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Poetry Reading After Action Report

Last night was the Jackson's Java poetry reading. I almost didn't go because I didn't have much new to read. I had exactly ten words of original material. It was my memorial haiku for Helen Chenoweth:

You were flamboyant
And beautiful. Above all,
You loved liberty

I had planned to bring some of my old poetry, but I was going there directly from my office, and I couldn't get to the stuff stored on my office computer because of network problems we were having.

I went anyway.When I got there there were only 5 people reading. In a way this made me glad I went,but I hated that on a night I might have been allowed to read more than usual I had only ten words of poetry.

So I wrote a couple of my old poems from memory. They were baiku. Baiku is a form I invented many years ago with the following rules:

6 lines
Syllable counts on the lines 5-7-5-5-7-5
Rhyme scheme abcabc

The nice thing about these is that if you can't find a copy of a poem, the short length and strict rules make it very easy to reconstruct them from memory. This may not seem like an important criteria for a poetic form, but anyone who has ever been in my home or office can see why it would be useful for me.

Here are the baiku I wrote


I never kissed her
In daytime. She said sunlight
Made her tired and ill

I've sorely missed her
And I think of her at night
When my world is still


Laughter is calling
For you. Come knock on it's door.
Partake of the mirth.

Three clowns are falling
On banana peel strewn floor.
Laughter fills the earth.

I was the third reader and people seemed to enjoy my poetry. Especially since it was all short.

I generally think it's best to pay attention during the poetry readings and not doodle and scribble as I usually like to do. But the muse hits at the most inopportune times. The reader after me read a poem about life in China under Mao Tse-Tung. My immediate reaction was that I should write a poem about the horrors perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. And the poem (at least a rough draft of it) came to me very quickly and I jotted it down. Below is my first draft:


Imagine there's no money
Imagine there's no property
Imagine there's no intellectuals
Imagine there's no Buddhists
Imagine there's no one left in Phnom Penh
Imagine there's nothing
But a great blindingly white mountain
Of human skulls
You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not
The nightmare is real