POLI SCIENCE

She isn’t used to the cold,
she never will be, and she hates it
with the sort of passion she once reserved
for people of a different
political philosophy than hers.
She grew up here, but she left.
She has never regretted the departure.
She visits only in late spring
or in the heart of summer, or early autumn
and is here now only for a funeral, which she hates
more than the cold this winter.
She wishes that the death could have occurred
in late spring, early autumn, the heart of summer.
She is certain she will die in one of those seasons,
or at least in the deep enough south
that no one attending a funeral
will have to freeze and curse the winter.
She has no intention of dying anytime soon,
for she has a great deal left to do
and some of that clearly involves
cursing winter and hating the cold with a passion.

A CALL

The thing about it is
it is so damn quiet
I can hear myself think
but I can’t think anymore.

And I’ll tell you
this box is so cold
it just leaks air
and water has seeped in.

Somehow I expected more
it isn’t at all what
was promised
and the stone

is not set straight
which is driving me
only slightly crazy,
so tell me

about my grandsons
are they still handsome
young men, do they have
girlfriends like your wife.

You know steel would
have worn far better
and white satin
would be so much

more cheerful than this blue,
it just clashes with
this white gown
which fits terribly anyway.

You should come to visit
more often, Hilda’s son
and all her grandchildren
visit each week, but me, no one.

Its starting to rain again
so go, you don’t want
to catch a cold, it could
kill you, of this I’m certain.


First Appeared in Children, Churches and Daddies, Vol. 117, 1998.

ROAD DREAM

It’s 12 degrees
the night air
slices through
my sweater
my teeth chatter.
Standing in the lot
fetching my cell phone
from the glove box
my breath congeals
around my face
a cloud.
I look up
at the moon
snowflakes dancing
on my forehead.
Luna’s face
is shrouded
by a cirrus veil,
but her eyes
are yours
her lips soft
caressing
curl upwards
in a smile
as yours.
I tell her
of my love
and she whispers
her love
reflectively
in the voice
I hear
as I curl
next to your picture
slipping slowly
into sleep.

GENSHA’S IRON BOAT 鐵笛倒吹 八十語

Do not suggest
you can only be enlightened
on a cold day in hell
unless you are prepared
to carry the air conditioner
across the River Styx.

Even Cerberus
has Buddha nature
although none
of the heads will say so.


A reflection on Case 85 of the Iron Flute koans. And if you haven’t guessed, Monday for a while, will be reflection on koan’s day.

ISAN’S TIME 鐵笛倒吹 十六

A cold day —
how many other winters
can you remember,
how many future winters
can your mind grasp?

Can you hold yesterday
in the palm of your hand
can you wrap tomorrow
around your thumb?

Between the palms
in gassho
lies all life and being.


A reflection on case 10 of the Iron Flute.