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John Howard Reid

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An Alternative Nocturne by Jose Juan Tablada
by John Howard Reid

Sunday, July 11, 2010
Rated "G" by the Author.
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Of all the poets represented in "A SALUTE TO SPANISH POETRY: 100 MASTERPIECES FROM SPAIN AND LATIN AMERICA RENDERED INTO ENGLISH VERSE BY JOHN HOWARD REID", Jose Juan Tablada is easily the most significant and well-known in the U.S.A. True, he arrived in New York way back in 1914 and it has taken almost a century for haiku and tanka to be accepted as legitimate poetic forms in mainstream English poetry. [In the Spanish title, there is to my mind an obvious pun on the word "alterno", meaning "alternative", and "alero", meaning eaves. The author drives this home by using italics for his second, fifth and seventh lines. In my book, I have used "An Alernative Nocturne" as the title, but have indexed it as "An Alternative Nocturne" which is the usual English rendering. Unfortunately, it gives no indication of Tablada's pun and offers no reason why the poet has used italics for his second, fifth and seventh lines].


An Alternative Nocturne


translated from the Spanish of José Juan Tablada




Golden New Yorker nights


Cold walls of Moorish limestone


A champagne foxtrot from

Earl Fuller’s Rector Novelty Orchestra


Mute houses and barred windows



Glancing around


over the silent roofs


the soul is petrified


white cats outlined against the moon


like Lot’s wife



And yet

for all that,

it’s the same

in New York

and Bogotá!


the Moon…!


John Howard Reid
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Reviewed by pat medlin 7/12/2010
i can't think of another word for this beautiful piece other than 'enchanting'...patmedlin
Reviewed by Paul Judges 7/12/2010
Very well written

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