Featured Post

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 ...

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mind is Metaphor and Metaphor is Mind

There is no place to seek the mind,
It is like the footprints of the birds in the sky.
~ 'Zenrin Kushu'

Zenrin Kushu says that there is no place to seek mind – it is like the footprints of a bird overhead in the sky.  Yet right there in this metaphor Zenrin Kushu points us in the direction of mind.  Mind is metaphor and it is mirrored in the signs we see every day.  A bird leaves no footprints in the sky, but the snow goose’s passage overhead can be read as a sign of time’s passage, which leaves a strong impression on heart and mind.  Through metaphor mind can see sign of itself just about anywhere it looks - even in the tracks of the migrating geese passing overhead. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Under the Big Dipper (take 2)

Over the last 5 years I have published more than 500 poems (including some translations) here on my lampoetry blog.  For the most part I like to write in the moment, which means that I usually don't revise or rework these poems very much before publishing them online.  But as a departure from my usual practice, I am currently preparing to publish a group of 30 or so of these poems as a stand-alone collection, which has given me an opportunity to do a little bit more clean-up and rewrite on some of them.  For me the challenge is how to keep the poems fresh and in the moment - which is the way I try to write - even while rewriting them long after the initial experience that gave rise to the poem in the first place.   This is one of the poems that I intend to include as part of the collection, which I have been reworking in the last few days.  You can read the original version here.

Through a thin scrim
Of stratus clouds
Each point of the Dipper
Briefly emerged last night
Opening up to a vista
Billions of light years hence
Helping me to levitate
And better appreciate
The very curvature of space

Once born aloft on those
High orbital currents
I was drawn
Higher still
Following the Polestar north
To a freedom absolute
My disembodied spirit soared
Soon dispersing among
The legion of stars
Like a handful of
Particulate matter

Then as the clouds
Regrouped overhead
I plummeted earthward
And soon found myself
 Grounded once again  
In corporal form convicted
That from now until
The Dipper inverts
In another couple of months
The earth is going to continue
Sending forth its blessings
In a multitude of ways 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Two Questions Posed to My Digital Self

How apt the simulation feels
Offered by the digital world

Even in primitive games
Like Sonic and Sim City
(to say nothing of Facebook
And LinkedIn)
The cardinal challenge
A player faces is
The familiar speed up
That confronts us 
Across all platforms
Stressed to the max
By the demands of our
Multiple screen names

Yet still I seek relief
Through more tweets and online poems
Thereby casting myself that much
Deeper down simulation’s hole

How many followers
Do you suppose
One must acquire
Before simulation
Yields to the real
Or would it be better
To forego more tweets
Pending the release of
Digital ego Version 2.0 


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spring Sleep (a reverie in springtime by Bai Juyi)

Spring takes us right to the edge of a great awakening.  That, at least, is the way I read this poem by the Tang poet Bai Juyi.  The poet lays down in springtime in perfect repose and finds himself transported.  This poem is the record of his journey.

Freshly bathed
Loose of limb
Alone I lay down
In peaceful contentment

By virtue of the night
Deeply enfolded in rest
After day’s long commotion
Sleep finally attends me

Oh spring
Sometimes wan and chill
But also by warmth blessed
When dawn enters the casement
I’m slumbering still

Withdrawn far from
The world of humanity
Sunk in the pillow’s depth
To the immortal realm ascending

Where I arrive as only seems fit
No longer dreaming
But overwhelmed and
Of speech completely bereft

As in a moment of triumph
To stumble drunkenly
All desire ends up over matched
In the pure stream of Chan

What cry then awakens me
A passing shrike
Outside the window
That breaks the reverie

Rising to my family
Wife and children laughing
A lifetime of spring gaiety
Yet a vaster realm
Has slipped away


新浴肢体     独寝神魂安
况因夜深坐     遂成日高眠
春被薄亦暖     朝窗深更
却忘人     似得枕上仙
至适无梦想     大和名言
何物呼我     声关关
起来妻子笑     春茫然