Tag Archives: zen poetry

Poems from the 2017 New Year Death Poem Workshop

I’m outta here,
dusting off my hands,
and I don:t have to go someplace else either.
Big relief!!

The World is your problem now.
Good luck with it.

– Tomi G.


If You Throw Me a Wake
(aka Death Poem 2017)

If you throw me a wake
light a candle or two
Say something, tell the truth, or
at least a credible lie.

Try to keep the wisecracks to a minimum.

Play some music:  not too maudlin,
but not too jolly either, in between.
Quiet phrases and subtle notes.

Toast to life with all it’s vagaries, and
to my wondrous journey with you through it.
Its pains and pleasures done.

Remember what you will. I wish to remember it all,
if only for a fleeting moment.

Cast my ashes into the ocean.  Allow my remains
to mingle and dance with the currents.  Seeking out
my origins.

Take a moment each day to reflect on our paths together.
I walk a different path than you now,
but no so different it is unrecognizable.

I no longer depend on those rose colored glasses.

They say you should have no regrets when you go.
I still have one or two…
Does that mean I get a reprieve?

– Richard


Sweet winter rain!
I fall with you,
Melting cold into the gravel path.

Sorry to leave before you were ready!
It could have been the other way.
Still, in my heart, I touch your hair and kiss your tears
As always.

The fruit trees!  The scrub jays!  The grasses!
Tell them I died of gratitude.

– Myozen


Sleepwalking when I thought I was awake.
Cracked Open.
Now I see.

Sweetness for me.
Like a wave my life briefly looks distinct in the vast ocean.
The ocean I am.
No distinction.

The human body truly is the entire cosmos*.
What struggle?
Steer gently as to not unknowingly impede what is already flowing.
(*with gratitude to Myogen Steve Stucky)

– Alice Jean


Susan Spencer once told me
In this culture death is here and life over here (gestures with hands held far apart)
But in Buddhism, they are like this….
(gestures with hands folded together)
She said more but I forget the rest.

The Buddha said when you meditate focus on the breath,
then focus on the body and then the Dharmas.
Finally go to the charnel  grounds and meditate on the  decaying corpse..
The Buddha said more but I forget the rest.

My Darling, some day we will be alone and then together and then alone together a thousand million times in this realm of samsaric rebirth and death and beauty.
There is more I wanted to say but I forget the rest.

– Bob


Is it sinmply the end? Is it ever?
When has nothing ever begun?
To really know what dies here and now,
We need to know what was born.
Graspable ends are filled
With countless inconceivable ands

Eight and forty years –
If it goes, it goes,
But please know, dear ones,
The only thing I’m sure I don’t refret
Is every drop of love.

Now – one dance.
After – one dance.

– Korin

Poems from the 2016 New Year Death Poem Workshop

I call to you, throwing across the silk skein of this life.
If you hear me, what is it I am saying?

There is just this sense of now this, now that.
In, out
Now this, now . . .

So far now beyond connection, what is love?
Alive, it is the only action possible.
I have held my grandson close and told him the story of Stone Soup.
He won?t mind if now, crossing over, I tuck it in my pocket
A stone for good luck.

– Jude


For seventy seven years I have held this Barton thing together. going this way and that in search of the truth.
Now it disperses into ten thousand things.
Each one of them is true.

Of course I’d like to enter the grand feast in my finest form,
to be as luscious and beautiful as all
I have feasted upon in 77 adventurous years,
But it’s too late for that.

Now I approach the table dry and stringy,
with brittle old bones.
I hope there will be lots of butter.
And garlic.

– Myozen


this first week of January
so filled
with the embrace of life and death
the sweetness and the melancholy
twenty years brings
a clarity and softness
a knowing that sometimes
death lives stronger
in the present

and, what would Christmas be without Grandpa’s cheese

I think the journey begins long before the final sigh
in small and large ways
I don’t want to miss any of it
wake me if I fall asleep

– Cindy


I bathe in the many
joys and sorrows
of my life.
As the water flows
From under my feet

– Carolyn


Dearest of my dearest, in this
sweet, tart life, in this
jumbled tiger-eyed time,
does true love die?
Does apple crisp
and bee stings
and this now lonely planet
of my heart
stop its orbit?
Will you meet me
at the flowering cherry tree?

Storm rages,
moon sets,
a galaxy of clouds now
You, heart of
my heart,
leaning over,
breath here
breath gone
breath here
breath gone
O’ lovely, O’ love, O

– Lisa


This feast
of experience, of sensation
of love, of loss –
May it be of benefit
May it be of benefit.

Sometimes, when you can
take a moment to feel
my arms around you

I’ll be right here
I’m right here

– Dojin


Ready? Ready? Ready? Ready?
Dear ones, will you be here with me?
Dear ones, I will be here with you
Until I finally count to ten,
“Ready or not, here I come!”

For all the words,
a last word,
Or maybe just a period, or a question mark,
dot dot dot
open parentheses

Intimate companion
How will you scatter the dust
Of the days and nights of this life
This heart, flesh, bones, marrow?

– Korin

Black Oak

Black oak stands stark in
the gray dawn after
a night of rain.

Soggy leaves, losing
their grip in
the buffeting wind, cover
the ground beneath
the tree like
a brown blanket.

Do you, too, cling this way when the wind blows?
Do you, too, tumble and twist against your life, weakening
the only tie you have ever known?

And when you release at last,
when you float and fall into that leafy mat,
is it the grief of loss you feel?

Or will you find your way content into the dark dirt,
that grand microbial feast, nurturing with
your precious body
the deep mother root?