Cherry Blossoms and Death: Andrew

03 March Cherry_01d 03 March Cherry_02d03 March Cherry_03d   03 March Cherry_04d

Because I carry
This home in my beating heart
x                             —Red blood in red soil
I’m never homesick  —knowing
Friends                   —my home will die with me

AGG20140223

Depth Charge: For some Japanese Death Poems, click on the Red Ribbon Card above.

This year for my birthday we are having fun with Hanafuda and Tarot cards. (Another Exploded Tanka: exploded like a bursting cherry blossom.)

Tarot_13_Death

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…”

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To some the bright stars

To some the bright stars
Of a cold winter night sky
Are an immense weight
Of darkness
x                      —void
x                                  —but others
In their dreams
x                                   —float
x                       —forever

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Depth Charge: The impetus for this Exploded Tanka* is a line from Akutagawa Ryunosuke’s Hell Screen, as translated by Jay Rubin: “He wore what seemed to be his usual reddish-brown robe and tall soft black hat, and he looked especially small and shabby, as though the star-filled sky were a weight pressing down upon him.”

*The standard 5-7-5-7-7, 31-syllable scan is maintained, but the lines have been pulled apart for ease of alternate readings, such as reading it in columns according to indentation: To some the bright stars/Of a cold winter night sky/Are an immense weight/Of darkness/In their dreams/—void/—forever/—but others/—float. The original lines are easily enough re-constructed: To some the bright stars/Of a cold winter night sky/Are an immense weight/Of darkness—void—but others/In their dreams—float—forever.

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…”

Awake before dawn

north shore winter_20131226Awake before dawn
Silence
x         —I  dreamed I counted
How many snowflakes
Had fallen in the cold night
Forgotten
x        —now
x                  —still
x        —blank
—white

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Depth Charge:  Another experiment in Exploded Tanka, this poem’s starting point was a line from L’École des Beaux-Arts by Jacques Prévert: “Cette fleur subite/This sudden flower.”  While pondering this line and looking out the window at dawn breaking across the winter sky, my mind then wandered to Spring Daybreak by Meng Haoran:

孟浩然的《春晓》

春眠不觉晓,处处闻啼鸟。
夜来风雨声,花落知多少。

Meng Haoran’s Spring Daybreak

Springtime asleep, I missed the dawn,
Everywhere the birds are singing;
During the night the wind and rain howled,
No way to know how many flowers have fallen.

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…”

Three friends of winter

Three friends of winter_20131229_123756

Constant companions
x     Evergreen     —spruce, fir and pine
Three friends of winter
x     Resolute        —under the weight
x     Fragrant        —even through the cold

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Depth Charge:  Spurred on by John Mackenzie’s (mis)translation of a poem on the wall of a Korean restaurant, I found an article on the Four Gentlemen/四君子, which led me to an article about the Three Friends of Winter/岁寒三友.

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…”

Even our thin words

regretful ghosts swirling 20131129

Today is cold     —clear
Bright                —all illuminated
Even our thin words
Seen                 —regretful ghosts swirling
On our lips       — before they fade

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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…”

Our mirrored hearts

Residential School

Harden and polish
Your heart into a mirror
Reflect the whole world
All its suffering creatures
g                          — you said not to feel sorrow

Oh! When I see him
Sleeping on the metro bench
Snow falling outside
I’m overcome by pity
g                        —as my train passes him by

Somewhere cats and dogs
Sleep on soft satin pillows
Celebrities pose
Smugly nude   — not for humans
g                      — just the other animals

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Depth Charge: Another experiment in Exploded Tanka: it can be read as one long poem consisting of three tankas, or two separate poems, one of which you only read the lines that begin with an em-dash, the other of which you read only the lines that do not begin with an em-dash.

The spark for this poem was seeing a young man sleeping rough on the bench of the metro station, while a snowstorm raged outside. This was combined with reading Oliver Goldsmith’s The Citizen of the World in which he purports to paraphrase Confucius: “We should feel sorrow, says he, but not sink under its oppression; the heart of a wise man should resemble a mirror, which reflects every object without being sullied by any.”

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…”

When I have ceased to wonder

sunburst of fallen leaves on Mount Royal

Opening my eyes
You warm in my arms—amazed—
I must catch my breath
When I have ceased to wonder
I may possibly grow wise

Confronted with such grace
{justa pspace holde —by the grace of falling leaves—
Burdened with freedom
We will fall apart      —I’ll be—
Breathless               —and none the wiser—

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(for Cutty)

Depth Charge: “When I have ceased to wonder, I may possibly grow wise;…” Oliver Goldsmith, The Citizen of the World, Letter III. This is the quote that sparked this poem. It started as a single tanka. It then became and double tanka, and, finally, it became what I am calling an Exploded Tanka. It retains the 5-7-5-7-7 scheme but has been exploded and pulled apart by the spacing and the use of em-dashes. It can now be read in four ways: first, as two consecutive tankas; second,as just the lines that don’t start with an em-dash; third, just the portions that are between em-dashes; or, finally, not at all. Reader’s or non-reader’s choice.

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