When I write the story
of my life, it will not be
me standing by the sea
staff in hand, waiting
for the waters to part.
It will be sand, endless
seas of sand, piled
around my feet.
I will not recount ten plagues
for there is only one
that matters at all
and it was not
terribly exciting,
no generation perished,
we weren’t overrun
with frogs or vermin
save the odd infestation
of cockroaches
and the passing rat
that makes faces
at the cat cowering
in the corner.
I could have climbed
that damned mountain,
but the thought of dragging
two great tablets back down
with the poor footing,
it just wasn’t worth it.
It has been over forty years
wallowing around in the sand
until it caked between my toes
and not a cursed thing
has happened, just sand
and writing on the sand
grows tiresome
after the first breeze.
Actually I don’t care
if I never see this new land, just
get me away
from this godawful sand.

First appeared in KotaPress Poetry Journal, Vol. 2, Issue 2, 2000


How often have I seen something
like WWBD – what would Buddha do –
but lately I’ve stopped
to think about that.

What if old Gautama Siddhartha
were to arrive here, now,
what would the Buddha do
in a world gone wholly mad?

Would he bother with sutras,
bother with teishos to the few
still willing to listen, or would
he check himself into a good
psychiatric facility where
he would be left alone
most of the time, to just sit
and contemplate how it is still
possible to find the emptiness
of the five skandhas and easily
sunder the bonds of suffering
if they think you crazy,
and just where does all that
leave the rest of us, pray tell?


When you come
searching for a key
to unlock the door
to Nirvana
I will ask you
to complete
a simple task.
All you need to do
is go to the ocean
and select the one
drop of water different
from all of the others.

A reflection on Case 26 of the Book of Equanimity, 従容錄, Shōyōroku


If your teacher asks
you to bring him all
of the Dharma you have learned
what will you bring him?
If you begin to recite
what you know
of the sutras
he will turn away
and cover his ears.
If you sit
next to him in silence
he will smile.

A reflection on Case 25 of the Book of Equanimity, 従容錄, Shōyōroku


When you look
in the mirror
what do you really see?
If you say yourself
you are blind.
If you say nothing
you have grasped
the heart of the Dharma.
If you shatter the mirror
you have found Nirvana.

A reflection on Case 24 of the Book of Equanimity 従容錄, Shōyōroku


It was simple by definition
a neat orderly universe, but then
a Big Bang and all of the planning
went out in a monumental flash.

He could easily have corrected it
a simple thought would have
done the trick, but He made the rules
so He had no choice but to abide by them.

It was truly a godly mess, He
would be the first to admit it
had there been anyone to whom
He might admit it, but that lot

on Olympus were a poor joke,
and had long since ceased
to serve any purpose at all
save taking up library space.

So things were banged about, things
blew up spectacularly, things
disappeared entirely, and he
was left to practice meditation.


When you approach
the teacher what is it
that you expect from her?
If you ask her
to show you the way
she will sit
and face the wall
in silence.
What will you learn
from this?
If you are
facing the wall
in silence
you shout
your answer.

A reflection on Case 23 of the Book of Equanimity ( 従容錄, Shōyōroku)


Walking in an open field
when you come to a gate
which is inside, which outside?
If you straddle the gate
there is no inside,
there is no outside,
there is only a gate
with you balanced upon it.
Ask yourself
on which side
will you fall?

A reflection on Case 22 of the Book of Equanimity ( 従容錄, Shōyōroku)