Archives‎ > ‎Issue Nine‎ > ‎

Steve Kanji Ruhl



                                           zendo at daybreak, loitering full moon

                                           over Montague Farm, my lone task to sit on a zafu

                                           and scan each breath, note

                                           each scurry      each subsiding of fugitive


                                          notions – slip mutely like a cat

                                          burglar into dokusan room, mime

                                          response to koan from Mumon’s

                                          Gateless Gate – maunder back


                                           to  cushion – sit    breathe    sit –

                                           crows chortling in willow

                                           boughs, light arising, inhale

                                           to hara – bell clongs – bow – step out


                                           in torrential sunshine –

                                           maples’ newly fledged catkins,

                                           their blossomed drupes, pallor

                                           of saffron-tinted green this dawning


                                           May, uncapped fragrance of magnolia

                                           petals,  lupine, lawn of bluets, dandelions’

                                             supernovas, each second this morning

                                           a praisesong: here – and here – and here – Shakyamuni


                                           holds the flower





                                       Discovered a stone chimney in pine woods,

                                       high and lone, leaning akimbo,


                                       next to the chimney a cellar hole,

                                       turbid rock-lined pit scummed with leaves


                                       and groundwater like rancid

                                       tea, thirty feet from the hole a mortared


                                       ring of stones, derelict well

                                       pooled with black rain seepage,


                                       its cobbles baized green with moss.

                                       Joshu said of his satori


                                       “I am ruined and homeless.”

                                       In hemlocks around that wrecked


                                       cabin: free play of sunshine,

                                       breeze flowing without hindrance.

                                               ROBIN’S NEST IN DOGWOOD


                                                small tureen knit of grass

                                                stems, of wizened straw, engineered


                                                in splayed prongs of branches

                                                among dogwood’s waxen


                                                blossoms, wedged snug to ride errant

                                                breezes, concealed in leaves


                                                and concealing perhaps three

                                                turquoise eggs or maybe


                                                empty, vessel holding nothing, open

                                                to receiving sun or rain,


                                                whatever the world in random

                                                largesse bestows, this nest



                                                begging bowl



Steve Kanji Ruhl has published poems in Inquiring Mind, Prairie Schooner, Oyez Review, Roanoke Review, and elsewhere, and has published two chapbooks of poetry, No Bread Without the Dance and Dead Lift. He's a teacher at the Green River Zen Center in Montague, MA.