A native of Johnstown, NY, I retired in June 2016 after 29 years of teaching writing and literature at Ripon College in Wisconsin. I've published six collections of poetry, including Stutter Monk and Second Wind; I also co-edited (with Kate Sontag) the essay anthology After Confession: Poetry as Confession. Essays, reviews, and individual poems have appeared widely, both in print and online. In recent years I've spent nearly as much time on photography as poetry. A gallery of my work is online here: http://instagram.com/doctorjazz
Reading Po Chü-I On a Cool April Morning
The thing is, I enjoy the clutter of mind: sagging shelves,
creak of a rusty hinge, honey spot bright on the table.
This morning I surprised a squirrel on the porch roof,
dozing on the crest, tail furled, eyes nearly shut.
Yes, that's the ticket: fall asleep every day in the Now,
fur ruffling gently in the thoughtless wind.
Still, isn't it a lot easier to find the no-mind
when there are servants filling the tea pot?
With all due respect, Master Po, you idled your way
through thousands of poems and dozens of books.
A most prolific emptiness, no? Official decrees
fell like raindrops upon the swift-flowing river.
Revisiting your home village after forty years you found
nothing left but rivers flowing heartless and green as ever.
Twelve centuries later your voice rises in my mind
no different from boughs brushing the bedroom window.
Rivers of wind and cold rain flowing, flowing on,
and they are heartless, yes, but not so your song.
Another Philosophical Failure
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
I’d love to take the timeless advice
of Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), as translated
by Coleman Barks and John Moyne,
and just go out right now into the field
and lay down my soul, awaiting
the Beloved’s arrival in that rich grass.
But it’s July, hot and sticky,
and the mosquitoes! Plus I’m tired
of pulling off ticks, two or three after even
the slightest brush with prairie weeds.
“Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense”--I’m quite sure
that’s true, Rumi, but did you consider
the sunburn? And how hard it is for a guy
my age to get back up again?
©2017 David Graham
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