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Three Poems: Sculpting Texts Through Japanese Poetics

January 10, 2011 6 comments

by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

spatialism is a haiku’s negative space

burnished and sliding
the same war is fought over
you, like other books

hobble at a time

backward, no nomenclature
in front, a sharp comet

straying into night
its flippant tail a languor
soft gold, winnowing

to say this trust is ashen

to gather grain —
otherwise everything goes

invalidates into a hush

 

a kuhi and their double slit

it’s the orb, lit green
striking self-help pebbles like
flints, their light fire

us at bering’s pond
upper crucks in a full fence

how long, this narrative thread?

how long a chronology?

it’s the orb north of
possibility —
itself ornate, warm

fine balustrade lined

it’s the corrosive
possibility of hope
of a leash, release

stone becoming rust, red dawn

 

as with recitation and the loss of a kuhi

this thieving of love
tightrope against what it means —
to visit the past

who is good; who wrong?
which brittle, yellowing build?

of old, bluing tarpaulin?

uniform as points, squares, lined
instincts and numbers primed too

quiet eyes like dark opal
their squircle an open seat
under chestnut shade

as with basho on his mat

there he lays, small, crouched
under a low-lying cave
its long, empty lake

praetoria of ruins gone

fingers curled into his palm
unfurling, unclenched —

tired hope for newer days

 

Author’s note: I am currently working on a project that experiments with and deconstructs the haiku/kuhi/senryu/tanka form, an enterprise of hybridity and transformation that treks the lines of interpretation and translation. (For more on spatialism, see the Wikipedia. –Ed.)


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Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé has edited more than 10 books and co-produced 3 audio books, several pro bono for non-profit organizations. Trained in publishing at Stanford, with a theology masters in world religions from Harvard and fine arts masters in creative writing from Notre Dame, Desmond is a recipient of the Singapore Internationale Grant and Dr Hiew Siew Nam Academic Award. He has recent or forthcoming work in Copper Nickel, Fence, FuseLit, Nano Fiction, Oral Tradition, Red Lion Square, and Wag’s Revue. Desmond also works in clay, his commemorative pieces housed in museums and private collections in India, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.