jornales

for a moment of joy or moments no one pays for, i give myself a ‘jornal’. this makes me rich. try it.

Silence (perhaps a haibun inspired by Red Dragonfly)

Silence is not the absence of sound. A sheer wall in the mind perhaps. A blockade for the heart. One cannot hear a heartbeat. The whoozing of blood in and out of ventricles. Blubbering air in the lungs. A grumbling emptiness in guts. Random complaints from muscles trapped in passions.

Silence is a gaping space. Traps what fills air waves. Winds fissures of earth slurp. Secrets blossoms share. Coughing of uncouth machines. Grating wheels those dumpsters edging out magpies. The cawing of crows to be understood. Marble chirps colliding with fresh acorns among the pines. Sonatas on toes around the rim of dreams.

Births are seeded in silence. In secret. The first cry is a child of silence. Wakefulness its gender. Words its ears. And eyes.

morning glow
she watches tea leaves swirl
in the cup a bird
a quiver on an oak branch
a flight in the silence

(c) Alegria Imperial 2011

A morning exercise inspired by Melissa Allen’s sharing of her haiku and haibun in the current issue of Chrysanthemum. (Click on my blogroll for Red Dragonfly’s post today.) But for me, this is only an attempt at haibun. I think it’s more poetry outside of the genre and needs more work. I’m sharing it though as an example of how an inspiration springs and just flows or billows in.

April 12, 2011 Posted by | haibun, poetry, reflection, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

the calm/rereading cards/round and round (3 tanka on the calm from the earthquake elsewhere)

Mie and me on her last visit to Vancouver

1.
the calm–
from Kyoto Mie writes
far from earthquake
the wedding garden today
light snow on cherry buds

2.
rereading cards–
from Michio in Saitama
her New year’s wishes
of Rabbit hopes and dreams
today mine for her in pray’r

3.
round and round
moon and earth mirror each other
chaos of winds
ruined faces blemished cheeks
to be cleansed over and over

March 22, 2011 Posted by | poetry, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

you and i in seven pieces (for One Shot Wednesday)

1.
a flower basket moon—
tilting from a swing of arms
in revolving doors
our sighs uncompleted in the eaves
a storm hanging by a cloud

2.
squalling gulls
rip our day in shreds–
the only sound
between us and the stones
and the dying flowers

3.
why the mimosa
shrinks in pain at our steps–
i search for your scent
you squint from its thorns
i sip drops of night dew

4.
darkness leaves us blind
we grope for our eyes but find
our lips like embers
on a bed of pebbles left to die–
we thrum like restless stars

5.
we reap our moaning
gather folds of reticent dawn
into my breast–
you slice away your pain
my flesh thins out in your hands

6.
i beg for the sun
lodged in the cleavage of morning–
you toss it flaming
your destiny line singed
the line of your heart scarred

7.
i lie in wait–
the next moon comes astride
the east wind raging
washing away whirlpools of dust
baring the sun i conceived

soleil levant by Claude Monet 1872 courtesy of wikipedia

March 16, 2011 Posted by | poetry, tanka, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

haiku truths/crocus and frogs after rain/…secrets…non-stop/oh, poet for you, no rest (where did it come from? or how a NaHaiWriMo idea became this tanka)

haiku truths–
crocus and frogs after rain
ketrels and hyacinths
telling you secrets non-stop
oh, poet for you, no rest

Where did that come from?

If you read the comments between Wrick Daddario (19 Planets Art blog) and me on my #24 & #25 NaHaiWriMo post here, you would have read that tanka. He started with what he liked about the haiku and as always when the interaction takes over, he wrote his own haiku on the comment thread. He later mentioned that perhaps he did write enough to pass off as a-haiku-a-day for the month, adding he didn’t want to make a commit ment but did fulfill it anyway. That’s when this thought that has overtaken me was unleashed…and I wrote on:

Commitment? That’s always a big scare, isn’t it? It is, in matters of personal and true-to-life matters, especially, but even more so in ART. Because it asks or demands of one’s whole being, the thrill with which we throw ourselves into it soon falters and we slouch off along the way. But something else could also happen like what’s happening to me. (These last two sentences added just now.)

I have had brief bouts of it–this ‘being on a roll’, but not like now that I feel totally consumed by it–though still unaware of commitment to giving in or have given in to–the POWER OF HAIKU and TANKA. I feel I’m changing especially with my personality; I think I’m turning into a monk who prowls the city looking hollow or with burning eyes on details that turn into or churn haiku in my mind.

I used to be mindful of my interactions; I used to be prompt with my replies to ideas–I used to be present in most if not all meetings about social issues and plain social events and stay and follow-up on ideas I throw in. But now? Haiku/tanka flowing into my other poetic forms have gripped me like a vise and all else float or flit about like wings of nymphs. (I’ve added the last phrase just now, again.)

I seem to carry a head that’s brewing a stew of images restlessly swirling as words non-stop! Never mind if none or all that comes out of it is bad or good haiku or poetic lines–the ‘power’ wields its whip anyway and I must let it ride, put down on the screen what I’m not even aware whether or not it’s my composition or simply of this power most of the time.

If this hasn’t happened to you yet, totally, I’m sure you’ve felt it some time–beware! Commitment (to haiku)? I don’t know if you can choose to thwart it or shoo it away!”

And the tanka flowed in.

February 28, 2011 Posted by | haiku, poetry, reflection, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

squabbling crows/sunny day at Zoo/the drum beat of rain NaHaiWriMo prompts turned tanka!

1. Prompt #24 flower
squabbling crows
scream into my thoughts–
at dawn how you left
hollow imprints of sleep
scented dreams of jasmine blooms

2. prompt #25–zoo
sunny day at Zoo
lioness searches for my eyes
behind my black shades–
the way we hold our hearts
as we speak of fears and wants

3. prompt #26–drum
the drum beat of rain
on window pane imprints tears
a flood breaking hearts
in loneliness gray rain sneaks
into wells to fill the dryness

Tanka drafts I should call these because I’m certain that when I read them tomorrow, they will sound bad. These came as spontaneously as the haiku I’ve been posting on the NaHaiWriMo wall. There’s an energy that takes over at the site like a hand that holds my wrist as I pause or pose to let the first word dance on the screen. It’s the presence of so many other haiku writers– whose names I recognize from the Shiki kukai and haiku journals even some haijin–that I think itself serves as the prompt and the word, a prop. The experience, though I hopped in only on Day 19, has been exhilarating.

February 26, 2011 Posted by | haiku, poetry, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tanka? Lady Nyo replies to my plea (and tanka from haikuverse to here)

Two reasons why this re-post but more: First, at Red Dragonfly, my friend Melissa Allen’s blog, in her Lucky 13 edition of haikuverse, I read an intense discussion on tanka. I’ve been a tanka-pretender of late because a few of my tanka-ish (because they are in truth free verses) poems have been quite successful. Reading more on it though pulled me in deeper into the mist, into fog/understanding fades/–smoky white thickens. (By the way, if you wish to grow and expand as a haiku poet, follow Red Dragonfly, on my blogroll, especially her flights in the haikuverse.)

Second, I met Lady Nyo in cyberspace, at One Stop Poetry to be exact, through my post the other day, which I’ve pulled out here to include her reply to my plea that she take a look at my tanka. She kindly did and what a lesson I got using my tanka. My ignorance or better yet, bull-headedness, not paying attention to details of what I read about the art–honestly, I often gloss over most discussions and plunge straight into the poems–was bared. Her discussion of tanka through my attempts in this post has waken me up, bolting upright to seriously study it. Arigato gozaimas, Lady Nyo!

Here is my Valentine post of 5 after-the-classical tanka and 3 of my-own-version of modern tanka:

Could these five tanka attempts I wrote after rereading cover to cover Thomas Gurgal’s Japanese Tanka: The Court Poetry of a Golden Age mentioned twice here and Lady Nyo’s almost intimately written background on tanka writing be tanka? Lady Nyo and the tanka book I found at the Vancouver Public Library describe tanka written during the Heian dynasty. It’s the topic today on One Stop Poetry where I’m posting the following tanka. I did imagine myself as a lady of the court, scribbling notes for a lover but still I’m not certain. Could these be tanka?

1.
The roses you sent
I kissed each petal like lips
your vows blossoming–
Were you here I would ask again
Is your love unlike roses?

2.
In my hand your note
takes wings with my heart
I fly to you tonight–
Will the moon you promised
meet me among stars I bring?

3.
We sit under stars
skidding in the hemispheres
you make me wish
I whisper to the willows this:
Bring his wish to the winds

4.
Before I knew you
I wrote a poem on love
now you declare love
I am losing my poem
in my fluttering heart

5.
Will you be sad
you ask me like a songbird
singing to no one
you took my name and my heart
neatly tied in your knapsack

Three tanka–my own–of which I must ask the same question, could this be tanka? My subject is the same, yes, it’s on love but not courtly love. I also followed the structure but just can’t be certain. Would you tell me?

1.
driving into fog
our hearts in our hands–
same hands
scribbling secret codes
our midnight whispers

2.
under frozen skies
oriole songs fill a dome–
divining our dawns
the path our suns travel
distances our longing defy

3.
the full moon stalls
listening to midnight whispers–
skidding stars
spark the skies our eyes
on nothing else but ours

Lady Nyo’s reply to my plea:

I want to clear something up. Tanka isn’t only about love: it’s a vehicle to carry a message about mourning, praise, grief, death (as in Death Poems from Samurai) observations on nature, etc. So we should broaden our attempts at tanka to partake of so many themes.

I think these top 5 are very much in the tanka form. As to spirit? Yes, they are.

However, I do see a difference in the Court tanka, the more immediate tanka in something like the “Man-yoshu”…where the romantic sentiment is a bit more complex. It’s just different and this is hard to explain without a study of it.

But we aren’t Heian court women poets…we are modern women poets, and that ‘sensibility’ is very different I believe now.

The last three are lovely freeverse to me. What is missing here is the syllable count: 5-7-5, etc. If you read the romanji script…the original Japanese tanka, you see, by sounding it out that these tanka follow this form. They don’t necessarily stray from it because it is a discipline and has a purpose.

Tanka is to be read in two breaths. However, the top five very much carry correctly that important Kakekotoba, that pivot or bridge between the top poem (Kami no ku) and the bottom poem (Shimo no ku)

This is what is most hard (well, one of those hard things) in tanka to pull off…the unifying but also the recognition of tanka being actually TWO poems.

It takes a lot of work, process and study to begin to be ‘easy’ in this formation.

But we will get there. This is a good start.

Lady Nyo

We continued our discussion at Lady Nyo’s weblog (click on the blogroll) on the ‘elusive’ spirit of tanka as well as haiku. Next Tuesday at One Stop Poetry, Lady Nyo has promised to discuss the ‘two poems’ in a tanka.

February 17, 2011 Posted by | critique/self-critique, free verse, poetry, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

heron’s splash (published tanka)

heron’s splash
on river marsh rocking
the sound of water –
a mountain of wash
after he left home

First published in LYNX XXIII:3, October 2008

This tanka was first returned to me with a lovely note from the editor of a tanka journal, telling me to read more on the art form, work on writing it and perhaps submit again. She said though that first attempts don’t usually make it, nor the second ones. After reading a lot on tanka, I was convinced I wrote mine true to its form and so, I pushed my luck. I submitted the same batch to LYNX and lucked out on three of them getting accepted, one of them, the above.

February 8, 2011 Posted by | poetry, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

grey relentless rain (is it tanka?)

grey relentless rain
on moss covered cherry trees—
he counts his regrets
since the dawn he missed the sun
days half-lived appear each turn

Is it tanka? Possibly because it follows the thirty-one (5/7/5/7/7) Japanese form.

But it can’t possibly be tanka because it does not express “passionate or delicate sentiments”, which its original form did.

Tanka reached its peak in the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries also known as the “Heian period, Japan’s golden age”, as identified by Alfred H. Marks, editor-in-chief of Literature East & West. He introduces the period when no written language existed in Japan as yet and so, tanka, was recited. Each year, under the sponsorship of the emperor, a contest would be held. Professor Marks is a “renowned translator and dynamic scholar”.

Here’s a concrete vision of tanka a drawn by Professor Marks in his introduction: “…a languid lady in a palace lined with screens and colorful sliding walls, reading the thirty-one syllable statement of the heart of some moody nobleman and answering the missive in another thirty-one syllables in tasteful imagery and elegant calligraphy. It was the Heian greeting card, and it is today, in Japan as elsewhere, an apt medium for sentiments passionate or delicate.”

The book, Japanese Tanka, The Court Poetry of a Golden Age for which Professor Marks wrote this introduction contains 56 exquisite tanka by Thomas Gurgal, a former student of Marks, with Illustrations by Maggie Jarvies published by The Peter Pauper Press, Inc. Mount Vernon, NY, 1972.

I found the book squeezed between giant poetry tomes and collections at Vancouver Public Library’s central branch on West Georgia here in downtown Vancouver. The tiny pocketbook-size hardbound edition has been quite a discovery, which could hold me in awe even after I close the covers and must turn it back in when it’s due to circulation…I guess I’ll have to line up forever to get it back.

My tanka is far from the sentiments Gurgal so wondrously expresses. I could pretend to be a lady in some imperial court but I know I would be stretching my imagination too far out. My culture won’t give me a shadow to wing from. I would have to visit Japan, I guess. And so, I conclude, what I wrote is not a tanka by these ancient standards except, and this could be stretching it so much so it could snap, it also expresses a sentiment, that of ‘loss’, which seem to rule my subsconscious.

Japanese Tanka, The Court Poetry of a Golden Age by Thomas Gurgal

February 7, 2011 Posted by | critique/self-critique, poetry, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unabashed (a sparrow speaks in three tongues)

unabashed–
a sparrow speaks in three tongues
twirling on willow twigs

It’s the subject of my post yesterday but I can’t seem to let it go! “My soul speaks in three languages” as in the three tanka I wrote from English, which I translated roughly into Spanish (and had it edited by Sr. Javier Galvan y Guijo, director of Instituto Cervantes in Oran, Algeria formerly of Manila where we met) and in Iluko, is an awarness that has been consuming me–this composing of words from three different dimensions that I believe are of my soul but not finding the right stage to unleash it, let it leap, dance, sing, sigh.

Finally, last month I dared to submit three tanka in three tongues to qarrtsiluni–an online literary journal where I’ve been reading awesome poetry–with an introductory essay I had posted here about the “willow” not having an equivalent in Iluko, the tongue I was born with. The editors accepted it, an honor I’m still riding on an upwind.

Unabashed, I would like to share here what Alex Cigale, translation theme editor, said as well as Jean who posted her comment on the qarrtsiluni site, and Patrick who sent it to my inbox. I hope you, dear readers, bear with me in this moment of exhilaration!

Alex Cigale (editor, translation issue, qarrtsiluni) January 12, 2011 at 4:35 pm | #1

What a treasure you sent our way, Alegria! So perfect for us, this window onto a language constructed according to logical grammatic structures that are yet so different from those we otherwise take for granted, qualities such as number, possession, direction, tense, intensity. And what a perfect illustration of the notion that there can be no words that do not represent real objects, so that such culturally-specific idioms are nearly ICONS, your example: “saning-i … portrays … usually a woman in a dark corner, splayed on the floor….” And the recording, the Iluko sounded last and thus echoing so musically, its music so liquid I am tempted to imagine that it was formed among the various sounds of water surrounding the islands. A big thank you!

Jean (tastingrhubarb)
January 13, 2011 at 6:47 am | #3

Oh, these are exquisite and exquisitely satisfying! Listening to the podcast is essential. This is a richness of experience of poetry and language and translation that no publication with only printed words could provide. So beautiful.


Patrick Gillespie (poemshape)
January 13, 2011, 7:14 PM

Finally, I get to hear your beautiful language. Such is the beauty of the language that I could fool myself into thinking that anyone who spoke it would write poetry such as yours. I have always loved the sound of the Mongolian Language, but I think Iluko is just as alluring and beautiful. I would love to speak it.

It’s also beautiful to see how you bring the sensibility of haiku into your longer poems. It’s something I’ve wondered about trying myself, but haven’t yet. Again, how wonderful to hear Iluko. There’s a Japanese expression which I can’t think of right now. It expresses the aesthetic of beautiful sorrow or beautiful sadness. Your poetry is so often imbued with it.

January 14, 2011 Posted by | culturati news/views, haiku, language views, poetry, tanka | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments