My ninth collection of poems, The Zen Master Poems, will be published by Wisdom, Inc., one of the world’s leading Buddhist publishing houses, in Summer, 2016. I’ve been a Zen Buddhist for over 50 years. I’ve been publishing Zen Master poems for the last twenty years. My Buddhism leans toward “crazy Zen” and is quite consciously filled with American references and allusions, including some to bluegrass and others to railroad crossings and Johnny Cash and frisbees. :-) http://zenpoemszenphotosdickallen.net
Editor's Note: Dick's poem, "Dignity," (below) was inspired by Frederick Remington's, 'The Scout' (1902-1905). In describing to me his lifelong passion for the painting, Dick wrote:
"I liked the painting so much that many years, when I was in high school, I’d drive over the mountains from upstate New York—where I lived in a tiny village called “Round Lake, NY”— to where it’s housed in the permanent collection of the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. An added incentive was that the road that crossed from New York to Massachusetts was a mountain road surveyed and supervised in construction by my consulting engineer grandfather—who’d died before I was born."
Remington’s almost oriental picture of the Indian
seated on a horse and looking out
across blue snowy plains to where the stars lie leveled
like coals in a campfire doused in heavy snow
may express it: that single muted figure
half wrapped in blanket and a long doomed ride ahead.
Who would not wish, or seem to wish
such an ending for the human race, cold wind
and suffering accepted. In the posture
he is drawn in, and his frozen stature,
it’s as if the world he lived through was entire,
he felt no shame, confusion, anguish
for being nameless in it, leaving no
explanation of the snow squall, buried grass
and dreams of heavy bison and the hawk
falling through the moonlight of a winter sky.
He probably was not much. But for a time,
there upon that ridge we can imagine, if we wish,
not the pain to follow, not the horse gone lame,
the struggling cries of man and beast alone,
their rotting bodies sprawled against a hillside,
but the tightening of muscle to be tried,
the lifted, blood-marred head,
and in that wish, our glory
or delusion. Either brings us down
who would imagine man is more than this
brushed figure on a horse above the plains.
-from Flight and Pursuit, L.S.U. Press
©2015 Dick Allen