Resquiat in Pacem, Daddy

By the water’s edge
The hummingbirds whispering
In the summer air
And in that moment I knew
I would not see you again

Alex Szabo
November 13th, 1937 – November 19th, 2019
Father, Aviator, Veteran, Entrepreneur


How to Read Japanese Poetry, a book by Steven Carter

I recently got a copy of this book, How to Read Japanese Poetry (New York; Columbia University Press, 2019) ISBN 978-0231186834, and have been enjoying it thoroughly. Steven Carter is the author of several books translating Japanese poetry into English, and his Traditional Japanese Poetry: An Anthology (Stanford; Stanford University Press, 1993) ISBN 978-0804722124 is usually the first book I recommend to people who want to explore Japanese poetry. This book is a little more intimate, where Carter presents poems in a variety of styles, with translation notes and historical background. Less poems than his earlier book, but he digs down into further detail. If you are at all interested in Japanese poetry, definitely add this book to your library.


In process English translation of Gosenshū

Of possible interest to poetry enthusiasts: Christopher Kern, a visiting professor at Auburn University, is in the process of translating the Gosenshū (Gosen Wakashu), collected about 951 CE, which was the 2nd of the great Imperial Anthologies. He has put up a Wiki with what he has so far, including sources used and analysis of the poems. Check it out here:

There is a short wikipedia entry about the Gosenshū here:

And a brief entry concerning the 21 Imperial Anthologies here:

The Alamo, a Poem

So while digging through bins in the garage, I came across this ancient treasure. My first epic poem (and illuminated book–although badly illustrated would probably be more accurate) from when I was 12 years old. Done on index cards and bound with glue and a black ribbon with yellow flowers. I give you–THE ALAMO!

The Alamo
A Poem by Maria Szabo

The Alamo was a Mission
A mission that was a success
In short, the Mission Alamo
Was the very best.

The Mexicans did not trust
The Americans, who were harrowed
Then the Decree of 1830
Added upon their sorrows

Sam Houston was a general
Who called the men together
So Houston said to his men “Give up?”
And the men replied “Never!”

General Houston appointed a man named Travis,
Who was told he had a job,
He took 183 men to the Alamo
To await the oncoming mob

With Travis was James Bowie,
Whose knife had his name,
Also Davy Crockett
About to go in his fame

At dawn came General Santa Anna
And 2000 men did he bring
The Texans looked on soberly
And didn’t say a thing

“Surrender to us!” said Santa Anna
“And we will let you go!”
Travis fired his largest cannon!
Clearly, the answer was NO!

The fight was on and started
Bloody and 13 days long
But the time was given to Sam Houston
To make his army strong

At the Battle of San Jacinto
The world was shocked to see
Texas win independence
With the death of 183

So wherever you are, whenever you are
Above earth or below
Remember the death of 183
And Remember the Alamo!

Cover. Bound with black ribbon and yellow flowers (for the Yellow Rose of Texas). Death looms in the shadows of the Alamo.

Cover page.

Looking back, I’m impressed that I put little illuminated letters to start almost every page.

So of course, Mexicans meant sombrero and pinata. Hey, I was 12.

Historical fact: The Texans really had a flag with a cannon saying “Come and Take It!”

And there’s the Alamo. I’d been there on a family trip a few years before. There were actually more than 183 people in the Alamo, but I didn’t remember that at the time.

Bloody Bowie knife. I was a weird kid.

You can’t really see in the picture, but Santa Anna with his big hat is marching in on the very left bottom of the page. I didn’t take into account binding when I drew the pictures.

Okay, you can see Santa Anna and his big hat a little better here. I was a little obsessed with that hat of his.

The bloody battle. I somehow forgot to mention that the Texans lost the battle? But that the battle was important because it gave Houston time to organize his army. Still, how the heck did I forget to mention they lost?!

And a sudden jump to the Battle of San Jacinto. In the men’s thoughts (big faces on the right) are Davy Crockett (with his coonskin cap), James Bowie (with his muttonchop sideburns) and William Travis, who was boring looking and didn’t make much of an impression on me. The Mexicans are shouting “Me no Alamo!” and “Me no Goliad!”, which actually did happen. The Goliad Massacre on March 27, 1836, was overshadowed by the Battle of the Alamo, but twice as many men were killed there.

So the stick figures are shouting “Victory or Death!” Again, I forgot about margins when drawing this.

Okay, not an epic for the ages, but hey, I was 12! Also not great at drawing. This was a school assignment for my Texas History Class and I don’t remember what grade I got, but did remember getting points for creativity.

I only have bits and pieces of my poetry from that time, mainly things I published in the school newspaper. I stopped writing poetry for a long time after my 8th grade English teacher told me that my poems were “stupid.” She was a horrible teacher. You should never say that to a child. I didn’t start writing poetry again until I was in my 30’s.

Some Tanka from February

Blizzard 4
Maple tree under snow in my backyard, photo by myself


A blanket of grey
The scent of snow in the air
Winter’s cold caress
My tears frozen to my face
I wonder why I’m crying


Pain, past and present
Winter is not my season
Knife-sharp, the twisting
Of my body, of my mind
Warped into a silent knot


My brush hesitates
Hovering over the page
Like a dragonfly
My words are soft and cloudy
As a midwinter’s morning


How to speak of it
World weariness infusing
Each waking moment
No rhyme, reason, or excuse
The sleet falls unrelenting