As with most things in life, anonymity might be a strength or a weakness, an act of courage or an act of cowardice.
Yet, away from the (real) world of social interaction, we are all anonymous, no? What, after all, is this grand seeking of self if not an anonymous light revealing, however briefly, if we are lucky, the all, the Oversoul.
Yes, you're right, this is a strange way to begin a meditation on a simple book of brief poems but there you are. Perhaps it will be something of a brief light itself.
Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry is an anonymous act of formidable courage, a shining of a dual light on one shared thing.
The book's genesis grew out of a long-time correspondence between two friends, two fellow poets. When a life event of some magnitude intruded on their lives, a spark was lit between these two friends which resulted in a lyrical exchange of brief resonant poems.
The poems in Braided Creek are printed without attribution: who wrote what is unknown.
So, friend, we might ask why should we care if the poets themselves didn't bother to sign their individual pieces? The answer, of course, is precisely for that reason: in their anonymity we, the readers, are brought close, so very close to the source of things in the precision of the words themselves. As the poets efface ego, obliterate personality, with a wink and a nod, before us we can see the work become the Thing itself.
Turtle has just one plan
at a time, and every cell
buys into it.
No, this isn't haiku but its essence is pure, the essence of pure haiku, purer than the vast majority of what passes for that form today.
Not necessarily better, but purer.
The brown stumps
of my old teeth
don't send up shoots
Indeed, they don't, but they send up something else, do they not? Why, it takes seed right there, right there in your mind, in the very moment.
So much to live for.
Each rope rings
a different bell.
This reminds me of a lesson Joseph Campbell used to use to illustrate a fundamental concept of Buddhism and Hinduism, or the Oversoul or the Atman or whatever we are calling it this week.
In the classroom, Campbell would point to the light fixtures. We are each all as individual bulbs, our own little lights shining. And here on the wall is the switch.
And what, friend, is electricity, the energy?
The crumpled candy wrapper
is just another flower
to the rain.
The reader can sense how very close we are to the thing itself. Ask Cid Corman: is this is a haiku or not, if a thought like that matters at all.
I can hear him now ...
In the electric chair's harness,
one man hauls all the darkness.
I don't know what this means, per se, but I sense, I feel what it is saying, all the way to the tiny hairs on the neck of my soul.
Nothing to do.
Nowhere to go.
The moth has just drowned
in the whiskey glass.
This is heaven.
Oh, my, yes it is. Deny it at your own peril.
I could go on and on, example after unsigned example - there are 4 poems per page in Braided Creek and there are 86 pages. These are brief, swift arrows aimed at the heart of things.
This is a perfect book to tuck in your bag, carry to the park, read at the bus stop - a bit of mobile revelation, you bring the electricity. What, you need to sit 20 minutes a day for the rest of your lives, you say, for a bit of the promised satori? Take a couple of these at the park or the bus stop, sitting in the dentist's office, or just upon rising in the morning or reclining in the evening.
Why not? After everything, what else might you have to lose?
Today a pink rose in a vase
on the table.
PS Get Braided Creek from an independent bookseller. Or a boxless mega-giant. One thing I can say - it was the best book I read in 2014 and I read a parcel of good books.
the cherry blossom petals
translated by David G. Lanoue
Photo by Macao
PPS Click to learn how to contribute to Wednesday Haiku