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The summit of Mount Washburn, Yellowstone National Park

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Two poems from Shinkichi Takahashi (1901-1987)

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Destruction

The universe is forever falling apart-
No need to push the button,
It collapses at a finger’s touch:
Why, it barely hangs on the tail of a sparrow’s eye.

The universe is so much eye secretion,
Hordes leap from the tips
Of your nostril hairs. Lift your right hand:
It’s in your palm. There’s room enough
On the sparrow’s eyelash for the whole.

A paltry thing, the universe.
Here is all strength, here the greatest strength.
You and the sparrow are one
And, should he wish, he can crush you.
The universe trembles before him.

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A Richer Ground

The bus roars through cherry blossoms
Or a snowstorm. Who knows?

I’m not on it, but then again
I’m not not on it. Who knows?

Seals glide across an iceberg,
Where bound? Who knows?

Of course I may be quite wrong,
Which in any case is unavoidable.

The question ‘To be or not to be’
Just isn’t fair. I stand on richer ground.

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