what you should know to be a poet


yuko shimizu 

 

all you

can know about animals

as persons. the names of trees and flowers

and weeds. the names of stars and the movements

of planets and the moon. your own six senses,

with  a watchful elegant mind. at least

one kind of traditional magic:

divination, astrology, the

book of changes,

the tarot;

 

dreams.

the illusory demons

and the illusory shining gods.

kiss the ass of the devil and eat shit;

fuck his horny barbed cock, fuck

the hag, and all the celestial

angels and maidens

perfum’d and

golden– 

 

& then

love the human:

wives husbands and friends

children’s games, comic books, bubble-gum,

the weirdness of television and advertising.

work long, dry hours of dull work

swallowed and accepted and

lived with and finally

lovd. exhaustion, 

hunger,

rest.

 

the wild

freedom of the dance, extasy

silent solitary illumination, entasy

real danger. gambles and

the edge of

death.

 

Gary Snyder

 

the sheikh who played with children


 

A certain

young man was asking

around.  “I need to find a wise person.

I have a problem.” A bystander said, “There’s

no one with intelligence in our town except that man

over there playing with the children, the one riding

the stick-horse. He has keen, fiery insight and

vast dignity like the night sky, but he

conceals it in the madness of

child’s play.” 

 

The young

seeker approached the

children. “Dear father, you who

have become as a child,

tell me a secret.”

 

“Go away.

This is not a day for

secrets.” “But please! Ride your

horse this way, just for a minute.” The sheikh

play-galloped over. “Speak quickly. I can’t hold this one

still for long. Whoops. Don’t let him kick you. This is a wild

one!” The young man felt he couldn’t ask his serious

question in the crazy atmosphere, so he

joked, “I need to get married. Is

there someone suitable on

this street?”

 

“There are

three kinds of women

in the world. Two are griefs, and

one is a treasure in the world. The first,

when you marry her, is all yours. The second

is half-yours, and the third is not yours at all. Now get

out of here, before this horse kicks you in the head!

Easy now!” The sheikh rode off among the

children. The young man shouted,

“Tell me more about

the kinds of

women!”

 

The sheikh,

on his cane horsey,

came closer, “The virgin of

your first love is all yours. She will

make you feel happy and free. A childless widow

is the second, she will be half yours. The third, who is

nothing to you, is a married woman with a child. By her first

husband she had a child, and all her love goes into that child.

She will have no connection with you. Now watch out.

Back away. I’m going to turn this rascal around!”

He gave a loud whoop and rode back,

calling the children

around him.

 

“One

more question, Master!”

The sheikh circled, “What is it? Quickly!

That rider over there needs me. I think I’m

in love.” “What is this playing that

you do? Why do you hide

your intelligence

so?”

 

“The people

here want to put me

in charge. They want me to be

judge, magistrate, and interpreter of all the texts.

The knowing I have doesn’t want that. It wants to enjoy

itself. I am a plantation of sugarcane, and at the same time

I’m eating the sweetness.” Knowledge that is acquired is not like

this. Those who have it worry if audiences like it or not. It’s a

bait for popularity. Disputational knowing wants customers.

It has no soul. Robust and energetic before a responsive

crowd, it slumps when no one is there. The only

real customer is God. Chew quietly your

sweet sugarcane God-love, and stay

playfully childish. Your face  will

turn rosy with illumination

like the red bud

flowers.

 

Let the lover

be disgraceful, crazy,

absent minded. Someone sober

will worry about things going

badly. Let the lover

be.

 

All day

and night, music,

a quiet, bright reed song.

If it fades, we

fade.

 

Jalal al-din Rumi

 

this morning

 

This morning

I felt strong and jaunty in my

mail order Israeli commando trousers.

Up at Hard Luck Ranch I spoke to the ravens

in baritone, fed the cats with manly gestures. Acacia

thorns can’t penetrate these mighty pants, then

out by the corral the infant pup began to

weep, abandoned. In an instant

I became another of the

Earth’s billion sad

mothers.

 

Jim Harrison

 

moses’ exploding donkey

 

If you try to

pour the whole ocean into a pot,

it doesn’t work.You can’t put enough in to

satisfy even one human being for a single day.

The eye of a greedy person is the same: always full,

never satisfied. Only when an oyster becomes

content and stops trying to drink

the whole sea can it settle

down and make a

pearl.

 

Whoever

is torn by spiritual love

is cleansed of greed – this and every

other weakness. Be happy with this love!

It’s a very good deal – the cure for

all pain, the medicine for our

arrogance, the great

teacher.

 

Bodies

made of earth ascend

to heaven because of love.

Mountains walk and dance

because of love. Mount Sinai got

drunk with love, and Moses’s

donkey exploded

into light!

 

Like nay,

the reed flute, I have

stories to tell you. Anyone separated

from the Friend has hundreds of stories, too,

but no tongue to tell them. If you let the flowers wilt

and the garden die, there aren’t any more

songs from bolbol, the

nightingale.

 

This

whole universe, every

thing and not-thing, is the Beloved.

The lover, just a reflection of that. It’s God’s face

that’s alive, not the mirror! If a person doesn’t have the

courage to love, he’s a bird without wings. No one

can be conscious without the light of the

Friend, but with that love, you can

see truth.

 

If

your mirror

isn’t reflecting the

Beloved, then

polish it.

 

Jalal ad-Din Rumi

 

what do I give?

wooden bridge

 

On

a way that

wasn’t a way I came

to a makeshift bridge of rotten

planks. I looked in my sack. There was

not even a cowry shell. What

shall I give to get

across?

 

I

went a way

that wasn’t a way. On the

dangerous embankment of my mind

I looked in my sack but could not

find the Name of God. What

do I give to get

across?

 

Lalla