Under the plum moon, he sits
like a frog on a lily pad,
waiting, waiting for what?

I, too, am illuminated
by the moon, enraptured
by the frog’s Thrum! Thrum!
My heart beats loudly
like a big bass drum.

He asks with a smile,
“What shall you seek, seeker?” And I, the fool, answer,
“The stars! The plum moon! Love!”

July, August, September . . .
Desire follows desire
these hot sleepless nights
of late summer.

In the mirror: ego.
The I-maker looks out,
liking, disliking, what it sees.

Great minimalist,
there are too many words!
How shall I choose among them?

Master Paring the apple, he eats
it slowly, bit by bit.
Down to the nothing of it.

September, October, November . . .
Hidden, I watched you
tear the last leaf
from the calendar.

Once I dreamed the snow
fell all night,
effacing the earth.
And woke to what I dreamed.

Once, as the snow fell,
I was at peace
with myself. No more.

Black ink, white paper,
the characters appear:
a farewell party where
I am both host and guest.

I saw you to the ferry.
We waved. The pier
I stood on moved away.

Master Spring. Now I’m a ghost
and you’re my dream,
a flame of shadow
in a world of green.

You’re gone. A cricket
tunelessly sings,
That was a life!

It’s black and white here.
I don’t care. No koto
plays, but I don’t miss it.
Soon I’ll be pure spirit.

My canvas is ready,
small receding square.
My brush, one hair.
Now to paint what isn’t there.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 8 Number 5, on page 50
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