TIPPING THE WATER BOTTLE 無門關 四十

These few words
gathered neatly on a scrap
of simple paper,
what do you call it?

Answer carefully for you response
may carry the keys
to the doors of Mount Tai-i.
Better still, upend
the water bottle, watch
the ink and water form
a gentle pool into which
no pebble drops.


A reflelction on case 40 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)

SOUTHERN MOUNTAIN

When you visit the Southern Mountain
what will you say
of its Northern brother?
Returning northward what words
will best describe the Southern peak?

Answer carefully after much thought
or remain silent, both choices
are yours to select, as both
mountains caress the passing clouds
and reach out for the sun
which neither may grasp.


A reflection on case 42 of the Iron Flute Koans

DAIJI’S INNER CULTURE

Eyes can look within
and discover a boundless universe
but the tongue alone
can speak only sounds
that go false
as they dance away unseen.

The silence of zazen
speaks the dharma,
the teisho is offered mutely.

The space between
eye and tongue
is but three inches
or an unbridgeable void.


A reflection on Case 15 of the Iron Flute Koans.

ROAD FOOD

In Hawaii I could stare for hours at a Taro field,
the bent back of a farmer, and the same a gentle fold
of spine I saw from the Shinkansen, Tokyo to Osaka
amid the fields of yellow shoots, later rice in
some bowl, perhaps even mine, or in Antwerp as the chef
patiently picked over the trays of mussels in the market
knowing just which would suit his needs, all having
a remarkable sameness to my eye and nose.
On a road just outside San Juan, near the beach
with surfable waves, the woman stood bent in the heat
over a 50 gallon drum turn stove, cooking the pork
tucking it into the dough and placing it in the fryer,
smiling through her few remaining teeth, offering pies
that we dared not resist, knowing the sea
would soon enough be our napkin.
This morning, as I took my slow walk
to the coffee shop, a jay sitting on a resting fence
stared at me for a bit, not unnerving,
persistent, and I imagine him the king
of Taro, rice and fresh pies.

TEN FOLD PATH (PT. 2)

6.

Ox and man
walk the dusty
path to the small hut
sit along the fence
and look deeply
into the bottomless
night sky
as they have
for the endless
journey

埃だらけの道をたどって
男と牛は小屋をめざす
塀にもたれて腰かけ
果てのない夜空を見つめる
終わりのない旅路で
いつもそうしてきたように

7.

Each morning
the man senses the ox
is in the pen, the ox
smells the man
in the small
slowly collapsing hut.
there is no ox
there is no hut

毎朝男は
牛舎に牛の気配を感じ
牛はゆっくりと朽ち果てていく小屋の中に
男の息づかいを感じとる
小屋はなく、牛もいない

8.
No man
そして男も

9.

a brilliant sky
painted neon
a rhapsodic stream
stones clattering together
in equipoise rhythm
the cedar smells faintly
sweet in the honeyed rain
of early autumn.
All is present, unnamed
unnamable.

青く澄み渡った空
滔々と流れる小川に
小石が奏でる単調なリズム
かすかな杉の香りが
初秋のやさしい雨に甘く漂う
何もかもがここにあり
名前はいらない

10.

Old man, now,
steps toward the market
one among hundreds
he sips sake
speaks to many
many men, women, children
many oxen emerge.

年老いた男は市場に向かう
時折酒を飲みながら
数知れぬ男や女、子供たちと
道すがら言葉を交わしながら
ふと気づくと、
どこからかたくさんの牛が現れる