Sunday, July 23, 2006


'Tis a bit of a sniffle for me to have recently received what is the last issue of The Asian Pacific American Journal, which I'd helped edit for a number of years while I was still a New Yorker. The APA Journal is published by the Asian American Writers Workshop -- I agree with AAWW Director Quang Bao who calls The APA Journal "a tremendously successful experiment...totaling 24 issues with more than 300 poems and stories and works of art."

There is still a need for something like the APA Journal, but I can certainly understand its demise, relying as it did on contributions and volunteers, which is always too scarce for nonprofit literary and arts groups.

Anyway, somewhat leavening the sniffle is to discover this poem in its last issue -- I don't think it needs that parenthetical subtitle and I've seen it elsewhere without said subtitle; but Missy WinePoetics here certainly appreciates the humor of it -- thanks Barbara! (Is that "chateaux" a persona or real? Heee....)

Your Absence in Saint Helena
(Feasting at the Chateaux of Eileen Tabios)
by Barbara Jane Reyes

I am ascending this mountain at sunset, hearing rhythms of footfalls upon gravel paths and smoothed pebbles, dodging fallen pine cones, crunching dried grass, imagining the wholesomeness of wheat fields. Behind a hill of coniferous trees emerges the glassy surface of a once-hidden lake; different perspectives on the same valley of vineyards and haze from faraway forest fires. Long ago, lost lovers exchanged letters here, deposited with care in this decrepit tin box affixed to this gnarled oak with a single rusty nail. Above, swallows dive and soar through the stillest air, a sun-colored solitary hummingbird remains suspended, motionless except for wings effortlessly beating a million times per second. I am swirling the rain soaked earth and rose petals of a zinfandel in an immense wine goblet, instinctively reaching beside me, half expecting to find your belly and waistline warm against the flat of my palm, the bones of your slender wrist, a dragon tattoo’s sharp edge in the hollow of your left elbow. Tonight I understand how the sun can be infernal and blissful, how the fragrance of this valley can be dangerously deceptive.