TRICKSTER

Coyote no longer inhabits the hill south of our city. Yet we know he is there, staring down at the lake, watching the grape clusters fatten on the vines. We cannot see the orange-red orbs of his eyes on a still winter night. We know he sees us. Coyote cannot be found, no carcasses attest to his presence. Coyote is everywhere, walking among us, living in parks, living in plain sight, knowing he is invisible. We see his tricks, know we were once again outsmarted, know we can outsmart him. Coyote no longer inhabits the hills here, for he has morphed, and we are coyote.

RIVER

I know I should find a river
and just sit on its banks
and stare at the water flowing

I don’t have to step in it once
to know I couldn’t step in twice
if I wanted, so that problem’s solved.

And with dry feet, I can walk
along its banks with a bit more
jaunt in my step, which should

please the river, for I know that
it has long been watching me
as I frequently visit, and I would

like to think we are old friends,
at least that is what the lake
said during my last visit there.

REFLECTIONS

An elk stands at the edge
of a placid mountain lake
and sees only the clouds
of an approaching winter.

A black bear leans over
the mirrored surface of the lake
and sees only the fish
that will soon be his repast.

The young man draped
in saffron robes looks
calmly into the water and sees
a pebble, the spirit of his ancestors.

I look carefully into the water
looking for an answer to a question
always lurking out of reach
and see only my ever thinning hair.


First appeared in Greens Magazine (Can) 29:1 2000

ENVELOPING

The night wraps us
in the faint light
of the glowing moon.
The snow falls, reflected
in the street light’s glow,
and settles on the snow fields
of recent days that obscure
the earth that suffers beneath.
We will flee tomorrow
and leave the snow in our wake,
hoping that on our return
a week hence, some if not all
of it will have washed
into the lake, and we,
having borne the brunt of the sun,
will remember what summer
will eventually offer us.

MUSING (4 HAIKU)

Out the plane window
a lake or a sea of clouds
Why does it matter?

 

during an eye blink
the butterfly spreads its wings
galaxies collapse

 

Cats curl in furred sleep
the moon crawls across the sky
a monk awakens

 

leaves cling to the trees
the rivers flow more slowly
the stone is unmoved

REVERY

Seen from a great distance
the rowboat is a speck
on a lake which appears far more
like an oversized pond.
You are so far off you cannot
see if there is a person in the boat
or it is merely floating about
free of its mooring,
imagining itself a water-lily
basking in the midday sun.
Your reverie is broken by the coo
of the dove flying over the fountain
in the garden, ever so careful
to have the water just caress her breast
before landing on the edge.
Seeing you, she preens,
dips her head in thanks
or simple acknowledgement of your presence
and lifts gracefully into the walnut
to join her impatient mate.

YAKUSAN’S LAKE 鐵笛倒吹 八十八

When you travel from home
and are asked if the lake
on the shore of which you live
is now full, what
can you say.
Will you speak of the rains
that soaked your fields
and what of the herd
of water buffalo
come to graze
since you have left.

The eye sees only now
the mind sees history
and the wise man
sees nothing.


A reflection on Case 88 of the Iron Flute koans.