OH, NOAH

It has rained for uncounted days on end
and we half expect one of our neighbors
to begin building an ark, so we look
through the falling drops for pets to line up

in double file ranks, seeking selection
for a journey they know must be coming.
Overhead, the dove sits in the maple
knowing his time to star will soon arrive

but unsure where there could possibly be
a Russian olive tree within flight range
but then, as the sewer drains overflow
he knows any branch will complete his work.

The sun finally appeared this morning
and the weatherman now predicts a drought.

NANSEN’S HUT

If you have fine china
you will be saddened when it breaks.
If your pantry is full
your anxiety grows
as the food diminishes.

But if you are alone
with nothing, the apple
that falls on the road
is a feast, and the stream
runs free with the finest wine.
The silence of sun and moon
is an orchestra.


A reflection on case 52 of the Iron Flute Koans

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.

BEHOLDER’S EYE

It was sunrise, he was on the banks
of the river, and he knew, in that moment
that he would remember the scene, if not
the name of the river, or where
on its banks he was, that was
of no consequence at all, only the beauty.
When asked about it, he would say
that it was an obscene beauty, although
he knew people would question how
anything obscene could be beautiful
and anything truly beautiful could be obscene.
He could not hope to explain this,
but it was simply obscenely beautiful,
if only for the few moments it took
the sun to further erupt from the river.
When he would describe it, and they
would engage in a nervous twitter
he would laugh, not a giggle, but
the deep, oblivious laugh of the child.

SOUTHERN MOUNTAIN 鐵笛倒吹 四十二

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.