Poems from Rohatsu Sesshin 2023
Poems from Rohatsu Sesshin 2023

Poems from Rohatsu Sesshin 2023

The traditional week-long Rohatsu Sesshin is a time of intense practice and can produce significant spiritual insights that are often expressed in poetry.  The following poems were composed by some of the participants of the December 2023 sesshin.  We are pleased to share them with all of our friends.



I too, will one day walk
Shoulder to shoulder
Eyebrow to eyebrow
With that Old Sage of the Shakyas
Then I alone shall laugh with mirth
For endless kalpas

—Bradley Kyonin Moody


Rooted in the Earth

A post-Rohatsu Sesshin poem offering

Rooted in the Earth
Right under our seat
Sitting as all Buddhas and Ancestors do
To experience what He did, and said we can

Some 2569 years ago
Give or take a day or two
Do you feel wise
Do you feel like a fool
No matter
The Great Matter
An opportunity
Grab and hold
We are not promised another
Bow and Appreciate this life
Devas or demons
Do not have humanity
To Awaken, to bow, or to vow with
Yes my body hurts and my mind talks too much

And what joy it is
The weight of whole universes
Became the weight of near-nothing
A single kernel of rice
When the star appears

Becomes universes again should you roll on
Or simply Bow to each other
To begin and to cease each day
As a Sangha

—Keith Jikai Percy


Bamboo Breath

from high in light, drop
pausing at interstices
down into more light

—Tandy Hoen Sturgeon


A Moment of Sesshin

Remember the deer easing
into the old orchard
to taste the ice apples—
then disappearing into dark woods,
a breath.

—John Gendo Wolff



Much time has passed since we last gathered to practice,
Coming together in this sacred space, never having left.
Precious time,
Don’t waste a moment.

Innumerable causes and conditions,
Aligning to bring us here now.
Like grains of sand stacked atop one another,
Reaching the sky.

Star birth, glacial retreat, combustion engines,
Five-toed feet, bodhicitta, ficus religiosa.
Traveling across boundless space, over untold eons,
Only to arrive where we have always been.

We sit, we walk, we eat, we work,
We chant, we bow, we shit, we sleep.
Apple pie and happy birthdays,
The highest meaning of the holy truths.

To give expression to the profound reality,
To show deep gratitude for Shakyamuni’s hard-earned enlightenment,
To share with all beings the liberating insight,
We exclaim with the bearded barbarian, “I don’t know!”

—Keven Muzo Holohan