quite a while back now, i wrote these. their original form was something i was experimenting with while on a brief restive period on the mainland, with a friend of mine who lives in a mountain, a neighbour of a monk i have often talked about: Dae sa nim.
i was never very pleased with the outcome. i called them anecdotal poems as the point of them was to be a sort of talking poem, where my thoughts on the hike would be presented in a familiar, conversational tone, reflecting my relationship with the internal me, the environment & the reader. i never achieved this, but i’d promised no matter what i would publish them, regardless of how i would come to view them, which became, unfavourably.
recently though, Daniel Schnee the amiable ethnomusicolgist said of one of my poems that it was a fantastic haibun, a word i hadn’t heard since university, when curiosity got hold of me & i picked up a copy of Basho from the library shelf (i’d been reading the Sutra of Hui Neng) & read his famous The Narrow Road to the Deep North. i haven’t considered that my recent writings were anything like haibun, in fact i had completely forgotten about it until, cue Daniel Schnee the amiable ethnomusicologist. so i plodded off & found some haibun sites & had a read of what is happening with the form today; it is alive & well. contemporaryhaibunonline is full of not only some slick haibun, but insightful essays on the form, with plenty of links to other resources.
i always wanted the anecdotal poems to amount to something, they had their moments, which meant they were worth salvaging. i am a stinker for abandoning something if it just doesn’t seem to work, but i spent 10 days of my rest time producing them, & they had their moments, some of the poetry was ok, they were just missing the right form to capture them. cue Daniel Schnee the amiable ethnomusicologist, with his fantastic haibun tribute & i got to work. so thank you very much Daniel, i am happy to say that these pieces, one of which i will post here, now, are something i have been tending the past few days, playing with their form, which, agile as it is, took the burden of these poor, lost & wending words to finally help them amount to something, so 형님 감사합니다 .
(photograph isn’t mine, didn’t do it back then).
하나 : just one of many approaches to a stream
the storm’s strong hinged arms shook the land like a snow globe / know idea when this happened / a few weeks ago? cross stitched branchestrunkstwigsleaves outlined in chalk / the weather’s juvenile obstacle / foot poking out of a blind corner / a brash / boyish attempt to protect something . to halt .
kept eyes open
camouflaged as twigs
for wild pigs / snouts like baked potatoes / wind-whispered propaganda in their soft ears / the trail steadily inclined / inched clockwise then sank like a key change in the pit of my stomach / to a stream
its crowd of voices
which kidnapped the pop & crack of twigs beneath my boots / fricatives of sun crisp / wind dried foliage / even the wind shushed by the spirant stream / no people teemed the margins of it granite shore / a path pestered with histories / anecdotes about death / trees broke so clean they looked guillotined / i took issue with stubbing the soil / freeing bleak analogies / relating things to massacre / hideous acts of genocide / political lambs bleating the slaughter of their right to idealize / hungering in their hunger for a better station in their short lives / i carried that reminder on my back / though i’d yet to confront it / i remembered stories i’ve been told / organically / the way of memory / of ordinary people / poor / desperate people / escaping into mountainous terrain from persecution
if not killed
starved by want
a period of Korean history blinded by two ideologies / where taking sides meant taking risks & everybody chose a side / even against their will
the insensitive weather
a sky as blue as prison uniforms / as blue as mood / envious spring / a chill in the air / on days when people died in droves for ideology / the sky should darken / pack up with ominous cumulus / where is the weather’s etiquette / is it appropriate to see the sky as a looming prison guard / to witness the charge of the weather confine me / unnaturally / if the sky can have impure intentions
turn a thought