Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Promise, A Modest Sun

I have become enchanted with the haiku form, the 5,7,5 but was not satisfied with the brevity of the three lines. Then I read and came across an old form of haiku that was recited in the tea houses. 5-7-5, 7-7, 5-7-5. This form was apparently used by poets who spoke them back and forth as a form of play, perhaps a challenge or even a kind of duel.

I realized at that point that I did not have to stick tightly to the forms, though I know that there are those who do. I began to play with it in that tea house spirit, where in a sort of way the poems are conversations back and forth. This fitted superbly with what I was doing, finding my own way in the blogs, because I was and still am writing in response to the fine work I find in the blogs that I attend.

I am beginning in this post to resume what I started in my inaugural post. I started following blogs last August. By the end of August I had begun writing poetry as a solution to finding my place in the comments I was offering. This was defensive. I am far too argumentative and far too undisciplined to engage my blogger friends in prose very often. So it was the end of last August when I realized that this style really fits. You will notice that I often deviate the form one way or another but the lines nearly always are either five or seven syllables long.

I love the strong English words, which are most often monosyllabic or bisyllabic. They are also most often etymologically rooted in older English, Germanic, and Norse as distinct from Norman French or Latin. These words make for long lines. They also often show themselves to have ancient heritage in the numbers of different meanings, different senses in which they can be taken. Thus keeping to these words often expands the possible stories compacted within very few words. Just a suggestion.

The Promise

Dazzled by the light
Found in the pack God carried
And left at my door.

I asked Him in but He left
Me again, again with gifts,
And look, a promise.
This hand written note says "Peace."

Oh, I am thirsty!

A Modest Sun

Stretch and reach, further!
Feel the bones, feel the sinew.
How my hot heart beats.
My face turned toward
Early light, a modest sun,
I must wait for noon.

All this hides beneath the green
Ferny surface of my life.


  1. I bow, in the face of your beautiful use of words.

  2. One problem with undisciplined argumentiveness is that it "invites" attacks. The internet sort of lends itself to the confrontational style -- and we've all noticed the results.

    Your long statements in the past were often the best thing offered that day, in terms of information, references, and coherence. At the same time, they were "inappropriate" in the sense that they brought "results" that you didn't want or like, i.e. attacks.

    You were smart: you began a strict regimen of Lo Gong and K'ai Yak Chi, and now all the punches and blows either miss, or glance off harmlessly. This is the way of superior men.

    And, it only makes sense for a wandering sadhu like yerself: if you don't like the intersection where you hang out, then simply walk on ....

  3. Thank you for visiting my site and leaving your bird poem. The grammarian in me wants to say, revise "if I was" to "if I were" but the poet in me wants to share this bird woman poem, inspired by creation tales found among the Iorquois, Huron, and Lakota.

    Genesis 4

    Many tell the story of a woman
    who fell down from a hole in the sky.
    Some say she was pregnant, pushed by an angry man.
    Some say she jumped, curious about what was down that hole.
    Some say she fell from the moon, but
    still falling, falling from heaven’s blue skies,
    she landed on the feathers of a fish hawk, safe,
    atop the swirling, endless waters.

    Fish hawk called to all the water animals:
    A giant green turtle carried her while
    they swam in wonder, to see
    this woman who fell from the sky.

    Sky woman rode the back of World Turtle
    and whispered and sang into his spirit.

    One by one,
    the beavers, the muskrats, the diving birds,
    even the toads and the frogs,
    swam down to the deepest parts of the sea,
    to bring mouthfuls of sand up to the surface.
    They built an island, patting the earth
    onto the back of World Turtle, so she could stand.
    They brought grains so she could eat,
    and fronds of ferns so she could sleep
    under the darkening sky.

    Some say she scattered
    grains of sand up into the sky
    to make stars.
    When she died, all the plants of the earth
    came from her body,
    and her children flourished.

    World Turtle swims in our dreams.
    Sky woman still floats on his back,
    deep in our hearts,
    whispering and singing songs.


    Your poems bring beauty.

  4. Thank you for your comments, my friends.

    Bluebethley, The linguist in me has learned that language changes over time, often remarkably short time, in the coinages and missed grammar of the current day. I was actually feels better to me in some usages than I were does. "If I were a rich man...." "I was going to market". Hmmmm.

  5. The second poem reminds me of where I live.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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