Shakuhachi Blues


Shakuhachi Blues

That waver,
like the end of a long

dream flickering to wakefulness,
or an origami crane

unfolding between whiskey
poured and the tale of deceit

and a good woman done wrong.
Air flutters through this bamboo

tube, and it seems I control
nothing. Inhaling, I try again.


My latest enthusiasm. A simple instrument that will take a lifetime to learn…

35 thoughts on “Shakuhachi Blues

  1. One day we’ll find in our input stream a recording of flute with Okaji words in print … or you’ll perfect overlaying flute and vocals … or you’ll simply let the flute speak for itself … Is there an interesting story on the particular flute coming into your hands?

    Liked by 3 people

    • That day is far off! The story isn’t very interesting. I’ve loved the sound of the shakuhachi for years and years, and last month decided on a whim to learn how to play one, or at the very least produce some interesting tones, and to use the instrument in a sort of suizen (meditation) way. I’ve no experience with woodwinds, which makes this even more interesting. So I began investigating, and the first thing I discovered is that they can be expensive – thousands of dollars. And then I found a maker who sells unadorned basic models for $45. 🙂 The second thing I discovered is that many beginners can’t produce any sound out of them. But the maker of mine has a video explaining that producing sound from one is like blowing on bottles to make noise. So I, uh, emptied various beer bottles and began practicing while awaiting the shakuhachi’s arrival. I can now play something akin to a grade schooler’s version of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

      Liked by 3 people

          • Not often … I enjoy playing in private, but embarrassed if anyone’s listening. I cannot measure up to my partner’s expertise. I have witnessed his progress – he’s amazing – he was getting good when we met in 2002 – now VERY good. The distinct difference is his persistence/practice.
            (Just took my wooden flutes down and played a bit – thank you for the nudge!)
            I also have a bamboo flute made ala native american design – tiny – lives in my car glove box. I get it out and play when stuck in traffic jams. The sound soothes and the blowing helps too! Wonderful to play while walking a labyrinth!
            I have never gotten so far as playing a tune – I just let my fingers wander and enjoy the various changes of tone (except those squeaks when fingers are not fully over holes).

            Liked by 1 person

            • I’m become all too aware of those squeaks! My shakuhachi journey is becoming even more interesting because I’m learning the traditional, non-western, notation (symbols read up to down, right to left, no time signature), and recently discovered that notation can differ between separate schools. Eek! But I enjoy learning!

              Liked by 1 person

  2. Gosh, you are so good! I love your line breaks.

    These are my favorites:

    “or an origami crane
    unfolding between whiskey”

    “a good woman done wrong.
    Air flutters through this bamboo” … I like reading this as if the woman IS the air fluttering through the bamboo.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “and it seems I control
    nothing. Inhaling, I try again.”
    Relevant to all learning. Process before product on this journey. I admire your musical endeavor. Since I have yet to learn how to play an instrument.
    Your poetry is always a delight.

    Liked by 1 person

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