Thursday, July 30, 2020

Toying with Tanka

Below the waterfall
A still pool.
Flycatchers drinking

Breaking the reflection
Of a granite teapot lid.


Dumped ashes from fireplaces
I leave my footprint
In their softness

Legs of stone Fudō
Blackened by pilgrim's pyres.


Monolithic tomb--
Frost veiled trees 
In the blue haze of morning.

Percussive tapping of rain
Counts down the old year.


Winter twilight --
Barely nodding
Some snow drops.

Dried straw burns black
To spite its falling.

On the turntable:  Marillion, "Misplaced Childhood"

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Stuff from an Old Notebook #16

Notes from a Zen film retreat at Upaya Zen Center, April 2010


Narration comes in where a viewer might grow bored.  The everyday is intensified in a way that takes the eye a moment to adjust. The bows of ships resemble shells and molluscs. The eye first goes to large objects, then we note as figures enter, dwarfed against the ships, or strip mines, or warehouses.  It is like looking at a Chinese landscape painting.  And we too are dwarfed, dehumanized.  No one person is sure of the scale of the system that drives all this.  There is beauty in the shots of tires and freeways, the eye finding relief in the curves, after all the shots of sharp metallic edges.  

Li Po, Tu Fu, and a hundred other poets, whole histories, folklores, cultures gone.  They defined China, and the places that defined them are soon to be gone.

The rhythm of the hands of the old women in the factories.  There is memory in those hands.

On the turntable:  Charley Parker & Miles Davis, "Historical Session"

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Sunday Papers: Woody Allen

“God is silent. Now if only man would shut up.”

On the turntable:  Mops, "Rock'n'Roll"

Thursday, July 23, 2020


A problem with my recent writing is 
That I’m trying to hit a home run every time.  
They mostly wind up in the cheap seats.  
Why not try for the odd grounder, 
The sacrifice bunt?
I see the next pitch coming--
High and outside.

On the turntable:  Montrose, "At The Record Plant"

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Stuff from an Old Notebook #15

Notes from a lecture on Shugendo given by Quentin Durning, May 2009

-Mountains themselves were historically kami.  The Yayoi period  (300BCE - 300CE) created an agricultural base from which shrines rose gradually.

-Mountain deities were (are) female.

-Water brings energy from the mountain; the water god flows to fed the paddies.

-Kofun burial mounds are themselves mountains.  "Going to the mountain" a euphemism on death.  

-From 6th century, one got power from the mountains, an exercise with Taoist roots. Japanese Buddhism in contrast is still, grounded.    

-With the coming of Buddhism to Japan, Shinto gods were combined with Bodhisattvas.

The Heian period saw the entry of mandalas that Kukai and Saicho introduced from China.  Mandalas themselves are mountains.  

-In early history, people went alone to caves, rivers, etc.

On the turntable:  Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins, "Neck and Neck"

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Sunday Papers: Brady Fotheringham

"Tourism has opened up avenues of understanding which could yet save us from man's worst obduracies.  But in large numbers tourists have a depraving effect on those who serve them."  
      --On the Trail of Marco Polo: Along the Silk Road by Bicycle

On the turntable: Moby, "Last Night"

Thursday, July 16, 2020


Deep in the mountains,
A wetsuit
Hangs on a clothesline.


Rain swollen Kamogawa
Refreshes the faces
Of stone turtles


Looking Toward Ogasawara,
Past surfers on high Izu swells.
People dying out there.


Three punk hipsters
Stand in Triangle Park
Waiting for the light to change.  

On the turntable:  The Misfits,  "Collection 2"

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Stuff from an Old Notebook #14

Notes from a lecture on Zen

-"Oz didn't give nothin' to the Zen man..."

-Anything is a koan if taken all the way.

-Koan was originally someone's doubt.  When resolved, awakening occurs.  

-Koan 'doubt' vs. Catholic 'doubt.'

-Shōkoku-ji owns Kinkaku-ji and Ginkaku-ji.

-"Without self, boredom is impossible."  - Jeff Shore

On the turntable:  Cannonbal Adderley, "Somethin' Else"

Thursday, July 09, 2020


On a train at dusk,
Ride through a snowy landscape;
various hues of grey and white.


Her lips redder than my wine,
And much more sweet.


Dry Farfalle;
Like butterflies 
In a child's collection.


At the ancient shrine,
Waiting in line to draw sacred water;
A beautiful girl texts on her cell.


Yellow flowers burst from hillsides
Like remnants of 
Ancient splashes of lava. 

On the turntable:  Micheal Hedges, "The Best of Micheal Hedges"

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Stuff from an Old Notebook #13

 -Moving rocks around or raking the forest;  what in the west is Dante’s hell or Sisyphean toil is simply called shugyō (training) in Zen.

-A child playing in the snow will not realize he's cold or hungry or tired. Unless called home, he’ll play forever.  Adults use the intellect to feel discomfort.

-Goth Obasan: fishnets, leopard skin sleeveless T-shirt, shades, David Sylvain hair, safety pins

-Moody melodic music which serves as BGM for the film playing before our eyes

-Old Portuguese/Japanese dictionary has “shizen” as “spontaneously” or “without external agency”

-I hate flying as a rule, and those long trans-Pacific marathons fray my nerves for the duration.  That said, it was a very smooth crossing, uneventful except for the fact that I survived.

-A certain regatta look to an apartment block covered with drying clothes.  Unshakable optimism on such a lousy grey day.

-Had a good laugh on the way to Osaka.  And you need laughs if you have to go to Osaka. 

 -Mist on the rivers, mists between hills. A slow train loads up, ready to finish the day late, far off in Tokyo. In village after village, houses stand dark. Despite the beginnings of dusk, there’s not a light to be seen.  Where are all the people?
-On the way to her hometown of Hiroshima, I listen to my (ex-)wife’s accent get broader and thicker.

On the turntable:  John Lee Hooker and Miles Davis, "The Hot Spot"

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Sunday Papers: Jean-Luc Godard

"The United States imagines no other war besides a civil war.  In each war it is always fighting against itself and against those faults of its own that the enemy nation embodies.  It calls war a moral crisis. When it was English, it fought against the English; as soon as they became American,  Americans fought among themselves; as soon as it became sufficiently Germanized in its mores and culture, it tilted at the Germans."                           

On the turntable:  Stan Getz and Lionel Hampton,  "Jazz Roads"

Thursday, July 02, 2020


A cheating duck 
Sits on a  stone
Beneath the river.

On the turntable:  Voodoo Child, "Baby Monkey"