PERSONIFICATION

The black cat walked by
the patio again today.
He won’t stop and engage
no matter how hard
I try to talk to him.
Some cats are haughty
and this one
clearly isn’t deaf.
Some say it is feral,
but it’s too well
groomed for that.
More likely it has spent
too much time with people.
The sort of arrogance
it shows has only one
source and, though we
hate to admit it, we
know that source all too well.


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STARE DOWN

I stand still, staring, as
you stand as still staring back,
neither of us yielding in what
will be a long played-out game
on a day of intense sunshine.

I am certain you will concede
will depart, and I am ready,
much as you assume I will tire
as my kind always do,
and turn to other things.

You have all day, this is
after all, your home, and I
have that camera around
my neck and arms growing
heavy keeping it poised

to watch your wings unfurl
as you take skyward, but
you are as close as I will
come to free flight and you
soon honor me with your departure.


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KEEPING FOCUS

It is of little surprise that we find
this a dizzying world, for we always
try to look forward, but since the future
is often vague, we try and keep one eye
on the past to understand what
our other eye is poorly seeing.

The mind does not care to be
pulled in two directions at once,
objects with stabbing pains, and
when that fails to correct us,
a weariness we cannot overcome.

The Buddha would tell you
it is best to keep both eyes
in the present, to focus softly
and see what is there without
judgement or preconception, to simply

be, assured that all senses are
merely crude tools to shape what
is amorphous into something we
can grasp and file, but time itself knows
there is nothing more than now, ever.


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THAT MOMENT

There is always that moment
when I stand stock-still,
afraid to move, the poised camera
a lead weight on my hands, arms
emaciated hammocks dangling
from shoulders inviting something
that will not come into focus.

The Great Blue heron, who is the sole
focus of my attention, stares at me,
or through or perhaps past me,
with a patience I try failingly
to emulate, knowing I will
look away, lower the camera, see
an egret, an ibis, someone
who will give me pause, and
the heron will take flight and I
with twitch of finger will capture
that place that she so recently occupied.


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TEMPUS FUGIT

She parked her cart across the face
of the bin, she fills the only gap.
She has a look of determination
that says “give me space
if you know what’s good for you.”
She examines each banana
with the care of it gemologist
and you imagine that she wears a loop.
She pulls bunches apart, finally picking one,
then five minutes later the line
behind her in awe and frustration, another one.
There is almost a third, until
as she places it in her cart
she sees something beyond our comprehension,
and back it goes amid the host of rejectees.
I glanced at my watch, realize
how long I have been on this few item shop
and grab three of her misbegotten, then
seeing her head for the grapes,
make my own mad dash to get there first,
so I might get home for dinner.

THE GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL 鐵笛倒吹 六十九

Standing at the window
looking down on the street
is the passing man enlightened?
Call out this question to him.
If he looks upward and says yes
what do you know of his enlightenment?

Looking at a flower
is it different than its seed.
If you hold a seed in your hand
what can you say of the flower
that may some day appear.


A reflection on Case 69 of the Iron Flute Koans.

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DIVING

He circles carefully
constantly adjusting altitude
expanding and contracting
his orbits in great increments.
His each move is calculated
that much is obvious.
And you watch him with
a deep fascination. You
are not the only watcher
this day, at this time, others
peer up as he plunges downward
breaking the surface, his head
appearing, thrown back, consuming
what ever it is he plucked.
While I stand watching
the anhinga on the shore
of the pond makes it clear
he finds the pelican
the least graceful
of all his distant kin.