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The Journey to the West

Though we journey to the West We pray to the East More or less that's the way Each day begins and ends It’s a tale everyone ...

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Compound Tweet

Death is in front of us all
As on the schoolroom wall
Alexander's last battle stands reproduced
And so too it’s true that
Panic attacks and anxiety
Have been linked to low
Vitamin B6 and iron levels
According to Franz Kafka
And all the latest studies

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This is a poem of enjambment composed simply by combining two nearly simultaneous tweets from my tweet stream that at first glance seemed to be completely disconnected.  The point of the poem is to discover their deeper connection. 

A Short Poem About a Silvery Pearl

As Yasutani Roshi says
The fundamental delusion
Of humanity is to suppose
That I am here and
You are out there –
Receive this as truth
From a sage who was born
Clutching a silvery pearl
His mother had ingested

Or as Wittgenstein suggests
It’s not quite turtles all the way down
But rather at the deepest level
Grammar drives human thought
And not the other way around

A silvery pearl

Travelers' Advisory

We wish to inform all travelers
That the journey to cure insomnia
Is perilous indeed first
Proceeding out along
A narrow ridge almost
As if walking on thin air
Until the spirit becomes aloft

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Can you please email me a copy of that picture when you get a chance?

Background of Life by M. Bridge
When you finally
Open up to the romance
That everywhere surrounds you
You realize now is as good
A time as any to start
A new sub-genre
Of photo surrealism
In order to better
Depict the spiritual truth
Of the light that inhabits
The plant itself

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

This Evening's Walk

With the treetops
For kindling
The sky burst 
Into flames
Blazing away
Before fading 
To mottled gray

And yet the creek 
Displayed the 
Utmost composure
As it settled into slack tide
Without a ripple or wave
Except for a duck
Paddling by and
Leaving stillness
In its wake

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A poem composed just shy of the Yin Extremity as I walked along Fourth Neck

 After only two sips
From the soda can (which I then
left standing on the porch railing)
I proceeded east along
The easternmost stretch
Of Fourth Neck

Just as the yardmen
Were heading home
In their pick up truck
Leaving behind an enormous
Pile of leaves in front of
Aunt CeeCee’s house

With the Yin power
Only a night or two
From its utmost extremity
I headed down towards
The creek in the moon’s
Buttery glow
Past my neighbor Scott
Conversing on his cell phone

In a light warm enough
To draw rabbits out to dance
In their thickened coats
From one dead end sign
To another I traversed further east
Until my mind’s eye ran out
Beyond the point of no return

Where the moon
Had doubled itself
From top to bottom
In the calmed waters
Of the creek

I paddled on in that moonlight
Almost bright enough
To obscure the Pleiades rising
Which kept beckoning me on
Just a few fingers  
Above the horizon

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lampoetry: Our New Mission Statement

I've been contemplating a redesign and relaunch of some of my various web publishing projects.  The basic idea is to roll together a few separate efforts into a more unified presentation or platform.  My goal in doing so is to find a way to better integrate my own poetry (which I typically publish on this blog) with my translations of Chinese poetry (which I typically publish on the Tang Spirit site).

I've already started moving in this direction by posting my translations on this blog with increasing frequency.  I'm encouraged by the initial response.  But I would like this effort to be more comprehensive and less haphazard.  At least as far as I'm concerned there is considerable thematic (and sometimes stylistic) overlap between my translations and my own writing, and I hope readers who are interested in the one may likewise be interested in the other.  At least that's the theory of the case and the logic underlying the web designer's creative brief. 

Here's a poem I wrote last night that may serve as something of a mission statement for the redesign effort I hope will soon commence: 

Lampoetry: Our New Mission Statement

Admittedly there’s a vast range
Along the spectrum of idiocy
From sublime to ridiculous
When it comes to social media
Literacy (and au contraire)
And along that spectrum
I inhabit my own singular frequency
Right here, right smack
In the middle of the dial only
A stone's throw from the Omphalos
At Lampoetry.com

That being the least worst place
I have found thus far
Where I can best express myself
Yet remain in full possession of my audience
A hack sometimes, a neo-realist Daoist theorist
At others, as it were, a self-publisher extraordinaire
In the grand tradition of Tang poetry 
And crackpot American verse

Happily exploiting the overlapping terrain
Between copyright and birthright
That being the only ground
I have yet found fertile enough
For continued ploughing and sowing
And ultimately the ground
Of most enduring worth

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Reaching for the Extremity - by the Daoist poet Yuan Jie (元结)

After a busy week at work, this afternoon I finally had a chance to resume my practice of translating Tang poetry.  I found this little gem of a poem by the Daoist poet Yuan Jie ().  I don't know too much about him or his work but the few poems of his I've read so far are infused with the spirit of the Way.  This one almost reads like a gloss on the Chuang Tzu or Dao De Jing and it is full of some wonderful phrases (very difficult to translate), such as the fifth stanza - 假翼兮凤 - which I have rendered as the falsity surrounding the target's center of the virtuous heart.

Reaching for the Extremity

(a poem in contemplation of the origin by the Daoist poet Yuan Jie)

Under Heaven
 A forgotten place
Overrun with weeds
Desolate and vast

But the energy
Is utterly boundless
Although ashen gray
It's always flourishing

Ascending there
What a person finds
Is truly unexpected

A storehouse of
Clarity and solitude
Upon attaining that
Prime and utmost spot

At this primal extremity
The spirit quickens
And distinguishes itself

Just consider
Its singular appearance
Meager and troubling
And barely defined

Yet also consider
From this Vacuity
No harm to the Self
Will come

Even if the heart
Grows agitated
And fear rings out

Remember that
Falsity surrounds
The target's center 
Of the virtuous heart

It’s a long journey
Riding the wind and
Soaring above

Clasp your hands and
Retain vital energy
Hold on to the source
In its richness and depth

Feast there until
You attain full harmony
Which will last forever
And all day

 *  *  *  *


莽兮杳泱茫    气浩浩兮色苍苍
上何有兮人不    清寥兮成元
彼元    思一兮藐
思不从兮空自    兮意惶
思假翼兮      长风兮上
揖元气兮本深    餐至和兮永

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