picking up deadwood

after a long winter
picking up the deadwood, revealed.
entertaining guests
who had left me to the snow.

A Parable

Two monks, Jihye (지혜) and Pyong-on (평온), were arrested and thrown in prison. Jihye immediately plotted to escape. He figured out how to pick the lock in their cell by using his own beard hair. Because the hair had to be quite long for the pick to work, the plan took some time. Throughout, Pyong-on said nothing. On the night when Jihye was ready to pick the lock and run to freedom, he looked at Pyong-on, who just sat there quietly. Jihye left without him, sneaking out into the courtyard, climbing the barbed-wire fence, and running as fast as he could through the woods.

Exhausted, he slept under an Oak tree, but his dreams tormented him. Early in the morning, Jihye stretched and walked slowly through the dense woods into a clearing overlooking a vast meadow. A low fog settled across the rolling landscape before him, and a gentle breeze swept and twisted every green blade. Far in the distance, a hawk swooped low to snatch its prey, but not a sound reached Jihye's ears.

Suddenly he remembered what was missing -- Pyong-on. Jihye ran back through the woods, scaled the barbed-wire fence, jumped back into the prison courtyard, and ran to the window of Pyong-on's cell. Pyong-on looked at him through the bars.

Jihye said, "You've got to get me back in there!"


Why did Jihye need to return to Pyong-on?

Appreciatory Verse

Jihye and Pyong-on, like an old married couple
constantly breaking out and crawling home
Who wears the pants in the family?
If you realize this, the grass has never been greener


autumn clouds this morning
folded azure golden gray:
a cold foreboding.

when the road turns lonesome
and shadows grow –
the great turning.

really it's all a turning
only noticing
at the slipping points.

31 years around this bend
like the flowing blue billows –
accomplishing nothing.

"your very flesh shall be a great poem"

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men—go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body. The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work. He shall know that the ground is already plow’d and manured; others may not know it, but he shall. He shall go directly to the creation. His trust shall master the trust of everything he touches—and shall master all attachment. Walt Whitman, Preface to the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass.

useless Shu

There was once a hunchback called Shu. His chin rested on his navel, his shoulders rose up over his head, and his neck bone pointed to the sky. His five vital organs were upside down, and his hips were level with his ribs. By sewing and taking in laundry, he made enough to feed himself. By winnowing and sifting grain, he earned enough to support ten people. When the authorities were raising an army, he came and went without having to hide. When a big public project was planned, he was assigned no work because he was a chronic invalid. When the government was giving free grain to the sick, he received three measures and ten bundles of firewood. If a man whose body is strange can take care of himself and live to the end of his natural life, how much easier it is for a man with strange behavior. Chuang Tzu