seven poems of Japanese aesthetics (english poetry)

I’m always on the prowl for ambient sounds apt for concentration, quest which led me to some of the most endeared songs of my library. Recently, I came across Ensō, by Fort Nowhere, followed by my procurement of what Ensō meant, the discovery of that Japanese spiritual practice, along with Japanese aesthetics, which I explored through various sources until I came upon this article, which features a series of Japanese aesthetic principles along with an Ensō ( which completed a full circle in my quest, interestingly).
Inspired by the various principles presented in the article, I attempted to create seven compositions related to how those principles interact (although at times a bit loosely) with my own ontological views. I paired each principle with a material or substance, to have both a thematic and a cosmetic focus for each poem. They are simple, very simple poems, some plangent, some more delicate, all of them written in the same style but independent of one-another, which means you may read only the one you feel most drawn to, or read all in the hope that you might like at least one of them. They are ordered as follows:

Fukinsei, Clay;
Seijaku, Incense;
Kanso, Plastic;
Shizen, Leaf;
Datsuzoku, Skin;
Shibumi, Bristle;
Yugen, Water.


Fukinsei, clay

SEIJAKU, incense

KANSO, PLASTIC

SHIZEN, LEAF

DATSUZOKU, SKIN

SHIBUMI, BRISTLE

YUGEN, WATER

Needless to say, they are more modernistic than oriental in tonality and form, but my primary attempt was to coalesce the two in my own style. I don’t feel that I was fully successful, but I decided to heed to my most oriental principle: just to let them be. I produced them in two hours, in Portuguese, and did not edit them.
I still hope you managed to extract something valuable or, at least, be entertained.
Thank you much for reading,
João-Maria.

Advertisements

(Droplet) neuro-dialectics (english|português)

While tinkering with some experimental forms in a poetic manuscript in Portuguese and listening to Henosis by Joep Beving (which is a terrific album for writing), I came across his track “Noumenon“, which involves a rather minimalist piano piece, some synthetic organ elements, and the voice of a man in the background with drowned speech that can’t, at any point, be understood. With that, I was inspired to try my hand at creating two rather hollow characters who, in between compositions, would hold disjointed conversations — some more sensible than others — which, in time, spun a willingness in me to dialogue with myself recurrently, often about nothing, often about everything, sometimes in extensive monologues and others in short, sharp sentences. I’m sure this is not unique nor is it particularly exceptional, but I’m quite enjoying the folly of it, so I felt compelled to share. The first, in form of a dense poetic-prose unified speech, and the other, a banter succeeding a somewhat disenchanted love-poem:

(Varieties of Ultramarine)


— I would have enjoyed playing in the Schönhausen palace, or have exulted a body with a pungent waltz collapsing over a soundscape, an imploded building; that is it, the profligacy, extensive, sharp disgraces, to be vulgar but stricken by an extreme energy to dive into the most profound aromas. It saddens me, you know? There are things… Well; the solar cycles of flesh, various shouts and lamentations, to have seen the physical aspects of this domain perish, await the rains, observe the age of birds, the spark of sylvan wings, the solitude and silence, and… Who knows? Not quite so much. Things aren’t as they are, they are something else entirely, that and that, but never this. Do you remember being as small as a bean?, receive the pillars of light supporting the hours, scour the fabric of everything only to find image, the paltry gleam of pearls, those scarab-green silks used by elderly women to obscure their haggard neck, they almost appeared to be moving birch trees!, and those ornaments, miscellaneous objects, superfluous events, ashtrays of glass or steel, calendars, the frightful villain of night and darkness, that today, at a loss of self, appears to us as an absolute white. All these small constituents, baubles of sort, dust prisons sustaining the vice of inner occupation, of imagining this and that and hold it close, take it as ours, all these things which are only ours, as only we notice them — no longer is there space for any of this. The plangency of remembrance…, my breast constricts once certain portals are crossed, it closes, colours drop like acids, my contact with the shiver of the earth is erased, I acquire a lightness able to capture the tail-flame of meteors; a reduction to atoms and waves, conclusion, gelation, agony, I abandon touch, matter labours to restore my gravity. See, I do not say this just because of longing, but for the very nature of volition; at times, I see myself as an apocryphal text, or one of those commonplace engravings, a nearby landscape: a withy in a gradient of death, rough-stones, a partially hidden poplar, an imperious crow, an imperative sky, and I cogitate under a snooze spun from my fear of disappointing dramatism, what is the peremptory truth which blooms from this weak reality? No, I do not search for the meaning of all, or of life, nor any of those fatuous borrowing pretensions; neither am I concerned with whys, or magnetised by the spiritual abuse of philosophies. I just wanted a place, a pallid place, a home within my own self, to sit beneath a veil of dense warmth, convene with my own humble purposes, feel the lemon-skin come near, cover my eyes, ears and nose so I could say, distant from myself yet impossibly near, that this is this, that is that. I want the shelter of certainty, of solidity, that through the years configured more and more intangible. Ah!, pathetic, who, in wholesome control of their faculties, would want such thing? Volatility permeates beauty, and all is as beautiful as it is perpetual; the metronome fuels the serfdom of Men to the expressions of change, and in which form can we exist if not this one? The sunset is not a promise, the substrate is not a promise, nothing promises, nothing promises, and I’m privy to what you may think, that is the tacit worth of everything simple; I agree, I’m merely tired… It is time to play on the Schönhausen palace. It has to be time. The trees of Iðunn shan’t bear more apples for me, and I’m tired.


(lichen)

Back in my land, it is said that love is the acquisition of shadows.
— We all love in a bellicose mutism of sorts.
— A hall of mirrors as an instrument of inner torture…

Have you seen the spark of Spring, that distillation
of rays refracted in the atmosphere particles, the cough
of the peaceful mallards? That limpid green…
I thought love would be similar to that pure scenery.
— Our Springs were very short, at home. Time
was like a large iron anvil held by cambric strings,
as those one normally sees in childish cartoons.

You never had anyone, I suppose.
— I didn’t think it possible.
— The true surprise, that
which throws you into the centrifugation of clouds
with distant outcrops, fragile white daisies,
is when someone truly likes you.
— If that is how you feel.
— Do you feel it differently?
— I don’t like myself…, you see? If by chance
anyone did, it wouldn’t be someone I could have liked,
I do not trust anyone that likes who I do not like.
— I understand.
— It isn’t hard.
— Not for me.


Português

— Gostava de ter tocado no palácio de Schönhausen, de exultar um corpo numa valsa pungente quedando sobre uma construção de sons, um edifício implodido; é isso, a devassidão, vergonhas extensas e acutilantes, ser-se vulgar mas acometido duma energia extrema para mergulhar nos aromas mais profundos. Entristece-me, sabe? Há coisas… Pronto; os ciclos solares na carne, tessituras e lamentações várias, ver os materiais físicos deste domínio a colapsar, esperar pelas chuvas, observar a época dos pássaros, o rútilo das asas silvestres, da solidão e do silêncio, e… Quem sabe. Não tanto. As coisas não são como elas são, são outras e outras, aquilo e aquilo, mas nunca isto. Lembra-se de ser pequeno como um feijão?, receber os pilares de luz que sustentam as horas, perscrutar o tecido das coisas e encontrar apenas a imagem, o pequeno tilitar das pérolas, aquelas sedas verde-escaravelho que as transuentes mais velhas usavam para obscurar o pescoço gasto, chegavam a parecer grandes bétulas movediças!, e aqueles ornamentos, objectos vários, eventos supérfluos, cinzeiros de vidro ou aço, calendários, o terrível vilipêndio da noite e do escuro, que hoje, perdidos, é-nos quase como um branco absoluto. Todos estes pequenos elementos constituintes, frioleiras, prisões de pó sustentando o vício da ocupação interior, de imaginar isto e aquilo e tê-lo perto, tomá-lo por nosso, todos estes elementos só nossos, pois só nós damos conta deles — já não há espaço para nada disto. A plangência de rememorar…, o peito abstem-se quando se atravessam certos portais, fecha-se, as cores pingam como ácidos, o contacto com a tremor da terra cessa, adquirimos uma leveza que captura o fogo dos meteoros; a redução em átomos e ondas, conclusão, congelamento, agonia, parece que abandonamos o tacto, e a matéria labora para nos restaurar a gravidade. Veja, não digo isto apenas por saudade, mas a própria natureza da volição; por vezes, dou-me como um texto apócrifo, ou uma daquelas iluminuras comuns, uma paisagem próxima: ervas em gradientes de morte, pedras-toscas, um álamo parcialmente gravado, um corvo imperioso, um céu impreterível, e cogito na modorra que apenas tenho porque temo a desilusão da peça, qual será a verdade peremptória que floresce desta fraca realidade? Não, não procuro o significado das coisas, ou da vida, ou nenhuma dessas pretensões fátuas sensabor; tampouco me ocupo do porquê, nem sou magnetizado pela sevícia espiritual das filosofias; queria apenas um sítio, um espaço pálido, uma casa dentro de mim próprio, sentar-me sob um véu de calor denso, reunir-me dos meus propósitos humildes, sentir a pele de limão aproximar-se, cobrir-me os olhos, os ouvidos, o nariz, e poder dizer, longe de mim e no entanto impossivelmente perto, que isto é isto, que aquilo é aquilo. Quero o abrigo da certeza, da solidez, que ao passo dos anos se configurou mais e mais intangível. Ah!, patético, quem, em total controlo das suas faculdades, desejaria tal coisa? A volatilidade permeia a beleza, e tudo é belo por ser perpétuo, o metrómono abastesse a servidão do homem às expressões da mudança, e de que forma existir senão nessa? A poente não é uma promessa, o substrato não é uma promessa, nada promete, nada promete, e eu sei o que pensa, pensa que é esse o valor tácito das coisas mais simples; eu concordo, estou só cansado… É tempo de tocar no palácio de Schönhausen. Tem de ser tempo. As árvores de Iðunn já não me darão mais maçãs, e estou cansado.


Lá nas terras, dizia-se que amar é o exercicio de adquirir sombras.
— Todos amamos num mutismo bélico.
— Um corredor de espelhos como um instrumento de tortura interior.

Já viu o encandeamento duma Primavera, aquela destilação
dos raios refractados nas particulas da atmosfera, o tossicar
lânguido dos patos-reais? Aquele verde límpido…
Eu achei que amar seria esse cenário puro.
— As Primaveras eram muito curtas, por lá. O tempo
parecia uma bigorna de ferro segura por fios de cambraia,
como se vê nos desenhos das crianças.

Nunca teve ninguém, suponho.
— Acho que não teria sido possível.
— A verdadeira surpresa, aquela
que nos lança à centrifugação das nuvens
com aflorismos distantes, margaridas brancas,
é quando alguém gosta de nós.
— Se é isso que sente.
— Sentiu-o doutra forma?
— Não gosto de mim…, entende? Se porventura
alguém gostou, não seria alguém de quem poderia gostar,
não confio em ninguém que goste de quem eu não gosto.
— Entendo.
— Não é díficil.
— Não para mim.


Thank you,
João-Maria.

(Memnos II) – A Silence In Which No One Sings

memnos 2.1memnos 2.2memnos 2.3memnos 2.4memnos 2.5


        I’d like to think that, if you made it to this point, you hold the glory that my poem holds not, as you withstood it. I don’t particularly like anything I produce these days, but this one was a delicate endeavor to iron-out. Written over nearly two months, revised hundreds of times, wholesomely deleted in countless others, I don’t think any poem has ever caused me this amount of hardship in conception. Alas, I truly wanted to write another poem-of-memory, this turn related to my first youthful love and how I’ve felt about it hitherto.

        If you’re still with me, my gratitude is endless. I cannot fathom someone reading the entirety of this composition, but if you’ve liked even a portion of it, it would already allow worth into my strain, for which I would be unfathomably happy.


Johnny

(PS: The poem “Alto Como o Silêncio” is by Santomean poet Maria Manuela Margarido, which I translated for the purpose of citation; to my knowledge, there is no translated version of her works by a professional in such field)

A woman. (english poetry)

a woman1

a woman2


To my Grandmother; I’d wish to make something better for her, one day. But I’ve always been enchanted with her choice to stay, despite everything, she stays in her home, and intends to die there and nowhere else. That is a beauty I cannot yet capture.

But one day, Avó, one day.

She wasn’t taught to read nor write, so I know my greatest communication isn’t adequate for her. But, growing up by her side, I knew to communicate differently; with truly firm hugs, and the trémule of one’s voice, the pulse of a touch — all truly worth saying, dispenses words, as it lives above, purely in the senses.

She will never read my poems, but she knew them before anyone did. She knew them, even those I do not yet know.

JOHNNY

 

⌉|⌈ – Ethan’s Petal Dance

And now, the moment. Such a moment is unique. It is, of course, brief and temporal, as moments are, ephemeral, as moments are, elapsed, as moments are, in the next moment, and yet it is decisive, and yet it is filled with eternity. Such a moment must have a special name, let us call it: the plenitude of Time.


Søren Kierkegaard, in his Philosophical Crumbs (Translated by M.G. Piety in his Oxford World’s Classics edition, with its translation retouched by me, based on my Portuguese [Relógio D’Água, with translation by José Miranda Justo] copy of the same work)


Platforms such as these are not only mediums to project our works, but also, to withstand our passions; those which, static or volatile, orderly or lost, ripple across our sighting of our world as a rainstorm-at-sea. At sea, most likely, is how most of us experience reality, along with some sensible doubts and senseless certainties; but this perdition is — as it has been — a moment of eternal recuperation. One must operate, as one does, and further still, navigate reality, while holding grip of a road which isn’t there, of a route too-faded (much like your forest-dark, E.), and a race against phantom figures of truth and non-truth. The question, then, is the thread which is pulled to unravel eternity; for a question, in itself, may be eternal, and any semblance of answer — for its own rigour — cannot be so. Søren found his eternal answer in God, insofar as it sufficed in a philosophical landscape hand-made by Plato and drawn out into existentialism, but it may not be, for many of us; and many more, still, search for that knowledge. 

Platforms such as these present me the utmost pleasure of observance upon the journeys of many, as many observe my own; but hollow words have a metal taste. Many bright minds — some much superior to my own — go critically undiscovered along the swamps of what is continuously produced.


“I hold a conversation, bound in leather,

  and, though it speaks not to me,

  I pretend.” 

Ethan, untitled poem, found here. 

Once rooted, one comes to understand that: if the ground was any wider than the inches our feet inhabit; or the lines of the horizon, any wider than our plan of sight, one would succumb to the eternity of each moment; almost slouched into a state of paralytic indolence that echoes itself as it elapses. To resist such crushing motions, is to firmly reduce — like only a human-mind can — and slowly carve out the reduction, bit by bit, to a frequency dictated by our preparedness to sculpt, and knowledge that such small crumbs may be taken without collapsing our structures. 

Alas, I’m not a philosopher, but merely a child in this world, with a pen of permanent ink and a hair that parts at will (my sincerest plight). I take advantage of my confusion, and make poems that encapsulate that very same eternity of each moment — to varying degrees of success — but always wary, might the ritual itself ever become obitual, which it surely will, and I surely won’t stop. 


“Man must now bear his own meaning, for the world will no longer accept the projection. We have blasted apart its mythic strength with our knowledge, burned the bridges between other and self, so we carry that self without the gods.”

Ethan, in “Transcendence as a lived possibility rather than a metaphysical truth”, found here.

A person accepting enough of such demand aforementioned, and thus, presented with the abound humility such task carries in itself, is a person whose intellect can be reliable; for, even if faltered, even if insufficient, it shall never be ill-conceived. Humility and, by extent, understanding and interest of what lays unknown, are the primary instruments of our betterment, in whichever garments they might appear dressed in. 

A poet, a philosopher, a store clerk or a sailor — we navigate different seas within the same ocean; but they are all seas, nonetheless, and they are sumptuous in both beauty and terror, rumbling and resounding beneath our platforms, eroding the pylons in which we stand; and, bit by bit, we all sculpt what lays left, and survive for as long as we’re able. But, together, as those very senses of other and self are immolated, we survive longest, brightest, and with a warm heart. 

Ethan is, to my view, one of the brightest minds I’ve had the pleasure of encountering, one whose words rumble and resound nearly as loudly as those seas, but with the gentility of a placid pond. It is a sight — a truly unique sight — to encounter someone with such a refined intellect, and yet, so sincerely enthusiastic about humanity; It isn’t innocence, nor frailty, nor hope. It is, in my humblest view, the sign of a Man seeing the path, the route, and the race, as ornate windows to reformation, rather than infinite reflections. He holds much potential, among the most I’ve seen, and it would be a true loss if he was to be swept by turbulence. At times, all I’ve needed was someone to share my passions with, and you, my readers, have done me a service for which I shall live in perpetual gratitude. Would you be so kind as to check his oeuvre, as surely more is to come (fingers-crossed for poems), and perhaps it might be as solacing to you, as it is to me. 

You can find him at Rooted Contradiction, and by all means, please do. 

As my time-slots widen, not only am I spending more time preparing the Cantos, as I’m able to check many different blogs and works. And, with permission, I might make more of these posts, not only to begin repaying my debt of gratitude, but also for this passion we live in each moment, which is so dearly ours, and collects us all so tenderly together. 

Thank you much! 


JOHNNY