OBITS

You read the obituaries every day
not only for the confirmation that you
are not listed among them.
The key five words there are
not only for the affirmation, particularly
upon hearing the gentle man you liked,
but you also valued as a friend and craftsman
is gone, and you didn’t say goodbye,
that you thought “better him than me,”
that you hated that thought,
that you hated yourself for thinking it,
that nonetheless you are glad
it wasn’t you, was someone else,
just not him, just not someone you knew.
You weren’t in the obituaries today
and when you are gone, you won’t
be there to read it anyway, and you want
think “better him than you,”
and you promise you
will forgive those that think it.

BASHO DOES NOT TEACH 鐵笛倒吹 八十

There is a woman
who asks no questions,
who fears neither birth nor death.
What can you teach her?
The wise man offers no lesson
but observes closely
and gains great wisdom.

What can you teach
one who already knows.
What can you learn
with a fully open mind.
In a clockless world
there is no time.


A reflection on case 80 of the Iron Flute Koans

REFLECTION

He’s mostly bald
and generally something of a grouch.
When he enters a room, the key
is to nod in recognition
but not in invitation.
You know, regardless
of the topic at hand,
he will have something
to say and it, no matter how
you perfume it, will nevertheless
have that air of negativity
he has so ably mastered.
So many others, and especially you,
have perfected the art
of deflected avoidance,
at least until that moment
you come face-to-face with him
in your morning mirror.

TEN FOLD PATH (PT. 1)

1.

He takes a first step
eyes scanning
the path, the field
the forest
for the ox.
There is
no ox.

男は最初の一歩を踏み出し
道に、野原に、その先の森に目をやる
男の目は牛を探し求める
だがどこにも牛の姿はない

2.

Much time passes
another step
and there
in the soft mud
of spring a print
of hoof, deep
isolated
unpaired.

長い時間が過ぎ
男はさらに歩を進める
そして春のぬかるみの中にひとつ
人知れず埋もれた
蹄(ひずめ)の跡を見つける

3.

A step
in the distance
faint in morning fog
at the very edge
of vision
the ox stands
for a moment
he freezes for
an eternity.

また一歩進むと
朝もやに霞む視界の隅に
男の目は牛の姿をとらえる
そして永遠の一瞬に
男は立ちすくむ

4.

Reaching forward
with his foot
he gently places
a loop of rope
around the neck
of the waiting ox.
The ox stands
staring past the horizon
unmoving.

男はさらに踏み出して
じっと待っている牛の首に
そっと縄をかける
牛は身じろぎもせず
ただ地平線の彼方を見つめている

5.

He whispers
to the beast
and it steps
seeking his next
request, kneeling
to ease his dismount.

男が牛に囁きかけると
牛は歩みを止め
男の次の言葉を待つ
男が降りやすいように跪きながら

How Is It!

I can never fully comprehend
iwhy they never seem able to see
things from my perspective, it really
isn’t the all that hard.
After all, they claim to know me
better than I know myself.
Today they never ask if I liked
what they chose to serve me,
why I left the food, sometimes?
Today think I might really
and I mean truly and deeply,
hate argyle sweaters and hams?
And it isn’t just their blindness
that gets me, is the arrogance
that goes with it, as though no one
but them has ever had a deep thought
well, we’ll see what they think
the hairball I hacked up on their pillow.

ANSWERS EVERYWHERE

You assume you know the answer,
and wait patiently for the question
which is not forthcoming.
This becomes your dilemma.
You have acquired a catalog
of answers, all awaiting questions
that never come forth.
Of course it isn’t fair, you
know that full well,
but that, too, is an answer that must
await a question for which
there is no questioner, so you must
ask yourself why
you accumulate answers,
and that is one question
for which you have found
absolutely no answers.