Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Friday, 25 November 2011

In a Zen Manner: Bill Deemer


Tōto asakusa honganji [Hongan-ji Temple at Asakusa in the Eastern Capital: print shows the peak of the roof of the Hongan-ji Temple at Asakusa with a kite flying through the clouds and a view of Mount Fuji in the distance]
: Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849), between 1890 and 1940: from the series: Fugaku sanjūrokkei: 36 views of Mount Fuji (Japanese prints and drawings, Library of Congress)

No more apologies for existing.
No more demands to change your behavior.
I’m incorrigible, you’re a hopeless case.
The sun shines on both of us anyway.


No one sick with loathing towards me.
No one miserably in love with me.
Friendly towards all, friends with none.
Head in the clouds, feet on the ground.

Yui no zu [
View of Yui:
print shows a man carrying a large box on his back on a cloud in a mountainous area, looking back at travelers standing on a cliff above the sea with sailboats and Mount Fuji in the background]: Tyokuni Utagawa (1786-1865), between 1837 and 1844, from the series: Tōkaidō gojū santsugi no uchi: 53 stations of the Tōkaidō Road (Donald D. Walker collection /Japanese prints and drawings, Library of Congress)

Chiryū [a view through clouds above rooftops, of a shrine and mountains]
: Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849), 1804, from the series: Tōkaidō Road (Japanese prints and drawings, Library of Congress)

In a Zen Manner: Bill Deemer, from Variations (Round Bend Press), 2011




Thanks for this, another glimpse at parallel universes -- Johnny and I just looking yesterday at another of Hokusai's 36 Views of Mount Fuji (the one with men storm-tossed in boats in foreground).

"Head in the clouds, feet on the ground"


light coming into fog against invisible
ridge, song sparrow calling from branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

now, images of which placed
moment is still there

that, become the difference
between these, “plus”

grey white clouds reflected in channel,
shadowed green pine on tip of sandspit

Terry Simons said...


Thanks for the recognition of Bill Deemer's new book from Round Bend Press.

Bill is a wonderful poet, and it was a great thrill to be allowed to bring out his latest via RBP (founded in 2009).

Terry Simons
Portland, OR

Nin Andrews said...

I love this, esp. the pictures and the lines-

No more demands to change your behavior.
I’m incorrigible, you’re a hopeless case.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Deemer comes across as a very down-to-earth poet; very readable, very wise. Thanks, Tom.

ACravan said...

This sounds like advice I try to give myself when I'm at my most gathered and "together," which is rarely. vazambam says "down to earth". I feel "feet on the ground", planted lighly, almost floating. (Not like me; I'm known for my heavy footfall.) I love the way the sentences sound and how they meet the images. This one really fits the afternoon, which is now verging into evening. It's 6 o'clock in the east -- pitch-black outside. Curtis

TC said...

'Twas a privilege to post this poem by a poet whose work I've liked since way back when.

Rather than attempt to provide biographical information, I'll follow the wise directive that's the final note in this book:

Press Release (if I ever need one):
Ignore the poet & read the poems.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Bill Deemer, such a very fine poet, indeed. There is a pdf from Coyote's Journal called "20 Poems" by Deemer up online. Here is one I believe you will enjoy, Tom:



O little town, you are all America to me.
Two gas stations, one tavern, sunset the big event.
I'm glad the only traffic light always stops me.


In case the lines are too long for the comment box, the poem should be 3 lines, one sentence each.

The dimensionality of the first Hokusai print in particular is dizzying in such a spectacular way.


TC said...


My own mind also swam that giddy route with the kite string up through the clouds in the brilliant Hokusai.

That's another great Bill Deemer poem.

(Indeed I believe it was Coyote's Journal which first brought us in contact.)

aditya said...

Thank you for this. Its a privilege to read this.
I shall take it up as a morning prayer of sorts. It makes much more sense than those much idealize ones which bid us to love all. Loving everybody is not even possible I guess!

Beautiful pcitures. And 'feet on the ground' makes a whole lot of sense. The kite image so resonating. I am going to look for Coyote Journal for now.