Skin and Bones Poem

Haiku is the fashion model of poetry, a heartbeat
away from being bare, being nothing. Hardly
any flesh there– all grace, all poise.

Dissecting a haiku is like dissecting a flower,
not much to see under the dazzling splash of
color. Then there is the syllabic skeleton:
five, seven, five. But that is a mere technicality,
haiku is not that calcified syllabic spine, the
essence of haiku is its soul. What is this soul?

It begins with muga. Muga, in Japanese,
means self-effacing. In no other form of poetry
is the poet so absent, so unobtrusive. In this
sense haiku is the best example of nondual,
and Zen poetry.

Then, comes hosomi. Hosomi is bareness,
slenderness. The poem is hardly a poem in
substance, it’s all spirit. It can be called a poem
only by an ineffable ‘ je ne se qua.”

“Summer lightning
Yesterday in the East
Today in the West.”

Kikaku

How can a poem be more unpoetic? It is sheer
shibumi (dryness) just a laconic weather report,
yet somehow, it drips ‘sabi’ ( loneliness.) The
awesome, beautiful, pitiless, loneliness of
nature. It has wabi (the beauty of poverty) and,
of course, yugen. Yugen is the mystery, the
depth, the darkness of things. It’s difficult to
attain a sense of yugen, but when we do,
common things reveal an unfathomable
dark translucency, which beckons us home.

Pete

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