Self and reality. Symbol and language. Myth and image. Memory and consciousness.
Dream and unreality: locus communis.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Startled Flock of Grackles: Informal Renga Cycle

Recently I participated in a Renga poetry exchange with a fellow poet O. Prejean. As an informal practice, this exercise enabled a whole new approach to the typical poetry-writing practice— sometimes the ideas arrived in a mad rush, such as when a startled flock of grackles erupt from a casual field, then scatter around as black fractions of the whole flock. More often than not I had to concentrate intensely on the themes and images Prejean proposed in his work, all in order for me to generate a proper response— and at the same time— suggest a slightly new direction to take the full poem.

It is important to stress the fact: I
do consider the full work as one long collaborative work. Just as a quilt represents one form, this poem is composed of smaller squares of individual expressions, which in turn represent one multi-textured idea. Furthermore, due to the informal nature of our e-mail exchanges, none of the pieces are formatted in the same fashion. We left our individual styles apparent, and using a word association technique, often allowed each individual poem to have its own diverse form and appearance. As you read the full exchange, some verses contain punctuation and standard presentation of proper nouns, some do not. Some contain indented lines; some do not.

Finally, the themes range in the manner memory works, sometimes as a scattering of random phrases, sometimes as a coherent, bridged conversation. Together we talk about family, friends, lovers— the elements that make up human experience.

Below, the stanzas in blue correspond to my writing, the non-formatted text belong to O. Prejean. 


A field hawk shifts in
winter as my child slips in
a deeper sleep.

spilled wood shavings
reciting Virgil's Aenid to
my proud grandfather

From a distant room
sounds of piano scales fall—
a handful of stones.

evening rainfall — old Bach record on repeat

After winter storms,
the night remains overcast.
Roads reflect back grey.

sun in Kyoto
     near lit lanterns
holding his hand

under the bridges
of Cypress, the sunset blurs—
spreading as a bruise

at the feet of gods:
cornstarch sand browned
in egyptian heat

halflight of twilight— I watch a mosquito dance on the window's skin—

frozen evening i keep sentry over my lover’s form

A splinter of moon motions under the bedroom door throughout the night.

far from a downed shrub in the dark my fingers strum your thigh

The sun descends
over your figure
as you brush out your night-dark hair.

sun bounces off gilded birdcage the repose of your strong thigh

sudden lifting crows—
the shadow of his hand slips—
her sleeping body

beside the bed
he reaches for my phone—
across the room
the colors of a Matisse
vivid in sunlight

Yet one more haiku
written to the moon drifting
outside my window.

lonely woman
     off-white paint on
bus stop's bench

She unspools the thread—
then sews on a new button:
bright red, misplaced star.

his burnished,
alto voice
churning a sky
darkened by rain

Holding my son close—
one last reference to the moon—
a falling pebble.

in russian
she tells me i’m woman
of a broken promise

Spanish lullabies
orbiting the warm grey room—
scents of oranges.

under the man
vicious love's what i
need in silence

Unlit cigarette
dangling from chapped winter lips
—his smile in shadows.

footsteps through day
     thoughts of you
pianissimo in my mind

house front: cracked sidewalk,
pulled dandelions, scattered—
Bach falls from windows.

we, who no longer
know our own bloodsongs;
we, strive to
compose life over a
feast of yellow'd bones

a pitcher of oil
pouring over gathered hands—
grief collects below.

in echoing tom-toms
autumn moon reflected in witch-doctors'
eyes, ancient jungles

Cracks in the ceiling,
Stretching forward, then splinter
To let the night in

elongated sunset, a month spent closing her house. her memories.

wrapping up a
work day, my
stomach lurches thinking
of tomorrows recital.

Still drunk on moonlight
a cockroach stumbles over
the cold kitchen tiles

strained crow caws moving into an evening mist

—lemon, spring onions,
and the woman I almost
married walking through
the house, her dark hair glowing
in mid afternoon sunlight

around for this morning’s
love, touch, smell...
ancient rains mingle
with your closed voice

He speaks of passion—
I imagine a pear tree
blossoming— young moon.

as autumn arrives
changing the bed sheets in
the dead daughter's room

middle of the night—he dreams of unfolding
a soft-peach kimono

apricot midnight, with cool fingers touching your warmth

stolen memories:
damp alley, a salty kiss,
scent of autumn plums

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