BARRY GRAHAM, author of books including THE BOOK OF MAN (an American Library Association best book of the year), THE WRONG THING (finalist for SPINETINGLER MAGAZINE best novel of the year), WHEN IT ALL COMES DOWN TO DUST (a MYSTERY PEOPLE best book of the year) and KILL YOUR SELF: LIFE AFTER EGO, an Amazon Kindle bestseller in the Zen category.

Tanka

The monastery cook
was chanting the Tenzo Kyokun
when a splash of water from the pan
burned the sight from his eye.
No one knows, ever.

Tanka

The light bulb burns out.
The sun will burn out.
Where did the light begin?
This body, mind and self
will last as long as they are needed.

Summer Night, Jisei

Almost ten at night, and the temperature isn’t far below a hundred degrees. Dogs barking in the neighborhood, and I think about my favorite jisei (Japanese death poem):

Where did that dog
that used to be here go?
I thought about him
once again tonight
before I went to bed.

- Shimaki Akahiko (1876-1926)

Tanka

Swish of windshield wipers
in a summer storm -
he waits for the light to change
and remembers her crying
as he left her in the hospital.

Tanka

Bird-shit lands on the Buddha statue,
or the Buddha-statue lands on the
bird-shit. Neither lands on either,
but observers holy and profane ignore
Buddha-nature in favor of story.

Tanka

She sleeps restlessly. He sleeps not at all.
Eyes closed. Heat of her breath on his face.
Bed, house, street, planet. The diameter
of the observable universe is at least
93 billion light years.