Author Archives: Kyōshin

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


Water Basin

A bamboo dipper
resting on two red branches
bound by fraying twine.


A dark elephant
living in a dark forest
came to sip from a pond
as the Buddha watched

A dark elephant
from a dark forest
has come to the pond
and sipped
the trembling vision
of the Moon.

A dark deer
from a dark forest
also came to sip from the pond.

The deer has also sipped
the vision of the moon.

The Buddha leaned over
and scooped up the moon in his palm.

I too will sip
if it will illuminate my heart
just a little.

More than two thousand years
after the Buddha’s death
His remains have been divided endlessly
only imaginary numbers can count
the tiles atop the reliquary pagodas
that stretch into the sky
three stories, five stories, seven stories…

As a person of brightness
living now in a town of light,
to which pond will you go
to sip when overcome by night?
When you scoop up the water
what vision of the moon
will you find in your palm?

I too will sip
if it will shade my heart
just a little.

~ Tada Chimako



Poetry in Japan

“[In Japan] the reverence to specialization holds in poetry writing as well, so that those who write tanka are called kajin, those who write haiku haijin, and those who write “poems”  that belong to neither genre shijin), and each of the kajin, haijin, and shijin do not usually pursue the others’ genres.” [Two exceptions are Tada Chimako and Takahashi Mutsuo who wrote in all three genres.]

~ Hiroaki Sato

“In Japan, the term poet (shijin 詩人) is reserved for those who write shi 詩, which is free verse in the international style. Those who write tanka and haiku are referred to as “songsters” (kajin 歌人) and “haiku-ers” (haijin 俳人). When I asked some of the foreign poets at the Festival if there were any Japanese poets they really respected, I was surprised. I was trying to asking them about shijin, but a lot of them answered, “Bashō”!” I was really surprised. We would never call Matsuo Bashō 松尾芭蕉 a shijin because he wrote haiku. ”

~ Arai Takako

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Zazen Notes #2

This skin has five holes

into which grey water pours like morning traffic,

but drop an eye into the heart

clear and weighty as a raindrop on the drum of a leaf,

and the body is an ear

sifting symphonies from silence.

~ Kyōshin Samuels