singing bowl after Shutters i-xii by Robert Okaji

i don’t think it is the first or last time Robert Okaji has or will inspire a poetic endeavour of mine, simply through being influenced by his own endeavours to chart the minuscule details surrounding us, in taut poems, at once challenging while arresting the reader with their inimitable, abstract beauty & in addition, simultaneously evading being pigeon holed as they zoom in on something mundane, drawing us in to wonder at what beyond Okaji sees, only to discover it is reality itself not some beyond, it is something right in front of him, possibly still, arranged as it is. it is the mundane that Okaji infiltrates with his unique eye for abstraction, as if to show us that the very simple isn’t so much not simple, but that simplicity can inspire so much more than just the utterance of the sign , the name that gives it a literary reality. & so, after Robert Okaji’s xii Shutters poems,

  a series of twelve pieces written at a desk in front of a shuttered window. I was taken with how a simple adjustment of the slats affected perception – that what I saw was only a disjointed portion of what there was to see

as Robert explains them in his own words, i too have picked a single object, a singing bowl, from which i have written a series of poems, using the 14 symbols ㄱㄴㄷㄹㅁㅂㅅㅇㅈㅊㅋㅌㅍㅎ, which are the basic Hangul consonants, as counters, something other than Roman numerals or numbers to give the series a start & end point.

i have not laboured over the poems, rather letting them be as organic as possible, not perfectly so, as the first lines out are never satisfactory enough for me; but rather than spend too much time tamping & taming, i have written the bulk quite fast for my, usually slow, production standards, in hope of annexing what i see as a quality of the singing bowl: its nature as a receptacle to transmit the syllable of the universe aum, according to the purpose of its existence, whether you believe the universe hums such a syllable to directly brings us into proximity with It. 
lastly, the form used is based somewhat on Korean poetry, its directness, its short, terse lines, & sparse, almost non-existent simile. i especially have taken influence from Kim Chun-su’s poetry.

so here is the first


…music, enters & exits like
the draft under a door.
the soft mallet is a
movable limb, or phantom
limb of sorts; a form
with absent properties,
of property, the form of which,
is absent;- guided
by sentience outside itself,
which nevertheless
is joined intimately to it,
compelled to hear it
as much as it is
compelled to bear us.
& no matter the aggression,
no matter the force with which
it is struck by sentience
a music of sorts
repeats & repels,             what…?

the embroidered cushion
absorbs all manner
of noise,
from the abstract to
the manifest & loops
them back into…

(featured image by me, of my singing bowl)

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Cool, I look forward to this series.

    Also, have a look at my newest (and longest poem) I published a few days ago:

    https://purelandsutras.wordpress.com/2016/11/22/epic-poem-the-odyssey-of-dharmakara/

    Also, I got rid of my menu options since others have told me it was taking up all the space, do you like the new sleeked down look?

    1. the sleeked down look is much better. i’ll have a read of your poem.

    1. Thanks. I’ve since edited them, heavily & i think they’re better for it.

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