AFTERMATH

.Happy Memorial

MEMORIAL DAY is coming to an end in another few hours . . . I’ve been listening to folks talking on the radio about what this day means to them. I found a poem I’d written a while back, and I think to me, it seems appropriate for this day . . .

AFTERMATH

First there were the storms
we could not control—being informed,
didn’t make a difference—they still

came and swept away years of life—
the living, storing, saving—cautions
thrown to the wind, and what remained

was stagnant hope. Then courage,
to keep moving forward until
the sorrows were behind and smiles

lit up the porches, and songs found
their words, stories remembered,
shared, recorded in the hearts of those

who braved the hard times
and pulled through.
But what of the wars that came after?

Countless bodies we didn’t see—
the debris was what remained
of lives that were flown in to reboot,

to start anew. Tears unshed,
dreams driven to nightmares, walking
enigmas, stories untold, hearts heavy

with eyes of despair, wives heavy
with child—fatherless, mothers longing,
for lost sons and daughters, empty of words.

For what returned home in spirit, for some,
made no difference from bodies that came rolled
in the flag. Graveyards lined with red,

white and blue—stars and stripes
awarded posthumously. Families torn
wondering if the sons and daughters

they raised with care, were just badges
they proudly wore, while their ashes
morphed, consecrating foreign soil.

And while we groom our children
for their future, we have learned
nothing. We are still talking about war.

WILL THIS BE A VERY GOOD YEAR?

We won’t know since it’s just begun. Happy New Year dear Readers!

And just before the day has met its halfway mark, two stars have already gone down—big names, big stars.

Natalie Cole, and her lovely voice singing her own dirge. Her father, beloved Nat King Cole assured us and sang emphatically, “You will never grow old.” How true, Natalie. You will never grow old, since you’ve passed away so early in life. Sixty five years old. Some live on past ninety. It’s sad to no longer hear that beautiful voice come alive. Beautiful and unforgettable.

The other big star who died—”Trapper” John McIntyre from M*A*S*H—Hawkeye’s counterpart. Although actor Wayne Rogers’ roles in other shows or movies might not be well remembered, he will always be missed as “Trapper” John. He did, however, live a longer life than Natalie—a ripe 82 years.

Both stars were unfortunately,compromised by serious complications.

Here’s a takeaway, people. Be health-wise. Your life, for the most part, is certainly in your own hands. Take hold of it. Live healthy. Eat right. Walk. Exercise. Help yourself stay healthy to enjoy this year and hereafter. This will be your best effort to make each year a very good year for yourself.

WAITING FOR GOODIES

With the holidays approaching, there’s always something to look forward to. For me, mostly, it’s a time to think about what the next twelve months will likely bring. Sometimes, just waiting and wondering can be either inspiring or cathartic, or a mix of both. For me, that’s exactly what it is: a mix of both. Reading palms or tea leaves has never been my thing. Just pushing forward with new zest and vigor, and a bunch of hope and hard work. Just plugging on and pushing forward. Time to sow new ideas and new resolutions right about now, so we can nurture them to take fruition as January appears. Be ready, and not just patiently wait for goodies . . . .

bowl

LOOKING FOR THE NEXT CUPERTINO POET LAUREATE…

WHERE ART THOU?  CLUE: ASK JENNIFER SWANTON BROWN about Celebrating Creativity.

Jennifer The current Poet Laureate of Cupertino, Jennifer Swanton Brown will illuminate you on air at KKUP 95.1 FM, on Friday, June 26, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. She will also read some of her poems on air. David Stafford of KKUP’s Friday Folk Off has generously allowed 30 minutes for Swanton, along with yours truly (Pushpa MacFarlane), who has created this gig. So stay tuned in for pertinent information, as well as, some awesome poetry coming your way.

Do not miss listening to KKUP 95.1 FM today, June 26, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. because here is where we are taking the opportunity to publicize the upcoming selection of Cupertino’s next Poet Laureate. And people, those of you eligible to apply for this honorable position, this is your last chance! All entries are due no later than July 10, 2015, 5 p.m. Final interviews will be held prior to July 30, 2015. So do tune in to KKUP 95.1 FM, on Friday, June 26, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. so you can find out how and where to apply before the deadline.

Invited participant David Denny, Emeritus Poet Laureate of Cupertino’s, unfortunately, could not make it to KKUP 95.1. Instead, he will be wearing his Professorial hat at De Anza College.

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DOUBLE HAPPINESS: A REVIEW OF TONY BRASUNAS’ FIRST PUBLICATION

…Of humongous proportions, I must add. Not only has Tony Brasunas’ book been an immediate success, but his wholehearted effort in making his book this successful, is a story in itself. If you visit his website, www.tonybrasunas.com you will find his systematic engineering of his entire plot, plan, and perseverance in taking a germ of an idea about writing a book, into the next stage of providing details of this writing, and the final accomplishment: a successful publication and a winner of prestigious awards.

This brief review has been published on Amazon.com. A more detailed review can be found on www.dragonflypress-ca.com.

REVIEW

Cover   award_boya-silver award_erichoffer

DOUBLE HAPPINESS: One Man’s Tale of Love, Loss, and Wonder on the Long Roads of China
by Tony Brasunas, Torchporch Creative, 2013

“Every person, like a waterfall, has a story, a beauty, an unexpected twist to discover, a trajectory and a velocity.”

After reading Tony Brasunas’ recently published “Double Happiness”, I feel as if I have just emerged from an IMAX theatre, triumphant after watching in 3-D, an entire trilogy of a tireless quest through a lush landscape, for something very precious. The book leaves me with the same excitement, the surge of anticipation and exhilaration still ripping through the entire body I’d feel if I were exiting from an adventure-packed film. Trekking across the Middle Kingdom, over the expansive mountainous region, through incessant rain; careening down the Himalayan roads on a rollercoaster ride in a behemoth truck carrying bricks, not to mention the expedition across the Great Wall and the Himalayan foothills. What could prove more riveting?

Brasunas’ book is a moment to moment live narrative — we are there with him in the classroom with his Chinese students where, his task is not only to teach English, but to inspire the students to “uplift the nation.” Other times we’re jostling down the Chinese market streets soaking up the fragrances of Asia–the tea, the incense, the cigarettes, the garbage, the constant body odors, the piercing fish sauces, the spry ginger, the fortifying garlic, and the heft braised port wielding dark plum sauce.

Tony Brasunas has the makings of a good ambassador. To have spent time in close proximity with the people in the heart of China, watched them live their everyday lives, breathed in the landscape and participated in the spirituality, simplicity, and experienced firsthand Tibetan peace–this is the essence of global friendship–an acknowledgement of the people, and a way of establishing a peaceful world devoid of political machinations.

Double Happiness” is an interesting read for anyone, but more so for young men and women who have never traveled out of the country or those children born in America, or any place other than the country of origin of their immigrant parents. And as the author recommends, “every American should see his or her country from abroad.”

Great-Wall-of-China      Back Cover    Double_Happiness_red

A more detailed review can be found on www.dragonflypress-ca.com.

INFLUENCED BY ART

I continue to seek quiet and peace throughout my busy day, and look forward to those moments late at night, when the rest of the house is asleep. Ironically, it is in these quiet hours that my mind triggers into action and I find myself absorbed in thinking, planning, writing, or just some feverish, soul-searching activity. My active mind somehow generates a sense of calm within me, and I am happy doing what I am. I feel content and attain some sense of accomplishment.

Meditating Buddha-Gandhara small Here is the Meditating Buddha, from Gandhara, second century. I have always been fascinated by this, ever since I learned about Buddha in grade school. To me, the Buddha is the embodiment of peace. Seated in a cross-legged yogic stance in this piece, he assumes the classical pose, depicting dignity, reverence, and humility. His hands overlap palms upward, in the gesture of meditation and tranquility. His quest for knowledge lead him to Nirvana, or enlightenment.

I believe in Buddha’s Eightfold Path to nirvana, which includes: right knowledge, right aspiration, right speech, right behavior, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditation.

pieta small I see my children as my reward for nurturing them with love and joy. Michelangelo’s Pietá from the Renaissance art in sixteenth century Europe, now housed at St. Peter’s, Vatican, Rome, epitomizes for me, the deep-rooted and selfless love a mother has for her children. One look at the magnificently sculptured young son enveloped securely in his mother’s lap in the folds of her flowing garment, is enough to stir the deepest feeling of motherhood.

Just as Michelangelo set free the Pietá from the block of marble—the rock he fondly cradled and carved—so too, I have set free my two young children into the world, quite confident that they will carve a better life for themselves, and respect the hand that rocked their cradle.

Woman beauty small Several years ago, when I was in Singapore, I came across Kitagawa Utamaro’s Woman at the Height of Her Beauty. Here “the elaboration of surface detail combined with an effort to capture the essence of form”, making the images “simplified and elegant.” (Marilyn Stokstad)

I have dabbled with different forms of art ranging from pencil sketching to working with stained glass. But what I have enjoyed immensely is working with Batik, a form of fabric art using wax resists and dyes. Long before I literally got my hands wet dying fabric and using wax resists, I had browsed through several books reading about the process. When I finally had the opportunity to take a class, I created patterns and designs influenced by traditional Indian motifs. Later, I had an opportunity to visit Singapore, where I saw beautiful Indonesian fabrics with intricate Batik designs. I even got to watch local craftsmen maneuvering traditional tjanting tools carrying hot wax, creating fascinating and detailed handiwork. A few years later, I found myself in Medicine Hat, a small town in Alberta, Canada. Here, I had another opportunity to work on Batik at an art studio. Instead of using some of the traditional designs for Batik, I found myself veering towards the exotic woodblock prints of the Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro. I found these prints very conducive to rendering in Batik. I think this is because both Batik and Utamaro’s prints successfully use abstraction of lines and simplified shapes to give form to the images.

AL-MUTANABBI STREET STARTS HERE…

Al-Mutanabbi St

Looking forward to the Al-Mutanabbi Street…reading this evening, March 14, 2013, at the Martin Luther Library…There’s a poem by Brian Turner in it, “The al-Mutanabbi Street Bombing.

Brian Turner

Turner read a version of this poem at Harker High School in February, 2013. Published in his new book, “Phantom Noise,” this version includes a new stanza, which I find very moving:

…As the weeks pass by, sunsets
deepen in color over the Pacific. Couples
lie in the spring fields of California,
drinking wine, making love in the lavender
dusk. There is a sweet, apple-roasted
smell of tobacco where they sleep.
They dream. Then wake to the dawn’s
early field of lupine—to discover themselves
dusted in ash, the poems of Sulma
and Sayyab in their hair, Sa’di on their eyebrows,
Hafiz and Rumi on their lips.