Lao Tse, venerable one you would be pleased as I sit here drawing closer to the center quested for my Buddhahood be not seeking it amid the rain of fire from the hills above the blood congealing in the streets. I know not to ask and am unseen by the child and mother running through the street and untouched by the hail of ammunition biting at their heels. I smell the lotus mixed with the cordite giving scent to the morning and in the clouds see the approach of understanding.
The salmon people don’t live here anymore you have moved them up the river, then inland so they no longer need to wander.
The salmon do not swim here anymore you have dammed the rivers to draw out their power and penned the mighty fish where the river first licks the sea.
The eagle doesn’t fly here anymore the great pines that sat for generations below his aerie are now cut into neat supports on which we hang our walls.
Our children do not run here anymore they have moved to the cities, have gone off to wars for fighting is the only job which they are given.
We have no rivers we have no salmon we have no sons, save those who sleep under neat white stones. We look for the eagle a mighty spirit but he, too, has been claimed by the others to decorate their buildings. We have only our spirit to guide us and we know that soon you will claim them too and leave us as you arrived to repeat the sad story.
The empty wine bottle nestling the foot of the postal box wants nothing more that to speak its mind but it is forsworn to silence, and stares into the old Maytag box tucked in the alley next to the dumpster. The bedraggled man sits against the wall and debates the meaning of knowledge with the Buddha lying in a fetal ball on the soggy asphalt.
In a bit less
than an hour
a new exhibit
empty space will
bodies of artist
universes will form
a thousand children
will be born
an old man in
a distant city
will slip away
a contented look
will ask why
but all of that
is not now,
but in a bit
“Suppose,” he says “words may be used only once, after that they disappear.” “You mean in a poem” she replies, “or life itself?” Even four stanzas can challenge most except perhaps Basho. Haiku would replace sonnets, villanelles, sestinas suddenly gone, anaphora is self-contradiction. “Imagine,” the young girl mused “sloganless politicians, talking heads struck mute, hushed generals fighting silent wars, all poets condemned to write blank verse.”
No one is certain who painted the words on the wall. No one knew when the painting occurred, someone noticed the words one morning and told others, and the word spread through town. People stopped to look at the words, but few understood what they meant. Soon there were pictures drawn around the words, familiar faces, and people would stop, add words until the wall was a mural that could not be forgotten, only ignored by those who simply wouldn’t understand.