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Gary Snyder's Haiku
Gary Snyder, Zen Master

A beat irodalom: Gary Snyder magyarul
Haikui Terebess Gábor fordításában

.

Gary Snyder (1930-)
Selected Poems

Hitch Haiku

How Poetry Comes to Me

Axe Handles

For All

On Top

Hay for the Horses

Old Bones

Kisiabaton

At Tower Peak

Smokey the Bear Sutra

Myths and Texts

Milton by Firelight

After Work

A Walk

Civilization

this poem is for deer

from Logging

Manzanita

No Matter, Never Mind

Once Only

Hiking in the Totsugawa Gorge

Regarding Wave

Rolling in at Twilight

For a Stone Girl at Sanchi

Mid-August at Sourdough

Robin

Siwashing It Out Once in Suislaw Forest
A Spring Night in Shokoku-ji
An Autumn Morning in Shokoku-ji
December at Yase

North Beach Alba

this poem is for bear

Three Deer One Coyote

a heifer clambers up

Long Hair

John Muir on Mt Ritter

Not Leaving the House

Pine tree tops

Piute Creek

Riprap

The Snow on Saddle Mountain

second shaman song

The Spring

Han-shan, Cold Mountain Poems
Translated by Gary Snyder

The Houseboat Summit: February, 1967, Sausalito, Calif. Featuring Timothy Leary, Gary Snyder, Alan Watts and Allen Ginsberg

The Circumambulation of Mt. Tamalpais


Gary Snyder. Buddhist Anarchism


Bibliography

 

How Poetry Comes to Me

It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light

 

Axe Handles

One afternoon the last week in April
Showing Kai how to throw a hatchet
One-half turn and it sticks in a stump.
He recalls the hatchet-head
Without a handle, in the shop
And go gets it, and wants it for his own
A broken off axe handle behind the door
Is long enough for a hatchet,
We cut it to length and take it
With the hatchet head
And working hatchet, to the wood block.
There I begin to shape the old handle
With the hatchet, and the phrase
First learned from Ezra Pound
Rings in my ears!
"When making an axe handle
the pattern is not far off."
And I say this to Kai
"Look: We'll shape the handle
By checking the handle
Of the axe we cut with--"
And he sees. And I hear it again:
It's in Lu Ji's Wen Fu, fourth century
A.D. "Essay on Literature" -- in the
Preface: "In making the handle
Of an axe
By cutting wood with an axe
The model is indeed near at hand."
My teacher Shih-hsiang Chen
Translated that and taught it years ago
And I see Pound was an axe
Chen was an axe, I am an axe
And my son a handle, soon
To be shaping again, model
And tool, craft of culture,
How we go on.

 

For All

Ah to be alive
on a mid-September morn
fording a stream
barefoot, pants rolled up,
holding boots, pack on,
sunshine, ice in the shallows,
northern rockies.

Rustle and shimmer of icy creek waters
stones turn underfoot, small and hard as toes
cold nose dripping
singing inside
creek music, heart music,
smell of sun on gravel.

I pledge allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the soil
of Turtle Island,
and to the beings who thereon dwell
one ecosystem
in diversity
under the sun
With joyful interpenetration for all.

 

On Top

All this new stuff goes on top
turn it over, turn it over
wait and water down
from the dark bottom
turn it inside out
let it spread through
Sift down even.
Watch it sprout.

A mind like compost.

 

Hay for the Horses

He had driven half the night
From far down San Joaquin
Through Mariposa, up the
Dangerous Mountain roads,
And pulled in at eight a.m.
With his big truckload of hay
behind the barn.
With winch and ropes and hooks
We stacked the bales up clean
To splintery redwood rafters
High in the dark, flecks of alfalfa
Whirling through shingle-cracks of light,
Itch of haydust in the
sweaty shirt and shoes.
At lunchtime under Black oak
Out in the hot corral,
---The old mare nosing lunchpails,
Grasshoppers crackling in the weeds---
"I'm sixty-eight" he said,
"I first bucked hay when I was seventeen.
I thought, that day I started,
I sure would hate to do this all my life.
And dammit, that's just what
I've gone and done."

From Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems by Gary Snyder, published by North Point Press. Copyright © 1958,
1959, 1965 Gary Snyder.

 

Old Bones

Out there walking round, looking out for food,
a rootstock, a birdcall, a seed that you can crack
plucking, digging, snaring, snagging,
barely getting by,

no food out there on dusty slopes of scree—
carry some—look for some,
go for a hungry dream.
Deer bone, Dall sheep,
bones hunger home.

Out there somewhere
a shrine for the old ones,
the dust of the old bones,
old songs and tales.

What we ate—who ate what—
how we all prevailed.

from Mountains and Rivers Without End, published by Counterpoint Press, 1996.

 

Kisiabaton

Beat-up datsun idling in the road
shreds of fog
almost-vertical hillsides drop away
huge stumps fading into mist
soft warm rain

Snaggy, forked and spreading tops, a temperate cloud-forest tree

Chamaecyparis formosiana--
Taiwan hinoki,
hung-kuai red cypress

That the tribal people call kisiabaton

this rare old tree
is what we came to see.

from No Nature by Gary Snyder. Copyright© 1992 by Gary Snyder.

 

At Tower Peak

Every tan rolling meadow will turn into housing
Freeways are clogged all day
Academies packed with scholars writing papers
City people lean and dark
This land most real
As its western-tending golden slopes
And bird-entangled central valley swamps
Sea-lion, urchin coasts
Southerly salmon-probes
Into the aromatic almost-Mexican hills
Along a range of granite peaks
The names forgotten,
An eastward running river that ends out in desert
The chipping ground-squirrels in the tumbled blocks
The gloss of glacier ghost on slab
Where we wake refreshed from ten hours sleep
After a long day's walking
Packing burdens to the snow
Wake to the same old world of no names,
No things, new as ever, rock and water,
Cool dawn birdcalls, high jet contrails.
A day or two or million, breathing
A few steps back from what goes down
In the current realm.
A kind of ice age, spreading, filling valleys
Shaving soils, paving fields, you can walk in it
Live in it, drive through it then
It melts away
For whatever sprouts
After the age of
Frozen hearts. Flesh-carved rock
And gusts on the summit,
Smoke from forest fires is white,
The haze above the distant valley like a dusk.
It's just one world, this spine of rock and streams
And snow, and the wash of gravels, silts
Sands, bunchgrasses, saltbrush, bee-fields,
Twenty million human people, downstream, here below.

from No Nature by Gary Snyder. Copyright© 1992 by Gary Snyder.

 

Smokey the Bear Sutra

Once in the Jurassic about 150 million years ago,
the Great Sun Buddha in this corner of the Infinite
Void gave a Discourse to all the assembled elements
and energies: to the standing beings, the walking beings,
the flying beings, and the sitting beings -- even grasses,
to the number of thirteen billion, each one born from a
seed, assembled there: a Discourse concerning
Enlightenment on the planet Earth.

"In some future time, there will be a continent called
America. It will have great centers of power called
such as Pyramid Lake, Walden Pond, Mt. Rainier, Big Sur,
Everglades, and so forth; and powerful nerves and channels
such as Columbia River, Mississippi River, and Grand Canyon
The human race in that era will get into troubles all over
its head, and practically wreck everything in spite of
its own strong intelligent Buddha-nature."

"The twisting strata of the great mountains and the pulsings
of volcanoes are my love burning deep in the earth.
My obstinate compassion is schist and basalt and
granite, to be mountains, to bring down the rain. In that
future American Era I shall enter a new form; to cure
the world of loveless knowledge that seeks with blind hunger:
and mindless rage eating food that will not fill it."

And he showed himself in his true form of

SMOKEY THE BEAR

A handsome smokey-colored brown bear standing on his hind legs, showing that he is aroused and watchful.

Bearing in his right paw the Shovel that digs to the truth beneath appearances; cuts the roots of useless attachments, and flings damp sand on the fires of greed and war;

His left paw in the Mudra of Comradely Display -- indicating that all creatures have the full right to live to their limits and that deer, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, dandelions, and lizards all grow in the realm of the Dharma;

Wearing the blue work overalls symbolic of slaves and laborers, the countless men oppressed by a civilization that claims to save but often destroys;

Wearing the broad-brimmed hat of the West, symbolic of the forces that guard the Wilderness, which is the Natural State of the Dharma and the True Path of man on earth: all true paths lead through mountains --

With a halo of smoke and flame behind, the forest fires of the kali-yuga, fires caused by the stupidity of those who think things can be gained and lost whereas in truth all is contained vast and free in the Blue Sky and Green Earth of One Mind;

Round-bellied to show his kind nature and that the great earth has food enough for everyone who loves her and trusts her;

Trampling underfoot wasteful freeways and needless suburbs; smashing the worms of capitalism and totalitarianism;

Indicating the Task: his followers, becoming free of cars, houses, canned foods, universities, and shoes; master the Three Mysteries of their own Body, Speech, and Mind; and fearlessly chop down the rotten trees and prune out the sick limbs of this country America and then burn the leftover trash.

Wrathful but Calm. Austere but Comic. Smokey the Bear will
Illuminate those who would help him; but for those who would hinder or
slander him,

HE WILL PUT THEM OUT.

Thus his great Mantra:

Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana
Sphataya hum traka ham nam

"I DEDICATE MYSELF TO THE UNIVERSAL DIAMOND
BE THIS RAGING FURY DESTROYED"

And he will protect those who love woods and rivers,
Gods and animals, hobos and madmen, prisoners and sick
people, musicians, playful women, and hopeful children:

And if anyone is threatened by advertising, air pollution, television,
or the police, they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR'S WAR SPELL:

DROWN THEIR BUTTS
CRUSH THEIR BUTTS
DROWN THEIR BUTTS
CRUSH THEIR BUTTS

And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surely appear to put the enemy out
with his vajra-shovel.

Now those who recite this Sutra and then try to put it in practice will accumulate merit as countless as the sands of Arizona and Nevada.

Will help save the planet Earth from total oil slick.

Will enter the age of harmony of man and nature.

Will win the tender love and caresses of men, women, and beasts.

Will always have ripe blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at.

AND IN THE END WILL WIN HIGHEST PERFECT ENLIGHTENMENT.

thus have we heard.

(may be reproduced free forever)

 

from Myths and Texts

Felix Baran
Hugo Gerlot
Gustav Johnson
John Looney
Abraham Rabinowitz
Shot down on the steamer Verona
For the shingle-weavers of Everett
the Everett Massacre November 5 1916

Ed McCullough, a logger for thirty-five years
Reduced by the advent of chainsaws
To chopping off knots at the landing:
"I don't have to take this kind of shit,
Another twenty years
and I'll tell 'em to shove it"
(he was sixty-five then)
In 1934 they lived in shanties
At Hooverville, Sullivan's Gulch.
When the Portland-bound train came through
The trainmen tossed off coal.

"Thousands of boys shot and beat up
For wanting a good bed, good pay,
decent food, in the woods -- "
No one knew what it meant:
"Soldiers of Discontent."

 

Milton by Firelight
Piute Creek , August 1955

"Oh hell, what do mine eyes with grief behold ?"

Working with an old

Singlejack miner, who can sense

The vain and cleavage

In the very guts of rock, can

Blast granite, build

Switchbacks that last for years

Under the beat of snow, thaw, mule-hooves

What use,Milton , a silly story

Of our lost general parents, eaters of fruit ?

The Indian, the chainsaw boy

And a string of six mules

Came riding down to camp

Hungry for tomatoes and green apples.

Sleeping in saddle-blankets

Under a bright red night-sky

Han River slantwise by morning.

Jays squall

Coffeee boils

In ten thousand years the Sierra

Will be dry and dead, home of the scorpions.

Ice-scratched slabs and bent trees.

No paradise, no fall,

Only the weathering land

The wheeling sky,

Man, with his Satan

Scouring the chaos of the mind.

Oh Hell!

Fire down

Too dark to read, miles from a road

The bell-mare clangs in the meadow

That packed dirt for a fill-in

Scrambling through loose rocks

On an old trail

All of a summer's day

(1959)

 

After Work

The shack and a few trees
float in the blowing fog

I pull out your blouse,
warm my cold hands
on your breasts.
you laugh and shudder
peeling garlic by the
hot iron stove.
bring in the axe, the rake,
the wood

we'll lean on the wall
against each other
stew simmering on the fire
as it grows dark
drinking wine.

 

A Walk

Sunday the only day we don't work:
Mules farting around the meadow,
Murphy fishing,
The tent flaps in the warm
Early sun: I've eaten breakfast and I'll
Take a walk
To Benson Lake. Packed a lunch,
Goodbye. Hopping on creekbed boulders
Up the rock throat three miles
Puite Creek --
In steep gorge glacier-slick rattlesnake country
Jump, land by a pool, trout skitter,
The clear sky. Deer tracks.
Bad place by a falls, boulders big as houses,
Lunch tied to belt,
I stemmed up a crack and almost fell
But rolled out safe on a ledge
and ambled on.
Quail chicks freeze underfoot, color of stone
Then run cheep! away, hen quail fussing.
Craggy west end of Benson Lake -- after edging
Past dark creek pools on a long white slope --
Lookt down in the ice-black lake
lined with cliff
From far above: deep shimmering trout.
A lone duck in a gunsightpass
steep side hill
Through slide-aspen and talus, to the east end,
Down to grass, wading a wide smooth stream
Into camp. At last.
By the rusty three-year-
Ago left-behind cookstove
Of the old trail crew,
Stoppt and swam and ate my lunch.

 

Civilization

Those are the people who do complicated things.

they'll grab us by the thousands
and put us to work.

World's going to hell, with all these
villages and trails.
Wild duck flocks aren't
what they used to be.
Aurochs grow rare.

Fetch me my feathers and amber

*

A small cricket
on the typescript page of
"Kyoto born in spring song"
grooms himself
in time with The Well-Tempered Clavier.
I quit typing and watch him through a glass.
How well articulated! How neat!

Nobody understands the ANIMAL KINGDOM.

*

When creeks are full
The poems flow
When creeks are down
We heap stones.

 

this poem is for deer

I dance on all the mountains
On five mountains, I have a dancing place
When they shoot at me I run
To my five mountains"

Missed a last shot
At the Buck, in twilight
So we came back sliding
On dry needles through cold pines.
Scared out a cottontail
Whipped up the winchester
Shot off its head.
The white body rolls and twitches
In the dark ravine
As we run down the hill to the car.

deer foot down scree
Picasso's fawn, Issa's fawn,
Deer on the autumn mountain
Howling like a wise man
Stiff springy jumps down the snowfields
Head held back, forefeet out,
Balls tight in a tough hair sack
Keeping the human soul from care
on the autumn mountain
Standing in late sun, ear-flick
Tail-flick, gold mist of flies
Whirling from nostril to eyes.

Home by night
drunken eye
Still picks out Taurus
Low, and growing high:
four-point buck
Dancing in the headlights
on the lonely road
A mile past the mill-pond,
With the car stopped, shot
That wild silly blinded creature down.

Pull out the hot guts
with hard bare hands
While night-frost chills the tongue
and eye
The cold horn-bones.
The hunter's belt
just below the sky
Warm blood in the car trunk.
Deer-smell,
the limp tongue.

Deer don't want to die for me.
I'll drink sea-water
Sleep on beach pebbles in the rain
Until the deer come down to die
in pity for my pain.

 

from Logging

"Lodgepole Pine: the wonderful reproductive
power of this species on areas over which its
stand has been killed by fire is dependent upon
the ability of the closed cones to endure a fire
which kills the tree without injuring its seed.
After fire, the cones open and shed their seeds
on the bared ground and a new growth springs up."

Stood straight
holding the choker high
As the Cat swung back the arch
piss-firs falling,
Limbs snapping on the tin hat
bright D caught on
Swinging butt-hooks
ringing against cold steel.

Hsu Fang lived on leeks and pumpkins.
Goosefoot,
wild herbs,
fields lying fallow!

But it's hard to farm
Between the stumps:
The cows get thin, the milk tastes funny,
The kids grow up and go to college
They don't come back
the little fir trees do

Rocks the same blue as sky
Only icefields, a mile up,
are the mountain
Hovering over ten thousand acres
Of young fir.

 

Manzanita

Before dawn the coyotes
weave medicine songs
dream nets -- spirit baskets --
milky way music
they cook young girls with
to be woman;
or the whirling dance of
striped boys --

At moon-set the pines are gold-purple
Just before sunrise.

The dog hastens into the undergrowth
Comes back panting
Huge, on the small dry flowers.

A woodpecker
Drums and echoes
Across the still meadow

One man draws, and releases an arrow
Humming, flat,
Misses a gray stump, and splitting
A smooth red twisty manzanita bough.

Manzanita the tips in fruit,
Clusters of hard green berries
The longer you look
The bigger they seem,

`little apples'

 

No Matter, Never Mind

The Father is the Void
The Wife Waves

Their child is Matter.

Matter makes it with his mother
And their child is Life,
a daughter.

The Daughter is the Great Mother
Who, with her father/brother Matter
as her lover,

Gives birth to the Mind.

 

Once Only

almost at the equator
almost at the equinox
exactly at midnight
from a ship
the full

moon

in the center of the sky.


Sappa Creek near Singapore
March 1958


Hiking in the Totsugawa Gorge

pissing

watching

a waterfall

 

Regarding Wave

The voice of the Dharma
the voice
now

A shimmering bell
through all.

Every hill, still.
Every tree alive. Every leaf.
All the slopes flow.
old woods, new seedlings,
tall grasses plumes.

Dark hollows; peaks of light.
wind stirs the cool side
Each leaf living.
All the hills.

The Voice
is a wife
to

him still.

 

Rolling In At Twilight

Rolling in at twilight -- Newport Oregon --
cool of september ocean air, I
saw Phil Whalen with a load of groceries
walking through a dirt lot full
of logging trucks, cats
and skidders

looking at the ground.

I yelld as the bus wheeld by
but he kept looking down.
ten minutes later with my books and pack
knockt at his door

"Thought you might be on that bus"
he said, and
showed me all the food.

 

For a Stone Girl at Sanchi

half asleep on the cold grass
night rain flicking the maples
under a black bowl upside-down
on a flat land
on a wobbling speck
smaller than stars,
space,
the size of a seed,
hollow as bird skulls.
light flies across it
--never is seen.

a big rock weatherd funny,
old tree trunks turnd stone,
split rocks and find clams.
all that time
loving;
two flesh persons changing,
clung to, doorframes
notions, spear-hafts
in a rubble of years.
touching,
this dream pops. it was real:
and it lasted forever.

 

Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout

Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain
Pitch glows on the fir-cones
Across rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.

I cannot remember things I once read
A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.

 

Robin

I always miss you--
last fall, back from the mountains
you'd left San Francisco
now I'm going north again
as you go south.

I sit by a fire at the ocean.
How many times I've
hitchhiked away;
the same pack on my back.

Rain patters on the rhododendron
cloud sweeps in from the sea over sand dunes
and stoopt lodgepole pine.

Thinking of the years since we parted.
last week I dreamed of you--
buying a bag of groceries
for Hatch.

Sutton Lake, Oregon, 16 June 1954

 

Siwashing it out once in Siuslaw Forest

I slept under rhododendron
All night blossoms fell
Shivering on a sheet of cardboard
Feet stuck in my pack
Hands deep in my pockets
Barely able to sleep.
I remembered when we were in school
Sleeping together in a big warm bed
We were the youngest lovers
When we broke up we were still nineteen.
Now our friends are married
You teach school back east
I dont mind living this way
Green hills the long blue beach
But sometimes sleeping in the open
I think back when I had you.

 

A spring night in Shokoku-ji

Eight years ago this May
We walked under cherry blossoms
At night in an orchard in Oregon.
All that I wanted then
Is forgotten now, but you.
Here in the night
In a garden of the old capital
I feel the trembling ghost of Yugao
I remember your cool body
Naked under a summer cotton dress.

 

An autumn morning in Shokoku-ji

Last night watching the Pleiades,
Breath smoking in the moonlight,
Bitter memory like vomit
Choked my throat.
I unrolled a sleeping bag
On mats on the porch
Under thick autumn stars.
In dream you appeared
(Three times in nine years)
Wild, cold, and accusing.
I woke shamed and angry:
The pointless wars of the heart.
Almost dawn. Venus and Jupiter.
The first time I have
Ever seen them close.

 

December at Yase

You said, that October,
In the tall dry grass by the orchard
When you chose to be free,
"Again someday, maybe ten years."

After college I saw you
One time. You were strange.
And I was obsessed with a plan.

Now ten years and more have
Gone by: I've always known
where you were --
I might have gone to you
Hoping to win your love back.
You still are single.

I didn't.
I thought I must make it alone. I
Have done that.

Only in dream, like this dawn,
Does the grave, awed intensity
Of our young love
Return to my mind, to my flesh.

We had what the others
All crave and seek for
We left it behind at nineteen

I feel ancient, as though I had
Lived many lives.

And may never now know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my
karma demands.

 

North Beach Alba

walking half-drunk in a strange pad
making it out to the cool gray
san francisco dawn --
white gulls over white houses,
fog down the bay,
tamalpais a fresh green hill in the new sun,
driving across the bridge in a beat old car
to work.

 

this poem is for bear

"As for me I am a child of the god of the mountains."

A bear down under the cliff.
She is eating huckleberries.
They are ripe now
Soon it will snow, and she
Or maybe he, will crawl into a hole
And sleep. You can see
Huckleberries in bearshit if you
Look, this time of year
If I sneak up on the bear
It will grunt and run
The others had all gone down
From the blackberry brambles, but one girl
Spilled her basket, and was picking up her
Berries in the dark.
A tall man stood in the shadow, took her arm,
Led her to his home. He was a bear.
In a house under the mountain
She gave birth to slick dark children
With sharp teeth, and lived in the hollow
Mountain many years.

snare a bear: call him out:
honey-eater
forest apple
light-foot
Old man in the fur coat, Bear! come out!
Die of your own choice!
Grandfather black-food!
this girl married a bear
Who rules in the mountains, Bear!

you have eaten many berries
you have caught many fish
you have frightened many people

Twelve species north of Mexico
Sucking their paws in the long winter
Tearing the high-strung caches down
Whining, crying, jacking off
(Odysseus was a bear)

Bear-cubs gnawing the soft tits
Teeth gritted, eyes screwed tight
but she let them.

Til her brothers found the place
Chased her husband up the gorge
Cornered him in the rocks.
Song of the snared bear:
"Give me my belt.
"I am near death.
"I came from the mountain caves
"At the headwaters,
"The small streams there
"Are all dried up.

-- I think I'll go hunt bears.
"hunt bears?
Why shit Snyder.
You couldn't hit a bear in the ass
with a handful of rice!"

 

Three Deer One Coyote Running In The Snow

First three deer bounding
and then coyote streaks right after
tail flat out

I stand dumb a while two seconds
blankly black-and-white of trees and snow

Coyote's back!
good coat, fluffy tail,
sees me: quickly gone.


Later:
I walk through where they ran

to study how that news all got put down.

 

A Heifer Clambers Up

a heifer clambers up
nighthawk goes out
horses
trail back to the barn.
spider gleams in his
new web
dew on the shingles, on the car,
on the mailbox --
the mole, the onion and the beetle
cease their wars.
worlds tip
into the sunshine, men and women
get up, babies crying
children grab their lunches
and leave for school.
the radio announces
in the milking barn
in the car bound for work
"tonight all the countries
will get drunk and have a party"
russia, america, china,
singing with their poets,
pregnant and gracious,
sending flowers and dancing bears
to all the capitals
fat
with the baby happy land

 

Long Hair

Hunting Season:

Once every year, the Deer catch human beings. They
do various things which irresistibly draw men near them;
each one selects a certain man. The Deer shoots the man,
who is then compelled to skin it and carry its meat home
and eat it. Then the deer is inside the man. He waits and
hides in there, but the man doesn't know it. When
enough Deer have occupied enough men, they will strike all
at once. The men who don't have Deer in them will
also be taken by surprise, and everything will change some.
This is called "takeover from inside".

Deer Trails:

Deer trails run on the side hills
cross country access roads
dirt ruts to bone-white
board house ranches,
tumbled down.

Waist high through manzanita,
Through sticky, prickly, crackling
gold dry summer grass.

Deer trails lead to water,
Lead sideways all ways
Narrowing down to one best path --
And split --
And fade away to nowhere.

Deer trails slide under freeways
slip into cities
swing back and forth in crops and orchards
run up the sides of schools!

Deer spoor and crisscross dusty tracks
Are in the house: and coming out the walls:

And deer bound through my hair.

 

John Muir on Mt. Ritter:

After scanning its face again and again,
I began to scale it, picking my holds
With intense caution. About half-way
To the top, I was suddenly brought to
A dead stop, with arms outspread
Clinging close to the face of the rock
Unable to move hand or foot
Either up or down. My doom
Appeared fixed. I MUST fall.
There would be a moment of
Bewilderment, and then,
A lifeless rumble down the cliff
To the glacier below.
My mind seemed to fill with a
Stifling smoke. This terrible eclipse
Lasted only a moment, when life blazed
Forth again with preternatural clearness.
I seemed suddenly to become possessed
Of a new sense. My trembling muscles
Became firm again, every rift and flaw in
The rock was seen as through a microscope,
My limbs moved with a positiveness and precision
With which I seemed to have
Nothing at all to do.

 

Not Leaving the House

When Kai is born
I quit going out

Hang around the kitchen -- make cornbread
Let nobody in.
Mail is flat.
Masa lies on her side, Kai sighs,
Non washes and sweeps
We sit and watch
Masa nurse, and drink green tea.

Navajo turquoise beads over the bed
A peacock tail feather at the head
A badger pelt from Nagano-ken
For a mattress; under the sheet;
A pot of yogurt setting
Under the blankets, at his feet.

Masa, Kai,
And Non, our friend
In the garden light reflected in
Not leaving the house.
From dawn till late at night
making a new world of ourselves
around this life.

 

Pine tree tops

In the blue night
frost haze, the sky glows
with the moon
pine tree tops
bend snow-blue, fade
into sky, frost, starlight.
The creak of boots.
Rabbit tracks, deer tracks,
what do we know.

 

Piute Creek

One granite ridge
A tree, would be enough
Or even a rock, a small creek,
A bark shred in a pool.
Hill beyond hill, folded and twisted
Tough trees crammed
In thin stone fractures
A huge moon on it all, is too much.
The mind wanders. A million
Summers, night air still and the rocks
Warm. Sky over endless mountains.
All the junk that goes with being human
Drops away, hard rock wavers
Even the heavy present seems to fail
This bubble of a heart.
Words and books
Like a small creek off a high ledge
Gone in the dry air.
A clear, attentive mind
Has no meaning but that
Which sees is truly seen.
No one loves rock, yet we are here.
Night chills. A flick
In the moonlight
Slips into Juniper shadow:
Back there unseen
Cold proud eyes
Of Cougar or Coyote
Watch me rise and go.

 

Riprap

Lay down these words
Before your mind like rocks.
placed solid, by hands
In choice of place, set
Before the body of the mind
in space and time:
Solidity of bark, leaf, or wall
riprap of things:
Cobble of milky way.
straying planets,
These poems, people,
lost ponies with
Dragging saddles --
and rocky sure-foot trails.
The worlds like an endless
four-dimensional
Game of Go.
ants and pebbles
In the thin loam, each rock a word
a creek-washed stone
Granite: ingrained
with torment of fire and weight
Crystal and sediment linked hot
all change, in thoughts,
As well as things.

 

The Snow on Saddle Mountain

The only thing that can be relied on
is the snow on Kurakake Mountain.
fields and woods
thawing, freezing, and thawing,
totally untrustworthy.
it's true, a great fuzzy windstorm
like yeast up there today, still
the only faint source of hope
is the snow on Kurakake mountain.

 

second shaman song

Squat in swamp shadows.
mosquitoes sting;
high light in cedar above.

Crouched in a dry vain frame
-- thirst for cold snow
-- green slime of bone marrow
Seawater fills each eye

Quivering in nerve and muscle
Hung in the pelvic cradle
Bones propped against roots
A blind flicker of nerve

Still hand moves out alone
Flowering and leafing
turning to quartz
Streaked rock congestion of karma
The long body of the swamp.
A mud-streaked thigh.

Dying carp biting air
in the damp grass,
River recedes. No matter.

Limp fish sleep in the weeds
The sun dries me as I dance

 

The Spring

Beating asphalt into highway potholes
pickup truck we'd loaded
road repair stock shed & yard
a day so hot the asphalt went in soft.
pipe and steel plate tamper
took turns at by hand
then drive the truck rear wheel
a few times back and forth across the fill--
finish it off with bitchmo around the edge.

the foreman said let's get a drink
& drove through the woods and flower fields
shovels clattering in back
into a black grove by a cliff
a rocked in pool
feeding a fern ravine
tin can to drink
numbing the hand and cramping in the gut
surging through the fingers from below
& dark here--
let's get back to the truck
get back on the job.