OPTICAL DELUSION

As you slowly approach it
it grows perceptibly larger.
This does not surprise you,
for you are familiar with
the principles of physics.

What does surprise you is
that the details grow
ever less clear as you approach,
as though they retreat
under your slow advance.

You think this strange,
wonder what has gone wrong,
question your eyes, and
finally realize that the details
you saw were not there

that it all was, quite simply, what
your mind wished your eyes to see.

INTO THE TIDE

The woman at the next table
stares at her fork
with eyes which appear
bottomless pools of sorrow.
She picks at the noodles,
raises and lowers
the glass of wine
without sipping.
She is lost within herself
and even the waiter
approaches with trepidation
for fear of falling in
and drowning
in her sadness.
In her eyes
are pools of cabernet
spilled from glasses
cast aside
by retreating lovers,
the blood of a mother
who died in her birth,
tears of a father
hopelessly alone.
You see him returning
to the table
and a smile of faint hope
crosses her lips,
lingers a moment
and is drawn
into her eyes.
She watches him
finish his wine
and with a nod
of his head, hers,
and she sinks back
deep within herself.


First appeared in Erothanatos,  Vol. 3, No. 3, July 2019 at Pg. 41

ON THE ROAD TO NIRVANA

S: What are you doing, for heaven sake?
H: Isn’t it obvious, I’m searching
     for Nirvana, for enlightenment.
S: You silly fool, it’s right behind you!
H: (turning suddenly) It is not,
     I would certainly see it.
S: You might think so, but
     it is still right behind you!
H: But why, tell me, can’t I see it?
S: Because you’re looking for it
     always peering outward,
     but if you look inward
     behind your eyes, you
     won’t be able to miss it.

EDGY

It is a precarious balance, really,
more an exercise in tottering and teetering
than and standing still.
Some prefer stasis, others,
I included, find it leads inevitably
to a loss of energy, to an entropy
from which it is difficult to escape.
I don’t walk along the edge
of the precipice, but I do peer over
amazed at what lies below,
that I hope to never see up close.
It is a precarious balance,
but one that can be maintained
if you just close your eyes
and sense what actually lies
around and beneath you.

MISTAKE IN SPEAKING 無門關 三十九

When you speak the words
of the Buddha you are lost.
Light is everywhere in silence
but the tongue must hide
in the dark of the mouth.

Buddha’s words are flowers
unfolding in the dawn
by the side of the still pond,
the eyes hear the song
and respond in silent chorus.


A reflection on case 39 of the Mumonkan (The Gateless Gate)