Gregory Abels began writing poetry in 1991. Very soon he gravitated naturally to short forms, particularly an 11-syllable form, although he has written and published longer poems. Early on he studied with Jean Valentine, J. D. McClachy, Stuart Friebert, and Debra Weinstein.

Although he is somewhat influenced by haiku, the brevity of his work on the page is not in imitation of any Asian form. He believes, in fact, that Western poets influenced by the Dharma have long written “simple” poetry that can stand alongside the more recognized and revered work of vintage Asian poets.

Abels writes out of his Zen practice and a heightened sensitivity to the subtle dynamics of nature and human consciousness. There is no thing, no moment, that is not interdependent and impermanent; what remains, what suffices after experience and observation, will fall away. Avoid clinging. Let go.

The poems in his volume Never Something Else: Poems from the Eye of Zen encourage us to be at ease with is before our eyes. To let go of notions such as large, small, human, non-human. To be satisfied that reality is never something else.

Not only is each poem a sparkling gem, but the act of reading through them one at a time is a great teaching.
—Roshi Nancy Mujo Baker
Zen master, Professor of Philosophy at Sarah Lawrence College

I read the poems over and over, each time with surprise and pleasure. Your writings are so visually present on the page, I couldn’t help but resonate with them.
—Jean-Claude van Itallie
Playwright, Tibetan Buddhist

A wonderful, life-enhancing experience. These poems help me in my personal effort to live in the present moment. A blessing. I read them over and over.
—Diane Kagan

Reading the poems, one concentrates on the reality of the moment and is freed from imagining a past or future time. The verses celebrate the mystery of the passing moment, which, like rain falling drop by drop, will be repeated “never, never, never.”
—Roshi Robert Jinsen Kennedy, S.J.
Zen master, Professor of Theology, Psychologist, Author

Wonderful insights and meditations. A collection for both the initiated and uninitiated—with lots to ponder. To turn each page is to open a small jewel box. The collection should create gentle ripples.
—Laurence Carr
Playwright, Poet, Teacher at SUNY New Paltz



Yes, it is true
you just heard
the shouts of boys
through the wind

No matter
what you say
it’s clear

The cloud
only me

it has
no other

Subway ride
time to stare
at my hands

Many times
I have stopped
at this spot
on the bank of the stream
trying to make a poem

Today I see why it was in vain

I was looking
for one thing

The geese
their shadows
with them

Never Something Else: Poems from the Eye of Zen

In Zen, we begin where we are. The short poems in this collection encourage us to be at ease with what is before our eyes. They invite us to pay attention with gentle persistence over and over again. 

The poems are easily accessible for people with little or no experience in Zen. They are accompanied by photographs inspired by our connection with nature.

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