IN SEARCH

He’d been searching for ever,
or so often seemed, for no-self,
and he couldn’t fathom why it was so difficult
to attain simple absence, nothing
must be less than something, after all.
He knew, like Sisyphus, he would continue
to search until he succeeded, the gods
of his soul decreed it and you don’t fuck with them.
It was difficult recalling how much time
had been wasted in the search for mirrors
and when he found one, looked, there he was
selfsame, self-filled, and he imagined, selfish.
He took to always carrying a hand mirror
and when he thought he might have found it
he glanced at the polished surface in his hand
and there he’d still be, his endless self
older now, but there, very much still there.
One day, frustration getting the better of him
he wandered deep into a massive forest, hours later
sitting on a fallen trunk, he reached for his mirror, gone.
There was tree and sky and earth, that was all,
as night enveloped everything, even his no-self.

THE VISIT

I have never visited
the grave of my mother,
either of them, which seems most odd
primarily to me.
The mother I never knew
until it was too late to know her
is buried in Charleston, West Virginia
a place i intend to visit, grave site included
in the coming months, to see
where my mitochondrial DNA was planted
and grew into the odd shape
that greets me in the morning mirror.
The mother i knew so well, who could always find
ways to frustrate me when I was certain she exhausted
every possibility is buried next to my sister,
placed there by my brother who couldn’t quite
get the funeral together, at least not the one
she would have appreciated, with the near famous
all pump, never the right circumstances
so into the ground she went.
I will visit there too, someday perhaps,
but helical gravity will always
pull me to the Mountain State.

I’M LOOKING, SHOW YOURSELF

I’ve been searching for a teacher
for such a long time but despite
every effort, the goal eludes me

They say that when the student is ready
the teacher appears, but i know
in my heart I am truly ready.

I looked in all of the likely
and a number of unlikely places,
to the point i now look everywhere.

I saw man stoop to pet a random dog
this morning and wondered, hoped, he
could be the teacher i am seeking

but then he attached the leash
and pulled the reluctant dog
into the waiting van, inpatient.

I thought that the barista
in my favorite coffee shop
might be the one, her smile

always gentle, inviting, and
clearly a yogini, but she had
too much goth skin art for my needs.

I’ll continue the search for I know
the teacher is there if only I wouldn’t run
into mirrors whenever I was getting close.

SEKISO’S NOTHING IS CONCEALED 正法眼蔵 語十八

When you look in the mirror
are you real, is your reflection real?
Be careful what you say,
for if I look into that mirror
and see you, is the you I see
anything other than real?
When you go through the gate
you say “I am exiting”.
When I follow you through the gate
I say “I am entering”.
Are we both liars?


A Reflection on case 58 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye)

RINZAI’S TITLELESS MAN 鐵笛倒吹 語十七

If you come upon
both beggar and nobleman
see neither wealth or poverty,
smell neither the fine rosewater
or the crying need of a bath,
hear neither the ravings of one
or the philosophy of the other,
taste neither the fine curry
of the moldy bread crust,
feel neither the tattered rag
or the purest silk.

In the mirror of Zen
both men have your face
and there is no one
standing in front of you.


A reflection on case 57 of the Iron Flute Koans.

A CLIO MOMENT

Each morning I should take a moment
and seriously question whether I have
any history or should want any.

Each day I know in that moment that
I have the option of being reborn, of being
someone who never existed before,

and the price of this is shedding all
of my former selves, an erasure I fear
without reason, for reason says

that this moment demands my naked
presence bereft of the masks and
trapping I so easily choose to hide within.

This morning I did pause in front
of the mirror, and asked if it knew me,
and it laughed, said, “never seen you before.”

Tomorrow I will deny today and most
yesterdays, this I know is the right
course for what will be a ghost ship.