We sit in the waiting room,
for we have grown accustomed
to waiting for so many things,
not wanting to rush a life that
appears ever more finite in duration.
We stare at our phones, struggling
to see, to help bide the time, an irony
not lost for we are here because
our vision is problematic or worse.
Erasmus said the one-eyed man
is King in the land of the blind,
and many here hope for that
period of regency before they, too
become common citizens
of a land they hoped never to see.
Today we welcome the rain, hope
that the wheaty winter lawn will
show some other color under its care.
The birds ignore the clouds,
accept the rain, care little how
our lawn looks, their next meal
of always greater importance.
I am losing the vision in one eye,
know I may soon be king
of the country of the blind,
and sadly curse Erasmus
for his gift of proverb, one
that slipped off the tongue
when my eye could still see it.
We will welcome the sun tomorrow
or the day after, for too much
rain or sun demands change
and nothing is really ever
wholly within our control.
Bow before a king
and you may be rewarded
but bow before a teacher
and expect to be shunned.
Which has something to offer?
Ask the teacher why he shuns you
and he will turn you away.
One offers a bit of gold,
one offers a priceless gem.
Gold can buy you many things
but the gem is worthless
to all but he to who it is given.
Pick carefully, for here
the fool and wise man
walk separate paths.
A reflection on Case 81 of the Iron Flute Koans
Walking down the helical
road, untwisting as you go
you discover places
you never imaginged
like the path you
thought you knew well.
Stop and claim
your new heritage,
on an alien map,
bury yourself in books
of new and ancient history.
Pause here and consider
a King of Scotland,
knights and lords,
in the far distance
know that you claim
a link to a man
so honored that he
died by hanging, but
was then beheaded
and drawn and quartered.
Too late to unswab
your cheek, so simply
enjoy your ride.
As King, newly appointed,
he mulled over what to do
for his first official act.
The predecessor King was known
to be much a recluse, one
who tolerated people as
a necessity of a Kingdom,
and he would say, a good
source of revenue to the King.
That one didn’t last long, never
imagined the people could
rise up and overthrow a monarch.
He would be more benevolent,
but he did need to make
a strong initial statement.
It came to him – and he
issued a decree banning all
mirrors and shiny surfaces
in public, and he knew
it was a good idea when
everyone else grew ever older,
and he, he knew, never aged a day.
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Tell me what you see, he says,
and be as precise as possible.
I suppose I see exactly what you see,
we are looking at the same thing,
at the same time, so how can it be
any different for me then you?
Are you seeing through my eyes?
He smiles, for if so, I’d like you
to get out of my head immediately,
it is already too crowded in here.
You have a pondering look, you probably
want to know why I would like
you tell me what you see.
See, I have only one working eye
and in the kingdom in which we find ourselves,
that hardly makes me King.
We kept them together to protect them,
he said, though we did make the men
wear the red And yellow badge.
You must understand, this was for their good.
We didn’t want them corrupted
by our Catholicism, so we had to ensure
we would not mingle with and debase them.
There were our bankers, without them
the King would’ve made tax demands on us
and a kingdom cannot long survive
on the broken backs and empty pockets of its people.
And anyway, they knew they need not comply,
after all what’s a pound of silver fine to a Jew.