I do not

I do not write about lingering sunsets, falling blossom petals, the light in the early morning or even about birds taking flight.

I do not use metaphors either. Using the beauty of the world to describe emotions, renders all things oh … just so so banal.

There is no need to trap beauty into words and fancy imagery, forcing it to jump through loops of twisted grammatical constructs.

As for emotions, if you love, if you feel sad; just say it! No need for the rain to take the place of your tears. Your tears are beautiful just as they are.

In this self-centered world, where poetry is measured in hits and likes, as though it was a piece of furniture, I admit to finding little solace in the words of others.

So I lean back on the old Masters like Verlaine and Kobayashi and Hafez and Pushkin and Wang Wei and Victor Hugo and Rumi and Li Pao and Neruda and Basho, and many others.

When I hold a book of their poetry, the world slows down, everything becomes tenderly subtle and I can then hear the silence of beauty.

Kenza.

Not a trace

A flock of birds flies north.
Two tired bees buzz near the blooming lavender.
A cloud, mindless.
The last ray spreads its gold.
The birds leave not a trace in the sky.

Kenza.


Note: “Mindless cloud”: In Zen poetry as well as in classical Chinese poetry, the cloud is often a metaphor for the mind –floating, shifting, insubstantial.

The chrysanthemum

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Long after all the flowers have faded

the chrysanthemum blooms alone.

Under grey skies, amidst the first frost,

its petals flutter with the wind from the north.

And yet, it is not November

but the month of May.

And yet, it has graced me with its beauty,

its fragrance filling my lonely heart.

Kenza.


Photo taken at home today of a bouquet of chrysanthemum. It was a gift from my nine year old son who knows I love this flower because it dares to bloom alone.

Gregor Samsa – a better world is possible

So you know how it goes.

You are a child and they put you in school. If you are lucky they won’t cram A’s and B’s into your brain. But most of the time these days they will, even if you already grasp the concept.

Numbers also appear and sometime along the way, you are asked to learn multiplication tables by heart. And then they explain adjectives and verbs and grammar. But never do they tell you why grammar is important. Diligently you learn the rules, make mistakes aplenty and in orthography too, and you start fearing exams. And you study some more, and you memorise some more, and somehow it is fine. Grammar you see is important because without it there would be chaos and there would be no communication. But they never tell you that.

And you move on … with the herd.

Then one day, while at the public library, you notice a little book on a table waiting to be placed back on the shelf. You are barely 11 years old but the cover attracts you. It is a bug -kind of a cockroach really- and it is looking at you. You pick it up, sit on a chair at the corner, and start to read.

“One morning, upon awakening from agitated dreams, Gregor Samsa found himself, in his bed, transformed into a monstrous vermin.”

You meet Gregor Samsa for the very first time and your life changes.

The world becomes multi-dimensional and filled with the unknown. You realize that not understanding is not such a bad thing and that it leads you to question, to ponder, to search some more. You realise that someone else thinks along the same lines as you do, and even writes about it without being belittled. You encounter poetry and the magic of words. You realize imagination has no boundaries, no shapes, and that it is immense, colourful and filled with flavours that you, yes you, can change at will.

I remember the joy of delving into a new world, pondering Gregor Samsa’s dilemma and feeling sorry for him; but also rejoicing at his uncanny freedom as he leaves the house, and by the same token, the drudgery of his working life. He may be a bug, a “vermin” as some translations put it, but he is suddenly free and unburdened. And that, you see, is just fine.

The world is an open field and we have the ability to avoid falling into drudgery if we really want to. We need not become a bug, but we can metamorphose at will. Our mind, our imagination, our sensitivity to the world are to be used, to be expanded upon.

As the world seems to be breaking at the seams with rampant ignorance, prejudice and violence, we can let our mind be free and we can dream. Just like Kafka, we all have a wonderful capacity to expand our imagination beyond the confines of even books and words.

Thank you for reading.

Kenza.

The gift of words

A king who was very fond of poetry, heard about a poet who taught the gift of words. He inquired and found that the poet lived in a village about half a day away by horse. The next day, he asked his horse be saddled and went to visit him.

“I am the king and I humbly ask you to teach me the gift of words,” the king told him.

The poet was sitting on a simple carpet, surrounded by his students. Some were young and others old. Some were men and others women. Even children were there, along with a black cat with golden eyes attentive to the poet’s every word.

“You are welcome among us,” the poet answered.

The king learned to use metaphors and similes; to find rhymes where he had never looked before; to spread gold dust on simple words and make them enchant. He attended the poet’s sessions everyday for the duration of a moon’s cycle.

As the new moon was about to appear, the king visited the poet and told him: “You have opened my soul to beauty. I am most grateful and I would like to bestow a gift upon you. What would please you most? Just let me know and it will be yours.”

“Thank you Majesty,” the poet answered. “What I would most appreciate is that you no longer attend the poetry sessions.”

The King was dumbfounded.

“Have I offended you in some ways? Have I offended some of your students? Please tell me and I shall change my behaviour. I really want to hear your teachings! You have made me a better king as I see beauty in all and can finally calm anger, negotiate peace and impart justice with the right words.”

“I am grateful my humble teaching has made you a wise king,” the poet answered with a smile, “but understand that since you have started attending the sessions, students no longer praise beauty and simplicity in their poems; now, they praise you, hoping for favours. This is not poetry from the heart.”

The King was devastated and did not know what to say. He left feeling sad and very much alone. A few days later, the poet sent him a poem.

“King and ruler of the land, come with an empty hand.
Undress of silk and gold, and put on a woolen coat that is old.
The pilgrim crossing the desert will sure be left behind
if he insists on adorning his camel instead of filling his gourd.
The secret of words is hidden behind seventy thousand veils.
Come. Please come.
But come with humility and an open heart,
so that the secret may at last be shared.”

Kenza.

The Sufis believe there are 70’000 veils between the ego and the absolute; much akin to the 84’000 dharmas the Buddhists refer to, or the “veil of ignorance” mentioned in the Bible (2 Corinthian)

A day in Paris

“Mama, what do we do today?”

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We walk. We look at the clouds. Watch leaves falling like books in the air. Old manuscripts. The smell of ink. Dust and sun in our eyes.

The sky immense and blue. “Let’s take a piece and put it in our pockets,” I say, “you know for later when we are far away.”

We watch milk twirl in your first ever decaf cappuccino! On the side, a round crêpe like a full moon, folded to match the clouds.

The metro filled with ants, all heads down. We dance a few steps on the platform as we wait for the train. An old man looks at us, and smiles. Just like the one who plays the violin at the entrance. We listen to his notes.

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Run through empty arches. A man stands by a window, reading a book. Perhaps from the pages we saw flying earlier in the park.

Walk behind pigeons imitating them, back side waddling. Play. Stop. And play some more. And laugh.

Dance along small streets. You are always dancing.

And talk. Talk about a book and Japan and chocolate at the window, starting every sentence with “can I tell you something?” Buildings measured against Tsunami waves, a graffiti on the wall, the lady with a dog at the light, the day you rode your bike for the first time. Intarissable…

Imagination free, the instant takes flight always further and yet always present.

And I answer when I can. My thoughts are too real, too material so I discard them. I decide to join in your blabber and then I see the light and the dust. My eyes now guide me instead of my heavy thoughts. I jump from colours to sensations, just like you!

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Art in gallery windows and the gentle smile of ladies in Chanel. More art. Beautiful art. Time stops as we stroll gently through the empty museum. Now you are glad we woke up so early.

Outside the boulangerie, we spot a small bulldog wondering what he is doing in a dog’s body. Another one closer to the fountain, watches pigeons fly wishing he could join them. Or may be not. It may just be our interpretation.

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A giant advertisement for an anti-winkle cream that promises youth as though the heart could heal so easily, returns me to absurdity. And then I let it go.

And the man looking at the void. A homeless from a far way land who then looks up at you and gives you a generous smile, “I have nothing,” he seems to tell you, “only a smile.” And you answer in kind, and you both smile and hope seems to rise even if ephemeral. “What a nice man,” you tell me as you skip down the boulevard.

And then you stop and come back to me. “I wish the entire world was soft and clean.” And I wish that as well. So I kiss you as we stand in the middle of the pavement. Smiles from others. A soft and clean world, even if for an instant. And I wish for it to expands.

IMG_E1725Éclair au chocolat, the best ever! Everything for you is the best ever at that very moment. I admit though, the ones from La Maison du Chocolat are the best ever!

“This is the best day of my life,” you say as the day ends. Of course it is! You always say that. We should all be saying that.