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Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in Teaching English as a Second Language, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now writing a dissertation on the sonnets of E. A. Robinson at LMU, where he tutors composition alongside editing flyers on poetry and style. His poems and translations have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the resident poet at EcoHealth, where his science-themed verse is regularly featured, and a senior copyeditor at Review of International American Studies. He also teaches at Münchner Volkshochschule and leads the Amerikahaus Literaturkreis.

20160608

Mu Ch'i's Persimmons

by Gary Snyder

There is no remedy for satisfying hunger other than a painted rice cake.
Dōgen, November 1242

On a back wall down the hall
lit by a side glass door
is the scroll of Mu Ch'i's great
sumi painting, "persimmons"
The wind-weights hanging from the
axles hold it still.
The best in the world, I say,
of persimmons.
Perfect statement of emptiness
no other than form
the twig and the stalk still on,
the way they sell them in the
market even now.
The original's in Kyoto at a
lovely Rinzai temple where they
show it once a year
this one's a perfect copy from Benrido
I chose the mounting elements myself
with the advice of the mounter
I hang it every fall.
And now, to these over-ripe persimmons
from Mike and Barbara's orchard.
Napkin in hand,
I bend over the sink
suck the sweet orange goop
that's how I like it
gripping a little twig
those painted persimmons
sure cure hunger



"Six Persimmons," Muqi Fachang (牧溪法常), c. 1210-1269    

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