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Wally Swist

Gyuto Monks
            for Robert Spiess

chanting Gyuto monks—
an aroma beyond
the fragrance of incense

sparkling in the mind . . .
            the Gyuto monks’
ringing of bells

each monk’s face—
the light of the deity
emanating through it

chanting Gyuto monks
            . . . an inner eye
opens wide

in saffron and yellow robes—
Gyuto monks fill the air
with chanting

intoning three tones into one:
            the resonant choir
of Gyuto monks


Winter Dawn

It is the time of rain and snow
I spend sleepless nights
And watch the frost
Frail as your love
Gather in the dawn
Itzumi Shikibu,
Translated by Kenneth Rexroth

A landscape of frost flowers
Has blossomed across the windowpanes.
You sleep, but I am awake.
I watch you and find myself breathing with you,

In unison. Soon after I intuit
That you are about to awaken, you open your eyes
And look at me. Sunlight
Shines on your arms as you stretch them out

To place them around my shoulders.
Although we are not aware that our being together
Will be brief, we are deeply happy,
Like two green mountains over which

There is just one drifting cloud; and
Now nearly forty years have passed in its shadow.


Wally Swist's new book, Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love, was chosen 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 the spring of 2012. His previous book, Luminous Dream, was chosen as a finalist in the 2010 FutureCycle Poetry Book Award, and his scholarly monograph, The Friendship of Two New England Poets, Robert Frost and Robert Francis, was published by The Edwin Mellen Press in 2009. He has been invited to record an audio book of his nature poetry with Berkshire Media Arts.