Unwinding a scroll, slowly
and secretly, viewing
its mountain landscape,
narrow peaks’ lift into mist,
free-fall of water over
stone, turned-up rooftops
on a distant shrine –
is a wandering while at rest,
setting out along the mind’s
terrain, its rugged passes,
bridges of fine brushwork
pendent over gorges,
a lone boatmen on the river
moving, as your gaze
is moving, toward a lost
pavilion, which opens
into your hand, the road
behind you already rewound.
North Point Vertigo
Blue air, superfine mist on faces
after the long ride down sandy paths,
bike tires skidding to a halt at the cliff’s
verge over sheer drop, blue water,
laughing-gulls flapping slowly
below -- ragged white flags hung
over the chop -- the cape’s relief map
spread out green and brown, doubling
back on itself -- frail barrier of dune grass
and heaped sand -- to form the treacherous
channel known to fishermen as The Gut.
Thin sails, suspended motionless, tack
against crosscurrents, and the urge to be
thrown down gathering force from nowhere
as we climb over the rock face on splintered
wooden stairs, clinging to the rails.
Li Bai’s Reach Coincides with His Grasp
(Legend has it that the T’ang poet drowned while
to embrace the reflection of the moon in water.)
with the moon
in his arms.
to name it
in formal tones,
with a fine brush,
he knew he must
He sailed his boat
that bound him
to the stone pier,
to his drunken shadow.
He did not hear
the slap of water,
against the piles.
He did not speak.
the drowned moon.
Blinded, Li Bai
stumbled into it,
of the dark.
Delaware and Raritan Canal
We are drawn to the floating world, to its frank reversals:
this whole November morning pitched headlong. Trees
bare or burnished, doubly rooted, grip appositional skies,
their fallen branches a closed circle, while a spent leaf plunges
into itself, drifts there suspended. A heron, hunched motionless,
is reflecting on another, wavering. A pointed rooftop hoists
the oblong of its building, as we peer at the sun’s silvery coin
tossed in carelessly, the other world a wish attached to this one.
And the narrow channel deep enough to hold it all, our alternate
lives waiting there submerged, as close as slipping in.