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Montage #40


Montage #40,
presented by Allan Burns,
is now up
on The Haiku Foundation website.

Montage hits 40 with “Now & Zen,” featuring haiku in honor of Bodhi Day by members of the motley sangha: Karma Tenzing Wangchuk, vincent tripi, and Stanford M. Forrester.

stone before stone buddha
— Karma Tenzing Wangchuk

                                                                                making love
                                                                                i write a death poem
                                                                                — vincent tripi

they actually
are pretty quiet...
wild flowers
— Stanford M. Forrester

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Thanks, Merrill, for mentioning vincent’s water-strider, the emblem of a life lived in the stream w/o polluting it. It sets an impossible standard, esp. for the citizen of a modern industrial nation; but contemplation of an ideal can still nudge one in the right direction. An exclamation from the heart, it implies a whole philosophy of life, and as a keen observer of natural phenomena, he found just the perfect objective correlative here.

    Btw, there’s a wonderful little portrait of vincent on the back of “paperweight for nothing” by none other than Merrill Ann, a very skilled visual artist.

  2. vincent’s AUTHOR’S NOTE in his “paperweight for nothing” I find instructive.
    “Love, hate, courage, fear, anger, joy…enlightenment. Everything comes & goes. Cannot be weighted-down, grasped, butfor an instant.
    Everything is here. Cannot be contained but in the heart…the unchanging heart-of-the moment.
    When I read this book, I find a man with sorrow in his mouth as marbles, speaking clearly.
    The paperweight is a bluebird…(of happiness?) (of joy?) the sisters of sorrow and grief.
    These are poems of mid winter.
    Pine woods…
    i look for the perfect place
    to be a Christmas tree
    (All change is wild)
    To experience the heights and depths of the human heart
    in “words” on paper…and to know that it is all for nothing???
    The sudden relief to find a water-strider that doesn’t seem to be concerned in the least….
    “Ah water-strider never to have left a track!”
    Making love is not the same to this poet as is love itself…
    the passion he carries on his journey.

    I’m hoping his next book that will be out after the holidays
    will carry the same unrelenting truth that vincent has always managed to convey in his poems of great debth that require no artifice but hunble words of the human heart on a monk’s journey.

  3. I second Bill’s support of the great comments.

    Tenzig’s poem really does open out onto several substantial readings. Another of these, not directly mentioned here but which I enjoyed, is:

    “stone before stone / buddha”

    Reading “stone before stone” might conjure the image of a stone pathway, or a dry stone wall, or perhaps the idea of temporal regression (stone before stone before stone, all the way back through the history of the universe, there was always “stone” – though perhaps stone of a metaphorical nature). This temporal regression is then juxtaposed with “buddha” – a word which can be read as very present-moment (and almost atemporal), but also thought of as having infinite temporal regression. This simple fact, the nature of “stone before stone”, could be thought of as “buddha nature”.

    Great stuff.

  4. What was stone before it was stone? Where was Buddha before buddha? What was unmade was made and again unmade…

  5. Thanks for putting your finger, Bill, on what’s so intriguing about Tenzing’s “stone”–that it lends itself to both spatial and temporal interpretations, both with the potential to trigger productive trains of thought. As you do, I find it constantly shifting back and forth in my mind, like a Necker cube; it’s both a static moment and the history of change behind that moment. Now and then. Only four words, one repeated, yet it opens up in all sorts of ways–a great coup of a ku.

  6. I like the “optical illusion” quality of Wangchuk’s “stone before stone buddha” where the first “stone” can be conceived of as the untouched rock before it’s carved into a buddha. Then for me there a semantic paradigmn shift where all of a sudden I’m seeing a stone that’s been placed as a humble offering before a stone buddha. I like ambiguity of this kind that allows the poem to play out two different experiences at the same time much like a blackjack player splitting a pair on his first draw and then playing two hands at once. That is artifice of the first order.


    Bill C

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