Tag Archives: Chuang Tzu

The Barrier Keeper


The Barrier Keeper

For you the music is a stillness. Only what is still
Can walk the two roads. Here is your list

Of things to pack: did you forget the water?
Forget comfort? Forget profit and loss which rub

Against each other behind a tree? There’s a fire
In the woods between the roads. Forgetting

How to run you run without pain. The words
In these lines are here as guests and if you do

Not forget them they will have failed
Like guests who stay too long.

Along one road I found Chuang Tzu’s skull.
I only remember because I wrote what it said:

The ukulele and violin have traded hands.
The nine ordinary openings are closed

And the owl guards the dead rat.
This daughter exists because of what you

Didn’t do. Tell her this: As you play
Your fingers change as things change

And you forget them, and there is music.

‘Being Without Bent’

July walnut

‘Being Without Bent’

Light and shadow leaf out from the same tree
I sit under the roots of the sky grateful for absence

Because I know its shapes make the present
Present itself against this blue sincerity

It is too early for the crickets to give advice
The hornets of time find another corner of wood

As the porch shadow turns east and I sit in my new self

The climbing moon pauses on a mulberry leaf
And later on the neighbor’s roof unnoticed

The pale afternoon ladder has no rungs
But the moon turns slowly until upside

Down it can fall up the sky