A Hundred Gourds 2:3 June 2013
: current issue : haiku : tanka : haiga : haibun : renku : expositions : feature : submissions : editors : search : archives :

page 2   

The Gully Man

the gully man
cleans his gully wagon –
autumn leaves

I even light the boiler!

queuing up for martyrdom
from south Beirut
to Bradford

what use is a virgin
to a rent-boy?

reeds and rushes
bent beneath the moon
beneath the snow

clarinet and oboe

perfect pickles
crusty bread and, yes,
that farmhouse cheese

sweaty socks and shingles,
must be August

faces grim
the eco-shockjocks
conjure up a storm surge

bad-ass gangstas
cruising in a hybrid

fallen petals
spoil a perfect lawn,
sakura bleu!

Master Okamoto
cracks a grin


sometime in autumn, circa 2005

gully man - a labourer

Master Okamoto - co-originator of the Junicho

Afterword: The Gully Man

How far can you step outside yourself?

A couple of mouse clicks from here I drone on about the pernicious nature of too much explication prior to verse selection when writing with others. But, if the arguments in Explaining it all Away hold any water, how in God's name is it possible to write solo renku?

The answer is - with difficulty. It takes the same degree of skill as cheating on your wife, whilst convincing yourself that it's OK.

Orwell had it right with doublethink. If you can respond to your own verse as though you had never seen it before, you are ready to pick up the pen. Grasshopper. Which is why, back in the day, a piece of solo renku was a statement. It said: I've arrived.

Precisely where this author had arrived in circa 2005 is for others to judge. What is certain is that to attempt a few solo pieces can be good for the renku skill-set. It really sharpens up the search for freshness. If we can find light in a stanza we have generated ourselves, it becomes that much easier to see it in the work of others. And the facility to see/not see is a core aesthetic driver that Japanese poets and others call mitate.

As ever the trick is to avoid the twin bear-traps of obscurity and novelty at any cost. Which raises the key question: if these damn bear traps are so big, how come we always stumble into them?!

John Carley

previous renku : renku contents : next renku :