Saturday, August 07, 2021

quiet and simple

As Tibetan bells solemnly sound, from distant edges of a spaceless clearing where all worlds settle in together, this:

The River Village

      by Tu Fu 


The river makes a bend and encircles the village with its current.
All the long Summer, the affairs and occupations of the river village are quiet and simple. 
The swallows who nest in the beams go and come as they please. 
The gulls in the middle of the river enjoy one another, they crowd together and touch one another.
My old wife paints a chess-board on paper. 
My little sons hammer needles to make fish-hooks. 
I have many illnesses, therefore my only necessities are medicines. 
Besides these, what more can so humble a man as I ask?


There is no place to go that is not here

 No one and nothing can be left out

The sound of the bell is heartbeat of great emptiness

Crossing the divide

Friday, August 06, 2021

sandokai and transfiguration



a place

       of resolve

transfiguration (inside out outside in) revisited

                         (a trinity of waka)


Bursts light through surface

Christ (and Krishna) transfigure 

Reveal all through each —

What hides is no longer stealth

What can be offered is seen


But American

Little Boy and Fat Man bombs

Mire Christ and Krishna —

Celebrating destruction

Rationalizing cruel death


There is no beauty

In war suffering and pain

Replace the humane —

Resolve rather one’s zazen

Embody cross the divide

Thursday, August 05, 2021

to pass the time

 The playwright in 1955 wrote of my 1962 experience in the mailroom of NYLIC in Manhattan.

One’s life in words.

Wraiths sitting around sixty years practicing their lines.

 KENNETH, to Larry: Ah, you can’t blame the poor feller; sixteen years of his life in this place.

LARRY: You said it.

KENNETH: There’s a good deal of monotony connected with the life, isn’t it?

LARRY: You ain’t kidden’.

KENNETH: Oh, there must be a terrible lot of Monday mornings in sixteen years. And no philosophical idea at all, y’know, to pass the time?

(—from, A Memory Of Two Mondays, One Act Play by Arther Miller, 1955)

All those men and women in my interstice year — my tutors and fellow thespians at pinning table off Madison Avenue.

(Mac and Della, Joe and Franko, Ed and Frankie, Eddie and Helen, Chico and Vinney)

The pedagogy of it! 

Proscenium steps circling false starts.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

never seen you before

          (a tanka for 7 second amnesiac)

 Clive Wearing knows now

nothing before, and now goes

into nothing now

You might think ah, zen alights!

But you would be wrong, ask him

….  …   …

 (footnote, spoken by daughter: “It must be really frightening, to be constantly waking up to something you do not recognize, every seven seconds…”)

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

tanka (two of one mind)

In life, suffering,

In death a cross with harsh pain —

Two men, one teaching.

What are we to make of it — 

Buddha, Christ, their agreement

under the shade of overhead branches

The Irish zen peace professor sends eight poems for August.  With dice and slice I respond:

Go raibh maith agat



 “the Sun” from whom 

nothing is hidden.

….  ….  …


Earthshaker, you

the gods endowed with double honor

to be tamer of steeds and savior of ships.

….  ….  …


Praise the body 

For still being a body 

And not a headstone. 

Praise the body, 

For being a body and not a police report

….  ….  …


Do you know

just how much we love you and are 

praying for your lives?

….  ….  …


My Willem,

between us, God has descended in all His atoms.

We have not yet learned to hold Him.

….  ….  …


Somebody in my soul is tortured, and demands a prayer. 

   So I jabber on and on 

   Senselessly until dawn.

….  ….  …


Forgiven, they go

free of you, and you of them;

….  ….  …


And those house-bound against infections

watch life come forth under the shade of overhead


...   ...   ...

Is fealsúnacht í an fhilíocht, is í an fhealsúnacht filíocht. *


...   ...   ...

* (Poetry is philosophy, philosophy is poetry.)


Morning news interview.

The good guys always win in the end. (Joe Scarborough quoting friend about America and Hollywood movies)

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else. (Churchill, quoted by Alexander Vindman)

The joy of recognition.

The irony of accurate perception.

One can hope, but it is an expensive state of mind.

Placing us in hock.

Monday, August 02, 2021

bees of the invisible

Sangha elder Doris sends this Monday Poem: 

Sonnet to Orpheus IX 


Only he whose bright lyre

has sounded in the shadows

may, looking onward, restore

his infinite praise.

Only he who has eaten

poppies with the dead

will not lose ever again

the gentlest chord.

Though the image upon the pool

often grows dim:

know and be still.

Inside the Double World

all voices become

eternally mild.

                                               Rainer Maria Rilke

                                               Translated by Stephen Mitchell



Just before his death Rilke wrote about the Double World: “We are continually overflowing toward those who preceded us, toward our origin, and toward those who seemingly come after us.... It is our task to imprint this temporary, perishable earth into ourselves so deeply, so painfully and passionately, that its essence can rise again invisibly, inside us. We are the bees of the invisible. We wildly collect the honey of the visible, to store it in the great golden hive of the invisible.”  (--Rilke from a letter to Halewicz, cf. we-are-bees-of-the-invisible-rilke-from-a-letter-to-halewicz)

Perhaps we are both at origin and at end. Perhaps our end is our beginning, our beginning our end.

In this moment, at this place, the zazen of breath and quiet watchfulness surrounds the whole with the part we occupy on our way through the infinite with love.

Sunday, August 01, 2021

linguistic hospitality

How far does translation go?

Will it metamorphose into a living thing?  

 In On Translation, Paul Ricoeur spells out important implications of this paradigm of linguistic hospitality.

Translation sets us not only intellectual work . . . but also an ethical problem. Bringing the reader to the author, bringing the author to the reader, at the risk of serving and of betraying two masters: this is to practice what I like to call linguistic hospitality. It is this which serves as a model for other forms of hospitality that I think resemble it: confessions, religions, are they not like languages that are foreign to one another, with their lexicon, their grammar, their rhetoric, their stylistics which we must learn in order to make our way into them? And is Eucharistic hospitality not to be taken up with the same risks of translation-betrayal, but also with the same renunciation of the perfect translation?    (Ricoeur 2006, 23), 

(—in ch.14, Translating Hospitality, A Narrative Task, by Richard Kearney, from Language and Phenomenology, Edited by Chad Engelland, 2021)

Can we find a home with a new being in a new understanding of Being? 

Will the palette carry a new hue into its workspace?

Are we willing to be connected, each to each to all?

as quick as that

 Crow complains dooryard

Flight, goes across Barnestown road

Silence flies away

name change

 Just like that July

Gone, now here this it’s Sunday — 

August, window sun