Our moment in time: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Complaint against a Prince”

The shower ended
Under the catalpa tree
Soft rain continued
Streaming off broad heart-shaped leaves
Mixed with falling white flowers

Our moment in time
Displaced as under tree rain
Confuses my dreams
As through the open window
I smell the roses dying

The fragrance fades first
Long before the petals fall
The scent once guided
Me unerringly to you
Now gone leaving empty night

The digital clock
Pretends time is uniform
Maintains its forced march
But the flowers and I know
Hours are stretched by regret

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Tune: “Complaint Against a Prince”
Late Spring
By Li Qingzhao

The clepsydra① has stopped dripping;
My dream is broken.
Heavy drinking last night
Intensifies my sorrow.
A chill falls on my jewelled pillow
As the kingfisher screen
Faces a new dawn.
Who swept away the fallen petals outside my door?
Was it the wind that blew the whole night through?

Echoes of a jade flute die away,
The player gone nobody knows where.②
Spring, too, will soon be fled,
Yet he has the heart not to keep
His date to return.
I ask the God of Spring
Through the drifting clouds,
What I should do with this longing, this regret,
This moment of time.

① A water clock or clepsydra (Greek κλεψύδρα from κλέπτειν kleptein, ‘to steal’; ὕδωρ hydor, ‘water’)
②Legend has it that the daughter of Duke Mu of the State of Qin (c. 7th century B.C.) married Xiao Shi, a gifted flute player. The couple lived happily in a jade tower, and one day riding a phoenix they flew away together to the Land of Immortals.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

怨王孙·李清照
梦断、漏悄,愁浓、酒恼。
宝枕生寒,翠屏向晓。
门外谁扫残红?
夜来风。
玉箫声断人何处?
春又去,忍把归期负。
此情此恨此际,拟托行云,问东君。

yuàn wáng sūn Lǐ Qīngzhào
mèng duàn , lòu qiǎo , chóu nóng , jiǔ nǎo 。
bǎo zhěn shēng hán , cuì píng xiàng xiǎo 。
mén wài shuí sǎo cán hóng ?
yè lái fēng 。
yù xiāo shēng duàn rén hé chǔ ?
chūn yòu qù , rěn bǎ guī qī fù 。
cǐ qíng cǐ hèn cǐ jì , nǐ tuō xíng yún , wèn dōng jūn 。

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…”

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This life is no dream

This life is no dream
It is a thing very real
Thirteen billion years
In the making—consciousness
Born of the unknowing stars

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Depth Charge: Although I am thoroughly enjoying Japanese Death Poetry by Yoel Hoffman, it does contain a full array of Buddhist nonsense about life being “an illusion” or “a dream”.

For example, on page 119, Hoffman relates the story of a dying Buddhist monk who, pressed by his disciples to write a death poem, writes a single word: dream/夢. What a wanker!

Previously when I said that “You are a figment of imaginations” this in no way implies that you and I are not real. Imaginations, unlike souls, are very real and, like life itself, have evolved over billions of years

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…”

Iris and Strength Reversed: Christine

May Iris_02c May Iris_01cMay Iris_03cMay Iris_04c

Irises blue bloom
Among the bones of old dreams
Every springtime
Beauty breeding its false hopes—
Again—pretty—so pretty

AGG20140224
(for Christine)

Depth Charge: While looking for Japanese poetry that references the iris, I came across a haiku by Shushiki:

Dead my old fine hopes
And dry my dreaming, but still…
Iris, blue each spring

I could totally hear Morticia Addams saying these lines, which immediately brings my friend Christine to mind. Then there is, of course, the inescapable T.S. Eliot, give or take a month.

This year for my birthday we are having fun with Hanafuda and Tarot cards.
Tarot_08_Strength

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…”

The Dream of the Jet-Black Baby Rhinoceros

baby-rhino-monarto-zoo

Jet black—ebony
Shiny salamander skin
A rhinoceros
A baby absorbed in life
Frolics unaware of death

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Depth Charge:  Keeping in the vein of poems inspired by particularly vivid dreams I have had, here is an entry from my journal date September 14, 2011:

The Dream of the Jet-Black Baby Rhinoceros

The first part of the dream is vague and elusive. The atmosphere is tense. There is conflict and it has something to do with the two doors on the front of the building, about which should be used as the entrance and which the exit. I turn away from the doors and look at the lawn in front of the building.  A jet-black baby rhinoceros is playing there. He is both armor-plated – like black crystal – and supple like the skin of a salamander.

I shout to the others, pointing out the jet-black baby rhinoceros. We are all spellbound.

Our joy is cut short by the appearance of a gigantic spaceship in the sky. It is shaped like a black rhinoceros head. Somehow, I get the sense that it means to harm the jet-black baby rhinoceros. As it turns toward him, and us, it is suddenly and violently sliced by a laser beam from another giant, black rhinoceros head spaceship.

It should be noted that the baby black rhinoceros in the dream bore only passing resemblance to picture of the real life rhinoceros that accompanies this post, but I am not a visual artist, so I could not draw one like in my dream, can you? Also, it was not the now tragically extinct, Western Black Rhinoceros.

Now my demon’s my playmate

Vivan's-Portrait-of-My-Deadly-Demon-Detail

Detail of Vivian Hodgson’s Portrait of My Personal Demon.

Then he frightened me
Naked—grinning in my dreams
Hiding in the dark
Now my demon’s my playmate
Together we have sweet fun

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Depth Charge: I still remember many of the vivid dreams of my childhood and one of them involved a demon who lived under the staircase in the basement of our house. I was around 11 years old when I had a dream about going down these stairs in the dark only to be confronted by a naked boy of my own age, except the boy’s head was just a skull, with a long tongue snaking out of the grinning bones. Needless to say, this dream was a bit disconcerting.  Years later on My Deathday celebration, Vivian Hodgson gave me one of her prints entitled “My Personal Demon.” She was unaware of my childhood dream.

Into your skin’s unknown dreams

Urban Winter_20131215

And in the dark night
My words are just whispered breath
On your sleeping chest—
Brief wishes—they would sink soft
Into your skin’s unknown dreams

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(for Cutty)

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…”

A Walk in the Garden

Huangshan Yellow Mountain

A Walk in the Garden

“Is this a dream
or is this something
we cannot avoid?”

walking hand in hand
she said she was
with her daughter

(in this dream remember
mountains will represent facts
they will be very small
and in the distance)

they could see the grey
desert in front of them
she knew she must

let go
at the edge of the green
her daughter would go on

without her and
she saw in her eyes
only salt-stained dust

(in this dream
remember
mountains will represent facts
they will be in the distance
you will be walking towards them)

AGG20131107 (Redux of 1989 original)

Depth Charge: A few nights back I had a long talk with a whale in one of my dreams. He detailed the problems a deteriorating environment was having on the whales, but he seemed quite resigned, almost at peace with this. Upon waking I thought about the strangeness of that dream and then dreams in general and this poem that I wrote in 1989 after talking to Ostraka Clatter about the strange dreams she was having during her pregnancy.