It starts quickly and unexpectedly. You do not know when it will start, why, or what it will bring. There are times when even after it is done, you cannot be certain what it was, what it did, what it meant. Often, though, you forget it before you have time to capture it. It is evanescent, an intense glimmer that can quickly fade to a void, as though it was never there. You wish you could capture it, but you know well that dreams act under their own rules.
A young child
does not ask for meaning,
all things are
as they are
until they are not.
The foolishness of age
causes men to stare
in search of meaning
they will never find.
It is the blind man
who will find the diamond.
A reflection on case 119 of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye) Koans
The air we breathe is different today,
and we inhale more deeply
with the energy of our youth.
The tears we cry today are not
solely tears of loss and sorrow,
but also of promise and hope.
The wine that we drink today
will be the same as before, but
now sweeter on the tongue.
The sleep that we sleep tonight
will be deep, nightmares banished,
dreaming of a brighter future.
The songs that we sing today
we have sung a thousand times
but on this day the words have meaning.
You need not apologize, for we
do not expect it, and would
not accept it as freely given.
It is not that you have not
done so much it warrants,
for that list is long and replete
with all manner of sins.
It is simply that we are not
in a mood to accept an apology,
denied so long, for hollow words
have no real meaning to us now.
And our mood will not change
until you atone for those sins,
for atonement is more than sorry,
it is the work of undoing
and you have so very much
I spent much of the afternoon trying
to imagine you, spending a small part
of an afternoon reading this poem.
I have no clear picture of where you are,
but the chair is well cushioned, and
you sit deeply in it, a glass of some
amber liquid on the glass and metal
end table, just within arm’s reach.
I suppose, since it is early afternoon,
it is iced tea, bit I wish it were a fine
IPA or better still a fine single malt,
though that much would give my poem
a meaning I never imagined, but
that might be an improvement, and
I think I’ll stop here and join you.
We are, he is convinced,
devolving into verbal neanderthals,
losing are ability to recognize
the linguistic tools that once
set us apart from other species,
or at least so we assured ourselves.
She knows that what truly sets us
apart from other species is the arcane
skill we have at being able
to convince ourselves that
delusion, firmly held, is fact.
Still, she cannot disagree with him,
simplicity is a too close cousin
to inanity, and nuance is the first
relative to be cast out. And so
with ever fewer words, we seem
to have ever more to say,
and speaking endlessly, say ever less.
She says every woman
should own a little black dress,
and during the time she tries them on
I am thinking what she meant was
every man should be married to
and in love with a woman
who wears a little black dress
as well as she does, but I say
It looks really nice on you,
You should buy it, and
I think, I will
find events to which you
can where it frequently, because
it looks so good on you, and you
in that little black dress
make me look so good
standing next to you, and men,
although they will never admit it,
are all so often about reflected glory.
My grandson has a smile
that is as old as time itself,
as young as the mind
of a four-year-old
and in this moment,
beaming, I am left
to guess which it is,
for he won’t say,
I smile with him
and time has no meaning,
no beginning, no end.
It is said that
a picture is worth a thousand words,
a pictograph usually
five or fewer, and
a word, but a single one
by definition, while
a word, with two exceptions,
has at least two letters,
and with the same
two exceptions, a letter
is always wordless
but can be symbolic.
The Hawaiian language
has only fourteen letters
which may explain why
native Hawaiians are
rarely wordy, but
fails utterly to account
for their deep love
Tomorrow this poem will
most assuredly no lnger be here,
though when during the night
it will slip away, never again
to be seen, I don’t know or perhaps it
will return in a form I would not recognize,
re-crafted by the hand of an unseen editor.
It may take on a meaning unfamiliar,
or translate itself into a tongue
that I can neither speak nor read,
or perhaps, most dreadedly, assume
the shape of prose, accreting words
until the embedded thought is bloated
and wholly unrecognizable.
Even if I tried to stop it, watched
carefully, it would no doubt
remind me that poems have a life
of their own once cast to paper
or pixels, and I am at best only
another editor or reader, and it
takes kindly on most days to neither.