top of page

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 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






Blaze of light ball of

Above can’t look at

Honey cream over all yellow

Is yellows it some dis


Sound of scraping or loading

Unloading truck is it truck

This light makes all


Foreground dark because

Backlit light light renders

Objects fading as if shrink


In fright of light greed envy

Idleness gluttony lustfulness

And more riding in on strange

Beasts the more light the

More shad








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







Narrow horizontal band


Window with bar





Metal bar



           center self



          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)




                                      holding in turn



In turn dirt

Behind to make flat area

Where’d otherwise be slope







O falling hillside curves


steep in full light


          behind  —


     wavering cypress




twitch  with  vigor  in


Brisk.  Ocean.  Air  Some


               gray ,  pale gray


     succulents at wind





           edge    to    far    left


 and yes the little green


    grass blades also


        twitch flexible


  Nature: windowbedient







Now  weathered  face


      where  heavy  cypress  trunk’s




           lopped off but main


cypress  trunk  shaggy-barked


       muscles up to skycap


               hidden by win




                   top edge


       smaller branches wave


               to right


      flutter stretch out


                         above grasses and


          strapleaved iris


    without flowers this time


          of year — sun patch









Light’s gathered to paint




  Plum tree’s fresh




                   Bloom [white


                                  petals on gray


       Wood mottled with greeny lichen


Old plum cut back strong


thought dead








               two years


then burst forth bloom


       last                           year


      and                               copious









and back again            now


with sunlit bloom






> back.  Again.  Now<





bottom of page