Triumph of the Sparrow: Zen Poems of Shinkichi Takahashi
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the moon, umpteen globes collapse. Slow motion: twenty feet down, ten billion years. Light-headed, sparrow does not think, philosophize, yet all's beneath his wings. What's Zen? ‘Thought,” say masters, “makes a fool.” How free the brainless sparrow. Chirrup—before the first “chi,” a billion years. He winks, another. Head left, mankind's done. Right, man's born again. So easy, there's no end to time. One gulp, swallow the universe. Flutter on limb or roof—war, peace, care banished.
swam that vinegar's raw fish and vegetables. Downy Hair • • • • • • • • • • Charmed by a girl's soft ears, I piled up leaves and burnt them. How innocent her face in rising smoke—I longed to roam the spiral of those ears, but she clung stiffly to the tramcar strap, downy hair fragrant with leafsmoke. Toad • • • • • • • • • • • • • • “The instant he boarded the plane Toad was in London”—wrong. Toad's unaware of
sun-flash! Fling the lap dog down a manhole. Ha! Sun-blade's in her back. Moon • • • • • • • • • Moon shines while billions of corpses rot beneath earth's crust. I who rise from them, soon to join them—all. Where does moon float? On the waves of my brain. Vimalakirti • • • • • • Vimalakirti, Vaishali millionaire, sutra hero, in bed in his small space— while you're sick, I'll lie here. Revive, I'm whole. Illness, a notion, for him body is
I'm somewhere, nowhere. High in the air a hand beckons, And I'm off again, flying. When I come down The Martian rock will split. Destruction • • • • • • • • • • • • The universe is forever falling apart— No need to push the button, It collapses at a finger's touch: Why, it barely hangs on the tail of a sparrow's eye. The universe is so much eye secretion, Hordes leap from the tips Of your nostril hairs. Lift: your right hand: It's in your palm.
There's room enough On the sparrow's eyelash for the whole. A paltry thing, the universe: Here is all strength, here the greatest strength. You and the sparrow are one And, should he wish, he can crush you. The universe trembles before him. Disclosure • • • • • • • • • • • • • The sparrow sleeps, thinking of nothing. Meanwhile the universe has shrunk to half. He's attached by a navel string, swimming In a sea of fluid, amniotic, slightly bitter.