Untitled by Shunryu Suzuki

Hell is not punishment,
it’s training.

Note: If you know the original in Japanese, please comment.


Poem Without an End by Yehuda Amichai

Inside the brand-new museum
there’s an old synagogue.
Inside the synagogue
is me.
Inside me
my heart.
Inside my heart
a museum.
Inside the museum
a synagogue,
inside it
inside me
my heart,
inside my heart
a museum
Note: Translated by Chana Bloch. If you have the original, please comment.

Here by Gagan Gill

in her bones
she hides herself
fleeing from her flesh

she collapses
with grief
escaping from herself

claws out
body and soul

Clutching at straws
she searches through
poetry —

this is the very stone
they will touch:

she the fish
and she the non-fish

Both will sink
in this very place

Note: Translation into English by Lucy Rosenstein and the Poetry Translation Workshop at http://www.poetrytranslation.org/ Following is the original in Hindi.

here by Gagan Gill in the original Hindi language

Speaking Truth By Jesa MacBeth

It is possible to speak truth in anger.
When so done, people tend to hear the anger and not the truth.

It is possible to speak truth in arrogance.
When so done, people tend to hear the arrogance
and not the truth.

It is possible to speak truth in deceitful ways.
When so done, people tend to sense the deceit
and take the truth for more deceit.

It is possible to speak truth in loving kindness.
When so done, people tend to hear the love and the truth.

Or so it seems in my experience.

Mascara/Impermanence by Hal W. Lanse

Ecstasy of sadness
Bold yellow
Drooping daisies
Edges curling

There is bright color still
Only touches of brown
On the daisy-eyes
Around the edges

A moment has passed
Fresh life
Young life

Old life
Tenuous beauty
Until all is mascara—

Wise up by Aimee Mann

It’s not
What you thought
When you first began it
You got
What you want
Now you can hardly stand it though,
By now you know
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
‘Til you wise up

You’re sure
There’s a cure
And you have finally found it
You think
One drink
Will shrink you ’til you’re underground
And living down
But it’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
‘Til you wise up

Prepare a list of what you need
Before you sign away the deed
‘Cause it’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
It’s not going to stop
‘Til you wise up
No, it’s not going to stop
‘Til you wise up
No, it’s not going to stop
So just… give up

Untitled by Ryokan

Though I think not
To think about it,
I do think about it
And shed tears
Thinking about it.


Note: If you have this original koan in Japanese and the name of the translator, please send me a note. Thanks.

A Fisherman by Ikkyu

Studying texts and stiff meditation can make you lose your Original Mind.
A solitary tune by a fisherman, though, can be an invaluable treasure.
Dusk rain on the river, the moon peeking in and out of the clouds;
Elegant beyond words, he chants his songs night after night.

Note: English translation by John Stevens. If you have the original version in Japanese, please comment.

Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day
to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Father Death Blues by Allen Ginsberg

O Children Deaths go breathe your breaths
Sobbing breasts’ll ease your Deaths
Pain is gone, tears take the rest

Genius Death your art is done
Lover Death your body’s gone
Father Death I’m coming home

Guru Death your words are true
Teacher Death I do thank you
For inspiring me to sing this Blues

Buddha Death, I wake with you
Dharma Death, your mind is new
Sangha Death, we’ll work it through

Suffering is what was born
Ignorance made me forlorn
Tearful truths I cannot scorn

Father Breath once more farewell
Birth you gave was no thing ill
My heart is still, as time will tell.

“Summer grasses” by Basho

Note: Translated by Sam Hamill.

Summer grasses:
all that remains of great soldiers’
imperial dreams

On the white poppy,
a butterfly’s torn wing
is a keepsake

The bee emerging
from deep within the peony
departs reluctantly