Hymnus Ad Patrem Sinensis by Philip Whalen

I praise those ancient Chinamen
Who left me a few words,
Usually a pointless joke or a silly question
A line of poetry drunkenly scrawled on the margin
of a quick splashed picture–bug, leaf,
cariacature of Teacher–
on paper held together now by little more than ink
& their own strength brushed momentarily over it.

Their world and several others since
Gone to hell in a handbasket, they knew it–
Cheered as it whizzed by–
& conked out among the busted spring rain cherryblossom winejars
Happy to have saved us all.

Note: spelling is Whalen’s own

from Why Mira Can’t Go Back To Her Old House by Mirabai

. . .My teacher taught me this.
Approve me or disapprove me: I praise the Mountain Energy night and day.
I take the path that ecstatic human beings have taken for centuries.
I don’t steal money, I don’t hit anyone. What will you charge me with?
I have felt the swaying of the elephant’s shoulders; and now
you want me to climb on a jackass? Try to be serious.

translated by Robert Bly

The Jar with the Dry Rim by Rumi

The mind is an ocean. . .and so many worlds
Are rolling there, mysterious, dimly seen!
And our bodies? Our body is a cup, floating
On the ocean; soon it will fill, and sink. . .
Not even one bubble will show where it went down.

The spirit is so near that you can’t see it!
But reach for it. . .Don’t be a jar
Full of water, whose rim is always dry.
Don’t be the rider who gallops all night
And never sees the horse that is beneath him.

translated by Robert Bly

what hope is

it’s like walking underwater
one is tired
even before one begins
but there is this image
just out of reach
that sustains me
and though for every two
I lose one
I keep moving
like a lens
that keeps focusing
I am drawn forward
your face before me
the light in your eyes
a promise unspoken
hope realized

on Hamlet like behavior

here or there
that is the question
whether it be smarter
in the long run
to pare down
or grab the whirlwind
with both hands
and ride, ride
the cat stares in my face
wondering once again
where his bowls
will be
and the past hovers
over my shoulder
specters whispering
in my ear
a month of decisions
that will determine
the course my life
will take
as I begin to break camp
saddle up
and gaze with eyes
that embrace
the faraway look
that claims me