Trace, Killing Buddha

Seymour Mayne

Translation text: "La trace, Tuer Bouddha "

Artwork by Sharon Katz


It is not a known

woman who sits before me.

Nor my unborn daughter.


Stranger than the masks

of the ancients,

you, face, stare

while around you the burning

landscape flares into flame,

caravans flee in every direction

seeking refuge.


Yet the trace of your word

is there upon my head—

soft touch of its weight,

how it cups the space

like a canopy.




Killing Buddha


for Leonard Angel


You would kill Buddha

if you met him on the Street?

With whose weapon —

your lighthearted smile

or compliant face?


Eat your heart out,

you might tell

the laughing stranger —

but his heavy features

reveal he feasts

on other fare.


Perhaps it’s the Buddha

in you you’ll aim at —

and sure to tell

you’ll split the fruit

with the sharp arrow

shot at the mind

and studiously avoid

the vulnerable heart

                    at the center.


Seymour Mayne

Seymour Mayne, professor of Canadian Literature, Canadian Studies and Creative Writing at the University of Ottawa, is the author, editor or translator of more than sixty books and monographs. His writings have been translated into French, German, Hebrew, Polish, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish. His latest collections include Ricochet: Word Sonnets/Sonnets d'un mot (2011), a bilingual French edition of his word sonnets, and On the Cusp: Word Sonnets/Albores: Sonetos de una palabra/ À l’orée: Sonnets d’un mot (2013), a trilingual volume. A fervent innovator of the word sonnet, he has given readings and lectured widely in Canada and abroad on this unique new ‘miniature’ form. "Trace" was originally published in Killing Time by Mosaic Press in 1992 and "Killing Buddha" was originally published in Carbon Filter by Mosaic Press in 1999. Both are reprinted with the permission of the author.