LUCKY

                         If you love mushrooms
                         you’re already a billionaire.

                              – Nanao Sakaki (“No Trespassing”)

O’ time, like storm or stagnant air,
in my face or hanging-in there:
I was young once and ignorant,

or just brave to fill a sack
with freckled-faced mushrooms—
always more than I could eat

until my belly ached
with their wild richness sliced,
butter and garlic steaming

in a slow frying pan. After
hunting and picking ducks
with my grandfather, we filled

buckets in the Los Baños fog,
sharing wealth that made
my folks sick to think

of my making a mistake.
I was young once and ignorant,
but now just plain lucky!

4 responses to “LUCKY

  1. Years ago my dear Japanese friend Fusako introduced me to Nanao. They were old friends. A bunch of us spent time hiking and camping and birding with him in the Eastern Sierras. I also ran into him when I lived outside Nevada City and did Sunday afternoon saunas at Gary Snyder’s where different people would recite. Then when I spent a year photographing in SE Asia I started out with a month in Japan. Spent a week in a tiny town in the mountains where Nanao was staying with a young couple who ran a cafe there. He was such a wonderful character, magical to spend time with out in nature, and a great poet.

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  2. Thanks for the personal background, Heather. I received a copy of Nanao’s new book, HOW TO LIVE ON THE PLANET EARTH, a couple of weeks ago from Gary, but haven’t had time to crack it, or even thank him properly. Thumbing through its pages this morning, I found a note from Gary inserted before Nanao’s poem “No Trespassing”. I only had a chance to glance at a few other poems, but what an original and unique voice, so plain and free, but yet encompassing the whole business of living fully and well. I can’t wait to spend more time with the collection and expect we’ll see more epigrams from him on this blog.

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    • My favorite book of Nanao’s is one he gave me in 1987 – “Break the Mirror.” and to go with your “Lucky” poem……one from Nanao:
      “If you have time to chatter
      Read books
      If you have time to read
      Walk into mountain, desert, and ocean
      If you have time to walk
      sing songs and dance
      If you have time to dance
      Sit quietly, you Happy Lucky Idiot”

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  3. ‘ Happy Lucky Idiot’, written in Kyoto in 1966, is one of the first poems to begin this collection. It reminds me a little of a couple of early sayings of mine: ‘I don’t walk where I can ride and I don’t ride where I can drive’ but always tempered with the priorities of decision-making that I still consider, ‘what’s easiest on the cattle, then what’s easiest on your horse, and lastly, what’s easiest on you.’ But Nanao’s progressive twist demonstrates a circular wholeness without prejudice or purpose other than living fully for the Happy Lucky Idiots some us would like to be, at least sometimes, yet knowing to be so would verge on idiocy. Thanks for sharing, Heather, a beautiful little piece.

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