Always Night

It’s always night, or we wouldn’t need light.
~Thelonious Monk

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Last Night I Dreamt

Last night I dreamt you brought me wine
and poured and poured until my dreams were full,
each one watered till the tendrils grew.
 

And then I heard you pouring more again for two
and thought I saw my tears reflecting you…

I wasn’t sure, until I woke to find
my body bathed in wine and wrapped in vines
or was it you? 

I never knew who turned my night to day
before the dawn had time for dew
 

~Amir Khusrow Dehlavi (1253-1325), translated from the Persian By Omar Pound, 1971

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A Blade of Grass

You ask for a poem.
I offer you a blade of grass.
You say it is not good enough.
You ask for a poem.

I say this blade of grass will do.
It has dressed itself in frost,
It is more immediate
Than any image of my making.

You say it is not a poem,
It is a blade of grass and grass
Is not quite good enough.
I offer you a blade of grass.

You are indignant.
You say it is too easy to offer grass.
It is absurd.
Anyone can offer a blade of grass.

You ask for a poem.
And so I write you a tragedy about
How a blade of grass
Becomes more and more difficult to offer,

And about how as you grow older
A blade of grass
Becomes more difficult to accept.

~ Brian Patten

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Three Poems by Ryōkan

If they ask

if Ryōkan has

some last words for the world,

tell them he says:

Namu Amida Butsu

 

All my life too lazy to try to get ahead,

I leave everything to the truth of Heaven.

In my sack three measures of rice,

by the stove one bundle of sticks–

why ask who’s got satori, who hasn’t?

What would I know about that dust, fame and gain?

Rainy nights here in my thatched hut

I stick out my two legs any old way I please.

 

As a boy I studied literature,

   but was too lazy to become a Confucian;

in my young days I worked at Zen,

   but got no Dharma worth handing down.

Now I’ve built a grass hut,

   act as a custodian of a Shinto shrine,

half a shrine man,

   half a monk

From Watson, Burton, trans. Ryōkan: Zen Monk-Poet of Japan. New York: Columbia University Press, c1977.

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Leave me alone.

Let birds come.

Let stones be laid on stones.

Leave me alone.

I waken streets

when I walk through processions

of trees.

Kalamazoo Nature Center, Early Autumn 2012

              Under branches

I remember journeys

when I rose to foreign

suns and let the morning

seal my secrets.

Leave me alone.

A light has always

led me home.

A voice is always calling.
~Adonis

Adonis. The Pages of Day and Night. Translated from the Arabic by Samuel Hazo. The Marlboro Press/Northwestern. Evanston, Ill: Northwestern University Press, 2000.

In The Forest

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