October 14, 2014
Showing its back and showing its front

Two sides of a leaf Daishin brought home for me today:

I remember this from Ryokan:

Showing its back

and showing its front,

a falling maple leaf.

September 26, 2014
Gratitude to T.S. Eliot on his 126th birthday


T.S. Eliot was born on this day in 1882. He’s my favorite poet, but that doesn’t say enough about his impact on me. If I hadn’t read him, I don’t know that I would have found my way to Zen practice, so, as well as being one of those who made me decide to devote my life to writing as a contemplative practice, he may have saved my life. Although he died before I was born, I consider him one of my best friends.

You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
     You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
     You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
     You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
     You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

May 12, 2014
Poem for Mother’s Day

(from Traffic and Murder)

I think I was three years old
when my mother punched me in the face
so hard I rolled across the floor
and under a chair, and knocked 
the chair over.

I don’t know 
if that was the first time
she did it, or only
the first time
my memory held on to it.

She hated me, always.
She told me with her words,
her fists and her feet. 

She was fat,
had a mouth full of brown teeth
and she smelled of piss,
sweat and cigarettes.

She has been dead for years,
turned to ashes
and given to the wind.

A wind blows this afternoon, 
and it smells of grass and rain.

I make an offering of incense,
and I bow to her memory.

April 11, 2014

She came into the kitchen with the sky

crumpled in her hand.

That’s the sky, I said. Don’t throw it away.

It’s empty, she said

and tossed it in the trash.

April 4, 2014

More than thirty years ago, a young Paul Reekie was still making avant-garde/transgressive/punk music in addition to his poetry. He put out this song as a single, and gave me a copy of it on a wild night in Edinburgh in 1991. I remember playing it to a musician friend (and fan of Paul’s) shortly after, and he said, in quiet awe, “That redefines weird.”

February 10, 2014
Love and Rain is #39 bestseller in Kindle's Religious & Inspirational Poetry category

I’m right behind Kahlil Gibran!

January 30, 2014

cold room,
unlit logs
in the fireplace

January 25, 2014
Robert Burns: Scottish Zen

Today is the birthday of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, and one of the great Zen poets of the West. Sadly, I haven’t managed to find any vegetarian haggis in Portland.

But pleasures are like poppies spread,
You seize the flower, its bloom is shed;
Or like the snow falls in the river,
A moment white - then melts for ever;
Or like the borealis race,
That flit ere you can point their place;
Or like the rainbow’s lovely form
Evanishing amid the storm. 

January 12, 2014
This afternoon I'll be on Radio Boise's poetry show

I’ll recite some of my poems, and talk with poet/host Daphne Stanford.

January 7, 2014
"A haiku is not a poem, it is not literature; it is a hand beckoning, a door half-opened, a mirror wiped clean. It is a way of returning to nature, to our moon nature, our cherry blossom nature, our falling leaf nature, in short, to our Buddha nature. It is a way in which the cold winter rain, the swallows of evening, even the very day in its hotness, and the length of the night, become truly alive, share in our humanity, speak their own silent and expressive language."

— R.H. Blyth

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