AUDIENS CAVE

I just want you to know
that the Old Man set me up,
and I’ll admit that, cagey as I am,
I never saw it coming.

I mean I knew he was capable
of anything, but he always adopted
this holier than thou persona so why
would I imagine He’d do this?

And it wasn’t like He clued
me in on it, how was I to know
that one was somehow different,
and weren’t they the smart ones?

So I take the fall, and you can bet it
will be an eternity of distrust, if not fear
or hatred, and I have to say, the damned
apple wasn’t all that tasty anyway.

NANSEN’S HUT

If you have fine china
you will be saddened when it breaks.
If your pantry is full
your anxiety grows
as the food diminishes.

But if you are alone
with nothing, the apple
that falls on the road
is a feast, and the stream
runs free with the finest wine.
The silence of sun and moon
is an orchestra.


A reflection on case 52 of the Iron Flute Koans

THOU SHALT NOT

“I don’t want to”
is hardly a sagacious
way to run a country
and “just because” probably
didn’t work when you
were a child, why
would you think adults
would accept it now?
And when we all
expressed our displeasure,
disdain and contempt,
which part of “no”
did you have trouble
grasping, Mr. President?
The apple may not
fall far from the tree,
but let it sit
on the ground long enough
and the worms will have it.
Ambrose Bierce said diplomacy
is lying for one’s country,
Mr. President,
not lying to it.


First appeared in The Right to Depart, Plainview Press, 2008.

LISTEN UP, ABRAHAM

A commentary on a holy book
suggested snakes
cannot hear one another.
Perhaps their deafness goes
beyond family and species.
It would do much
to explain God’s rejection
of Eve’s proffered excuse
that despite her protestations
and those of Adam
the snake would not
take no for an answer –
a deaf snake, after all
having spoken, has little
to do but move along
to the next monologue.

MORNING, ATTENDANT

Morning would find him sitting
calmly, cross-legged, under the apple tree
that sat on the edge of the park,
staring up at a small branch
and carefully watching the bud
begin to open, ignoring all who passed.

Morning would find him sitting
calmly, cross-legged, under the apple tree
watching the fragile blossom open,
staring at its translucent pinkness,
ignoring all who passed.

Morning would find him sitting
calmly, cross-legged, under the apple tree,
watching the apple blossom dance down
onto his folded hands,
ignoring all who passed.

Morning would find him sitting,
calmly, cross-legged under the apple tree
watching the leaf slide free, falling
to rest on the ground beside him.
He turned to all who passed
and said “Come, watch Buddha with me.”

MORNING

Morning would find him sitting
calmly, cross-legged, under the apple tree
that sat on the edge of the park.
He would stare up at a small branch
and carefully watch the bud
begin to open, ignoring all who passed.
Morning would find him sitting
calmly, cross-legged, under the apple tree
watching the fragile blossom open,
staring at its translucent pinkness,
ignoring all who passed.
Morning would find him sitting
calmly, cross-legged, under the apple tree,
watching the apply blossom dance
onto his folded hands,
ignoring all who passed.
Morning would find him sitting,
calmly, cross-legged under the apple tree
watching the leaves, slide free
and rest on the ground beside him.
He turned to all who passed
and said “Come, watch Buddha with me.”

BOUNDARY

What is on the other side
of this wall that is just
too tall to peer over?
No one seems to know,
though many have surmised
it is a completely different world
looking little or nothing
like the one we inhabit.
Last week a young man
picked up a ginkgo leaf
and said “ahah, it is Japan
across that wall,” but we
mostly thought he was crazy.
Once, when the world was flat,
people knew if you sailed
too far you would fall off.
But the brave ones then
always wondered what sort
of world existed on the other side,
was it desert or tropical jungle
and when it was night here
was it day there or did the sun
simply sleep for ten hours?
This morning a young man
leaned a tall latter
against the wall and slowly
and carefully slipped over the top.
We shouted after him, asking
what it was like: did rainbows
look the same, was grass green,
but all we heard was his
retreating footfalls, and
his plaintive voice shouting:
“Eve, are you here?
I have the apple.”

 

OUT OF THE GARDEN

He says, “You know it is long
past time to stop blaming the poor snake,
it wasn’t his fault and when you stop
and think about it, he told no lies.
And what makes you think that he
had any idea of the consequences
of the offer. will you admit snakes
are as sentient as we are?”

She says, “I don’t disagree with you,
the snake should never have been blamed,
the real blame goes to the apple.
It was the source of all of the trouble.
But was it cursed and abused through history?
No, quite the contrary, it was honored,
recommended to avoid illness.

He says, “But blaming the apple
is silly, it’s a piece of fruit,
nothing more, and was just present.”

She says, “We both know you’d
like to blame Eve, it is the woman
you think was the cause of eviction.
But you dare not say it, for
with me present, you know
I would point out that such would be
an admission that women are,
after all, smarter than men.
Now, please, go eat your apple.”