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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 ...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Blind to the World of Spirit

I wrote this poem early this morning. I wanted to post it quickly before having the chance to revise or disavow it.

Blind to the world of spirit
Only with eyes closed
Can the map's contours
Be discerned

How energy flows up
And out through
The crown of the head
Always rising and yet
Maintaining its own
Steady state

To know spirit
Is to know flesh and
Its dielectric constant
The permittivity of the possible

That love in every breath is
Made visible however
Limited in extent
In the chill morning air

Extension Cord by Brad Melamed

I love this image that my friend Brad Melamed posted to FB today.  This is part of recent series of work in which Brad has been exploring the connection between his hands and the rest of the world.  It seems like such a perfect drawing to accompany this poem - the permittivity of the possible - the idea could be more perfectly or cogently conveyed!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Song of Lu Moutain

Here is a translation of one of Li Bai's spirit poems. The Madman of Chu appears briefly in the Analects and chides Confucius for thinking he can or should meddle in affairs of state.

A Song of Lu Mountain

I am the madman of Chu
Who sang for Confucius
And laughed at him too
All the while
In both my hands
A precious jade staff
Tightly I clasped

To Yellow Crane Tower
At dawn I departed
Onto the Five Sacred Peaks
Searching for Immortals
Far and wide

For an entire lifetime
Across Ming Shan
I have wandered there
Then across Lu Shan
Where I approached the Big Dipper
Through the nine screens
Traversing through clouds
Like wind through
A brocade clothe

Out of the shadows
And into brightness
I found a crystal clear lake
Its surface shimmering with
Dazzling colorful rays
And the gates of golden watchtower
Opened silently before me
Revealing in the distance
Two more enormous peaks

Down a winding path I strolled
Where there flowed a silvery stream
Under three stone bridges
It passed and then tumbled
Down a sheer precipice
In a misty waterfall
Obscure in thick with a
Blue green haze

While on the skyline
Clouds glowed persimmon
Herald of the morning sun
And birds beat their wings
In endless flight on their way
To the state of Wu

Ascending these heights
What great vistas have I seen
Of Heaven and Earth
As well as places in between
A river that flows apart from
Space and time
Measureless and vast
Filled with whitecaps
Flowing fast
Yellow clouds
Propelled ten thousand miles
By the relentless wind
Towards nine distant
Snowcapped peaks

This is the song
Of Lu Shan
The spirit that
The mountain speaks
At leisure I gaze
At her rocky crags
As into a mirror
More clearly
It’s my own heart
I glimpse

Down pathways
Long overgrown
Moss everywhere
A thick dark green
Taking an extra dose
Of cinnabar tablets
Beyond this world
The heart stirs
Like a zither
Strummed three times
It trills from
First to last

And far in the distance
See the Immortals assembling
Filled with roseate inner light
In their hands they hold
Hibiscus blossoms
To present the Jade Emperor
In the Imperial Court

Before crossing the void
Nine levels ascending
At last arriving
At the truth of Lu
Approaching utter clarity
Though the work continues
Onward still

Saturday, October 1, 2011

From the Desk of the General Counsel (II)

With apologies to Gus and Jim
And to all my other clients
My sincerest regrets
That I couldn’t take
Their legal problems
Any more seriously

But being so ill-suited
To the tasks at hand
The endless wrangling and
The mind numbing detail
While nonetheless needing
To keep on paying the rent

Just as the scam blogs lament
I came to be compromised
To an unbearable extent
I felt guilt and distress
About the fraud of the law
But what’s a middle class boy
Supposed to do
When there’s rent
To be paid
And various other markers
Are all about to come due

Reflections (III)

This is my translation of a poem by the Tang poet Zhang JiuLing also known by the courtesy name of Zishou. Don't know too much about his work. He served as a senior minister to the Emperor Xuanzong in the early 700's. The spiritual flavor of this poem reminds of sonnets by John Donne.

Reflections (III)

Into seclusion returning
A man resumes his lonely perch
Deliberate in manner
Bathed in purity and truth

Like a soaring goose
Feeling full of thanks
Because of the great distance
Spread out underneath
Over which the soul shall pass

Day and night
Mindful of
But can anyone
Attain its essence
Soaring or sinking
From self fully

Am I to find
Such comfort
Please tell me truly