On Poetry and Culture Shock

Desire and fulfilment

I chew the brightness of pain with pleasure.
My body is full of you now.

Mastico la luminosidad del dolor con placer.
Ahora mi cuerpo está lleno de ti.

It is easier to write about desire than about its opposite. Peace of mind. Fulfilment. Happiness. There is nothing left to say after “And they lived happily for ever after”.

The classic Japanese haiku comes from Zen thought, and much of it takes the absence of desire as a premise. Years ago, when I had just started to write poems, the Elusive Poet (*) recited to me from memory one that was something close to “I chew the brightness of plain boiled rice”. I forgot the author, but I liked the synaesthesia. "Chew" corresponds to one sense and brightness to another; outside poetry, feelings aren’t sweet and flavours aren’t bright: that is synaesthesia. I thought the image was very powerful so I stole it for a haiku about fulfilment of desire, rather than its absence.

(*) The Elusive Poet talks about the fact that he writes but he hardly ever shows his work to anyone, hence the nick.

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