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A Quiet Word: Focus in the Fracas

A poem by Jeanne Larsen entitled My Aging Lover in My Arms, The Dharma has this section,

[…] We’ve known how body
shouts as a master might to a student, Do you

understand, do you? Speak up. Quick,

As if the student cherished


[via Anita Firebaugh]

Ah, some truthiness after reflection in a poem. How often do we harangue ourselves making up retroactive deadlines as if to guarantee regrets and blame? Are we harder on ourselves than we would be on anyone else?

I like how her vocabulary is her own. It does not set up to explain her meaning and assume the reader needs explanation. (No derailing the poem to explain). That is for common life experience for the reader to bring to the poem.

The poem gestures to, do you recognize this too? There’s a humour and an companionable relationship to the reader.

She has a lyricalness but seem to drive it rather than have the content driven by it. “Call our enjoyment the energy/body. Call it clinging, or both. Call the breathtaking Law//of cause & effect sanditthikō, evident/here, now: I may think I get it.”

Ephemeral and fleeting, “getting it”. Even hearing one think the thought of aha is a comedy of Lucy at the chocolate factory.

Compassion’s Garden is a sample poem from Why We Make Gardens, a collection that came out last year from Mayapple. She‘s also been published by BOA, done feminist literary criticism and translations of poems from Tang China. Given all that overlap of interests, it’s surprising really that I haven’t read her before.

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