PEOPLE OUT FOR A WALK

It’s a beautiful
day. My 72-hour flu
has run its rough course

through my bowels. Sun
lights up the boats on the bay,
the sails like angels.

People out walking
stop to gawk and say again
‘It’s a beautiful day.’

Together

Dear Companion,
O blank page. Each morning we
sit in the silence.

The January
sun bright between ashen clouds.
But that’s just today.

We’re together, right?
Your blankness is the snow bank
with last night’s boot holes.

Hopper’s Nighthawks

Sudden the silence
in the next booth. You lean in
hard, embarrassing

yourself and the book
you brought along—you’ve read it,
you are two-in-one.

Indeterminacy
(the last syllable silent)
your cool date tonight.

Cat Wang on Fresh Grass

Occasionally
Master lets me go outside
to nibble the grass.

Centering is his
thing. He holds me in his mind.
The grass tastes good. I

think of Kikaku’s
bedchamber, lovers’ whispers,
burning mosquitoes.

An Old Taoist Goes Out at Night

A memorable
night of getting to and from
the pub. Ice forming

in the darkling air,
ice forming on the path. Face
and foot in contact

with the slippery
transitions. We go on, old
age mindful of Tao.

Master Class

Some days devoted
to finger exercises.
The soul’s arthritis,

fist’s rigor mortis.
‘Rock or palm?’ my master asked.
‘Contemplative or

closed?’ ‘Open,’ I’d say.
But you can’t will a poem.
Perhaps tomorrow.

Cat Wang on Master’s Moods

I watch him staring
into space. Sacred Mountain
looms in his silence.

I once asked him, ‘What
color is it?’ Cats can’t see
the bright color wheel

of the human world.
It turns and turns. He said no-
thing. I walked away.