USER’S MANUAL

In my dreams last night
I thought I came across the Buddha
while off wandering somewhere
I could not recognize.
I thought long and hard
about following Linji’s proscription
and killing the Buddha,
but while lost in contemplation
the Buddha took up his keisaku,
said “if you cannot follow
the simplest of directions,
if you are so lost in thought
you can never attain buddhahood”
and with one significant blow
instantly killed my dream
and allowed me to finally see.

BODHI VILLANELLE

Sitting beneath the Bodhi tree
I wrestle with passing thoughts
in an unending struggle with me.

The true face of the pain I see
results from what I have wrought
sitting beneath the Bodhi tree.

I grow tired, wish to flee–
above all, to avoid being caught
in an unending struggle with me

for a single moment. I can be
something greater than I thought
sitting beneath the Bodhi tree.

That will be my apogee
until overcome by the battle fought
in an unending struggle with me.

For that brief moment I and we
will be one, as the Buddha taught
sitting beneath the Bodhi tree
in an unending struggle with me.

LIVING

They sit in a small wine bar
on an out-of-the-way street
in an out-of-the-way city, she
sipping a Oregon Pinot Noir
while he is on his second
Alsatian Pinot Gris.
She asks him if he
ever thinks about death.
He peers into his wine glass,
than at her and smiles
a gentle smile, “I don’t,”
he says, “because I
have died too often already.”
She looks at him quizzically,
“What do you mean?”
“Simply that every moment
spent thinking about death
is a moment of death itself,
for I most certainly
stop living during that
contemplation, and I
prefer life in the moment
to death in the same moment,
because we both know
it will arrive sooner
than we desire or imagine.”

CONTEMPLATING

She stands on the bridge
and stares down
into the slowly flowing river.
She wonders what it
might feel like
to climb the railing
and pushing off, gain flight.
The river would welcome her,
enfold her, carry her
to its heart. She
will not leap this day
just as she did not
the day before, but
she often has this conversation
with the ever-changing water.
She reaches
into her pocket, pulls
out a penny
and throws it into the river.
She does not make
a wish, nor does she
feel wishes are foolish.
Today she merely wants
to see the polished coin
glistening in the sun, it’s
copper golden reflection,
as it tumbles in
its downward arc.
This is sufficient for her
on this day, as on most days.
She will soon walk
slowly like that to the shore.
The river will
continue to flow slowly
in her absence.