WE HEAR YOU

He loves looking at the sky,
particularly at night for he knows
someday they will contact him,
and if not him, someone else
who, like him, loves looking at the sky.
He has no idea what the message will be
he isn’t sure he, or anyone, will
be able to understand it, but
he is certain he or that other someone
will know the message has been received,
and that will be enough; leave it
to others to decipher things.
That is something his kind has been doing
for millennia, though he fears if he receives
the message, or someone like him does,
understanding or not, it will mark
the moment of the death of God, or the birth
of a new, another, God, or just maybe
they will rewrite the ancient books
and hearing God’s voice will no longer
lead instantly to madness, which
he imagines to be madness itself.

FULL OF IT

He is worried, he says
that we will be leaving on a full moon.
I remind him that he leaves
in two weeks, that this morning’s
half-moon will be gone then
replaced by its now absent other half.
He says it should be full if it’s half now
and half a month passes.
His statements seem logical enough
But the moon and stars have their own logic
and don’t care what we think,
that’s why I say, Luna never turns
her back on us so she’s always half unseen,
and she and the stars are willing to remind us
they were all gods and goddesses once
and could go back to that with very little warning.

BODHIDHARMA’S “VAST AND VOID”

You want holy teachings
boiled down, synthesized
digestible in bites

so dine on the holes
nothing, emptiness
is sustenance
enough

look at me, at a window
as you do a mirror
no knowing,
a familiar face
but whose?

the face will depart
yours or his
you will awaken
to endless absence

learn no
thingness
overflowing void


A reflection on Case 1 of the Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku)

It was the other evening,
the first of two this month, they say.
This only happens once in a blue moon
or a couple times every two or three years
and often twice in the same year.
So once in a blue moon isn’t that long
but she said she could feel its pull,
everything threatening to topple over
and she moved very cautiously.
I have to admit I didn’t feel very much,
but I come from the people for who
the lunar cycle is the norm, so the moon
really proceeds as it should, it’s face
having little to do with my time or tide.
The moon will be full again later this month
and I will pay careful attention
to what I’m certain I will not feel then.

AS IT SHOULD BE

Day gives way to night.
Life gives way to death.
Truth gives way to truth
and falsity to falsity.
Nothing moves, nothing
cedes, all is constant.
This is enso, one stroke,
complete and incomplete
and this is mu.
You may enter freely,
but will never leave, and
once captured you have
never been here
and cannot enter.
If this seems confusing,
it is precisely what
it should be and you
have seen clearly.
Welcome! Now leave.

ONCE

It was the other evening,
the first of two this month, they say
This only happens once in a blue moon
or a couple times every two or three years
and often twice in the same year,
So once in a blue moon isn’t that long
but she said she could feel its pull,
everything threatening to topple over
and she moved very cautiously.
I have to admit I didn’t feel very much,
but I come from the people for who
the lunar cycle is the norm, so the moon
really proceeds as it should, it’s face
having little to do with my time or tide.
The moon will be full again later this month
and I will pay careful attention
to what I’m certain I will not feel then
but will affect me in so very many ways.

UNKNOWING

I don’t know what
                                               I am, the Buddha said.

I don’t know why
                                                my mother gave me up at birth
                                                or how many cousins walk
                                                                    the streets of Lisbon
                                                or where I lost my first tooth
I don’t know what
                                                became of the nickel
                                                or why the tooth fairy was so tight
                                                or who will wash the blood
                                                                    from the streets of Basra
I don’t know how
                                                my Walkman eats batteries
                                                                    like Hostess Twinkies
                                                or why fungus grows underground
                                                or why the Somali child stares through
                                                                    starving eyes
I don’t know why
                                                my dough rises, only to fall mockingly,
                                                or why forced to eat matzoh, the Jews
                                                                    didn’t go back to Egypt
                                                or why I poke my sore knee to insure it hurts

I don’t know
                                                my birthright name.


First Appeared in Children, Churches and Daddies, Vol. 141, October 2004.