Clarion

piercing the window
slicing the habitual
haze of a work day
his urgency returns me
this year’s first cicada song
 
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Revised AGG20160810

guoande seal script jpegTo read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”
To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”
To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffinjust click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

 

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Seven Years Later in Parc Laurier: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Sand Washed by Waves”

As letters to words are years to memories,
Seven years today since I quit China,
Right on cue the summer’s first cicada sings,
Pestering with his wordless longing,
Asking what it is we’ve done with his precious time,
Well, I’ve  seen a whole lot of circuses,
Written well over six hundred poems,
Had sex with maybe half as many men,
All these various acrobatic routines swerve
Beauty from what was and never can be,
But I’ll leave it to the crows in Parc Laurier
To dispute over things delicious and dead.
These days when I turn my head,
It isn’t the Yangtze or Purple Gold Mountain I see
It is Mount Royal with the Saint Lawrence at its feet.

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Tune: “Sand Washed by Waves”
In Memoriam
by Li Qingzhao

Outside the curtains the howling fifth-watch wind
Blows away the last vestige of my melancholy dream.
Who will be my companion
When I go up the painted tower again?
I remember how he loved to chaff me
Poking the fire sideways with my jade hairpin—
A memory now vanished like the auspicious omen
In the seal-character incense.

Recollections flood my mind
Of happy days gone by
When the two of us climbed Purple Gold peak① hand in hand
Gazing at the hazy view below:
A river of spring waves wrapped in rain and mist ,
Gliding away as if half-sober and half-tipsy.
I keep on my garment
Tears shed the day before–
To shoot to the wild geese
As they wing past.

①Presumably an allusion to the Purple Gold Hill (Zhi Jin Shan ) on the south shore of the Yangtze River in today’s city of Nanjing.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

浪淘沙·李清照
帘外五更风,吹梦无踪。画楼重上与谁同?记得玉钗斜拨火,宝篆成空。
回首紫金峰,雨润烟浓。一江春浪醉醒中。留得罗襟前日泪,弹与征鸿。

Làng táo shā Lǐ Qīngzhào
lián wài wǔ gēng fēng, chuī mèng wú zōng. Huà lóu zhòng shàng yǔ shuí tóng ? Jìdé yù chāi xié bō huǒ , bǎo zhuàn chéng kōng .
Huíshǒu zǐjīn fēng , yǔ rùn yān nóng . Yī jiāng chūnlàng zuì xǐng zhōng. Liú dé luō jīn qiánrì lèi , dàn yǔ zhēng hóng .

Depth Charge: The photo is of the circus performance Duels which was part of Completement Cirque 2015.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

A Cicada’s Swan Song: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Spring in the Jade Pavilion”

“We survived. You and I. And those who survive have a duty. Our duty is to do our best to keep on living. Even if our lives are not perfect. ”
from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

How could either of us have known
My plastic balcony table
Would be your final resting place?

When I saw you there, I thought
You were already dead
So I picked you up; I noticed,
Your filigreed, shimmering wings,
Your two dark, oval eyes,
Your tapered, beveled body—
And then the white mold
Coating your underside—
A scourge to your kind.

Suddenly, you buzzed.
The unexpected movement,
Violent between my fingers,
Startled me into dropping you
Back onto the tabletop—
To you just another predator foiled.

Over the course of the day,
You crawled to the edge,
Then clung to the side,
And that is where you died.

The chemicals in your brain
Arranged into a song of longing,
Did you succeed in passing
Your sad melody along?
Does a slit in a twig somewhere
Conceal eggs that already know the tune?

No matter, your agonies
Pierced an untold number
Of smaller beings—like me,
For your vibrating heart
Shields a silence
That—like desire—the wind,
Though warm and merciless,
Cannot carry away.

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Tune: “Spring in the Jade Pavilion”
by Li Qingzhao

Red Plum Blossom
Soft red petals ready to unfold,
Luscious jade-green buds begin to break.
Tell me, are her southern branches all in full bloom?
I know not how much perfume she has in store,
I am only aware that her heart is throbbing
with boundless love.

The Taoist recluse at the spring window, how she pines!
No leaning against the balustrade, her mood so depressed.
Come have a drink, if you will, with no more ado.
Who knows but that tomorrow the wind may blow the
blossoms away?

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

《玉楼春》 李清照
红酥肯放琼苞碎,探著南枝开遍未。不知酝藉几多香,但见包藏无限意。
道人憔悴春窗底,闷损阑干愁不倚。要来小酌便来休,未必明朝风不起。

《玉樓春》李清照
紅酥肯放瓊苞碎,探著南枝開遍未。不知醞藉幾多香,但見包藏無限意。
道人憔悴春窗底,悶損闌干愁不倚。要來小酌便來休,未必明朝風不起。

“Yùlóu chūn” Lǐ Qīngzhào
Hóng sū kěn fàng qióng bāo suì , tànzhe nán zhī kāi biàn wèi. Bùzhī yùn jí jǐ duō xiāng , dàn jiàn bāocáng wúxiàn yì.
Dàoren qiáocuì chūn chuāng dǐ , mèn sǔn lángān chóu bù yǐ. Yào lái xiǎo zhuó biàn lái xiū , wèibì míng cháo fēng bù qǐ.

“Jade/Storied Building/Spring” Li Qingzhao
Red/silky/willing/release/jade/bud/break, search/to make know/southern/branch/open/all over/not yet. Not knowing/harbor/conceal/how/much/fragrance, but/appear/to contain/unbounded/meaning.
Taoist/person/wan/sallow/spring/window/bottom, gloomy/decrease/balustrade/worry/not/rely on. Must/come/drink/snack/come/rest, maybe not/tomorrow morning/wind/not/rise.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Gay Pride Parade: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Complaint Against A Prince”

Gay Pride Parade: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Complaint Against A Prince”

Mid-August and the weather turns cool,
The rain falls for three days and three nights,
The cold and the wet
Silences the cicadas,
But the green grass at least is lengthening
Through the cracked concrete steps.
After two weeks at the seaside
Feeling the sun, the wind and the saltwater
On my bare skin,
I am back in Montreal,
Lying in the dark,
Listening to the anemic rain
Through the open window.
Tomorrow is gay pride again
And, if the clouds clear,
I will join the noisy, colorful crowd,
And as they dance by
I will think of the ones
Who were here last year
But have passed like a parade.

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(For all those who have died in the past year, you know who they are.)

Tune: “Complaint Against A Prince”
Spring in the Boudoir
by Li Qingzhao

Late spring in the Imperial city,
A hall deeply secluded within double gates.
Once more the grass in front of the steps
Grows lush and green,
And from my upstairs window
I gaze and gaze at the last wild geese
Vanishing from the evening sky.
Nowhere to find a messenger to convey
My teeming thoughts far away.
I am in deep sorrow–
A sorrow that never abates.

The deeper your love, the more poignant
The feeling of sadness there’s no resisting.
It is again Cold Food Day.
The garden swings lying idle ,
The lanes deserted.
All is quiet save a bright moon
That slants down to drench the pear blossoms.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

李清照《怨王孙/忆王孙》
帝里春晚,重门深院。
草绿阶前,暮天雁断。
楼上远信谁传?恨绵绵。
多情自是多沾惹,难拚舍,又是寒食也。
秋千巷陌,人静皎月初斜,浸梨花。

李清照《怨王孫/憶王孫》
帝里春晚,重門深院。
草綠階前,暮天雁斷。
樓上遠信誰傳?恨綿綿。
多情自是多沾惹,難拚舍,又是寒食也。
鞦韆巷陌,人靜皎月初斜,浸梨花。

Lǐqīngzhào “yuàn wángsūn/yì wángsūn”
dì lǐ chūnwǎn, zhòng mén shēn yuàn.
Cǎolǜ jiē qián, mù tiān yàn duàn.
Lóu shàng yuǎn xìn shuí chuán? Hèn miánmián.
Duō qíng zì shì duō zhān rě, nán pàn shě, yòu shì hánshí yě.
Qiūqiān xiàng mò, rén jìng jiǎo yuèchū xié, jìn líhuā.

Li Qingzhao Complain/King/grandson
Emperor/home/spring/late, double/gate/close/courtyard.
Grass/green/steps/front, sunset/sky/geese/break.
Building/upper/distant/letter/who/pass on? Regret/continuous/uninterrupted.
Many/feelings/oneself/are/in excess/moisten/vex, difficult/disregard/give-up, again/is/Cold Food Festival/here.
Garden swing/lane/empty, people/calm/bright/moon/beginning of month/immerse/pear/flower.

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Bodhisattva’s Gold Headdress”

It is when the world’s erased,
Made blank by a winter storm,
It is then we know,
Beneath the soft, killing snow,
Seeds and eggs and cruel blooms
Plot their spring revanche.
It’s in January’s wind
We first hear the desperate,
Sad and lonely tune
The cicadas will sweetly sing
In the July heat at noon.
This is when we know.

We know happy is the corpse
The rain softly falls upon:
It was warm and wet,
Beading on your coffin dark,
Disappearing down into
The cold, hungry ground.
We cried and then laughed—a lot—
As long as we are breathing
Your love has not died,
Your world will not be erased,
Made blank by this awful plague.
This is what we know.

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(for Doug and Bob and Chris and Peter and Patrick and the countless others buried deep in our still beating hearts)

Tune: “Bodhisattva’s Gold Headdress”
Nostalgia

The honks of departing wild geese die away;
Only scattered clouds are lingering in an azure sky.
Outside the back-window snow falls thick and blinding,
Smoke from the incense burner rises straight and high.
My phoenix hairpin lurid under the candle’s glow;
From the hairpin pendants of figurine and flower designs
Swing languidly to and fro .

Bugles hasten the break of day,
As dawn stars fade i n the Milky Way.
Futile my search for the first blooms of spring:
A wintry chill to the west wind does cling.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

Here is all the ci/词 and responses to it on this blog.

李清照菩萨蛮
归鸿声断残云碧,背窗雪落炉烟直。烛底凤钗明,钗头人胜轻。
角声催晓漏,曙色回牛斗。春意看花难,西风留旧寒。

李清照菩薩蠻
歸鴻聲斷殘雲碧,背窗雪落爐煙直。燭底鳳釵明,釵頭人勝輕。
角聲催曉漏,曙色回牛斗。春意看花難,西風留舊寒。

Lǐ Qīngzhào Púsà mán
Guī hóng shēng duàn cán yún bì , bèi chuāng xuě luò lú yān zhí . Zhú dǐ fèng chāi míng , chāi tóu rén shèng qīng .
Jiǎo shēng cuī xiǎo lòu , shǔsè huí niú dǒu . Chūnyì kàn huā nán, xīfēng liú jiù hán.

Li Qingzhao Bodhisattva Barbarian

Return/goose/sound/break/spoil/cloud/jade-green, behind/window/snow/fall/stove/smoke/straight. Candle/end/phoenix/hairpin/bright, haipin/head/person/able to bear/light.
Horn/sound/urge/dawn/divulge, daybreak/colour/circle/ox(star)/dipper(star). Spring/thought/see/flower/difficult, west/find/remain/as of old/cold.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To read  as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the linke and select “Save link as…”

To read the chapbook Happy Birthday Hanafuda by Andrew Grimes Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Five Cicada Response Poems

Cicada_4_20130826_cropped

Mid-March winter storm
No moon—no cicada song
Just soft white silence

Beneath frozen ground
Larvae are waiting to grow
Shells to escape from

I too have spent years
Living deep underground—but
Never learned to sing

Cicada singing
How long do you think your song
Goes on—forever?

We are meant to sing
In choruses—hearing you
Singing your solo
It is truly beautiful
But pointless and so so sad

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Depth Charge: Each of the above poems is a response to a poem in Japanese Death Poems that contains a reference to cicadas, their songs or their abandoned shells clinging to tree trunks and branches.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

The Treetop Idol Contest

Cicada_Mtl_21030827_topview

Dog Day Cicadas—
Despite their name—do not bark
They don’t even eat
Consumed singing lustful songs
They just want to fuck—then die

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Depth Charge: Yesterday I posted a poem about finding a cicada outside my door, and I wondered at its silence. Later that day I posted pictures of it on the ID Request section of Bugguide.net where a discussion ensued and it was agreed that it was a Tibicen Canicularis, also known as a Dog Day Cicada, or Dog Day Harvestfly.  It was also identified as female, which explains its silence, as females do not sing. Looking it up on Wikipedia also said that the adult Tibicen Canicularis does not eat, being fully concentrated on reproduction. This resonates well with Plato’s myth of the cicadas in Phaedrus and Chinese beliefs that the Cicada subsisted only on dew.

Cicada_Mtl_bottomview

To see all writings about cicadas on this blog, click here.

To see all the tanka on this blog, click here.

A new chapbook, as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, is available for free reading online and/or download.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

Silent at my door

Cicada_Mtl_21030827_sideview

Usually unseen
Today you present yourself
Silent at my door
Latticed wings—jade almond eyes—
Enchant—but where’s your sad song?

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To read the companion poem to this tanka, click here.

Depth Charge:  A disembodied voice, someone you’ve only heard on the radio, talked to on the phone, or heard through thin apartment walls, suddenly takes corporeal form; it is always surprising.

Monday, as I extended my key toward the front door lock, I noticed a cicada clinging to the wall beside the doorbell. I carefully looked him over and then photographed him with my cellphone.  I went inside with my groceries and left him alone, but his presence was too strongly felt.

I thought, if he is going to die I might as well take him in and keep him, so I went downstairs and prodded him a bit. Then I gently plucked him off the wall. There was definitely some resistance.

Taking him upstairs I placed him on the beautiful orange notebook I had received as a Deathday gift and began to photograph him at various angles. I started to feel like a bit of a pervert, someone who had snatched a victim off the street and was now forcing the unlucky object of my interest to pose and perform.

Cicada_4_20130826_cropped

The cicada seemed to rally and it buzzed its wings a few times, perhaps it was not as close to death as I had thought, so I placed him on the brick wall out back. He gladly fastened onto it.

I checked back every once and awhile. He stayed for about a half-an-hour, but at some point he flew away.

To see all writings about cicadas on this blog, click here.

To see all the tanka on this blog, click here.

A new chapbook, as close as the clouds by Andrew Grimes Griffin, is available for free reading online and/or download.

To read Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin, just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

No Chinese choruses here

Cicada

I can’t help thinking
Our cicadas sound lonely
Singing their solos
Solitary in their lust
No Chinese choruses here

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Depth Charge: While I had been fascinated by cicadas before my time in China, it was there—listening to their deafening choruses—that I really fell in love with these ungainly creatures. Now, back in Canada, the cicadas seem so isolated and I am reminded of a comment by a young man I met in China. He had spent a couple of years studying in Canada. I asked him what he thought of it, and he replied: “It’s too boring. There are no people.” This in turn brought to mind something the British synth-band OMD said in the 1980’s when asked what they thought of Canada: “It’s a lot like the States, except empty.”