Autumn 2016 Showcase

the mountain

The summer of 1984 was unusually warm and sunny in the American Pacific Northwest, even on the slopes of the Cascade Range where Pacific Ocean moisture meets cool mountain air and manifests in near-perpetual fog and drizzle. I was a volunteer on a resource management work crew at Tipsoo Lake in Mount Rainier National Park, transplanting alpine perennials to repair damage to fragile meadows. Every day that summer at Tipsoo we had unabated postcard views of Rainier, the tallest, most majestic Cascade volcano, only a few miles away as the raven flies.

So I was bemused when a tourist called out to me from below in the parking lot, “Hey Ranger, where in the heck is Mount Rainier?”

I put down the shovel, turned to face the man and the mountain, and wouldn’t you know it, the mountain was gone, enshrouded in mist. I explained to the man that Mount Rainier had been visible in all its glory for all of July and August, in fact, until just five minutes before.

“I’ve been to all the world’s great peaks,” he told me, “Mount Fuji, Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro, Denali, Chimborazo, and I’ve never seen a one of ‘em. That’s the story of my life”

And so we present poetry by new and returning contributors – mountains seen, and unseen, and a few life stories. I hope you will enjoy this mountain trek as I have and find yourself in spaces of quiet and beauty and even transcendence along the way, but of course no two of us make the same journey, or, as Han-shan, the Master of Cold Mountain writes:

Where’s the trail to Cold Mountain?

Cold Mountain? There’s no clear way.

Ice, in summer, is still frozen.

Bright sun shines through thick fog.

You won’t get there following me.

Your heart and mine are not the same.

If your heart was like mine,

You’d have made it, and be there!

Following the poems you will find 15 scenes by Michigan artist Cynthia Coté, inspired by a recent trip to Iceland. Of the series, Coté says “These drawings are composed of hearty Icelandic people and the beautifully unusual landscape as I experienced it. I draw with pen and ink and colored pencil. Each drawing is a record of the time.”

So grab your rucksack and walking stick. Onward!

Ray Sharp
Guest Editor
the zen space


Joyce Joslin Lorenson (and her granddaughter, Trinity)





Simon Hanson


Into the Sky


gilt edged
mountain dawn


alpine lake
drifts of pink cirrus
in still water


highland path
ten thousand steps
into the sky


starry night
mountain silhouette
black light

ai li


  1. a song
    for the night
    i colour it purple


  1. love finds me
    on top of a mountain
    wanting to fly


  1. i wait for you
    in forests
    long gone
    a maple leaf
    in your last book


  1. afternoon nap
    the plums darken
    when i wake


  1. taking the pilgrim’s path
    to the source
    the air is so thin


  1. temple life
    a falling leaf
    brings music


  1. chanting
    across the valley
    before dawn
    before the world
    was new


Rachel Sutcliffe

  1. summer’s end
    stealing every summit
    morning mist


  1. evening shadows
    falling through
    the valley


  1. mountain climb
    at the summit
    our deep breath


  1. snow on the peaks
    these piles of rice
    on my plate


  1. sunlight through mist
    the mountain returns
    one stone at a time


  1. mountain trail
    a faded cap
    at the summit


Richard Stevenson


since when have
ladybugs gone in for
racing stripes?


trusses going up
a cabbage white
picks a peak


window side table
water tower restaurant
for the car parade


In the interval
between chirp and twitter
the nail gun


second day
first wall of the neighbour’s
new addition’s up


no coffee
the tap’s metronomic


Canne Mills

zero correlation, but –
lazy by the river, minus care
bicycle by, silent


eyes for Fuji
snapping lesser bulks –


gulls inactive, feet wet –
PM. Tsukiji


bicycle by, silent
with wall, bicycle
bamboo shooting, orange bands


metallic sound of joining wood
glazed ramen, working café
necessary tack


sidewalk, noodles corrugate
dwarfed land and
vertical circuits


Bruce England

Daughter asks again,
“what’s the oldest thing
you have? not yourself!”


Out together
we become younger man
older woman


When the hose
turns cold in my hand
I drink


does not slice
the moving fog


In her crib
my daughter sees what
with her uncarved face?


The flag flaps
in the wind, the flag flaps
in the mind


Miriam Sagan

before dying
she packs up and ships
her fossils


it was beads on a string, Navajo pearls

it was not like that at all

it was like a tiny Mata Ortiz blackware pot
the size of a thumbnail
no, it was a miniature turret shell
a homeopathic dose
of the sound
of the sea

actually it was more like
a pregnant woman in a great metropolis
weeping at a siren, saying
someone is suffering


asked me if you
had accepted death

this is a problem
of syntax

who is this “you”
does this “you”
exist at all

as to “accept”
I very much doubt it

and when we say death
I’m fairy sure
we have no idea what we’re talking about


I know myself
for the ordinary
woman I am
as well as for
the girl
who ran


a man is selling aspen from a truck
next to the Mexican food cart

on my way to see you
I like to go all the way
to the end
of Aurora Street

see the white horse
and the two brown ones
standing nose to nose

curved bird
in the scrub
and panic grass

I just like to go down to the end, turn around
have always been like that

go all the way down
the dead end and wait
for a moment
in the cul-de-sac


what can be covered?

a woman’s mouth
a flame

the dead
our eyes

a table
a bed
the face of the deep


misty coastline
decaying totem poles
in a cubist hand–

you turn the pages
without seeing…

armless torso
of a woman
legless too

sculpted in bronze


I’m alone this morning
sipping a lazy woman’s
cup of Nescafe,
I don’t trouble myself
that those yellow roses
do as they please


the desert might be

you hate it
you love the ocean
Pacific more
than Atlantic

but you are dying here
in town
the neighborhood
slightly run-down

yet a place
someone else
might rejoice in


early maps show it
River of the Mother of God
and then its course

while the Greek word
for “desert”
to “hermit”

I am simply

I am simply
to feel

I am simply
waiting to feel
the connection
between your swollen, roped, blue-veined
hands and mine


I believe
there is a prayer
of one word

but what
is it

and is it
a word
I know?


black doves among skyscrapers
a sooty rain

better to live here
where nothing ever happens

except for two girls, back neighbors
playing their guitars

whose songs
come note by note over the coyote fence

and whose last names
translate, if you choose to
as “black doves”


you fold your nightgown–
actually, I fold it
and place it beneath your pillow
where you can find it again

playing Chinese jump rope–
a chain
you can weave
from rubber bands–

at dusk
on the driveway


oh little sisters of darkness

you knew
even then
I had to go.


Cynthia Coté



Family at the cave at Hjorleifshofdi


Approaching Westmann Islands


The Scientist





Out for a ride



Mother and son at Selfoss



Star on the Hillside



The Writer



The Day’s Catch



The Explorer



Hunting Eels



Fox going up the road in Heimay



After Jon Stefansson



The Storyteller



Pensive Boy

Cynthia Coté divides her time between work as founding director of the Copper Country Community Arts Center in Hancock, Michigan and her work as an artist. Her drawings are a composite of people from found photos and records of her real life experiences. She has had the good fortune to travel to Poland, the Czech Republic, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Cuba, Mexico, Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Nova Scotia.


The next Showcase at the zen space will be Winter 2017 which will be released, subject to karma, on 1st January 2017.

Please note that the copyright of all written work and images used in this Showcase and elsewhere in the zen space is held by the creating author/artist, even when not explicitly stated, and may not be used elsewhere without permission.


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