YUN MAN’S EVERY DAY IS A GOOD DAY

Pause and consider why so many questions
require you, you feel, to consult your watch,
to call up a calendar, to appoint time.
Time has no appointments, time is not
an arrow, though we strive always to aim it,
to send it flying in our desired direction.
Time is a point in space, surrounded by
all ten directions, going toward none of them.
Ask why this moment is not enough, why you need
the next though it does not exist.
What are you trying to escape by searching
for tomorrow, lingering in yesterday?
Yesterday no longer exists, so why
do you assume tomorrow does, and what
of this moment, which exists only now,
and what of the red leaf sitting
in mid-air awaiting your awed attention?

A reflection on Case 6 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)

THE POEM

The poem, all too often,
suffers from a solitariness that
borders on despair, alone
in a world that otherwise offers
no peace or quiet contemplaton.

The poem does not wish this,
it prefers to be the center
of attention in the midst
of all that is happening
at any given moment.

The poem never expected
to have to struggle so much
for even the smallest audience,
and knows it will be a battle
holding attention if it finds one.

The poem knows it has much
to say, that it has seen more
than most eyes could appreciate,
but has no voice, and thus
dies its slow death in silence.

PARTY

In my dreams I am invited
to an almost endless cycle
of parties where I always fit in
and share attention as I give it.

It’s different in my day life, where
I draw only the occasional invitation,
and then usually as the plus one,
and I am expert at finding corners,

where I can be observer, not
observed, and need not worry
about finding a bon mot, that sounds
Inane the moment it is spoken.

My dream parties seem every
bit as real as all those others, but
I am not obligated to bring a bottle, have
a better time, and save a fortune on wine.

MESA MORNING

Out here, he warned,
you should always be on the lookout
for snakes by day, not that they
will go out of their way to attack you,
but stray into their territory
and the Western Diamondback
will give you a quick lesson in awareness.
They hide among the scrub sage
and in the arroyos, but you still
walk for this kind of beauty
demands your attention regardless.
And at night, he added,
don’t stray too far for the coyotes
wander freely looking for rabbits
and small game, and though you
would be too large a meal,
you’d still be worth a taste.
You are in their home, after all.


For Something Different, a new bird photo each day, visit my other blog:
Bird-of-the-day.com 

THAT MOMENT

There is always that moment
when I stand stock-still,
afraid to move, the poised camera
a lead weight on my hands, arms
emaciated hammocks dangling
from shoulders inviting something
that will not come into focus.

The Great Blue heron, who is the sole
focus of my attention, stares at me,
or through or perhaps past me,
with a patience I try failingly
to emulate, knowing I will
look away, lower the camera, see
an egret, an ibis, someone
who will give me pause, and
the heron will take flight and I
with twitch of finger will capture
that place that she so recently occupied.


For Something Different, a new bird photo each day, visit my other blog:

Bird-of-the-day.com 

RESEARCH

She is a small woman
dressed in white, save for black
platform slingback pumps
and cherry red eyeglass frames.
She hunches forward in her seat
seeming as though she might collapse,
pouring over tables and graphs –
biochemical research papers.
You measure the depth of her attention
by the frequency with which she  pulls
single strands of hair from her banded ponytail,
strokes them gently, then, as if noticing they
have gone astray, tries to tuck them back in.
She pauses this ritual only to annotate
the paper’s margins in mechanical pencil
in a small, cramped hand, barely legible.
You know she has reached the paper’s conclusion
when she strokes that soft space
between those in upper lip
as though a teenage boy hoping
one day soon to grow a mustache.

THE WEIGHT

There is a heaviness to the sky
a weightiness belied
by the gray of the clouds,
even the departing sun
seems to whisper that it
will be replaced by rain in short order.
You feel the weight bearing down,
as the heat of the day dissipates,
and although the first drops
have not yet fallen, you know
that it is best to be within
when the rain begins
for it will do so without warning
and with little care
for your presence,
for this is how Spring
demands your attention.

AFTER

He sits still
demanding your attention.
He stares at you with green eyes
and a defiant look, saying
you are a visitor here,
this is our world
so do not abuse your privilege
of sharing this space with us.
We were here long
before you arrived
and our kind will
be here long after
you depart, although
we do not comprehend
why you always seem
to want to rush
yourself headlong
into extinction.

RED EYE

No matter how hard
you look at maps
you cannot find
that evanescent border
that divides weariness
from exhaustion. You
need no papers to slip across,
no guards or fences will greet you,
you may be well across
before anyone notices.
The return journey
is harder still
for you won’t have marked
your way, and the bramble
of phone calls, the thicket
of absurdities that
demand your attention
will constantly ensnare you.
Still, it is wise to pause
and see where, who are you
are you Schroedinger
or are you the cat.

TEMPUS IN A TEAPOT

If you’ve been paying attention,
you already know that I
have always hated Latin, and not

merely because I never took it, but
because I grew tired of being told
to seize the day. It wasn’t like I

could put a leash on it – time tends
not to remain static, and since it
has no legs, it certainly doesn’t march.

Mostly, it’s all I can do to get through
a day, chasing after it as best I can,
and though I’ll never catch it, I

can follow in its wake, never looking
back or too far forward but never,
ever making haste quickly or otherwise.