local_library Gift Exchange with Liu Tsung-yuan at Fahua Temple’s Stone Gate Hermitage

by Bruce Parker

Published in Issue No. 274 ~ March, 2020

What can I give

to Master Sun?

I cut a door in the clouds

to let him in—

what else could I have done?


There is a high wall of glass to my left,

sick and injured people all about.

Though the sky is really opaque

the wall is blinding-bright.

I give these people to the sun,

the light miraculous. It breeds

everything we need.


Wherever we turned things change,

Liu and his cousin at the stone gate,

the view they saw kaleidoscopic-twisted

as they turned about on the crest,

never at rest, never let their minds dwell

in any single cell.


The universe was there in our hands

turned this way and that

fragments rearranged, light throbbing,

motion sickness in the stars—

they monkeyed with it all.


How can you give the sun

anything of value?


I can give it

men and women in wheelchairs,

the adoring looks of infants’ mothers,

a little red-haired girl dashing through the lobby,

the wary looks, the tired faces

bathed in mid-morning dishwater light.


We saw our existence free of thoughts

like a blackboard totally erased,

smears of gray chalk all over its face

blind, the universe is blind

and stops to throw its head back and gasp

like the wounded man a moment ago

free of thought.


To bend at the waist and gaze

at the most wondrous of sights,

the lobby of a great clinic,

the lock of hair over a plump girl’s eye,

gray chairs and loveseats clouds on the shining floor,

this is what the gaze is for,

wondrous and common

are its swerve and plunge—

I could go on,


the trail not a foot wide

my path to the elevator.

My feet take me

over the wide floor

past the doctors in blue scrubs

who wait in line with the others

for coffee, for deliverance

the sun can give.

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Bruce Parker holds a BA in History from the University of Maryland Far East Division, Okinawa, Japan, and an MA in Secondary Education from the University of New Mexico. He has taught English as a second language, worked as a technical editor, and as a translator. He reads for Boulevard, lives in Portland, Oregon,and is President of the Oregon Poetry Association. His work has appeared in CIRQUE, The Inflectionist Review, Alembic, Cloudbank, Floyd County Moonshine, and elsewhere. Contact information: Bruce Parker 2530 N. Argyle St. Portland, OR 97217-7022 443-514-6773 dotcyclist@yahoo.com