NO MIND IS THE WAY

If you think about it,
it will suddenly disappear,
if you do not think about it,
it will reappear, but do not
try and understand
for understanding can
only come from
the final surrender
of understanding.
It is the back of your head
in a mirrorless world
which others see
but you can not.


A reflection on case 76 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

WHERE, EXACTLY?

The one thing that will drive him crazy
is a sign with a star, or square,
or anything that says “You Are Here.”
The one place he has never been,
will never be, is standing on a map.
He admits he may be nearby,
but here is out of the question.
He’s never really sure where he is,
but he is always here, even
if no one else can be.
He would like to go there
sometime, but he knows that even
if he makes the journey when he arrives
he will be still be exactly here,
so why waste the effort.

UNTO TARSHISH

In this place
there is a fatted,
sacrificial silence.
It is the large
Jewish Cemetery
nestling the road
where Maryland
and the District are loosely
stitched together.
It is a small plot
goldenrod dirt
outskirting Lisbon.

This ground is sacred
not for the blessing
of one who
has taken the tallit
of holiness.
The sanctity of this
ground leaches
from the simple pine
boxes that return
with the body
to the soil.

The stones, mostly simple
with neatly incised
Hebrew inscriptions
are all blank
to me, worn
smooth by memory
denied.
I place my ear
carefully to each, wanting
to hear a voice,
a fractured whisper
that will resonate
in the hollow spaces.

I pass by those
with shared names
for if he or she is here
each must share
the isolation
they willed me.
I look
at the faces
of passing mourners —
none resemble
the morning mirror.

I grow tired
of the search, sit
in the paltry shade
of the ricinus plant
knowing we both will
be gone by sundown.


First Appeared in Legal Studies Forum, Vol. 29, No. 1, 2005.

EDGY

It is a precarious balance, really,
more an exercise in tottering and teetering
than and standing still.
Some prefer stasis, others,
I included, find it leads inevitably
to a loss of energy, to an entropy
from which it is difficult to escape.
I don’t walk along the edge
of the precipice, but I do peer over
amazed at what lies below,
that I hope to never see up close.
It is a precarious balance,
but one that can be maintained
if you just close your eyes
and sense what actually lies
around and beneath you.

SOZAN’S FOUR DON’TS 鐵笛倒吹 九十二

You may seek to follow
the path of the dove
a fool know many roads.
You may wrap yourself
in fine linen, an infant
wears only his skin
and knows this moment
is already gone.

Think long before you speak
of how to walk
along the path, of where it leads.
The baby says nothing,
will not speak of where
he has been,
where he is going, for to him
there is only here,
and silence
is descriptive enough.


A reflection on case 92 of the Iron Flute Koans

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