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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 ...

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

With the Twelfth Moon Rising

What with the Anthropocene it's become that much harder for us to remember what it means to be well aligned with what used to be the normal course of seasonal change.  That's one of the reasons I love this series of poems by Li He written more than a millennium ago, back in the midst of the Holocene.  Li He wrote one poem for each full moon in the course of the year, each poem in the series precisely observing the changing habiliments of the earth and moon over the progress of our full transit around the sun.  This is the twelfth and final poem in the series, as we are just on the verge of preparing to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  The twelfth moon marks the pivot, as the poet observes in the final stanza - we are still firmly in winter's grip, although the daylight hours are already noticeably beginning to lengthen, and the Yang power has begun the long march to its ascendency. 

The Twelfth Moon

The foot of day stretches
And shimmers splashing red
Across the sky

Meager but unrelenting
The frost extends
Under the Cassia trees

There’s only a hint of warmth
To dispel winter’s severity

Already the day lengthens
Even as we resign ourselves
To the long night ahead




Photo by Ramesh Anand

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Poem for a Monk With Stillness of Heart (by Fang Gan)

Here's a poem by a Chan monk named Fang Gan that I translated this morning.  This poem really captures an important part of the Chan way -- admittedly a tough ideal to adhere to - of living immersed in nature but steadfast and untransformed, unyielding even while being completely exposed.  And all the while having the presence of mind to compose such wonderful poems!

Over several lifetimes
In practice spent
Time and again
Composing the
Profoundest chants

Sitting in summer at one
With berries and moss
Walking in Chan through
Juniper and cypress forests

Entering deep into mountains
Where snow engulfs your head
Yet studying the Way remains
Your beginner's intent

Heart and mind firmly grounded
Steadfast and untransformed
A true disciple oblivious
To the incursion of heat or cold








Monday, January 22, 2018

A Collection of Tweets

Needlepoint in Concrete

Needlepoint in concrete
Nature makes its mark
Stitch by stitch

Photo by Robynne Limoges

The Tulip Wears a Crown

Not just regal in its bearing The tulip wears a crown Howsoever brief a monarch For all the world to see

Painting by Sir Peter Blake

Life Goes On ... And on

One hen forms a single egg
But a thousand hens
Perform a widening spiral
So life goes on ... and on

O Biomass That Gives the Lie

O biomass that gives the lie
Just how unsentient am I
Compared to your restless
Branches and shoots always
Reaching for the empty sky
And the obverse truth
Of your rhizomes and roots
Pursuing their destiny underfoot

(Drawing by David Harrison)

I Am the Nebulae

I am the nebulae
Upon first springing to life
I am the seven sisters still
Weeping within our cluster
I am the purest stardust
Shimmering even before it
Has been given a name

The Virus of Life

A green pandemic
Spring breaks out
Attacking the willow first
In a virulent virus of life

Painting by David Harrison

The Whorl of Life

Bared of its leaves
The winter oak persists
With its dancing
Bared to the wind
And to snow
All the better
It commits itself
To the whorl of life

Painting by Martin Jacobson

What She Saw in the Trees

A copse that might be
Copulating just as well
Denuded of leaves
Trunks leaning into
Each other forward
And aft alive to the
Thought that together
We are made a much greater
Living and heaving mass

By Georgia O'Keefe

The Leaning Trees

The trees just seemed
To be leaning into each other
On the road ahead as
If all together they had
Bowed in homage to those who
Had walked this road before

By David Harrison

The Lotus of all Travelers

On the pole boat

The Lotus of all travelers
Makes its way
Not stuck in the mud
But propelled by 
The simple act of
Reaching skyward 

Poem for Odilon Redon

I dreamed of blue poppies

Dying to release their fragrance

They drooped and sighed

And when morning came

Up to the very edge of night

The stems were bare and

The blossoms gone from sight

Poem for Gunnar Norman

A tree may be seen
As a leaf enlarged
In the right texture of light
Its trunk is but a giant stem
To hold the sum of all
Its leafy parts

Tweet for the Almost Full Moon

Whatever sense of order we possess

We owe to you Sister Moon
Reflective yet teaching us
To live more in the moment
Accepting of a fullness 
For which we always come
Either too late or too soon

Poem for #MotivationWednesday

In the ovaries of time
Every pebble is an egg
Destined to hatch
Bringing forth
New treasures
In the 3,000 realms 
Of Suchness
So diverse in kind

A Tweet for Matisse

Quod est desideratum
So the old master said
As he finagled death
With still more art
After taking to bed

A Shout Out to the Forest

The forest is no prison
But misprision to despair
The gathered trunks
Pose no bar to freedom
But serve as herald 
Of no constraint

A Tweet to the Rocky Coast

To the rocks
The waves paid
Showing homage
To the sheer endurance
Of the stolid earth

A Tweet to Energy's Passage

On a cellular level or
As viewed from outer space
The ghost map of our world 
Reveals the same scene of
Energy coursing through
The world's many veins