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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 ...

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Unpainted Masterpiece (for Brad Melamed)



When I paint my masterpiece
I already may have ceased
Painting masterfully at all
Instead consigned to that sketchy realm 
In the mind’s museum up on the wall
Where shadows flicker, dance and fall
My masterpiece may go completely
Unpainted after all


Painting by Brad Melamed
from the series When I Paint My Masterpiece 

A Hundred Thousand Worlds (Han Shan De Ching)



A hundred thousand worlds
Emptiness blossoms in shadow

Body and mind come together
Flowing in moonlight

Whether by cunning or love
Time just now has broken

To be within nowhere
In mind lies the proof


Image by Brad Melamed









Tuesday, August 28, 2018

In Meditation Withering (Han Shan De Ching)



Deep into night sitting alone
In meditation withering

Poking at lifeless ashes
But what of the flame

Suddenly the clock’s chime
Calls from on high

A beautiful clear voice
That fills the frozen skies










*  *  *  *  *

Deadwood Zen.  That's the title of this poem as translated by Bill Porter (my favorite translator of Chinese poetry).  Very evocative but not quite accurate.  The character  (ku) refers to the withering or drying up of plants.  But what better case can be made for translation that's none too literal?  In the deadest of deadwood zen, as the poet tells us, there may come a spark of illumination.