4/4 TIME

Musicians have a clock
that runs on its own time
and all that is constant
is the beat, in four
second increments.
They start, they say,
when the music
is ready, never before
and music is fickle:
tonight it wanted to sit
off stage and rest
an hour, another night
it begins precisely
as advertised
and it ends, always
and invariably,
after the last note
plays itself.

GATE GATE

The hardest thing of all
is that there is no one to entreat,
no one who has to sort the infinite
voices, note who requested what
so that delivery of the prayers, the few
that warrant granting, go
to the correct person, particularly
given that there is no system in place
to track the whims of the grantor.
Still, you take to the mat,
fold your legs, or tuck them
under the sitting bench, and unfocus
hoping those wishes will slip away
on a sea of intervening thoughts,
and there will be, just for a moment,
nothing at all, and that, you know,
would be as close as you get to everything.

FROM HERE TO

 

He finds it hard to believe
that no matter which path
he chooses, and he has chosen
so very, very many over time,
each path seems always
to lead him to one particular place.
The place always seems the same,
here, though he knows it should
be different each time he arrives.
It frustrates him no end, but
he is growing concerned
that one day a path will
lead him to somewhere
that is not here, and he will
have utterly no idea
where to go from there.

KEEP THE NIRVANA

He was never one to go searching.
It took up too much time.
It certainly took far more effort
than the results usually warranted.
And there wasn’t anything in particular
he wanted to go in search of.
She said she was searching for ecstasy.
He said he could buy it downtown,
but it had grown rather pricey.
She said she meant that state of being,
that state of spiritual perfection.
He said you couldn’t buy that downtown,
though there were a couple of pastors
in the suburbs who claimed to be able,
for a proper donation, to provide it.
She said she couldn’t pay for what
was promised in the Bible,
she would simply search and wait.
She had faith.
He said he had searched
for faith once, and failed.
That, he said, was when
he gave up searching for things.

HUI CH’AO ASKS ABOUT BUDDHA

When you look in the mirror
do you hope to see yourself,
and who is that face that stares back?
If you turn out the light, are you
still there in the mirror, or has
the illusion of you disappeared?
If you crack the mirror, do you
feel the pain of the scar across your face?
You cannot hope to see yourself, for
you would then cease to be you,
and the mirror would stare and see nothing.
You cannot search for the Buddha
for in looking you make finding impossible.
All this looking and so
very little being, so just be.


A reflection on Case 7 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)

TS’UI YEN’S EYEBROWS

The question is a simple one, really,
but not one you were expecting, which
is why you sit and grapple for an answer.
Ask yourself, what if no answer is needed,
what if there is no answer, can you
remain silent, or will you feel somehow
incomplete if you do not respond?
All answers are correct, but beware,
for all answers are incorrect as well.
Now consider the question again, carefully,
what do you respond when you are asked
once again, insistently, “who are you?”
Be very careful for if you gaze
into a mirror you will see someone else
and if you say that person is you,
you will most certainly disappear.

COUPLING

 

He asks when
as if it were all
a matter of timing
as if the immediacy
or lack of it
somehow really mattered.

She would never ask that
but would want
to know who.
She’s far too polite
to ever ask why
preferring to see the scene
in the mind’s eye
allowing a thin
veil of mystery.

Each wants to know
how the other found out
though neither has
the slightest idea
where this all began.