ADIOS, ARRIVADERCI, SO LONG

As he grew ever older he said
he wanted a sudden unanticipated death,
“In my sleep preferably” he added
with an unmeant chuckle.

It would be a good way to go,
I imagine, but it denies those
who will most mourn his passing
the chance to hope for a miracle.

And no matter when it happens,
if it is sudden it will always be too soon,
only the protracted death is timely
for those needing to say goodbye.

PERSPECTIVE

It will soon enough be time again,
I am an old clockface on a tower
at which no one but the truly bored
bother to look, tucked in a corner
of a village half empty, its life
moved away to places cooler,
less stormy. So I sit and watch
what life remains around me,
the few children wishing they
could be elsewhere, some parents
wishing they had used birth control.
No one looks, no one really cares
but I have little choice, it is my fate
to mark passages, entrances,
but my hands are growing tired
and at some not far off point
they will stop moving, and I
wonder if anyone will care.

LOST LYRICS

It is strange knowing that your vision
is not what it was, not what you
want it to be, not necessarily yours
in the long run, one eye already
semi-useless for reading and distance.

You adapt, get bigger monitors, a tablet
to read the news, a magnifier
when you need to hold newsprint in hand,
a large screen television (okay, you
wanted that regrdless of your vision).

You realize so many songs you once sung
(badly) will no longer make sense, goodbye
“I Can See for Miles,” and no more Johnny Nash,
“I’m looking through you,” nope, and
“If I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”
U2 will just have to find it for me.

VOW

I swore, once, that the poem
I was struggling with would be my last.

Actually I swore that more than once,
several, maybe mamy times in fact.

In my defense, that poem
and the others that followed were
each the last I wrote
under their respective oaths,
so there was a fulfillment,
however partial, of my vow.

I am not making such a vow
with this one, however, and before
you say it, yes it is a poem
despite what you may think of it.

ON THE SHELF

He found the cup by the curb one morning walking to the bus.
He rarely notice things on his walk, thinking always about the
day ahead. But this day he saw it, picked it up and put it in his
messenger bag intending to clean it later, when he got home
after work. He had no idea why he wanted it. It wasn’t
particularly pretty, a drab red with a mark where a decal had
long ago peeled away. He forgot it, until he found it in his bag
several days later, he washed it and placed it on a special shelf
in his kitchen cabinet. The shelf was reserved for things he
found with which he intended to do something, but that
something had not yet happened. He knew something was
missing from the shelf, so he took a selfie, printed it and placed
it on the shelf.

First published in The Birdseed, Vol. 1, No. 3, 2021

LEAD ME NOT

Strange as it may seem,
I was tempted to consider
Catholicism, not the Roman kind
but that of the breakawy churches
who accept all, gay or straight,
married or divorced, the whole
lot of mankind just because.

They do believe in heaven
which is a good alternative
to the Bardo, and having choices
is a good thing even in death.

I was truly tempted to give
it my all when I realized that
it was problematic, for it had
led me into temptation and that
is something you pray doesn’t happen,
and if I want a conundrum
Buddhism offers me plenty.

HELLO GOODBYE

When I saw you this morning
I knew instantly that I hadn’t seen you
in more than twenty years,
although it is quite possible we
have never met and today
was the first time my eyes
ever gazed at your face .

I suppose it is lucky that
you did not recognize me
although I don’t think I’ve changed
all that much in twenty years.

I was going to call out your name,
but decided against it in case
you have changed it or, possibly
because you wouldn’t answer
to the name I choose to give you.

It was good seeing you today,
let’s do again in a decade or so.

HOFUKU’s BLOCKING OF THE EYES

Do not pity the blind man
for he can see much,
and do not be sad for the deaf
for they can hear you.
Your eyes see nothing
your ears do not
discern the quietest sound.
Rest your mind and taste
the peace of blindness
and silence.

A reflection on Case 113 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye) Koans

MARCHING TO OBLIVION

The most disturbing thing
about lemmings is not
that they follow one after another
over a cliff or into traffic,
it is not the carnage
that inevitably ensues,
one after another doomed
by the need to follow blindly.

The disturbing thing
is not the knowledge that
lemmings only follow,
so someone directed
the first in line into
a suicidal act.

The most disturbing thing
is that lemmings
do not commit
mass suicide, it is
only in our tortured
use of cliches
that they meet their death.