Friday, April 10, 2015

Elizabeth Spires: "Zen Sonnet"

It was April and we were reading the book about Zen
you were writing your Zen poems and we were talking
about the moment we were in and I was thinking thoughts
that were not Zen: how I know too much too little to teach you

and then I stepped back from each thought and watched it 
disappear a horse without a rider over a sharp-edged horizon.

Spring was a pale shade of yellow a green that kept deepening 
there was desire and there was a sense of unfolding and I thought
how we can do anything there is no need for an excess of feeling 
we can walk through the door that was made for entering and exiting
abandoning the poems that were never ours though we wrote them 
to the one who walks into this room when we are gone.
So let us go out into the world and wander a little 
beggars with empty bowls in straw hats grass sandals.

"Zen Sonnet" by Elizabeth Spires, from Southwest Review (Volume 99, Number 3). Text as presented on Poetry Daily (September 1, 2014).

Art credit: "Buddha statue close-up [of] Monk's alms bowl," photograph by Worradirek Muksab.


  1. I cherish especially that fourth-to-last line: "abandoning the poems that were never ours though we wrote them"!

  2. This is lovely. I've already read it four times and will keep on returning to it. Thank you!


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