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Norman Fischer

Norman Fischer is a poet, essayist, and Zen Buddhist priest. Recent poetry titles include Men in Suits (BlazeVox), There Was a Clattering As... (Lavender Ink), and Nature (Tuumba). His Selected Poems 1980-2013 is available from Chax Press. His latest prose title is When You Greet Me I Bow: Reflections from a Life in Zen. Through a Window is forthcoming from Roof Books. A former abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, he is the founder of Everyday Zen . His more than thirty books can be found at www.NormanFischer.org He lives in Muir Beach California.


 

Excerpt from"Through a Window", forthcoming Fall 2024 by Roof Books


look into that piec  e

of sky fragile opaqu  e

heartbreak pale blu  e

with bird or tw  o

flits by in it — see tha  t

wonder whether saw o  r

not dark backlit smal  l

birdlet though can hea  r

many such sam e

in above tree  s

stained red (that i s

stained red wood stained suc  h

for preservatio n)

little porch don’t se e

throug h

window but throug h

door opened throug h

which can se  e

what’s otherwise not see n

behind white close d

door but ye s

now porc  h

shadow fencerail car  s

criss-crossin g

tree s

(2/10/21)

 

___

 

 

Blaze of light ball of

Above can’t look at

Honey cream over all yellow

Is yellows it some dis

                                           tance

Sound of scraping or loading

Unloading truck is it truck

This light makes all

                                            in

Foreground dark because

Backlit light light renders

Objects fading as if shrink

                                            ing

In fright of light greed envy

Idleness gluttony lustfulness

And more riding in on strange

Beasts the more light the

More shad

                                           ow

(12/17/21)

 

 

___

 

 

The crouching lion there

Jammed up against dark

Shapes of visual a tree

Grows out its head

Some bird flies this and that

Way in very light blue sky

Holds it all in its beyond

As words suggest beyond for this

Story of temptation of knowledgeAs eros desperate unless

Some simple story of those

One knows or knew forgotten

In immediacy of such writing

Such seeing such feeling of warm

On chest on sunny daylight

Focussed by window on one

Squinting eye

(12/17/21)

 

 

___

 

 

Narrow horizontal band

                                        of

Window with bar

                                        in

 

            center

 

Metal bar

                                        in

 

           center self

                                         in

 

          center as bar

 

making picture blind

Half drawn as eye half open

Horizontal lines of fence slats

Of retaining wall grid of wire

Mesh fencing tacked between

Four by fours red with wood stain

Before green plants some

Mess of plants behind and

Slats of formal gate thick

Posts to hold

                                       it (the wall)

 

                                      up

 

                                      holding in turn

 

                                      

In turn dirt

Behind to make flat area

Where’d otherwise be slope

(12/17/21)

 

 

___

 

 

O falling hillside curves

 

steep in full light

 

          behind  —

 

     wavering cypress

 

        branches

 

twitch  with  vigor  in

 

Brisk.  Ocean.  Air  Some

 

               gray ,  pale gray

 

     succulents at wind

 

 

                                             ow’s

 

           edge    to    far    left

 

 and yes the little green

 

    grass blades also

 

        twitch flexible

 

  Nature: windowbedient

(2/2021)

 

 

___

 

 

Now  weathered  face

 

      where  heavy  cypress  trunk’s

 

been

 

           lopped off but main

 

cypress  trunk  shaggy-barked

 

       muscles up to skycap

 

               hidden by win

       

                                        dow’s

 

                   top edge

 

       smaller branches wave

 

               to right

 

      flutter stretch out

 

                         above grasses and

 

          strapleaved iris

 

    without flowers this time

 

          of year — sun patch

 

              Beyond

(2/20/21)

 

 

___

 

 

Light’s gathered to paint

 

               Where

 

  Plum tree’s fresh

 

                                    in

 

                   Bloom [white

 

                                  petals on gray

 

       Wood mottled with greeny lichen

 

Old plum cut back strong

 

thought dead

 

and

 

                    seemed 

 

                                      so

 

               two years

 

then burst forth bloom

 

       last                           year

 

      and                               copious

 

 

 

 

                    plums

 

                    then

 

and back again            now

 

with sunlit bloom

 

             Their

 

              Day

 

> back.  Again.  Now<


 


 

 

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