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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 ...

Sunday, April 28, 2019

A Song for Huang Bo

It's a dream of the absurd
Enlightenment is bewilderment
And it begins right here
Unsullied by thoughts or words
Truth emoted freely
A song of the womb
A song for Huang Bo
Or someone else's poem
Remotely overheard

Oh yeah you see
I never had control
Not-me it seems
Is who I was before
I went to school

Now unlearned I'm free
Like a dog off the leash
That takes the long way home
The streets look familiar
But somehow rearranged
Not good not bad
Just part of this pure land
Part of this ineluctable prior
Reference frame

From New Songs, Smash Hits by Brad Melamed

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Past That's Present Still ( a lament for twilight in the garden)

Has there ever been A more perfect spring day Than this? I mean while
The climate is heading us
To wrack and ruin and
We will have a constitutional Crisis upon our hands soon The tulips and daffodils Are dancing sublimely In the late afternoon sun
The way things were is passing
Right before our eyes but
(if only for a little while) it
Keeps offering us a showcase
Of staggering beauty

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Path of Apology

How would it feel to walk by
Your younger self
Without so much
As a hint of recognition
The many scars given
And received
To be granted
Such new lease on life
That is the power
Of the path of Apology
And forgiveness

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Spring Sleep (by Meng Hao Ran)

From spring sleep
I awake before dawn
To a world filled
With birdsong

A stormy night
Wind and rain I recall
But of ten thousand blossoms
I wonder how many have fallen



A very simple poem, a nursery rhyme really, written by Meng Hao Ran in the 8th century.  It's still one of the first poems recited by young Chinese students when they are learning to read.  Yet I can't think of any poem that better captures the wonder of spring awakening.

This morning brings an additional bounty.  It's April 16th and my taxes are paid for the year.  Soon Passover matzoh and Easter peeps will appear.  I thought peak magnolia season had already come and gone, but this morning I woke to discover that our magnolia tree has reached a previously unimaginable and even fuller state of bloom, with yet more blossoms open on the bough and even more petals strewn across the lawn.  How much longer can this go on?  I pinch myself because truly sometimes I wonder if I might not still be dreaming ....

photo by Marissa Bridge

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Poem Written While Preparing to Pay Taxes

Destiny slices forward
Like a sloop in choppy water
But when she turns
She turns hard the other way
Another year has come
And gone with the paying
Of last year's tithes and taxes
Now with the wind square our back
We begin a new growing season
The sky a chalky gray
Earth still a blank slate


This has been a peak year for me (so far) when it comes to taxes.  It's not about how much money I'm paying in taxes.  Indeed, as my income has fallen precipitously in recent years, so too has my own tax burden. But this year is nonetheless a peak year for me as a taxpayer because I find myself in the midst of preparing to file five separate sets of returns -- more than double the rate of accountability from what I'm usually accustomed to.  This includes joint returns for me and my wife, another set for my younger son (no longer deductible but still he expects me to handle it for him), as well as another set for my mother (who no longer has the mental stamina to deal with it), another for our co-op building and still another set for a friend's estate that I'm responsible for administering.  So you can think of peak tax year as a function of being at a certain stage of life when you carry the responsibility for whatever property you have accumulated for yourself plus responsibility for a younger and older generation, as well as for friends of your own generation who have already passed on.  Whatever the sociological reasons for the phenomenon may happen to be, peak tax year has taken far too much of my attention the last two weeks and I am very much looking forward to April 16th!