I have carefully peeled back the skin of a hundred snakes and left their twisted forms curled around mesquite as so many skirts. Canadia geese follow carefully worn paths across an October sky undeterred by storm clouds giving chase from the west. A wolf wanders down from the tree line to the edge of the highway. She can taste the approach of winter, bitter on her tongue, her coat grown thick, watching for a buck to be thrown to the gravel shoulder by a passing truck. In my closet I have a pair of boots, nothing more than simple cowhide.
First Appeared in Amethyst Review (Canada), Vol. 8, No. 2, Winter 2000
Our problem is one of blindness. We are constantly seeking for that which we have, that which have no need of, that which we think we need but cannot be certain.
If we limited our blindness to things life would be simpler, but our blindness carries over to our search for enlightenment, for redemption, for absolution, and we fail to realize that we have all of that already, if only we would stop looking for them.
I have gone by many names, some chosen, some inherited, some thrown at me in anger, in scorn, in friendship.
Names add nothing to who I am, who I choose to be, who I am seen to be by the those who throw around names as if they were magical incantations, elixirs with great power that fall at my feet like shattered icicles of my not caring.
I know you have a single question for which an answer will enlighten you. Neither Baso, Chizo nor Kai are here so you are asking me.
The answer is simple: cover your ears tightly and listen while I speak with closed mouth, watch my feet dance in joy as they do not move. If the answer is not apparent, ask Chizo, Baso and Kai to speak from beyond the grave.
A reflection on case 6 of the Book of Equanimity Koans
She carefully noted all of the comings and goings. She dares not miss a thing, that would be unthinkable. She takes mental notes, has no need for recording devices. She will tell you when something is out of the ordinary. She will demand you act when that happens. She will describe to you how that appeared to happen and what she thinks caused it. She is ever vigilant. She has no choice, after all she is a house cat.
We are planning the funeral for Roe today, eulogies fully ready, for we are certain the death was slow and painful and now all we can do is mourn.
Some we know will not attend, Brown out of fear, knowing the eventual consequences of this loss, Miranda because he is already marked, hounded by those in power, an easy mark.
Sullivan may be there, happy that he can go after them again if they even speak his name innocently or by mistake.
It will be a sad moment, one we have dreaded of late, one we thought would never come and we will mourn our dear friend Stare Decisis*, stabbed in the back by those who vowed to defend him.
N.B. As you may know or have guessed, I am a happily retired attorney, who was taught that stare decisis should be sacrosanct. Brown is the landmark school segregation case, Miranda the much eroded protection for those under police custody, and Sullivan the case on defamation establishing a higher standard that plaintiffs must meet if they are public figures. It remains a hallmark of First Amendment law regarding freedom of the press.
Stare decisis is the doctrine that courts will adhere to precedent in making their decisions. Stare decisis means “to stand by things decided” in Latin.
If there were truly justice at least of the poetic sort perhaps Van Gogh could have been born 75 years earlier, and in Vienna not Holland, so that when he decided to be rid of an ear he could have offered it to Beethoven neither of his working in his later years. And if a poet could arrange time travel using his license then he could just as easily have made the ear work for Beethoven. But on second thought, heaven knows what the mighty Ninth Symphony might have sounded like if Beethoven had to listen constantly to the critics.
The gravestones, in random shapes line the hill the morning chill creeps between them and onto the runway until washed away by the spring sun slowly pushing upward as the jet noise washes the hill unheard
He passed away quietly in his bed ending his dread of the cancer slowly engulfing him his vision dimmed by the morphine that pulsed through his veins. He paused to remember the first spring rains.
She selected the plot on the hillside she would confide to friends, so that he might see the valley at long last free, to see the flowers bloom in early spring, the land that was his home and he its king.
One summer the caskets were carried out while the devout cursed the sacrilege of the master plan of the madman who decided that the airport must sit on the hill, his valley forever split.
The jets rush over the cemetery February snows blown across the gravestones in their wake as one snowflake melts slowly on the ground, a falling tear which, unheard, marks another passing year.
First Appeared in Candelabrum Poetry Magazine (UK), April 2002.
He never imagined for a moment that he would be here, here of all places, on the precipice of an abyss the likes of which he only visited in nightmares.
And he knew, when he looked back he knew he would see the pack of Abyssinians heading for him, and that was another nightmare given his cat allergy and his intense Ailurophobia.
So there it was, on one hand the abyss, on the the other the Abyssinians, simply an abysmal Morton’s fork and he felt he had to face death, and in that moment the alarm went off and he was awake in a pool of sweat.