The most interesting thing about visiting
websites from foreign news services
is that so many offer content in English
and how deaths that occur locally seem
to invoke the same sadness, horror, belated honor,
and that local disasters take precedence
over our own disasters not merely because
it happened there and not here,
but because the losses are greater, the damage
far worse, the faces far less white.
We hold the world up to the mirror often,
but is only our face we see, and those like us
standing behind, and we are blind
to so much of what goes on around us,
because this color blindness is of the sort
that disables seeing at all rather
than seeing all in monochrome.
You want holy teachings
boiled down, synthesized
digestible in bites
so dine on the holes
look at me, at a window
as you do a mirror
a familiar face
the face will depart
yours or his
you will awaken
to endless absence
A reflection on Case 1 of the Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku)
It was the other evening,
the first of two this month, they say
This only happens once in a blue moon
or a couple times every two or three years
and often twice in the same year,
So once in a blue moon isn’t that long
but she said she could feel its pull,
everything threatening to topple over
and she moved very cautiously.
I have to admit I didn’t feel very much,
but I come from the people for who
the lunar cycle is the norm, so the moon
really proceeds as it should, it’s face
having little to do with my time or tide.
The moon will be full again later this month
and I will pay careful attention
to what I’m certain I will not feel then
but will affect me in so very many ways.
He often comes to me in dreams.
In most he is faceless, but intently present,
speaking in a voice I instantly know,
nothing like mine and totally mine.
On occasion his face appears, blurred,
as if seen through a scrim, back-lit,
vague, an actor in some film I have seen,
but yet not that person, that character.
For a while I saw my own face, but I knew
that was just my wishful mind filling in a gap
which has yet to be filled, knowing
that it likely never will.
Once, not long ago,
a river meandered
through our town.
Actually, there was
never a river here,
and our town is really
a small and shrinking city.
But the wistful look
on your face when I
mentioned the river is
reason enough to have one.
So now I have to move
somewhere in Connecticut
or Massachusetts, or start
digging a large channel
Hand me a shovel,
I hate New England.
You believe this is how, and where, it begins,
but that is only your conception of it.
You believe the mirror shows your face
each morning, but it is merely polished glass,
and you mind sees what it perceives to be you
in the glass, while the glass is empty.
It has no real beginning, at least not one
that you or I can hope to identify, it has
always been and it will never be, but we
will perceive it to be as it has been,
perceive it to have begun at some point
in time, but time is also a perception, a way
we can try to define our perceptions.
You may well doubt all of this, but know
that doubt is the beginning of understanding,
so you have begun to walk along the way,
which is where you are and have always been,
if you can only conceive of it that way.
The epiphany comes,
he says with a smile,
when you first discover
the puzzle within the puzzle
and the hidden logic
finally triumphs. It is
always there, she notes,
right in the title
as clear to the eyes
as the nose
on the face of
who has no mirrors.
If a poor man offers you
the finest diamond
do you take it, and what
of the gift of a crust of bread
from the wealthy man.
Each gift, in its way,
is worthy of rejection.
Once I grasped at great thoughts –
now I can forget my own name
and wonder whose face it is
that I see in the mirror.
A reflection on Case 70 of The Iron Flute (Tetteki tōsui).
It’s odd how your stature
has grown as I dream of you
occasionally staring at
your yearbook picture.
It was only four years ago
that I knew you existed, but
hadn’t the faintest idea of who
you were, anything about your life,
why you gave me up, and, therefore
who it was I might have been.
Now you are a selfless icon, caring
more for siblings who needed education,
at the immediate cost of your own,
a child who needed two parents
in a world that frowned deeply
on anything less than a pair.
Someday soon, I will visit your grave,
place a small stone upon your stone,
and a kiss, the closest
I can ever hope, ever dream
to coming to the face of my mother.
Within a rock
there is another rock
that sits in the middle of the stream,
in sight, just out of reach.
Within a cloud
there is another cloud
whose rain has fed
a barren field.
Within this city
there is another city
whose streets I have walked
in countless dreams.
Within this mirror
there is another mirror
that reflects the face
within my face.