Sunday, March 30, 2014


For those of us who grew up before the inception of “real time” (and its nevermentioned dark twin “fake time”), the old myths still have a way of coming into life when you least expect them, like the other afternoon when I was folding my underwear. Generally not a mythic moment, but things stopped being “general” when I moved here. 

Actually the whole episode had started that morning, when I was opening an upstairs window to let in more of this luscious new air and saw The Lord of the Entire Moment strutting nobly, iridescent chest out, along the King’s Way (past my woodpile) as though tossing gold coins to imaginary mobs of worshipful subjects lining the path to my compost heap.

Royalty can, as we know, be oblivious to reality, though I wasn't thinking about that at the time, I was thinking Wow, he looks like he’s been prepped for something big, is he ever sleek, and in magnificent array-- but why is he just wandering aimlessly around his personal mountain gardens, to a small portion of which I happen to hold a mere paper deed?

 Not long after that, as the revelation unwound, from a back window upstairs where I was addressing said underwear, I saw, I swear, emerging from the forest, a shimmering Golden Phoenix illumined by the sun, the shining presence strolling nonchalantly, yet with supreme grace, out into the light as if to greet the world with revelations worthy only of a gleaming Golden Phoenix. This was way bigger than my underwear.

I was facing west, so the sun was fully in my eyes, making the phoenix a golden silhouette with a such blinding aura that I couldn't tell what kind of creature it was, other than that it was alive, but since it was a phoenix it had to be a bird-- one can be pretty convinced even at the edge of a myth, and this was a myth, right?

The presence came stepping nobly out of the dark woods like a good myth might, the brightest of light right out of the dark, lowdown and streamlined, rich with mythos, bearing a spiritual message... The truth came following closely a few seconds later when also came His Noble Self himself - long live the Lord of the Mountain - now just plain loping along, lusting after what must be, I realized, a vavavoom Marilyn-Ava-Rita blend of young hen pheasant, making the absolute most of the moment and its ambient light, who now did a fast u-turn and ran squawking back into the forest, barely managing to stay out of his lordship’s beaky reach and lusty clutches as she disappeared into the dimness, heavy-breathing nobility hot on her heels. 

Then I noticed that the forest floor and meadow ground all around was alive with bouncing birds of several kinds, including numerous thrushes tossing leaves aside while ogling each other, as the the King and his on-and-off consort continued running in and out of the woods while a warbler trilled somewhere with all his heart, and I finally got what Spring was trying to say.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Shocking, all the things 
my body can do 
that I can't...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Old Ones

We followed their path today
through what was once their world
that led among the children of their trees.

The lyrics of their streams were still clear,
their footsteps there to meet our own,
and so the way was easy.

These city feet, on city legs
had lost the dance on thoroughfares,
without the give and take of earth and life.

But here was the balanced flow of focus
that the ancient journey is, of foot
step  -  there  -  just there.

In this old certainty, the plants
grew close up to the path, trusting of my steps -
We were the old ones, coming by again.

                                               --from Ashiu Poems, 1987

Sunday, March 16, 2014


As I was passing through a lakeside village yesterday morning on my way south, I saw a young fellow in a traditional men's kimono, calling into the doorway of a house. He caught my eye not only because of the kimono in everyday public on a daily street, but also because he was wearing a non-traditional backpack that was red and shiny - like some of the newer ones are these days - but oddly shaped, from what I could see.

Then he turned and began dancing, right there on the otherwise empty sidewalk, on the empty street of the Saturday morning village, his hands waving about in the prescribed manner of Japanese folk dance, and as he turned and turned I could see that the red part of the ‘backpack’ was in fact the stylized head of a red dragon; the lower part was a soft, truncated representation of the scaly dragon body. Then a drum and flute sounded, as his two accompanists - a minimal crew, also in kimono - emerged from behind the tall hedge and the trio began to perform.

Apparently they were going through the village in the new fashion, stopping only at households that opened to them and exorcising the demons there, of the kind to be found in every household in the world, if truth be told - and in many countries there are just the dragons needed to resolve the matter - but local public interest in demon rousting appears to be reaching new lows; just enough is budgeted now to satisfy the few elder residents who remember the old days, and still demand dragons.

This was the remnant of what once was a feisty village festival, in which a full-bodied, multi-citizened, demon-snapping dragon went whirling through the crowded streets from house to house of open doors, purifying each home with snapping jaws and writhing dance to many drums and flutes, creating strong memories of confidence in the little kids and reinforcing family solidarity against the demons that ever abide...

Now it is but a vestige, like the dragon's tail... like the dragon himself, who may soon be gone; there have been signs of dragon deficiency...

Where will time take us, when the dragons are no more?

Friday, March 07, 2014


On a drive down to the lakeside road early Saturday morning, I was waiting for the village traffic light to change when I saw a boy on his way from the train station to the junior high school, also waiting for the light to change.

He was standing there alone in his world, as we all do at such times. Wearing his sports uniform, apparently on his way to practice, he began to do incipient teenagey things: wriggle one shoulder, then the other, making his uniform fit his new body more perfectly, then flicking his head this way and that to fling his hair into the just-right random position, then fingering his forelock to casual perfection, tweaking his posture, fiddling with all those things I remember fiddling with back at that age, not possibly decades ago.

Leaving the uneasy edge of certain childhood and entering the bewildering dawn of the outer self-- what a journey that was: standing this tall for hours in front of mirrors, pursuing the unattainable form in the ideal shirt, perfect pants of precise fit, these shoes and no others, all of a style that would last forever, every waking moment the focus of a new-life look at this historic and invaluable instant: gleaming shoes, hair combed per minute, rat-tail comb in pegged pants back pocket, as I recall in flashes...

Then three junior high girls from the train came up quietly behind the boy and stood there at a discreet distance, remaining silent lest he turn and behold them and then what, and began doing the female version of the same choreography of hair care and mini-twerks, not one of the four wondering, any more than anyone does at that age (and beyond), "What is causing this odd behavior? Why am I doing these things?" These are not questions we get to ask, or even conceive of-- until perhaps decades later, while maybe waiting for the light...

Cultures are formed around these cosmos-driven, reflexy things. If we were placed in full charge of them we would never have evolved this far, let alone have developed the simple, cogitative, aggregative sapience that evolution has permitted us, assuaging some living need in us to deal - if only in a limited way - with such fundamental concepts as sex, subsistence and society, all of which we're still having global problems with. We are new to this, after all; as a species, we're not even out of beta yet, really...

Those tweaking, flicking, twerking kids are doing big work.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Kyoto Journal issue #79 
- An Unfamiliar Home
is now out!

 #79 is out! 
Includes selections from Pure Land Mountain;