The Disappearance: A Response to “New Version Sand of Silk-Washing Brook” by Li Qingzhao

One day the layered
Layer upon layer
Billion upon billion
Golden-tentacled galaxies
Will have fled
So far so fast
The shifted light they share
Will become so distended so wide
That these waves will no longer fit
Within the known universe
And at this point in time
They will simply
Disappear
Dead? Perhaps
What way will there be to know?
Dead to us? Most definitely

And I have already seen this happen

That June evening you walked down
The long lane lined with lilacs
And I watched and watched
And watched until only the vulgar
Perfumed panicles remained
To trouble my purple dreams
Are you dead?
How am I to know?
Are you dead to me?
I wish
But each spring the purple blooms
Troubling my dreams
Of an empty lane beneath the fleeing stars
Return you to me

Silent and receding

AGG20141216

Depth Charge: Thanks to Lawrence M. Krauss for explaining how, in two trillion years, anything with eyes left to see, will be able to see only the stars in their own galaxy. Watch the entire lecture, or jump forward to about 59 minutes to hear a truncated explanation of the end of the universe.

Tune: “New Version Sand of Silk-Washing Brook”
To the Cassia Flower
by Li Qingzhao

Your petals-twisted into ten thousand flecks of soft gold;
Your leaves-layer upon layer of carved emerald jade.
Graceful in -bearing,
Noble and bright in spirit,
You are worthy to compare
With the ancient scholar Yan Fu. ①

Beside you how vulgar the plum,
For all its profusion of petals;
How coarse the lilac,
With its innumerable knotty branches.
But your all too heady perfume,
O you heartless flower!
Wakes my sorrowful dream
Of a thousand li away.

① The style name of Yue Guang of the Jin Dynasty (265-420), s scholar renowned for his erudition, wisdom and eloquence as well as his upright character as an official.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

摊破浣溪沙 李清照
揉破黄金万点轻,剪成碧玉叶层层。风度精神如彦辅,大鲜明。
梅蕊重重何俗甚,丁香千结苦麄生。熏透愁人千里梦,却无情。

Tān pò huànxīshā Lǐqīngzhào
Róu pò huángjīn wàn diǎn qīng , jiǎn chéng bìyù yè céng céng . Fēngdù jīngshén rú yàn fǔ , dà xiānmíng . Méi ruǐ chóngchóng hé sú shén , dīngxiāng qiān jié kǔ cū shēng . Xūn tòu chóu rén qiānlǐ mèng , què wúqíng.

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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Roses Daring Bloom (from Whitman to Genet): A Response to “A Galaxy of Beauties: White Chrysanthemums” by Li Qingzhao

Lilacs by the door
In spring return the fragrant
Mortal reminders
Of Whitman’s comrades of love
In passionate purples doomed

Dark in Reading Gaol
Green carnations for Oscar
Chant for the disgraced
A fatal crisis of love
As dead men do dance on air

Alexandrian
Heart buried–not dead–a seed
Bloody with pleasure’s
Uncombed hair–tanned limbs–naked
In lost cities of desire

The full moon lacquers
Unknown Andalusian
Oleanders white
While somewhere Lorca’s corpse sings
For Jack’s cocksucker séance

Langston–3 A.M.
Harlem café with fairies
Prostitutes police
Strange fruit in magnolia nights
Sailors swallowed by the sea

Genet traced their flesh
On stolen scraps of prison
Paper–murderers
Engraved into red petals
Of spittled love–bloody cum

Roses daring bloom
On trellises of warm flesh
They and I have known
The bold kisses of strangers
Oblivious to the moon

AGG20141208

Depth Charge: The original Li Qingzhao peom, below, is the longest in the collection and is dense with historical and literary allusion. My response was a long time coming and is equally dense with reference to the great gay poets and writers: Walt Whitman, AE Housman, Oscar Wilde, CP Cavafy, Federico Garcia Lorca, Jack Spicer, Langston Hughes and Jean Genet.

Tune: “A Galaxy of Beauties”
White Chrysanthemums
by Li Qingzhao

Autumn chill steals into my small chamber,
Curtains hung low as the long night drags on.
It grieves me to see your creamy flesh
Damaged overnight by relentless wind and rain.
You are not like Yang Guifei⑴ flushed with wine,
Sun Shou⑵ with knitted eyebrows,
Jia Wu⑶ who stole royal incense for Han Shou,
Or Lady Xu⑷ who powdered half her face to please a one-eyed emperor.
It would be inappropriate to compare you to these.
On maturer thoughts, your charm may fitly be likened
To that of Qu Yuan and Tao Qian.⑸
Your subtle fragrance, wafted by a soft breeze
Has all the sweetness of blooming raspberries.

Pure as snow, slim as jade, at autumn’s decline, You lean towards people with infinite tenderness
And with as much pathos as the two fairy maidens
Who made a present of their belt pearls
To Zheng Jiaofu at Han Gao⑹
And Lady Pan⑺ writing a mournful poem on a silk fan.
Bright moon, serene breeze may be followed
By thick mists, dark showers.
It is Heaven’s rill that you shall wither
As your scented breath fades away.
There’s no telling how long
Your beauty will yet remain, love you as I may.
But with me as your devoted admirer,
Need you envy the orchids gathered on the riverbank by Qu Yuan,
Or the chrysanthemums picked by Tao Qian beside the cast hedge?

⑴ Yang Guifei, favorite concubine of Emperor Ming Huang of the Tang Dynasty (61 8-907), one of the most famous beauties in Chinese history.
⑵ Sun Shou, rife of Liang Qi in the East Han (25-220), notorious for her coquetry.
⑶ Jia Wu, daughter of a minister in the third century, who stole incense from the Imperial Palace to make love to Han Shou, then a minor official under the minister.
⑷ Lady Xu, a concubine of the one-eyed Emperor of the Liang Dynasty in the sixth century, said to be so coquettish that she powdered half her face to win his favor.
⑸ Qu Yuan, alias Qu Ping, great philosopher and poet of the Kingdom of Chu in the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.). Slandered by his political adversaries, he was out of favor with the king, and his loyal efforts to serve the state were ignored. He was exiled, and finally drowned himself in the river Milo, on whose banks he used to wander listlessly before taking his own life. His “Elegies of Chu,” in which he vented his political grievances, was an immortal contribution to classical Chinese literature.
Tao Qian, alias Tao Yuanming (c .365-427), one of China’s greatest writers of pastoral poetry. Abandoning the post of a petty official he enjoyed the life of a recluse in the quiet of his native fields, and wrote in praise of the simple way of living.
⑹ According to legend, Zheng Jiaofu was presented with belt pearls by two fairy maidens while passing Han G8o in present- day Hubei Province.
⑺ Lady Pan was a concubine of Emperor Cheng of the Han Dynasty (206-24 B.C.). Out of favor with the emperor, she aired her feelings in a poem inscribed on a silk fan. This attracted the emperor’s attention, and she was finally restored to his favor.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

多丽·咏白菊·李清照
小楼寒,夜长帘幕低垂。恨萧萧、无情风雨,夜来揉损琼肌。也不似、贵妃醉脸,也不似、孙寿愁眉。韩令偷香,徐娘傅粉,莫将比拟未新奇。细看取、屈平陶令,风韵正相宜。微风起,清芬蕴藉,不减酴醾。
渐秋阑、雪清玉瘦,向人无限依依。似愁凝、汉皋解佩,似泪洒、纨扇题诗。朗月清风,浓烟暗雨,天教憔悴度芳姿。纵爱惜、不知从此,留得几多时?人情好,何须更忆,泽畔东篱 。

Duō lì ·yǒng báijú · Lǐ Qīngzhào
xiǎo lóu hán, yè cháng lián mù dī chuí. Hèn xiāoxiāo , wúqíng fēngyǔ, yèlái róu sǔn qióng jī . Yě bù shì, guìfēi zuì liǎn , yě bù shì, sūn shòu chóuméi . Hán lìng tōu xiāng, xú niáng fùfěn , mò jiāng bǐnǐ wèi xīnqí. Xì kàn qǔ , qūpíng táo lìng , fēngyùn zhèng xiāngyí. Wéifēng qǐ, qīng fēn yùnjí , bù jiǎn tú mí .
Jiàn qiū lán , xuě qīng yù shòu , xiàng rén wúxiàn yīyī. Shì chóu níng, hàn gāo jiě pèi , shì lèi sǎ, wánshàn tí shī . Lǎng yuè qīngfēng, nóng yān àn yǔ, tiān jiào qiáocuì dù fāng zī. Zòng àixī, bùzhī cóngcǐ, liú dé jǐ duōshí? Rénqíng hǎo, héxū gèng yì, zé pàn dōng lí .

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…”

Abegweit, You Were My Cradle

Abegweit, You Were My Cradle
(A response to a song by Lennie Gallant)

Abegweit, you were my cradle.
Though the sea eats your red flesh away,
The day will come you’ll be my grave,
Thyme, spruce and bay scented on the waves.

Though the sea eats our red flesh away,
The Man-Born-of-Speech sees his dreams
Of thyme, spruce and bay sent by the waves
To cheat the cradles and rob the graves.

Man-Born-of-Speech, have you ceased your dreams
Of swift hawks eating sweet goldfinches
To feed their cradles and stock your graves
Covered with sparkling morning dew?

Swift hawks eating sweet goldfinches,
The day will come you too will see my grave
Covered with sparkling morning dew
On Abegweit, cradled on the waves.

AGG20140814

Depth Charge: When I was on Prince Edward Island this summer I went to see Lennie Gallant at the Mackenzie Theatre and one of the highlights of the show was his song “Abegweit,” which featured chanting by Hubert Francis and recounted the Mi’kmaq legend that every night Glooscap, literally “Man [created] from only speech,” slept, dreaming, with Abegweit (now, Prince Edward Island) as his pillow. This pantoum was born of that song and my experiences on the Island this summer.

Griffin Tombstone_20140810_144053

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…”

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Swimming Nude in Summer Rain

It comes slanting dark
Across the north shore—warm—wet
Forcing a quick choice
Flee—or strip naked and swim
As the rain shivers the waves

Each drop raised a shining spout
Sparkling bright in the sunlight
From the thin blue band
At the still clear horizon
Of soft pulsing sea

The beach has been cleared
The families and couples
Decided to flee
Leaving me alone in this
Expanse of dancing silver

A gull and a cormorant
The only others witness
To shifting rhythms
Of rain shadow and light—but
They’ve seen it before

In half an hour
The rain has moved to the east
The sun reappears
The beach slowly fills again—
For them just another day

AGG20140805

Depth Charge: An absolutely amazing day at Blooming Point beach yesterday gave rise to this chain of  Reversing Tankas, a variation of Mirrored Tanka.

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…”

Response to Li Qingzhao’s“A Long Melancholy Tune”

White lilacs effulgent in the warm night,
x         Searching, seeking
Crabapple petals pink falling at dawn,
x         Seeking, searching,
This is Montreal in May,
x         Blooming, blossoming,
What comes of it?
x         Thickening, growing,
Pleasures transient,
x         Hardening, stiffening,
As all caresses felt,
Perfumes unseen must be.
x         (The breeze though gentle
x         still strips the flowers bare.)
Each year the buds returning,
Haven’t we met before?

White lilacs effulgent in the warm night,
x        Thickening, growing,
Crabapple petals pink falling at dawn,
x         Hardening, stiffening,
I could gather them all up
x         Blooming, blossoming,
But who would I give them to?
x         Seeking, searching,
Best to accept their random beauty,
x         Searching, seeking
Move on,
As together we wither away,
x         This is Montreal in May.

x         How can one small word
x         —spring—
x        Contain this all?

AGG20140522

Depth charge: This poem might more appropriately be called a reaction rather than a response. I have decided to progress through the original book of Li Qingzhao’s book from beginning to end. This means that I may be writing a response in a season quite different from the original. In this case, I am writing in the full blush of spring and the original poem was set in the cold twilight of autumn, and I was simply not possessed of the energy it would to take to be dreary in the Montreal in May. Instead, I have maintained some techniques from the original while completely altering the tone.

A Long Melancholy Tune (Autumn Sorrow)
Despair
by Li Qingzhao

Searching, seeking.
Seeking, searching:
What comes of it but
Coldness and desolation,
A world of dreariness and misery
And stabbing pain!
As soon as one feels a bit of warmth
A sense of chill returns:
A time so hard to have a quiet rest.
What avail two or three cups of tasteless wine
Against a violent evening wind?
Wild geese wing past at this of all hours,
And it suddenly dawns on me
That I’ve met them before.

Golden chrysanthemums in drifts—
How I’d have loved to pick them,
But now, for whom? On the ground they lie strewn,
Faded, neglected.
There’s nothing for it but to stay at the window,
Motionless, alone.
How the day drags before dusk descends!
Fine rain falling on the leaves of parasol-trees—
Drip, drip, drop, drop, in the deepening twilight.
To convey all the melancholy feelings
Born of these scenes
Can the one word “sorrow” suffice?

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

李清照声声慢
寻寻觅觅,冷冷清清,凄凄惨惨戚戚。乍暖还寒时候,最难将息。三杯两盏淡酒,怎敌他、晚来风急?雁过也,正伤心,却是旧时相识。
满地黄花堆积,憔悴损,如今有谁堪摘?守着窗儿,独自怎生得黑!梧桐更兼细雨,到黄昏、点点滴滴。这次第,怎一个愁字了得!

李清照聲聲慢
尋尋覓覓,冷冷清清,淒淒慘慘戚戚。乍暖還寒時候,最難將息。三杯兩盞淡酒,怎敵他、晚來風急?雁過也,正傷心,卻是舊時相識。
滿地黃花堆積,憔悴損,如今有誰堪摘?守著窗兒,獨自怎生得黑!梧桐更兼細雨,到黃昏、點點滴滴。這次第,怎一個愁字了得!

Lǐ Qīngzhào shēng shēng màn
Xún xúnmì mì, lěng lěngqīngqīng, qī qīcǎn cǎn qī qī. Zhà nuǎn huán hán shíhòu, zuì nán jiāng xí. Sān bēi liǎng zhǎn dàn jiǔ, zěn dí tā, wǎn lái fēng jí? Yànguò yě, zhèng shāngxīn, què shì jiùshí xiāngshí.
Mǎn dì huánghuā duījī, qiáocuì sǔn, rújīn yǒu shuí kān zhāi? Shǒuzhe chuāng er, dúzì zěnshēng dé hēi! Wútóng gèng jiān xì yǔ, dào huánghūn, diǎn diǎndī dī. Zhè cìdì, zěn yīgè chóu zì liǎo dé!

Li Qingzhao Sound sound slow
search/to look for/seek, cold/desolate/clear, intense cold/miserable/cruel, sorrowful. At first/warm/return/cold/times, most/difficult/to take/rest. Three/cups/two/small cups/insipid/wine, how/withstand/it, evening/comes/wind/pressing? Wild geese/passing/are/truly/broken-hearted/nevertheless/in former times/acquainted.
Fill/ground/yellow/flowers/pile/heap-up/withered/decrease/nowadays/have/who/may/pick? Watch/ing/window/noun-marker, why/must/darken? Wu/tong (trees)/even more/double/fine/rain/at/dusk, bit-by-bit. This/sequence, how/one/single/sorrow/word/comprehend/able.

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 Pantoum Lullaby

A pantoum lullaby by AGG

Even the sea now suffers a change,
In the dark depths sightless monsters stir,
Roused by shifting currents strange and warm,
Acid on their tongues, gasping for breath.

In the dark depths sightless, monsters stir,
Father endless lies as waters rise,
Acid on their tongues, gasping for breath,
Scraping the final pearl from its shell.

Father, endless lies as waters rise
Grow in coral confusion, as we—
Scraping the final pearl from its shell—
Sing our extinguishing lullabies.

Growing choral confusion as we—
Roused by shifting currents strange and warm—
Sing our extinguishing lullabies:
Even the sea now suffers a change.

AGG20140209

Depth Charge: Inspired by the always inspiring John Mackenzie, I have tried my hand at a pantoum, albeit a gloomy one motivated by the predicted mass extinction of ocean life caused by overfishing, acidification caused by global warming, and anoxic dead zones as a result of climate change and pollution. Literary inspirations include Walt Whitman, and Shakespeare’s The Tempest, as quoted at 2:28 in the Laurie Anderson song, Blue Lagoon

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…”

Why two men fucking

A Reason to Rise_20140113

For the life of me
x    It’s incomprehensible
x        Why two men fucking
x             Is seen as something shameful
x             Not viewed like the rising sun
x        Natural and bright
x   A sight to heat our red blood
A reason to rise

AGG20140114

Depth Charge: Over the past several months, various nations around the globe have been harshly criminalizing homosexuality: India’s top court re-criminalized it after it had been legalized; Uganda (Subsequently, Uganda’s president refused to pass the law, but remains homophobic.) and Nigeria in Africa passed draconian anti-gay laws, and Russia’s insane anti-gay propaganda law continues to send a message that it is open season on gays and lesbians in that country.  In all cases, conservative religious forces – Christian, Muslim, Hindu and/or Sikh – both within and outside of the countries concerned are major supporters of anti-gay legislation.

For those who are into the writing process, this is another experiment in Mirrored Tanka (5-7-5-7-7-5-7-5) and references section 28 of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself where he describes, amongst other things, masturbating.

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

New Year’s Day

Andrew North Shore New Year's Day

Photo by Christine Trainor

You sea! I resign myself to you also….I guess what you mean
Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself

A single black crow glides slowly over the snow-covered dunes
The sun for all its brilliance has lost all power to warm
The wind churns the white ice in the impossibly blue waters
A wind so cold it cramps our hands in the time it takes for us to pose
For pictures against this deeply indifferent landscape
So uncaring we often mistake it for hostile
For we have come here together for over thirty years
To talk and laugh and cry and marvel
Ultimately, to fall silent amid its beauty
And yet, for all this, it has yet to give a single sign
That it knows we are here or ever were
It cannot even bother to gloat
That its rocks and sands and waters and ice and snow and winds
Will continue to grind together for eons after we are gone
And although it would never take the time to teaches us
I have nonetheless learned from all our talks and walks in it
That love is no more meant to be requited than life is meant to last
Love like life itself is meant to be lived and experienced
And shared when it may
And always lost
As singular as a black crow flying low over snow-covered dunes
As common as the wind that freezes the water of our blood
Which is nothing more or less than the tears of the sea

AGG201401019
(for Christine Trainor)

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…”

Boxing Day 2013

PEI Shore summer 408_20130803 PEI Shore Winter 408 20131226

Your red blood reduced
To grey ashes once sleek bones
Now charred and brittle
Twelve years ago I carried
A small black box that was you

Onto the north shore
On a warm summer evening
Under starry skies
The waves washed over my feet
Washed what was once you away

Now you cannot tell
Where shore ends and sea begins
All is white snow ice
At the horizon cold dark
Water blends into striped sky

Layered and subtle
Mutable as memory
Landscape of ceaseless
Change that contains your blood
Sea salted with your dried bones

AGG20131226
(for Bob Read)

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…”

December came hard

Early Morning Snoww_20131221

December came hard
Driving sleet and drifting snow
Surprised? Had we let
The warming planet lull us
Into dumb forgetfulness

That this month must be gravestone
Cold—forcing us to huddle
Around Christmas trees
Share meals—while winds endlessly
Whisper soft one word

AGG20131222

Depth charge: This is partially a response poem to John Mackenzie’s Muffled In Late December Snow and the seasonal continuation of my poem After Reading “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” by Walt Whitman. It is also another experiment in Mirrored Tanka.

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…”