Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fall Loch Raven Review Now Online

The Loch Raven Review Fall 2007 issue is now live.

The issue features poetry by Bob Bradshaw, Mary Susan Clemons, Lisa Janice Cohen, Jim Corner, Richard Fein, Allen Itz, Guy Kettelhack, Morgan Lafay, David W. Landrum, Charles Levenstein, Chris Mooney-Singh, Mary E. Moore, Charles Musser, Michael North, Ashok Niyogi, Constantine Pantazonis, Don Schaeffer, Shawn Nacona Stroud, S. Thomas Summers, Ray Templeton; translations of Cristina Rascón Castro by Toshiya Kamei, Federico García Lorca by Catherine Chandler, and Sofía Ramírez by Toshiya Kamei; an interview with Teresa White by Christopher T. George and Lisa Janice Cohen; an essay on "Performing Allen Ginsberg’s Howl by Gregg Mosson; fiction by Semia Harbawi, Barry Judson Lohnes, and Tom Sheehan; and book reviews by Jim Doss and Christopher T. George.

Enjoy! Please note that we are now accepting submissions for the Winter issue, which posts in December, with a deadline of November 30. Our reading period is November 15 to December 15.

Best regards

Chris George and Jim Doss, Editors
Loch Raven Review

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man

Last night while browsing around the TV channels, I found a documentary I've been wanting to watch but could never locate at the movie rental store. Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man is a fairly recent homage to Cohen the songwriter, and to a lesser degree Cohen the poet. Cohen has been a figure that has fascinated me since the middle 1970's. The film centers around a concert honoring Cohen where various other artists perform his material. Interspersed between the concert footage are snippets of interviews with Cohen and some of his admirers in the music industry. I must confess I had not heard of any of the concerts artists before and after listening to a couple of their versions of Cohen's songs, it was hard to listen to any more. There were no transcending performances like Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah," where the artist equaled or exceeded the master himself. I quickly learned to use the fast forward feature to get to the meat of the documentary-- Cohen himself. Anyone who has read a book of Cohen's poetry will quickly notice the incessant drone of I, I, I, I on every page. But what this documentary needed was more Cohen, more interviews, more Cohen performances, more friends and admires speaking about Cohen, and less concert footage. The undisputed highlight of the documentary was the end where Cohen sang "Tower of Song" backed up by U2. That was certainly a mind-blowing moment. The film is definitely worth watching. My disappointment had nothing to do with Cohen, or the quality of his songwriting, but how the concert versions of the songs paled in comparison to the originals, which I have listen to repeatedly over the years.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cal's Day

In a month that has seen two more scandals in professional sports— an NBA referee betting on playoff games that he was officiating, and Michael Vick stupidly put his career and endorsements in jeopardy with his fighting pit bull kennel (folks, you can’t make this stuff up and expect anyone believe it)— it is great to see two consummate professionals like Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. They are such anomalies and anachronisms in today’s game—role models you’d want your kids looking up to, hard workers who believed in the proper preparation, students of the game whose egos were in check, who respected the integrity of the game, who still realized that baseball is a team sport and they are part of the team. The turn out in Cooperstown was phenomenal, and these two guys deserved all the honors and accolades they received.

Coincident with his Hall of Fame induction, Cal also published a book this year called: Get in the Game: 8 Elements of Perseverance That Make the Difference. My kids bought a copy for me on my birthday, and I just finished reading it. I won’t give away what the 8 Elements are, but this book is Ripken’s formula for success built from his life experiences and his extraordinary family, starting with his lessons from his Dad, Cal Sr. The book is both well-written and well thought-out, and a lot of old fashioned values are laid out that could use some dusting off in our “immediate gratification” society. Besides the personal stories and glimpses into Cal’s upbringing, I enjoyed the parallels drawn in the book between Cal and Lou Gehrig. The similarities in work ethic and devotion to the game are uncanny. I heartily recommend this book to all sports fans, and anyone interested in succeeding in life.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Finger Exercises: Some Misc. Senryu

Whenever I suffer from writers block I like to do something to try to get the creative juices flowing again. Most of the time I try to break out by writing some senryu or tanka. These exercises seem to do trick, and occasionally might produce a decent piece of writing.


thumping of a fetus' heart—
the soon-to-be father
checks his own pulse


a knock at the door—
the simple hello
that means so much more


that wild whisker
the razor always missed
finally snipped by his new bride


spent shotgun shells
scattered in the field—
the sting of nettles on bare legs


the clap of the screen door—
visitors are applauded
both coming and going


tossed into the bushes
the empty pint
searches for a buddy


written in salt
on the diner table
a lady's name again and again


rain for a week straight
the mushrooms taller
than my wife's prized flowers


outside the courthouse
blind justice
covered in birdlime


a shovelful of dirt
to see where I came from
know where I'm going


© 2007 by Jim Doss

Monday, July 23, 2007

Translations: Rilke: Sonnets to Orpheus, FIrst Series

Many people have translated Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus over the years taking varying degrees of liberties with the text. Over the next several months I am going to attempt my own versions of The Duino Elegies and The Sonnets. I make no claims to be able to carry rhythm or rhyme from one language to another. My goal is to try to capture the meaning of the original in as simple a manner as possible without lapsing into revisionism.

Sonnets to Orpheus, First Series


There a tree ascends. O pure transcendence!
O Orpheus sings! O tall tree in the ear!
And all was silent. But even in that concealment
a new beginning, hint and metamorphosis preceded.

Animals gather out of stillness from the clear,
disentangled forests, out of dens and nests;
and it was apparent their inner silence
arose not from cunning or fear,

but out of listening. Roar, cry, growl
seemed small in their hearts. And where before
hardly a hut stood to take this in,

a shelter built from their darkest desire
with an entrance of trembling timber,—
there you erected for them temples in hearing.


And barely yet a girl, and stepped forth
from this united bliss of song and lyre
and shone clear through her veil of spring
and made herself a bed in my ear.

And slept in me. And everything became her sleep.
The trees, which I always admired, this
tangible distance, the felt meadow
and every amazement which filled me with awe.

She slept the world. Singing god, how did
you perfect her so that she did not desire
to be awake first? See, she arose and slept.

Where is her death? O, will you invent
this motif further before your song consumes itself? -
Where does she sink to from me?… barely yet a girl …


A god can do it. But, tell me, how can
a man follow him through the narrow lyre?
His mind is forked. At the junction of two
heart arteries stands no temple for Apollo.

Singing, as you teach him, is not desire,
not the touting of another achievement.
Singing is Being. Easy for a god.
But when do we exist? And when does he

turn the earth and stars toward our being?
Young man, it means nothing that you love, even
if your mouth is pushed open by your voice,-- learn

to forget that you sing out. It trickles away.
True singing is a different kind of breath.
A breath around nothing. A gust in god. A wind.


O you tender ones, step at times
into the breath that is not meant for you;
let it part at your checks,
behind you it trembles, then joins again.

O you blessed ones, o you who are healed,
in whom the beginning of hearts appears.
Bows for arrows and the arrow’s targets,
your tear-stained smile always glistens.

Don’t be afraid of suffering, the weight,
give it back to the earth to lift:
the mountains are heavy, so are the seas.

Even as children you planted trees
that before long became too heavy for you to bear.
But the air… but the spaces….


Erect no monument. Just let the rose
bloom each year to remind us of him.
Because it’s Orpheus. His metamorphosis
to this and that. We should not strive

after any other name. Once and for all
it’s Orpheus if there’s song. He comes and goes.
Isn’t it enough that now and then he can
outlive the bowl of roses by a few days?

O how he must pass away so you’ll understand!
And even he too was afraid of his passing.
While his word transcends the moment,

he’s already there, where you can’t accompany.
The lyre’s lattice does not constrain the hands,
And he obeys, even as he trespasses.


Is he a native? No, out of both
realms his vast nature grew.
The expert who wants to bend willow branches
must first know the root of the willow.

When you go to bed, don’t leave bread and milk
on the table; they attract the dead—
But under the meekness of the eyelid
let him, the conjurer, mix

their looking into all that’s seen;
and let the magic of fumaria and rue
be as true to him as the clearest chord.

Nothing for him can spoil the genuine image;
be it from graves, be it from rooms,
he praises ring, bracelet and jug.


To praise, that's it. Called to praise
he emerged like ore from the stone’s
silence. His heart, o perishable wine press,
one of man’s inexhaustible wines.

Never does the voice break down into dust
when seized by the divine example.
All becomes vineyard, all becomes grapes,
ripened in his sensitive south.

Neither mold in the crypts of kings,
nor a shadow that falls from the gods,
punishes him for the praising lie.

He is one of the enduring messengers
who still hold bowls of praiseworthy fruit
far into the doors of the dead.


Only in the space of praise may the lament
walk, the nymph of the weeping spring,
watching over our rainfall
so that it will be clear on the same rock

which supports the gates and the alters. -
See, around her tranquil shoulders the feeling
dawns that she was the youngest
in mind among the siblings.

Rejoicing knows, and longing allows, -
Only the lament still learns; with girlish hands
she counts the ancient evils nightlong.

But suddenly, askew and unpracticed,
she holds a constellation of our voice
in the heavens, unclouded by her breath.


Only he who already raises the lyre
among shadows
may anticipate repaying
the endless praise.

Only he who ate the poppy
of the dead
will never again forget
their softest tone.

Though the reflection in the pond
may often blur before us:
know the image.

Only in the double realm
do voices become
eternal and meek.


You, who never leave my senses,
I salute you, antique sarcophagi,
whom the happy waters of Roman days
flows through like a meandering song .

Or those so open like the eye
of a gladly awakening shepherd
- inside full of stillness and honeysuckle -
abuzz with enraptured butterflies;

all who are spared doubt,
I salute you, the reopened mouths
who already knew the name of silence.

Do we know it, friends, do we not?
Both shape the indecisive hour
in the face of man.


Look at the heavens. Is there no constellation called "Rider?"
Because this notion is strangely ingrained in us:
this earthly pride. And another one,
whom he drives and reins in and that carries him.

Is it not so, pursued and then restrained,
this sinewy nature of being?
Way and turning. Yet just a nudge instructs.
New expanses. And the two are one.

But are they? Or don't both believe in
the way they take together?
Nameless they separate for table and pasture.

Even the starry joining deceives.
Still, let’s be happy for a while
to believe the figure. That’s enough.


Hail the spirit which may connect us;
for we live truly in figures.
And with tiny steps the hours pass
alongside our actual days.

Without knowing our true place,
we act as if we actually interacted.
Antennae feel antennae,
and the empty distances borne...

Pure tension. O music of the powers!
Isn’t it through casual interchange
that each disturbance is diverted from you?

Even when the farmer cares for and works
where the seeds transform themselves into summers,
he never does enough. The earth just gives.


Plump apple, pear, and banana,
gooseberry... All of these speak
in the mouth of death and life... I guess...
read it in the countenance of a child

who tastes them. This comes from far.
Do they slowly grow nameless in the mouth?
Where otherwise words existed, find discoveries
from of the flesh of fruit, astonishingly freed.

Dare to say what you name the apple.
This sweetness which first concentrates
around, in tasting gently intensifies,

to become clear, awake, and transparent,
double meaning, sunny, earthy, native: -
O experience, feeling, joy, - immense!


We’re involved with flower, grape leaf, fruit.
They don't speak just the language of the years.
Out of darkness a colorful display rises
and perhaps has the gloss of jealousy

of the dead, who strengthen the soil.
What do we know of their part in this?
It has long been their way to fertilize
the clay with their free marrow.

Now ask yourself only: do they do it gladly? …
Does this fruit, a work of heavy slaves,
thrust up clenched to us, to their masters?

Are they the masters, who sleep beside the roots,
and grant us out of their abundance
this hybrid between brute strength and kisses?


Wait ... that taste ... it's already flown.
... just a little music, a stamping, a humming:
girls, in their warmth and silence,
dance the savor of fruit experienced!

Dance the orange. Who can forget,
how drowning in itself, it struggles
to deny its sweetness. You’ve possessed it.
It deliciously transforms itself into you.

Dance the orange. The warmer landscape,
cast it out of you, so it ripely lights up
in the air of home! Radiant, reveal

fragrance after fragrance! Create a kinship
with the pure, resistant rind,
with the juice that happily fills!


You, my friend, are alone, because ...
With words and pointing fingers, we
gradually lay claim to the world,
even its weakest, most precarious part.

Who points to a smell with fingers? -
But of the powers which threaten us,
you feel many ... You know the dead,
and are frightened before their spell.

See, now we must bear the bits
and pieces together, as if they were the whole.
To help you will be hard. Above all:

don’t plant me in your heart. I would grow too fast.
But I'll guide my master's hand and speak:
Here. This is Esau in his fur.


At bottom the ancient, tangled
root of all things
that have grown, the hidden source
they’ve never seen.

Helmet and hunter’s horn,
sayings of elders,
men in brotherly rage,
women like lutes ...

Pressing branch on branch,
not one of them free ...
One! o ascend ... o ascend ...

But still they break.
However, this one at the top
bends itself into a lyre.


Do you hear the New, Master,
droning and throbbing?
Prophets come
to extol it.

No hearing's much good
in all this ruckus,
but still that machine part
wants to be praised now.

See, the machines:
how they spin and avenge,
and disfigure and weaken us.

Their power also comes from us,
they, without passion,
operate and serve.


The world also changes rapidly
like the shape of clouds,
all perfect things finally
fall back to the oldest.

Over the flux and change,
wider and higher,
your prelude still endures,
god with the lyre.

We don't understand suffering,
love hasn’t been learned,
and what's veiled to us in death

is never revealed.
Only the song above the land
blesses and celebrates.


But you, Master, o what should I dedicate to you?
Say it, you who taught the creatures to hear.
My remembrance of one spring day,
it’s dusk, in Russia -, a horse...

Across from the village the white horse came,
a rope on one front fetlock,
to be alone at night on the meadow;
how the curls of his mane beat

in time with his high spirits
during the crudely restrained gallop.
How the fountains of stallion blood leaped!

He felt the vastness, and whether!
he sang and he heard - the cycle of your myth
was sealed in him.
                             His image: I consecrate.


Spring has returned again. The earth
is like a child who knows poems;
many, so many! ... For the discomfort
of long study she wins the prize.

Her teacher was strict. We liked the white
in the beard of the old man.
Now, when we ask her what blue
and green are called: she knows, she knows!

Earth, on vacation, you’re lucky, play
with the children. We want to catch
you, happy earth. The happiest win.

O, which teacher taught her all those things,
and what’s long been imprinted on the roots
and entangled stems: she sings, she sings!


We’re the drivers.
But the measure of time
seems like a trifle
in what always remains.

All that hurries
will be over already;
unless the Lasting
initiates us first.

Boy, don’t spend
your courage on speed,
not in the pursuit of flight.

All is at rest:
darkness and light,
bloom and book.


O only then, when flight
will no longer rise
into the silent heavens
for its own sake, self-reliant,

so that in unobstructed profile,
like a successful instrument,
it may play darling of the winds,
confidently swaying and slim -

not until a pure Where
of swelling machines
prevails over youthful pride

will that one, overhasty from victory,
closing in from the distances,
be what he alone flies.


Should we reject our age-old friendship,
the great undemanding gods, because
the hard steel we produce doesn't know them,
or seek them suddenly on a map.

These enormous friends, who receive the dead,
do not mingle anywhere near our gears.
We hold our banquets far away -, our baths,
secluded, and we always outdistance

their slow messengers. Lonelier now, one completely
dependent on the other, without knowing each other,
we no longer blaze a trail with beautiful meandering,

but as straightness. Only in boilers
do the former fires burn and lift the ever larger
hammers. But we dwindle in strength, like swimmers.


But you, now you, I knew you like a flower
whose name I can’t recall, still I’ll remember
once more and show you to them, wrested from us,
bright playmate of the unconquerable cry.

Dancer first, who suddenly paused, body full
of hesitation, as if her youth were cast in bronze;
mourning and listening -. Then, from the great creators
music fell into her transformed heart.

Sickness was near. Already seized by shadows, the blood
pulsed, darkened, but like a fleeing suspect,
it burst forth in its natural spring.

Again and again, interrupted by darkness and collapse,
it gleamed earthly. Until after terrible throbs
it stepped through that hopelessly open door.


But you, divine one, still resounding to the end
when the swarms of spurned maenads attacked,
drowned out their shrieks with Order, you beautiful god,
as amid the destroyers your edifying song ascended.

None could demolish your head or your lyre,
despite how they wrestled or raged;
and touching you, all the sharp stones they hurled
at your heart became gentle and gifted with hearing.

Finally they tore you apart, driven by vengeance,
but your sound lingered in lions and cliffs,
in trees and birds. You still sing there.

Oh you prodigal god! You infinite clue!
Only because hatred finally scattered your dismembered body
are we now hearers and a mouth for nature.

© 2007 by Jim Doss

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Summer 2007 LRR Now Online

The Summer issue of the Loch Raven Review is now online.

This issue features poetry by Kate Bernadette Benedict, Annie Bien, Laurie Byro, Antonia Clark, Dan Cuddy, Claudia Gary-Annis, Conrad Geller, Mitchell Geller, Tim Kahl, Guy Kettelhack, David W. Landrum, Mercedes Lawry, Francis Masat, Steve Meador, Michael Monroe, Gregg Mosson, Michael North, Kenneth Pobo, Nicholas Ripatrazone, K. A. Ryan, Janice D. Soderling, Karen Stanley, Shawn Nacona Stroud; translations of Isolda Dosamantes, Victoria Guerrero, and Estrella del Valle by Toshiya Kamei; fiction by Dawn Dupler, David W. Landrum, Barry Lohnes, Christine Purcell, and Terry Sanville; book reviews by Jim Doss and Christopher T. George.

This is another great issue, and we hope you will stop by for a visit.

Jim Doss & Chris George, Editors

Monday, April 02, 2007

Spring 2007 Issue of the Loch Raven Review

The Spring issue of the Loch Raven Review is now online.

This issue features the poetry by Penny August, Sandy Sue Benitez, Jason Biederman, Gary Blankenship, Bob Bradshaw, Jared Carter, Jim Corner, Susan Culver, Adam Elgar, Allen Itz, Thomas Jardine, Charles Levenstein, Sabyasachi Nag, Michael North, David Nourse, Stuart Nunn, Kathy Paupore, Kenneth Pobo, Don Schaeffer, S. Thomas Summers, Ron Wallace, Marceline White, Wiltshire; interview with Charles Levenstein by Christopher T. George; translations of Hugo Ball by Jim Doss; an essay by Gary Blankenship; fiction by Charles Levenstein and Oliver Murray; and reviews by Jim Doss, Christopher T. George and Deborah P. Kolodji.

This is another great issue, and I hope you will stop by for a visit.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Translations: Kurt Schwitters: Three Poems

Here are my translations of several poems by Kurt Schwitters (1887 – 1948). Schwitters was primarily an artist, one of the twentieth century's masters of collage. Occasionally he penned a few verses and hung out with some of the Berlin Dadaist. Schwitters thrived on public opposition. In January 1937 Schwitters fled to Norway, and in the same year, his Merz pictures were included in the Nazi exhibition of degenerate art (entartete Kunst) in Munich. Unable to live in Germany, he immigrated to Norway, then to England. A sampling of his art can be found at

To Anna Bloom

Oh you, beloved of my 27 senses, I love you!
You, yours, you yourself, I you, you me, ---- we?
That, incidentally, does not belong here.
Who are you, countless broads? You are, are you?
People say you would be.
Let them say they can’t find the church steeple.
You wear a hat on your feet and walk on your hands,
you walk on your hands.
Hello, you red clothes sawed into white pleats.
Red I love Anna Bloom, red I love her.
You, yours, you yourself, I you, you me, ---- we?
That, incidentally, belongs in the cold embers.
Anna Bloom, red Anna Bloom, what are people saying?
               The grand prize question:
               1. Anna Bloom has a screw loose.
               2. Anna Bloom is red.
               3. What color is the screw?
Blue is the color of your yellow hair,
red is the color of your green loose screw.
You plain girl in everyday dress,
you lovely green animal, I love you.
You yours, you yourself, I you, you me, ---- we?
That, incidentally, belongs in the ember box.
Anna Bloom, Anna, A----N----N----A!
I drizzled your name.
Your name drips like soft tallow.
You know it Anna, you already know it,
You can be read from the back also.
And you, you most marvelous creature of all,
You are the same from the back as the font:
Tallow trickled fondling my back.
Anna Bloom,
You drippy animal,


Unknown woman,
I love you.
I have never seen you
And know you.
I love you,
Because you are one of those
Who I understand,
Who forgives me all this.
All this, what I do and what I think
Filled with love
And good luck.
You, unknown woman, you weigh on my dreams, my longings.
And once I find you,
Yes, then??
The world is large and deep.
You weigh on my dreams,
Only you!

Banalities from the Chinese

Flies have short legs.
Haste makes waste.
Red raspberries are red.
The beginning is the beginning of each end.
The beginning is the end of each beginning.
Banality becomes each citizen.
The middle class is all citizens’ beginnings.
Citizens have short flies.
Spice makes short jokes out of rice.
Each woman has an apron.
Each beginning has its end.
The world is full of smart people.
Smart is dumb.
Not everything that is called expressionism is expressive art.
The smart are still dumb.
The dumb are smart.
The smart remain dumb.

© 2007 Jim Doss