I would like to go back to the days when, after a fire reduced a commericial building to charred rubble, the onlookers and the gawkers wondered if it was an angry customer or employee, or sloppiness or poor maintenance.
Now, we watch as the fire marshals comb through the ashes and the rubble, looking not only for the source of the flames but also the accelerant, always wondering as we do just how the business was doing and if not well, did the owner at least pay up on his fire insurance.
The Air Force shaved our heads, was it because of the heat of a San Antonio summer or that we’ll all look equally like fools, and easier for Sarge to maintain unit cohesiveness in his rag tag band of semi-successful Army avoiders.
Now we all wear masks and assume we all look equally foolish, knowing the virus cares nothing for cohesiveness, and normal is insignia only to dreams and at times life is shit on a shingle now.
We want our childhoods back, before the war, before the barracks and bad food, before expectations, and those few imposed could be ignored at minimal parental retribution, we want what never really existed, it is our right.
We marched and sang “Suicide is Painless”, never believed it for a moment, but now we consider it in passing as we walk down the shortening pier into the ocean of darkness.
First published in Circumference, Issue 4, June 2021
Standing in the ordinary stare out across the great gulf searching for that which is sacred. It seems to dance just beyond the edge of vision. Close your eyes and lift your right foot, place it down. How does it feel to stand amid all that is sacred.
A reflection on Case 39 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
He had long since decided that language was impossible, the English language in particular. He had acquired all manner of dictionaries, and had searched the web, using it as a reverse dictionary. But all too often the language came up short. Words at best approximated what he meant, what he saw, but to get even close, he needed to string adverbs and adjectives to his nouns and verbs until he had an ungodly mess. He knew the solution and set out to implement it. As time went on, he filled notebook after notebook, flash drive after flashdrive (redudency was a virtue in this case, he knew) with the new words. And he was finally satisfied, like Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty. For now when he used a word, it meant exactly what he wished it to because he created the word.
If you want a good conversation birds should be your first choice, wading birds at the top of the list, although you still have to be quick for if you meander they will lose interest.
Animals are to who you should turn if you need advice on getting through the omnipresent obstacles life raises to impede your smooth passage through it, but note cats tend to be pithy and easily bored.
Cows and horses in the fields have almost infinite patience, and listen when others would turn away, but note that they are easily distracted so it is best to keep a handful of hay at the ready always.
And, remember to bring your dictionaries for birds and animals will speak to you only in their own languages despite the fact that they fully understand yours, but do not deign or desire to be thought of as human.
I set out this morning with my large dictionary to find the perfect word to describe the sky, the sun just peering over the roof of a distant house, the few clouds aflame in a silent fire.
I knew there was a word for what I saw in the dictionary, for there is a word for everything if you search long and hard enough, but after a while I gave up when I realized I could no longer recall what I had seen that set me off on this search.
You came into my life last week, your name forever locked away inside her mind. My life, she felt, would never be the same and therefore left all thought of you behind. You loved her, I suppose, that summer night then left her, bearing me, until she turned me over for adoption, that she might forget the love that you so quickly spurned. A Jew, she said, but would say little more a father, Portuguese, is all I know, who cast his seed, then left and closed the door and me, the son, he never would see grow. You left her life long before I was born, the father I won’t know but only mourn.
First published in Minison Project, Sonnet Collection Series, Vol. 2, Sept. 2021