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A Bird In the House / Robin Blaser

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

This poem, by the modernist San Francisco poet, Robin Blaser is the source of the word "otherous" (in the very first line) which we talked about a great deal on our recent Holy Island retreat (October 2022).

The experience of "otherousness" is one that breaks us out of the tedious centrifuge of our self-obsessed thoughts and imaginings and wakes us up from the 'trance of self' into something fresh. It could be a bird in a room, an accident, a fragment of music or a snippet of conversation heard on the street corner.

We were astonished, one afternoon on the Island as we were discussing this, when a robin (the poet's namesake) flew into the room and circled all of our little discussion groups before landing on my head! A vivid experience of otherousness in action.

the truth flies hungry, at least and otherous,

of which—though it may be one—Kafka said troublingly,

it has many faces


the faces one wants, tripping the light shadows of its

skin colours of its wordy swiftness, angry and solvent,

of its loud remarks

as of feeding flocks one

year, one, among the smallest birds in the Northwest, flew

into the house a darting, panic thought at the walls

and grasses perched on the top right corner of the frame

of Tom Field’s painting wherein adulterous Genji is found

out—so Lady Murasaki reads from her blue scroll—and

permitted me to take it in my hand soft, intricate

mind honouring and lift it out into the air

and the next year, again, one flew into the house,

almost certain, like a visitor, gold-crowned winged

floating about odd discoveries and alighted on the brim

of the lasagna dish my hand trembled as I took it up

and moved slowly to lift it out of the window into

the air a kind of thinking like everybody else

looking for a continuing contravention of limits and

of substance

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