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Piercing Stone with the Eye of Zen (1997)

NINE WAYS OF LOOKING  AT A RAVEN

             I

Like the poem
The raven can fly upside-down
And gives no reply to questions

             II

At dawn the raven is
A red door

             III

The raven has
Tucked beneath its wings
The whole world

             IV

The raven is the friend
In the room of the dead

             V

In the raven's eyes--
A spot which
Disappears in the distance

             VI

The raven, even with other ravens
is always by itself

            VII

One can never see a raven
Without hearing a poem

            VIII

A mirror is the eyes
Of a thousand ravens

--Philomene Long

PIERCING STONE VI: THANK YOU FOR PRETENDING TO BE HERE

   “Living in the mountains,
   mind ill at ease,
   Al I do is grieve at
   the passing years.
   At great labor I gathered
   the herbs of long life;
   But has all my striving
   made me an immortal?”
          -- Han Shan
         Cold Mountain

 

Thank you for pretending
To be here.
I do not know but
Have I brought you?
The words must have done that.
The silence needs neither
You nor me.
It is so deeply
Unreasonable.

Even the mice have
Left me, and
My dear departed fly.
To have died
And still the living are
Unwilling
To release me.

I sit cross-legged
My broken, bleeding feet
Once I could have had
Much to say

About them.
Left palm upon my right
Thumbs touch at the tips
Is this my hand? Or a cloud?
I hear my own weeping
In the distance
Their laughter over my grave.

My hair was once
A brilliant red-
Or was it yellow? Everyone said so.
My eyes, I think, were green.
The sand has scraped
The color from them.
Eyes now white, hair white.
So much hair, and
Each strand causes me pain.

Am I here then?
I can scarcely hear
My own words
Or yours.

This endless yawn and cape of sand
Exhausts me.
Once I had hoped (was this vanity?)
For my death
To be worthwhile, not
To become simply sand.
More sand.

I cannot remember the end
But somehow it was white
And alive
The white present: blank,
Soothing and invisible.

Thank you for pretending
To be here.

--Philomene Long

POINT OF ENTRY

We leave behind
little more
than air
and fire
take
with us
less

Flesh
into vapor
and finally
our names
squeezed
out of the sky
it is
a kindness

--Philomene Long

Piercing Stone With the Eye Of Zen Cover

(C) Copyright Philomene Long Estate 2008-2010, All Rights Reserved. Photographs by Pegarty Long.

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