IN THE BREACH

There is little you can do about it,
less that you want to do,
although they are not pleased
with your decision.
Remind them that they
are the ones that left the decision
to you, mostly in the hope you
would do what they hoped, taking them
off the hook, but they now realize
they have been hoist
with their own petard
and the walls, gates they wanted
breached still stand
with you on the sideline
watching their farce unfettered.
They will not ask again
and you laugh, for if they did it
you would give it a try
just to see the look on their faces.

IN THE GARDEN

He imagined what it must have been like
in the garden, before the snake, before
the damned apple, though certainly not
before the missing rib, that was a complete
and utter bore, and yes beauty can be
infinitely boring given half a chance.
But to be blissfully ignorant, without
the burden of knowledge, the taste
of the apple on the tongue, to just
be in the middle of perfection, and be
perfection itself, that had to be something.
But no, there would have been no mirrors,
and who knows if it would have seemed
the least bit beautiful, since there
would have been nothing to compare it to.
Maybe we should honor the snake.

ALL MANNER OF THINGS

Outside Itaewon she leans
perpetually forward as though
straining against the gales of life.
Her cane beats a tattoo
on the pavement, as she
drives her bent frame to the bus.
Nearing the door a young man
bustles by, receiving her cane
across his shin for his indiscretion.

Assuming her seat, as though
a throne, she leans her scepter
between her knees, and receives
the supplication of the young man
who approaches with a limp
to honor his elders and seek
absolution from a momentary lapse.
The old man, in hanbok, smiles,
the bus begins its imperceptible crawl
toward the Han, a small raft
lost in the rush hour sea.

BUDDHIST ENTOMOLOGY

One of the hardest things
about being a Buddhist
are the insects.
Setting aside their sentiency,
insects are a true test
of our ability to honor
the first of the four vows,
for while moths
can be captured in cupped hands,
the karmic dilemma
of how to deal with a spider
that refuses to crawl
onto the waiting piece of paper
and requires you to sacrifice
one or more of its legs
thus condemning it to a life
of unbalanced webs
leaves you Sekiso’s man
at the top
of the hundred foot pole.

LUNA BECKONS

The perigee moon
hangs heavily over the city,
clinging to the horizon
as though it wishes to flee
deep into the night,
turning away the attention
in inevitably draws.
We are pulled toward it
by some deeply felt force
that we know we dare not
question, for we must
honor the moon’s secrets
as we hope she will honor ours.

TENT CITY

From my window
on the twenty-sixth floor
they appear as so many
blue roofs, arranged
in small villages in
Shinjuku-Chuo Park below.

At 6:30 in the morning
many older Japanese gather
in sweater vests and hats
despite the humidity to
perform the tai chi ritual.

Nearby hands and feet
emerge from blue tarp
tents crammed with all
manner of belongings.
From a nearby tree a young
man reaches for a shirt left to
dry overnight, a young women
crouches by the fountain
brushing her teeth, another
older man carefully shaving
to bare the last vestige of pride.
They go about lives, one
cutting hair, an old office chair
his salon, another stands over
a pot on a steel drum stove
scooping tea for those who want.
He pauses, as I bow slightly
and he returns the gesture
with a smile.