Archive for the Poetry Category

Poetry of Pablo Neruda

Posted in Poetry on April 5, 2013 by C.C. Beissert





Sweet Guatemala, each slab
of your mansion takes a drop
of ancient blood devoured
by the mouths of the jaguars.
Alvarado crushed your ancestry,
broke the astral trails,
wallowed in your martyrdoms.

And the bishop entered Yucatán
behind the pale jaguars.
They joined the deeper wisdom
heard in the air
of the first day of the world,
when the first Maya wrote
making note of the trembling of the river,
the science of pollen, the rage
of the surrounding gods,
the migrations across
the first universes,
the laws of the beehive,
the secret of the green bird,
the language of the stars,
secrets of day and night
taken from the shores
of earthly creation!



A Bishop


The bishop raised his arm,
burned books in the plaza
in the name of his tiny God
turning to smoke the ancient pages
weathered by dark time.

And the smoke never returns from the sky.





translated from the Spanish of Pablo Neruda by Caleb Beissert

“The Next Big Thing”

Posted in Poetry with tags , on March 7, 2013 by C.C. Beissert


I’ve recently been tagged to participate in “The Next Big Thing,” a literary chain letter/blog hop that’s meant to promote new writing. The gist is that you answer a few questions about an upcoming or recent book, then post these answers to your blog/website/Facebook page/wherever, and tag some friends who will do the same the following week.

I’ve been tagged by Christopher Martin, a fine poet whose chapbook A Conference of Birds was published by New Native Press in 2012. Martin also is Editor-in-Chief of Flycatcher. You can read his interview here.

My interview is below, and following that is the list of folks I’ve tagged with links to where you can read their answers next week.

What is the title of your book?


What genre does your book fall under?


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Translation must keep pace with ever-changing language.

Is your book self-published or represented by an agency?

Beautiful was published by New Native Press in 2013. NNP is a great small press, based out of Western North Carolina, and run by the Baby Beat poet Thomas Rain Crowe.

 Beautiful front cover only-Page-1b

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I had been translating Spanish-language poetry throughout my time at Western Carolina University and continued to do so after graduating and moving to Asheville to work for a magazine. I was adapting the work of several different poets, mostly Spanish and some Latin American poets. I had not considered the possibility of publishing a book of my translations; however, I had been submitting them to literary journals and sharing them with other poets, including Crowe, who eventually approached me with the idea to do a book. We went back and forth for a long time discussing the idea. The manuscript was originally a diverse sampling of Spanish-language poets, but we whittled it down to Pablo Neruda and Federico García Lorca. I wanted the book to showcase simply the poetry.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The inspiration comes from the poets whom I translated. I can’t say why. Somehow I was drawn to their work, and it only continues to draw me in. At their best, these poets write with a sense of mystery, a perception of death and dark sounds, a hopeful longing—that indescribable spark that courses through the greatest art.

García Lorca’s poems in Beautiful draw inspiration from his homeland of Andalucía, its landscape, people, and especially their music. He was particularly intrigued with cante jondo, the deepest songs of flamenco music. There are several poems in this selection directly related to this music and culture, but all of his poems reflect this influence in the rhythm and musicality of their language. Other poems deal with war and untimely death, spirituality, nature, and frustrated sexuality. Several poems are taken from unpublished papers written in the poet’s youth. One poem, “Ode to Walt Whitman,” was inspired by García Lorca’s stay at Columbia University in New York, where he found himself out-of-place, homesick, and angered by the oppression he witnessed there, yet he found solace in other writers and the music of black people, which he found similar to his native Andalusian folk music.

Not all of García Lorca’s work is so dark, though. It was Pablo Neruda who said of Lorca’s happiness that “[it] was as much a part of him as his skin.”

Neruda’s poems are inspired by a love affair, earthquakes, other poets, politics, trains, water (especially the oceans) and ordinary objects like tomatoes. His work, like García Lorca’s, is inherently tied to the poet’s homeland, Chile, which he loved with his life. Neruda had a turbulent life at home and abroad as a diplomat and in exile, as lover and adulterer, celebrity and private man. The title poem of this book was written for Matilde Urrutia and comes from Neruda’s Los versos del capitán, originally published anonymously.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Well, I spent about six years translating the material. The manuscript itself probably took a few months to put together and find the right sequence, but not too long relatively. Then, it was more months of copyediting, revising, and logistical headaches.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Philippe Noiret would, of course, play the part of Pablo Neruda.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The book contains the enchanting poems of Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda, but it also contains an introduction in which I speak to the translation process. It also includes a summary and anecdotes of the poets’ lives as well as notes on particular poems. I explain the connection between the poets, while respecting their uniqueness.

One of my primary objectives is to create a discussion of the translation process itself, which I feel is commonly misunderstood. Poetry translation is not a process of mere word-for-word, literal translation—which is, in fact, impossible—but a subjective art that seeks to convey the essence of the original poem. The translator also attempts to preserve or mimic sound and meter where possible. Furthermore, translation must reflect changes in language. I am translating into the English of right now in this part of the world. This is not to say I am attempting cheap modernization of the original vocabulary, but rather to put things as we would today, in a manner that allows the poems to resonate with the modern reader.

If you’d like a copy, you can order them directly from me or Small Press Distribution.


The writers I’ve tagged for next week are:

Justin Blackburn


“The Mountain and the River” by Pablo Neruda

Posted in Poetry with tags on February 11, 2013 by C.C. Beissert




The Mountain and the River


In my country there is a mountain.
In my country there is a river.

Come with me.

Night rises up the mountain.
The faint longing down in the river.

Come with me.

Who are those who suffer?
I do not know, but they are mine.

Come with me.

I do not know, but they call me
and they say to me: “We suffer.”

Come with me.

And they say to me: “Your people,
your unlucky people,
between the mountain and the river,
with hunger and with pains,
they do not want to fight alone,
waiting for you, friend.”

Oh you, whom I love,
small, red grain
of wheat,
the struggle will be hard,
life will be hard,
but you will come with me.


translated from the Spanish by Caleb Beissert

“The Surprise” by Caleb Beissert

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on December 30, 2012 by C.C. Beissert





The Surprise



while the still stones whisper

in my ears climbing the mountain

more brilliant falling leaf like a silent dervish

             still spinning

mind of resurrection infantile dialect reasoning


the old seafarer watches the storm wash in

a different wind drives the tides and moon

            pulls and rises

drifting through pure existences

a dude trying to holler at this girl

a thousand-alligator pit swarming

            made angry by red meat

four-hundred and six burning blue

windows to worlds in soft midnight exploding

one nation under frog


with eggs and a side of ketchup






—first published in The Journal of Interdimensional Poetry, 2012

Poetry by Caleb Beissert

Posted in Poetry with tags , on November 11, 2012 by C.C. Beissert




Mind Warp



We are racing toward far
alight star cloud
out in the deep space
of our eyelids.





—first published in The Journal of Interdimensional Poetry, 2012

Poetry by Mike Cook

Posted in Poetry with tags , on November 10, 2012 by C.C. Beissert




Hero of the Suburbs



Go drown on me
In a mineral pool of white tulip petals
Formed in the canal of your sternum
Raise me in a whiskey-stained revival tent
A barrel of black pepper—the pulpit
Walk me down the pews filled with ghosts
Teach me how to drown out sirens
Seduce the green wasps from my skin

And lose
No fire

Make dove with me
Skate with me on plaid and plywood
Remember me before the wood, before
Nocturnal raptors flew to my bed
Stole my wings and pecked my fontanel
Leaving only a seed of flight
Now, a lonesome silver maple
Ceded to a prison of soil

Faded maroon
Petrified leaves

Pinned to a floor of fingertips

Have steps with me
Take my ocelot follicles
Weave a lion’s mane
Use a pen to check my square
Let me know I’m there
Work in a garden of feet
Buy yourself glass toenails

You first
Told me

There’s no crystal stair

Mike Cook, 2012





Little is known about Mike Cook, except that he is here. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina, and from time to time, shows up to read at the Vanuatu Kava Bar Open Mic and other poetry readings. His poems often are filled with dark humor, sex, skateboarding, suburban drug dealers wearing fitted hats, and plungers—yet there is a tenderness in Cook’s words and a perception of the proximity of death and other-worldliness that permeates his work.

Poetry by Kevin Evans

Posted in Poetry with tags , , on October 21, 2012 by C.C. Beissert




“Marginally Young”



What happens when the milkman goes missin’,
one October evening orange juice drinkin’ tastin’ the autumn?
Smilin’, smilin’, his best,
brightest reflection, a little
girl on a milk box stands
next to him, he’s still smilin’ but the whole
picture is a question,


What happens when the milkman goes missin’, do you
visit him in the land
of nothin’, in the time of
What did they expect,
what did they want?


He stepped away for a cigarette
and never came back from lunch,
never came back for lunch.
What happens when the milkman goes up & missin’,
and he was hardly even done?
Marginally young.


Kevin A. Evans, September 5, 2009



Kevin Evans lives in Asheville, NC, turning up at open mics, poetry readings, late-night dive bars, and on street corners, carrying with him folded letters, receipts, and traffic citations with poems scrawled into every possible margin. Evans works construction and other temporary jobs by day and at night delivers his poems with that deep, intense voice like dark lightning. His craft is unique, largely influenced by the lyrics of great American songwriters (including Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Stevie Nicks), and cultivated in the university of the streets. Evans has been a modest yet constant figure in the Asheville poetry scene since the Green Door days, for more than ten years. He writes poetry strictly for art’s sake. Evans also is a conversationalist and always is good for some high-end bullshit—an art in itself.



Posted in Poetry with tags on September 4, 2012 by C.C. Beissert


I am bothered by the billboards,

telling my back-mind what to do at 4:30 on a Tuesday
morning. I feel hammered by the spike-driving captivity fighters; jovial
squandering imperial madhouse money machine lust machine and
soap is hopeless in pure light.

Now, in the blink of an instant,

eight-arm durga riding tangerine tiger through time’s blue hue
like a ghost moling throughout the entire dirt of being
dancing in soma-song circle outside naked
knowing more than ever and knowing nothing at all
in happy madness.

Now, shout in ecstatic language:

childlike Pythagorean rational my self bearing
realigned ancestrally channeling creation
two-headed serpentine blistering hallelujah tambourine
six letter jumping jack torso-faced, thousand-eyed
whispering devourer
slipping on rings of magic science
bobbing for worlds in the tin-sided omniverse
jumping in puddles of time in the forest worlds
exploring the crawlspace of subconscious past-life
angel kid whose blood pours in slurred oracles toward
big stick fallout shelter fat cat who’s
regretting the bombs once trailed by confidence
marking the planet with lines meaning nothing
is nothing if nothing is anything?

Now see in circles the comets recycle exhuming heart from murky

shared shamanic suffering a terrible long natured Ra almighty
blinding only those who stare, and
the mycelium society—welding no arms—lost under George
his minions discussed in other words
as the warheads destroyed the war
and the rain turned purple with thousands of winged swine.

Now standing in backwater flats in the darkest alleyway in the looking

handing out freedom in containers for sanity (what little is left)
now in a tent with midnight lamps burning
on sofas speaking of a mind beyond a mind beyond
smiling in heartwarming friendship sharing laughter
tapping the electronic pads in a love-circle
with good inattentions under a large light organ
and all the well wishers—hey
have you seen these I’m a monk do you have any money?
—speed off cackling in cart chase
throwing up dust behind a world of shapeless illusion.

Now! Raise high arms to symbolize praise

we only are fractions in this crazy backwards tributary
arbitrarily pumping oil ex machina,
so break my art with a candy cane whistle
shoot my mind with a blackberry comb
eleven rolls over to make room for ten
and we all roar together
commercial two-eyed Jupiter reptile descendants,
one more consciousness as old as rhyme.
The offense rests,
and I continue…

Now, realizing smallness from an airplane window

wise agers listen intently patient with us ever so
the kid whips out some gadget and dials up the innerwar
we’re nothing without our juice they say
real ones slap skins in funny rhythms
and sink back into the reality behind
with no words left to express
this ever strange cognition.

Now, in the green-lit room perfumed girls dance clumsily in tight skirts

to doo bop breaks
shady fellows slunched smoking in corners
rooms of banjos and djembes
long line for bathroom
the wine bottle kid vomits with rainwater hairstyle
marker-faced in elated one life party rage—now
in between place among the rafters
so quiet you can hear the trees drink and feel them grow.
This is their world, too.

Now! Extreme novelty approaching, poverty encroaching

ignition Yin energy milk mother rising
love-minded life-feeler shadow-herder earth-worker
wisdom whisperer sister brotherer jack hammerer
low sparkler wish wonderer dude bringer atom tingler
shaker up drumbeat we all die too bad
dancing in the sky with everybody
a beautiful passerby left these keys for you in the attics of
unconscious eternity
laughing once laughing twice laughing, laughing gone…

Now! In sex being life worship,

we stand
howling away the injustices of humanity
the cruelty of a dying nation
screaming for all that ever was, ever suffered, ever loved /
all merciless compassionate shit
just faceless nouns eked into existences by some cosmic shell of
streaming previously unknown colors into primal heart-feeling
vibrating low enough to stay together separately
building complex pyramids toward graceful sky
flying holy intense astral ladder structure godhead mastermind
exploding sinusoidal climax screaming fractal shattering.

I now see other nations, glory warriors heeling mercy-words

Herod-like abstruse mission-hearted macrocosm
gray open-headed writhing in blue whale freedom wave
driving wild-minded screaming through the forests of Brendiban
jumping through the open window of illumination
riding on the high-crests of novelty
old sannyasin breathing the Great Rhythm
contemplating the night sky through associations of words
wandering the infinite caverns of the mind
dreaming prophecy through numeric logos
now a peaceful and ready
spirit pushing the void
falling silent in the gathering dusk
releasing from happy insane-room demon-headed trouble world—
God knows the last time I had a moment in which to be.

—first appeared in The Nomad, 2008


Posted in Art, Happenings, Poetry, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 2, 2012 by C.C. Beissert

Live poetry, cabaret music, and burlesque performance happening in Asheville, NC, on Sunday, September 2, 2012, at 8 p.m. Doors at 7. Ticket $8. Guests are encouraged to attend in costume.

Poetry by James McKay

Posted in Poetry with tags , on August 22, 2012 by C.C. Beissert


Cumberland Arms, Byker

Frozen, the rain
whistles white as noise
down between the bridge
and the old brick pub.

Unemployment weather.



Song of Concern

Cocaine is a serpent
in a room full of faces.

An orchestra of soloists,
their wriggling clarinets’
nostril fangholds.

Look at them,
alone in the pressure
of their own skulls.

Mind you, lines is lines,
poetry’s no better.

And once you acquire
a taste for the good shit,
just as expensive.



Even the Orchestra is Beautiful

translated from the Latin
of the Appendix Vergiliana
(1st century C.E.)


She’s from Syria,
her hair’s done up Greek fashion
and she knows what to do
with her hips and her rhythm section,
leaps lush and horny through the
bar smoke fair rattling for a fuck,
so what are you going to do?
Bake and grind out in the dirt
or sink into a nice boozy sofa?

We’ve got mixers, shakers, flowers,
pipes and fiddles on a shady terrace
cool beneath the reeds.

Hear that flute?  Pure country style,
the way they play it in Arcadia,
where the wild things are.

There’s wine, a little basic but on tap.
Water clatters quietly in the brook.
There’s crowns of violets and saffron,
roses woven red against the yellow
of the clover, lilies brought in willow
baskets fresh from the virgin stream.

We’ve got special guest appearances
from lovely Mother Earth
and Love and Ecstasy in person.

There’s little rustic cheeses dried in straw,
plums ripe as an autumn afternoon,
chestnuts, sweet red apples,
blackberries and grapes in lazy bunches
and the cucumber hangs greenly in its frame
beneath the watchful eye of the god
in the garden shed with his great big chopper
(don’t be shy) and a tremendous hard-on.

Pilgrim, come inside,
that poor knackered animal of yours
is dripping sweat, have a heart,
even donkeys are sacred to
some god or other.

Meanwhile, the noise of massed cicadas
in the orchard reaches bursting point.

Meanwhile, the lizard hugs the cool
beneath the thornbush.

If you’ve any sense you’ll sit back with your pint glass
(though we have fine crystal, if you prefer)
and get yourself completely drenched…

Isn’t this nice? You’re tired,
you shade yourself and rest beneath the vines,
wrap your heavy head in roses,
nibble at the mouth of some pretty young thing
and forget the old raisers of eyebrows,
whoever they are.

You think we’ll smell the flowers and be grateful
when we’re dust? You really got your heart set
on a tombstone with a fancy crown?

Bring on the wine, the dice. Care about tomorrow,
you deserve everything you get — that’s Death,
end of all parties, catching your ear, Go on, live,
he says. You know it’s only a matter of time.





During these days, by custom,
beneath the glamour of the northern hills
all the little objects glare and flutter,
seethe and dance to the singing of the world
in all its weaves and pores, grains and fibres.

Here’s to beauty coming on through the walls
of a dark house and arrives like a body blow,
or a screaming puncture.

Here’s to rare connections that grow
deep with the seasons and more strange,
and rarer still.



— These selections come from James McKay‘s debut poetry collection Quiet Circus, published by Vintage Poison Press in 2011.


From the book’s jacket blurb:

“The poet is also a teacher, tour guide and translator, equally at home in the post-industrial wastelands of Tyneside or of east London, traveling across Europe, or not leaving the room.

In this collection, he sits in cafés; he sweats on dance floors; he walks in the park; he shops for groceries by the mouth of the Tiber; he learns strange new alphabets; he prophesies the death of cities, and makes his lover smile.

Over the last 10 years, these poems have been written and sent on postcards, declaimed to large halls and festival crowds, told late at night by campfires, heard in dreams. Some were released, with musical accompaniment, on the album Follow On by The Morris Quinlan Experience.”