The Old Calligrapher – A Poem

His pink kimono split the sun
Into a thousand rays: white cranes
Homing to his onyx eyes. He sat
In a full lotus on the meditation
Pillow, smiling, pale lips
Pressed to hide the smile, and
Remembering the girl in spring
Long ago in this stone garden.
He had given her a scroll of rice
Paper with a pictograph
Of the sun rising and a sketch of
Cherry blossoms gently
Falling. Bowing, she slipped a
Ring into his priestly robe and
Left him to the Sunday crowd
That gathered to watch his work.
He glanced at the island
Mountains: five sacred peaks
In a sea of rake
Sand. He breathed deeply,
Drawing the landscape
In his mind. In a
Flash his eyes turned to
Gold, the islands and the sea
Eddied and glowed. And he was
Gone. Like washed ink,
His shadow in meditation remained
Etched on the bleached rock:
The first calligraphy of his

Footnote: The victims of Hiroshima did not know what hit them. To describe the Bomb, the word “picadon” was coined. “Pica” means flash or flicker, and “don” means loud noise or explosion. Certain victims left shadows. Boddhidharma, the legendary first patriarch of Buddhism in China, also left his shadow on a rock close to the spot where he meditated for 10 years. This rock is located near the Shaolin temple in Honan province. I first read this poem in public at the 40th Anniversary Commemoration on August 6, 1985 at the Peace Garden in Bethlehem, PA.

Hiroshima Sutra – A Poem

Nobody knew
In Hiroshima
Nobody knew what
It was
Nobody knew
What was
Unleashed from a
Bottle that shattered
On the ground
Nobody knew
What it was
That noise
That light
That whirlwind
The city
And sent a
Cloud billowing
Like a genie
To the morning sky
And blackened
The day
Nobody knew
In Hiroshima
Nobody knew
That the beautiful
Flash will bring
Sudden death to thousands
Slowly to many more
Nobody knew what it was
That genie with no name
Picadon it was called:
Bright noise
Nobody knew
What it was that took
The lives of thousands

For the first time
A weapon as bright
As a hundred suns
But nobody knew
In Hiroshima
What it was
That brought
Quick death in one loud flash
Steel boiling from heat
Bodies turning to vapor
Shadows on concrete
Nobody knew
What it was
In Hiroshima
Om Shantih Shantih Shantih

By Rene J. Navarro

* “Hiroshima, Mon Amour,” the movie by Alain Resnais and Margaret Duras, was the inspiration for this poem. I read a shorter version of this poem and “Old Calligrapher” at the Peace Garden in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania during the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Twenty years later, I read the poem at the same sacred ground at the same commemoration organized by a peace group.

August 2017 Newsletter

Dear Friends,

I will be leaving for the Philippines in a few days. So this is a small farewell to you … and a sincere blessing, too. Aside from family affairs, I will be teaching a Traditional Yang Family Tai chi chuan (first section) seminar on August 19 and 20 sponsored by INAM Philippines (, the NGO that promotes almost all of my workshops in the Philippines. Continue reading “August 2017 Newsletter”