Forsythia BeeBilly Collins’ Brilliant Shadows

The Japanese language is vague with an avoidance of pronouns and virtue placed on incomplete thoughts. Yet Japanese proved to be as equally expressive as any language I knew.  Japanese is like my childhood attic which was scary pitch dark on entering, but within minutes, my eyes adjusted revealing many shades of grays and shadows around antiques which gave my eyes and heart a playground of thoughts.

Some poetry is vague, private, trippy self-talk which their authors rationalize with the excuse of “poetic license”. A post-structuralist curse, perhaps. On recently challenging one such poem, the author ironically chastised me by directing me to Billy Collin’s poem “Introduction to Poetry” where Billy scolds the heady dissection of a poem down to one “real meaning” and thus sacrificing reality. Ironically, I agree with Billy’s poem which is actually clear, full of rich feeling and understandable on many levels. In fact, it was nothing like the poem I challenged as vapidly vague. Never having heard of Collins, I read more of his poems — they are superb! What an ironic introduction to the subtle but brilliant shadows of fine meaning-pregnant poetry, not lacking it. Thank you!

Forsythia blooms
shade for hunters of pollen
borne back for honey

— by Sabio Lantz, April 2017


Prompt: Toni, at d’Verse Poets Pub, invites us to write a Haibun using the concept of shadows. If you are interested in some more of Billy Collin’s Poems, here are some I loved today:

Two Morning Poems

Years Pour by My Window

My window overlooks a church
with a path children take to school.
And each year they look the same.
The one aging is this old fool.

— by Sabio Lantz, April 2017

My Son Slept In

My son slept in again,
and I wondered, “Should I wake him up?
Or let his lack of discipline
stunt his growing up?

My phone then beeps to remind me
of an appointment we have today.
It seems the forgetful was not he,
but me who is just a cliché.

— by Sabio Lantz, April 2017


Prompt: None. For some reason I waxed poetic — or at least chatty — this morning. Both poems are inspired by this morning events.

Heed not your Inner Dread

A woman of beauty great
who loved the company of men,
ventured out the city gate,
and never came back again.

A foolish lover tried to follow,
but lost her scented trail,
when he spied a flight of swallows
and recalled an old wives’ tale:

When seeking, you are lost
and a flock flies over head,
count not the coming costs,
nor pay heed to inner dread.

(As when I write these lines
and my intent is surely lost,
I allow the flocking rhymes
to purge me of my dross.)

The lover returned to the gate,
setting up a small food stand,
and never thereafter lacked a mate
for his shop had many fans.

— by Sabio Lantz, March 2017


Prompt: Frank, at d’Verse Poets Pub, challenges us to write an ironical poem.  So though I set out with a mix of intents, my muses commandeer my poem. ‘Tis fiction, of course, and though the irony may not be clear, I was hoping to upset the common trope of finding lost love.



Simplicity is our beauty
replication our only duty
It is by folding that we dine
feeding on what you call your mind.

Scrapie and Kuru are the marks of our feasts,
We are tiny, tiny units, not felt to be beasts.
And most precious is the way we spread:
when you eat another animal’s head.

— by Sabio Lantz, March 2017


Prompt: Romance era poetry, a reaction to the falsely felt sterility of the Enlightenment period, still haunts many poets even today who write with gushy feelings, idealization of nature and optimistic idealism. Today, at d’Verse Poets, we are asked to “write a poem from the perspective of one of nature’s gifts…a tree a wildflower, a leaf in the wind or even through the eyes of a wise old owl.” I wonder how many poets on this prompt will be romantic about nature – I’ll take a tally and report in the comments. Nature is neutral: full of ugliness, beauty, danger, pleasure, pain, fear, horror and wonder. With all that complexity, why try to romantically simplify her?

Oh, here are a few links for the curious, from Wiki: Pic & articlePrion, Kuru, Scrapie, Romantic Poetry,

Tram’s Jumbled Kitchen by Sabio Lantz

Tram’s Kitchen is a grimy gem
in a poor part of Pittsburgh,
where a Children’s hospital
was built on cheap land
and now uses cheap help.
And where its physicians train
to pay back loans.

Tram, a Chinese woman’s name,
was nowhere to be seen.
Instead we were served by men
in disheveled clothes and dirty hands
who we hoped had not touched
our delicious safely boiled Pho noodles.

Patchwork religions sloppily covered the walls:
a wilted picture of a white Jesus;
a cross hanging from a stained calendar;
and cheaply framed Buddhist picture
of Chinese guardian lions.

A hodgepodge: like Tram’s Pho soup
and her religion,
the Vietnamese language
is a mix of Austroasiatic,
Chinese, French, and bastardized English.

One of the servers, I imagine,
was probably Tram’s father.
He was missing his left arm
probably due to VietCong shrapnel.
A complicated consequence
of Vietnam’s jumbled history.

After decades in the USA,
The father was still barely able
to speak passable English.
But why should he or Tram care?
For Tram’s hole-in-the-wall Kitchen
is rightfully rated one of the best in Pittsburgh.


Prompt: For Open Mike Night at d’Verse Poets. The real prompt was the coincidental reading of Ted Kooser’s poem about a Vietnamese cafe and my visit the night before to a local Vietnamese restaurant.  Ted Kooser has written, “I favor poems that keep the obstacles between you and [the reader] to a minimum.” I favor the same sort, as you can see by my vignette above.

In January  by Ted Kooser

Only one cell in the frozen hive of night
is lit, or so it seems to us:
this Vietnamese café, with its oily light,
its odors whose colorful shapes are like flowers.
Laughter and talking, the tick of chopsticks.
Beyond the glass, the wintry city
creaks like an ancient wooden bridge.
A great wind rushes under all of us.
The bigger the window, the more it trembles.

If Even for a Moment

If Even for a Moment

I don’t believe we are puppets –
dangled by the whims of some god
or some spirit or the Universe.
I don’t believe that anything is “meant to be”.
But I certainly do believe
with vehement inconsistency
that many things are *not* meant to be!
And when we can redeem those injustices,
the world makes more sense –
if even for a moment.

by Sabio Lantz, February 2017


Prompt: Open Mike Night at D’Verse Poets Pub

I’ve just read the below poem by Kirsten Dierking and it stirred me to think of my lover. And as the mind does, those metathoughts/feels then bubbled into three poetic expressions: one in the above poem, one expressed in the following short aphorism, and one by my poem (A New Nest) in my previous post.

My love for you is not borne from thinking of you as perfect,
but I nurture a perfect vision of you because of my love. — Sabio

So thank to Kirsten for the inspiration!

Lucky  — by Kirsten Dierking

All this time,
the life you were
supposed to live
has been rising around you
like the walls of a house
designed with warm
harmonious lines.
As if you had actually
planned it that way.
As if you had
stacked up bricks
at random,
and built by mistake
a lucky star.


A New Nest

The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.
G.K. Chesterton  (1874-1936, writer)

A New Nest

Your unwanted laughter has become my joy
Your unvalued chattiness has become my smile
Your unappreciated brilliance has become my fortune.

Odd, how what others toss away,
can so easily become a welcomed warm nest
for the thankful.

— by Sabio Lantz, February 2016