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Sunday, 29 May 2016

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Toti: Tai Grove


This poem is dedicated to Wallace Stevens for his poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”

Among the many swaying palms
The only living thing
Was the flutter of dozens of Toti

I was of one mind
Like a Royal Palm
In which there are thirty Toti

A flock of Toti whirled in the winter winds
A small part of the Cuban revolution

The sky and the Cuban flag
Are one.
The sky and the Cuban flag and a Toti
Are one.

I do not know which I long for most
The silent beauty of a clear Cuban sky
Or the cacophony of a Cuban orchestra,
Thirty Toti perched, chattering,
Or the fluttered painting of a black sky as they scatter.

Laundry filled the long lines
In sun-backed heat.
The shadow of Toti
Cross the wafting sheets
The joy of freedom.
Toti, shadow and laundry
An incomprehensible union.

O dear friends of Cuba
Can you imagine freedom
The way you see your Toti
Flocking from tree to tree.

I listen and see the black flutterings
The inescapable chatter
And I know only too well
That the Toti is a measure
Of my existence.

And when the Toti fly out of my sight,
They are still part of my being,
My ever expanding circle.

At the sight of Toti
Flying in a Cuban blue morning
I cry out the ecstasy
That Cuba is in the air.

I bicycled hundreds of miles
Through emerald cane fields
Dripping with sweat.
Never in fear of being lost
Always with the chatter of my
Toti friends telling me I am home.

The outstretched arms of the mythic Ceibo tree
Are filled with the black cackles of Toti.

It was hot, a hot humid afternoon
There was hardly a breeze to ruffle
The frowns of the stately Royal Palms
A single, silent Toti sat,
In the outstretched limbs of the Bayam tree


Richard 'Tai' Grove 


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On 2016-06-01, at 10:53 AM, Richard M. Grove wrote:

hi chris

a friend thought that my 13 toti were haikuesk enought that i should send them around to haiku mags.
i don’t know the haiku world at all.

what do you think


                                                  .   .   .   .

Hi June bug (Tai)
Daryl, the publisher of bear creek haiku, will have already had the chance to read your '13 toti' sequence, & he's far more up-to-date on the haiku scene than I am. I'm cci'ing Daryl on this in case he wants to chime in & maybe contact you with his thoughts and advice. (& maybe, just maybe, he might want to publish a few of your 'toti' on his blog or in one of his funky anthos)

Coincidentally the latest bear creek haiku arrived late last night, & Daryl has compiled a great list of haiku interested sources for publication - I'm thinking of cross posting it on riffs & ripps. Personally I hardly ever submit stuff for publication unless requested, & then it's usu a request to reprint something I've already posted, or something that's been in one of my books (e.g. you know about the recent international interest in Eel Pie Island Dharma).

A funny story about the early days of English language haiku. We founded The Haiku Society of Canada circa 1978 (now Haiku Canada). In those days there were heated debates on whether a poem was a haiku (only nature as content), or a senryu (with mankind & our foibles as the focus). Also people were beginning to experiment with different line lengths & poems which were neither or both haiku & senryu.

A Japanese haiku poet/scholar (damn, can't remember his name) visited one of our early meetings, and when presented with this heated question about what is, and isn't haiku, and how do the Japanese classify these anomalies, he simply replied, "We call them haikuish."

peace & poetry power!


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