airborne (living hagiography 4.30.2012)

I have a cold. Not Cold Mountain, just one of my usual achy-icky-tickly throat colds.

My home temple finished a week-long Lotus Sutra kido on Saturday day and spent all yesterday on a ceremony for blessing new kasa and an evening Dharma Talk. Needless to say, I’m behind on more than small stones and Cold Mountain. And now I have my own small cold. Oh, sigh.

I have a supply of Airborne, this “Effervescent Health Formula” that I’ve been told will help me ward off the worst of this thing. I’ll let you all know if it’s as good as its advertising.

Will return to regular programming tomorrow. Tonight: early to bed.


new year’s resolutions: witness

Birdling, yellow-washed feathers air-soft and skull
so tiny I can’t discern it under my clumsy caress
& fluttering pulse,

little thing, your claws a sensation only,
your body’s slight weight already lessening
as you open your wings to flit from my hand;

your animal trust and your fragile,
momentary visitation heavy,
so heavy.

cold mountain (44) (45) (46) (47)


observing an unspoken agreement
I follow a stream that has no spring

The choir’s woven harmony settles down over the courtyard. The singers unseen. The voices as strong as the late April sun.


and if you don’t reform this life
your next life will be the same

Ah, the moralist. But the one in me, or the one in you? They whistle the same tune, judgement set to an undertone of anxiety.



Against the chorus of shrieking birds which strikes up each evening, a single falling note, woop-oo, woop-oo, from another bird, unseen and unidentified. Can I live like that unseen bird’s cooling cry? Somehow beautiful, somehow pushing back the frantic scrabble of harsh voices that constitutes the usual panicked mortality?


because their skirts were frayed

Hems. Nerves. Hair. Rope. Wiring. Edges of days. Strands of life.


Chinese and English, pp. 66-69 here.

cold mountain (42) (43)


what can you say about broken tiles or melted ice

These things are not possible to mend
Mending was never the goal
I have scars up and down my tongue
I have cuts up and down my heart
We wrote a pharmacopeia
We practiced what medicine we knew
From dust we came, to dust we shall return
The fire on the nerve
The dance in the bones


with this for his provision

A song sung for no one, echoing in an empty hall. The hollow feeling of living without resentment. The moment before the word appears. The coffee’s jolt, the singed smell of the grounds. A memory leached of bitterness, the meat of it ground into flour. The certainty of hunger and thirst. The broken ache. The fully-exhaled breath.


As always, the Chinese and English are here, pp. 64-65.