Zen Riddle

On the tree-bordered path

an old man and a boy

with long hazel sticks

walked side by side

rain hats and jackets

zipped to the top

pockets buttoned

keeping their maps dry

They shared old stories

and young ambitions


The wind rustled up

a twister of  leaves

full branches overhead

added their rain to the sky’s

Beneath, the walkers hunched shoulders

tucked chins down

and collars up

The path grew steeper, darker

and the heavy sky

grew heavier


Are you sure you can

walk this, the boy asked

It’s a long path

The old man’s eyes hinted

watery sweet laughter

The path is fine, he said

walking steady

stepping strong

When I was a boy

this path was long


The boy wanted to know

if the route had changed

or been shortened, but

No, nobody changed it

the old man replied

You mean the path shrunk

as you grew old?

Is the path your youth?

No, said the old man, smiling

It is just a path

Submitted for One Shot Wednesday        



Filed under Poetry

29 responses to “Zen Riddle

    • Good heavens, Talon, you made me jump. The second I posted this, there you were, with your lovely comment!! I’m doubly grateful since I’ve been off-line for a couple of weeks and figured all my blog friends will have moved to other sites by now. Thanks for hanging in there with me. Big hug to you.

  1. This is absolutely charming. I loved it!

  2. Zen or not, that old man blew that kids mind.

  3. good to have you back! … and in such crystalline form, a journey of detail from the hazel of their sticks to the watery sweet laughter. I’m glad you are currently walking along my path. you make the walk a pleasing one.

    • Thanks, Brian. I hoped last night you wouldn’t take offence at my journey through your poem – a bit of poetic licence taken by the poet is one thing, but when the reader goes to town… Anyway, I love your writing and it’s great to be back here with my cyber-writer friends.

  4. good morning…smiles. cute story…nice one shot and welcome back

  5. Great poem Cindy. I saw your facebook post. I’m inspired by the thought of your novel. I’m glad you came back around to writing some poetry though.

    This reminds me of a walk some friends of mine took. They were snow shoeing. The one friend looked at the other after an hour or so of walking and said, “So when do we get there?” The second friend kind of chuckled and said. “This is it. We’re there.”

    Thanks for this one.

  6. ana

    “They shared old stories
    and young ambitions” – my favorite line!

  7. so glad you are back – and with such a wonderful poem… it’s just a path…loved this…in my opinion the ending makes this poem – it’s like reaching the top of the hill after a long, steady walk…

  8. Beautiful poem. I love the narration and the depiction of the two walkers as the rain began to pour. At the end of your poem, all that came to me was ‘a path is a path’ it is not long nor short, it is not a metaphor or anything. It is simply a path and one walks through it.
    Thanks for sharing this poem. 🙂

  9. Clever, wise, all that appropriately Asian poetry jazz. 🙂

  10. moondustwriter

    love the questions it raises and the thoughts it provokes. so many twists and turns to learn through

    A delightful One Shot
    Thanks so much for coming by this week
    Hope you have a delightful weekend
    and hope to see you again soon at One stop Poetry

    Moon smiles

  11. oh, i like this… i’m so glad you linked to imperfect, so i could meet you. please, join our community next week… it opens up wednesday nights, and people are very good at commenting… it’s a haven for the hurt and hopeful… peace to you, friend. e.

    • Thank you Emily so much for the warm welcome to your community. I really look forward to reading and writing there. Recently I haven’t been blogging quite so much because I’m working hard to finish a novel, but I will participate whenever and as often as I can. I love finding writing communities that dig below the surface, and pull things into the light so that they may be dissipated, understood, healed, loved and accepted. As writers we have such a wonderful tool for inner growth and outer grace. It’s good to find a platform for this, as well as for our craft.
      (( )) Big Hug

  12. I loved every word of this. I felt as though I was a part of their conversation.

  13. Sunyoo Avanzino

    It’s an insightful poem. I love it, reminding me of riddles exchanged between a zen master and his student. In doing so, the wise master intended to teach the young student. The old man shows his wisdom to the “ambitious” boy through a few conversations. Good work!

  14. Would that every little boy had such an old man he could walk through the woods with!! Such naive boyish arrogance the kid has when he wonders aloud if the old man could make it without tiring out and how much of patient wisdom borne out of experience the old man has!!When I was young , the path was long, says he. Now for him it’s just a path. How rarely we keep that in mind , always in a hurry to get there from here and from there to some place else. Lovely reminder this was, to learn to live in the present moment:-)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s