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A Hundred Gourds 2:4 September 2013
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page 8  

New Moon Powers

high-pitched calls
of plovers at dawn
a dew drop sparkles

barbara

the old fisherman
now smells a whale

eiko

from this perspective
space shuttle wingspans
scrape past pine trees

barbara

hopscotch diagram
no longer traceable

eiko

new moon powers
as women with placards
reclaim the night

barbara

such lingering heat, yet
we dance our circle dance

barbara





a queer silence
the White House tinted
by late-fall colors

eiko

after the cocktails
attraction grows

barbara

nobly nonchalant,
her fingers tremble
over his bandage

eiko

the boardwalk shakes
to the wedding march

barbara

an undertaker
asks me to change
the funeral hours

eiko

through days and through nights
incense still burns

barbara

true heavenly blue,
summer flowers will hide
the monastery

eiko

bright moons spout
from a water fountain

barbara

hey diddle, diddle,
the cat throws a party for
the dish and the spoon

eiko

undeserving Felix
laps it up with verve

barbara

her robust fragrance
a double-petal blossom
glides off intact

eiko

lamenting Spring
together on lush green

barbara





plunged into darkness
mountains laugh at
this path of totality

barbara

hurrah for the domes’ return
to the Tokyo Station!

eiko

ticket to ride
but a young terrorist
ignores his mission

barbara

a cold lemon
in the deeper pocket

eiko

snow-flocked branches
block the entrance
to the village hall

barbara

my dusty Robert Frost
falls from the bookshelf

eiko

between the covers
kisses I know not
on a faded photo

barbara

entombed embers
flare up in her eyes

eiko

from the children’s choir
at the eisteddfod
pure harmony abounds

barbara

let it ooze into rains
voices of dune-crickets

eiko

dinosaur on the wall
the cloud keeps me awake
in the moonlight

eiko

ebbs and flows slowly swallow
this long lonely night

barbara





for the sake of fuga*
he lived homeless
treading narrow roads

eiko

I notice simple lines
scratched on a cardboard box

barbara

can we clean
toys, photographs and dreams
cleaner than before?

eiko

silky ribbons of breeze
drift into tsunami zones

eiko

in the rock pools
of the babbling Cherry River
gold dust glints

barbara

sunrays tranquil, too
our morning yoga……

eiko & barbara


*Fuga usually means elegance and refinement, but Basho used this term as a synonym of haikai or renku, in which poets endeavor to create poetry from each of their truest hearts.

A Kasen renku composed, through consensual session, by Barbara A. Taylor, Australia, and Eiko Yachimoto, Japan, between 9 July, 2012 and 29 January, 2013.


Tomegaki

Writing always calls for reading. A writer always feels a reader back in her mind. During this consensual linking composition each of us took turn being a reader and a writer. Yet it is always the case that I start to pay attention to future readership when the completion of a renku draws near.

For this kasen, Anton Chekhov, the 19th Century Russian writer, somehow emerged towards the ending as an imaginary reader. I would ask myself, “Will Chekhov accept this link?” Why Chekhov?

Masakazu Yamazaki, a Japanese scholar, once said:
“Some lines in Chekhov’s drama work as what is called a link in a renga. Each line allotted to an actor often sounds almost like a soliloquy with no logical connections. Yet, if you read closely, you will find an emotional link, so to speak."

Sai-ichi Maruya, a literary critic, responds to him:
“Sure we can understand it as a haikai technique called nioi-zuke, a scent link.”

The following portions (a and b) of our kasen are Chekhov-like :

(a)

#10
the boardwalk shakes
to the wedding march

barbara

#11
an undertaker
asks me to change
the funeral hours

eiko


A sense of tension and nervousness felt by a person facing critical moment of life connects these two verses. Does the space between the two thus work as an underground channel to enter the unconscious?



#12
through days and through nights
incense still burns
barbara

#13
true heavenly blue,
summer flowers will hide
the monastery

eiko

#14
bright moons spout
from a water fountain

barbara

Good eyesight of an innocent yet mischievous soul tends to discover tiny miracles here and there. Enjoy how the incense-smoke spirals, wafts and drifts to dye all colors of flowers into the sacred blue, how golden moons are mass-produced in a mid-night park with the jolly beat and rhythm extending further to #15 & #16.

#15
hey diddle, diddle,
the cat throws a party for
the dish and the spoon

eiko

#16
undeserving Felix
laps it up with verve

barbara

(b)


#26
entombed embers
flare up in her eyes

eiko

#27
from the children’s choir
at the eisteddfod
pure harmony abounds

barbara

#28
let it ooze into rains
voices of dune-crickets

eiko


Neither in our dreams nor in renku, do things happen logically. Brilliance of romantic love just reignited is transferred to the even more brilliant eyes of singers and audience in #27.

This link shows how you can link and shift at the same time. I had expected a further development of the romantic love first, but another voice in me responded strongly, "Renku to satisfy rules only, renku to blindly follow any given template is not poetry.”

Then I became convinced of Barbara’s offer.

Let us reconfirm that renku is rather anti-storytelling. Renku is supposed to be breaking jewels of words directly relevant to real life and true world.

Now I would like to discuss the quality of Barbara’s verses.

The verse 16 about Felix, is Chekhov-like, for its “modern and charming selfishness”. Having appeared onto the Russian literary scene after Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev and all those who wrote capital letter Literature, Chekhov seemed to have headed for small letter literature, dotted with irony, humor, minimalism, and wry findings from cruelly scientific observation of our often-uneventful everyday life.

His shift from tradition reminded me of the shift from renga to renku. Then I began to understand why Chekhov emerged in me towards the completion. Barbara A Taylor, my co-traveler is a poet with vivid images and strong words based on her cool judgment. Her verses are solid and frugal in the way they are stripped of cluttered and unessential concerns, my weakness as a writer when producing English composition.

I now challenge to discuss Barbara’s moon verse at the fifth position, which has become the title of this kasen.

Normally six verses in the first folio are supposed to be general and mild. I admit I was under the spell of Barbara’s hokku, with high-pitched calls, when I accepted quite an innovative moon verse at the traditional moon position. It could have been so easy to turn down the verse for the reason that journalistic verses on specific incidents are prohibited in the first folio. Yet around the globe, many women are protesting - their (our) economic, social, spiritual and political freedoms are still not gained, which is, sadly, a general plight.

Even though this verse was based on a specific incident, it could be read as a verse about common yearnings in women’s hearts. I believe that Barbara’s new moon gains the dignity of a nature verse. The existence of a slender bow moon, pure gold against the indigo sky, penetrates into my heart with the chill of the street.

I acknowledge the power of our hokku governing not just the first moon but the whole journey. We started with the anxious calling and the anxiousness was intermittently switched off by slow-breathing verses:

“lingering heat” in #6, “burning incense” in #12, “lamenting Spring together on lush green,” and “ebbs and flows” in #30, are beautiful and effective but the renku has been still under the control of the hokku only until the tranquility in ageku liberated the kasen.

It is fortunate that the word; *tranquil *or no-do-ka is included in the list of spring kigo.

I wish Chekhov could have discovered the genre of renku. He was said to have kept track of his childhood memories, small ideas and little incidents that happened in his life in a series of notebooks. Indeed, he could have contributed rich links to a renku composition and more importantly the renku could have lightened up his spirit.

Eiko Yachimoto, Yokosuka City, Japan
14 February, 2013



Tomegaki

My verses have been deeply analyzed, and I am most grateful for Eiko's critical analysis of our rhythmic images in this kasen. It was a great privilege to write with someone so subsumed by the lyrical patterns and a satisfactory outcome of our journey. I have learned to be patient, rethink, revise and attempt to finally step with ease to the same tune as my very experienced sabaki. My kigo knowledge has been expanded.

Travelling together at speed was essential. I loved how we moved, our links and shifts, all the way to a happy and peaceful conclusion. Again, my thanks to Eiko and her structured insights into the plotting of our poem.

Barbara A. Taylor, Mountain Top, NSW, Australia
14 February, 2013


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