here doing what I do best
weeding reading drinking
tax bills deadlines work undone
I plan a seat round the sycamore
time spent with black parrot queen of the night tulip
bulbs why not working sitting
early bus to town for teachings better
follow the drumming woodpecker into the woods
woodpecker drumming lapwings
wings lapping all the way
the marble hall all suits & security
guards missing the rain in my garden
old lady scattering bread for birds
blossom stuck to her shoes all there is
daughter gone into the world
sometimes I leave her room light on
autumn leaves gather in corners
doing nothing most gets done
old cooking pot under sky where I wash my hands gardening stir up
little frogs carry them to the pond where the geese now argue no nothing
fell over drunk precepts
gone vow gone shin hurts palm hurts instep hurts
such a small beetle passes so
easily across the written lines I labour over
stepping out for a piss I can’t let the door
latch click listening to the owl’s call
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2007. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editor in 2007 was Alan Spence.
Gerry Loose has been writing haiku and related Japanese-influenced poems for about as long as I have, which is a very long time indeed - probably a lifetime or two! His work (play) is very fine indeed, the real deal - no fake-zennery (or zen-fakery) - nothing 'stinking of zen' as one of the masters put it. In this sequence the poems are haiku-like but rendered in two lines instead of the usual three (hey, who needs usual?). They're unpunctuated but the unerring ear / eye tell you when to stop / break / breathe. They're poems of retreat, of solitude and isolation, but speak of a particular kind of loneliness that is anything but empty (see notes to Chloe Morrish, below). They are reminiscent of Han-Shan's Cold Mountain or Gary Snyder's Sourdough Mountain Lookout. Can't say fairer than that!
The 'Deer path to my door' poems are written at my small wooden hut at Carbeth in the foothills of the Campsies, an unmanaged area, largely untouched for a century. The hut has no electricity and drinking water is collected from a standpipe at a bend in the road nearby. It's where I feel most at home; that is, where I'm able to forget myself. They're poems of what is; beyond excuses made for things not done, far from worlds of doing. They are attempts to write in the most honest way I can, without separating this from other activities, of events which take place sometimes after days of silence: an almanac of tranquil vitality.
The poems are also a record of learning to let go, to share space with unmanageable plants and wayward creatures who go about their own lives with scant regard to mine. Learning to let go of the vagrant thoughts that go about their business somewhere in my mind. I think I own that hut with its garden, but the deer knows to whom it really belongs.