The meeting occurred by chance,

two old men sitting in the same park

staring at the same empty chess board

as the waves of the Stygian Sea

lapped against the break wall,

the ferryman now at the helm

of the great cargo ship.

“So,” said Hillel, “you come here often?”

Old, bent Buddha paused

“as far as I know, I have

always been here, or perhaps

I am not here now, never have been.”

“I know the feeling” the ancient Rabbi said

“I’ve been here so long, I too

have begun to doubt my very existence.”

Buddha rubbed his great girth

and smiled placidly as a black bird

alighted on his shoulder.

The Rabbi stroked his beard

the stood on one foot,

only to have two bluejays

land, one on each arm.

“Would you care to join me,”

he asked, “for a meal at Ming’s

or if you prefer, we can do take out

from the Dragon Palace,

whatever suits your mood,

in any event, my treat this time.”

The saffron robed old man

unfolded himself, and erect

and bowing, said

“It would honor me to dine with you

but if you wouldn’t mind

I’d much prefer a bowl

of chicken soup with kreplach

and a pastrami on rye.”