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Posts Tagged ‘Diane Kendig’

Lafcadio Hearn Leaving Kobudera

August 9, 2011 Comments off

by Diane Kendig

Before he spoke Japanese, English, and before English,
Greek—not to mention all the cockney, pidgin,
Creole (his favorite saying causer cé manger
zoreîes
, conversation is food for the ears),
and even so new to one, and even though
no one around him spoke the others and
he could no longer see from his one bulging,
Cyclopean eye, the simple words he needed
continued to come to him.

Near the Kobudera temple and its graveyard
with a hill of cedars to walk each day,
he had his home and marriage which he called
a haven from where he watched “dangerous
sea currents, running like violet bands,”
out of sight. For his sons, he’d built
a gym set where he’d hang upside down
a long time, smoking a cigar.

But the temple parish for the money
cut down the cedars one by one till the hill
was bare, sold the hillside off for house lots.
And just about the time he lost his place
at the university and two best friends,
a nearby prison began marching
manacled inmates past his house
twice each day.

Hearn said they’d move to the Oki Islands,
but though he had traveled the world,
he could no longer get so far, only
to the other side of Tokyo, leaving at least
the hack of axes and cedar crashing
on the ancient tombs, the chonking
of chains he’d escaped other places,
like his flight from Cincinnati’s miscegenation.
He didn’t need to hear them coming back again.


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Diane Kendig’s recent chapbook is The Places We Find Ourselves. Her prose and poetry may be found in J Journal, Minnesota Review, Wordgathering, and Seventh Quarry, among others. A recipient of two Ohio Arts Council Fellowships in Poetry and a Fulbright lectureship in translation, Diane currently lives “out of place” near Boston. She spent four months in medium security spread across 18 years.

Categories: Imprisonment Tags:

Joseph Palmer’s Journal

June 22, 2011 2 comments

by Diane Kendig

It’s only a photocopy, so maybe
these liney shadows have been cast up
from the reverse side,
when the machine lit on them
one hundred sixty-five years later,
but I believe that Palmer,
on his way to prison, couldn’t imagine
using so much paper,

and after months recounting
his defense to the judge
(as long as his face were no uglier
than his horse’s, he’d keep his beard)
and his prison privations,
teaching him what inmates mean
by hard time versus flat time,

he looked at the book,
his careful farmer accounts
of plantings and harvestings,
how much he could say then
with catalogues, now interwoven
with the relation of his imprisonment,
appearing not chronologically
but wherever there was space,

and right here he erased
to continue the text, as critics call
the drafting, x-ing, and rewording,
the sudden appearance of syntax
which he had never employed
to convey the natural order of his life
before sentencing.

Author’s note: Joseph Palmer, a self-educated farmer, was imprisoned for over a year in 1830, much of that time in solitary confinement without sufficient food, for refusing to shave his beard.


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Diane Kendig’s recent chapbook is The Places We Find Ourselves. Her prose and poetry may be found in J Journal, Minnesota Review, Wordgathering, and Seventh Quarry, among others. A recipient of two Ohio Arts Council Fellowships in Poetry and a Fulbright lectureship in translation, Diane currently lives “out of place” near Boston. She spent four months in medium security spread across 18 years.

Categories: Imprisonment Tags:

Prison Terms

September 3, 2009 1 comment

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist Prison Terms, by Diane Kendig

None here thinks a pink slip
…is underwear. None here says, ‘lingerie’
or ‘as it were.’

—William Matthews

Flat time, like a flat rate, is non-negotiable.
It is what you served on no platter, after you,
— not your cover, which was already blown —
were turned down the last time for parole,
a word that used to mean, “word of honor”
and now means, “sooner, but conditional,”
or “man, you are booking,” not to say “booked,”
the start, often, of a very long sentence with no syntax,
though we don’t know that as we are strung along.

When we read your bail amount,
nearly doubled at arraignment,
we could only reason, a typo, but when we spoke
to you about it, by phone, through the milky Plexiglas,
you told us they printed it exactly as announced in court
in no uncertain terms, though capriciousness
came to mind then and in the months since.
I don’t think of these words as terms of art
or anything I can come to terms with
any time soon.

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“Prison Terms” first appeared in J Journal: New Writing on Justice, Spring 2009.

Diane Kendig has three chapbooks, most recently Greatest Hits, 1978-2000. Her writing has appeared in journals such as Colere, Minnesota Review, Mid-America, and Slant, and several new anthologies. A Midwesterner at heart, she is currently writing out of place in Lynn, Massachusetts. Find her on the web at dianekendig.com.

Sippo Lake

June 26, 2008 1 comment

No larger than a tiddly wink
it would leave only a mist,
land empty in a small cup.
Still, it claims our attention.
One winter a neighbor boy drowned
under the shrunken flat white disk;
often summers when nightfall
renders the sky all colors,
mirrors two worlds from one,
sun running over
I can still hear his mother say
she lives by that light.

by Diane Kendig

Read by Beth Adams — Download the MP3

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Categories: Water Tags:

Butterflies: How and Why

November 5, 2007 2 comments

As well confuse moths with mouths
as with these lips that chap to chrysalis.
Inside a milky saliva thickens.
At the end, no silky escape, but a storm:
Crack, a blood rain, and the mouths
stagger out. They stutter by day
and when they stop, purse themselves,
the rich silent type, unlike moths
which flutter by night and light open,
more generous relations,
willing to tell everyone.

by Diane Kendig

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Categories: Insecta Tags: