Ikkyu Reiterations: Samsara

As if she has been here for millennia

calmly chewing grass, the buffalo stands

in an open field below the mountain.

Aware of the biting fly and herself,

but little else, she still provides so much

into the life of the poorest village.

What difference can the monk’s laughter make

to her as it echoes through the valley?

(May 14, 2022)

Ikkyu Reiterations: Fool’s Gold

Caught in ecstatic wonder

the young girls make love

with tempestuous abandon.

While he follows the rules

of the old games, he’s mocked

for his sad delusions:

In dream’s river, the two

drowned consorts come to him

with promises of consummation.

Thus he becomes a cuckold

to himself, looking for coins

beneath a withered willow.

(May 12, 2022) 

Here Now (iterations #1 and #2)

The ascendent moon

negotiates the chase tree’s

dark-twisted branches.


There are moments

within moments

within moments,

a slow descent

into the repeating

heart of the lotus.

Sunlight takes on

a clarity which radiates

from all it touches,

as shadows sharpen

themselves against

the light’s keen edges.

From the river bank,

the water glistens

like distant laughter,

while we stand still,

watching, between heart beats,

the river rush past us.

(May 10, 2022)

Ikkyu Reiterations: Out of Tune

In the slums, obscene songs

are heard from the Heights.

As children we mocked them

with songs they now sing.

There is no recompense

between the rich and poor.

Unlike a baptismal font,

blood does not absolve blood.

The dead cannot hear

their mournful lovers’ tears.

(May 10, 2022)

Ikkyu Reiterations: Bodhisattva

He slips through the dusty streets

delaying his departure from sorrow.

What wisdom is

this wisdom?

The Sorceress’s warm breath at his ear

softly offers her seductive charms.

What wisdom is

this wisdom?

The priest offers redemptive prayers

in patterns to protect him.

What wisdom is

this wisdom?

At both the chancery and brothel doors

he laughs like a nascent breeze.

Which wisdom is

his wisdom?

(May 9, 2022)

Ikkyu Reiterations: Difference

I tell you my truth;

so does he, but his is a lie.

Each morning we both shit,

take a shower, drive to work.

The mundane slaps my face,

as if waking to a wet bed.

In the tea house’s simplicity

the same tales are told nightly.

(May 7, 2022)

Ikkyu Reiterations: On Shaman Mountain

We delude ourselves with thought,

with the sound of rain, like tears,

outside, as a new song begins

across the mountain. Change begins

with Heaven and Earth. War separates

us. Yet, for how long? War and duty 

separate us. We may never lean

again against the other through the night.

The moon sets on me here tonight,

as it does with you where we parted.

(May 6, 2022)

Ikkyu Reiterations: The Interpreted World

For decades he shambles

along the same path,

oblivious, naive —

then there it is— blossoms

arrayed along a branch.

She offers a taste

of a dewy-ripe peach;

he cannot bear

such divinity, and falls

away into profane sorrow.

(May 5, 2022)