Monday, January 20, 2020

THIS MOMENT 


This moment
an emptiness,
silence against
the storm.

Listen. Listen.

The small things
shall speak.



AFTER THE CHINESE MASTERS 

AFTER SOME LINES
FROM "SAD SONG"
OF THE YUEH-FU
FROM THE HAN DYNASTY

I want to cross the river,
no boat.

I want to go home,
no one there.

If I would speak,
no words.

Within me
the wheels of a cart

grind and turn,
grind and turn.

~

AFTER SOME LINES
FROM T'AO CH'IEN'S
"BEARER'S SONG"

All the mourners
make their way home

and still the family
carries its sorrow.

Where do the dead go
after the dying, after

the body is given
unto the mountains?

~

AFTER HSIEH T'IAO'S
"VIEWING THE THREE LAKES"

The red clouds
of sunset

again
on the water.

From up here
I can watch

the birds gather.
I can see

the reach of
wide plains

around me,
of the river

and its islands.
I can see

spring coming,
still yellow

with autumn.
Evening brings

its sadness
and I think

of old friends.
What does it

amount to,
any of this,

I wonder.

~

AFTER SOME LINES
FROM T'AO CH'IEN'S
"DRINKING WINE: NO. 5"

South Mountain
surprises me
as evening

comes on, the
birds returning
wing to wing.

All that's true
is true, right
here, right now.

Which I would
tell you, if
there were words.

~


THE OLD POET SPEAKS OF HIS ART 


Only
a few

words, like
rock, like

tree and
grass. No

need for
verbs -- the

stillness
being

enough.
No need

for motion
when

standing
in the

moment
is the

moment.



Sunday, January 19, 2020

THE POET 


I do not want
to explain

everything.
I want only

to honor
the small gods

at my door.



SMALL DEATH 


That they say
it is a small

death is the
mistake they make

understanding
what this

terrible silver
moment

between us
comes to.



Saturday, January 18, 2020

HOW TO 


Put on
solitude

like a
jacket

and lean
into

the silence
like wind.



EVERY BED 


Every bed
is a death

bed. Each breath
the last one.



Friday, January 17, 2020

INSPIRATION 


How
shape

what
know

nothing
left.



THE MOUSE 


The mouse of your
passion, I hear

it rustling there
in the leaves. Come

out, come out, says
the hungry hawk.



AFTER THE CHINESE MASTERS 

AFTER SOME LINES
BY CHENG HSIEH

A dog barks
at the falling stars

and wind darkens
the distant sound of flute.

~

REARRANGING SOME LINES
OF "IN THE WILDS, A DEAD DOE"
FROM THE SHIH CHING

She is urgent
as spring, pretty

as jade. She is
ready for you,

but go slow. Don't
make the dogs bark.

~

REARRANGING SOME LINES
FROM CHU YAUN'S "LAMENT FOR
YING" IN "THE NINE DECLARATIONS"
OF THE CH'U TZ-U

I follow the wind,
follow the stream,

my heart knotted,
leaving home.

~

REARRANGING SOME LINES
FROM "WALK ON WALK ON AGAIN"
IN THE YUEH-FU'S NINETEEN
ANCIENT POEMS

A wanderer
doesn't arrive,

doesn't return.
Thinking of you

has made me old.
And suddenly

it's evening.

~

AFTER SOME LINES
FROM "O HEAVENS!"
OF THE YUEH-FU
FROM THE HAN DYNASTY

When the mountains
wear down,

when the rivers
dry up,

when winter
thunders

and it snows
in summer,

when you can't tell
earth from sky,

only then
would I leave you.

~


Thursday, January 16, 2020

TONIGHT, POETS 


You want it
to make sense

but you don't
know it will.

Keep singing
and say

God-damn.
Recite

your poems
and fly

away home.



THEY ARE ALL 


They are all
poems about love

or about loss,
or perhaps

love is loss,
loss is love,

Or perhaps
what we want

is what we
cannot have,

and that is
what this is

all about.



Wednesday, January 15, 2020

THE OWL 


The owl
knows
the night.

Wisdom
is a
soft-

feathered
flight
through

darkness
to that
quietest

of moments,
a mouse.



LET ME 


Let me
unbutton you.

Let me
find the place

that shivers
the silver

sear of our
loving.

Let me
say with my hands,

my lips, what
cannot be said

without you.



Tuesday, January 14, 2020

THE PEARL 


I have seen
the pearl
which gleams.

The world
shines in its
loveliness.

Look away,
you lose your
place in it.



HIS POEMS 


Each was thinner,
meeker, more full

of emptiness
until at last

the silence, when he
had nothing more

he wished to say.



Monday, January 13, 2020

POET 


He is
none other

than he
has always

been, a
maker

of poems
in the cold

solitude
where poems

are made.



AFTER THE CHINESE MASTERS 


AFTER SOME LINES
BY LIN HUNG

Moon above
the river.

I think of
you tonight.

~

AFTER 'WINE CUP
AND BRIGHT MOON'
BY SHEN CHOU

The moon falls
out of the sky

into my cup
of wine. When

the wine is gone
the moon is too,

and life goes on.

~

AFTER SOME LINES
BY T'AN YUAN-CH'UN

Trees
cannot hide

the moon's
sorrow.

Autumn
comes across

the river.

~

AFTER SOME LINES
BY CHU YI-TSUN

When the wind
dies the trees

stand idle.
The monks have

nothing to
do but eat

their supper.

~

AFTER SOME LINES
BY NA-LAN HSING-TE

The west wind
ages the maples.

To whom can I
speak of grief?

~


RAGGED- 


Ragged-
ness is
the only

promise
of this
effort,

that words
fall which
way they

will with-
out care
for any-

thing but
themselves,
certainly

not for
the instructions
of those

who would
restrict
our silence.



Sunday, January 12, 2020

DESIRE 


This is
what I

want, this
wanting.

Blessings
on those

who leave
me that.



INSIDE THE STONE 


Inside the stone
is a light which

makes the world.
Come down to

the water and see,
it says, though

it doesn't say where.



Saturday, January 11, 2020

AFTER DREAMING 


Let's assume
the sky flies
and the hawk

stays still.
The wind knows
nothing

of distance.
The cries of
small creatures

can barely
be heard and
the grasses

are gods. Such
is the world
I wake to.



LAST INSTRUCTIONS 


And when you think
the silence

has gone out
of you, cut

yourself open
and listen.



Friday, January 10, 2020

AFTER DARK 


Who would we be
without the moon?

What tides would
pulls us, where?

How would we know
to find our way home?



AFTER THE CHINESE MASTERS 


AFTER SOME LINES
BY HSIU CH'I-CHI

Her seductive art,
that smile, the wink --

ten thousand blossoms
fall, embarrassed.

~

AFTER TWO LINES
BY YUAN HAO-WEN

The heart
is empty.

Autumn's
shadow

moves the
bamboo.

~

AFTER THREE LINES
BY YUN K'AN TZU

Dream an empire
of ants. Wake to know

the world is dream.

~

AFTER SOME LINES
BY YUN-K'AN TZU

Pure as
darkness,

the old
man, and

nothing
to hold

the moon's
companion,

drunk and
dancing.

~

AFTER OTHER LINES
BY YUN-K'AN TZU

Only some onions.
Contentment my

portion, sweeter than
what the world offers.

~


ART OF THE POEM 


As if you know
who it is

who is speaking
you write it down.

As if you know
what it means,

which you don't.



Thursday, January 09, 2020

READ ANNA AKHMATOVA 


Read Anna Akhmatova
if you will,

but you must
be worthy.



MY FATHER SAID 


My father said,
"You told too much,"

which I did, so it
would not be lost.



Wednesday, January 08, 2020

ANOTHER MORNING 


Still, like
the moment

the world
needs us,

like water
at rest,

like the
atomic

heart
of love.



FAR OFF 


Far off
the sound of a train

like a memory
fading.



Tuesday, January 07, 2020

WINTER MORNING 


A grey
canvas

of sky.
Birds are

the wind's
singing,

holes in
the light,

moments
of God

in the
morning

and sweet
fullness

promised
all day.



THE AMAZON, BURNING 


What was gift
is monster,

that consuming
fire.

O god of this place,
take us now.



Monday, January 06, 2020

MONK'S TRUTH 


There is
mountain.

There is
not

mountain.
Nothing

you need
needs you,

except
silence.

You must
step in-

to it.



AFTER THE CHINESE MASTERS 


AFTER YANG WAN-LI'S
"STANZA WRITTEN IN JEST"

The flowers
like bright coins
paid to poets,

which buy them
only grief.

~

ON TWO LINES
BY YANG WAN-LI

Sound of a flute
in the empty mountains--

breath of the tiger.

~

ON TWO LINES FROM
YANG WAN-LI'S
'SONGS OF DEPRESSION'

I chant my new poems
then fall to sleep.

I am a butterfly
chasing the wind.

~

AFTER SOME LINES
BY KU-T'AI-CH'ING

Autumn comes
and my grief

comes with it.
The waning moon.

My cold bed.

~

AFTER FIVE LINES
BY HSIU CH'I-CHI

I have returned
to farming.

Why pretend to be
anyone else?

These trees are my friends.
These birds, the flowers.

~


GIFTS IN COZUMEL 


Syllables
I don't understand

in Spanish,
wind and sun

and ocean,
a fragrant kind

of stillness.



Sunday, January 05, 2020

EARLIER 


Earlier
than darkness,

the silence
this evening.



COZUMEL 


A smell of limes
and auto fumes,

wind off the water.



Saturday, January 04, 2020

SHE HUGS 


She hugs her-
self as if

holding small
owls in her

blouse, tender-
ness and fire

in her eyes.



MORE EVEN 


More even
than silence

the longing
which goes on

long after
the loss.



Friday, January 03, 2020

THE RAIN COMES 


The rain comes
again, and

again its
meaning is

lost to me.
There is some

blessing in
this moment,

I suppose,
some hope for

something, yet
always it

eludes me.
I just stand

here, alone,
getting wet.



AFTER THE CHINESE MASTERS 


AFTER TWO LINES
BY OU-YANG HSIU

Spring confusion
of butterflies,

bees, and blue sky,
blossoms about to

burst into flame.

Translated whole poem elsewhere, differently.

~

AFTER A LINE
BY WANG AN-SHIH

The sound of a flute,
this sadness

saying good-bye.

~

AFTER TWO LINES
BY SU SHIH

Wanderers
searching

for where I
have wandered

need find
only

where the
mountain sleeps.

~

ON THREE LINES
BY LI CH'ING-CHAO

The poet working words
and a cup of cheap wine,

her taste for idleness.

~

AFTER SOME LINES
BY LI CH'ING-CHAO

Evening. The moon
hovers. The blinds

are drawn. Still
the fallen petals,

their lingering
scent, this moment

to be kept.

~


FINALLY 


Finally
it leaves

only
silence

where the
word had

been. Wind.



Thursday, January 02, 2020

SOMEONE CLIMBS DOWN 


Someone climbs down
out of the trees

standing in surprise
two-legged on

a great green plain,
the hot sun at

him or her, fear
a taste like dirt

so close upon
the earth, then he

or she takes those
first steps coming

towards us.



ANOTHER 


Another
moment.

Wait for it.
The silence.



Wednesday, January 01, 2020

SOMEWHERE: THE BEGINNING 


Where the water
recedes and sand

settles and hardens,
where what was

the edge is now
center, where one

color is darker
than the others,

where life began
and some day may

end, this place
no one knows and

no one wants to.



ALWAYS 


Always
too much

when not
enough

would
suffice.



TO BE READ EACH NEW YEAR AND AGAIN WHEN YOU HEAR OF MY DEATH 

Related image

I wish only to
come back as grass
on a wind-swept

plain. Death is what
death is. My atoms
will dance again

in some sun, will
be pulled into
a black hole, be

attracted to
the Great Attractor
and whatever

the Attractor is
attracted to.
This is beyond

my perfect knowing
in this body,
of course, yet all

the stars assure me:
they are the only
angels there are.


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