Torre's Blog
Freedom isn't free. 
Sunday, May 24, 2009, 01:54 AM
As we approach memorial day, I thought I'd share a poem that always brings home to me the terrible price of liberty, and shames me for taking it for granted. That poem is In Flanders Fields by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae


That and these lines from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address:

"...from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."



The trees are full, and red, and gold
And pregnant with the autumn
Above the fields of all the battles
And graves of those who fought 'em

Plows still turn up cannon balls
From that War Between the States
Small monument to men, who fought,
For here they met their fates.

The signs are here, in the very air,
If you know how to read 'em:
Blood sacrifice: the awful price
Of this precious thing called "Freedom"

Torre DeVito

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009, 12:39 PM
Time seems to be slipping away from me
Capriciously. Waiting for me to sit
At my computer to slip behind my back
And out the door, and down the street
To play with the children. The children
Who have all the time in the world.

The task at hand glowers at me from
behind the task that I am doing,
And the one behind that is trying to
Distract me until the hours have
Sped, and the day has fled away
Into restless nights.

Then the unfinished tasks
Crawl into bed with me. They place
Their cold feet against my back
Or perch upon my chest, purring
Contentedly as they suck
My breath away.

Torre DeVito

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Monday, May 18, 2009, 11:17 PM
Poetry should be fun, and accessible to everyone, and in my opinion the form of poetry that best meets these criteria is the limerick. I especially like bawdy limericks, so, if you are under the age of 18, go away. You aren't missing anything, my dear minors, this material will bore you to tears.

Note: The following limericks were written by me, (copyright 2009 by Torre DeVito) and though intentional politically incorrect, are meant to be in good fun, and not intended to hurt anyone's feelings, or to be mean spirited. The famous literary figures that I poke fun at in my limericks are those that I deeply respect, so please don't send me gobs of hate mail! For that matter, don't send me gobs of fan mail unless you include gobs of cash. Thanks!

Literary Limericks:

The plays of one William Shakespeare
Are held by the world to be dear,
But, far too amused
By a certain Will Hughes,
All his sonnets appear to be queer.

Of poets romantic, the best:
Robert Gordon, Lord Byron, was blessed
With a personal muse
(And the passion of Zuess,
for poetry, lust, and incest).

Romantic Poets
The romantics (except Robert Browning)
Died young, with achievements crowning.
Lord Byron, poor chap
Died for Greece, of the clap,
Keats of TB, and Shelley by drowning.

A japanese man name of Woo
And a peice of paper or two:
A lotus in bloom,
The light of the moon,
It's a limerick about Haiku.

A crazy wood fairy named Puck
Was a sprite who was quite full of pluck
He could make a right ass
Out of folks, but alas
He invariably stepped in their muck.

Romance Novels
A girl who likes gothic romances
(With swooning, long gowns and dances)
Reads how passions are "slaked"
By heirs, heroes, and rakes
'Til her own heaving bosom draws glances...

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The Etymology of Entomology 
Saturday, May 2, 2009, 02:41 PM
One who studies
Words wonders:
Where in the
World the word for
One who studdies
Bugs Began?

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Stuff I'm Working on: Bilingual poetry 
Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 11:50 AM
Continuing with the theme of translation and communication, I am working on a mixed language poem. I consider it unfinished, but here it is so far:

(To Say Goodbye)

My friend Carlos and I
Stood outside the building
At the end of my watch.

"Your family is here?"
He asks.
"Si," I reply,
"mi Padre, y mi hermana,
"my father and sister.
"My mother passed away in oh-four."
He nods his head knowingly.

He says:
"Mi madre, en ninety-eight...
"Ten years last year..
"I can't believe.."

We contemplate the evening
Thinking our own thoughts
Each in our own language.

"See you tomorrow?" he asks.
"Si, hasta mañana..." I say
My words trailing off.
I cannot express the sense
Of connection I feel.
Not in Spanish or in English,

But Carlos can with his eyes.
"See you tomorrow, then."
He says.
I nod, and smile, and walk away.

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Federico García Lorca  
Saturday, February 21, 2009, 09:21 PM
I've been looking at the work of Federico García Lorca lately, trying to get a handle on it. He was a Spanish poet and a contemporary of painter Salvador Dali. You can read a bit more about him here:

See Wikipedia: Federico García Lorca

Most of the translations of his work that I have been able to get hands on are abysmal, so I attempted my own translation of one of his more famouse poems: "IGLESIA ABANDONADA" or "The Abandoned Church". Translating from the Spanish is quite dificult when a poem
contains this much imagery and alegory. The symbolism is abundant
and sometimes seems inconsistant. After spending several hours with
this poem, I have a deeper appreciation for it, but am not convinced that I truley have a better understanding of it.

Is it a poem about losing one's son to war? And exactly how does all
the Catholic symbology fit in? Is he likening the loss of his son
to Mary losing her Son?

Well here goes nothing:

The Abandoned Church
(A Ballad of The Great War)

Translated by Torre DeVito
from "IGLESIA ABANDONADA" by Federico García Lorca

I had a son who was named John.
I had a son.
He was lost by the arches of the church one All-Saints Friday.
I saw him play on the final steps of the mass,
Dipping his little tin pail into the priest's heart.
I've beaten the coffins. My son! My son! My son!
Pulled out a chicken foot from behind the moon and then
I understood that my little child was a fish
near where they move the vendor's carts away.
I had a little child.
I had a fish that died in the ashes of incense burners.
I was a sea. What? My God! A sea!

I got to play the bells, but the fruit had worms.
and the dying candle flames
ate the spring wheat.

I have seen alcohol, an invisible stork
plucking the black heads of anguished soldiers
and seen 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 mule and the ox with his strong arms,
to scare away the nocturnal toads that haunt the frozen landscapes 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 this stiff fabric tight to avoid the cold of the mosses.
I know very well that I will get a sleeve or an armband;
but in the center of the mass I will break the rudder and then
they will come to the rock - the madness of penguins and seagulls
And they will cause those who sleep and those who sing from the street-corners to say:
He had a son.
A son! A son! A son
That was not more than your son, because he was your son!
Your child! Your child! Your child!

Notes on this translation:

Line 4:
"I Saw him playing on the final steps of the Mass"
"Le vi jugar en las últimas escaleras de la misa"
I am tempted to replace "final steps of the Mass" with "top step of the church"

Line 5:
"Dipping his little tin sand pail into the priest's heart."
"y echaba un cubito de hojalata en el corazón del sacerdote."
a more literal translation is "and throws the cube of tin in the heart of the priest" "echaba un cubito" could be a play on words to mean "throws the dice." I struggled with the translation here, and the meaning of this sentence eludes me. The "cubito de hojalata " is definitely a toy pail but what does the sentence mean? "Echaba" also hints of a spanish idiom that means to miss or mourn someone.

Line 8
"I understood that my little child was a fish"
The word for "little child" is more literally translated as daughter.
I think that the feminin ending here is meant as a diminutive, and chose to use it as such, because introducing a second child here seems to add nothing to this confusing poem.

Line 9
"near where they move the vendor's carts away."
"por donde se alejan las carretas."
More literally "where they move away the carts" I think Lorca is referring to a street market, but I have no way of proving this (see my note on line 40).

Line 14
"I got to play the bells, but the fruit had worms."
"Subí a tocar las campanas, pero las frutas tenían gusanos."
This is exactly what it says. I thought perhaps that bells might be a type of fruit, but frankly I find no connection or any reasonable explanation of the metaphore here. Perhaps some forgotten idiom of early 20th century Spain would link fruit to bells. Line 15 makes it clear that the things of the church are somehow blighting the narators crop (fruit of his loins) while it is still young.

I am tempted to rewrite this passage as:

"I got to ring the bells, but the bells were wormy fruit.
I got to light the candles, but the candles were maggots
That ate up all the spring wheat"

Line 18
"I have seen alcohol, an invisible stork"
"Yo vi la transparente cigüeña de alcohol"
More literally: "I have seen the transparent stork of alchohol"
OK, the Stork is a christian symbol of watchfullness. It is also a form of shackles that slowly tortures it's wearer. but the plucking/pruning imagery of the next line suggest the stork is somehow a metaphor for alcohol.

I think that I will write an "interpretation" rather than a translation - "I have known alchohal, that invisible reaper..."

OK here it is:

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 had a son who was lost beneath the arches of the church
one All-Saints Friday.
I saw him playing on the steps as mass was ending,
Dipping his little tin pail into the priest's heart.
I've beaten the coffins for my son! My son!
Cast chicken bones during a full moon to try and understand
I had a vision that my little child was a fish
In a stall 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 sea!

And I got to ring the bells, but the bells became wormy fruit.
and as I watched, dying candle flames
ate the spring wheat like maggots.

I saw alcohol, that 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 chursh service 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! A son
Not that he was more than your son, but because he was your son!
Your child! Your child! Your child!

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Friday, June 27, 2008, 04:02 PM
I am looking for comments on the translation. Any native French poets out there care to comment?

Croissance Pauvre
de Torre DeVito

Il fut un temps, après une histoire d'attention particulière
Nous avons parlé de volumes avec des mots simples
Et nos conversations étaient comme de vastes forêts
Où chaque nuance est passé comme un grand séquoia.

Quand est-ce que les insultes commencé à
Incinérer notre dialogue, dévorant
Verbes et adjectifs en flammes?
Le grand incendie a cessé de brûler depuis longtemps
S'est transformé en braises et finalement en cendres, mais quand même ...

Tous ceux qui nous restent sont les suivants:
Un enchevêtrement de mauvaises herbes, des correctifs de sable,
Et un désert de pauvre croissance des arbres.
Pour l'observateur occasionnel les cicatrices sont obscurcies:
Une vie nouvelle est mieux que des cendres froides
Mais maintenant une vécu repousse insuffisante
Lorsque une fois les séquoias puissants existe.


By Torre DeVito

Once after slow careful ages
We spoke volumes with single words
Vast forests of conversation
Where every nuance rose like some tall sequoia.

When did angry words first burn
Through our dialogue, devouring
Verbs and adjectives in tongues of flame?
That cruel inferno burned out long ago
Smoldered and died, but even so...

All we are left with are these:
A tangle of weeds, patches of sand,
And a wilderness of second-growth trees.
To the casual observer the scars are hidden:
Warm life from cold ashes, better by contrast,
But now mere scrub pines stand
Where mighty redwood grew.

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A gift 
Wednesday, October 11, 2006, 10:18 AM
How liberating it is to discover that you are the victim of your own actions, and thus not really a victim at all.

Feeling victimized leads to a kind of spiritual paralysis. Just as stagnant pools breed microbes, stagnant lives breed fear, uncertainty and doubt - choking out all life, light, and happiness. Victims are at the mercy of their victimizers, dependent on others to save them from their plight. By contrast, those who realize that they are in situations of their own making know that they are capable of getting themselves out of that situation. This empowers and entitles them to take action. Action leads to competence, competence leads to entitlement and confidence, and confidence further empowers the individual to action.

We understand our basic freedom best when we embrace the fact that we are primarily the product of our own choices. Even when events occur that are beyond our control we can choose how to react, if and how we will respond, both physically and emotionally. For instance, even in the wake of a great tragedy we can choose to remain positive, to do what is necessary to move on.

I give you this gift, the knowledge that you are the only one who can MAKE you angry. You are the only one who can MAKE you sad. You are responsible for your own feelings, and though you cannot chose what happens to you, you can choose whether and how to react. Happiness is a choice. Success is a choice.

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More on your free computer 
Tuesday, September 19, 2006, 09:57 AM
OK - if the text of the last entry of my blog came as an email I would probbably delete it, but it is true. We all have this ultra-portable, ultra-fast, amazing computer at our disposal. What is even better is, we have the power to program this computer, for success or failure, victory or defeat, good or evil. How true that old adage of computer programers: Garbage in, garbage out (GIGO). Bad enough that we pump our minds full of hours of TV, fraught with violence, innanity, and immorality - our own words also program our heads with garbage and negativity. "I can't", "Everything I touch goes wrong"m Utterances like these enter the subconcience, a part of the mind that determins most of our actions, yet is incapable of determining truth from a lie.

What if we changed our speaking? What if we avoided the negative, excuse-ridden monologue and dialogue of our typical day? If our mantra became "I can!" - "I will" - "It shall be done" then our subconscience would work to bring things about.

I will continue this thought later.

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You Have Won A Free Computer 
Monday, September 18, 2006, 01:33 PM
You have been awarded one of the fastest most powerfull computers in the world. Capable of fuzzy and hard logic and true as opposed to artificial intelligence. This computer is your birthright. It is called your brain.

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Blogging from my blackberry 
Wednesday, August 16, 2006, 03:19 PM
The site looks ok from my new blackberry. What a surprise! Typing on a bb is hard ... All thumbs! +I could have done this faster on a palm pilot. Oh well.

Anger update: 3 days w/o a blow up!

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Saturday, August 12, 2006, 02:15 AM
Anger is such a destructive force, I know, because I have issues with anger. No, I don't beat my wife or kids, I don't punch walls, at least not often, and I don't stay angry long. I also don't have a short fuse in the normal sense of the term, i.e. I am usually slow to anger, but I go through periods when my fuse is short enough, thank you. And when I do I explode, and it is loud, and seldom called for, and usually my anger is way out of proportion to whatever set it off.

I also tend to be very diplomatic in public. Situations that would set me off in private are generally handled coolly and calmly.

Unlike my co-workers and acquaintances, my family gets to witness or, worse, be the brunt of my outbursts, and like toothpaste once out of the tube my anger cannot be put back away.

One of my heroes in life, Victor Frankel states, in his extremely moving book Man’s Search for Meaning, that “the only human freedom lies between the stimulus and the response.”

Reflecting on this I suddenly realized that there was only one person who could make me mad, and that was me. No matter what the stimuli I could decide upon my response.

Though this thought was very empowering, I also realized that it is beyond my own ability to overcome the anger that I have trained myself to respond with. Fortunately I believe in a loving God, and believe that He has the power to mend what I cannot.

I make this public declaration that I will do my best, and let God do the rest when it comes to my temper. I will hit my knees tonight and ask for help, in faith that it will be given. And will ask my family’s forgiveness and forbearance tomorrow.

I also use this venue to share with others who might be looking for help, and for others whom have overcome their anger in hopes that the will share their thoughts and encouragement with me, as well as their well wishes.

The only things we can control in life are our attitude and our actions. I’ve decided, with Gods help, to take back the reigns.

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Current poetry 
Thursday, August 10, 2006, 06:28 PM
Hey, I'm inviting comment on this poem that I am currently working on...

By Torre Anthony DeVito

"Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse."
-T.S. Eliot

Quantum physics suggests that observation affects reality and that the relation of position
to momentum is uncertain. Notions of causality disappear from our map of the cosmos.
We are off the charts, and here there be dragons.

On the old map, the Earth was our mother. Her womb was the sea, and
The sky-father fucked her on the backs of four elephants standing on a tortoise.
In the old paradigm, stars ejaculated matter upon Earth's primordial soup, where,
Life sprang forth as cosmic accident.

On the old map all revolved around the Ego. The child was the crux of its own universe.
In the beginning the child knew only self, and the rhythmic pulse of wet warm darkness.
Slowly, muffled sounds penetrated ignorance, and an awareness of otherness grew, until
Light burst forth, accompanied by pain.

Then the view shifted and there were other bodies,
Strange attractions and invisible bonds that redefined the focus.
The world is not flat. The universe is expanding, but will collapse, and
One learned that neither Earth nor Sun were the center of the universe.

To read the new map one must unlearn such nonsense, for all is relative, and
The geocentric and the heliocentric are just more-complicated models, no less correct.
All is uncertainty but observation affects outcome, nailing down the multiverse to a single path.

On the new map, perception is reality. I revolve around you; and you, I- even as
Gravity takes its toll and we grow older and feebler. On the new map
Time and distance are the variables, and though time flows differently for us all,
It seems to move solely and inexorably in one direction. The only constant is speed.

Maps, however, are just representations of reality. Truth has a way of slipping
the bonds of conception. The sub-atomic and galactic hint of grand design.
Beneath the fabric of the universe is the sublime,
And behind the infinite, and the infinitesimal: the Divine.

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006, 11:58 PM

When did a soldier become a troop? The media insists on counting individual American casualties as troops... e.g. "three troops were killed today in Iraq..."

I am not sure if this is because the reporters are so closely entwined with the entertainment industry, and thus feel that "entertaining the troops" and "entertaining the soldiers" is essentially the same, thus troops and soldiers must be synonymous, or if there is something more sinister at work here.

Every death is important, but I get the sense that the reason the media uses the word "troops" is because they actually are aware that a troop means a group of soldiers, and that using the term makes it seem like more peoople have died...

Hear this... when three soldiers die it is no more correct to say "three troops" than it would be to say "three choirs were killed in a bus crash" if three singers met their end in said bus.

I guess it is just another example of the laxidasical, biased, editorializing that passes for news these days.

Thus ends the rant.

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Floor Plans 
Tuesday, February 28, 2006, 11:42 PM
My sister is buying a house. About two weeks ago she began to talk about the fact that her rent was going to go up, and today she signed a contract with a builder. If all goes well she will close in late July and move in some time in August.

Decisions of this magnitude are not an easy matter for my sister. She has to poll all her friends and family for their opinion, and typically she disagrees with all of the opinions she gets at first, perhaps to see how convicted we are of our opinions, because despite her protests, she often does incorporate at least a portion of the advice.

Anyway, I find the whole thing amusing, if not somewhat exhausting, but it got me looking at different floor plans again.

I am of the opinion that houses these days are designed more for status than for living. Here are my rules for more logical houses.

1 - Doors should be at least eighteen inches away from the corner, unless the wall beside that corner contains closet doors or other doors, otherwise the wall cannot be used for furniture placement.

2 – Dining rooms and bedrooms should never be less than 10 feet wide or long, and should have at least 100 square feet of floor space.

3 - No toilet should face an object less than four feet away.

4 - If a house is on a busy street, all bedrooms should be in the back.

OK, so they seem pretty obvious, until you go house hunting.

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