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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 ...

Saturday, March 30, 2019

A Few Words for Boris

Our feet are firmly planted
In the underworld
Our heads drift aloft
In the clouds
We never know exactly
What it is we are looking at
Until for so long it's been gone
As the dream waking cycle
Keeps spinning round and round

Friday, March 29, 2019

What Do You Think?

Thinking about death on the way home, I almost got sideswiped by an impatient landscaper in his van, as I composed this short poem.

But then again
Death might resemble
Being put on hold
By customer service
For what seems 
Like an eternity
And no less frustrating
Denied the power of
Direct action and complaint
Only through the agency of others
To retain a grasp on
The course of events 

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Panther - in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris

The world probably has little need for another translation of this great Rilke poem but tonight I decided to take it out for a turn around the dance floor.  No better way to understand a poem than to translate it ....

Constantly circling
Passing bars back and forth
His vision grows bleary
Held by each of the ten
Thousand bars passing
While beyond them
Nothing more

Retracing his steps
Over and over again
With deliberate stride
Pads landing softly
Confined to this pattern
As in a ritual dance
Circling the center
 Never once advancing
His great will dazed

Albeit some times
The film quietly lifts
From his eyes and then
Like an image transfixed
His body tenses in silence
As he listens to the beating 
Of his being's very heart

In case you enjoyed this, here's another translation of a poem from Rilke's menagerie -- this one about a swan.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sea Conditions are Calm

Sea conditions are calm
Only moderate chop
To walk on the ferry
By a car or a plan
Except to disembark
At a distant port
Without a care

The engine stirs
From deep within
Throttling in reverse
My entire body trembles
With a hum that originates
From far underneath the deck

Sunday Morning Reply to Mary Oliver

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

     -- Mary Oliver

Each day awaking reincarnate
Each day a lifetime unto itself
Wild and precious but far from singular
Across many oceans of lifetimes
We add to the carapace of karma
We carry along on our backs

Friday, March 8, 2019

Each Tree That Speaks to Me (for Marissa)

Each tree speaks to me
More or less
Nothing but a cloven root
That has chosen to
Grasp at the soil and
Address itself skyward
Here and now

So we too have planted ourselves
With each new painting or poem
More or less snugly recorded
In words paper string and stone
The tropes of our inner light
Searching for an outward form

Our bark itself starts quivering
At first hint of approaching dawn

The Fine Art of Translating Silence

As Zhuang Zhou said one day to Guan Yin
The better part of any translation
Lies in words left unsaid
The fortune still inside the cookie
Half-baked inside my head
And so it is with the fine art
Of translating silence

Implicit trumps explicit
Everyday of the week
Except Sunday
Or whatever day
It happens to be when
You first wake up and find
Your inner and outer beauty
Already in perfect conformity

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Our Daily Chleb

Chleb – the polish word for bread
Sounds equally inviting to my ear
As our native English sound
One of the first five or ten words
I ever learned to say
A source of pleasure
Best savored in the flesh
Bringing forth a glottal hum 
From deep in your throat
So deep in your chest too
Especially sinking your teeth
Into a fresh dark loaf
So sign and signified derive 
Their mutual strength
From the same root source --
The chakra of life itself
That sprouts from the ground
And you carry home underarm
But to speak of it still is
The least of its charm