namo (Sanskrit: नामन् ): name; syllabic utterance to convey the essence of a deity, person, place, object, memory, or species.
Four Poems About Names, and Naming
I. What’s In A Name?
A voice mumbled across the table in the tavern, with a subtle hint of disdain:
"So, what's with this name?"
I said something about poets, and teachers of poets
I started to talk about people who follow these old traditions of being and naming,
like my teacher,
and the names placed in front of us like horizon lines to aim for.
I started to mention the tapestry of waking-dreamers before us --
how Tao Yuanming, at mid-life, became Five Willows
how Bai Juyi left the city and would only answer to the name “First Mountain”
how Matsuo named himself Sobo, then Tosei, then Basho
how Buson took his dead teacher’s poet-name, Yahantei, Midnight Studio
how Otagaki Todo, after a whole life of loss, gave herself the name Lotus Moon
and stayed hidden within the town, writing poetry, firing pottery, moving every year as if she lived on the surface of a stream.
I stopped myself, knowing full-well I cannot convey
this multidimensional mandala of oversouls and lush places of memory.
So, I just left it at: My teacher gave it to me.
II. Walking Toward Something - Not Running Away
How do you explain the poet-name?
Will it be a nourishing feast or a kettle of rotten fish to the listener?
How do you articulate the age-old practice
of trading-in ego concerns and Floating World grasping and greed
all in service of filling oneself up with the guiding spirit of the seasons?
What poem can be written, or story told,
that conveys Dawn-Light Clarity
--this stepping beyond
--this stepping into poems
--this making room for the memory-flow
--this making space for dead teachers to have their say
--this wandering with long-gone poets who are still teaching The Way
--this daily guarding of oasis-like spaciousness
for those moments when life-changing conversations need to take place?
How can it be described that multi-verse travel is not only possible
but happening all the time,
all while you, the poet,
are trying to maintain a body
in the here-and-now?
III. Scientific Classification of a Poet for the Literal Minded
Mississippiensis naturae x japonicus mahayana indicus religiosa chinensis homo noeticus occidentalis mons dao poetica
Nocturnal, solitary; attracted to the sound of cicadas, owls, and the scent of junmai ginjo sake'
IV: Our True Name Is Found in the Dawn Light
You have to present yourself to the morning.
The whole lot of yourself.
The bags under your eyes.
The pain from being betrayed.
All the things you were meant to give birth to
which you aborted for a half-lived life.
The travel-worn lines in your heart, hands, and face.
The scars and burns and multiple brandings from being made an exile.
Bring it all.
Whether shy to the light or broken-winged,
you have to present yourself to the morning
and give her
Only then, will you be given your true name.
to dragonflies clicking through the sunbeams --
all are after only one thing:
one humble taste of The Flow.
After offering your "self" to the morning
the night is where you receive your True-Self back.
This is when you learn about the Long View;
that the only mountain you need to climb is yourself
and everywhere there is a great Circle of Solace waiting;
you just have to be fully present in that moment
and enter from there.
(c) 2017 / Saizan Owen / purelandpoetry.com
To learn more about the improvisational guqin (Chinese zither) music of Vi-An Diep, visit her Bandcamp page.