Torre's Blog
Translation: Parable of guilt by Ivan Radoev 
Thursday, March 21, 2013, 02:54 PM
Parable of guilt
by Ivan Radoev

(as interpreted by Torre DeVito)

Oh, they speak of the ungraceful hit!
When, with your fists down
You contemplated the passing possibilities.
Are you truly defeated?

How loudly silence is protesting!
(Who else is there to protest?)
But the referee keeps counting
the unfair seconds:

It’s not our fault, it’s the count!
Why does it run to nine?

And, as he washed his hands, Pilate said:
“As God is my witness
I washed my hands.”

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John Carter - The (Sorry) Movie 
Sunday, November 25, 2012, 04:16 PM
Just saw "John Carter" ... Oh-My-Gosh, what a disaster! I thought it bombed because they failed to name it "John Carter: Warlord of Mars" which could account for the low turnout to the theatrical release, but the screenplay is tedious, and confusing. It combines ideas from many of the books in Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Warlord of Mars" (aka Barsoom) series, plus a storyline of its own that adds nothing to the tale, and includes the main character peeing on the jailhouse floor (Walt Disney must be turning in his cryogenic chamber!) How edifying. Visually the movie is stunning, and there is enough action and visual effects for three movies. Being a fan of the books, I wish they had kept the action, the visual effects and the plot to one well told story, preferably "A princess of Mars" the first in the series by E.R.B. (and even THAT would have been a more successful title!)

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Poetic Parody 
Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 03:43 AM
If mimicry is the greatest form of compliment, then it stands to reason that parody is the most complimentary form of ridicule. The humor usually relies on the imitation of the style of another work, writer or genre on a subject that is trivial to the subject of the original work, or by exaggerating the self-importance of the original work to achieve comic or satirical effect. A familiarity with the original work usually enhances the appreciation of the parody, but often the parody stands alone. For the writer, parody can be an exercise to hone ones own work, overcome writers block, and to gain a deeper insight into the mind of an established writer and the craft of writing in general. It is also a lot of fun.
Here are a couple of my parodies. The first pokes fun at Lewis Carol's "Jabberwoky " and the second, a "dig" (pun intended) at the necessary speculative nature of forensic anthropology using Theodore Roethke's wonderful poem "I Knew A Woman ".


Torre DeVito
(with apologies to Lewis Carroll)

So willing, were the slimy perves
To gyre and gambol on the world-wide-wabe;
Their whimsy is to ogle curves,
And in chatrooms, outgrabe.

"Beware the cybertalk, my dear!
The claws that type, the jaws that chat!
Shun computer nerds, in fear,
Like that humorous blogger, Pat!"

They type their vorpal words to thee:
Meanwhile, the minxsome "ho" they seek--
They tempt you to join youtube, you see,
With your webcam, so they can peek.

One two! One two! And through and through
Their keyboard keys go snicker-snack!
You block their screen-names and I-P's
Ignore their spam attack.

And you, in prudish thought, withstood,
The cyberstalker, with eyes of flame,
So he whiffled off in a surly mood,
To burble on IRC and AIM!

"And hast thou stopped the Cybertalk?
Come to my site, my beamish girl!
Join Amazon! Yahoo! eBay!"
Learn Java, PHP, and PERL!

But beware the other slimy perves
That gyre and gambol on the world-wide-wabe;
Their whimsy is to ogle curves,
And in chatrooms, outgrabe.


Before Lucy became a pile of bones,
When small birds sighed, she would throw rocks at them;
Ah, when she moved, could she have stood or run?
The shapes of fossil bones do not explain!
Of Lucy's virtues scientists will speak,
Hiding ignorance in Latin names, and Greek,
("Australopithecus afarensis," how unique!).

As hypotheses go, we stretched them thin,
How might she turn, and counter-turn, and stand?
With clay we modeled muscle, sinew, skin;
Spent many hours with her ape-like hand;
She was the fossil; I, poor I, a flake,
Had many speculations, all half baked,
But what prodigious theories I did make!

I fleshed her out with clay upon her skull:
Full lips, as if, an errant grub to seize;
I envisioned her: half human yet quite dull,
With eyes and brow resembling chimpanzees,
And simian parts, and mobile primate nose
(All based on speculation, I suppose,
That ran in circles, and those circles moved).

Let bones be cast in silt or tar or clay;
Through processes and circumstance unknown;
Why study rocks? To know eternity?
The ages turned her skeleton to stone.
God alone can count eternity in days,
Yet from old bones I learn man’s wanton ways
(And measure time by carbon’s slow decay).

Note: One rejection slip from a science magazine
accused me of being a creationist. I'm not.
It's a joke, get over it!

I point out that scientists aren't always perfect,
but the line "God alone can count eternity in days"
is not meant to mean that there is no evolution.

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Push Me, Daddy 
Tuesday, May 4, 2010, 11:59 AM
When both of my two children were still small
We frequented a tiny, nearby playground
Where too-often their independence would brawl
With their desire of having me around.

Also at odds: instilling confidence and pride
And my desire to fend away bad things.
It was always "No, don't catch me!" at the slide,
And "Higher, Daddy, Higher!" at the swings.

On those swings, where I first taught them how to fly,
To pump their little legs and arch their chests,
And told them point their toes out to the sky,
That's where I learned the final push was from the nest.

And at that park I held their bikes and ran beside
And tried to teach them all they had to know:
Balance, and a smoothness in their ride;
While in their turn, they taught me to let go.

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Another poem in progress: 
Thursday, April 8, 2010, 08:57 AM
Star Gazing

Lying in the grass
In our yard we watch the sky
You and I, and our two children
To glimpse the Leonids.

I point out Castor and Pollux
Off Orion's left shoulder
"Further left, beyond Cancer,
See the question mark?"
"That is the head of the lion."
"That is the place." I say.
"Just wait."

And in the silence I muse
On how the universe is expanding
Inexorably and Silently outward.
And, I wonder, how many of these stars
Have winked out of existence
In the distant past? Yet
We still see their glow, so that
Looking out is looking back in time.

I keep these thoughts to myself,
Silent as the pre-dawn canopy, until
Out of the constellation of Leo
Stars begin to streak across the sky
A few at first, occasionally, and then
Many and more frequently.

You take my hand as
One meteor leaves a smoking trail
That lingers long after the fireball fades.
It is like this moment in my memory.
I watch you look into the shining eyes of
Our son and the wondering face of our daughter.
Together we contemplate heaven.

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This dog won't hunt.... 
Tuesday, March 30, 2010, 01:59 PM

Like an old dog on the front porch
Lying in a patch of sun
Trying to thaw the winter cold
That sleeps inside his bones:
Waiting on warmer days,
But the spring's long away.
Soon summer too is gone.

Like a fleeting memory that
Dances among the trees:
There's a scent of wild fortune
Drifting upon the breeze.
And the dog thumps his tail,
Dreams that he's on the trail,
How swiftly the moment flees.

I passed the field of a lazy man,
The vineyard of a fool.
Where thorns had come up everywhere
And weeds had come to rule.
A bit of slumber, a bit more sleep
Fold your hands it will keep
'Til poverty takes you to school.

- Torre DeVito March 30, 2010

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"J.D. Salinger is dead."  
Friday, January 29, 2010, 10:43 AM
"J.D. Salinger is dead."
I said, glancing at the TV
"What's that, Dear?" said she.

"You know, the author, 'Franny
and Zooey', 'Catcher in the Rye'"
Said I.

"We had a strange teacher in tenth
He made us read 'Catcher'" she said,
But I thought Salinger was long dead"

"Nope," I replied, he just managed to go
from being famous to being obscure
And hasn't written a thing since 1964."

"Fans once peaked through his windows
and stole his underwear for souvenirs
then he quietly disappears."

"J.D. Salinger is dead." I said.

"If the world shrugs at the passing
Of one such as he..."
I returned to my book, she to her tea.

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Stop Procrastinating: Ten Steps To Overcome Fear 
Tuesday, December 15, 2009, 08:12 AM
Stop Procrastinating: Ten Steps To Overcome Fear

One of the big reasons we as human beings tend to procrastinate in our persuit of worthwhile goals is fear. We fear Failure, we fear success, and we fear ridicule - worrying that we will look stupid in the process of acheiving whatever it is that we wish to accomplish. Here are ten ways to overcome fear and push on to the goal.

1.Know what you want to accomplish. Focusing on the desired outcome takes the focus off of doubt. Doubt leads to fear. Keep your eye on the prize.

2. Make the decision to never quit. Once quitting is not an option, there is no room for fear.

3. Take Action. Action overcomes fear. Concentrate on your core skill set, the activity that gets you the greatest results. Lack of action creates idleness which opens the door to fear. If you’re in a sales profession, that means spending most of your time attracting new prospects and presenting to them.

4. Be committed in the face of setbacks. Commitment ignores fear and doubt long enough for action to overcome it. Stay with your plan and fight through adversity.

5. Become competent in your core skillset: Compitence leads to confidence which leads to commitment and action.

6. Guard your thoughts. Avoid distraction and negativity. Negativity feeds fear, distraction derails action. When a negative thought occurs listen to a positive CD or Audio book, spend less time with negative people, and curtail activities and people that sidetrack you.

7. Set intermediate goals and celebrate those milestones as you accomplish them. Practice delayed gratification - postpone personal pleasures and reserve them as rewards for accomplishment.

8. Visualize your success. Actively imagine yourself as having accomplished whatever it is you are trying to do.

9. Associate with like-minded individuals, positive people with vision whom you can emulate and who are also in persuit of worthy dreams, who will celebrate your success as you celebrate theirs.

10. Fill your mind with positive input. Visit web sites, read books, listen to CD’s, and attend seminars that build competence, confidence and self esteem. protect and feed your thoughts.

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Reunion with college friends 
Monday, September 28, 2009, 11:49 AM
Wow! I had a great time in NY getting back together with friends I haven't seen since we were all on the Student newspaper together at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie NY. What a trip! I got to go at the last minute, and only because one of the classes I teach was canceled. I ended up driving all night, and passing by the city at sunrise. I reached Poughkeepsie at about 9 am and had breakfast at one of my old hangouts, the famous Palace Diner. The Portabello Benedict there is awe-inspiring! I think I drove the furthest, and probably have the worst punctuality record, but somehow I reached our alma-matter 2 hours before everyone else, and did a complete tour of the campus and had time to write down the beginning of a poem inspired by the morning's vision of the city. Here is what I have so far:

I saw the sunrise on the city
From atop the Palisades;
Saw the skyline of Manhattan
Bathed in gold.
Saw the mighty Hudson river
Like a silent silver ribbon,
And the beauty made me shiver
In the late September cold.

After writing this down, I managed to loose it and find it before everyone began to show up. Once everyone did get there we returned to the scene of the crime: the old publication office that is now a vending machine room.

We also got to meet a lovely young lady from the current student paper whom we tried to corrupt with stories of our abuses of the power of the press. It would please my heart to think that we could inspire (instigate/ incite) another generation of hooligans and deviants to tackle the hard issues and get free haircuts and beer. I don't think it worked though: the young goody-two-shoes kept reminding us that the drinking age was no longer eighteen as it had been in the ancient past when we attended there. To make matters worse, when we pointed out that she would be 21 in her 3rd year there, she had no intention of attending a community college beyond her second year! What are these young people thinking??!!

During the time we had been visiting with the young reporter, I managed to misplace the above poem more than once, and ultimately left it to get locked in the new publication office.

We played on the stage, took lots of pictures, met with our old faculty advisors, and carried on as if we had never left Dutchess twenty-something years ago. We then left to get a sneak preview of a famous Poughkeepsie landmark that will be in my travel blog next week after the grand opening. See: Torre-the-Tourist

That evening we all had a lovely dinner at the River Station, including a wacky teleconference with a friend who couldn't be there, and the night was over. I crashed at a friends house, and headed back to North Carolina the next morning. That was yesterday. I drove all day and woke up to discover a cluster of mushrooms had sprouted in my back yard. That inspired this little poem, that reminds me of Dickinson a bit:

In the one or two days I've been gone
Some toadstools cropped up in my lawn.
Like tables round where fairies dance,
Or a tiny stonehenge for the ants.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009, 10:41 AM
(casting off sins)

You are the Ganges!
You are the fountain at Lourdes!
And I have bathed in You
Only to pick up my burdens again.
Put on the same old clothes
With the same old sorrows in the cuffs,
Same old cares in the creases,
And the same old sins in the pockets.

I cast my cares to You,
Make a barge of my burdens
That You may carry them.
This time I turn out my pockets,
And drown my sorrows in Your depths.
And this time I will drink You
And be full of living water,
Clothe myself in Your Word.
This time I will caste off my sins
So they may drift away in Your vastness.
This time I will open my mouth
And your Word will pour fourth
like silver water.

- Torre DeVito

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009, 08:20 PM
Latest version:


Sunlit patterns on pine needles:
Filtered light shines on the trail
The air is warm, and full of birdsong,
A doe in the clearing flicks her tail.

Ants find a beetle in the leaf mold,
A warm breeze stirs the long-leaf pine.
I crouch in the shadows with my camera
To capture this moment and make it mine.

And there in the gravel at my feet
I spot an oddly leaf-shaped stone:
A spearhead, a perfect clovis-point
Some deft and ancient hand had honed.

What had this forest looked like then?
Northern trees? Jack pines, and spruce?
Yet much the same, I keenly feel:
Home to quail, grouse, and goose.

And along the ridge, as evening fell,
Was the mournful cry of a coyote pack
Muffled by snow, thick on the boughs?
Was the ground criss-crossed with animal track?

Were deer in the clearing then, as now?
Did the ancient hunter crouch here too?
Did he capture the moment with atlatl and spear
And know this land, as I now do?

Torre DeVito



Sunlit patterns on pine needles:
Filtered light shines on the trail
The air is warm, and full of birdsong,
A doe in the clearing flicks her tail.

Ants find a beetle in the leaf mold,
A warm breeze stirs the long-leaf pine.
I crouch in the shadows with my camera
To capture this moment and make it mine.

And there in the gravel at my feet
I spot an oddly leaf-shaped stone:
A spearhead, a perfect clovis-point
Some deft and ancient hand had honed.

What had this forest looked like then?
Northern trees? Jack pines, and spruce?
Yet much the same, I keenly feel:
Whispering trees, a call of a goose.
Did the ancient hunter crouch here too?
And know this land, as I now do?

Torre DeVito

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Lorca, and the abandoned church revisited 
Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 12:16 PM
Ths is an interpretation, not a translation. It is more cohesive than anything else I have read on the subject, but it definately is not exactly what Lorca was trying to say. It maintains his imagery but not necesarily the meaning of his poem.

The Abandoned Church
(A Ballad of The Great War)

Translated and further interpreted by Torre DeVito
from "IGLESIA ABANDONADA" by Federico García Lorca

I had a son who was named John.
I lost a son whom I look for in
the ruins of the church one All-Hallows eve.
I see him playing on the steps during a mass long since ended,
Dipping his little tin pail into the well of the priest's heart.
I beat the coffins for my son (My son!) and cast
chicken bones during a full moon to try and understand

I had a vision that my little child was a fish
left where they move the vendor's carts away.
I had a little child, a fish that died
in the ashes of incense burners.
And in my vision I was the sea. What? My God! A vast sea!

During his funeral I rang the bells,
but the bells have decayed like wormy fruit.
and I lit the candles, now devoured:
eaten like the spring wheat.

And in the wine, I saw the invisible reaper which
plucks the black heads of anguished soldiers:
in those trays with rubber housings
in which they pass arround cups filled with tears.

Amongst the holy flowers of the offertory you will find my heart
when the priest raises the host like one who lifts
a mule or an ox with his strong arms. He does this to
scare away the toads that come out at night to haunt
the frozen landscape of the chalice.

I had a son who was a giant,
but the dead are stronger than the living
and they know how to devour pieces of heaven.

If my child was a bear,
I would not be afraid of the alligator's stealth,
nor would I have seen the sea tied to the trees
to be ravished and trampled by regiments.
If my child was a bear!

I wrap my child in stiff fabric to dispell the cold of the mosses.
I know very well that I will get a sleeve or an armband;
but in the middle of the funeral I will break the rudder
we will drift to a rock in the sea - full of the madness of
penguins and seagulls, and it will cause those who sleep and
those who sing from the street-corners to cry:
He had a son. A son! A son!

I had a son! Not that he was more than my son,
but because he belongs to us all now, they cry:
Our son, our son, our son...

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A poem entitled "Translations" 
Tuesday, July 28, 2009, 10:25 AM
by Torre DeVito

A young woman passes my booth
In the "Bamboo Garden""

Five Chinese woman snapping beans
At the table next to me
Have been gossiping about her
In Cantonese.

I cannot understand them, but
I know from their faces that it
Is a juicy bit of news about
One who is younger, and prettier.

Nor do I understand the busboy's
Comment in Spanish as she passes,
But I know he voices desire.

When she returns to her seat
She involuntarily, meets my smile with her own,
Then, remembers to frown at the stranger.

So much can be conveyed
Through actions, posture,
A look in the eye.

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Translating Darwish 
Wednesday, July 22, 2009, 07:11 PM
Mahmoud Darwish (13 March 1941 - 9 August 2008) was an award-winning poet and author. He is regarded as the Palestinian national poet. This is my interpretation of translations of this work.

A Soldier Dreams Of White Lilies
By Mahmoud Darwish
Interpreted by Torre DeVito

He dreams
Of white lilies,
An olive branch,
And her breasts
In evening blossom.
He dreams of a bird,
He tells me,
And of lemon flowers.
He does not intellectualize
About his dream.
He understands things
Only as far as he
Senses and smells them.

He tells me:
"For me, my country is this:
Drinking my mother's coffee,
And coming home safely at dusk."

"And your homeland?"

"I don't know a homeland," he said.
"I don't feel it in my flesh and blood,
The way they describe in the poems."

Suddenly I saw the land through his eyes
As one might see a grocery store,
a street, or a newspaper.
"But don't you love your homeland?"
I ask him.

"My love is a picnic," he said,
A glass of wine, a love affair."

"Would you die for your country?"

All my attachment to my country
is no more than a story
or a fiery speech!
They taught me to love it,
But I never felt it in my heart.
I never knew its roots and branches,
Or the scent of its grass."

"But what about patriotism?
Doesn't it burn in you like suns and desire?"

He looked straight at me and said:
"I love my country with my gun,
Not by unearthing feasts
In the garbage of the past.
Patriotism is a deaf-mute idol,
Whose age and meaning
Are unknown."

He told me about leaving for the war,
How his mother silently wept when they
Led him to the front,
How her anguished voice gave birth
To a new hope in his flesh:
That doves might flock
Through the Ministry of War.

He drew on his cigarette
And said, as if fleeing
From a swamp of blood:
"I dreamt of white lilies,
An olive branch,
A bird embracing
The dawn in a lemon tree."

"But what did you see?"

"I saw what I did:
Not an olive branch, but
A blood-red boxthorn.
I blasted men in the sand....
In their chests....
In their bellies."

"How many did you kill?"

"It's impossible to tell.
I only got one medal."

Pained, I asked him to
Tell me about one of the dead.

He shifted in his seat,
Fiddled with the newspaper,
and then said, as if chanting:
"He collapsed like a tent on stones,
Embracing shattered planets.
His high forehead was crowned with blood.
His chest was empty of medals.
He was not a well-trained fighter,
But seemed instead to be a peasant -
A worker, or a peddler.
Like a tent he collapsed and died,
His arms stretched out
Like dry creek-beds.
When I searched his pockets
For a name, I found two photographs,
One of his wife, the other of his daughter."

"Did you feel remorse?" I asked.

Cutting me off, he said,
"Mahmoud, my friend, remorse is a white bird
That does not come near a battlefield.
For a soldier, remorse is a sin.
In that place, I was like a machine:
Spitting hellfire and death,
And turning space into a black bird.

He told me about his first love,
and later, about distant streets,
about reactions to the war in the
radio and the press.

As he hid a cough in his handkerchief
I asked him: "Shall we meet again?"

"Yes, but in a city far away."

When I filled his fourth glass,
I asked jokingly:
"Are you leaving? What about war and victory?"

"Give me a break," he replied.
"I dream of white lilies,
Streets of song,
A house of light.
I need a kind heart,
Not a bullet.
I need a bright day,
Not a mad, fascist
Moment of triumph.
I need a child to cherish,
A day of laughter,
Not a weapon of war.
I came to live for rising suns,
Not to witness their setting."

He said goodbye
And went looking
For white lilies,
And a bird
Welcoming the dawn
On an olive branch.

He understands things
Only as far as he senses
And smells them. "For me," he said,
"My country is To drink my mother's coffee,
Or to return to my home safely, at dusk."

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Friday, July 10, 2009, 10:42 AM
Our soldier has returned, and we are glad
That you are safe, and sound, and whole, and home.
We cannot know the time that you have had
Nor know the many struggles you have known.

The battle now is peace, and we must cross
This gulf that lies between us, now you're near,
To overcome the nagging sense of loss
Upon regaining all that we hold dear.

And we who give you prayers and praise
For the terror that you've kept from our fair shore,
Are caught up in our thoughtless daily ways,
And blissfully remain untouched by war.

Though there be many thoughts you cannot share
Please do not let our ignorance intrude
Our words seem hollow, if we even dare
Express concern and love and gratitude

We cannot know the time that you have had
Nor ever know the struggles you have known.
Thank God for you're return, and we are glad:
That you are safe, and sound, and whole, and home.

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