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Creative Blooms 2: Poetry & Protection

 
 

 
 
A temenos1 is a place in space: the establishment of a ritual architecture — a mandalic precinct as sacred ground in which to work. As Jung discusses, we may propitiously find our authentic selves within this protected space. Landscapes of sanctuary can present themselves in a multitude of forms, which may be why haiku (and the short poem) act on consciousness with immediacy: they provide ephemeral, spontaneous scenes arising in the specious present, as places of temenos. To enter and explore a temenos requires attendance upon psyche; “making the darkness conscious” is an attendance to mystery, a deepening of psychological distance between meaning and unknowing. (Poetry as Consciousness, 110-111)
I see “poetry and protection” more as a notion to further investigate (temenos, mystery, risk, sanctuary) than as a definitive concrete particular of psyche. As such, it’s difficult to write on this topic with brevity. The above quotation offers more a hint than a scenario, leaving the poems themselves to breathe images of temenos into life.

even, if, because
plum blossoms
in the courtyard
 
 
midnight mockingbird Allen Ginsberg
in my bed
 
 
Just enough of rain
To bring the smell of silk
From umbrellas.
 
 
 
[Miriam Sagan, The Disjunctive Dragonfly (2011); 
Kath Abela Wilson, Haiku 2014;
Richard Wright, Haiku in English (c. 1958]

In Sagan is seen a neologistic phrasal collocation: “even, if, because”; such language-play is often light‑hearted as well as explorative, conjuring novel worlds through semantic unusuality. In a most playful and lightly mocking haiku by Wilson, Beat poet Allen Ginsberg makes a sudden, irruptive appearance “in my bed.” In this mise-en-scène, who mocks whom in “midnight mockingbird” rhythm? In Wright is a most‑nuanced haiku, which begins its emotional journey with “just enough” — a sensual poem in which the lightest touch of rain yields scent on silk, evoking the colors of Parisian umbrellas, perhaps on a street not far from his home, near the time of composition.

Please freely comment on these below (as well as those above) using the Reply Box at the bottom of the page:

curtains of light

the wave inside

flowers

(Mark Harris, Otata 10, October 2016)
 
 
a breath

     inside the dusk

          glass house

(Sabine Miller (haiga), Otoliths 35, 22 October 2014)
 
 
psilocybin
a silo of self
in a forest

(Agnes Eva Savich, Bones 18, 15 November 2019)
 
 
 

 
 
Creative Blooms will appear every other Tuesday. Three poems will be provided with commentary, and an additional three offered for creative interaction by our readership. With every third installment, Gilbert will introduce a largely unknown Japanese poet, translated into English with annotations, for the first time. We look forward to a lively discussion of these fascinating and challenging poems.

Richard Gilbert, professor of English Literature at Kumamoto University in Japan, is the author of Poetry as Consciousness: Haiku Forests, Space of Mind, and an Ethics of Freedom (illustrated by Sabine Miller, Kebunsha Co. Ltd., 2018, ISBN 978-4-86330-189-4), The Disjunctive Dragonfly (Red Moon Press, 2008, rev. 2013), and Poems of Consciousness (Red Moon Press, 2008), among others. He is also director of the Kon Nichi Translation Group, whose most recent book is the tour de force Haiku as Life: A Tohta Kaneko Omnnibus (Red Moon Press, 2019). In January 2020, he announced the creation of Heliosparrow Poetry Journal, an evolution of the Haiku Sanctuary forum.

  1. temenos — Cf. ‘https://nyaap.org/cgjung-lexicon’.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. I have long meant to reply but life got in the way. Thank you everyone for the comments. When I wrote it, I had just pictured in my mind what a gingko walk might look like if everyone had eaten some special mushrooms first, and how we would have started as a group, walking through the forest (Muir Woods, in this scenario), many people among trees, perhaps talking or not, stopping to write, and as the effects took hold, I imagined I’d feel myself like a silo with this huge experience happening in my mind and in the minds of others, together yet isolated. Much like the trees. And that image struck me in those particular words I used to construct the poem. Believe it or not, I wasn’t even overtly aware of the ‘silo’ hidden within the p silo cybin! Language has a way of asserting itself when a poem comes.

    I would also like to comment on Mark Harris’s great verse. I picture the flow of light waves rippling in slow motion the way a wavy curtain hangs, giving sustenance to the flower, lovingly nestling in the flower’s own curves. Maybe there’s dappled light sending complex layers of light over the flower, and reflected in the pattern of the flower’s coloring – offering its own waves of pigment and life force radiating outwards after absorbing the light. A very beautiful image.

  2. So. I too am thinking about tememos. Reminds me of this stanza of the Simon & Garfunkel song “I Am a Rock:”

    “I have my books
    And my poetry to protect me
    I am shielded in my armor
    Hiding in my room
    Safe within my womb
    I touch no one and no one touches me

    I am a rock
    I am an island”

    Lorraine

  3. psilocybin
    a silo of self
    in a forest
    (Agnes Eva Savich, Bones 18, 15 November 2019)
    Perhaps I have been watching too many fantasy/sci-fi movies, but this poem brought an immediate image to my mind and opened an ever widening understanding of the poem as well as the use of shrooms. It is the second line /the silo of self/ that takes this poem beyond the generic to a deeper understanding of the self as an extension into universal wisdom and knowledge of self as well as the world in which we exist. What a beautiful image! This brilliant shaft of light emanating from the newly discovered self illuminating the forest we inhabit. I love this one!

  4. I am thinking further on temenos. This isi my temenos, my skin, old bag of bones, no wait, the mind, my mind is my temenos, oh, then what about my heart, and my hurt and my happy stance and all these little things I surround myself with or occupy myself with …

    Can we really be the silo in the woods? Or are we the woods? I fluctuate, I am the silo in camouflage, I am the silo jutting out, I am the woods, because i am part of it all. And when it gets dark around, It fills me up but I am forever watching, for if the darkness becomes me, then I am the lighthouse, the shadow as much a part of my being as my beacon.

    Which brings me to the cultural influence. There are cultures that advocate and encourage being part of a group, and there are cultures that lean towards being the individual.
    So then, would the silo not be part of the cultural I? I mean, if written by an asian poet, it would be more like I am part of the woods, my silo and all and the funny mushrooms, like the drinking parties which let and set me loose, the psillywordy lowers my walls and from being part of the woods, I begin to be the silo, I inhabit myself

    And if the major influence in the narrator’s life is western, then not having a personal side or individual say would be odd,
    so the silo towers alongside the conifers, and holds its own while being with the woods. And the mushrooms lower the defences, here too. Who says that a cultural upbringing where individuality is encouraged does not spur on defences, walls, firewalls, etc etc. The individual is always a complex thing, given the heart, hurt, head, home, etc etc…

    I am not speaking as much for Agnes’ poem as I am about temenos. And each time, I think or say – temenos- I also think temporary… and yes, if the silo is temporary, then so are the woods,
    so is the dusk that turns itself into dawn, the breath that turns into energy or inert, and the mind that turns itself into a glass house which turns itself into a fort which turns itself into the woods,
    which turn themselves into waves of flowers which wave within, which bloom further on the inside with glee, and turn into rivers that flow on and create life for the living
    because, even, if, because, even if then only if then or else even when …the plum blossoms, in the courtyard, because, that is what the plum does, that is its purpose in life, it does not think or over think, it just is what it is…the plum and so it blossoms…

    Thank you all very much. I hope you enjoy this little scribble. I had fun writing it.

  5. psilocybin
    a silo of self
    in the forest
    — Agnes Eva Savich
    .
    With the mention of the psilocybin, I see an individual in a world that now no longer feels right within it, and sees and feels life and the environment as an abstract toxic image. Like the fungi, this unseen mycelium, within, ever searching for a habitat more suitable for survival. With this comes a sort of subsistent way of life, a could this relate to the way we live today, and the need
    for isolation, to stand back, take stock, and return to a more natural life and repair a self inflicted ruin.

    1. Yes, a terribly interesting composition, isn’t it…
      I am more interested in the mindset and the environment, the lowered defences, since RG did mention protection…and temenos.

      cheerios

      1. Yes, the temenos of our own sacred enclosure of the mind.
        A bit like an atrium, a place of shelter and sustenance that feeds our own body, our temple, that piece of ground that supports our emotional universe, where, outer forces could have that psilocybin effect of shapeshifting.
        We have the power over our own thoughts, or should have, and this is what shapes us and makes us who we are to fulfil our own destiny.
        Mindset and the environment go hand-in-hand, and I’m one of the very many who are for protecting both inner and outer environments, of my own and nature as a whole,

  6. Agnes’s verse is an interesting one [and so are the others] Mark, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this, the word I’m focusing on is ‘self’
    and the complex nature of the connective properties of the mycelium and our own connectivity to nature – after all it is said we descended from the trees – but that’s for another time.
    I hope to post on this delightful verse later on.

  7. If my poor English isn’t mistaken, Sabine Miller lets us decide where to put the kire
    .
    a breath
    .
    inside the dusk
    glass house

    or

    a breath
    inside the dusk
    .
    glass house

    however, if you’ll permit a possibly unique interpretation:

    a breath as a glass house into the dusk

    we can see the remaining, decreasing light during dusk as a countdown to the dark, so to the death of the light, and “a breath” brings to it the dimension of a living being, and so a long instant to this ending time
    .
    a breath, a “glass house”, a moment of salvation before dark (or death), or before the next breath into the countdown (twilight has a definite time)
    .
    at the same time the “glass house” is
    – a protection of what’s inside it (though less protective than a “normal” house)
    – something that permits us to see from outside what’s happening inside

    linking back to dark/death and to breath, as when we see the last breaths of a sick person:
    moments when it is usually exposed without any filter, usually without any mask, even when he or she would desire it
    .
    therefore, totally exposed
    but a breath still protects it from death
    (and death, of course, may be of a situation, a relationship, a reality — not only of a human being)

    1. I like what you write. The first time I read this, I was looking into the glass of water and all the reflections wobbling in there as I type and i read:
      a breath/inside the rusk/ glass house

      seriously! I must be hungry.

      Cheerios, Toni

      1. psilocybin
        a silo of self
        in a forest

        (Agnes Eva Savich, Bones 18, 15 November 2019)

        Perhaps I have been watching too many fantasy/sci-fi movies, but this poem brought an immediate image to my mind and opened an ever widening understanding of the poem as well as the use of shrooms. It is the second line /the silo of self/ that takes this poem beyond the generic to a deeper understanding of the self as an extension into universal wisdom and knowledge of self as well as the world in which we exist. What a beautiful image! This brilliant shaft of light emanating from the newly discovered self illuminating the forest we inhabit. I love this one!

  8. Re: ‘psilocybin’ by Agnes Eva Savich.
    The mention of this fungus-derived chemical which has psychoactive effects brings with it a rich history in the manner of traditional Japanese kigo. ‘Psilocybin’ may refer both to the fungus and the main psychoactive component which may be absorbed via ingestion. Self-discovery through the drug, or, or and/or through an encounter (real or imagined) with a mushroom in its natural environment. They are tiny and innocuous, the fruiting bodies of these species. The fungus itself remains underground, invisible in the soil. So this could also be about the blossoming of self-awareness out of a state of apparent nothingness. The contrivance of pulling ‘silo’ from ‘psilocybin’ works fantastically well purely because we know this isn’t a real silo, this isn’t a pseudosurreal pun, this is an emotional and intellectual silo, a silo state of mind, in a dark and silent forest. For me, it is surreal in the true sense of the word, dreamlike.

    1. how true, Mark.
      I am wondering about how silo has been used, in the given context. It would not have been the case, had I not used the dictionary to look up the transparency of the word: silo. And there are quite a few ways to comprehend the word.

      When in the woods, am i the woods? That is what I keep asking myself…

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