his first major work Haiku Pond with its reference/homage
to Thoreau, vincent tripi has written as a left-home
person. Snow Falling on Snow is a collection of poems
about the Buddha. between God and the pine, somewhere
among the clouds/poems from a year of solitude; and
the day i find/poems from a desert hermitage, among
his other books, all bespeak the monastic theme in their
titles. What these books collectively suggest is that being
a left-home person is not a place one easily
arrives at, but rather a constant occupationa task
to be pursued an entire life. monk & i advances
another step: the left-home person is older now, 60. Impermanence
is something known first hand, and clear-sightedness more
of a challenge. But tripi is nothing if not clear-sighted:
later years . . .
tossing pebbles from
to the wooden bridge
Ryokan-like playfulness evoked here makes the poem a little
unsettling, especially when we read a page later that, the
bridge is always a tiny bit shorter than our life.
If tripis earlier work is full of celebratory shouts,
the death poems here are equally stark and exclamatory.
One sees how the poet has evolvedcontinuously, without
want the end to come
swift & all at once
great blue heron!
beginning to end, reiteration is an important trope in this
collection. tripis work recalls Creeleys sense
of the poem as a uni-verse, or single turn.
The slight, Derridean difference a repetition makes, the
little space/silence/nothing that separates a word uttered
once from its repetition is a great vessel. We have poems
shell i take
the shell it takes
the tracks of the deer
someplace in this galaxy
The repetition brackets a silence within which a world appears.
Here, perhaps, is tripis take on the Japanese cutting-word.
The poems present worlds within worlds, and this poet doesnt
need anything more. He is not only at home in the universe;
he is at home in countless universes.
is only one way of creating these worlds within worlds.
tripi also allows the image to suggest this kind of patterning:
from the cougars
in its mouth
There are natural analogies enough here to please Emerson
or Jonathan Edwards, but theres no groping after significance.
The poet doesnt appear, except by virtue of the track
he leaves, what leaves his mouth.
fact, although he uses that lower-case i more
often than in his previous books, tripi manages to be more
see-through than ever. Even when he appears in the poem,
he acts without actingas Lao Tzu would likeseems
nothing more than another natural process:
safely through the thistles
Cormans preface gives as true a sense of tripis
poems as can be: You have to see i to his i.
David Kopitzkes illustrations take their own space,
good companions to the poems. Ed Rayher is one of an endangered
species of artist/artisans, and the volumes he has produced
of tripis work have all been stunning. monk &
i is no exception. It will take your breath away when
you first look at it. And tripi will give you back your
breath when you look inside. Behind the scenes, where she
seems to like it, Phyllis Walsh should be smiling at what
her Hummingbird press has hatched.