Wednesday, June 17, 2020

below high cliffs - ten poems


Below high cliffs
I slash and I burn
there's vegetables and grain
to boil and steam
to satisfy the present
to brighten old age
looking at a tree in the yard
I count its falls and springs


Below high cliffs 
my companions are the ancients
having reached the source
here I rest
others of more mystic persuasion 
study koans to death
wait beside stumps for rabbits
notch boats to find lost swords


Below high cliffs
all day I see plants
no sign of people
yellow leaves in the wind
birds call at dusk from the valley
the mountain moon rises at night
a crane takes flight from a pine
and showers my robe with dew


Below high cliffs
tigers and snakes are my neighbors
once I forgot my mind
their natures suddenly became tame
people born in this world
all have something divine
mouths of teeth heads of hair
why can't they be kind


Below high cliffs
unaware of the source
wherever you turn is karma
chaos and confusion
in order to see the truth
look beyond your senses
it's always been this way
the spring flows all around you


Below high cliffs
serene in solitude
not visited by time
the mind creates the world
the window holds a setting moon
the stove contains a dying fire
pity the sleeping man
startled from his butterfly dream


Below high cliffs
a white-haired old man
his robe with no hem 
his pants with no lets
practicing zazen at night
working his fields by day
herein lies the Path
where else could it be


Below high cliffs
I face a thousand mountains
one sense finds the source
all six relax
white clouds drift
green water ripples
beyond movement and stillness
there's another world


Below high cliffs
I don't dress up by body
I eat roots and wear plants
my socks are hemp my shoes are sedge
dense bamboo shades my windows
thick moss covers the steps in front
desires die in the quiet
cares disappear it's so still


Below high cliffs
you eat and sleep your fill
indulge desire and lethargy
idle away the months and years
until old age and illness arrive
and a thousand pains afflict you
digging a well when you're thirsty
you endure heat in vain

~ Stonehouse
from: Book Two Gathas, "The Zen Works of Stonehouse"
by Red Pine
art by Huang Kung-wang