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)

Sunday, January 24, 2021

hidden beind the leaves


This is the 23rd of 81 installments of the prosepoem hidden behind the leaves. The first poem was published August 16, 2020.

chirps and peeps and tweets and sudden brittle laughter from the children gathered around the richly robed abbot; hanging apron on hook, out up the shoveled path between the drifts of snow, a dim glare of sun blanketed by high gray mist, cold past the still buried garden to the steps up and up and the silence of the wood, the palpable stillness of this silence, the silence that is the essence of the natural world filling the void behind the susurrus of leaves and limbs and the glare and blare and the chatter and clatter of industrious little men

photograph by M Simoni


Tao Te Ching 23 extract:

Sparse are the explications from nature's creations.
Strong winds come and go;
Rain rarely lasts the whole day long.
No reasons why; just the way of the world.
Surely something man should emulate.

Those who know don't say; those who say don't know.
Sages have always argued for taciturnity. East or west, the message is the same: "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin; but he that refraineth his lips is wise." (Proverbs 10 : 19.)

Sunday, January 17, 2021

hidden behind the leaves




This is the 22nd of 81 installments of the prosepoem hidden behind the leaves. The first poem was published August 16, 2020.

dense fog, freezing rain, wind harsh in cedars whose limbs but bend and sway, dog down hillside through thicket of shriveled rhododendron, prancing, haunches up, head down, biting at crisp snow, a copse of ancient cryptomeria, the thick trunks humbling all my pretensions

tree (Japanese: ki, Chinese: Shu)

Tao Te Ching 22 extract

yield yet remain whole
bend yet remain straight
empty and become filled

The essence of #22 is a mild argument for humility, and the avoidance of hubris.
hubris: (Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods leading to nemesis
nemesis: the inescapable agent of someone's or something's down fall
aphorism: pride goeth before a fall, Shakespeare (the original, it seems---somewhat different---is a line from the Bible)

hidden behind the leaves, winter, begins with this post. The first 21 sections of the poem, entitled 'autumn', is available in Other Pages.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Synchronicity, again

Many people are bamboozled by intellectualizations. Some people enjoy exhibiting their polysyllabic vocabulary. Synchronicity is a word rarely used in conversations at the corner five and dime. Not many people know what it means, and fewer still understand the meaning.

The definition of the word is this: The simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no causal connection. Coincidences in time.

Synchronicity is a concept, first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events are "meaningful coincidences" if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.

Synchronize your watches is a not uncommon phrase particularly in military circles. The idea is there.

Never mind. Think kaleidoscope. Every child has had one some time or other. Pick one up, give it a turn, and have a look. What do you see? Beggars description, it does. Think synchronicity. Everything seems to be happening at the same time together.

Time is the problem. If time did not exist, then everything indeed would be Now. I tried to draw the concept once. A cyclone came to mind. Everything swirling around, inside, outside, up and down. Without time, everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the gurgle of your stomach would be coincidental, happening all at once now.

Kaleidoscopic, dude.

photograph by M Simoni

I spent most of my classroom time teaching remedial classes. Two of my students, both considered well below the normal range of measured intelligence, came to me asking if they might combine their science project with their metal shop assignment. I agreed. The photo above is the result of their efforts: a fine strand of DNA, complete with color coding.

It occurred to me that a double helix of DNA, with its colored segments entwined, also makes a nifty example of synchronicity. Are all cells synchronized? Yours, mine, and the crow in the tree? This would mean, given the nature of genetic machinations, that each one of us is happening right now, everywhere and forever, individually and together. Phew!

Sunday, January 3, 2021

hidden behind the leaves

Currently my prosepoem hidden behind the leaves is the subject of this weblog. This is the the 21th of 81 installments, and the conclusion of Part 1, Autumn. The first poem was published August 16, 2020 and can be found using the archives.


a path through woods banked in drifts, glazed, up the hillside as the snow covered red tile roof comes and goes, skewed by green snow-ladened limbs
with the dim light of the back dock leading them on
stomping feet up shoveled steps,
dog barks and a portly balding man says well well well, so you have come back
so I have, says master ko
i do beg your pardon, sir, i spoke to the dog
yet here i am, says master ko, and you, too, professor, here you are
dog barks up at one and again at the other
you have me at a disadvantage, says the professor
many students, one professor, says master ko
ah, so it is
you have exchanged the lecture hall for the refectory, philosophy for recipes
so i have, so i have; less, i find, is more
dog nudges master ko's hand
so who is this fellow, dawg, that you have brought to my door, asks the professor, and invites them in for oatmeal and eggs
and as the morning wears there come the women, sprightly or stooped, who pad quietly in to eat and go
with rosy cheeked children well in tow
and old men with knobby red knuckles and broken nails, the frail veined hands cradling
chipped cups large and small of blue and black and red and yellow while
fuzzy headed novices scurry about swabbing tables and sweeping floors
oatmeal and eggs and white plastic spoons with
the lopeared mongrel asleep in the pantry, muzzle upon his crisscrossed paws
ladling thick cooked oats into offered bowls
gapped tooth grin
belly full
better'n a kick in the slats, an ancient fellow says, like christmas to a christian
ha ha ha