Thursday, December 16, 2010

the rushes

in the silence of snow and conifers
in the conversation of trees
i take refuge

and recognize that refuge is not

but living

in the shiny boxes
of conversation, merry christmas,
get it done, formal shoes,
i feel dark thoughts descend
and yet, i can no longer call them dark
for they are not the velvety darkness
of trees in winter

they are darkness as seen uniformly
through a square window in a room
filled with electric light and voices

the darkness of separation from night
from emptiness, from silence

the darkness that is feared by electric
people, by people who can't slow down

the rushes
the steps i take to prove myself professional,
human, active, responsible, conversational

the rushes
creaking in moonlight, brushing and sighing
in the solstice wind

my hope for salvation, for refuge
for life

- for heather

Saturday, November 13, 2010

the loon

in my dream
my sister and i are wading in a lake
in the evening
a loon swims up to me
and offers me a fish
from his beak

the gift of lucid dreaming
the gift of returning hopes
the gift of travel
the gift of no comprise
in the mind's pursuit of freedom

my sister runs through the water
chasing the loon, splashing, wild
i scream and scream at her, she must stop
she must let them come to us
i scream louder than i have in years
she stops
the water is quiet
the night is quiet
and the loon, and the other water beings,
and the moon, and the silence
gather in again

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


heart is like an egg
hot life is scrabbling inside
the smooth cool walls

when will it crack?
what will it feel like to confess
again and again
my adoration?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


a woman in the passenger seat of a mini-van
is holding two buff coloured kittens
they peer curiously
as the van rushes through
autumn darkness

Friday, October 29, 2010


the cold on my cheeks
bracing, i am alive

the dark on my eyes
gently, they rest

the softest sound in the
a cat's rumbling purr

Thursday, October 28, 2010

the doe

this morning
a deer is in the city
a doe is bounding through the streets

the free heart is so heavy,
it bounds in graceful fear

it seeks the shelter of trees
the flank of its long lost mother

it seeks rest,
yet finds a demon in every moving thing

it is a miraculous outsider

Saturday, October 16, 2010

afternoon in autumn

air traffic over the cemetery
is busy today - morning doves,
gulls, crows

sitting still under a blanket,
i watch the afternoon fade
while the shadow moon moves
across the sky

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

duck pond

the firs tree that sigh
over the duck pond
by waterloo city hall

in the middle of the traffic
and events, dinners out,
fashionable coats, and concert posters
this ordinary place

i can't sleep for how much
i want to change
how much i want to be
an ordinary, beloved duck pond
with firs sighing nearby
in an autumn wind

Sunday, October 10, 2010

indian summer

thanks be to
yellow and orange and blue brilliance
leaves and the autumn sky

year after year
i return to this forest
the earth changes
but the sky is the same

when my heart is fearful
i remember the breath
like the sky

leaving the woods, today
to come, find you,
and hear you
this brilliance remains in my heart

Friday, October 8, 2010

feeling sad

ten blue jays
my heart is full
my heart is empty

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

blue jays

from my balcony,
i saw ten blue jays
flying, together

they are always a solitary miracle,
today, a wild abundance

Saturday, September 11, 2010

for lauren

quiet cold morning
just awakening
my mind, a child's mind

great warmth inside

Saturday, September 4, 2010

day of rest

cold autumn rain
on late summer green

clearing heart

Thursday, August 19, 2010


petunias, their scent
in the summer darkness


the smell of petunias
in the summer darkness

dusk in august

two glimmering insects make love
on a pale leaf

in silence, stillness
one delicate black leg
gently strokes a lover's wing

the leaf shivers in
a sudden cool wind

bringing the mysteries of autumn
to this late august dusk

the moon, bright yellow,
behind the moving clouds

Tuesday, August 10, 2010



not turning away is eventual freedom
for all beings
where is the strong heart born?

i had a dream
that love came from emptiness
from the void inside, freed, to
permeate all life

when i woke, i wasn't so confident

wanting one answer, i sit and think
when i get up to do my calisthenics
love is born in the actions of my muscles

i suspect the strong heart is born
every moment, with every breath

now i must start breathing

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Poem by Stonehouse, a Chinese Hermit, c.1272

A monk in the wild sits quiet and relaxed
he survives all year on what karma brings
bamboo and yellow flowers occupy his thoughts
white clouds and streams simplify his life
he doesn't mistake a rock for a tiger on a hill
or the image of a bow for a snake in a bowl
in the woods he knows nothing of the world's affairs
at sunset he watches the crows return

rainy day

rain on the canopy
above tall, tall trees
i can hear and smell water
but i feel only a few drops on my skin

monarch butterflies in the wet fields
a old man on his balcony with bare feet
the highway echoing in the distance
white flowers by the road side

oh, jean, i'm delightfully
wonderfully, deeply, sad!
my heart aches
low down in my body
for all of us, dear ones

Sunday, August 1, 2010


everywhere, red cardinals
in little wooded patches
in the neighborhoods

Monday, July 26, 2010


waking from sleep
is followed by waking
from the delusions of sleep
which flow seamlessly into
the delusions of non-sleep

it doesn't happen right away
i sit staring out the window
or at the computer

at around 9:30 or 10:00 am,
suddenly, mindfulness

Saturday, July 24, 2010

columbia lake


what is happening now?

on the grass, on the hill, on the lake


rain on the lake
now clearing
the sky reflected


who is coming down the hill?
two men in camoflauge
are they carrying guns?

they are carrying cameras
covered with a camoflauge pattern


watch long enough
and through no effort
a change in what you see

Sunday, July 18, 2010


i'm the moon
(even if sometimes the mad full moon)
inhabiting the dark sky

only drunks, monks and women
love sad poetry,
and unrequited love
everyone else wants to
laugh and embrace

in the kitchen
your sun shines so bright it bursts
through the cracks of the doors
i move behind a cloud

oh that you would reflect on me

Saturday, July 17, 2010

what now?

seagulls ride the stormy wind
wings in ceaseless motion

in stillness, i become aware
that my mind is beating

a relentless wing against
a threatening sky

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

between two skies

the entire sky is reflected in a lake
once you see it, you can't unsee
suddenly you are between two skies
and not on solid ground

how delightful! how beautiful!
i peek over the edge of a precipice
rocks bordering water

i must remember this
for when i see your reflection in my heart
i long for solid ground

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

night time

a candlelight tea party
is taking place
under the pines
in the warm midsummer darkness

Monday, July 5, 2010

i am sick

at home sick for many days
i become more aware of how
often fear arises in my body

i remember with happiness
my days in the woods
and find joy in the anticipation
of returning

Friday, June 11, 2010


little folded squares of white tissue
glowing against the dirt beside a log
along the path in among the trees

tear flowers

someone else was crying in the woods

Sunday, June 6, 2010


one cannot hold or catch the sudden and violent wind
rolling in before the storm

not your hands, not my hands


rain all night
i will still adventure today

Saturday, May 29, 2010

not sure

i return to these woods
where trees reach high, high
above my head
and the earth is a bed of
leaves, living and dead

seated on a felled tree
i write a little
read a little
listen to the highway in the distance

these trees are not illusionary
nor is this stillness of heart
but i begin to think that i dream
even when i believe i am awake

a still night now
the cat's ears lift to catch night sounds
deep between the waking state, deep between the dream
i toss gently

Thursday, May 20, 2010

the party

sometimes it is better
to laugh than to be silent

somehow the mind rests
in laughter as in silence

forming new pathways
renewing happiness

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

the halls

choosing a spot where the path divides
in the thick spring wood
i sit on a stump, legs crossed
and watch dog walkers come and go
emerging and disappearing in these
hidden green halls

hearing their voices before i see them
they come from the dense green leaf light
make comment
their dogs sniff me
and then they pass away into the woods

a blue jay flutters through the leaves
rare, unexpected and marvelous

there is sometimes a precious being
arising unexpectedly
where the path divides

Saturday, May 15, 2010


it's saturday night
the young of the world
sing their genuine songs
suddenly youth is something
i am not

youth is a moving picture
a television channel adults aren't supposed
to be watching
i'm a secret midnight viewer

Monday, May 10, 2010

the original temple poem

Moon Sitting

On this high froth-tipped mountain
the temple owns few lamps.
Sit facing the moon's glitter.
Out of season, heart of ice.

Hui Yung (4th-5th century)

difficult week

the temple owns few lamps

contemplating emptiness only delights and soothes me
under certain circumstances

overturned metal garbage pail
an inch of water rippling on top of it
in the wind after the rain

few dishes i use in my kitchen

a painting in white and black

images, images
pictures in my mind
the monkey's fairy tales

emptiness otherwise:
activities, friends, money, work, meaning
ugh! no thank you.
i want all ten thousand lamps in my temple
to light on command!

until true nature seeks the painful darkness

Thursday, April 29, 2010

a beautiful night

swooping calling walking flitting
around me, around the bridge
around the makeshift bird feeder
in the green woods
seven different kinds of birds
a cardinal a redwing blackbird
two chickadees a starling
other birds in shades of purples blues blacks
ducks in pairs and groups
and squirrels, swinging to catch the feeder
moving in conscious patterns
beings everywhere!

the man with a spade on the path
by the stream
calls 'beautiful night, isn't it?'
who knows what he and his mother
are digging from the streambed?

at the end of the path
a long haired cat sits on a fallen tree
rising from a sea of yellow green
and tiny flowers
eyes open, watching me
eyes close, in sleep

this is the night i fall in love again
i was waiting for it
and now it is here
a country you stumble upon
once you stop traveling
for the sake of finding

Sunday, April 18, 2010

handle with care

not afraid of being hurt again
but still being hurt
i choose not to kiss you today

the magnolia blossom you picked for me
is wilting
but in my mind's eye
hundreds of dancing blossoms
against a blue spring sky

Saturday, April 10, 2010

an anxious week

every early morning
7:30 sunlight

the bed is shaking
it is my heartbeat
and my organs
my life in motion

far away
industry sighs and speaks

above and below
bodies move in space

life in motion

sound rises
while this body rises

the mind sleeps
and tosses in its dreaming

drive all blames into one

Saturday, April 3, 2010

early spring, early morning

a tossing warm night
a strange but familiar feeling in the throat
as pollen explores the spring
the cat is wild
under the influence of
open windows

wake and sleep
sleep and wake

7:30 am
it's very cold in the living room
the reddish sun coming up over the city
i come awake
reading the last words of the buddha:

All conditioned things are subject to decay. Strive with diligence.

Monday, March 29, 2010


running across a blue evening
between trees and her apartment building
on dry grass
a lone sparrow singing
a twilight song

happy like fear and freedom
like a deer in the wind

our conversation changed everything

Sunday, March 28, 2010

two visitors this weekend


seeing you again
after so long
what can i write about that?

the day was cold in the morning
and then sunny in the afternoon
i was outside all day
in the rustling woods in the pale morning
on the dry grass in the mid day sunshine
in the sun and shadow of the patio
near the day's ending

i wondered if i would become sick
from exposure
from the light on things hidden during the winter
but i was only tired
by the time of evening dimness

How I wish, how I wish you were here

Thursday, March 25, 2010

march 25 2010 will only happen one time that i know of

dog's bum wiggling a little with every step

girl watching a red wing blackbird

sparrow catching several twigs in his beak for a nest

my eyes caught today in brief suchness

Friday, March 19, 2010

conversation with a elderly resident this evening at work

I liked your painting of sunflowers!

Thank you!

Do you draw too?

Yes, I drew the outline
and then I painted it.

Additionally, I planted the seeds
and grew the flowers! So I made all of it.

Ah, a shared creative effort between
you and God!

Mirror Smile. Four eyes crinkle.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

last night's dreaming

an eccentric woman gives my sister and i
a series of questions. she says we must

lock ourselves in a a 7 inch high box the
width and length of our bodies, and

stay in until we answer the questions
after which there will be some element

of reward. i prepare nervously with
my sister, and worry that this will

take time away from important
work assignments. we take a train in

to a station where we find the boxes
as well as my parents, both of them,

there to encourage us.

there are other students of these
questions preparing themselves too -

it's a competition, and the questions
are koans, about pop musicians.


immediately i freak out

with anxiety. aware that this is a competition
and time is an element, and wanting to get

back to work, and noticing that another
student finishes within moments

i begin to cry. a teacher comes to help me
but i can't stop crying, frantically,

self-indulgently, excessively. others
are being assisted. i reject assistance.

i scream despairingly "that first student
was asian - unfair advantage!" knowing

with those words i'm swinging my angry
fists blindly in the dark.

i know the only road to an answer is
release of the body, and time in the box, and

the end of measuring that time. and i know
that i can do this, so certainly that it isn't

even a question. but these people, this
tension, this energy, this competition

it freezes me, brings me to frenzy,
bring me to self-indulgent tears.


i wake up a little, and the more i wake up,
the more i know i need to let my body

naturally follow its course of forgetting
time, and sleeping in.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The origin of standards


In Paths Untrodden

In paths untrodden,
In the growth by margins of pond-waters,
Escaped from the life that exhibits itself,
From all the standards hitherto publish'd, from the pleasures,
profits, conformities
Which too long I was offering to feed my soul,
Clear to me now standards not yet publish'd, clear to me that
my soul,
That the soul of the man I speak for rejoices in comrades,
Here by myself away from the clank of the world,
Tallying and talk'd to here by tongues aromatic,
No longer abash'd (for in this secluded spot I can respond as I
would dare not else,)
Strong upon me the life that does not exhibit itself, yet
contains all the rest,
Resolv'd to sing no songs today but those of manly attachment,
Projecting them along that substantial life,
Bequeathing hence types of athletic love,
Afternoon this delicious Ninth-month in my forty-first year,
I proceed for all who are or have been young men,
To tell the secret of my nights and days,
To celebrate the need of comrades.

- Walt Whitman

officially the first bike trip of spring

first day again
this year, beginner's mind!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

black dog

on this foggy morning
a black dog running through the cemetery
oh - and there is the human companion
coming along behind

it is unexpectedly cold

Monday, March 8, 2010

Making bread

dough rising

desire rising, anger rising
why is the dough so crumbly?
this dough and that picture in the book are not one!

knead knead
wait wait
watch watch

oh but it worked
rising arising!
what beautiful bread
this sunny morning
two living loaves like children

Monday, March 1, 2010

after the olympic celebrations

dark, blue, damp winter night
brown bunny leaps across this parking lot
ears up
to the sounds of cheering and honking in the distance
the sound of victory, the sound of sound

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


meditating in a room without electricity
at dusk, in february
after a snow fall
watching the sky outside the patio doors
six floors above the frozen earth

one, then two, then three
crows fly at eye level past the glass
against a thick white and blue sky
black shapes against the clouds
six, then eight, then ten,
then tens of tens
swooping, swirling, from west to east
in this line of sight

getting up to look, i open the glass door
and turn east
hundreds of crows
are dancing in the tops of conifers
over the lights of the neighborhood
the air is cold on my limbs
and the cat gazes east, attentive

this is the moment of my attachment
to the contemplative life

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Tao of Creativity: Moving forward and backward through time

Yesterday, Craig and I had a conversation about cleaning up. We were analyzing what prevents people from cleaning up after themselves; why do they not immediately clean up their mess after doing creative (either artistic or productive); and why not later, as the mess piles up? Craig said that he imagined the reason why people let their spaces get messy is because they do not have a designated space for objects. This led me to the counter positioned theory that rather than not having designated space, one might not have designated time.

I developed a theory about cleanliness as it relates to time rather than space. When one is working towards a goal, one is moving forward through time. The more goals to be achieved - and the less mindfulness - the faster one moves through time towards these goals. Cleaning, though, might be understood as moving backward through time. In cleaning, one must revisit the places one has previously passed through.

I made Craig follow me through the apartment as I visually exemplified my theory. I pretended to be late for work, and quickly ran to the bathroom, opened the cabinet, and pulled out my brush. I ran it through my hair a few times, and described this entire process as "moving forward". Then, the moment that my hair was brushed, I called attention to my hand on the brush, and where the brush was ultimately going. Putting the brush down was a sort of neutral moving through time - the brush is neither comes with me, nor does it return to it's rightful place in the cabinet. To return it to it's former organized position, I would have to mentally stop my forward momentum, turn back (both physically and also symbolically-chronologically) and REplace the brush where it was in the past. I highlight "re" as in return, redo, etc. A REturn, turning backwards. Even the language - "putting something back" - implies a moving into the past.

If my mind is busy and non-mindful, and I am living completely in forward momentum, I will quite naturally drop the brush in the time-neutral position and move foward to the next goal - breakfast perhaps. Time neutral is not space-neutral, however, and, as time moves forward, my time neutral drops become space cluttering mess. In the grander scheme, as my space becomes more cluttered, my revisits to the past must become even more large in scope (there are more things past to return to) - every dropped object necessitates a return to the past of it's having been dropped, and, if I am stuck in forward momentum, the return to the past will seem more arduous the larger it becomes, until my home is full of object-reminders of a past I do not have the inclination to return to. I am now addicted to the future.

So, if one wants to keep one's space uncluttered, space itself is much less important that one's relationship to time. Ideally, one would embrace and practice the dance of past-present-future: in every forward movement is an equal and opposite backward movement - for every creative act into the future, one must take an equal step backwards to clean up the impact of that creative act. This step backward is a form of processing, or revisiting, the act of creativity; a vital step in maintaining a full awareness of oneself and one's environment.

In this we find the balance of creation, the Tao of creativity.