Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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Poetry Friday: “With her, at midnight”

For my final Poetry Friday post of the year, I’m sharing a fairly new poem that I completed just a few weeks ago.  I wrote this for my wife, Jen, and since it describes a muggy, summer evening, I thought it might help to melt some of the heavy, wet snow that fell in this part of the country yesterday.

This is a tanka, pretty much the only surviving form of waka, a term that once encompassed many forms of Japanese poetry.  You may notice that the first three lines are similar to a haiku, with their 5-7-5 syllabic structure; however, haikus are a relatively new form of poetry, having been developed in the 19th century (haikus were borne of the original hokku form, which dates to the 1600s, but waka forms go back to the 6th century).

By the way, this week I learned that the Japanese word haijin means a crippled person, or a haiku poet.  Figures.

So now that your history and vocab lessons are over, on to the poetry!  And be sure to stop by Carol’s Corner, where you’ll find the complete Poetry Friday round-up.

.

With her, at midnight

Within the warm, thick
soup of night clouds and orchids,
breaths heavy as air
silence jealous crickets, stars
glisten our damp, moonlit skin.

- © 2012 Matt Forrest Esenwine

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20 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: “With her, at midnight”

  1. Nice job, Matt! Thanks for the definition of haijin, too. I can see why “crippled person” applies–someone who is having trouble moving goes more slowly–is more aware of her surroundings–just like a haiku poet!

    Happy 21013!

  2. I love soup, night clouds, and orchids.
    I’ll need more time to digest that translation.
    Happy New Year.
    Liz

  3. I like the doubleness in this poem: “clouds” and “orchids” in a soup; “silence” as noun and verb; our skin as a single glistening.

  4. Steve Peterson on said:

    I love dmayr’s description of a poem that moves slowly, that picks its way carefully through an image. My partner is a plant ecologist, so I also loved the reference to the orchids. Amazingly cool plants whose own approach to life appears to be anything but careful!

    http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/news-dramatic-and-amazing-sex-life-orchids

  5. Thank you all for your comments! And Steve, I knew orchids had a reputation, but I need a cold shower after reading that article…whew!

  6. Thanks for the information about tanka and haiku. Your wife is one lucky gal to have a husband who writes poetry for her!

  7. Matt Goodfellow on said:

    Lovely, Matt. I keep getting told off by my wife for writing about trees and stuff, rather than writing odes to her!!

  8. It’s hard to remember hot nights and crickets! Thanks for bringing them back in your poem!

  9. Tabatha on said:

    Beautiful, Matt! Well done.

  10. It’s so special to write for your wife, & then publish for all to see too. It’s lovely, and loving, to say you’re making the crickets jealous. I like the idea of it very much.

  11. Those first two lines were especially gorgeous – so sensuous and engulfing. And thank you for all the information about Japanese poetry – there is so much to learn, so many forms with which to speak!

  12. Pingback: Poetry Friday: “Mud Pies for Sale!” « Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

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