EVE OF ENLIGHTENMENT

Cats have more in common
with snakes that we care to recognize.
She said this with a straight face.
He wanted to laugh at her, but dared not.
She didn’t take laughter kindly
when she thought it was directed at her.
He calmly asked her to explain.
It’s simple, she said, with feigned
patience, both can slither around,
are expert at hiding when they wish,
and as you have now so clearly demonstrated,
much as Adam did, both of you the hard way,
both snakes and cats are smarter
by far than your average male human.

RECALL NOTICE

It wasn’t so much that
it slipped away this morning,
I’ve come to expect that,
and I know there is absolutely
nothing I could do to stop it.
It wasn’t even that I
couldn’t recall what it was
precisely that was gone,
for that is the nature
of departure and longing.
It was more that I now
cannot determine what
it was the replaced it,
and my mind is supposed
to be engaged in a
net zero sum memory game,
for that is what
gives me hope for tomorrow.

RED EYE

No matter how hard
you look at maps
you cannot find
that evanescent border
that divides weariness
from exhaustion. You
need no papers to slip across,
no guards or fences will greet you,
you may be well across
before anyone notices.
The return journey
is harder still
for you won’t have marked
your way, and the bramble
of phone calls, the thicket
of absurdities that
demand your attention
will constantly ensnare you.
Still, it is wise to pause
and see where, who are you
are you Schroedinger
or are you the cat.

ARRIGATO, GAZAIMUS

The old man walks slowly
through the opulent lobby
the light of the triple chandeliers
refracted into a thousand spectra
that dance on mirrored walls.
The guard gently touches his elbow
steering him as though he is blind
drunk, while the bellman walks
a step behind, like Charlton Heston
through an invisible sea.
The man wears a shabby sport coat
that was a ghastly green
on the day it was sold
years ago, his sneakers
are from different pairs, linked
only by their once whiteness.
The bellman dashes in front
of the pair, raising his arm
to part the sea of glass encasing
the lobby in a constant chill
from the July furnace of Tokyo.
They exit, pause, a hundred
feet from the doors, and bow gently
one to each other, so many chickens
pecking over seeds of civility.
The guard stands by the door
watching intently as the man
retreats to the welcoming  streets.

GYOZAN DRAWS A LINE 鐵笛倒吹 八十三

At the end
of a long day of discourse
the teacher may ask the student
what have you learned.
How should the student respond.

The student may raise a finger
and trace a line
in the air of a fading day.
Which, I ask you
is the teacher
and which
is the student?


A reflection on Case 83 of The Iron Flute