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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 ...

Friday, August 28, 2015

Poem Written While Walking East on 28th Street

Stop talking just do it
Beauty lies within
In my current state
Of mental health
Such as it is
(stuck looking without)
All the t-shirts
I notice on my way
Across 28th street
Walking to Kalustyan's
Speak directly to me
Suggesting another chapter
In the Chuang Tzu perhaps
About randomness and truth
And the richness of the present

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

By way of explaining a few of the references in this poem, I am very pleased to announce (albeit by such indirect means) that I have recently begun work on a new translation project - helping a Chinese friend and colleague prepare for publication a new translation of the Chuang Tzu, a Daoist wisdom book comparable in importance and beauty to the Dao De Jing.  (For those of you not familiar with it, you can read about the great original Chinese text here.)  The chapter I am currently working on is Chapter 26, which is entitled External Things (or 外物 if you prefer in Chinese).

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Ode to the Joy of Living in the Multiverse

History sometimes
Neither rhymes
Nor repeats itself;
It simply skips a beat
Or jumps from one frame
To the next

And it’s up to us
To master the timing
So we're prepared for
A series of acrobatic leaps    
Back and forth
Along the drala

Agile and quick enough
We navigate merrily
Among the adjacencies -- 
Of what karma begets
And forgets amidst
This plenitude
Of suchness --
Each offering up
Its own rendition
Of a present tense

Every moment 
We journey upstream or 
Sideways like a crustacean
Moving by fractal advance
Across multiple fronts
Still comforting ourselves
With the conventional
Wisdom that our destiny
Is singular and not diverse

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ode to Gus the Mouser

You’re either growing your list
Or entropy takes its toll
Every day
What little comes in
Over the transom
Is barely enough
To keep the kitty
Nice and pretty
In the windowsill
But God bless Gus
The one-eyed Cat
Who just today
Caught a mouse
All on his own
And there he sits
In Buddha-like splendor
His next move

Monday, August 17, 2015

Flower From a Stranger

A rose destined to continue opening
No matter what you do or say
A Buddha Flower of the first degree
A power that keeps on giving
It’s hard to express this better
Either in petals or the flesh
Perfection in a vase before your eyes
For all the world to plainly see
There's nothing more curative
Than the flower's pure gratuity

The backstory to this poem is interesting.  My wife was walking down 28th street the other day and approached a man (who looked kind of scruffy) standing on the corner and he handed her a perfect rose and explained that something lucky had just happened to him.  So this rose represents the most gratuitous of generous acts and that's why it looks like perfection itself fit snugly into a vase.

Post script:  And then a few days later Marissa sent me another photo.

Opening further 
Until Time holds sway 
Perfect or not 
Flowers all end 
The same way
On the vine
Or in the vase
Brittle in decay  

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Poem for an August Evening in Saco Maine

Let the frogs and crickets
Talking back and forth
On an August evening
In Saco Maine
Along with the hens
Calling to each other
Across the street
About the eggs that
Still need to be laid
Tonight serve  
As reminder
Of all that remains
Undone and unfelt
Now that summer's life
Is more than half spent
The wine stands
All but overdrawn and
The dying leaf is soon
To be revenant

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Trembling Blue Flower

The Blue Flower trembles
It knows not what to do
The moment you look at it
It begins to change
Flushed with vermillion

A trembling blue flower
Each petal tells a different story
Much like a lightning strike
It denotes a singular destiny

Die Blaue Blume zittert
Sie weiß nicht, was zu tu
In dem Moment, Sie es betrachten
Es beginnt sich zu verändern
Mit Zinnoberrot Flushed

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Party of the First Part

There’s the party of the first part
And there’s the party of the second
No matter what sort of loco weed
Shakespeare happened to be smoking
While composing his verse
I’ve decided once again
To partake of more of the same
Ecstatic freedom of speech
However easy or hard
It may be to come by

There’s the party of the first
And there’s the party
Of the last resort too
It makes no difference
What else you
Happen to be doing
When Yama comes calling

In the end it’s your choice
Not that it matters much
To indulge or abstain
At best it's a semi-vegetative
State we all end up in
Any way you
Look at it

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

By way of explaining at least the first verse of this poem, I read a news story online this morning (you can read the full story here) about how an academic researcher in Australia (government funded no doubt) has just published a paper which strongly suggests the Bard of Avon may have been smoking some fine Virginia bud when he penned his very best plays.  The bud, so the researchers claim, had been brought back to Merry Old England by Sir Walter Raleigh.  To toke or not to toke, that is the question.  The evidence supporting the claim that Shakespeare was a pot smoker consists of molecular analysis of clay pipe stems that were recently excavated from the great Bard's back yard, which show trace evidence of cannibus sativa residue.  The paper also cites Shakespeare's Sonnet 76 for additional textual support of their claim:

Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name

Sonnet 76 (in pertinent part)

Saturday, August 8, 2015

An Excerpt from a Work in Progress

I wrote the following poem in the course of working on my new book - another work of non-fiction, but this time the book as a whole will not be in poetic form.  In any case, the book's first section is devoted to a discussion of Daoism and that's how I came to write the following poem. 

Ode to the Dao

Striving to be secure
Only exposes you further
So the latest tech in turn
Attracts the latest hacks
All of which by the Dao  
Can be fully foreseen

Everything brings
Its opposite to fruition
Contrasts propel and 
Propagate the entire
Realm of 10,000 things

Teaching us that
All such distinctions
Lovely as they may be
Are trivial in the grand scheme 
Like a peacock’s plumage

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Words Written in Early August (while remembering a certain snowy evening)

Nor is the quality of suffering
Strained in the least when
Humidity grips the city streets
And sweat beads on 
Our collective brow
I hear it too in
The sluggish cries
Outside the casement window
And the random honks
Of taxis passing by
Dulled by the effort
Of getting wherever
It is the passengers
Need to go

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Here's a link to a prior poem that I was reminded of earlier this morning: 

Poem for a Snowy Evening