Zen Buddhism and Martial Arts

Home » Literature Archives » Two Tributes to Ryokan

Author of this poem:

Robert Rhodes (Yao Xin)
(November 29, 2004)

Two Tributes to Ryokan

1. Daigu

Your name, Soto monk,
has come to mean
a sword-sharp wisdom,
made foolish and real.

The indigo arc of moon and stars
outside your window
never ends.

The great wisdom eye
stands there asleep
in your Jizo statue,
the one you used as a pillow
those nights when tears,
not rain,
soaked your folded sutras.

Your name, Soto monk,
keeper of a Shinto shrine,
has come to mean
a sword-sharp wisdom,
as sharp as a
fistful of long grass or rushes on
the riverbank where
you wash your priceless,
mirror-deep bowl.

And so, imperfect saint,
I will contemplate with you
Lu Chi's enigma --
the Chuang Tzu --
the quietly read poems
of Cold Mountain.
We will stick our legs out
straight, unafraid
should a knock come
to interrupt our
dissipation, our throbbing knees.

Daigu, night falls
early around here.
There's no rice left,
so why waste time
being hungry?

The moon,
this same old hunter's moon,
is viewed this night by Taoists
on Chinese mountains where
no one else has set foot
in 200 years.
No one comes here, either,
so let us watch the moon in silence --
shed a tear perhaps --
quietly read
the poems of Cold Mountain.

No foolishness
is too great for us.

2. A Memento of Gogo-an

If it were not for rain,
you might not know
this settled dust from
the amber cast of evening
askance on your books
beneath the window of Gogo-an.

Dogen, Cold Mountain, Tu Fu,
they all possess this same
memento -- the sign of
the true dharma eye
and nothing less, old buddha.
I have seen your sutra
of understanding brushed
on maple-stained paper.
What does it matter if
few can follow you?

Next time I pass near
Gogo-an, I'll stop and
we can read together from
the Eihei Koroku
for awhile. Perhaps
we can even sit
and disrupt a few illusions
that hang in the air
around here like
ancient evening dust,
like the slant of daylight
reflected in amber.

Humming Bird
Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict