31 August 2017

Ever-returning spring

To the first day of spring, let Whitman's immortal elegy for President Lincoln welcome ring.

If we break
the oneness-chain,
Only sadness
will remain. 


God's favourite message to me:
"Keep going!"


We may have something,
but let us recognise 
it is not enough. 


Today's pygmy-realisation
is only the seed
of Infinity's dream. 

27 August 2017

29 August 2017

The sound of crickets

'If you use your mind to study reality, you won't understand either your mind or reality. If you study reality without using your mind, you'll understand both. Those who don't understand, don't understand understanding. And those who understand, understand not understanding. People capable of true vision know that the mind is empty. They transcend both understanding and not understanding. The absence of both understanding and not understanding is true understanding.'
This excerpt from the Wake-up Sermon appears in the The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma translated by Red Pine.

I really like this passage for it provokes both hilarity and illumination. It reminds me a lot of the Tao Te Ching with all its contradictions. Certainly it's an easy mode of expression to mock or imitate, but I suppose the message is, "Don't you know you are absurd? Stop it!" Maybe...

Anyway, according to legend, Bodhidharma became annoyed after falling asleep while meditating so he ripped off his eyelids and threw them on the ground. This is where tea first grew from and why he looks like that in paintings.

Here are two scrolls from Suzumushi-dera in Kyoto showing Bodhidharma. The first picture was taken in October 2015 and the next in May 2017. It's the same alcove - I wonder how often they change the scroll and if it is always Bodhidharma there?

It is a fascinating temple. You can sit in a room which has aquariums full of crickets. They keep the temperature constant so the crickets sing all the time.

I love the sound of crickets and would have preferred to just sit and enjoy this music when I visited but there is quite a long talk in Japanese provided as part of the tour and there was no choice but to listen to this - I had no idea what they were saying.

24 August 2017

You blink Your fire-eye of duty
And beauty fills the sky
From horizon to horizon.

21 August 2017


The night broods no more
My heart dreams of the dawn
My mind beyond the sky
The horizon empty of desire.

These are all A2. The middle one is my favourite. I have started using the backs of old pieces because it is easy not to get the spacing right and then it just doesn't fit. Also, it's a lot of paper to go through. But I have decided I like writing out my poems again and again. Then it's like a mantra for me. Good thing I really only write short poems.

20 August 2017

That time of year - the buds are on the branch, the blossoms dreaming of their dance.

Spring is coming.

Feeling inspired by the upcoming exhibition I wrote out a poem for cherry blossoms which is a few years old.

A few hours later another verse came to me.

The bud holds
Its secret tight
But not for long:

"Between the golden sun
And the dreaming moon
Lies my doom
And sweet it is
So sweet."

As if the cherry blossoms
need the poet's help...

Why not?

Only an empty heart
sees the truth.

Hot off the press! It's on facebook too, which I am not.

15 August 2017

The golden cup
of day
I sail upon
the sunset way.


My heart's peace forever knows
Dawn is immediate salvation.


I'm not sure about the second poem - I only have a vague memory of writing it when falling asleep and was surprised to find it a day later.


Beloved is the name of my exhibition.

This is my first exhibition and I will be showing 12 framed works ranging in size from postcard to A2. Nothing is for sale, these are my favourite pieces I framed to decorate over the last few years. It will be strange emptying my own walls for two weeks.

At some point my plan was to have an exhibition like this and lanuch a poetry collection at the same time, but I have not got round to making a book yet.

Smith's Alternative Gallery
29 August 2017

It you can't come to the opening take a look before 10 September.

12 August 2017

The setting sun
teaches me


Who can deny
the satisfaction-heart
of Peace?


Peace brings
the fulfillment-shore
to us.


The path through the woods,
Well trodden,
Into night.


The power
of silence
is absolute.


The fragrance
of aspiration
is intoxicating.

Some different postcards, mixing up the colours.

10 August 2017

Recent poems on Japanese postcards. The paper has a fleck in it which you can see when I used the flash.

Those who belong to the dawn
Will never sleep
In the bosom of death.


We may not know perfection
But this is our only destination.

The music of hearts
I want to speak.


My prayer-life
is the humility heart
that rules the world.

All compassion
are the eyes
of loving kindness.


When evening comes
My silence-heart
Embraces the night
And tucks away
The cares of day.

The first flowers of spring
Are singing in my heart today.
Unbidden is my life.
Unawakened is my mind.

03 August 2017


Persimmon are such an amazing fruit which I only became a fan of in recent years.

The tree comes from a genus called Diospyros, which literally means Zeus' wheat or food of the Gods.

And there is something quite supernal about the sweetness of a perfectly ripe persimmon.

This plate full was only $6 from my local farmers market a few months ago (frog not included).

I also like that it can take up to two months before it is ready to eat, so it is the patience-fruit too.

The main thing to know is there is an astringent variety which must be almost rotten before it can be eaten.

Some online research led me to discover hoshigaki which I am now committed to trying in Japan next time I go there. It is a way of preparing and storing the astringent variety.

Although there is plenty of talk of the other varities being okay to eat while firm, they are just that - okay. They taste infinitely better when they are squishy and have a jelly or jam like consistency, as can be seen below.

The last one from my bowl inspired me to write a poem.

Ripe persimmon
Some other world
of perfection
Flowers do not
taste of honey.

I stumbled on the Zenrin-kushū online and I think it inspired this poem!