Sunday, May 28, 2006

My Poems Are Not Poems

Who says my poems are poems?
My poems are not poems.
When you know that my poems are not poems,
Then we can speak of poetry!



Deep in the valley, a beauty hides:
Serene, peerless, imcomparably sweet.
In the still shade of the bamboo thicket
It seems to sigh softly for a lover.


When all thoughts
Are exhausted
I slip into the woods
And gather
A pile of shepherd's purse.

Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.


If you are not put off
By the voice of the valley
And the starry peaks,
Why not walk through the shady cedars
And come see me?

At dusk
Come to my hut—
The crickets will
Serenade you, and I will
Introduce you to the moonlit woods.



Listen to the cicadas in treetops near the waterfall;
See how last night's rains have washed away all grime.
Needless to say, my hut is as empty as can be,
But I can offer you a window full of the most intoxicating air!


At night, deep in the mountains,
I sit in meditation.
The affairs of men never reach here:
Everything is quiet and empty,
All the incense has been swallowed up by the endless night.
My robe has become a garment of dew.
Unable to sleep, I walk out into the woods—
Suddenly, above the highest peak, the full moon appears.


Today's poetry is by Ryokan, translated from the Japanese by John Stevens.

Back to cat poetry tomorrow.
Send me a cat poem of yours before midnight on May 31, previously published or not, and I’ll send you a free copy of Song Kowbell’s new rattlechap, Lick Your Wounds and Want Again. Or, if you have that one, I’ll send you something else.


Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their poetry and announcements of Northern California poetry events to for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets. Previously-published poems are okay for Medusa’s Kitchen, as long as you own the rights. (Please cite publication.)