Richard von Sturmer
New Zealand

Richard von Sturmer is a New Zealand writer and has published two books: We Xerox Your Zebras (Modern House, 1988) and A Network of Dissolving Threads (Auckland University Press, 1991). As well as being a lyricist for several New Zealand bands, including Blam Blam Blam, he and his partner, Amala Wrightson, toured the country in the 1980’s as the performing duo, The Humanimals. From 1993 to 2003 he lived and worked at the Rochester Zen Center, a Buddhist community in upstate New York. During that time his work appeared regularly in literary journals and anthologies. He has now returned to live in New Zealand. A new collection of his writing, Suchness: Zen Poetry and Prose, will be published by HeadworX in 2005.
The Golden Bridge

In the darkness
a golden bridge.
You can’t see it.
Horses cross, donkeys cross.
You can’t hear them.
But the bridge is there.

One day
you will bump your head
against its railings.
Nearly blind
crawling on your knees
with long, gray hair
sprouting from your ear-tips.

And as always
the bridge will be there
for you to traverse
its invisible curve.

Page Fifty-Three

a particular silence
for each room
and then
in the late afternoon
the cool blue sound
of a teacup
placed on a saucer.

‘When all conditions are removed
all ways of telling are removed.’

Meanwhile, in a dream
my great aunt
looks through her book of cats
and finds
on page fifty-three
not the expected Siamese
but a child’s thimble
and a map of the universe.

Chapin Mill Pond


Distant thunder--
the green-gray pond
smooth as a field
stippled with
millions of whitish bubbles
and splashes of rain.

Standing immersed
our eyes and ears
just above the surface
we absorb
the ceaseless
rising and falling
of water on water.

So simple, the trees
hold the pond in their circle
as we disappear
in small bursts
with skin and clouds and leaves
in the dense afternoon light.


With a sudden wind
the pond races forward
carrying on its back
chopped up pieces of sky.
In the rush
waves break against waves
finally hurling small
fragments of blue
onto the muddy bank.

We have known each other
for a long, long time.
Clouds have passed in foreign skies.
Horizons have changed
like plates placed on a table.
And still
you are with me in the water.
And the willows surge
with the wind.
Now green, now silver,
now green again.


Autumn leaves overlap
on the surface of the pond.
Minnows gather
beneath an empty boat.
Their world is
apparently seamless
while I am like that cosmonaut
in Tarkovsky’s film
who returns to his father’s house
and to the stillness
of a sleeping lake.

A momentary lapse
of concentration
(the slightest breeze will do)
and he knows that he will lose
the vine-covered pillars
the cracked steps
the golden light.

He knows that he will find himself
back in the depths of space.