BROKEN BOW

This poem was recently published in the first issue of a new journal, Punt Volat.  You can find it here:

https://puntvolatlit.com/issues/winter-2019


Early this afternoon, a Kenworth
semi pulling a 53-foot trailer
rolled down Nebraska route 92
and entered the limits of Broken Bow.

The importance of this event,
while not yet obvious, will, I
promise, become so soon enough
if you only remain patient.

As this was happening, rockets
launched from Gaza rained down
on Israel, and quickly the IDF jets
responded, killing 19, more

than half of those civilians according
to Palestinian authorities, but no one
was terribly surprised, as it had
became a question of when not if.

Peace is, we have learned, that
Holy Grail, denied to those who want it
but will not sacrifice themselves
or concede egos to try to attain it.

The semi pulled in behind the Dollar
General on South E Street, too late
to offload, and the driver walked
over to the Bonfire Grill for a beer.

BROKEN DAY

Morning slowly encroaches
on your dreams, eroding
images despite your tightening grasp.
Clear lines blur, become hazy
and dissipate bleached
by the first light creeping
around the shades.
The dreams do not care
for they will arise again
when they choose
and this is for them
a mere inconvenience.
You are the loser here
for the linear mindstring
once cut never reties
with simplicity and something
is always lost in the tying.

PIQUE

One of these days soon
the sun will again get angry,
will blow off steam
and all manner of signals
will get the message
loud if not clearly.
The sun can get away with it
and we accept it, if
not willingly but begrudgingly.
When we blow off such steam
cities melt, and the angry one
is condemned for crimes against
humanity or avoiding greater loss.
In the final analysis, however,
it is probably better to
simply be a star where fits
of pique are expected and tolerated.

ISAN’S I HAVE EXHAUSTED MYSELF 正法眼蔵 四十四

Approach the master
sitting on his seat.
The fool will seek answers
having slept through the lesson
but the wise student will bow
silently and retreat
having learned all there is
and knowing absolutely nothing.


A reflection on Case 44 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (The True Dharma Mind)

AS I RECALL

Like most you believe that
if it is worth remembering you will,
that memory is keyed to some measure
of value and if you forget that value
had diminished without your noticing.
You accept this as a sort of gospel truth
for you cannot recall that you once
rejected this argument out of hand,
for that has slipped way from memory
and lies valueless and withering
on the synaptic scrap heap.
You are certain you had a childhood
but just as certain you were thoughtless
until age three when life came rushing
in remarkable fits and starts
bridged by chasms of nothing
though you fear that some memories
may be slipping into the abyss even
as you deny that possibility.

MINNESOTA

The night fully settles
over northern Minnesota
in the sky grows dark
as the stars make
their reluctant appearance.
Peering through the tall grasses
of the wetlands abutting the road
1000 stars are born
and die in an instant
only to be reborn again
repeatedly, until
they are replaced by
the beetles that accompany
the slowly rising sun.

JOSHU ANSWERS

Yesterday a small dog, walking its master down the block stopped and stared
at you, as you stood on your porch. You stared back at the dog, eyes locked
on each other, while the master fidgeted on the sidewalk, afraid or too bored
to look at either of you. You realized this was just the dog’s way of teaching
his master patience, or perhaps of simply delaying you from what it was
that brought you to your porch that you forgot in engaging the dog. Eventually
the dog dragged its master on, and you returned to the house, having done
nothing but stare at a dog. It was clear in that moment that a dog must
have Buddha nature but yours was deeply in question.