A Man with Crumbs

A tree top twig
   Beneath the empty sky
I look among
   The world’s connected strings
From a lofty view
   That's twenty stories high
It’s here I see
   The flutters filled with wings
 
This morning’s hush
   As Hudson’s sparkle comes
Around it flows
   With autumn’s remnant leaves
The pigeon sky
   Above the man with crumbs
As they flock around
   And eat his cake like thieves
 
His hands still move
   But nothing now is heard
He made a pledge
   With truth that sounds like lie

Fallen Flowers

This wind will weave
   The cry of howling thieves
As calming rain
   Unfolds on golden grain
 
A thousand sheaves
   A million fallen leaves
And still these plains
   Will fill with bamboo canes
 
 
Copyright (c) 2016 by Frank Watson. Loosely translated from Lu Shiheng’s “花落.”

Venice, California

I sit and watch the waters flowing by
Before the flower gardens seen by all:
A place like this you're free to loosen ties
And break the empty shell of sudden squalls.
 
Back home the path unwinds a thousand links
Of men and women full of daily cares:
We have our wine and more but cannot drink,
Enmeshed between a place of name and wares.
 
Outside the skies turn gray and thunder pounds—
We hide inside as air begins to thresh

Morning Meditation

This morning the sky imparted its will
On spring, on summer, when all around
Is rain and mist, and darkness still,
Distilled for a moment in the river’s sound.
 
These years I’ve buried my head in books
Have come and gone with the green dawn air;
Last night I walked by the brimming brooks
And left a song as I passed on there.  

True Learning

Beauty refined in words,
You say, “I know it all,”
And so your mind is blurred—
But if it were, “I am so small,”
The lengths you could be spurred.
 
You carry coins with scorn,
Enriched like grass in the wind;
But all your jewels have worn
And wasted in fruitless sin,
A beast from the wild born.
 
Yet true learning dwells inside, well-hidden,
And all is there, with nothing forbidden.

Seeking Chang, the Daoist Priest

The entire journey was on foot to this place,
Of moss, more moss, and my footstep’s trace.
White clouds about the banks in a quiet state,
The growing grass has covered the fence’s gate.
 
Passing rain, the pine’s green color in course,
I follow the mountain, to the water’s source.
These river flowers, in a moment’s sensation,
Have brought us to meet in silent meditation.
 
 
Original Chinese Poem
 

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