I am a child of ghosts, my parents
adopted and birth, all visit me,
but only in my dreams, for ghosts
prefer the reality that dreams allow.
Some say that dreams are not real,
but they live in the mind as do
every other reality I experience
each day, my senses merely
inexact lenses for the mind.
Perhaps dreams are more accurate,
a deeper reality in the end,
for they arise without passing
through the lenses of the senses,
whole and complete, and as quickly gone.
I am a child of ghosts, and I
will eventually join them,
haunting the dreams of others.
I am the life
of a hundred million others,
you are the life
of a hundred million others,
a hundred million others
are my life, a hundred million
others arise from my death.
How may hundred million
are the same?
None of them will say.
A reflection on Case 29 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)
In so many mythologies
earth is a woman, a mother,
and we arise from within her.
The pure and simple logic
of this assumption cannot
be assailed, for she is
the crux of all nature,
and as it seems in life,
it is all too often
the males that lay siege
and wage wars that
damage her deeply,
and the women whose tears
gently wash her wounds.
The front of winter
slowly seeps up from the sidewalk
into the street unveiling
the last falling of autumn’s leaves.
A gentle fog rises
shrouding the fact
that winter, or the most of it
lurks just over the distant hills,
which mark the margin
of our vision.
Even the birds sing
in our confusion
they without calendars
not caring this day
is set aside to mark
the birth of a new year
and we, ignoring hours so we
need not admit we sit
in the heart of winter.
I called to the moon
and it refused to answer.
I bless the silence.
A galaxy born
Spirals through space while we, here
see only our sun
Deep within my mind
a new universe is born
as an old one dies.
If I receive warm under robes
to ease my winter meditation
I will refuse them.
If you ask me why, I will say
I was born with such robes as I need.
If you ask what I wore before birth
I shall remain silent.
In the deepest winter
there is no chill
that can reach
the empty mind
for it is full of a warmth
that cannot be replaced
and one needs no shelter,
for ashes know no temperature.
A reflection on Case 78 of the Iron Flute Koans
Before you wish for immortality
carefully consider all the consequences.
It’s true you will avoid the fires of hell
and the lawyers and politicians who
make up a surprising portion of the populace,
but you’ll also never pass through the pearly gates,
to languish in the esteemed company
of poets and musicians who will,
at the drop of a request, regale you.
And those wars you so often decried,
you’ll have those of generations without end,
for the one skill mankind has mastered is war.
But worst of all, you must realize
that you will be subjected to an infinite
number of wait staffs gathered around
your table doing off-key but well intended
renditions of Happy Birthday to You
as other diners wish you had never been born.