If the sleeves of my black robe

were more ample, I'd shelter

everyone in this floating world.

-- Ryokan Daigu (1758-1831), Zen hermit-poet,

from Between the Floating Mist: Poems of Ryokan

The problem with men these days

is they don't have enough robes.

They lay around

like muckrakes and old miners.

No attention to space.

Not enough flowers.

Crushed cans and spent chip bags.

No sencha, no hojicha, no tea in sight.

A man needs a robe

for artistry and scholarly pursuits,

another for meditation, prayer,

for donning

when rising naked

from a dark night of dreaming.

A man needs a robe

for wandering

through the garden at dawn;

one for poetry,

another for sake,


and one

-- a special one --

for love-play.

There's the robe for sending one's spirit

out to each of the four winds for wisdom.

There's a robe for after

a session of soaking in moonwater.

There's a robe for being wrapped

at the end of life's long journey.

Poetry is a robe.

Lineage is a robe.

Deep care is a robe.


extended kinship,

a robe.

Tonight, I stepped into

the dusky light of the trees,

beneath the sliver of the waxing moon.

I was wrapped in a robe

invisible to human eyes.

It can't be seen,

but I

will never

take it off.