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The Novices of Thien Mieu

by Kevin Bowen


The boy monks at Thien Mieu
set down their bowls
on bare wooden tables.

On timber walls outside,
the house rules
nailed, posted:

Time for chanting.
Time for Meditation.
Time for Work.

In the courtyard, green worlds
set out in miniature.

A fisherman by a bridge
at the foot of a temple.

No Inside. No Outside.

No rules to remember or forget.

 

Kevin Bowen is director of the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and its Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His most recent collections are Eight True Maps of the West (Dedalus Press, Dublin), Six Vietnamese Poets (Curbstone Press), and Early Zen Poems from Vietnam, with Nguyen Duy and Nguyen Ba Chung (Saigon Cultural Publishing House). (10/2006)


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