Ryōkan sd…

Hai Zi — “I carve poetry and clouds”
Ryōkan sd staff in hand I walk through the gate
— old walking staff full of poems.
Ryōkan sd the butterfly visits the flower w/ no mind
—  the mind is an empty rice bowl.
Ryōkan sd call me a dunce living w/ the trees and flowers
— we all need water.
Ryōkan sd to Etel Adnan, the clouds
—  she replied back, the water.
Ryōkan sd don’t ask me about illusion or enlightenment
I’m just an old fool smiling — I agree w/ him.
Ryōkan sd the clouds are his neighbors —
unfortunately, they don’t always glide by and evaporate.
Ryōkan sd he never worked retail, but if he had
— being a beggar is easier. 
Ryōkan sd he missed the bus
— but, he wasn’t trying to catch it.
Ryōkan sd his bouncing ball is forlorn
— everything, including the ball, is a mirror.
Ryōkan sd he sits alone on cold nights in an empty room
—  the company of everything.
Ryōkan sd he was playing hide-and-seek w/ the children
— sleeping through the night in the bushes.
Ryōkan sd the flowers and moon will guide your way
— the moon is always full and the flowers laugh.
Ryōkan sd at night, deep in the mountains he sits in zazen
— the temple gets in the way of things.
Ryōkan sd he’s as pure as a mountain steam
— I have to piss.
Ryōkan sd the ridicule or praise of worldly people means nothing
— no one follows me on Instagram.
Ryōkan sd counting days is like snapping one’s fingers
— the heart is a beatbox.
Ryōkan sd if you want to find the meaning stop chasing after so many things
— a faster internet connection is now available.
Ryōkan sd day and night the cold wind blows through his robe
— yes, monks wear thermos too.
Ryōkan sd the thief left “it’ behind — moonlight on his walking staff.
Ryōkan sd all I have to offer you is the tranquility of my hermitage



Jonathan Hayes

Jonathan Hayes lives in Oakland, California with his wife and their cat, and publishes the long-running American literary journal Over the Transom. His most recent publication is the chapbook Purposeful Accident (Holy&intoxicated, England, 2022). He recommends visiting the Black Panther Party Museum.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Saturday, June 8, 2024 - 07:27