Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Days Of Disappearance \ Out Like A

Nancy: Ryokan, in his hut on a mountain, knew snow and isolation.  We, in our cabin on a bay, live snow and wind not unlike his – two hundred years ago.

Days Of Disappearance
                                    My abode is/ in winter seclusion/ on this white mountain in Echigo./ 
                                    No trace of humans/ coming or going.

Whirling snow
our tracks disappear as we make them
uphill, downhill
drifts are boulders
boulders are drifts
no one comes
bay floods the path freezes
Ryokan uses fewer words
more art than language
asks ("who?”)
good fortune to live here
this cabin, this life
when Ryokan comes

Epigraph from Tanahashi Kazuaki, Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan (Shambala, 2012, p.150)

Alan: I wrote this last year.  Today, a blizzard bears down on us, bringing high winds and up to two feet of snow.  The crows that ride our skies are hiding.

Out Like A

Poor March!  Are you enraged
that winter’s over, and no big storms?
Does the notion of global warming
frost you?  Your lion chases
the frightened lamb to the end,
though last week they did lie down
together, peaceful as Quakers.
It was only a breather.  Now
every tree tosses its electric mane
and all the air in Canada
leaps on us, over the border,
with a roar.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Moonset \ Ryokan On The Grand Tour

Nancy: The sun is life, but the moon is dreams.  The moon is female; the sun is sharp but the moon – this moon – is gentle, this moon wrapped in a diaphanous shawl.


clock and calendar
apogee, perigee
wax and wane

This morning the moon sets
one spruce to the south.
Sets into a thin scrim of cloud.
Floods the room with light.

last fullmoon of winter
first fullmoon of spring

Even as I watch, light
washing my face, the moon
slips to the south
into the spruce.

leaves me reaching
toward the sky
the invisible moon
in the sky

Alan:  What would a quiet monk from a remote rural province on the Sea of Japan have made of the decadent glories of contemporary Venice?  Would he be reminded, unexpectedly, of home?

Ryokan On The Grand Tour

At Murano he watches
bright tiny fish swim from glass rods
into crystal seas.
St. Mark’s gold cave all sainted dazzle,
piazza iridescent with pigeons.
Everything millefiori, clattering the eyeballs,
nothing like cool Echigo.
Viewing the Canalettos, their milky aqua skies,
he suddenly longs for Niigata Bay, its pale-green
ice at dawn.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Myself – A Postcard \ Climbing March Hill #3

Nancy: Some postcards are maps of Maine with an arrow, “We are here.”  Some are more singular.  This is an “I am here.”

Myself – A Postcard

Gleaner, picker, digger, fisher,
sun-risen, sea bequeathed,
night haunted, haunter,
full-moon singer,
flower fed,
tide led,
wind released,
come to earth in search of healing,
needing, seeking, aching, owing,
borrows soaring,
sends you seeing, sorrow, caring,
night songs, love songs,
and spells.

Alan: Again and again we struggle toward Spring, carrying memories like embers in clay, finding our way to warmth and light.

Climbing March Hill #3

Halfway up
     the trail grows muddy –
clouds sag in the trees –
     air turns dank.
Crows the only buoyancy
     in these dark woods.

Old path: familiar
     from so many years.
See?  How it’s worn?
     Traces of our steps –
our past journeys.

See?  Tracks of our friends –
     the dogs, the cats
who kept us company?
     I name them, one by one,
in my mind.  Call to them.
     Reach out a hand to touch.

Reach out an actual hand
     toward yours.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Who Screams? \ He Encounters Wallace Stevens

Nancy: Night sounds, day sounds, life sounds and death sounds – one by one we learn the calls and enrich our sense of our wild neighbors.

Who Screams?

Who screams in the night?
Who takes the path we carved between the spruce
and pauses (where my body pressed the grass beneath the birch)

and screams again?

Who claws at sleep?
Who walks our path at night and screams –
up from the cove, and past our door down to the bay?

Who breathes, and who is still?
Who travels on the path,
and makes the night air taut with silences and screams?

Who sleeps?
Who waits?
Who walks tonight on paths we used today?
Who screams?

Alan: Poems, and the poets whose minds they carry, meet across time and space.  The quotations are from Stevens’ “Of Mere Being.”

He Encounters Wallace Stevens

Visiting his rich friend’s villa,
alone among porcelains, the Chinese classics,
Ryokan reads... “the palm at the end of the mind...,”
rushes out, lost all day
among Otogo’s cool pines and moss-damp slopes,
breathing “bronze decor,” breathing
“fire-fangled feathers,” stick and
begging bowl in the hall,