Which I—for a while—was one

Was I perhaps wrong
Not to have dreams hopes and plans
For you who seemed full
Of bright desires of your own
Which I—for a while—was one

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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…”

 

Some assembly is required

For awhile they burned
Embers red hot in my mind
Ever present bright
Now they are scattered ashes
Dull grey lost along the way

Things that were once shared
Become the sole property
Of others—castoff
Childhood toys with a warning
Some assembly is required

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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…”

An ember under your breath

For the first few months
After—you would rarely smile
And never laugh—now
You’ve begun again—my heart
An ember under your breath

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for Cutty after his stroke

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…”

 

Revised Response to Li Qingzhao’s “As if in a Dream: A Song”

Last night
Drifting rain showers
Sudden winds
Even these could not dispel
This long winter’s perpetual hangover

I ask as you roll up the blinds—
But you say
The ice and snow are unchanged

Then the sunlight sudden bright
Falling into your dark skin
Unsheathes every cell in my body
Up until that very moment
Dull—muffled—wrapped
Each alone enshrouded
Now raw unravelling
All the fibres of our separate being

Don’t you know?
Don’t you know?
We will be the green leaves fattening
Become the flowers slender when in bloom

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Original Response to Li Qingzhao’s “As if in a Dream: A Song”

Last night
Drifting rain showers,
Sudden winds,
Even these could not dispel
This winter’s hangover.

I ask as you roll up the blinds—
But you say
The ice and snow are unchanged.

Don’t you know?
Don’t you know?
The green leaves should be fattening,
The slender flowers blooming.

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Tune: “As in a Dream: A Song,” Two Lyrics
by Li Qingzhao

Last night, a bit of rain, gusty wind
a deep sleep did not dispel the last of the wine,
I ask the maid rolling up the blinds—
but she replies: “The crab apple is just as it was.”

Doesn’t she know?
Doesn’t she know?
The leaves should be lush and the petals frail.

Translated by Eugene Eoyang, from Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry

Simplified Chinese:

李清照·如梦令
昨夜雨疏风骤,浓睡不消残酒。试问卷帘人,却道海棠依旧。
知否?知否?应是绿肥红瘦。

Traditional Chinese:

李清照·如夢令
昨夜雨疏風驟,濃睡不消殘酒。試問卷簾人,卻道海棠依舊。
知否?知否?應是綠肥紅瘦。

Word-by-word:

Li Qīngzhào·rú mèng lìng

Zuóyè yǔ shū fēng zhòu, nóng shuì bùxiāo cán jiǔ. Shì wènjuàn lián rén, què dào hǎitáng yījiù. Zhī fǒu? Zhī fǒu? Yīng shì lǜféi hóng shòu.

Li Qingzhao/as(if)/dream/to make (cause) something (to happen)

Yesterday/night/rain/scattered/wind/sudden, dense(heavy)/sleep/not/dissipate/remaining/wine (alcohol). Try/ask/scroll/screen/person, however/say/wild plum (海棠)/to be aware/as/before.
Know/or not? Know/or not?/Ought to/green/fat/red/thin.

Here is an earlier version of this poem.
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 Griffin just click on the link. To download a pdf, right click on the link and select “Save link as…”

To the stringent rhythms of chance

Sweet potatoes, salted-cod,
Catfish—whiskers scissored off,
Plantain, pork ribs, aubergine,
Roasted, deep-fried, gently steamed,
Both the savoury and the sweet,
Vegetables, fish and meat,
The mixing of these flavours
Manifesting the favour
Your presence, with gentle grace,
Bestows on us in this place,
To make this took untold hours,
Only minutes to devour.

The evening ends with a dance
To the stringent rhythms of chance.

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(This poem is a thank you to Alain
who cooked us a Congolese meal
on his 39th birthday
and then led us in a dance.)

Geometries of Time (Farewell, 2014)

Some say that it’s an arrow straight flying,
Others a circle, a spiral spinning,
But I do not know which geometry
Could do the trick of squaring the circle
Of this past year, could connect its patterns:
An evening of pleasant sensations,
Walking through a world muted by soft snows
To fall deeply asleep in his warm arms,
Circuses, sex, dancing, salt-water swims,
Ferguson, the disappearance of Doug
And Ziad, perhaps a mad multiverse,
Invisible to our quickly fading
Eyes that scan such a limited spectrum,
Knowing but never seeing what’s to come.

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Three Winter Poems

Three winter poems

Three Winter Poems

Sometimes I see it
Hanging soft in the cold air
Sometimes I feel it
Warm on my neck when you sleep
Anxious at each tiny pause

White smoke slowly drifts
Through a net of bare branches
Fades into the cold
Blue morning sky—suddenly
Thoughts of you—the way you left

The lilacs sleeping
Cannot know they will return
And that you will not
They fragrant—perennial
And you?—soon you’ll be their food

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Depth Charge: Written over two days and, initially, independently, these three tanka somehow belong together. They are presented from newest to oldest. The first one finds its spark in a lover’s bed, the second comes from  memories of a long dead friend that suddenly surfaced while walking to work, and the final one initially came to me while reading Japanese Death Poems and the ‘you’ in it  could be any of us.

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…”

If we were to sing

Always Water II by Christine Trainor

Always Water II by Christine Trainor

If we were to sing
my blood red would flow,
first from my wide eyes,
iron, salt and sorrow.

My blood red would flow
into rivers of you,
iron, salt and sorrow
illuvium of life.

Into rivers of you
tiny creatures creeping,
illuvium of life,
I hear them when you’re sleeping.

Tiny creatures creeping,
First from my wide eyes,
I hear them when your’re sleeping:
If we were to sing…

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(for Cutty)

Depth Charge: For those interested in the writing process, the impetus for this poem came from reading the death poem of Bokukei: Cuckoo, I too/Sing, spitting blood/My welling thoughts on page 145 of Japanese Death Poems.

First, I wrote a tanka: If I were to sing/Blood would flow from my eyes/In a final song/A cicada in the heat/ Or some small thing in the trees, but decided instead to expand it to a pantoum, a form recently introduced to me by John Mackenzie.

As I am currently also reading The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, The Negro Speaks of Rivers wound its way in there as well.

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…”

Wisteria and The High Priestess: Cutty

04 April Wisteria Kintengu_01d 04 April Wisteria Kintengu_02d 04 April Wisteria Kintengu_03d 04 April Wisteria Kintengu_04d

And where you were born
What purple flowers bloom there?
What songs do birds sing?
Mbote bolingo na nga
Nalingaka yo mingi

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(for Cutty)

This year for my birthday we are having fun with Hanafuda and Tarot cards.

Tarot_02_High_Priestess

To see all the Hanafuda/Tarot tanka posted to date, click here.

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…”

While the moon was not looking

Stage of Coeur by Robert Lepage

The moon new and dark
Just three days ago now hangs—
Slenderest of things—
Low in the western night sky
Three nights since fast I held you

We shared a heartbeat
While the moon was not looking
In the time it blinked
And hid itself from the sun
That strips away our darkness

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(for Cutty)

Depth charge: The photo accompanying this poem is of the stage for Robert Lepage’s Jeux de cartes: Coeur at Le Tohu during intermission on February 1, 2014.

To read all the Tanka, and writing about Tanka, please click here.

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…”