The keys didn’t frighten me. 88 of them, but I’d never use the majority, probably. And the ones I knew were generally well behaved, although they did defy me from time to time, and then said it was my fault, they didn’t respond to wishes, just fingers, And even the audience didn’t bother me, not even those who were still awake.. They were all parents like mine, and I knew no matter how I played the piece, well, badly, brilliantly, or disastrously, the composer would be silent and the audience full of compliments. My fellow pianists wouldn’t even hear it, heard nothing if they hadn’t yet played, kept replaying their piece in their head if they had.
Today, now many,
yesterday, tomorrow, how many?
We have grown tired of counting
the mind cannot deal with numbers
of that magnitude, Stalin was correct,
it is all statistics now, and bodies,
always more bodies, never enough,
always too many, by violence
in the street, in the economy,
in the courthouse, in the COVID ward,
there are too many places now,
where the dead gather, and we
cannot bid them farewell, for we
do not want to be counted
among them, to join them, to admit
that we in some way have led them
into disease, into poverty, into death.
When teacher and student
sit face to face,
mat to mat, looking deeply
one at the other,
which is the teacher
and which is the student?
You are wrong.
There is no teacher,
there is no student,
there is only the silence
of the moment
in which all dharma
is made obvious.
A reflection on Case 2 of the Book of Equanimity
The meaning is simple,
a data point here,
pixels always moving,
an avatar to you,
I have erased
you from memory.
then another, another
only this one
a world of delusion
yesterday and tomorrow
Buddha says Now!
Egrets take flight
we stare awestruck
nature pities us
Now take up the pen
and write economically
lest you run out of
First published in Defenestration, Vol. XVI issue 2 August 2019
We sit in the waiting room,
for we have grown accustomed
to waiting for so many things,
not wanting to rush a life that
appears ever more finite in duration.
We stare at our phones, struggling
to see, to help bide the time, an irony
not lost for we are here because
our vision is problematic or worse.
Erasmus said the one-eyed man
is King in the land of the blind,
and many here hope for that
period of regency before they, too
become common citizens
of a land they hoped never to see.
Today we welcome the rain, hope
that the wheaty winter lawn will
show some other color under its care.
The birds ignore the clouds,
accept the rain, care little how
our lawn looks, their next meal
of always greater importance.
I am losing the vision in one eye,
know I may soon be king
of the country of the blind,
and sadly curse Erasmus
for his gift of proverb, one
that slipped off the tongue
when my eye could still see it.
We will welcome the sun tomorrow
or the day after, for too much
rain or sun demands change
and nothing is really ever
wholly within our control.
A collection of sticks
and boards is Keichu’s cart
Keichu’s cart no more
than a pile
of sticks and boards
rides no horse
pulling no cart
a hundred spokes
dance in ten directions.
A reflection on Case 8 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate Koans)
We are the people,
Who heard the glass breaking
that night as we huddled at home,
Who inhaled the smoke
of the Holy books as they burned,
Who tried to flee but had
nowhere to go, always turned away,
Who visited cosmetic doctors
to reshape our noses to look like the others
Who adopted names to help
erase a potentially painful history to come,
Who now turn a blind eye to those
who expel others from a land we claim
is ours by divine right from a God
of all people, just as specially chosen.