BODHIDHARMA’S VAST AND VOID

You want holy teachings
boiled down, synthesized
digestible in bites

so dine on the holes
nothing, emptiness
is sustenance
enough

look at me, at a window
as you do a mirror
no knowing,
a familiar face
but whose

the face will depart
yours or his
you will awaken
to endless absence

learn no
thingness
overflowing void

A reflection on Case 1 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)

REAL TIME

He can spend hours on the wooden bench in the small square in the center of the village. There he is but a statue, staring up at the giant clock face that looms over the square from the turret of the Village Hall. He likes to watch the long hand, arrowlike, make its slow, but inevitable movement, circling the blank outward gaze of the numerals. He does not care much for time, has too much of it some say, too little left, he knows. But here, as he stares fixedly, it stops. There is no motion in that instant, there is only the instant of time. It is no longer real, it is a thought lost or forgotten, and there is only the single moment in which he sits on the wooden bench in the center of the village.

NEEDLE

She tells me I should rest,
that I need convalescent time,
but I want to tell her, “why,
it isn’t like they stuck a needle
in my eye, so why rest?” but
it actually is just that, but the rest
of my body is none the worse
for the wear on my face,
and it hurts less when I
am doing something other
than thinking about it.

The eye will feel better
in a day or two, they say, and
I have great faith in them,
why else would I let them
stick a needle into my eye,
and anyway, I have a spare
and that is the one that still
works like new, well, almost new
normal wear and tear excepted.

IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES

It is all well and good to believe
that you will know it when you find it,
that it will be so obvious you could not miss it.

You’ve been down that road before,
and on several occasions were certain
that you’d found it in her face, or hers,
in her smile, or her laugh, or one
of their soft touches and caresses.

You were wrong each time, a facsimile
at best, an avatar if you wish, so you
are determined to be prepared this time,
for there must be a this time you are certain.

You have read all the best books, consulted
on the internet, careful to sort the wheat
from the chaff, skimmed the cream of the offerings,
and have practiced reading the tea leaves.

You dare not miss it so you maintain a high
level of vigilance and a focus that is not
easily interrupted, ready to spring,
but know that it defies logic, that the mind
is useless in its presence, and that it is
the heart not the head that feels true love.

THE EDGE OF DREAMS

On the razor edge of dreams
the periphery of consciousness
a face appears, and I am left to wonder
who this person is, who he might be.
At first he is a child
with a pixie cut, a bowl placed
over the head, the bangs cut
without considering the face peering out
and others peering in.
But, as sleep washing the last
sands of consciousness out
to the sea of Morpheus,
the face morphs and
it is Science Officer Spock
who is peering back at me,
his ears pointed to the heavens
reminding me, as I slip
into Morpheus’ orbit
that I can yet
live long and prosper.

NEWS

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.

BODHIDHARMA’S “VAST AND VOID”

You want holy teachings
boiled down, synthesized
digestible in bites

so dine on the holes
nothing, emptiness
is sustenance
enough

look at me, at a window
as you do a mirror
no knowing,
a familiar face
but whose?

the face will depart
yours or his
you will awaken
to endless absence

learn no
thingness
overflowing void


A reflection on Case 1 of the Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku)

ONCE

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.

PATER INCOGNITA

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, ONCE

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
through downtown.
Hand me a shovel,
I hate New England.