DIRECT ROUTE

He would rather be from somewhere.
Where he is or is not going
matters very little to him now,
he will be where he will be, will go
where he needs or wants to go
or is taken, and when there,
that is where he should be, so
being there is no problem.
But until recently he was from
nowhere and that is not
a comfortable place, it is
really no place at all.
Now, at least, he is half
from somewhere certain, and
the other half at least fits
on a small portion of a map
and somewhere, he will gladly
tell you, is so very much
better than nowhere, for somewhere
can be found if you have the right map.

GATE GATE

The hardest thing of all
is that there is no one to entreat,
no one who has to sort the infinite
voices, note who requested what
so that delivery of the prayers, the few
that warrant granting, go
to the correct person, particularly
given that there is no system in place
to track the whims of the grantor.
Still, you take to the mat,
fold your legs, or tuck them
under the sitting bench, and unfocus
hoping those wishes will slip away
on a sea of intervening thoughts,
and there will be, just for a moment,
nothing at all, and that, you know,
would be as close as you get to everything.

FROM HERE TO

 

He finds it hard to believe
that no matter which path
he chooses, and he has chosen
so very, very many over time,
each path seems always
to lead him to one particular place.
The place always seems the same,
here, though he knows it should
be different each time he arrives.
It frustrates him no end, but
he is growing concerned
that one day a path will
lead him to somewhere
that is not here, and he will
have utterly no idea
where to go from there.

KEEP THE NIRVANA

He was never one to go searching.
It took up too much time.
It certainly took far more effort
than the results usually warranted.
And there wasn’t anything in particular
he wanted to go in search of.
She said she was searching for ecstasy.
He said he could buy it downtown,
but it had grown rather pricey.
She said she meant that state of being,
that state of spiritual perfection.
He said you couldn’t buy that downtown,
though there were a couple of pastors
in the suburbs who claimed to be able,
for a proper donation, to provide it.
She said she couldn’t pay for what
was promised in the Bible,
she would simply search and wait.
She had faith.
He said he had searched
for faith once, and failed.
That, he said, was when
he gave up searching for things.

HUI CH’AO ASKS ABOUT BUDDHA

When you look in the mirror
do you hope to see yourself,
and who is that face that stares back?
If you turn out the light, are you
still there in the mirror, or has
the illusion of you disappeared?
If you crack the mirror, do you
feel the pain of the scar across your face?
You cannot hope to see yourself, for
you would then cease to be you,
and the mirror would stare and see nothing.
You cannot search for the Buddha
for in looking you make finding impossible.
All this looking and so
very little being, so just be.


A reflection on Case 7 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)

SEOUL MUSIC

The hardest part of getting old
isn’t the near constant aches and pains
but the senses that slip away,
replaced by an ever deeper truth.
She says to really play the blues
on piano you must have Seoul
and listening to her, you agree,
although you aren’t sure if hers
is Gangnam-gu or Jung-gu, but
the distinction is a fine one,
and she plays with a heart and voice
that you could only hope to find
in Insa-dong, recalling history
and hardship in each note, each run.
It is only later you realize
she said soul, but hers was
forged in Seoul, so it is really
a difference without meaning.

VOYAGE FROM WITHIN

Magellan set sail 497 years ago,
which had nothing to do with her desire
to find a corner in which she could stand,
protected on two sides, and still
stare out into the world and see
all that was going on around her.
Better still if it were fashioned
of plexiglass, it could surround her
fully, as long as sound could get in,
and she could be fully engaged
in life without the risks that others
always seemed to drag in their wakes.
It wasn’t that she didn’t need people,
she just needed them at the proper
distance and most could never
determine what that distance
might be despite her entreaties.
Magellan would die a year and a half
later, a mistake she would never make.