Above the Fog



Zen Poems by Michael P. Garofalo

Selections from


Short poems reflecting various concepts and aspects of 
Zen, Taoism, Buddhism, Tantra and nature mysticism.

© Green Way Research, Red Bluff, California, 2007

This webpage was served to over 750 readers every month in 2005.
Available on the Internet since January 2001.






                            warm valley
                            countless geese
                                      seeking refuge






                                                     the dark night of a soul






            Biting off
            more than I can chew

                              a broken wisdom tooth.







                                             Only the idea of self remains
                                             Floating on a sea of cells;
                                             Only heartbeats short of eternity
                                             In breath after breath we dwell.






           Daily rain
                     from the deep well
                     this glass of water.








                                Time is one apricot blossom.
                                Space, a bee.
                                The Universe, honey.
                                And, the Goddess of Spring?










                                            chanting canyon streams


                                  Opening bell
                                           echoes from the canyon walls --
                                                       raindrops on the river.

                                                       The sounds of rocks bouncing off rocks;
                                                       the shadows of trees traced on trees.

                                            I sit, still.
                                            The canyon river chants,
                                            moving mountains.

                                                       The sermon spun on the still point:
                                                       dropping off eternity, picking up time;
                                                       letting go of self, awakened to Mind.







kamon.gif (3866 bytes)








Falling and rising - spheres of blackbirds.
           Coming and going - lines of geese.






                  Carrying home
                  her baby sister

                  a sermon walking.






                                              Pointing at the moon,
                                              making a point--
                                              her lovely fingers.







Autumn - Short Poems and Haiku by Mike Garofalo







                                                                  Thousands of leaves
                                                                  shake in the breeze--
                                                                  empty sky.







                     Bad karma bleeding
                     over centuries of hate;
                     a heartless eye for a blind eye,
                     a toothless scream for another.








Gold Mountain Valley Fogs







                                  One not two,
                                  two not one -
                                  legs on a snake.






ticking my life away
indifferent clocks






                                                              a new born calf






                    Coming in
                    let me nourish
                    like rain on a garden.
                    Going out
                    let me disappear
                    like geese going south.







                                                      Setting potted figs
                                                                                   along the warm southern wall--
                                                                                   a goose flaps by.







Zen Poetry








          To dance at the still point of the Time beyond time,
          Beyond pasts, within futures, this Moment
          Now and forever, beyond minds.
          Not knowing of Who or why
          We stroll in rose gardens, and Love.
          Precious flowers in the sky.






                                               I hear the truth--
                                               gray rain on clay.







                         Wide mind, deep feelings ...







                             Buddha is dead.
                             But, if you meet the Buddha,
                             don't invent another god
                             or behead another demon; just
                             sip some tea under a tree.

                              "If you meet the Buddha, kill him."
                                                   -  Linji Yizuan (Rinzai Gigen, Jap.), c 866 CE







                             The Mind is a vast Bodhi forest,
                             The body a Bodhi tree.
                             Dirt is in every cranny,
                             Flowers blossom, leaves fall.

                             The Bodhi Trees have been cut down,
                             The Bright Mirrors shattered.
                             Beginning with nothing,
                             Replant the trees, remake the mirrors.

                             Make one's mind like a mirror,
                             One's body like the Giving tree.
                             Reflect accurately and impartially;
                             Give fruit and shade.  








                  olive branches droop,
                  ground fogs rise







               Crape myrtle, brilliant red, bursting forth;
               Hiding the garden.
               Some days, only the Garden, entire, serene;
               Yet, hiding from sight, shy, single plants.  
               Seeing Both, seldom, but as One: 
               Sweat poured from my startled brow,
               Dripping on the dry earth,
               And all became Sunshine
               And shadows of surprise unraveling.    







                                                       Lost on Mt. Sumeru
                                                       coming down--
                                                       the taste of snowflakes.






                                 Bold zero
                                 inked on the scroll--
                                 fancies of one hand clapping.










Michael P. Garofalo
Red Bluff, California, Spring 2002







              cold midnight
              pounding rain--
                      only ghosts about






                                                   The truth beyond words
                                                   beyond silence -
                                                   her big grin.  







       I was thinking about "the Absolute"
       (whatever that is)
       yesterday.  (Philosophers enjoy
       the rush of mental masochism:
       bondage to leathery ideas,
       painful flagellation with cutting words,
       the humiliation of utter confusion.)

       Absolute Zero - Death!
       Clearly, a deep shivering Super-Conducting
       Absolute No.  

       The Past: a second ago, a century ago...
       Dead Time - absolutely kaputt!








                        in and out
of mind





                                                             Pulling up
                                                             body and mind--
                                                             weeding new cuttings.






Zen Buddhist Poems, Zen (Chan)  Poetry, Zen Sayings, Taoist Poems, Taoist Sayings,
Daoist Poems, Daoist Poetry, Chan Buddhist Poems, Sayings, Quotations, Quips





                      Gathering dust,
                      an iron Buddha
                      just sits.






                                            Meanings lost
                                            in the saying--
                                                the mystic's dilemma.








                       Koan 46


                                     And before the Wise Ones appeared,
                                     Forty million years of ducks in the mud.

                                     Blowing out a candle
                                                       ten thousand miles away
                                     Cutting up a duck for dinner.

                                     A dog barks at nothing,
                                     a thousand ducks twitch--
                                     winds of winter.

                                     Has a duck the Buddha-Nature?
                                     Stop quacking like a duck."

                                                                                 [One Short of a Baker's Dozen]








Not a leafbud
            in a blue oak grove--
                                                 shadowless winter noon.





                   A frog floats
                   belly up --
                   dead silence.








Winter - Short Poems and Haiku by Mike Garofalo








                                                no chanting
                                                no Temple bells--
                                                wind-chimes swaying







                          December fog--
                          among the leaves
                          a dead frog.  






              sunlight breaks
                          cold silence
                                 a meadowlark trills






                                              One week later
                                              Six Directions of Green
                                              Billions of leaf-buds.






     Red-winged blackbirds
         pecking in the feeder--
         I lost myself there.   








                            Leaping from the Ledge of Infinite Regress,
                            The Unmoved Mover fell into Formlessness:
                            Pure silence echoed between the galaxies,
                            Eons of eons vanished in a second,
                            Withered trees bloomed in fires,
                            Polar mountains melted, rivers went dry,
                            Thusness scattered in sixty directions,
                            Space became Time, time became things,
                            Black Holes filled with Nirvana,
                            A billion samadhi mirrors shattered,              
                            Galaxies snuggled within a single skull,
                            Many became One, One only, only One.     
                            Then, the Divine Illuminatrix in All Beings
                            Opened Her clouded Eye, to see:
                                      Flowers in the Sky.

                                                                                         [Emptiness in Full Bloom]












1   -   1   =   0   =   1   -   1    By Michael P. Garofalo.












                                                                gagging on their Truths--
                                                  infants vomiting formula.






           Samsara winks
           Spring smiles--
           Nirvana trickles underground.






                              The dark pines edge the deepest shade,
                              While cherry blossoms set and fade.







Winter weeks we huddled by the hot stove,  
Spring days we shivered in the sun,
Summer hours we sat in the shade,
Autumn minutes we stared at moon.  
We had idle thoughts, we had no thoughts.
Life made our hearts cry, and it lifted our spirits high.
The ordinary, the exceptional, 
The chosen, the accepted,
The very good, the very bad,
Fresh figs, rotten peaches,
The beautiful, the deformed.
They appeared and disappeared.
Samsara and Nirvana ....
Here and Gone.  






                                                     Sunyata is form...
                                                     A blank journal; nine months to live.
                                                     Egg in the womb, waiting.







             Sunday rest
             on shaded grass--
                  Sermons by Cherry Blossoms.






                                                   Beneath the pond scum
                                                   deeper down
                                                   the pebble drops away.







                Crazy Cloud Ikkyu--
                           skin on a skeleton
                           listening to the dead.







                            The True Gardener of No Title deadheads
                            Persona after persona, shears the hedge
                            Of endless desires, digs up the dank
                            Roots of illusions, prunes out the rank
                            Suckers of sectarian ire, and weeds away
                            Attachments that choke out the Way.







                    Ordinary time:
                                        If you have a hoe, we will work together.
                                  If you don't have a hoe, water.
                    Sermon time:
                                  If you have a hoe, She will give you another.
                                  If you don't have a hoe, She will take it away.







 Last day of Spring,
                ripe purple plums drop--
form is emptiness.

     First day of Summer,
         ditch completely dry--
 emptiness is form.








                                     many suffer--
                                     even as peaches ripen.

                                     Exactly at noon--
                                     the branch cracks,
                                     loaded with peaches.








       Beyond barbed wire
            Beyond, beyond, far beyond--
            Cows marching Over.







                                    Exuberant young dog:
                                    wants in, wants out,
                                    wants everything.








Spring: Short Poems and Haiku by Mike Garofalo








                                             eyes horizontal
                                             nose vertical,
                                             a mind stood up







                         evening breeze--
                              yellow poplar leaves
                                                        letting go






                       Up in an old oak
                       a woodpecker knocks--
                       the sky opens.






                                              Behind the iron Buddha's
                                              Straight Back--
                                              a cricket chirping.







      good North, good South
          good East, good West,
          good here, bad wherever







Reginald Horace Blyth







           moonlight calms
           the frozen night--
           long silence






                                                   Don't know mind
                                                   as wide as the empty sky;
                                                   above the dogma fogs
                                                   blinding the brilliant eyes
                                                   with sugared religious lies.







                                                        the scarecrow's reach--
                                                        the Milky Way.










kamon.gif (3866 bytes)










                 Wide-eyed staring into the Rich silence
                 Of mirrored space devoid of mind;
                 Not projecting or connecting, but reflecting
                 Supreme non-fictions, Things
                 Naked as they are, as they are ...






                             covering my coffin
                             in a black hole,
                             the weight of eternity






                                                        Stone Lagoon and sky
                                                        become one--
                                                        deepening fog.





    Faces in the rolling clouds;
       Thinking out loud, nothing strange,
       Always Mind at its Game.






Cold Mountain Poets






                               the particulars,
                               minute particulars--
                               revealing Nothing







                                                                  preaching the Dharma
                                                                   the suchness of things

                                                                                                                                       [In memory of R.H. Blyth.]





                    a death poem






                           pilgrimage over--
                                         their home is sacred






                    The Other-Fulfilling Prophesy comes true:
                    What you never thought you'd become, you do.















Soul Mates Extraordinaire

I never
grasped emptiness
or hiked around Mt. Sumeru,
patted Chao-chou's dog
or teased Nansen's cat,
blocked the Bodhidharma's uppercut
or slept in Han Shan's dirty hut,
borrowed Wendy Johnson's garden rake
or rode the Ox through the Gateless Gate.

I never, ever
suffered the Great Doubt
or solved any of Rinzai's riddles,
looked for sticks in Yun-men's crapper
or broke Tassajara bread with Shunryu Suzuki,
minded the flapping flag for Hui-neng the sage
or heard Jiyu-Kennett move her whisk in Mt. Shasta's shade,
chanted on Mt. Tamalpais with Whalen, Ginsberg and Snyder
or saw Dogen's True Eye open just a little bit wider.


I never did.
Nope, never!
Not in 55 lifetimes.   
Yet, it seems like I did.
Yep, dayinanddayout,
appearances notwithstanding,
Reality appeared just So.

This I know:
their heritage is in my heart,
their myths mine,
these dear Friends of the Buddha Mind.
















                    Interview with the Teacher, over before it began;
                    He rings the bell; next dokusan.







                                                        Taking aim--
                                                        the First Precept

                                                                                                             [The Five Precepts]






            In the blink of Time's eye
                    we lived, we died;
                    while stone faced Shasta was silent.







                             Speechless, Dogen stared,
                             Shivering in a turning white world
                             Raising cold dawn moons.
                             Bright white millions on millions
                             Of drifting flowery flakes
                             Fell fast from the Echizen sky.
                             Ice pure, elemental, quintessential
                             Wet, imperfect, flowing time
                             Packed by the hour, deeper
                             Deeper down to Winter's core.
                             The Temple of Eternal Peace creaked,
                             Snowflakes gathered on Dogen's robe,
                             One icy crystal streaked the True Eye
                             Glimpsing into Itself;
                             Another transmission:
                                   Frozen flowers in the sky.  

                                                                                         [Emptiness in Full Bloom]








Karmic Tree in Winter.   A concrete poem by Michael P. Garofalo.









                                            I turn and stare into the foggy mist;
                             Wondering, wondering, about what I missed.







                   Black birds
                   swarm on
                   by ...


                   I watch--





                                    wide- eyed cows
                                    taken in a trailer--
                                    fruit in a basket

                                                           The cows have vanished down the road,
                                                           and the last clouds have floated away.
                                                           We sit together, the valley and me,
                                                           until only the valley remains. 

                                                                                (Thanks to the Taoist poet Li Po.)






Green Way Blog by Michael P. Garofalo






                 Loosing ground from unconscious rounds
                              Of the "This is Not It" mantra sounds;
                              Burning holes in my soul
                              Over and over, no loophole
                              For escape.  None!  Replay Mind - Spellbound.






                                                         Six steps forward and
                                                         Seven steps back--
                                                         The Earth remains.







Railing against Do-Nothing Zen
Ekaku Haikuin presses that one hand, hard,
stamps his staff --
clap, clap, clap, Clap!
Shouting, spittle flying,
he prods, and pokes, and preaches
till the fawning monks scatter.

Haikuin sits alone the long cold night
gazing into the fires of hell.

Ivy crawls
the walls of Shoin-ji;
night boats pass in silence.  








                     An acorn falls--
                     six generations
                     cooled in the shade.

                                          Leaf after leaf
                                          turns yellow;
                                          the fall of summer.







Cold Mountain Buddhas







"You are That."
i am not That,
but part of That am i
and i a bit of That,
for the time-being,
for awhile, for a lifetime, 
while That changes.

"That Thou Art."
Thou are not That,
except "That" as understood,
as idea, as assumed, as imagined;
as i
think i am, believe i am, wish i was;
while That changes what i am,
or will be.  

"That" is elusive, expanding to
the edge of the Big Everything,
at either end of the inside of infinity...
that is the way that That is.
Not like this piece of popcorn
on the tip of my tongue.  







This cabbage, these carrots,
These potatoes, these onions
Will all soon become me.
Such a tasty fact.

Bless the farm!
Bless the market!
Bless the kitchen!







                     The raspy-voiced crow
                     perched on a pine pole
                     preached the Winged Dharma;
                     wayward birds trembled, fearing
                     rebirth as human beings.  







                                             Five Precepts








              Between the Sun
                         and the nearest Black Holes,
                         my home.







        Last day of Winter,
        leafless walnut trees--
        form is emptiness.

        First day of Spring,
        clear sky to Mt. Shasta--
        emptiness is form.

                          forms are forms, 
                          emptiness is speechless.









                       Be humble, for you
                       are made of 
                       beans and seeds.
                       Be noble, for you
                       are made of 
                       rivers and sunshine.
                       Be joyful, for you
                       have tasted one of 
                       Xiwangmu's peaches.









                                               No stars or orchards,
                                               Only ground fog
                                    Rising everywhere.







                                       quiet hours,
                                   no holiness.





                        Buddha's birthday-
                        2566 candles
                        burned to nothing.
                                                 [Siddhartha Gautama, circa: 4/8/563-483 BC]








Michael P. Garofalo's "The Spirit of Gardening"

Michael P. Garofalo
Garden Harvest 
September, 2004




A callused palm and dirty fingernails precede a Green Thumb.
Complexity is closer to the Truth. 
Sitting in a garden and doing nothing is high art everywhere.
Does a plum tree with no fruit have Buddha Nature?   Whack!!   
The only Zen you'll find flowering in the garden is the Zen you bring there each day. 
Dearly respect the lifestyle of worms.   
All enlightened beings are enchanted by water.
Becoming invisible to oneself is one pure act of gardening.
  Priapus, lively and naughty, aroused and outlandish, is the Duende de el Jardin.
 Inside the gardener is the spirit of the garden outside.
Gardening is a kind of deadheading - keeping us from going to seed.   
The joyful gardener is evidence of an incarnation. 
One purpose of a garden is to stop time.
Time will tell, but we often fail to listen.
Leafing is the practice of seeds.   

-   Michael P. Garofalo,  Pulling Onions







I first met Chang San-Feng above the forest, 
near the clear spring,
when gathering clouds darkened the day,
and Mt. Shasta was silent.

His long beard was black as emptiness,
ear lobes to his shoulders,
holding obsidian in his hand,
pointing to the sun,
eyes staring into infinity,
his long body clothed in silence.

We exchanged "hellos"
smiled and bowed,
a barbarian and an Immortal,
both panting from the climb,
ten-thousand echoes
between our rocky minds.

After billions upon billions of heartbeats past
(for he must have been 888 years old),
I was so bold
as to ask the ancient one
for the sacred mantra of yore.
He lifted his whisk,
and brushed my face;
I could not speak,
my lips were stone,
ideas stopped

I was alone. 


-  Michael P. Garofalo
   Master Chang San Feng






                                                             A fly on my finger
                                                                                                rubs his feet--
                                                                                                every hair alive. 








Summer - Short Poems and Haiku by Mike Garofalo








                        Stalled imagination, repeating plot's old,
                        A dull shovel lifting wiser men's gold.
                        Thinking when reading, otherwise not;
                        Museless, unleavened, a nondescript pot.







                   This Halloween night, we cut and eat,
                   Fuyu persimmons, firm and sweet.

                   Plastic skeletons
                   scattered by pranksters,
                   resting in pieces.

                                 Nonlocal minds
                                 keeping out of touch,
                                 outside space and time,
                                 an eyeless bunch, not saying much.
                                 Mouthless, what can they say?
                                 They can't even pray.

                                                       -  Metaphysical Duets, #2









Standing at the Mysterious Pass
Centered in the Eternal Now,
Balanced in Body and Open in Mind,
Rooted into the Sacred Space,
Motionless as the Golden Mountain,
Fingers around the Primeval Sphere.

Dragons and Tigers are still dreaming -
Ready for Rebirth. 

I breathe in, the World Breathes Out.
The Gate of Space opens;
Heaven moves and Yang is born.
The hands move out, embracing the One.
The mind settles and is clear.
The Dragon Howls,
Ravens fill the Vast Cauldron,
Mind forms melt like mercury,
Spirit rises in the Clouds of Eternity.
Yin appears like the moon at dusk.

I breathe out, the World Breathes In.
The Doors of Emptiness close;
Earth quiets and Yin is born.
The hands move in, entering the One.
The body settles and becomes whole.
The Tiger Roars,
The Great Ox is nourished by the Valley Spirit, 
Substances spark from flaming furnaces,
Essence roots in the Watery Flesh.
Yang appears like the sun at dawn.

Dragons and Tigers
Transformed within the Mysterious Pass -
Chanting and Purring.


"Opening at the Mysterious Pass" 






While double digging dry soil,
and pulling weeds, my meditation began.
Suddenly, visions were unearthed,
from deep deep down,
my past lives bubbled up,
flooding memory:

Once, carried the immortal,
Zhang Guo Lao, for years and years and years,
as he rode, smiling, seated backwards,
on my white donkey back.

Once, slimed my snail's way
day by day
up the side of Mt. Meru.

Once, was a knarled old olive
in bloom
in the garden at Gesthemane.

Once, flopped on the deck of a fishing boat,
tossing back and forth,
gasping, gasping ...
eyes open, then died.

Once, awoke as a man
Shoveling in the sun,
smelling dung.
Meditation done.  

-  Easter Sunday, March 27, 2005




“If one sees me in forms,
If one seeks me in sounds,
He practices a misleading way.
He cannot see the essence of creeds:

All conditioned creeds
are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows,
like dew drops and a lightning flash:
contemplate them thus.”

Creeds and doctrines are like a raft
to carry one to the other shore,
and then to relinquish.
Neither cling to the raft forever,
or reject it when drowning.
Even better,
become a strong swimmer.

-   Mike Garofalo, Green Way Blog: An Honest Doubt
    Paraphrase of the Diamond Sutra






"Who am I?"

Such a strange question,
     uttered endlessly, 
     by weekend seekers of the Lost Psyche. 
Feigning amnesia,
they blather about their true selves, 
their Grand Soul lost somewhere outside their petty lives,
     hidden away and blocked by fleeting fleshy passions,
     stolen away by the finite soma and mundane mind. 

Their Real Self: pure, eternal, blissful, free, true, wonderful;
   right around the supernatural corner, 
   waiting for them like a blind date. 

You know who you are!

You are a unique body - interdependent with the watery world;
a boxcar of moving memories - a rich history;
known from the fruits of your work; 
meshed with some family, holding somebody dear; 
Somebody - unique as the fingerprint of your DNA;
named, spoken for, listening, and ...
Your search for "yourself", 
     your anxious questioning, 
    makes no sense. 

A stale mantra, 
a face before you were born koan:
"Who am I?", sterile, silly,
Yet, following an irrelevant spiritual advisor's advice, 
You try to figure it out, for hours and weeks,
     befuddled, awed by your confusion, thinking
It's your puny powers of meditation or belief or determination
    that keep you from discovering 
The Holy Grail of the Genuine Self. 

You know who you are!

You might want to change who you are,
or forget who you were, 
or tell others about who you are, 
or learn why you get tricked into asking yourself this foolish question ...
     but those are quite different issues. 

-   Mike Garofalo, "Who am I," he asked himself, June 11, 2006





This webpage was served to over 750 readers every month in 2005.
Available on the Internet since January 2001.

















Haiku Poetry 
Links, References, Guides






Short Poems by Michael P. Garofalo
Haiku, Couplets, Free Verse, Senryu, Tanka, Quatrains, Limericks, Fragments
One to Ten Line Poems





Comments About the Poetry Notebooks of Michael P. Garofalo





Valley Spirit Journal




Zen Poetry





Cold Mountain Poets




Cloud Hands: Taijiquan and Qigong




Concrete and Visual Poetry




One Short of a Baker's Dozen
Sonnets, 10-20 Line Free Verse Poems, Haibun
By Michael P. Garofalo


Quotes for Gardeners

Quotes, Sayings, Proverbs, Poetry, Maxims, Quips, Clichés, Adages, Wisdom
A Collection Growing to Over 2,700 Quotes Arranged by Over 130 Topics
Many of the Documents Include Recommended Readings and Internet Links.
Over 6 MB of Text.
Compiled by Michael P. Garofalo





Pulling Onions
Quips and Observations about Gardening
By Michael P. Garofalo






The Spirit of Gardening










© Green Way Research, 2006

Red Bluff, California
All Rights Reserved




You are welcome to quote from this document.
Please credit as follows:  

Michael P. Garofalo, Above the Fog




E-mail Mike Garofalo in Red Bluff, California



A Short Biography of Mike Garofalo




Poetry Notebook III of Michael P. Garofalo
Zen Poetry:
Above the Fog

18 February 2006





The Spirit of Gardening

Waving Hands Like Clouds: Taijiquan and Qigong

Haiku Poetry: Links, References, Resources

Cuttings: Short Poems by Michael P. Garofalo

Cold Mountain Poets

Green Way Blog

Valley Spirit Journal

Green Way Research









































Search Terms:
Zen Poems
Zen Poetry
Buddhist Poems
Buddhist Poetry
Chan Poems
Chan Poetry
Taoist Poems
Taoist Poetry
Zen Haiku
Buddhist Haiku
Taoism Short Poems
Zen Short Poems
Mysticism Poems
Mysticism Poetry
Tantric Poems
Tantric Poetry
Zen Sayings
Chan Sayings
Buddhist Sayings
Above the Fog
Poems by Michael P. Garofalo