words taken from the last line of a samurai creed

Ryoan-ji, the Temple of the Peaceful Dragon, is known for its Zen gardens. Kinkaku-ji, The Golden Pavilion,
was burned in 1950 by a Buddhist priest who had been seduced by its beauty; a replica stands today. Ginkaku-ji,
the Silver Pavilion, stands at the end of Tetsugaku no Michi, the Philosopher’s Path.

in the swirl of shinto-smoke
that reminds me of nothing

so much as my dead mother,
the absence of myself

is a sword undulled by blood or lust
and too bright for eyes

that have not known tears;
like coins thrust for luck

or safe passage; like
dappled morning on Ryoan-ji pond

where cranes stalk salvation
beside the unanswered prayers

of lost fingertips;
like broken glass

on asphalt in a hot Kyoto night;
Kinkaku burning in the sun;

Ginkaku-ji at journey’s end.

zen

watching the dawn
drag itself up out of this
utter east from my
hotel window, i
open my eyes to
the truth that though
my skin and soul are
across the world
from the ring of barbed wire
strangling the hollow
inside my chest,
my demons are
no farther
away.