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Wally Swist


for Robert Jones

Yes, it has been a long time.  It has been long enough that hearing
from you this evening is much like having stepped onto what is

apparently an unfamiliar subway car, and in a moment of the terrific
velocity of G-force, I find myself, years later, sitting at my worktable

here in my studio near the foot of Long Mountain in South Amherst,
Massachusetts, writing you.  I especially appreciate your emailing

the photograph of you standing beside Robert Spiess, who is wearing
the medal from his having been presented with the Shiki Award,

and holding open the bound citation in his hands.  You are correct
in your assessment that he was in league with Emerson and Mencken,

as an editor.  Anyone can see what the award meant to him by
his facial expression and body language.  Did you know that he was

a surrogate father to me?  Thank you for the update on your Lavelle
translations—I appreciate that.  Louis Lavelle being the Christian

mystic of the intelligentsia, in direct opposition to Sartre’s existentialism. 
The Act of Presence is a text I look forward to rereading.  Could it be that

I remember studying Lavelle all those years ago?  I feel that, through
you, the universe touched me on the shoulder this evening, and I am

grateful that you precipitated my own presence in a deeply-experienced
satorial flash—just in an instant.  D. T. Suzuki wrote: Satori is the raison

d’être of Zen, without which Zen is no Zen.  You reminded me of the truth
of who I am, where my eternal home is, here or elsewhere: in the moment.

Wally Swist's forthcoming book, Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love, was selected by Yusef Komunyakaa as a co-winner in the Crab Orchard Series Open Poetry Competition, and will be published by Southern Illinois University Press in September 2012.  His book, Winding Paths Worn through Grass, was published by Virtual Artists Collective, of Chicago, Illinois, in July 2012.  In addition, a letterpress limited edition chapbook, Blessing and Homage, is scheduled for publication in the summer or fall of 2012 by Timberline Press.  He also served as an editor for Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, which will be issued by Talmi Entertainment as a children’s book illustrated by Olga Larionova in November 2012.