Sunday, March 14, 2021

hidden behind the leaves

Stanza 30 will be the last of the hidden behind the leaves poems to be published on this page. Next week hidden will be available only as an email subscription. Those who wish to continue reading the poem simply need to send a request to


two days of clear crystalline sky walking the cleared paths of the university but with no warmth from a fulgent, garish sun; folks bundled, his heavy woolen vest wrapped about his thin frame, hands folded and wrapped beneath the hem, mayhem of chapel roof collapsed beneath snow, came a stooped old man, one-armed, his medal pinned, shuffling along arm in arm with a sad eyed young girl, taller, shoulder to shoulder, feeling mia's letter folded in a pocket thinking all at once of kawabata's suicide drinking bitter green tea from an empty brown cup

Lau #30
The harvest is destroyed in the wake of a great war, and weeds grow in the fields in the wake of the army.
fulgent (ful'jent), adj. shining brightly; dazzling [ME < L fulgent]

Yasunari Kawabata (1899 - 1972), winner of the 1968 Nobel Prize for Literature, was one of Japan's most distinguished novelists. He died in April of 1972. No explanation for his death by his own hand has been offered.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

hidden behind the leaves


cup cradled on palm, a swipe of hand, a streak across wet pane peering through, dawg there slowly trotting over the red arched bridge, flakes of snow lightly falling, each paw lifting through snow, snow swirling away, ears up and alert, suddenly ashamed of his warmth and comfort; then, at once, a snort and curt laugh: such foolishness, he thought, how frail becoming a distant shade and gone into the density of wood

Tao Te Ching 29, D.C. Lau
The external world is fragile, and he who meddles with its natural way, risks causing damage to himself.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

hidden behind the leaves


morning chill, veranda glazed with rime, fog swirls through woods, listening, chants softly from the lecture hall, wind hard through the cedars, gusts and sudden cracks, limbs falling, thuds and thumps, widow makers, eyes unfocused, mind empty, focus a misnomer, diffusion more like, spread the mind's eye to emptiness, wind rattling an errant shutter, violence and the distant hum and beauty of husky basso voices, all one

photo by g simoni

Tao Te Ching 28
'When considering any thing, do not lose its opposite. When thinking of the finite, do not forget infinity ...' D Lau

D.C. Lau translation link:

The Tao Te Ching has seen over 250 translations. The above link takes the reader to one of the most highly regarded versions. Included is a fairly comprehensive explanatory introduction.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

hidden beneath the leaves


a six mat room off the lecture hall, veranda sliders opened to slick black rock round with age and gravel awash in white snow, ink mixed, the abbot's scroll complete, brushes clean, master ko considering the small tiger sawn oblong of ancient oak, its patina gently scraped, him crosslegged, considering, but some hesitation stalls emptiness, clarity: beneath the stout little cup of mashiko clay on his pine shelf is the crumpled letter from oregon, much traveled that, his book of poems published, would he come? feeling indifference or? and what might he reply? ... while a thief in the night has stolen two bags of rice and one of radishes, the abbot's harsh words, the gardener's curse, the professor saying, so, who dares befriend this degenerate reprobate?

friend: Japanese, tomo; Chinese, pang jau

The kanji for friend is often thought of as two hands, right and left, reaching out to each other. However, the old kanji for two right hands clasped is considered the origin of this character. The notion expressed is one of mutual support.

Tao Te Ching 27 (Feng and English):
If the teacher is not respected,
And the student not cared for,
Confusion will arise, however clever one is.
This is the crux of mystery

Sunday, February 14, 2021

hidden behind the leaves


peeling potatoes on back stoop,
purple skinned, gap toothed grin
roads clogged with snow
with well shoveled path to refectory door
bowls ladled full with sweet glutinous oats

photograph by M Simoni

Tao Te Ching 26:
The sage travels days on end and never loses the way
always full, emptiness is his path
through noisy byways, silence is his shelter

Sunday, February 7, 2021

hidden behind the leaves


dawg kneedeep in slow eddy of graygreen water, creek softly over shallow ledge, through snow covered banks, rimed gravel, riffling white over rock on its way to the sea, down and down ineluctably, seams unseen, paths unknown, flowing, beguiling to human kind, beyond our ken, though how different are we from this watercourse way

ineluctably: unable to be resisted or avoided; inescapable.

suggested reading: The Watercourse Way, Alan Watts

Tao Te Ching, Feng and English - 25 '... something mysteriously formed ...'
man should follow the earth,
for earth follows the heavens
and the heavens follow the Tao.
The Tao ... just and only natural

Sunday, January 31, 2021

hidden behind the leaves


parasitic, they seem, said the abbot, hands behind back, rising forward and up, up on his toes, then down to his heels and up again, to rise above the hoi polloi ... how nebulous, how fragile these webs that join us to family and friends, offered the professor, and more tenuous still to those just passing; rather something less than parasitic, i think, i do ... and later, master ko, sitting still and silent on his lumpy futon, a vacant storage shed now home, one pine shelf with tin cup, and mia's gift, dawg coming and going, aren't we all parasitic, getting our rice and pickles at some other's expense, yes, maybe so, but too pejorative, that, too judgmental ... slight shake of head, then, donne's poem, no man insular, each man's death ... did shakespeare know him? and chinese fellow, lao dan, 2000 years before that, too many names, too many labels, too much this and that, splitting hairs into them and us, us and them, how nebulous, how fragile these contentious distinctions

hoi polloi: a Greek expression which literally means the people, but has taken on a negative connotation referring to the so-called unwashed masses
Lao Dan (or Lao Tze): purported author of Tao Te Ching


He hunts not fish, but as an officer,
Stays in his court, as his own net, and there
All suitors of all sorts themselves enthral;
So on his back lies this whale wantoning,
And in his gulf-like throat, sucks everything
That passeth near.
        John Donne (1572 - 1631)
        (Shakespeare 1564 - 1616)