Thursday, August 27, 2015

Eagle (Kishi Ganku), Sonnet #258

The feathers only frame the human eye,
A master's eye, an enlightened being
Who sees the flea struggling in the sand,
Who has forgotten to forget the I,
Who sees the present in all that's fleeting,
Who wields a heavy and powerless wand.
I suspect enlightenment, when men "see,"
Is nothing much, a mere epiphany,
A moment of insight, most certainly,
But not quite a glimpse of eternity.
A piercing human eye, an eagle's soul?
The teachings of Jesus, Buddha, et al,
All come down to this. You're free. It's your call.
Do good, love all men, don't be an asshole.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Two Water Sonnets, Nos. 256 and 257

Seascape (Sargent), Sonnet #257

The former troop transport sails west,
Back to the Philippine Islands,
Now with a family of nine.
I clutch at the rail as each crest
Breaks and falls. I struggle to stand,
Looking at the horizon line.
I am six. The sea a billion.
Both of us younger than the sun.
Flying fish and porpoises leap,
As if to lead us past the deep.
The Deep, from which the waves, dark, wild,
And cold, grasping, thrust up, and flail
Like the hands of a drowning child --
And through them ships serenely sail.

The Cascade of Mingxianquan at Mt. Hutouyan (Shitao), Sonnet #256

Like arrows shattering when they strike stone,
The rivulets off Mt Hutouvan mist.
Shredded by the air, they cease to exist,
Voicing their fall in a moaned monotone.
Each trace has drifted over time, leaving
Long scars (now covered by lichen and moss),
The whole like portions of the human brain.
Now beyond the stone, the waters, weaving
In an updraft, are perpetual loss
Restored above by perpetual rain.
We stand enshrouded in moist air, blinking
And cold by a pool beneath the cascade,
Watching each other as we slowly fade,
Ideas worn thin by too much thinking.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Moebius Strip With Ants (Escher), Sonnet #255

Now is now, but then isn't then.
It was then, then it looms again,
Then. A conundrum, very Zen.
Ants follow only the given
Road, arriving where they begin,
Unaware of the moment when
What seemed a simple and open
Path becomes blind beyond reason.
The page is the time of all men,
Where the word released by the pen
Can grace the past with an amen,
Or trace loops of evil omen.
It's the same word, this very "then!" --
Old oxen and a lighting wren.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Wildfire Sunset, Sonnet #254

In Canada, wildfires have burned
For weeks, staining the sun with ash.
The drear boatman Charon has earned,
Demanding the obulus, cash
Payment for transport of the dead.
What can I buy with suns so red,
Molten gold poured into a mold
Of sky, minted without a date,
Because sun and I are too old
To have value at a fair rate?
The fires to the north are a hell
Of sorts, but I will not go there.
I've pocketed the sun, our share
Of the day, which none ever sell.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Wave, Sonnet #253

I dove and dove into the next crest;
Then, dizzy, with my spine wrenched, I floated,
Face down, standing when sand brushed my chest.
Each wave yearns, its will pure and devoted
To reaching the afterlife of the shore.
As it thins to wash, there is nothing more.
I've thrashed and pummeled the waves, throwing
Myself, breast and head first, for an hour,
Unthinking with laughter, gulps of knowing,
Loosing myself into the wave's power.
I know, not every one dies on the beach.
Those farthest out tip high and flatten out.
I swim well, but they're beyond my reach.
New waves will rise and peak beyond doubt.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Omta (Julia Guerin), Sonnet #252

"The answer," says the spirit mask,
"Is in the gaps between my teeth,
In the black hole of air I breathe,
Beat back with my wings. Do not ask.
I once saved the world with my eyes,
Unblinking for a thousand years,
So not one face could disappear.
I said, 'While I see, no one dies.'
One day the sunshine grew fainter
And I could not see moon or men.
I blinked and prayers filled my beak.
Oh, you, you spirit mask painter,
You must make the world new again.
All my powers grow vain and weak."

My daughter Julia invented the word Omta
to name these masks, a combination
of the Buddhist mantra Om, and Ta, which
is British slang for "thanks."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Multi-Dimensional Snake (Alice Guerin), Sonnet #251

The snake ends in a thinning tail
Of muscle, tiny bone, and scale,
A diminution of its head.
Like the forking of its tongue,
Its tails distend to seek, to flick
The next-dimensional-instead.
Can it hear the hissing songs sung,
Like fire from two extra wicks?
He tolerates the division
Until the fangs of other snakes,
Coiling beyond his vision,
Bite him once, again. He awakes,
Lunges, bites his own tail, angry,
Only to find not one, but three.