WEBBING

The giant spider in its black shroud
sits irritated in the center of its web
wishing it ever larger, demanding
that others enter, become enthralled
until it defines the parameters
of the universe the spider imagines.

The giant spider silently seethes
at the once gardener who, having
tasted the forbidden fruit,
has closed the screened door
as he reluctantly departed the garden
diminishing the web’s attraction.

The spider dreams of his new world,
knows his old one, the simple web
may be replaced, so he presses on
spinning all his resources in the hope
that others will come to accept
his crafted reality as their own.

MORNING

In that moment
when the gentle chirping
of a small bird
resounds as a pounding
spring deluge, washes away
the creak and thrum
of passing cars, when she sings
only to you, her small voice
drawn in to your ears, your
mind, until it fades
slowly like the bell
and you wait for it
to strike again, to feel
it seep down your spine,
ooze into your fingers
and toes, pool in bent
knees and elbows, folded hands.
In that moment
the gentle chirping
is your voice, and you
are perched in the weeping
cherry tree in the garden
preening in the morning sun.


First published in Creatopia, Issue 5, Spring 2022
https://creatopia.studio/creatopia-collection-magazine/spring-2022-renewal-magazine/

IN THE JUNGLE

If you close your eyes
you can imagine that this garden
was once a tropical jungle
as imagined by some clever
Floridian striving to separate
more tourists from their
dwindling travellers checks.

It has been carefully done over,
plants native and ornamental
replacing the vines and trees,
the alligators, real and imaginary
gone, now an exhibit of Lego animals,
the orchids in bloom, and
you wonder why anyone
once came here in the old days.

GYOZAN CAN’T SAY IT

The true artist,
when asked
to draw a perfect tree
will lead you to the garden
and have you sit
under the great maple.
The true master
asked to speak of Dharma
will silently
face the wall
in zazen.

A reflection on case 118 of the Shobogenzo, Dogen’s True Dharma Eye Koans

WOODEN PILLOW 鐵笛倒吹 六十

If, sitting at your meal
you hear the song of a bird,
what do you do?
You may tap your chopstick rest,
and perhaps he will answer
and repeat his sweet song.
If you tap a second time
and there is only silence
is the bird rejecting you
or offering his song to another,
flown from your window.

Perhaps you should tap again
and hear the sweeter song
of silence that echoes
over the garden and zendo.
On a distant limb
the small songbird smiles.

A reflection on Case 60 of the Iron Flute Koans.

ECHU EXPELS A DISCIPLE 鐵笛倒吹 語十三

If you come upon Echu napping
do not disturb him
but retreat to the zendo
or walk in the small garden
where enlightenment may be found.

If the search is successful
leave quickly, tell no one,
for it is very fragile
and the tongue
is sharper than the sword
and infinitely more deadly.


A reflection on case 53 of the Iron Flute Koans

Jack, for Heaven’s Sake

The truly pious
will never get to heaven
for they don’t know how
to sing or dance.
Kerouac roams freely
like a rogue elephant
unable to get a good buzz on
but not for want of trying.
He thought it would be
Edenic, a garden somewhere
between Babylon hanging
and the lobby
of the Royal Hawaiian
but it bears a closer
resemblance to Grant Park
or rural North Dakota
where the Coke machines
along the roadside
are often empty
and you are rarely hit
by golf balls the size
of hailstones.


Recently appeared in Aurora, Down in the Dirt Vol. 167 (2020)