URBANITY

Walking down this road
I would like to see a rice field
golden in the morning sun
with a great mountain rising behind it
just around the next bend.
I would settle for a town
its lone Temple quiet, awaiting
the morning bell, the call to sit,
with maybe a cat at the base
of a statue the Bodhisattva.
I am ready to bow deeply
to the first monk I see this day,
but my reverie is broken
by the barely dodged wave
thrown up by  city bus
running late and fast
down the crowded street of
this upstate New York city.

PADDIES

At first it is a checkerboard of ponds
neatly arrayed, reflecting the sun,
the work of man, for God so rarely
plays geometrician with creation, less
often still using right angles.

Soon enough green blades reach up
through the shirred surface, random,
reaching for a sun they can never touch.

Later, it is a field, the water
pooling at the roots is lost
in the emerald sea, its waves
now generated by the wind
from the distant mountain.

It is marigold yellow now, fading
day by day to curry, the spikelets
slowly letting go their grip
on the grains that will soon lie
on the bamboo mats, drinking
the last of the sun they will know.

THE HERMIT

The hermit lives
in the shadow
of the great mountain
listening to the symphony
of the bluebird
and the wild Rose
engulfed by the sky,
the meandering stream
his constant companion.

I live in a city
in a sea of city dwellers
each of us prisoners
marching from cell
to cell, with passing nods
we hear only solitude
and are blind
to the ever shifting clouds.

Kuan Yin sits
in her temple
and whispers to all
who will stop and listen
that you cannot offer
compassion for others
until you granted it
to yourself.