AN INTERVIEW WITH POET LINDA E. CHOWN & A SAMPLER OF HER POETRY, PART II

“Poetry refreshes who we are and opens our eyes. It is a second sight on all that we’ve known and done. It penetrates into the invisible world we don’t speak of often and thus can bring us together . . . Poetry is the biggest surprise. It can be our double, echo, enhance our solitudes and tell us how the world is in its mysterious questioning ways. Poetry is a beautiful agent of radicalism in all ways.” Linda E. Chown



In Part I – published yesterday – we served up two of Linda’s poems along with her interview. Today, we share six more of Linda’s poems.  A rare and rich treat for all of us. Thank you, Linda Chown.


POETRY SAMPLER

Uncle Sasha

Dear Sasha. Great Sasha.

You were something very special.

In Moscow’s somber streets, flagellated

and smothered by summer’s heat

and simmering peat bog fires,

you in that outrageously dignified hat

and cane, sickness pushing your bones,

overcame these pains and your daughter’s

shame of you to cut a swathe of finesse.

 

Haunted man who knew prison.

Proud man whose family split and fissured,

warred in the expected Russian Jewish way.

Sick man just three days out of bed.

I’d watch you as patriarch at your end

of all the tables heavy with food and talk.

You barely had the energy to smile sometimes

but you did and lectured about smoking

through all-conveying looks

of emotion when you caught our eyes.

My grandmother grew red from the efforts

of translation.

I babbled in smiles while the women

stroked and rubbed the top of my head.

I felt a volcano in you.

A bursting open in the long gray hair.

 

There.

Two worlds

barely touching in the air:

American blue jeans. Chekhov in English

My Darling Clementine Slavicized on a dusty Victrola.

You’d look at me, the youngest,

wanting and getting something

but all my claims, living in Spain,

the bases, were wanting.

 

My mother’s birthday dinner night

on the 25th floor of Moscow’s swankest hotel

I read the speech you wrote

in English the whole afternoon long

and you stood up speaking in Russian,

saying things that made all the relatives cry,

the agility of Fred Astaire in your body’s texture,

the weight of a visionary in your eye

and I felt an unexperienced pride in family,

the inherited forms.

 

Dead of pneumonia and gone

you fused so much and played so lonesome

light, so honor driven.

Man who knew pogroms and the family’s

leaving you and war and jail and revolution.

Uncle who said my name like I used to

as a little girl, Yinda,Yinda.

I didn’t get enough of you.

© 2018, Linda E. Chown

 

Time of terror

Then, when they killed

the Rosenbergs

for espionage

it was

a time of terror

for my family

eyes peering everywhere

no iPhone, no tv,

rumors turned to fact

in a mystery.

We turned to poetry

which would howl

and music with a whole

lotta shakin goin’ on

which spoke us true

stranded as we were

then in the quicksands

of conformity.

© 2018, Linda E. Chown

 

My Father Had a Dream

He had a dream

 

My father taught me to dream,

to take bigger steps,

his eyes flashed with happy need.

 

At the Lincoln Memorial

whose steps he went up like the tall giant he was with

his bad knees and flappy cane tap tap tap.

 

Us-all at the top like a vision

marble white we saw greatness,

something you can’t measure or fathom,

My father did more than smile:

he beamed, he purred peace and salvation,

like his life’s work had been done

by taking us there.

 

My father such a simple good man

whose light reached beyond

our messy, contentious, lives.

© 2018, Linda E. Chown

 

The Three Kings: Later

It is not that we don’t have

gifts and luxurious robes:

the child robbed the cradle

and his daddy’s not home.

The mare is in the kitchen

and the pope’s just on loan.

The food’s all dried out now

and the whistle doesn’t blow.

The roads have all been polished

and the stars don’t hardly show.

The roots are somewhat buried,

the times a passing slow,

we’re moving into darkness

where the candles rarely glow.

Where the gifts we bring

are seldom seen,

where there is no place to go.

© 2018, Linda E. Chown

     When all fell away from me

Paul Celan

 No Ballroom Dancing

in the stark stare of wide-snow and beggars hiding under the Blue Bridge

in the stark slant of a pilgrim’s walk to the plenty of the poor
silk slack people with their lips plunged in
to the silence of their dark thoughts
of the endless ending cursing and coming in this pen, sneering

when that old woman there with a Red Hat

can not go in without her teeth
she clinks and the pauper people point and peer stare

like pauper people are wont to do


where her Red Hat falls into a pea soup of fear
just a happenstance

 

no ballroom dancing here

© 2018, Linda Chown

 

A day they say to remember

It’s Memorial Day again,

a day they say to remember

those missing in action

remember missing those

long blue sky sailor stripes

remember your father in action

when you were little remember the Marne

and he was in action burning the brush

fire mixed black soot on white

fog drifts remember when you were

little with that big frown

and your mother sat there waiting

pulling down on her red skirt

© 2018, Linda Chown

PART I includes Linda’s interview and two poems HERE.


LInda E. Chown

LINDA E. CHOWN grew up in Berkeley, Ca. in the days of action. Civil Rights arrests at Sheraton Palace and Auto Row.  BA UC Berkeley Intellectual History; MA Creative Writing SFSU; PHd Comparative Literature University of Washington. Four books of poetry. Many poems published on line at Numero Cinq, Empty Mirror, The Bezine, Dura, Poet Head and others. Many articles on Oliver Sachs, Doris Lessing, Virginia Woolf, and many others. Twenty years in Spain with friends who lived through the worst of Franco. She was in Spain (Granada, Conil and Cádiz) during Franco’s rule, there the day of his death when people took to the streets in celebration. Interviewed nine major Spanish Women Novelists, including Ana María Matute and Carmen Laforet and Carmen Martín Gaite.


 

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Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”



 The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton

 

 

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