Friday, June 12, 2009

Deign to Nibble

"Here we languish, a bunch of poor scholars,

Battered by extremes of hunger and cold.

Out of work, our only joy is poetry:

Scribble, scribble, we wear out our brains.

Who will read the works of such men?

On that point you can save your sighs.

We could inscribe our poems on biscuits

And homeless dogs wouldn't deign to nibble."

Thus spake Han-Shan, "Cold Mountain" in T'ang dynasty China. What was true fourteen hundred years ago remains true today, though the "poor scholars" may have enough scratch to own a computer. Lonely bloggers now cover the globe, hacking away their thoughts and dreams into cyberspace. To you homeless dogs out there who pause to eat these stale biscuits, a deep bow and a heartfelt "gassho" of thanks. 

I began blogging a little over a year ago, May 19th, to be exact, with little idea of why or what I wished to say, or perhaps most importantly, who I wished to say it to. So much has happened in this last year or so that my head spins in wonder at the changes. I find that I have, perhaps, something to say, and I stumble towards a way to say it. To whom am I speaking? I wonder still. 

Dear homeless dogs, as you pass by to nibble at these poor biscuits, give us a word to save a little "cat" from its' cruel death. The comment button that lies below will not bite you (at least not very hard). Say a word, even "Mu" will do.

The above image, by the way, is a zinc plate etching done a few years ago. It depicts the artist on a nightime ambush in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Totally alert, he sits silently, motionless, aware of every sound and movement in every dark shadow. Because those sounds and motions could mean his instant death, as well as the death of all his friends who lie sleeping beside him, he is as aware as it is really possible to be. Joshu, cats and dogs, stale  biscuits, hundred foot poles and all the rest await him, undreamed of as yet. He's studying Zen the hard way, one breath at a time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Getting Up

Tripping on a rock of pain,

Falling into the rushing stream,

Rise again and take up the staff

One foot before another.

The journey of a thousand miles goes on.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Coming Back

Climbing down from atop a mountain,

Very slowly, step by step.

Careful foot on mossy boulder,

Cross fallen logs wet from waterfall.

One by one, small pills are counted,

Muscles taut and nerves sharp strained.

Nightime watches stretch forever,

Weary eyed to greet the dawn.

All good things must have an end,

What about the bad?