
new plague so far
infecting only seaside residents
‘til inevitable landfall of next
cyclonic storm

Eating booze-soaked fruit, great medicine,
next best thing when
comprehending sober facts
and caring

Catherine A. Lee has been exploring poetry as a percussive voice with jazz musicians since the late ’70s.  Among early successes were joint musical readings with Beat hipster Ted Joans.  She performs frequently at jam sessions and various music-less readings in San Antonio, TX.  Recently she’s been blogging about a video documentary she’s helping produce at diana-living-a-potters-dream.tumblr.com.  Because she believes working with carefully selected music amplifies her poetic content, she’s now earnestly recording ideas with other creative souls.  See multimedia jazz poems at  www.VIMEO.com/jazzovation.


Editorial Note: (Please Read Closely Before Submitting)
To submit to Poets’ Basement, send an e-mail to CounterPunch’s poetry editor, Marc Beaudin at counterpunchpoetry@gmail.com with your name, the titles being submitted, and your website url or e-mail address (if you’d like this to appear with your work).  Also indicate whether or not your poems have been previously published and where.  For translations, include poem in original language and documentation of granted reprint/translation rights.  Attach up to 5 poems and a short bio, written in 3rd person, as a single Word Document (.doc or .rtf attachments only; no .docx).  Expect a response within one month (occasionally longer during periods of heavy submissions).

Poems accepted for online publication will be considered for possible inclusion of an upcoming print anthology.

For more details, tips and suggestions, visit CrowVoiceJournal.blogspot.comand check the links on the top right. Thanks!