Japanese Tea Ceremony

an intimacy as near

as air

the position &

location of


& objects

in space


the tea house

i need not


my head

the teahouse’s dimensions




what is



& appropriate

for a body

to do

since i came here


at the painting of the bird on a branch

its border

its fabric

its hanging


at the purple flower in the wooden vase


in front of

the black kettle

see      the cast-iron brazier, the charcoal, ash

is remembrance chiefly

a matter

of twig




twang of plucked strings &

longing vocal strains

presence of tea maker and tea drinker/s

to one another

to the objects

‘apologies for going before’ – ritual language in its proper place – a poem

in acknowledgment of those left



take into my body the biscuit – sweet, powdery crunch

two scoops of ceremonial grade matcha (i only have one)

pour hot water &

mix with wooden whisk

bitter, grass-green memory of taste

feeding a serpent

from a cup

fingers wipe the bowl edge to purify and re/turn



turn the bowl to face away – humbling myself on my knees

small   intimate

not so august

that is as far as i see


Written after participating in a ritual Japanese Tea Ceremony at Naropa University on 18/6/18, following CAConrad’s morning workshop on ritual poetics.  After embodying the ritual and incorporating the ceremonial food & tea offerings, I went home to make notes.  Using divinatory poetics, the notes were then interspersed with lines from H.D.’s Hermetic Definition, Part 2 – Grove of Academe, section 5, p29 (New Directions, 1972).  A twelve-minute YouTube track featuring traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony music was selected (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jc6ZCj4kO8M), which provided the constraint of time for writing the poem.  One read through and redraft was permitted and performed during a second listening to the track.

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