Those poet recluses in ancient seclusion,
it’s a whim beyond human space.
Sail up to those immortal headwaters,
verse runs free among maiden hair trees.
Even leaves of duckweed can drift together again
but for now, my poems won’t crowd your walls.
Tending to Garden Amidst Blossoms
Recluse path swept clean of peach blossoms
tatters of mist snagged on bull reeds. A dozy
tiger rocks harmlessly in a hammock, half tame deer
idle by. Yellow dragonflies zip in mist, radiant
scales left behind. Gathered up, instant sight of you
amidst countless valleys and peaks, conversing in
bamboo groves. I’ll take them to a sage,
vast distances for the wisest.
Dragon Breath Monastery in Vast Distance
Residing up river, curtained by maiden hairs,
veiled in azure mist, Dragon Breath Monastery.
Monks and sages seek out its ancient reclusion,
I seek a solitary answer. Single oar stroke begins
a great journey, five willow sway bades me farewell.
Yellow dragonfly perched on oar, only company on vast and vague waters.
Perpetual canopy of mist hangs over Dragon Breath River.
Locals speak of a vast river lord, it’s immortal fire
cooled. Chronicled by poet recluses, their pens cleaned
in waterfall peaks, this river stained ink black.
Ch’u Yuan could be lost to these depths. Humps dive below,
dragon or dolphin, impossible to tell. The fish swim, unconcerned.
Sacrificial platforms filled for the
dragon, smell lingers on dense gauze.
Abandoned villages lie overgrown, constricted.
Misshapen foxes waddle through misted thickets.
Oar song recites in broken rhythms,
spaces collapsed by wailing gibbons,
abstract roars haunt Master Pang realms.
Sunken rock disturbs singing oar, gibbons
silenced. Crane abandons pine top, its
rider lost in the ancient smoke.
Limit of vision, a hanging lantern,
silhouettes of trout rise and vanish.
Splash – faint, no more. Craft slide
by, inevitable dark reasserts itself.
Jackals shift in and out of mist,
melon dust scattered from untended gardens.
Sign of heavens change, recluse wanders
up stream leave empty thatch wrapped in green vine.
Suns blaze absent here, definition and time
fade in smoke. Incantations of
three hundred verses wish all safe passage,
lone voice amidst the great hollow.
From the river mist divides, woodcutters scattered
lamps vanish into innumerable pines. Clouds
of moths appear on the other side. Chuang Tzu
visions in smoke, myriad of forms wander freely.
Raft moored in shore, shelter from the night
taken in an deserted hut. Left on a wall –
In search of Red Pine, South Mountain calls me.
Visitors welcome – cliffs the gate, pines the path,
yard the river, steps the rocks. Watch out for tigers.
Sleep beckons, lone yellow dragonfly grooms on a
cracked sill. Starlight drops through open thatch.
I leave a fire outside – an invite for passing monks and recluses.
From the shore, oar song wakes me. I gaze and gaze into
gossamer, met with a white haired fisher man.
A silent recognition leads to the sharing of morning soup.
Tufted ducks paddle by, pay us no attention.
Sentinels rise river beyond river, ancient forests
shimmer in and out of sight, all illusory under
lingering gossamer. A red tower rises, cloistered
in moss, a thousand magpies perched on
rooftop and struts, all screeching into star
river depths. In this vast hollow, they are my only company.
Tomorrow turns yesterday turns tomorrow. I’ve
sailed in and out of weeks, lost in an
ancient forever. Mist and cloud have fused,
travelers loneliness pervades my every
pore. Even the moon has lost me. Maybe
I’ll see the sky raft wanderer.
Bell sounds through mist, haunting women’s lament.
In indomitable cliffs, stone Buddha’s part
ancient gossamer. No matter their size, all
just holes in the privy. Oar song
recommences a silent tune, clarity lies beyond.
Sun peeks through the haze, a chariot passing through.
The shallows have captured a river junk, immortal moss
clusters the hull, jade creepers mingle with frayed rigging.
Howling monkeys scramble up and down torn sails, white
egrets lay sticks down on shattered masts. A bridge lies
ahead in overgrown ruin, crossed only by flying gibbons. Sail
onwards, gossamer veil covers all, all returns to the Dark Enigma.
Banners billow in azure winds, mist thinned, spires rise
into waterfall peaks. Dragon Breath Monastery
in crystalline serenity. Monks welcome me a shore, smiles
vast and wide. Sun shines bright in
the absence of clinging haze,
yellow dragonfly scoots over duckweed.
Meditation Hall, Asking Monks for Assistance
Dragonfly wings hum through meditation halls,
monks look, feel yellow scales. Books of the
way and discussions lead us into red dust alleys. I
must go westwards – those pine green fathoms hide
their abbot in hermitage, his clarity capable
of seeing into this pregnant emptiness.
Ancient trees line solitude trail, snaked
above mist shrouded peaks and gorges.
Nesting herons watch my solitary steps,
tumbling pine cones birth the only sounds. Hermitage rises,
emerald moss in pine green,a land often thousand surprises.
You didn’t find poet recluses, but something much better.
I cast aside scales for a simple embrace.
Woodlouse cluster. You never did mind them.
Two People, Under the Maiden Hair
Under the maiden hair trees, just two people,
on dharma mats, empty and silent.
Endless smiles by the pond, yellow dragonflies
zoom in clarity. Tomorrow
I’ll sail open azure radiance, but I’ll spend
the night in comfort, your crystalline
words taking us beyond the floating life,
but even for a moment.
Back Home, In Simplicity, Wondering
Fragments of azure swept from my recluse path.
Tiger idles thorough my open gate, my hammock drifts again.
In far beyond distance, mist and cloud have closed
together. Gazing, wondering…will I ever see Dragon Breath again?
Again, poets and poems who influenced this (more to be added): http://skyraftwanderer.blogspot.com/2012/03/poems-various.html
Picture’s 1, 5, 6 found here: http://nigensha.co.jp/kokyu/en/top.html
Picture 2 found here: http://buddhist-art.arthistory.northwestern.edu/arthistory_240/chinese_painting2.html
Picture 4 found here: http://riowang.blogspot.com/2008/04/blog-post.html