On The Road Poems
Once we step upon the open road, our life will never be the same, for that road ever leads on, away from the known and into the unknown and the new.
A Solitary Walk
What was I doing there?
I felt so out of place--
The loud confusion,
The irrelevant concerns--
A light-year away from me.
I just had to slip out by myself
To walk alone under the starry heavens
Drinking in the sane cool air,
Not to go back.
Clear Autumn Notes
A clear autumn day
Resounding like a bell,
"Come back to me".
Looking around, remembering,
The trees are full of bright crisp leaves
Waiting to drop,
The silence resounds
"Come back to me".
Cherishing the heartfelt moment,
And yearnings unspeakable,
Examining the faces I see,
Recalling so many moments in my life
That have been like this one.
Walking along in old comfortable shoes,
Leaves crackling underfoot,
Smells of earth and pure clean air--
A sense of purpose and love
Come back to me.
Above It All
gray snow and slush
gray pavement, cracked and wet
gray houses closed up and drab
gray streets with gray salt crusted cars
spewing gray exhaust and gray noise!
with an airplane loudly roaring
through the thick gray soup
of this dull work-a-day world
into the sky above--
until it bursts free, finally
into pure blue--and golden light!
high above the earth,
soaring through clear vast space,
feeling joy and life!
how marvelous, the transformation!
how beautiful the world!
I hear a call this moment
Just when I had begun to despair
O, if I only had words to describe it
It's like a vision--it's like a song
A dream more real than any remembered
A hope dancing before the dawn
A purity we've long forgotten
A life for which we long!
A misty picture now forms itself before my eyes--
There in some far off place the air is bright and alive.
The simple, open, light buildings are different somehow--
There are sunny plains and busy towns,
There are the mountains and spiritual distances.
Things here seem to be lived on a more primal level --
Yet refined and not primitive or coarse.
Life is lived more simply without a lot of artificial concerns,
Material desires or separative beliefs.
Reality pervades, and the wholeness of life is experienced in oneness.
And in cooperation is creative life being realized.
Fly, O fly
Off to the land you are called to,
Breathe a freer air,
And wing your way
High above the roofs of daily care.
Star Free Resolution
Sitting by the freeway,
Dark cool air soothing,
Innumerable crickets and cars
Fading into the distance,
Vast and omnipresent.
A half moon and the stars beyond
So clear now.
O life! Infinite moment ever new
Wrapped in wonder.
No school or office for me--
I want the way that leads to life itself.
The night air whispers of something larger and joyous
And this unknown calls,
Away from the stifling and the false.
Putting the past behind me I'll trust
That this was meant to be
And leave the future to unfold itself
Accepting what I am led to do.
Glad To Forget
I'm glad to forget
All those needless worries,
And all the time I spent
I gave it all I had
For just grief and frustration.
Now I'm happy to be free of it--
And don't lack a thing.
A Wheel Revolving
--from a market in Ecuador
Like another world!
A thousand happenings.
A profusion of smells and sights exotic.
The gay confusion--
walking down aisles of makeshift stalls
winding chaotically in a spreading labyrinth.
Stepping over the concrete and dirt
and stuff spread out on blankets,
past the festive displays and bannered encampments.
Looking, tasting, examining this new thing,
Caught up in the fascination of it all--
the excitement so palpable,
breathing the air so foreign and enticing.
Flashes of countless assorted faces
Fragments of innumerable sounds and voices merging
into one sound, intoxicating.
Everything swirling together into a larger movement
happening of itself.
All revolving as the day in splendor
already moving into night.
And with evening's fires coming out I pause,
pack thrown over my shoulder,
looking out over this sea of life
like some dazed Marco Polo
slowly coming to his senses.
To the Joy of It
Warm southern air has blown in today
from lazy sun-warmed tropical lands--
with flower scented, white sand and palm tree breezes.
And everything moves to a happy music,
carefree and light, dancing off bright walls,
car tops and tiled roofs all the way down to the bay.
Traffic moves to the rhythm of it,
passersby stroll to it,
eucalyptus sway to it,
butterflies flit to it,
and all life resounds to the joy of it.
In a foreign land at a sidewalk cafe
sipping coffee by myself, this morning,
oblivious to the utmost confusion surrounding me--
the crowds and the noise
and the language I don't understand,
just reflecting calmly
and gazing out on the day.
A Hope Undaunted
In the quiet warmth of the morning sun,
as butterflies flit amongst the flowers,
something opens, and I know,
oh all that I ever wanted to say still aches
unspoken in my breast,
and everything that I would fain be,
somehow still eludes me--
a dream waiting to be lived.
Not wanting to move
Even the sun tiptoes
Sunday morning calm
Do you feel it! Do you feel it!
The sun is up!
The birds are singing!
Come on, let's be off!
The sun is up!
The stars are waiting!
Sooner or later, I'm content
Sitting by the road
The open road--
A new sun in a new sky!
Happy to walk along
My pack on my back
Here I am
Glad to be
No place in particular
On the freeway ramp
The stars bright above
The sounds of crickets
Car lights blaze
But roar past--
On my own
A car passes
The sound trailing off--
The open highway
Sipping hot coffee at 2:00 AM
A truck stop
Somewhere along the freeway
Lights spinning in my head
In a new town
Lost in thought
Shoes soaked with dew
Day after day
It's still here--
But I can't remember
Another autumn in my life
Singing love songs
Hazy autumn sea
Early Sunday walk
Down the long street
Snowcapped mountains rising
At the bottom
A few days have passed
A month has gone by
Drinking hot sake
Lost in obscurity
Somewhere in Tokyo
A nameless village inn
Huddled around a pot of tea
The winter wind rattling
Too far away--
Even at midday
Two Americans and I in Kochi
An instant somebody, alas
In faltering English
I'm introduced around
What let me here?
What must I know?
Faint sounds of distant music
Enclosed by the wind
Walking across the empty lot
Coming in at night
Leaving in the morning
Late at night, listening--
Far away sounds
After a hot shower
Lying in bed, thinking--
The Big Dipper filling my window
Rainy day in Singapore
Sharing some rice cookies
Not understanding a word
of the movie
Ah, taken away!
Sunlight on the table
A cup of tea
Days looking at this thatched roof
Sick in bed
Countryside rushing by
On my way!
Looking out from this small hotel room
through telephone lines
over warehouse roofs
to a hill of old houses
under a soft blue hazy sky.
While I was seated under a tree, eating some lunch,
a man told me wistfully how forty years ago
he used to hitch around the country.
Now he passes bent and overweight with his old wife and reminisces.
The gray-haired architect who gave me a ride earlier
said that he once thought of entering the church
and that he's had to compromise to make a successful business.
This morning the cook related to me that he once wanted to travel
and be a writer. But now he works in the cafe or is drinking with his friends.
Dreams, hopes, the yearnings hidden in the heart.
Time passes so quickly. We make our choices, our compromises,
perform our deeds and reap what we have sown.
Where do we lay our faith and direct our energy?
Old beat up cars going by and new expensive models.
Youths in excited conversation, a mother calling to her children,
a worker's discussion. Going here or there. Wanting this or that.
Oh what is it that underlies it all?
Something is sensed which I must know.
In solitude and silence I sit apart, yearning to unlock this mystery.
The Hidden Path
When I am weary and dulled
And my thoughts in circles go,
I wait for the night and the starlit air
Seeking the hidden path that runs
Unto the stars and beyond
That I had found but now have lost
Among shadows and moonlight glimmering.
Where is the portal to that secret place
Behind the diamond veil
Where magic lives still and ever more
Though the secret way be forgotten?
Till I Am Yours
As for the trials, the difficulties--
I don't care
As for the anguish, the suffering--
I don't care
As for the confusion, the longing--
I don't care
Lord, I don't care, whatever may come
burden me till I reach out,
Until I realize my complete dependence on You,
Until I want no more of anything else
Burden me more--
And, pray, quicken the fires of my heart.
O what must I do? Lord, what must I do?
I will bear the entire load
If I can but know
What I must do.
Thy Will Be Done
What will I do?--What is given me to do
What will I say?--What I am given to say
What will I see?--What is there to see
How will l labor?--
Through thy wisdom all is accomplished
What is that knocking?
O heavenly light
Transfigured in solitude
Beyond all doubts
These years apart
Never the same
Sacrificed to eternity
Here and now
What does it all mean?
Tempests and storms
In the Sanctuary
In this old hotel room,
The sun pouring golden
Through a dusty window--
I have been traveling now
A long way in hope of a day that must come.
O time! So short.
I don't know anything.
Touch these strings.
Make me fit.
Burn away all that hinders,
That keeps me apart.
I am yours whatever must come.
Glad now to have trusted in your love.
Enfold me in your presence.
Learning the way,
Teach me the secret.
Without a friend
I'm bereft, apart,
I turn inside
To my sole support
O, now I would still cry out
and in anguish, seek solace--
caught in this fiery crucible
where I would stay
till all the dross is burned away.
Fragments of a Song
At dawn I was gently awakened
by the tenderest caress and led out
to the rocky shore where the winds
and waters were waiting for me
to bathe me clean and open my heart.
I never had realized how beautiful life is--
how what we take for granted hides
the most wondrous mystery.
From far beyond the clamor
and confusion of the world,
a voice and a song eternally play--
our voice, our song, calling us to remember
what is really meant for us
and where our steps should wend.
Not Just an End
So many times it's happened
on coming to the end of the road
the end of a dream
when everything seemed over--
how strangely light and free I'd feel
as if some burden were lifted from me
and the season suddenly spring again.
For Vagabond Days
Affluent now, but better to be poor
and on the road.
Now week after week goes by the same.
O, to be off again!
To see the sun coming up in the morning.
To walk alone under the stars.
Places seen for the first time.
Things never before said or done.
Away from here--
these damp overcast days--to where the sun burns electric.
Hear again-- the far-off.
Feel again-- the wind through me.
Touch again-- a moment lived.
O enough, enough, these dull indulgent ways.
Get out the pack.
Give away what can't be carried.
Work your last day, and breathe again free.
The time has come.
Snow water drops sparkle and plop!
A keen air sharpens the mind.
Sitting in the sun under the temple eaves--
Blessed silence, throbbing silence,
And a bright light.
White fog above white hills
Barren trees hidden in a haze
A woodpecker knocks, wings flap,
Boots crunch over the snow.
Sleeping in the zendo--
Bodhidharma looks skeptical
The Boddhisatva smiles.
The Dharma bell gongs--
Ages of suffering
Come to an end
Coming upon a temple in the rain
Now a wandering monk
From another age
Following the way is simple--
If it were hard I might loose it
Here or there
But no matter where I go
It's there before me.
Giving up looking I find
It's already here.
Forgetting better or worse
Things are perfectly so.
Just what needs to happen does.
How to attain nirvana?
Leave it to the Buddha.
There's nothing special to notice--
Down the overgrown track
A few buildings in an open field--
An ancient gate unseen.
What's this here?
Along the meandering creek
The Dharma bell sounds--
The wooded hills straighten.
Ah, starry night!--
A shooting star hits old Orion--
The piss splashes.
The road is largely empty--
Some people come and go
It must have been an angel's song
That aroused a dream in my heart--
Of free air and open sky,
Of the wind laughing and thrilling
In unbound exuberance.
Under blue I walked,
Through green, in yellow,
And the red coursed to white
And my spirit rose and called to life--
Awakening now from sorry night
A paean chant loud upon the world
An undreamt dawn springing clean
Washing each dark stain
To holy light.
Lodged In My Memory
There before me stretched forth the plain--
Tall free grasslands blowing to the horizon.
Fresh and good, the feel of the earth that day,
Walking under an open sky,
And in the distance, a mountain of blue--
Immense, and never before seen.
On the Desert
Like another planet!
Wasteland expanses extend without end.
Distant forms rise up unexpectedly
or float on an endless expanse of color
in great sweeps of ever-changing hue.
All in a wondrous light!
Massive and immovable before me,
yet the colors run together
and the plain shimmers fluid-like
and translucent in the distance.
Deep infinite blue overhead,
a rare ether imbuing.
Ever the wind the constant movement
of space. A strange unknown world.
Barren, yet a breath pervading exudes.
Solid and earthy nearby,
yet intangible and ethereal at the horizon.
Cold and dead in the shadows
but alive throughout.
It seems to be here for a reason,
as if it wouldn't be otherwise--
heaven and earth meeting in some purpose
.incomprehensible and vast
as the infinity of space encompassing.
The sun rises to set again,
yet it's never the same.
Behind the ever-changing is sensed the changeless--
nature, the reflection of a mind as yet unknown.
Why? What does it mean?
Overwhelmed and dazed, I turn away
making my way over the stones and brush
back to the cabin.
Given to the Wind
With these culled flowers
gathered with care along the way,
a gift I'd hoped to make.
But meeting no one do I now release these all.
Let their perfume the wind carry to whom it may.
As by a greater wisdom they were made,
to that wisdom are they now given.
All, Too Quickly
Clear and fresh in the morning,
Surely rising to a noonday height
Carrying all onward,
Till late afternoon--
Then twilight's fleeting moment so rare,
And night eternal.
Balm and Blossoms
Long I listened to the rain
And the gentle sound of water
Falling on leaf and pavement,
Dripping here and there wet and cool
Washing clean and soothing my soul.
Gray and subdued is the morning light,
And the thunder I would not stop,
Coffee at my table and I am at peace.
In the air the scents bring back many things
I had forgotten.
Some years have I been on my way.
I wonder at the choices I have made
And at the paths I have not chosen.
Billions of souls upon the earth--
A small part for each is given.
Infinite are the mysteries of life!
That each may know the All and gratefully Love
And do His work and pass on unknown.
Who knows with whom we pass this day?
And what will be done on the morrow?
What thoughts lie hidden in our heart?
What Power is emerging unbeknownst?
I took a little walk today
And went out to the sea
And everywhere I strolled along
Nobody did I see.
Nobody ever answered me
As I called out in the wind
Nobody seemed to hear my voice
That echoed back to me.
I thought I heard some voices
Carried on the breeze
Alas, it was some gulls
That paid no heed of me.
I finally saw some people
And had a happy thought
But they went by without a glance
And left me, saying naught.
So I decided I would sing
As the gulls along the beach
And cast my song on to the wind
To wherever it may reach.