Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nice Guys Finish Last. I finish Second. 

I finished second in the P&E Reader's Poll 2011. It is the umpteenth time in the last few years that I have finished a contest in the top 5 or even exactly 2nd. I'm happy for this level of success but what will it take to really breakthrough? I came in 2nd in the Cervena Barva Chapbook Contest that comes with a publishing contest and a pretty healthy monetary prize with my book Glyphic. I am planning to either get Glyphic published very soon or self-publish it. Ten years have passed since I first started writing it and I'm done editing it. There's nothing more that can be done to it. It is as good as it's ever going to be, or at least as it will be in the near future. It's not like I'm writing for the money anyway, I just want people to read my writing -- and hopefully enjoy it!!

In non-writing related news, I came in 2nd in the Itaewon Money Tournament 2011 as well. I lost 2-1 in the final. Just one more high finish where I couldn't quite grab the gold.

Well, let's see what 2012 will bring. We're more than halfway into it and so far nothing special to report.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

New Poem -- 3 August 2012 -- Seoul

Learning to use chopsticks

it’s like a plastic egg-slicer.
i arrange the cheese and close the lid
it slices the perimeter of cheese
into even squares
while cutting a heart shape in the middle.
he grabs chopsticks from last night’s mandoo
and spears a piece of cheese
and lifts it to his mouth.
i clap at the success and he celebrates so hard
he shakes the booster seat

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Sinus Infection

i’m always about dead with asthma
the Seoul smog is too much
Kick over a Motorbike
in Protest
like an anesthetized patient
i cover my mouth
while he vacuums my sinuses.
if i look at the cold steel device
like an elongated nasal butt plug
it makes me convulse. 

i look and i cough
right on the doctor
the mask was hanging to the side of his mouth
he puts it on.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Sickle of a P

The Persistence of Dali by JM Reinbold from Dali Krab Day

The Sickle of a P

poem by Ralph-Michael Chiaia

did you see the krab aid lady, Nanook?
Nanook stared with a question mark for a face
his face was gone, except for two equally parabolic moustaches
each slight apart from the other
do you know Hitler’s moustache, Mr. Nanook?
you mean that imbecile’s patch of hair
yes, that imbecile’s patch
that’s exactly what you don’t have
you have have the handlebars of genius on your face
but your face is gone
my face is what? his voice was emanating as if there were speakers
because his mouth was gone
El Salvador Dali was standing in the background
in front of the tsunami, Mr. Stubborn The Whole World Must Surf
Building Cities Oil Tankers Robins
holding a Tiger Lily the flower that Quetzalcoatl brought to Ixim Ulew
from the center of the universe, the Orion’s Belt, the Three Hearthstones
the Crab the Crab the Crab Nebula
Flaming Time Nebula
Horsehead Nebula
Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka the persistence of memory
imagine time is a reader
this Dali Krab Day is the sickle of a p, not the spike
just the curved sickle of a capital p: P
in a poem, in a book, in a volume, on a shelf
in a room, on a floor, up an elevator, in a building
on a street, in a city, of a country, of continent
of a planet, in a system, in a universe
moving towards another like a great big muffin top
while in the sack of crabs
slung around Dali’s back
his eyes not tracking right, tracking better than right
he makes eye contact with Nanook, and the questionmark face
becomes an exclamation mark!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Quetzal

When Maynor went for the newspaper in front of the house there was a quetzal parked on the hood of his car. His car was perched in the driveway, where he always put it, in front of the front door. His car was a Nissan Sentra. He called it a Tsuru, the word from his country. It was the car used by taxi drivers there. He used his as a taxi here. He didn’t have a yellow cab, just a Sentra with the word taxi written in black magic marker on the back of the sun visor. It was a cold morning. There was some frost on the windows. Maynor bent down and picked up the newspaper. The headline read, The Continued Success of the Free Market. The quetzal sat on the hood, still—its long tail flowing down the side of the hood and touching the ground. Maynor’s back hurt. It hurt every morning. Usually, there was no rare bird on the hood of his car. Quetzal feathers were the most beautiful feathers. The whole bird was beautiful. It was green. It was very green, about four inches tall, and had curly spiked hair on its head. It had a red chest and a very long blue and green tail--the color called yax in his country.
Most people never saw one in all their lives. There were shaman, jungle dwellers, people who could speak with plants, who never saw one. Kings, in the previous era, employed workers to take their blowguns to the jungle. They were quetzal-searchers. As soon as they saw one, they fired. If they brought the king feathers they were promoted to cajuaob--a word meaning Lord.
Maynor couldn’t look at the quetzal any longer. He tiptoed inside and to the bedroom. He didn’t want to scare away the bird. He woke his wife. “There’s a quetzal,” he said, “on the hood of my car.”
She rolled over. “It must have fallen out of your pocket,” she said in a tired, scratchy voice. “Carry dollars.”
This was a good, sober answer since Guatemala’s currency was called quetzales.
“No, mi vida. This is not money. It is a quetzal, long tail and everything,” he said.
“Nobody ever sees quetzals, and certainly not here,” she said. “Let me sleep!”
Maynor let his wife sleep late. It was Sunday morning. She was entitled. He slithered out and then into Marleny’s room. She was sound asleep and he was reluctant to wake her, but he had to show someone this bird. He glanced out the window. There it was, on the hood of his car. He felt pride welling up in his chest. He nearly cried.
It was a great honor to see one of these birds. It must mean he had been chosen for some work, special work, by and for the gods. He needed to show someone.
“Marleny, wake up,” he said. “Daddy wants to show you something.”
She held a little stuffed animal--a mallard duck--to her chest. “Mr. Dean doesn’t want to wake up.”
“Come on, honey.” He said.
“Show Mr. Dean later.” Marleny turned over. She wrapped her pillow around her head.
Maynor slammed the door on his way out, the sound echoed through the quiet house. He went back outside where the bird was. It was still there, on the hood of his Sentra. Nobody else saw it. Most of his neighbors came from his country and would have recognized it. He wanted to ask it something. He had so many questions. What did the gods want of him? What was he to do with his life? He was a professor in his country and here he was useless.
He looked to the bird for an answer. It stared straight ahead. The wind blew, moving the bottom of its tail.
“Why did you come to me?” Maynor said. “You think I could be doing something else.”
The bird was magnificent. The colors shined. It was more than a bird, it was a totem, it was a god, it was an ambassador to the cosmic serpent. It was the most beautiful animal on the planet, but it was silent.
Maynor thought it had all the answers. If only Maynor could get them.
“What is the work that I am chosen for?” Maynor asked.
The bird remained absolutely still.
“You’re like talking to my wife,” Maynor said.
Maynor moved slowly toward the bird, stepping gently on the pebbled driveway. He didn’t want to scare the bird away. He took small, light steps. The bird watched him, but didn’t fly away. Maynor managed his way to the car and sat on the hood, next to the quetzal.
There they sat looking at each other.
Marleny came out. “Daddy, Daddy, you got me a pet. She ran to the quetzal and picked it up in her arms. “Oh it’s so beautiful. Thank you.”
She stroked its spiked hair. The quetzal lifted its head. “See, Mr. Dean. I told you we were going to get a present.” She started inside.
“Honey, wait.”
She ran in and Maynor was left sitting on the hood of his taxi.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Second Place for Best Poet of the Year

I came in Second Place for the Best Poet of 2011 (contest sponsored by the P&E). I didn't really do to much last year except publish Ten Poems & Ampersands again as a Kindle eBook. It costs $5.99, which retrospectively I think is about $3 too expensive. I apologize for that. It wasn't under my control this time but hopefully I can arrange that my next book is priced more fairly.

This year I'm looking to get Glyphic out. I may publish it through in print form, and through either iBooks or Kindle in eBook form. I am looking for an artist to make the cover, so tell me if you're interested.

Monday, March 19, 2012

2012 P&E Prize

My poem, She's got the jimjams, came in 4th for best poem of the year at the Preditors & Editors award. I am pretty sure that next year I can win if I just use facebook and google+ to increase my vote totals. Hopefully, Glyphic will be out this year and eligible for a few awards.

Oigan, Mexicanos!

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