Our pond, Daniel Pettiward #WorldAnimalDay #poem #funny

From: A Choice of Comic and Curious Verse (Penguin)

The first verse is the loveliest “superfine gloss”, “pink lilies and things”, “wings of its duck”. You can see a pond with high mossy banks. You want to come closer but you know you shouldn’t try. It must be morning when the light is spun so thin that the gloss is barely visible. And I have to smile at the “lilies and things” where we are taught to expect beautiful words, more of a what we could see in the pond if were we there and instead Daniel finishes with a child’s sense of importance “and things”.

But who likes the soupy surface of scum? Children like gross things, maybe that is it.

Water-waved reeds… I read it as water-weaved at first and thought that was a fresh image bringing the mesmerizing warmth of a woman in a cozy room to shaded cool waters. Start of a dark fairy tale.
Water waving weeds. Weeds in water slowly moved by the ducks and the wind.

Our Pond

I am fond
Of our pond,
Of the superfine gloss
On its moss,
Its pink lilies and things
And the wings
. Of its duck.

I am keen
On the green
Soupy surface of some
Of its scum,
Its water-waved weeds,
Its three reeds
. And its muck.

Yesterday,
As I lay
And admired its thick skin,
I fell in;
I went walloping down
Till I stuck.

I am fond of our pond,
But I like it much more
From the shore.
It was quite out of place
On my face,
. Where it stuck.

Daniel Pettiward

Matsuo Bashô: Frog Haiku #FridayFeeling #poem

Furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

Old pond — frog jumped in — sound of water.

The quiet we wait for at the end of today. Where a packed lunch and a bottle of tea makes a prairie… Where can we find quiet, serenity, frogs when you live in the city? What does this poem do for city dwellers? Has it become only a dream, a vision of a trip to other countries? How many of us have seen frogs, walked around ponds?

Public gardens, inside conservatories, walking through a ravine, Saturday and Sunday early morning, inside near empty shuls, churches, mosques. Maybe in coffee shops before the neighbourhood wakes up, libraries in the study sections where tiny birds wait under the table or on top of stacks, near the water… But the fear of quiet and of boredom and of having nothing else to do…almost stops us from wanting to be where a frog jumps into an old pond. A lot of us have stopped doing nothing or have stopped hiking, gardening, walking to places.

It must have meant something different for Basho. A large part of his day must have been silent, quiet, long. Frogs are cute little animals for him… what would be bring out similar feelings in us, when everything is fast, loud, devoid of animals except on videos we share?

Matsuo Bashô: Frog Haiku

The original Japanese:

Furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto

Old pond — frog jumped in — sound of water.

Translated by Lafcadio Hearn

A lonely pond in age-old stillness sleeps . . .
Apart, unstirred by sound or motion . . . till
Suddenly into it a lithe frog leaps.

Translated by Curtis Hidden Page

The old pond;
A frog jumps in —
The sound of the water.

Translated by R.H. Blyth

old pond
frog leaping
splash

Translated by Cid Corman

Old dark sleepy pool
quick unexpected frog
goes plop! Watersplash.

Translated by Peter Beilenson

Listen! a frog
Jumping into the stillness
Of an ancient pond!

Translated by Dorothy Britton

At the ancient pond
a frog plunges into
the sound of water

Translated by Sam Hamill

dark old pond
:
a frog plunks in

Translated by Dick Bakken

pond
frog
plop!

Translated by James Kirkup

Commentary by Robert Aitken

The old pond;
a frog jumps in —
the sound of the water.

Furu ike ya Old pond!
kawazu tobikomu frog jumps in
mizu no oto water’s sound

The commentary is from Robert Aitken’s A Zen Wave: Bashô’s Haiku and Zen (revised ed., Shoemaker & Hoard, 2003). The book includes essays on 26 of Bashô’s haikus, of which this is the first.

THE FORM

Ya is a cutting word that separates and yet joins the expressions before and after. It is punctuation that marks a transition — a particle of anticipation.

Though there is a pause in meaning at the end of the first segment, the next two segments have no pause between them. In the original, the words of the second and third parts build steadily to the final word oto. This has penetrating impact — “the frog jumps in water’s sound.” Haiku poets commonly play with their base of three parts, running the meaning past the end of one segment into the next, playing with their form, as all artists do variations on the form they are working with. Actually, the name “haiku” means “play verse.”

COMMENT

This is probably the most famous poem in Japan, and after three hundred and more years of repetition, it has, understandably, become a little stale for Japanese people. Thus as English readers, we have something of an edge in any effort to see it freshly. The first line is simply “The old pond.” This sets the scene — a large, perhaps overgrown lily pond in a public garden somewhere. We may imagine that the edges are mossy, and probably a little broken down. With the frog as our clue, we guess that it is twilight in late spring.

This setting of time and place needs to be established, but there is more. “Old” is a cue word of another sort. For a poet such as Bashô, an evening beside a mossy pond evoked the ancient. Bashô presents his own mind as this timeless, endless pond, serene and potent — a condition familiar to mature Zen students.

In one of his first talks in Hawai’i, Yamada Kôun Rôshi said: “When your consciousness has become ripe in true zazen — pure like clear water, like a serene mountain lake, not moved by any wind — then anything may serve as a medium for realization.”

D.T. Suzuki used to say that the condition of the Buddha’s mind while he was sitting under the Bodhi tree was that of sagara mudra samadhi (ocean-seal absorption). In this instance, mudra is translated as “seal” as in “notary seal.” We seal our zazen with our zazen mudra, left hand over the right, thumbs touching. Our minds are sealed with the serenity and depth of the great ocean in true zazen.

There is more, I think. Persistent inquiry casts that profound serenity. Tradition tells us that the Buddha was preoccupied with questions about suffering. The story of Zen is the story of men and women who were open to agonizing doubts about ultimate purpose and meaning. The entire teaching of Zen is framed by questions.

Profound inquiry placed the Buddha under the Bodhi tree, and his exacting focus brought him to the serene inner setting where the simple incident of noticing the morning star could suddenly disclose the ultimate Way. As Yamada Rôshi has said, any stimulus would do — a sudden breeze with the dawn, the first twittering of birds, the appearance of the sun itself. It just happened to be a star in the Buddha’s case.

In Bashô’s haiku, a frog appears. To Japanese of sensitivity, frogs are dear little creatures, and Westerners may at least appreciate this animal’s energy and immediacy. Plop!

“Plop” is onomatopoeic, as is oto in this instance. Onomatopoeia is the presentation of an action by its sound, or at least that is its definition in literary criticism. The poet may prefer to say that he became intimate with that sound. Thus the parody by Gibon Sengai is very instructive:

The old pond!
Bashô jumps in,
The sound of the water!

Hsiang-yen Chih-hsien became profoundly attuned to a sound while cleaning the grave of the Imperial Tutor, Nan-yang Hui-chung. His broom caught a little stone that sailed through the air and hit a stalk of bamboo. Tock! He had been working on the kôan “My original face before my parents were born,” and with that sound his body and mind fell away completely. There was only that tock. Of course, Hsiang-yen was ready for this experience. He was deep in the samadhi of sweeping leaves and twigs from the grave of an old master, just as Bashô is lost in the samadhi of an old pond, and just as the Buddha was deep in the samadhi of the great ocean.

Samadhi means “absorption,” but fundamentally it is unity with the whole universe. When you devote yourself to what you are doing, moment by moment — to your kôan when on your cushion in zazen, to your work, study, conversation, or whatever in daily life — that is samadhi. Do not suppose that samadhi is exclusively Zen Buddhist. Everything and everybody are in samadhi, even bugs, even people in mental hospitals.

Absorption is not the final step in the way of the Buddha. Hsiang-yen changed with that tock. When he heard that tiny sound, he began a new life. He found himself at last, and could then greet his master confidently and lay a career of teaching whose effect is still felt today. After this experience, he wrote:

One stroke has made me forget all my previous knowledge.
No artificial discipline is at all needed;
In every movement I uphold the ancient way
And never fall into the rut of mere quietism;
Wherever I walk no traces are left,
And my senses are not fettered by rules of conduct;
Everywhere those who have attained to the truth
All declare this to be of highest order.

The Buddha changed with noticing the morning star — “Now when I view all beings everywhere,” he said, “I see that each of them possesses the wisdom and virtue of the Buddha . . .” — and after a week or so he rose from beneath the tree and began his lifetime of pilgrimage and teaching. Similarly, Bashô changed with that plop. The some 650 haiku that he wrote during his remaining eight years point precisely within his narrow medium to metaphors of nature and culture as personal experience. A before-and-after comparison may be illustrative of this change. For example, let us examine his much-admired “Crow on a Withered Branch.”

On a withered branch
a crow is perched:
an autumn evening.

Kare eda ni Withered branch on
karasu no tomari keri crow’s perched
aki no kure autumn’s evening

The Japanese language uses postpositions rather than prepositions, so phrases like the first segment of this haiku read literally “Withered branch on” and become “On [a] withered branch.” Unlike English, Japanese allows use of the past participle (or its equivalent) as a kind of noun, so in this haiku we have the “perchedness” of the crow, an effect that is emphasized by the postposition keri, which implies completion.

Bashô wrote this haiku six years before he composed “The Old Pond,” and some scholars assign to it the milestone position that is more commonly given the later poem. I think, however, that on looking into the heart of “Crow on a Withered Branch” we can see a certain immaturity. For one thing, the message that the crow on a withered branch evokes an autumn evening is spelled out discursively, a contrived kind of device that I don’t find in Bashô’s later verse. There is no turn of experience, and the metaphor is flat and uninteresting. More fundamentally, this haiku is a presentation of quietism, the trap Hsiang-yen and all other great teachers of Zen warn us to avoid. Sagara mudra samadhi is not adequate; remaining indefinitely under the Bodhi tree will not do; to muse without emerging is to be unfulfilled.

Ch’ang-sha Ching-ts’en made reference to this incompleteness in his criticism of a brother monk who was lost in a quiet, silent place:

You who sit on the top of a hundred-foot pole,
Although you have entered the Way, it is not yet genuine.
Take a step from the top of the pole
And worlds of the ten directions will be your entire body.
The student of Zen who is stuck in the vast, serene condition of
nondiscrimination must take another step to become mature.

Bashô’s haiku about the crow would be an expression of the “first principle,” emptiness all by itself — separated from the world of sights and sounds, coming and going. This is the ageless pond without the frog. It was another six years before Bashô took that one step from the top of the pole into the dynamic world of reality, where frogs play freely in the pond and thoughts play freely in the mind.

The old pond has no walls;
a frog just jumps in;
do you say there is an echo?

Thirty translations of a haiku by Matsuo Bashô (1686). Many more versions can be found in Hiroaki Sato’s One Hundred Frogs (Weatherhill, 1995), which includes over 100 translations plus a number of adaptations and parodies.

The commentary is from Robert Aitken’s A Zen Wave: Bashô’s Haiku and Zen (revised ed., Shoemaker & Hoard, 2003). The book includes essays on 26 of Bashô’s haikus, of which this is the first.

our Black bodies/ blending with this night A.X. Nicholas #poem #BlackLiberationMonth #sex

zp_audre-lorde-in-berlin_1984_photograph-c2a9-dagmar-schultz

1.
Strange
.             that we wake
in the center of the night/
.             the naked image-of-ourselves
locked black & beautifully together on this bed.

2.
The sand & miles-of-water
before us/
.              our Black bodies
blending with this night/
.              the far city
floating (How strange!) in this sky.

3.
Strange
.              how your thighs
tremble like the tomtom-of-drums in the night/
.               opening/closing
hot & dark as Africa round my waist.

 

From The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry.
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el Jones I have a hard time seeing #BlackLivesMatter #poem

White space between pockets of lines are mine, so I (and others) can read it easier.

I have a hard time seeing justice as a reserve without a well
But then we bring its children a smudge kit in their cell

Don’t we wonder what will happen when there’s foster kids living in hotels
Or black children in the principal’s office 5 minutes past the bell
Because they never learned to read and they fell between the gaps
We start with zero tolerance by the time they’re done taking naps

Is it justice when some people start the race ahead by laps
In a country where we can’t even guarantee clean water from the taps
And there’s indigenous land under every prison on the map
And as you move up from minimum to medium to max
It’s a funny thing in Canada how the skin just gets more black

And that lack of access to parole that is kind of like a tax
A couple years of extra sentence that they tack on to our backs
And there’s those weapons laws they pass that they claim are for the gangs
While there’s white supremacists in prisons with KKK upon their hands
And there’s guards who give them daps

And the police can gun down teenagers and never hit the stand
I won’t even get into asking why we never charge the banks
But should anyone be sent to where they have to carry shanks

Eljoneslyrics.wordpress.com

 

————————————————————

Full poem
I know a man who stabbed a man inside and got sent off to the SHU
But he says when somebody comes after you then what else do you do
I don’t believe that he’s a monster but that’s what the system say
And now he’s doing double life and might not see the light of day
And when you’re 15 and your family teaches you to sell crack
Well is there any coming back so you grow to manhood in the max
And we define entire lives by a person’s worst acts
So we just list their various crimes and believe we have the facts
So here’s another story of another lost defendant
He’s 20 years old and he’s 8 years into his sentence
Brought over to the prison from juvenile detention
Sometimes children in this country they just don’t deserve a mention
Until they commit a crime and then suddenly we pay attention
There are people in society we label as disposable
When you’re already doing time shouldn’t be the first time you’re diagnosable
And so we put them in a prison where at least they are controllable
And I suppose it isn’t notable and no one gets emotional
Unless we find out they are innocent then maybe humanity’s negotiable
But for the rest, you did the crime so your humanity’s ignored
And men are in so long they don’t know how to use a door
And men are in so long they’ve never heard of internet explorer
That’s what happens when you’re black when you’re indigenous and poor
When you’re considered to be a criminal before you’re even born
I get an incoherent call at 3 o clock in the morning.
The same guy who called me crying to report he was assaulted
He says he’s locked up in his room surrounded by guns and knives
If they come to take him back it’s either his or their lives
He says ever since he left the prison he’s been numbing with a high
But people say to close his mouth because it doesn’t happen to real guys
I suppose it’s ironic he’s from the same reserve as Donald Marshall
So it seems to me that justice there was only ever partial
When we look back at that case and say those 11 years were awful
But for everybody else the same suffering is lawful
I’ve heard so many tragic stories I could almost tick off a box
But still we call it justice when the prison doors are locked
We believe that punishment comes to the people who deserve it
But punishment mostly comes to the people who can’t swerve it
Can’t avoid it, can’t employ it, can’t voice it, can’t afford it
And then once you go to prison whatever happens can’t report it
If you can’t write how can you file Roebothams or habeus corpus
So we talk about wrongful but where are the rightful convictions?
Sure there’s Paul Bernardo, Clifford Olson, Robert Picton
But what about the man on his 50th charge of shoplifting
When it’s obvious to everyone the problem is addiction
And the truth and reconciliation commission can only be a fiction
As long as indigenous people out west are still filling up the prisons
I have a hard time seeing justice as a reserve without a well
But then we bring its children a smudge kit in their cell
Don’t we wonder what will happen when there’s foster kids living in hotels
Or black children in the principal’s office 5 minutes past the bell
Because they never learned to read and they fell between the gaps
We start with zero tolerance by the time they’re done taking naps
Is it justice when some people start the race ahead by laps
In a country where we can’t even guarantee clean water from the taps
And there’s indigenous land under every prison on the map
And as you move up from minimum to medium to max
It’s a funny thing in Canada how the skin just gets more black
And that lack of access to parole that is kind of like a tax
A couple years of extra sentence that they tack on to our backs
And there’s those weapons laws they pass that they claim are for the gangs
While there’s white supremacists in prisons with KKK upon their hands
And there’s guards who give them daps
And the police can gun down teenagers and never hit the stand
I won’t even get into asking why we never charge the banks
But should anyone be sent to where they have to carry shanks
I watch police roll into Ferguson with snipers riding tanks
I don’t think you have to not have done it for justice to be miscarried
When I’ve known men so long in prison that their babies now are married
Hell I’ve known men so long in prison that they first meet their son out on the range
And I don’t know that it is justice if we decide you can never change
And I don’t know that it’s justice when there’s men inside a cage
And I don’t know that it is justice if the scales will never budge
And men in prison with so much legal knowledge they could be a judge
And maybe they could have gone in that direction if they only got a nudge
And it’s true that I’ve known men who did a killing for a grudge
But does three seconds of your life make you only human sludge
And let’s not talk about the corporations that profit off it all
Like the predatory phone companies gouging prisoners for a call
Women going broke when their man’s conviction’s not their fault
I could talk about the scanners and how many hits are false
And how families are turned away after driving up for hours
Cause I dont know that it is justice when it’s so easy to abuse powers
I could talk to you for days and it would all be the same ruin
And I know men who did their time in prison with Assoun
And they’ll never be set free to share their voice in these rooms
And I know lawyers, guards and judges who do their best to change the tune
but in a society that’s broken it’s like reaching for the moon
And I confess I once believed that every person could be saved
And then it took a couple of years and it’s true that I got played
And I had to face that there’s some people who seem to always dig a grave
But I still don’t believe that they deserve solitary just because they misbehaved
And I still believe we can do better and that we have to find a way
And I’d still rather know I tried even if it means I failed
Because it will never be justice while the our solution still is jail
So from people doing time in Kent down to people in Renous
From people in the county up to people in the SHU
If that was your life story, what do you think you’d do?

 

 

 

 

 

#BlackHistoryMonth #Kenya #poem Run by Sam Mbure

beaneaththerainbow7.jpg

Illustrator Pat Keay in Beneath the Rainbow — a collection of mystical children’s stories and poems from Kenya, published by Kenya’s Jacaranda Design and distributed by global literacy nonprofit Worldreader.

Run
by Sam Mbure

Come down sweet rain;
Come rain on me
Like you rain on the tree,
The maize and the grass;
And they grow and grow.

Come down sweet rain,
End famine and thirst.
Soon the market will overflow;
Vegetables and fruits, maize and beans;
And I’ll grow and grow and grow.

Come down sweet rain
Wash away dust and dirt
Fill our drum with sweet rain water
So that tomorrow I can sleep till nine.
And I’ll be happy, happy to rest.

Come down sweet rain
Shut out drought and heat
Swell rivers, ponds and seas
Then as I swim naked in the pool
I’ll join the frogs singing for you.

See more, read more here!

#idlenomore #iNeedFeminismBecause Water Under World by Hannah Faith Notess! Faith and the Lost River of the Pharaohs.

aboriginal-girl-arnhem-land-wading-615-2

Photo by Amy Tensing of an Australian aboriginal girl/child.

Hannah Faith Notess

WATER UNDER WORLD

That river had me marked
as soon as I drifted underground.

I palmed the coins from my eyes
and leapt from the raft into dark water

as cat-eyed goddesses watched me,
whirring their displeasure. From fog

a young god emerged and gathered me
against his body, dripping, onto the bank.

Of course I worshipped him. Of course
I should begin again. Eighth grade:

I wanted a shirtless lifeguard
at the waterpark to see me, so I leapt

from the flotilla of plastic innertubes
into the waist-deep canal, where spotlit

mummies craned animatronic necks.
He came. He rustled, furious,

from a plastic hedge and banned
me from the Lost River

of the Pharaohs for life. No Nile.
No Underworld. Cast out,

sunburned, that night I drifted,
thought of diving, as the waves kept

rocking me, like hands
on my shoulders. Now I could die

because a boy had held me and
his anger made him warm.

 

Via Rattle.com’s website here.

More information on Hannah Faith Notess here.

 

E.J. Scovell Geese on the Park Water #CanadaReads

1012926_tcm9-138318.jpg

Photographer unknown.

The Geese on the Park Water

1
The Canada geese
Pose in the light and dark of ripples,
And in and out of narrow shadows
Pose, compose, improvising
Their endless eloquent line.

 

The Swan’s Feet

Who is this whose feet
Close on the water,
Like muscled leaves darker than ivy
Blown back and curved by unwearying wind?
They, that thrust back the water,
Softly crumple now and close, stream in his wake.

These dank weeds are also
Part and plumage of the magnolia-flowering swan.
He puts forth these too—
Leaves of ridged and bitter ivy
Sooted in towns, coal-bright with rain.
He is not moved by winds in air
Like the vain boats on the lake.

Lest you think him too a flower of parchment,
Scentless magnolia,
See his living feet under the water fanning.
In the leaves’ self blows the efficient wind
That opens and bends closed those leaves.

 

Edith Joy Scovell, called Joy, was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, in 1907 and she went up to Somerset College, the women’s college founded at Oxford University in 1879.

Scovell accompanied her husband, the distinguished Oxford ecologist and naturalist Charles Elton, to Central and South America and the West Indies as a recorder and field researcher.