What were you doing
three days ago
and what will you do
three days from now.
Are you the same person now
as you were, will be?
While your face in the mirrorKoan
seems much the same
each day you die a bit
each day you are reborn.
A thousand days
a thousand years
a passing moment,
how do they differ?
A reflection on Case 68 of the Iron Flute Koans
I cannot determine why
my clock only tocks, as if
somewhere back time
its ticks beat a hasty retreat.
My life is increasingly like
that, a growing series of disconnects,
as if life itself, outside of me
is enduring a progressive dementia.
Perhaps I shouldn’t complain,
for both time and I know
that every one of those ticks
is owed to me and I will collect.
The universe does believe
in balance, after all, and a career
of being too often yon, has allowed
a joyous retirement to hither,
and having always stayed south
of the Arctic Circle I know
that each of my days has brought
with it a night, so I await my ticks.
The pelican hasn’t been around
for a couple of days, and we miss
his akimbo dives into the pond,
surfacing and throwing his head back
to show he’s swallowing his catch
even though we suspect some of the time
he caught nothing at all, but knowing
we’re as gullible an audience
as he is likely to find any time soon.
We hope he is off breeding somewhere,
making little pelicans that will
be able to entertain us next fall
when we return, birds of our own sort,
not snowy egrets but snow birds nonetheless.
We don’t want to know any more
about the mating ritual, some
things ought to be private.
We learned that painful a few years
ago, when my brother thought it
was important we see thoroughbreds bred.
We prefer our breedings like
good French films, suggestive
but ultimately leaving it
to our memory, like so much of our youth.
He had been there for days
although he’d stopped counting
since it didn’t ultimately matter.
He would leave when
the time was right although
he had no idea how he would know
when that moment arrived.
Some things you do on faith
he assumed, and this
had to be one of those things.
He wasn’t sure why he came
but he knew he had to be there,
And he knew that the cave
provided him shelter and there
was an allegory hiding deeper in.
For Something Different, a new bird photo each day, visit my other blog:
It hardly seems all that long ago
when we were immortal, when
we measured our days by the number
of dares we undertook, each
with its own level of stupidity
which we took, mistakenly, for courage.
We are older now, we would like
to think far wiser as well, but the line
between truth and illusion is thin
and almost impossible to discern.
We now measure our days in open rooms
with small clusters of neatly arrayed chairs
and the odd table piled with magazines
that have faded with time and disuse,
occasionally a fish tank where it
is hard to tell who is less interested
we or the fish, but they, at least,
aren’t waiting for the nurse to call us,
take our vitals and say in a shocking display
of honesty, “the doctor will be with you
You could feel the tears
embedded in the email
“We didn’t know
she had only three years.”
She is 84 and failing
in so many small ways
that the prognosis
comes with great pain,
but barely shock
save for its delivery.
So we cherish
the remaining days
and cast the estimate aside.
I took yesterday and pressed it between the pages of my unabridged dictionary. The day began at sunrise and ended just before it became a supplicant, though to what, was not at all apparent. Days can be frustrating when they refuse to allow sufficient margins. I always thought Thursday’s among the best behaved, or at least the most compliant but that’s no longer so. The promise they used to hold out is evanescent now. It doesn’t really matter anyway for when I went to get it today to place it in my book of days, of course it was gone. I won’t look for it, yet one day it will, like so many others turn up amid the page barely preceding histrionics.
Then there are the days
when extracting words
feels like extracting teeth,
and there is no Novocaine
for either my pen or me.
If you hear a scream,
just ignore it please,
it is only the agony
of a poem’s death throes.