Joseph Stanton

Contributor Biography

Joseph Stanton is a Professor Emeritus of Art History and American Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His books of poems are Moving Pictures (2019), Things Seen (2016), A Field Guide to the Wildlife (2006), Cardinal Points (2002), Imaginary Museum (1999), and What the Kite Thinks: A Linked Poem (1994).

The last named book is a collaboration with Makoto Ooka, Wing Tek Lum, and

Jean Toyama. His seventh book of poems is Prevailing Winds (forthcoming in 2022). His poems have appeared in such journals as Poetry, New Letters, Harvard Review, Antioch Review, Ekphrasis, Ekphrastic Review, Image, and New York Quarterly.

He has published more than 700 poems in journals and anthologies. He occasionally teaches poetry workshops, such as the “Starting with Art” workshops he has taught at Poets House (in New York City) and at the Honolulu Museum of Art. His other sorts of books include Looking for Edward Gorey and The Important Books: Children’s Picture Books as Art and Literature. As an art historian, he has published articles on Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak, and many other artists. He has frequently collaborated with visual artists, playwrights, composers, and other poets. For information on some of his

ekphrastic and collaborative works, look here and here.

The Nuuanu Hospice Flocks of St. Francis

for En Suk

 

The rusting Saint’s eyes 

are holes to see the sky through.

As the breeze strums the last light 

across its branches, 

the lychee drops 

what’s left of its season.

 

Behind the Saint’s lost eyes 

that tree is sometimes 

all we want to see.

The crumbling bird in hand 

does not mind the Saint’s decline.

Its body curves to adore him.

 

As we leave, 

black-headed mannikins 

hop and twitter in tall grass, 

as happy with the world 

as the Saint 

who loves them.

 

The thought of them lingers: 

flocks of tiny, 

chocolate birds, 

dressed for mourning but full of staying alive, 

ecstatic mouths filling with seeds 

and unsolvable small songs.

Catcher

The dove must fly straight to the heart, 

the place you have prepared with pain—

your crooked hand swollen that the strike 

might live. You kneel for the reliever, 

as he frets his small golgotha, 

his mound of grief. Eyes pleading with sky, 

he’s nailed to cross of his failing 

fastball and hanging curve. You lean 

before to show the way the ball 

 

must go. Baptist of never ending 

perspiration, you must serve up—

again and again and again—

your head upon the plate where 

the umpire of all he surveys 

may fail once more to save your life, 

while all eyes follow the lurid feet, 

the batter’s prance of twitch and stretch, 

leading to what might be the dance 

that makes your martyrdom complete. 

Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal

Jof’s last vision has to be 

the ultimate revelation, 

the etched scene 

that provoked the film,

Death at his antic Dance, 

le danse macabre, der Totentanz

the theme of so many medieval prints,

folk of all stations swaying to 

the apocalyptic swing tune, 

a jig that strums memento mori

plucked by the grim reaper’s 

taut, invisible strings, 

arrayed for us through Jof’s eyes, 

silhouettes along a grim horizon, 

 

a horizon that is not, as it turns out, 

the end of all, 

but just one of those ends 

we rejoice to have gone beyond, 

departing with Mia and Jof 

and their precious infant Mikael, 

three sweet antidotes to darkness.

Piero di Cosimo’s Saint John

This Evangelist is a paradox.

His face—so gentle, 

so benign, 

transcendent with love of God 

 

and mankind, too—

belies his powerful hands, 

muscular of palm, 

thick of wrist.

 

These are the hands of a man 

you would not want 

to wrestle with, 

but, strangely, 

 

they are also 

the hands of a saint so pure 

he persuades poison 

to depart as snake.

 

They are, we also know, 

the hands of Christ’s best friend 

who sticks with his Jesus 

to the bitterest of ends. 

 

And these are the hands 

that will, at the last, 

craft the fiercely lovely poetry, 

the words that will be 

 

revelations.

Author's Note:

"The Nuuanu Hospice Flocks of St. Francis" was previously published in A Field Guide to the Wildlife of Suburban Oahu (Time Being Books, 2006).

"Catcher" was previously published in Cardinal Points (McFarland & Company, 2002).

"Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal" and "Piero di Cosimo’s Saint John" were previously published in Moving Pictures (Shanti Arts Publishing, 2019).

Iain Lim Jun Rui

Contributor Biography

Iain Lim Jun Rui is a Singaporean poet and aspiring filmmaker currently on a sabbatical from his studies in Belgium. A two-time winner of the Love Poetry Competition and winner in the National Poetry Competition 2019, his poetry is published in OF ZOOSVoice & Verse Magazine, and Kitaab, among others. His first documentary short is a finalist at Singapore Heritage Short Film Competition 2017.

a peripheral study on the Pantheismusstreit

We are here to judge what remains of your

doctrine where it “may secure its rightful

claims while dismissing all its groundless

pretentions”[1] less Spinozism. So much had

depended on the subject of human reason

to present a complete system of knowledge

but you still spoke softly of desire. We were

left in veneration since “The Only Possible

Argument” till surfeited by the Ether Proofs.

If “eternity cannot be explained in terms of

duration” (EVP29Dem.)[2], why would it be

that “Days are as it were the children of time”?[3]

Within the architectonics of this system, this

question must have left faith without reason

as you ask, “What Does It Mean To Orient

Oneself In Thinking?” to clip the wretched

wings of dogmatism[4] as if it were an angel.

Forgive my aged schwärmer habitually speaking.

If it is time to borrow words as convenience

allows it, is it really “a pity that one must die

just when one has begun to have insight into

how one really ought to have lived”? under

“the wings of the power of imagination”?[5]

We will will it due to our faculty of inclinations.

 

Your portrait, like Rousseau’s, had already been

nailed in this nebulous room of transcendental

ideas amongst petered silver and muted gold.

Author's Note:

1: Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 101.

2: Benedictus de Spinoza, The Ethics in A Spinoza Reader: The Ethics and Other Works, trans. E. M. Curley (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1994), 258.

3: Immanuel Kant, “The End of All Things,” in Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason and Other Writings, trans. Allen W. Wood and George Di Giovanni (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 221.

4: Immanuel Kant, “What Does It Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking?,” in Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason and Other Writings, trans. Allen W. Wood and George Di Giovanni, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 15.

5: Immanuel Kant, “Conjectural Beginning of Human History,” in Anthropology, History, and Education, ed. Günter Zöller and Robert B. Louden, trans. Allen W. Wood (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 163; 170.