While We Waited for His Love: A Response to Li Qingzhao’s “Rouged Lips”

One-thousand strands of worry
X    Wrapping a single,
X         Absent man,
X              A single kiss
X                   In a midnight garden,
During my lifetime we’ve killed
Half the wild animals on the planet
X    —but rescued so many, many
X          puppies and kittens—
All of this happened
While I gazed out windows
Waiting for him to arrive,
X    The ice caps melted
X         And the forests burned
While I cruised online
For sex with strangers,
X    The oceans acidified
X         And the fish
X              Went the way of the dodo,
All of this happened.
While I waited for love.

AGG20141008

Tune: “Rouged Lips”
Loneliness
by Li Qingzhao

Fine rain urges the falling petals,
And soon spring will be fled
Love it as I may.
A twinge in my aching heart,
And I am overwhelmed by a thousand sad thoughts,
Secluded in my lonely chamber.

Impossible to get out of this mood of depression,
Moving from one end of the balustrade to the other.
Where is he, the one dear to my heart?
The road by which he may return I cannot glimpse,
Withered grass stretching to the farthest skies.

Translated by Jiaosheng Wang.

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

点绛唇李清照
寂寞深闺,柔肠一寸愁千缕。惜春春去,几点催花雨。
倚遍阑干,只是无情绪。人何处,连天衰草,望断归来路。

點絳唇李清照
寂寞深閨,柔腸一寸愁千縷。惜春春去,幾點催花雨。
倚遍闌干,只是無情緒。人何處,連天衰草,望斷歸來路。

Diǎn jiàng chún lǐqīngzhào
jìmò shēnguī, róucháng yīcùn chóu qiān lǚ. Xīchūn chūn qù, jǐ diǎn cuī huā yǔ.
Yǐ biàn lángān, zhǐshì wú qíngxù. Rén hé chù, liántiān shuāi cǎo, wàng duàn guīlái lù.

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 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.

The Piping Plover

Brackley Beach_20130803

The Piping Plover

objects in motion
objects at rest

I
steps are taken
if you are walking

on the beach at sunset
a bird with a broken wing

the piping plover
is small and secretive

just above the high tide mark
it thought hunger had drawn

your feet to its nest
sought to lure you away

by faking injury
it could not know

you are only feeling pity
or perversity

in the knowledge
that backtracking is impossible

II
Independent Thought

foxes, gulls, and crows
take their toll
with the necessary haughtiness
of scavengers denying
dependence

they have tricked many

III
Sunday School

the fear of           repeating
the dread of        mistakes

a creeping thing   delivered
a living thing          unto Thy Hands

IV
Menaced

the classic broken wing display
was tried without success

on the playground
children about suffering

instinctively know
and never turn away

V
Mistaking Motion for Purpose

as an experiment

Mary Jane, John
Susie, Laurie
Peter and me

piled into my wagon
at the top
of the hill

by rocking rocking
slowly slowly
the wagon started

rolling rolling
faster faster
Stop! It’s much too late!

a tangle of legs
and arms in the ditch
and someone screaming

Let’s do it again!
Let’s do it again!
Let’s do it again!

VI
There are No Lessons to be Learned

we traced outlines
of our hands and feet
the teacher told us

We are The Hands and Feet of God
in the schoolyard
we knew this to be true

throw out both arms
spin faster spin
fall to the ground

you will feel the earth
turning

VII
unless steps are taken
the piping plover will become extinct
unless steps are not taken

AGG21031106 (Redux of 1989 original)

Depth Charge: This is a slightly cleaned up version of a poem cycle from 1989.  I still like its treatment of emergent sexuality in a religiously hostile environment and the various ploys, mostly ineffectual, that can be used to protect oneself. Ultimately, in a decidedly Daoist twist, inaction can often prove more effective than action. Amid the Biblical allusions and natural history references, there is also a rather obvious and deliberate misquotation of Musee des Beaux Arts by W.H. Auden.

For the stupid and insane

Dead baby Archibald IMG_20130728_142825

Stand up—Walt told us
For the stupid and insane
He’d be sad to see
Now we save our sympathies
For our pets and for our dead

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Depth Charge:  from Preface to “Leaves of Grass,” 1855, Walt Whitman: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men—go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.

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…”

Red blood bleeds into red dirt

Blooming Point Dead Squirrel IMG_20130730_173008

Little deaths add up
Another fish kill up west
A squirrel on the road
Red blood bleeds into red dirt
The songbirds sing about it

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Depth Charge: Fish Kills
Second Fish Kill in Three Days

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…”

The Catalog of New Emotions: Beastophilia

human male

Beastophilia (pronounced: /ˌbistəˈfɪliə/) noun — an affective disorder in which the attraction to and concern for non-human creatures becomes more powerful than that felt for humans.

Usage:             A sure sign of beastophilia is supporting PETA.

His beastophilia regularly got the better of him and he would spend whole days accompanied only by his dog.

Etymology:  People who have very little exposure to animals in their natural or productive environments, i.e. the wild and farms, are particularly prone to beastophilia, their feelings about animals having been shaped by television, films, cat videos on the Internet, and their interactions with their dependent bio-slaves, i.e. pets.

The Catalog of New Emotions is a project to refine our emotional sensibilities through the creation of new emotions and the development of a vocabulary to express these new emotions. If you would like to contribute to this project leave a comment. Your definition of the new emotion should include pronunciation; examples of usage; etymology of the word and why this new emotion is necessary.

To see all the entries in  The Catalog of New Emotions, click here.

Cryptomnesia and the Blue Whale

In 1987, a female blue whale washed ashore at Nail Pond on the western shore of Prince Edward Island.

In 1987, a female blue whale washed ashore at Nail Pond on the western shore of Prince Edward Island.

In the fall of 1987 I was working on a performance piece called Back From Away with Christine Trainor, Carl Stewart and Michael Leon. Having recently returned to Prince Edward Island from a year-and-a-half in the Yukon, the piece focused on the common dynamic of leaving the Island for work or education, only to be pulled back by memories of childhood, family, friends and the landscape.

In writing the piece I noticed that in reviving stories from childhood, writing them down, rehearsing and revising them, these manufactured versions of the memories supplanted the originals; they became my childhood memories.  At the time, I took this as a warning that one had to be very careful about what one wrote down because it could destroy the genuine experience.

This naïve, youthful misunderstanding of the working of memory failed to take into account two factors: both the fragility and the resilience of memory.  First, memories fade and if you don’t write them down, they may well be lost—something a 26-year-old could not really appreciate. Second, all memories are constantly being revised, recreated and re-imagined.

In his post on memory, Mumblin’ Jack cites an Oliver Sacks article that elucidates how our memories are under constant revision, so much so that we can even become convinced that events from other people’s lives that we may only read about, hear told to us, or see on TV or in the  movies can be co-opted, eventually being remembered as our own, lived experience. Furthermore, as my experience with Back From Away showed me, we can even be the authors of own “false” memories.

Andrew Grimes Griffin, Christine Trainor, Carl Stewart and Michael Leon, 1987, Back from Away, Confederation Centre for the Arts, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Andrew Grimes Griffin, Christine Trainor, Carl Stewart and Michael Leon, 1987, Back from Away, Confederation Centre of the Arts, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

While working on Back From Away, something out of the ordinary happened. A blue whale washed ashore at Nail Pond on the west end of the Island.  We raced down and photographed the magnificent remains of the creature. We then worked the whale into our performance. I wrote this poem that was subsequently published in The New Poets of Prince Edward Island 1980-1990.

A Sunday Drive to the Sea

It was a time people accepted
The little deaths
Of leaves and flowers;
It was November and cold.

Ocean news surprised us all,
A big death,
A blue belly-up whale,
Its final agony caused
A late autumn storm,
Or was it the other way round.

We and a hundred others stood,
Wind skidding sea-foam across the sand,
Amidst a country fair atmosphere;
An old woman kept mumbling:
“De friggin’ ting must weigh tons’n’tons.”

And newly arrived on The Island, also,
You jokingly asked:
“I hope I didn’t come here to die?”

But many do
Return,
Just to die
That is,
And we’re used to gathering
Around the dead.
Some would even say
We enjoy it.

The blue whale was buried and over the years all the photographs I had of her vanished, but, much like the childhood memories we explored in Back From Away, she refused to remain hidden. A team of scientists dug her up, transported her remains to the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, and put her skeleton on display, the latest incarnation of the lovely leviathan – a creature of the deep sea beached and then buried in the earth, only to rise skeletal, hovering in mid-air.

AGG20130205

Buddha, Life is a Cabaret

Fengxian-Si-Cave
“吾未見好德,如好色者也。/ I have yet to see anyone who loves virtue more than sex” — Analects, Confucius.

Buddha,  you say

life is only a handful
of loose sand tightly held
in a closed fist
slowly let go

so what

Buddha, you say

the world passes away
we as in a dream are
connected but fleetingly
and not in fact

so what

Buddha, Life is a Cabaret

a few naked hours
embraced tightly
in each other’s arms
is time and world

 enough

AGG20110318

To read or download a copy of “Songs about Sex, Death and Cicadas” by Andrew Grimes Griffin, click on this link. To download a copy, right click the link, and select “Save link as…”

Songs about Sex, Death & Cicadas by Andrew Grimes Griffin