Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Dog's Life by Hank Kalet

with the dining room table
covered in bills
and all the proofs
that responsibility requires,
the packing slips
and insurance cards,
catalogues and doctor's notes,
I think sometimes of when I was 8
and the worst I had to do
was homework and swing my bat
and miss at a slow-tossed pitch
and wonder where that time went
and, sometimes, I just
look at the dogs and think
they've got it right,
find a patch of sunlight,
crawl into a ball
and sleep, yes, sleep.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Blue Wall in Chile
by Hank Kalet

es humillacion

on a blue wall in Chile
on the front page
of The New York Times as
is humiliation,
the graffito like a
chemical equation,
the two sides in balance,
the shock of no work
after years at a desk
and now home with no one
returning his calls,
the embarrassment
driving him to silence,
to lie to his son,
to avoid the mail,
the phone, to
bury himself in his house,
banging nails
into wallboard
and patching the dents
and cracks that come with time.
Idle hands
are empty hands, are
hands he’d rather hide
deep in his pockets,
holed up against the chill,
away from the elements,
the winter breeze
that pushes the trees to dance,
the painful numbers
trickling down
from the television.
-- Hank Kalet

Friday, November 20, 2009

Poem: Still Life: Graveyard on Woodbridge Avenue


Weather-beaten flags mark
graves of veterans,

red stripes fading to white,
to memory

weeds sprout like white hairs from
old-man’s half-shaven face

picket fence, gap-toothed
white paint chipped and peeling,
beaten by wind and rain

church fa├žade, a scratchy red,
unwashed brick
like dead leaves in the sun

Poem: Notes on 'En La Casa De La Casa'

On a painting by Kevin Patrick Kelly
(seen hanging in Small World Coffee, Princeton, Sept. 18)

Curling of pigment, brush strokes that
sweep the sweating hues, a yellow
that’s more than yellow, more than the glow
of an oven flame in the steamy
Southern Hemisphere afternoon,
blue curtains swept back in
an unexpected breeze, farm fields
speckled in distant color with an ocean blue sky
hovering like a bird lost in thought.
Sauce pot simmers, its enamel
the scratchy red of the unwashed brick
visible on overcast morning
in an empty back lot.
Can you see the hand of god
in the uneven lines, the movement
in the shadows implied by
heavy outlines, the disjunction
of space and mind?
Can you taste the mole poblano’s
sweet spice or smell the yellow tortillas
crisping in the oven’s wood-fired heat?
The eye plays tricks, acrylic glaze
infused with life, with light,
flat wooden canvas under
fluorescent bulbs in crowded
coffee shop, dishes clattering,
Princeton morning skittering under a sky
empty of pigment, rain falling,
curl of coffee’s steam
twirling into nothing at all.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tuesday Poetry Podcast:
Sonnet for Bob Gibson

This week's poetry podcast is of an older baseball poem -- "Sonnet for Bob Gibson" -- that appeared in the Elysian Fields Quarterly in 2002.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A nice Sunday for poetry

The readings today at the South Brunswick Libryar -- at the series I organize for the township Arts Commission -- were quite interesting. Above is Sander Zulauf, the editor of the Journal of New Jersey Poets and a professor of English at the County College of Morris.

This is Ken Hart, who teaches at NYU.

Thanks to the poets and stop by May 3 for the Idiom Poets.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tuesday Poetry Podcast:
Little League Poem

This week's poetry podcast is of a new poem -- "Little League Poem" -- that has been accepted by the Edison Literary Review for an upcoming (2010) issue.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tuesday Poetry Podcast:

I took the week of from the podcast last week -- and then almost forgot this week's reading.

Here it is: a poem called "Cleavings."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tuesday Poetry Podcast:
The Cost

Check out this week's Tuesday Poetry Podcast here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tuesday Poetry Podcast: "Aftermath"

Today's poetry podcast is of a poem I wrote in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, focusing on the beginnings of our now endless-seeming war in Afghanistan.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The great poets read

The Poetry Foundation offers a number of intersting podcasts, including two that I've become great fans of:

Essential American Poets offers a selection of poets -- chosen by then-U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall -- of some of the best poets working in the medium in recent years. Poets like C.K. Williams, Galway Kinnell, Ted Kooser and Theodore Roethke have been featured. It runs every two weeks. You can listen on the foundation's site or subscribe via iTunes.

Poetry Off the Shelf is another important offering, which provides readings, interviews and criticism on a weekly basis. There have been discussions of Elizabeth Alexander and the inaugural poem, Langston Hughes, erotic poetry, Louis Zukofsky, economic poetry and other topics. You can listen on the foundation's site or subscribe via iTunes.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Poets R.G. Rader and Joan Cusack Handler to read March 15 in South Brunswick

A press release from the South Brunswick Arts Commission:
R.G. Rader, an award-winning poet and playwright, and Joan Cusack Handler -- essayist, creative writer and psychologist -- will be the guest readers on Sunday, March 15 at South Brunswick's monthly series of Sunday poetry readings. The program, sponsored by the South Brunswick Arts Commission, in conjunction with the South Brunswick Public Library, starts at 2 p.m. in the library, 110 Kingston Lane, Monmouth Junction.

Rader is also an actor, director and a professor of English and Theater. He is publisher and editor of Muse-Pie, a small poetry press founded in the early 1980s and recently revived in 2007. His poetry has been widely published, earning him a Merit Book award for his collection of haiku, Neon Shapes. His collected works of haiku and tanka, Raising the Blade, is online published by AHA Press. His longer work of poetry has also been widely published over the years in online journals, magazines, and hard copy journals including Tiferet, Black Swan Review, Cerebration, Lunch, Stepping Stone, Passaic Review and The Paterson Review. His collection of poetry, Kicking the Rain, will be published early summer by Finishing Line Press.

In addition to his work as poet and publisher, Rader is a playwright and a member of The Dramatists Guild of America and the National Audio Theatre Festivals. He is an actor and playwright in residence with Arrowhead Theater Company, a professional theater company he co-founded and which primarily focused on productions in New York City. His stage and audio plays have been performed and heard (audio) throughout the country. Raderalso has published a number of essays on poetry and is a contributor to "Society Matters," a British political journal of the Open University. He lives in Passaic, NJ.

A native of the Bronx, Ms. Handler's poems have appeared in The Boston Review, Poetry East, Seattle Review, and Southern Humanities Review, and have received awards from The Boston Review as well as five Pushcart nominations. Her first poetry collection, GlOrious, debuted in 2003 and its CD followed in 2007. Her second book of poems, The Red Canoe: Love in Its Making, explores the anatomy of a marriage and will appear in October, 2008. She is currently finishing her third book (this time prose), Confessions of Joan the Tall: A Memoir in Two Voices; Book I, is the voice of Joan, an Irish Catholic girl of 12 living in the Bronx in 1954.

In her "other lives" Handler is an essayist, creative writing teacher, psychologist in clinical practice and the publisher and senior editor of CavanKerry Press, a not for profit literary press that serves both art and community. She has served as resident faculty at The Robert Frost Place Center for the Arts and co-chair of the advisory board. Ms. Handler lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey and East Hampton, New York.

Admission to the poetry readings is free, though a donation of a nonperishable food item, which will be given to the South Brunswick Food Pantry, is encouraged.
The readings, sponsored by the South Brunswick Arts Commission in cooperation with the South Brunswick Public Library, will continue through the spring of 2009, with the following program schedule:

  • April 19: Sander Zulauf and Ken Hart
  • May 3: The Idiom Magazine poets
For more information, including directions, contact the South Brunswick Arts Commission at (732) 329-4000, ext 7635.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Tuesday Poetry Podcast:
Poem for Mary

Today's podcast is a poem I wrote after reading a story in the North Jersey Herald. You can get it here or on iTunes. Consider subscribing to the free podcast through iTunes.

Friday, February 27, 2009

by Hank Kalet

by Hank Kalet

We see them standing
on highway's soft shoulder
in parkas, ski hats, cold rain
like tears soaking to their weary bones,
an economy in signs, the placards
that pop up at traffic lights
in all weather, these men
paid to stand out there
as advertisements,
as signposts literally
corner after corner
of closed storefronts,
a furniture store,
shoe warehouse, placards
announcing available space
in strip mall
after strip mall,
empty lots pockmarked
with potholes
slick from the drizzle,
but I'm dry thank god
or whomever
inside this humming Toyota
with Gene Pitney singing
through the speakers as we
sit in an empty
parking lot of empty
lighting store on
overcast Sunday,
drizzle of rain falling
like housing prices.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday Poetry Podcast:
Joyride (for Bob Nutter)

Today's podcast features my poem "Joyride (for Bob Nutter)," about a trip Bob and I took more than 26 years ago after a night drinking tequila (etc.).

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Sick Rose
William Blake

I want to start the week with something from a dead white guy, a visionary who has influenced numerous poets over the last 200-plus years.

The Sick Rose

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

-- William Blake

From Songs of Innocence, 1789

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sonnet of the Everyday (Hopper's "Nighthawks") By Hank Kalet

This is part of a larger group of poems called Sonnets of the Everyday:

Sonnet of the Everyday
(Hopper’s "Nighthawks")

By Hank Kalet

Staring into the faces –
what is that blank stare,
cracked from the face
frozen behind the glass?
What is that distance
that keeps the smile buried
beneath a sullen non-committance?
What is that late night,
weary scowl,
permanent like a water mark
on the table top,
soaked into the linoleum
of the loneliest
of counters?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Poems on podcast

I kicked off a new podcast two weeks ago called Hank Kalet's Tuesday Poetry Podcast.

Check it out by clicking here or going to iTunes.

To submit audio to this podcast, please send mp3 files here.