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February 09 Contents

Village Zendo ArtsA new group for sangha artists
Sensei Joshin O'Hara
Jaime Denko ApraezPaintings
Ross BlecknerPaintings
David Van BuskirkTextiles
Jean Yugetsu CarlomustoVideo
Sam ClaytonPaintings
Marc-Antoine DupontPhotograms
Matthew Daian FassMusic
Rodney Musho GreenblatPainting
Liam Oshin JenningsSculpture
Nina Shuka KlippelPoems
Genine Koun LentinePublic Displays of Attention
Jeremy Tokuyu ManasiaMusic
Joshua Mitsunen MosesPoems
Steve Junryu ReedPoem and Photography
Aaron Ryuko ShraggeMusic
Sybil Myoshin TaylorHaiku
Julie Myoko TerestmanCeramics
Tim TuckerPoem and Photography

Off and On

Over rutted fields the unfenced Southern sky

deepens and unfolds. The frozen mud

fringing a ditch stands tall and bows humbly

to a strange parade of supplicants

stuffed with paradox, gorged on sleeplessness.

Groves and hedges moan, fingered by gusts

nicking necks and stinging knees

too bent from bowing to withstand that breeze.

Nearby, a cinderblock palazzo rises in the smoky dawn,

peopled by bells who must be dealt a glancing blow

to mend their tone, who sit to burn away those extra eyes

fitted through blind years. Vague flashes flit

across their retinas, then splinter into breaths that segue

into stealthy trips from where they never were

to where they'll always be. With devastating smiles,

some smear a strip of crimson on the hour, then wipe it off.

Here cleverness collapses while wit is at an impasse:

Learning to grunt or simply stink have their allure.

Bald heads make balder hearts cringe and purr,

and mow the grassy minds that blithely ornament

their fusty mines with half-baked thoughts. But dormant

in the overeager pit these seekers think of as themselves

a ragged pine lists, blanketed with snow. Its needles drip softly,

its black bark sparkles coyly, waiting to connect our dots.

I love digging into the materials and grammar of many art forms, and feel intensely satisfied when I can write a poem or design a tee shirt or take a picture or, most recently, coil a simple pot. Sometimes the creative process proceeds easily, but most of the time it's painstaking work excavating my own ruins deep in the bowels of those humid caves where I stumble across fragments of myself. Mishima wrote, "When people concentrate on the idea of beauty, they are, without realizing it, confronted with the darkest thoughts that exist in this world. That, I suppose, is how human beings are made." Yeah.

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