haiku, photography, STEM, tanka

Willing to Muddle Thru

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Like the conflict between living in the moment and planning for the future, abstract/concrete (or general/specific) is a conflict that can only be managed, not avoided or resolved.  Trying to be 100% one or the other does not work.  We must muddle thru, preferably with awareness that what works for one person at one time will not work for all people at all times.  This post muddles thru the abstract/concrete conflict with a mostly abstract tanka inspired by excerpts from the mostly concrete poetry in 2 posts by others.

Consider the first of 4 stanzas posted in {underground (20170523)}:

© Crow
i have learned the hard way
that just because something
has been buried does not mean
it’s dead

It could stand alone as a fine short poem.  It also inspired the fourth of 7 short stanzas posted (along with an interesting biographical sketch of the 17-th century painter Caravaggio) in {Caravaggio Dreams}:

© Poet Rummager
Do you not see what I’ve buried deep,
has dug itself out to find me?

Maybe it’s because of my math background that I felt these excerpts were more powerful standing alone than in their original contexts, with concrete details about zombie cannibals and Norse gods (Crow) and a dream encounter with Caravaggio (Poet Rummager).  While I do prefer cremation to internment and do appreciate Caravaggio’s pioneering of expressive chiaroscuro, I found all those details distracting.  I was moved by the quoted stanzas despite what went with them.

One of the virtues of haiku poetry is that there is scant room for anything irrelevant, so I tried putting my takeaway into a haiku.  But I found that format a little too restrictive.  What happened after whatever was buried deep had dug itself out?  My haiku left open the possibility that it might have just toddled happily away, w/o the ominous implications of the first line from Crow’s stanza and the last 3 words from Poet Rummager’s stanza.  Wanting my poetry to be forthrightly ominous rather than ambiguous, I extended the abstract haiku to a tanka with (as it happens) concrete imagery in the 2 added lines.

Empty Grave
I buried something
that was not already dead.
It dug itself out.
~ ~ ~ ~
It shook like a wet dog and
followed my scent to find me.


© Doddis | Dreamstime.com

Tho a uniform level of abstraction might be nice, I can live with the muddle.  At least in visual art, the distinction between abstract and concrete is somewhat muddled anyway (and not just because of photography).



5 thoughts on “Willing to Muddle Thru

  1. Okay, Mel, if I could’ve written Caravaggio’s story in haiku or Tanka format, I would’ve. I’m sorry all my words distracted you! 🙄

    Haha! I feel you — I prefer brevity over rambling any day, but sometimes, 15 syllables ain’t gonna cut it. (I think Yogi would’ve liked my use of “ain’t:, don’t you?). I enjoyed how you deconstructed Crow’s and my poem. It’s fun to see your take, and your poem is excellent in how it meshes the two together. I like how you added your own twist, as well. I want to go to bed with your brain. 😀 xo

    Liked by 1 person

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