This week I’m sharing a set of 5 poems by Japanese Zen Buddhist monk and poet, Ikkyū. I am unable to attribute a translator to these as they have come to this post in a haphazard way. Let me explain.
I wrote these poems down while at work one day back in 2011. More specifically, I caught them on a livejournal without attribution and scrawled them down on scraps of paper which I later transferred over to my journal. Years later, here they are.
These poems hit urgently then and now, and I hope they bring something to your life. I think the carrying forth of words that brought these here parallels a life of poetry. Sometimes we carry the words, sometimes they carry us. After a year of so much unnecessary death, oppression, injustice, fear, stress, and upheaval, the words that matter now have to surprise us, connect in ways that make themselves known within. Which is to say that the words have to be poetry.
If you are reading this, be kind to yourselves. We have survived. It doesn’t have to mean happiness. It just means that we’re here. Your presence today is another word toward the rest of your life.
5 by Ikkyu
this ink painting of wind blowing through pines
who hears it?
it’s logical; if you’re not going anywhere
any road is the right one
ten years of brothel joy I’m alone in the mountains
the pines are like a jail the wind scratches my skin
your name Mori means forest like the infinite fresh
green distances of your blindness
my monk friend has a weird and endearing habit
he weaves sandals and leaves them secretly by the roadside