ARRIVE

She doesn’t arrive. We knew she likely would not arrive. We are not certain why she has chosen not to arrive. She is good at arrivals. She is good at not making arrivals. If she said why she didn’t arrive we would accept that reason. We would also question that reason. She is good at giving reasons. She is good at giving reasons that are not real reasons. So we wait, for perhaps one day she will arrive.

ON ARRIVING

They arrive after a long flight
from tyranny, from oppression
from the nightmare of endless
fear, from hunger, from faith
denied, from the bottomless
depths of poverty, scarred
memories etched in their souls,
hoping for an ending as much
as wishing for a new beginning.
They have been here, a new
generation, raised on the stories,
versed in the painful history,
still residual anger born
of love for those who fled,
without the pain of experience,
who can forget when it is
others who now wish only
to arrive to the freedom they
have known since childhood

First appeared in Circumference, Issue 5, June 2022
https://poetryatpi.wordpress.com/

TOO SOON

The leaves will soon begin
their descent from the small tree,
already brown, their beauty
departing before they do so.

They are bilobular, an odd word,
but one that belongs in a poem,
even this one it seems, and it is
their shape that you first notice.

The tree will all to soon be naked,
branches sticking into the air
as if searching for a breath
that refuses to arrive.

But we know that soon after
the small buds will open
and orchid-like flowers will appear
to our all too temporary joy.

ROBBIE

He left and we never saw the departure coming. We knew he would leave sooner or later, but not now. We had planned on his visit. We knew he meant he was coming. We knew he might just show up. He traveled on snap decisions. It might be here, it might be Paris or Italy. But there was always the long slow coffee hour with tales of his life as we listened intently. Now he is gone, and as we drink our coffee we tell tales of him and mourn his death.

THE RITE

It is coming, a little
over a week now and it
will arrive, always too soon,
never ready despite knowing
its precise arrival day and time.

We will be ready, but
only after a scramble, for that
is how it must be, how
it has always been.

And again this year we
will be thankful, as all claim
on this day, but why do so many
forget the giving part of things,
giving to those without,
to those within who lack,
to those who only want
to come within to escape
a without we dare not imagine
for the nightmares and terror
we would suddenly have to feel.

NANSEN AND THE LAND DEITY 鐵笛倒吹 十八

When you come
into this town
we know you are coming,
when you enter
this room we
know you will arrive.
It is only when
we cannot discern
your presence
that your spirit
has truly arrived.
Contemplate this
over a bowl of rice
shared with mountain
and wind.

A reflection on Case 18 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo Koans (True Dharma Eye)

Tozan’s Sixty Blows 無門關 十語

When you arrive
only questions, each
a finely honed blade.

Will you parry and dance
avoiding the wounding tip
and perhaps taste the sword

or risk all and counter-
thrust, attack from
ten directions
and willingly receive
sixty blows from the stick
standing in one place.

A reflection on Case 15 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate) Koans

HEART OF DHARMA

A single snowy egret sits
on the lowest branch of a long
barren tree, where hours from now
a thousand birds will arrive
for still another evening and night.

He stares at me as I am mindfully
vacuuming, watching carefully.

I pause and ask if by chance he
is a Buddha and he lifts his long neck
and peers around in all directions.

I repeat my question, and he
lifts one wing, which I know
to be his way of saying, “I,
like you, am imbued with Buddha
nature, and I with mother
nature as well, and if you doubt me
ask one of the countless
Bodhisattvas who will arrive
in hours to study the Dharma
well into what will be a wet night.

ON BEING

They arrive unannounced
often not seen until
they have been among us
and won’t say how
or when they arrived.
Some claim to have seen
their arrival as they
have seen other visitors
visible only to them,
and predict their departure
with a certainty born
of a delusion or a sense
beyond the understanding.
Others say that the
are merely us in masquerade,
it is we who are deluded
for there is no arrival
by an ongoing presence.
I say nothing, for I
am one of them, just
as I am one of us, I am
recently arrived, while
I have long been here
and either you or I
may or may not be deluded.

ROADS

The problem with roads
is that they all must lead
somewhere, and if lucky, with
other theres along the way.

I prefer roads that have
no beginnings or ends,
that go where they will
and change direction on a whim.

On my roads you never
arrive late because there
is no point at which to arrive,
so you are always timely.

Friends laugh when I say this,
say such roads cannot exist
at least until I point out
that life is just such a road.