AT FIRST

The first time
I heard it
I knew
that voice
came from a place
I had never visited,
would never
be able to go.

It penetrated me
reverberated
within me
a harmonic
that shook
me to my core.

She reached
and grasped
what I thought
I had kept hidden,
and as I danced
with my
new bride,
I knew Etta
had led me
to love
At Last.

LACKLAND

They marched us to the middle
of nowhere, sweat running down
our backs, our olive drab uniforms
now three shades darker.

They handed us a rifle, an M-16
they told us in class, with a 5.56
round, it would tumble after
it hit its target, good for killing.

We lay on the ground, shouldered
the weapon, aimed it at the
target, a bottomless torso and as
instructed, gently pulled the trigger.

Nothing happened, which is what
the Air Force wanted this day
for we were here to know our gun
to befriend it, to cradle it.

Another day we would come back
to the range, take our weapon, assume
the firing position and hopefully watch
the round tear a hole in the target.

And on this day, our sergeant said
we had finally become warriors, then
he quickly took the weapon away,
never for most of us, to be touched again.

First Published in Half Hour To Kill, August 2022
https://halfhourtokill.com/home/lackland-by-louis-faber

ON THE HORIZON

In crossing the event horizon
dualities collapse and crumble.
God and Satan are again merged
into a unity, pressed into diamond
its glint that of a thousand suns.

We follow as we must, for now
there is neither good nor evil,
there merely is, and we have found
the path we have been seeking
on the road to our sigularity.

SCHMUTZ

Looking out the window
I quickly realize that the window
needs cleaning, and then
that the red-shouldered hawk
in the nearby tree is carefully
staring back at me.

I want to know what
the hawk is thinking, perhaps
that I am possible prey, or
more likely wondering why
I am so foolish as to live
in a strangely large box.

The hawk, of course, is
wondering what I am thinking,
how beautiful he is, what
strange flightless beasts
we humans are, or just
perhaps that my window
very badly needs cleaning

PARADE

They strut across our lawn oblivious to our stares. The cat sits watching these large objects, birds perhaps she thinks, but nothing like those she once hunted for food when she was homeless and pregnant. She is content to sit and watch them, speaks a momentary hello, and realizing that they do not speak cat, settles down for her pre-dinner nap.

APPROACHING NIGHT

Arising into night
the departing sun
tangos away with its cloud,
memories soon forgotten.

Other dancers take the stage,
now a romance, now
a war dance, feathers raised
in prayer to unseen gods.

Night will soon bring
its curtain across this stage,
the avian casts’ final bows taken
the theater will darken, awaiting
another performance,
a new script tomorrow,
but for this solitary moment
of frozen grace, it is we
who write the conversation,
our lines sung by actors who
know only nature’s
unrelenting song.

First Published in Half Hour to Kill, August 2022
https://halfhourtokill.com/home/approaching-night-by-louis-faber

WEBBING

The giant spider in its black shroud
sits irritated in the center of its web
wishing it ever larger, demanding
that others enter, become enthralled
until it defines the parameters
of the universe the spider imagines.

The giant spider silently seethes
at the once gardener who, having
tasted the forbidden fruit,
has closed the screened door
as he reluctantly departed the garden
diminishing the web’s attraction.

The spider dreams of his new world,
knows his old one, the simple web
may be replaced, so he presses on
spinning all his resources in the hope
that others will come to accept
his crafted reality as their own.

FIVE HAIKU

The dawn cedes slowly
to the impinging sunlight
birds greet the new day

The great egret lifts
her wings embracing the cloud
the winter sun smiles

on the barren branch
the red-shouldered hawk awaits
her mate and the sun

sandhill cranes wander
along the shore of the lake
looking for nothing

the moon is a cup
waiting for night to fill it
venus sits empty

JOSHU’S DOG

My teacher once asked me
“what do you have
to say for yourself,” and I
answered “absolutely nothing,”
or did I smile and remain silent?

You assume the teacher would
be upset with the silent student
and in most cases you would
be perfectly correct.

But if this occurred
in a zendo, having nothing
to say is a step toward no-self
and you can be
in that moment,
Joshu’s dog.

A reflection on Case 18 of the Book of Equanimity (従容錄, Shōyōroku)

MAGIC MIRROR ON THE WALL

The face in the mirror this morning
was not mine, perhaps it was
that of my grandparents, all
I never met, having only
old and faded pictures that vaguely
resemble the mirror’s face.

It might be my parents, both
dead before I found them only
yearbook pictures and just possible
a vague similarity to the face
that i see in the mirror each day.

I tried to ask the mirror who
it was hiding in the glass, but
like most mirrors it was silent,
a sad reflection of its ilk, so
the old man peering out will
continue to be someone
that I have never met.