Sunday, March 25, 2012

Poem Without a Category

Trailing my stick I go down to the garden edge,
call to a monk to go out the pine gate,
A cup of tea with my mother,
looking at each other, enjoying our tea together.
In the deep lanes, few people in sight;
the dog barks when anyone comes or goes.
Fall floods have washed away the planks of the bridge;
shouldering our sandals, we wade the narrow stream.
By the roadside, a small pavilion
where there used to be a little hill:
it helps out our hermit mood;
country poems pile one sheet on another.
I dabble in the flow, delighted by the shallowness of the stream,
gaze at the flagging, admiring how firm the stones are.
The point in life is to know what's enough - 
why envy those otherworld immortals?
With the happiness held in one inch-square heart
you can fill the whole space between heaven and earth.

Gensei (1623-1668)
image:  Peter Bowers

When I Was Young and Poor

When I was young and poor,
when little was much,
when I was nimble and never tired,
and the hours of the day were deep and long,
where was the end that was already committed?
Where was the flesh that thinned and stiffened?
Nowhere, nowhere! 
Just the gift of forgetfulness gracious and kind
while I ran up hills and drank the wind - 
time out of mind.

Mary Oliver
image:  Peter Bowers

Sunday, March 18, 2012

morning haiku

is-ness of dawn
happening now
no waiting for this


listening trees
alive with birdsong
smiling everywhere


crow breathing
song of aliveness
no thought of the next line


waking up
smiling at the dawn
that never arrived

images:  Peter Bowers

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Opening of Eyes

That day I saw beneath the dark clouds
The passing light over the water
And I heard the voice of the world speak out
I knew then as I have before
Life is no passing memory of what has been
Nor the remaining pages of a great book
Waiting to be read

It is the opening of eyes long closed
It is the vision of far off things
Seen for the silence they hold
It is the heart after years of secret conversing
Speaking out loud in the clear air

It is Moses in the desert fallen to his knees
Before the lit bush
It is the man throwing away his shoes
As if to enter heaven and finding himself astonished
Opened at last
Fallen in love
With solid ground

David Whyte
image: Peter Bowers

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Bright Field

I  have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while,  and gone my way
and forgotten it.  But that was the pearl 
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it.  I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it.  Life is not hurrying 

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past.  It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle 
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you. 

R.S. Thomas 
image:  Peter Bowers


Job Davies, eighty-five
Winters old, and still alive
After the slow poison
And treachery of the seasons.

Miserable?  Kick my arse! 
It needs more than the rain's hearse,
Wind drawn to pull me off
The great perch of my laugh.

What's living but courage?
Paunch full of hot porridge
Nerves strengthened with tea,
Peat-black, dawn found me

Mowing where the grass grew,
Bearded with golden dew.
Rhythm of the long scythe
Kept this tall frame lithe

What to do?  Stay green.
Never mind the machine,
Whose fuel is human souls
Live large, man, and dream small. 

R.S. Thomas
image:  Peter Bowers

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

rumi love bites

let the soup simmer with the lid on
be quiet

let silence be the art
you practice

the whole of existence is 
a mirror whose essence 
you are

listen, and feel the beauty of your separation
the unsayable absence

image:  peter bowers

Monday, March 12, 2012

unexpected silence

the troubled philosopher
finds nothing to believe in
and in unexpected silence
just smiles
at the still unanswered questions


Saturday, March 10, 2012

There is Some Kiss

There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives,
the touch of spirit on the body.

Seawater begs the pearl
to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately 
it needs some wild darling.

At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face against mine.

Breathe into me. 

Close the language door
and open the love-window.

The moon won't use the door, 
only the window.

image:  Peter Bowers

Inside This River

Inside this river there is a moon
which is not a reflection.

From the river bottom the moon speaks.
I travel in continuous conversation
with the river as it goes.

Whatever is above
and seemingly outside this river
is actually in it. 

Merge with it, in here or out there, 
as you please.

This is the river of rivers
and the beautiful silence of endless talking.

image:  Peter Bowers

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Shoun & His Mother

Shoun became a teacher of Soto Zen.  When he was still a student his father passed away, leaving him to care for his old mother.

Whenever Shoun went to a meditation hall he always took his mother with him.  Since she accompanied  him, when he visited monasteries he could not live with the monks.  So he would build a little house and care for her there.  He would copy sutras, Buddhist verses, and in this manner receive a few coins for food.

When Shoun bought fish for his mother, the people would scoff at him, for a monk is not supposed to eat fish.  But Shoun did not mind.   His mother, however, was hurt to see others laugh at her son.  Finally she told Shoun:  "I think I will become a nun.  I can be a vegetarian too."  She did, and they studied together.

Shoun was fond of music and was a master of the harp, which his mother also played.  On full moon nights they used to play together.

One night a young lady passed by their house and heard music.  Deeply touched, she invited Shoun to visit her the next evening and play.  He accepted the invitation.  A few days later he met the young lady on the street and thanked her for her hospitality.  Others laughed at him.  He had visited the house of a woman of the streets.

One day Shoun left for a distant temple to deliver a lecture.  A few months afterwards he returned home to find his mother dead.  Friends had not known where to reach him, so the funeral was then in progress.

Shoun walked up and hit the coffin with his staff.  "Mother, your son has returned," he said.

"I am glad to see you have returned, son," he answered for his mother.

"Yes, I'm glad too," Shoun responded.  Then he announced to the people about him:  "The funeral ceremony is over.  You may bury the body."

When Shoun was old he knew his end was approaching.  He asked his disciples to gather around him in the morning, telling them he was going to pass on at noon.  Burning incense before the picture of his mother and his old teacher, he wrote a poem:

For fifty-six years I lived as best I could, 
Making my way in this world.
Now the rain has ended, the clouds are clearing,
The blue sky has a full moon.

His disciples gathered about him, reciting a sutra, and Shoun passed on during the invocation.

Zen Flesh Zen Bones
Photo:  Peter Bowers

Look at a Fountain

Those with no energy have gone.
You that remain, do you know
who you are?  How many?

Can you look at a fountain and become water?
Can you recognize the great self
and so enjoy your individual selves?

Do you run from joy?
Perhaps the lion
should not flee the fox.

Let your loving and your soul 
burn up in this candle.
Let a new life come.

The friend is at the door.
You are the lock his key fits.

You are a piece of candy,
the choice words of a poem,

the friend and the swallow
of silence here at the end.

Photo:  Peter Bowers

Monday, March 5, 2012

There is a Wonderful Game

There is a game we should play,
And it goes like this:

We hold hands and look into each other's eyes
And scan each other's face.

Then I say,
"Now tell me a difference you see between us."

And you might respond,
"Hafiz, your nose is ten times bigger then mine!"

Then I would say,
"Yes, my dear, almost ten times!"

But let's keep playing.
Let's go deeper,
Go deeper.
For if we do,
Our spirits will embrace
And interweave.

Our union will be so glorious
That even God
Will not be able to tell us apart.

There is a wonderful game
We should play with everyone
And it goes like this......

Photo:  Peter Bowers