30 Poems for National Poetry Month: Day 11

April 11, 2013

11_w310_(14)Here is my poem, er, my poems for Day 11:

 

Hard night rain.

Morning departure:

Soaked sleeves.

.

My love exits the train,

Making her connection

–Shapely legs.

.

Magnolia blossoms

Soaking my sleeves,

Wet with longing.

.

Four days too long.

But then–

What time is enough?

.

CONTEXT: I first became interested and engaged in Japanese poetry in the early to mid-1980s, through Gary Snyder and Kenneth Rexroth. I was drawn specifically to the Man’yōshū (Ten Thousand Leaves anthology) poets.

I liked that the Man’yōshū poets were less well-known than the great Haiku poets — Basho, Busan, and Issa — and their forms and styles were more varied, including long poems (chōka), short poems (tanka), and even tan-renga (short connecting poems).

The phrase  “soaked sleeves” or “soaking sleeves,” was used to represent tears shed for an absent lover — whether lost or just far from one’s side. It could also connote longing for place or countryside.

I first used the phrase and a loose tanka form in my “Glimmerglass Poems,” which were written during the summer of 1985 in Cooperstown, NY. You can read them HERE as they appeared in the journal Terrain.

I use it here to draw a parallel between the rain of last night’s storm and my sadness at having to be away from Samantha for the next four days.

–Scott Edward Anderson

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