EXTINCT

You want us to believe
you are small, kind creatures
sucking hungrily on the teat
of democracy.

We see you for who
you really are, parasites
who would suck the teat
dry until democracy
withered and died.

Some believe you,
accept you blindly
but what will they do
if you succeed, for like
any invasive species
when the host is gone
there is only mourning.

OH MY GOD

On the subway there was a placard
telling me and all of the other riders
where we could find God, promising
salvation if we made the search.

Someone had scrawled beneath it
“God is ded.” I was left to wonder
if the writer also thought that God
was now somehow deceased,

and how you would know
if that were really the case, since
you’d be struck deaf, dumb
and blind if you were in His presence,

unless, of course, you were
an evangelical preacher, in which
case you talked to the man upstairs
with great regularity, making

certain you never, ever disclosed
how much you were taking in
in collections each Sunday, lest
God claim his portion of the take.

BLINDNESS

Our problem is one of blindness.
We are constantly seeking
for that which we have, that
which have no need of, that
which we think we need
but cannot be certain.

If we limited our blindness
to things life would be
simpler, but our blindness
carries over to our search
for enlightenment, for redemption,
for absolution, and we
fail to realize that we have
all of that already, if only
we would stop looking for them.

ZHAOZHOU’S “LOSING THE MIND IN CONFUSION”

Be forewarned
the greatest wisdom
is written on water
on a cloud –
the sun reads it clearly
so why are you
so blind to it?

A blind man will not
be mislead by signs
a deaf man cannot
fall victim
to the siren’s song.

A reflection on Case 11 of the Shobogenzo Koans (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

AFGHAN, ANYONE

Symbols have deep meaning
even to those so blind they
cannot see them, and our politics
have become wholly retail.

Any good retailer will tell you
that $19.95 is significantly
less than $20.00, a nickel
that swallows the dollars.

So we got out, and nineteen
years and 354 days
is considerably shorter
than twenty years we are told,

but everything blew up around us,
but I’m sure the politicians will note
that a dozen dead, while tragic
is far less than a baker’s dozen.

JOSHU’S CYPRUS TREE

A young child
does not ask for meaning,
all things are
as they are
until they are not.
The foolishness of age
causes men to stare
in search of meaning
they will never find.
It is the blind man
who will find the diamond.

A reflection on case 119 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye) Koans

MARCHING TO OBLIVION

The most disturbing thing
about lemmings is not
that they follow one after another
over a cliff or into traffic,
it is not the carnage
that inevitably ensues,
one after another doomed
by the need to follow blindly.

The disturbing thing
is not the knowledge that
lemmings only follow,
so someone directed
the first in line into
a suicidal act.

The most disturbing thing
is that lemmings
do not commit
mass suicide, it is
only in our tortured
use of cliches
that they meet their death.

Nansen’s Reason Is Not the Way 無門關 三十四 

If you see the Buddha
you have certainly gone blind,
if you hear his words
you demonstrate your deafness.

Nansen will grow old,
hearing and vision will fade
and he will sit and shout
in a sun warmed rain.

A reflection on Case 34 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate) Koans

IN THE KINGDOM

We sit in the waiting room,
for we have grown accustomed
to waiting for so many things,
not wanting to rush a life that
appears ever more finite in duration.

We stare at our phones, struggling
to see, to help bide the time, an irony
not lost for we are here because
our vision is problematic or worse.

Erasmus said the one-eyed man
is King in the land of the blind,
and many here hope for that
period of regency before they, too
become common citizens
of a land they hoped never to see.

DEAR ERASMUS, DIE

Today we welcome the rain, hope
that the wheaty winter lawn will
show some other color under its care.

The birds ignore the clouds,
accept the rain, care little how
our lawn looks, their next meal
of always greater importance.

I am losing the vision in one eye,
know I may soon be king
of the country of the blind,
and sadly curse Erasmus
for his gift of proverb, one
that slipped off the tongue
when my eye could still see it.

We will welcome the sun tomorrow
or the day after, for too much
rain or sun demands change
and nothing is really ever
wholly within our control.