MISSING

Orion failed to appear last night
which allowed the bears an evening
of peace, certain they were not prey.
They cavorted as bears are wont,
to the pleasure of Cassiopeia.
The lion stuck his head in, but
lions know the bears need their space
and anyway, they could see the dragon
lurking on the horizon
and even lions know you
don’t mess with dragons
more than once.

OH, UNSWEET ROSE

There are days when
nothing less than a full blown
cliche will suffice, and any
attempt at brevity will result
in an utter and total failure
and wit will mourn it soul.
You might as well spit in the wind,
because you simply cannot
swim against that tide,
and it and time
will never wait for you.
Those are the days when
the pen loses its might,
and night arrives full throttle
before you are willing
to contemplate the moon,
and see if it is truly blue.

GENETIC DREAMS

The hardest part, surprisingly, is
finding that one odd thread where
you least expected, and following it
back until it merges with another,
and another still until you recognize
that it is a weft, and the warp
slowly becomes more apparent.
Still it is nothing but carefully
interwoven threads until you allow
yourself to step back, and a pattern
appears slowly, growing more clear
as threads are recognized, and
the twisted threads of DNA
eventually reveal a rich tapestry
of the family you never knew,
never expected to know, whose blood
runs through your veins and arteries
and, ungrounded from your long
held beliefs of self, you find
footing in a soil unexpected,
but which touched deeply
does feel so very much like home.

HUANG PO’S GOBBLERS OF DREGS

The old monk, leaning on his cane
smiled at the man prostrating himself
before the great Buddha repeatedly.
The monk gently interrupted the man,
“what is it you hope to achieve
by all of these prostrations, you clearly
are seeking something, you clearly
have not found what you are seeking.”
“I am seeking the wisdom that only
the great Buddha can provide,”
the man said, looking into the eyes
of the old monk, who only smiled.
The monk reached within his robe,
pulled out a mirror and held it
in front of the man, who stared
deeply into it, smiled and walked away.
The monk prostrated himself three times
to the great Golden Buddha, who smiled.



A reflection on Case 11 of the Shobogenzo

PROGRESSION

It is between the pushing away in the pulling back that it happens. It is there that the seasons progress, one to the next. Winter cedes to spring and is, ever reluctantly, replaced by summer. It is there, as well, that the leaf emerges from the bud and reaches into the sky. And feeling the taste of the sun, unfurls, welcoming rain, which it channels into the earth, the earth where it will, all too soon, fall, there to decompose, only to repeat the cycle at some unimaginable point in the future. We see none of this.

PACIFYING THE MIND OF THE SECOND PATRIARCH

Sitting on the cushion
staring at the wall yet again,
the wall seems familiar, as if you
should know it, the paint, the fleck
of something embedded in the paint.
Still you search for something beyond
the wall, hidden by the paint,
but you find nothing, always nothing.
Does this nothing finding frustrate you?
Are you certain there is something
there to be found, eluding you?
Be like Huike, for if you cannot
see the wall, cannot find the paint,
the universe that lies behind it
will be exposed to your view.
Simply close your eyes and see it.


A reflection on Case 1 of the Shumon Kattoshu

TEN DIRECTIONS

It would help, she said,
if you would stop thinking
of yourself as Sisyphus
and all of life as the rock.
You might actually, one day,
begin to enjoy what you do.

It would help, he said,
if I could be like
a great blue heron,
grow wings and take
to a summer sky leaving
all of this behind me,
going wherever I wish.

Perhaps, she replied, it
is better that you see
yourself as Sisyphus, for
everyone know that you
have no sense of direction.