Vancouver atypical–brilliant sun alternating with dense dank fog. near the water, walked a couple miles. misplaced my mind. the day passes.


mare’s tails in the west. rain held off. not solitary by nature, listen to runoff without reading it. walk until you can’t. old friends gone


time to mourn, to remember particulate ice, rammed quick. time’s empty as mind, sunyata, and still we must act, scattered foam on the ocean.


asking again who digs the common, we wait for you, not our children but our grandchildren. time. you know us from dreams, show us your fire.


we are as we were but are still becoming. you overlap us, our ends your beginnings, time emptiness, emptiness interleave us. sleep in peace.


bluejay tap-dancing on deck. where is the lone ant dragging the dead wasp? I looked & the cat was gone, dent in cushion where she was lying.


–Keith Maillard, July, 2017

Private Thoughts — after Yen Shu

In happier times the setting sun

lacquered the waves in the harbor

now below the Lions the rain

has swelled the creeks into torrents

so many days of loneliness

and now desolation and no stove fire

I’d send a letter in a fish if I could

but everywhere rivers and mountains are endless



This poem is a collaboration between me, Yen Shu (991-1055), and, because I don’t read Chinese, the translator, Red Pine (Poems of the Masters, Copper Canyon Press). Some of Red Pine’s words are included here with no change whatsoever. The image of the letter in a fish is Yen Shu’s. The personal elements that locate the poem on Vancouver’s North Shore are mine.