Wally Swist

Gyuto Monks for Robert Spiess
chanting Gyuto monks—an aroma beyondthe fragrance of incense
sparkling in the mind . . . the Gyuto monks’ringing of bells
each monk’s face—the light of the deityemanating through it
chanting Gyuto monks . . . an inner eyeopens wide
in saffron and yellow robes—Gyuto monks fill the airwith chanting
intoning three tones into one: the resonant choirof Gyuto monks

Winter Dawn

It is the time of rain and snowI spend sleepless nightsAnd watch the frostFrail as your loveGather in the dawnItzumi Shikibu,Translated by Kenneth Rexroth

A landscape of frost flowersHas blossomed across the windowpanes.You sleep, but I am awake.I watch you and find myself breathing with you,
In unison. Soon after I intuitThat you are about to awaken, you open your eyesAnd look at me. SunlightShines on your arms as you stretch them out
To place them around my shoulders.Although we are not aware that our being togetherWill be brief, we are deeply happy,Like two green mountains over which
There is just one drifting cloud; andNow nearly forty years have passed in its shadow.

Wally Swist's new book, Huang Po and the Dimensions of Love, was chosen by Yusef Komunyakaa as a co-winner in the Crab Orchard Series Open Poetry Competition, and will be published by Southern Illinois University Press in the spring of 2012. His previous book, Luminous Dream, was chosen as a finalist in the 2010 FutureCycle Poetry Book Award, and his scholarly monograph, The Friendship of Two New England Poets, Robert Frost and Robert Francis, was published by The Edwin Mellen Press in 2009. He has been invited to record an audio book of his nature poetry with Berkshire Media Arts.