KENSHO

Tonight, if all goes well, I will be
a monk in a good-sized Buddhist temple.
I am hoping it will be in Nara,
at Todai-ji perhaps, or Asakusa
at Senso-ji, or better still somewhere
in Kyoto, although it might well be
in the Myanmar jungle or somewhere
deep within the Laotian highlands.

One problem with that world is
that I have no control over it, which,
come to think of it, leaves it
like the waking world which
has never hewn to my direction.

I’ve had this desire for weeks
on end, and I suspect tonight
will be no different, and I will spend
eight hours sorting files, writing
cease and desist letters and trying
to convince myself that even that
is a form of mindful meditation
and abiding kensho will arrive
in the next rapid eye movement.

AN ENDLESS KNOT

You are surprised when the young man
approaches you, his saffron robes
a bit faded, his sandals more
worn flip-flops, his smiling face
almost too happy for a cool morning
on the rough pavementĀ of a street
in Vienna, cafes pressing the curb.
He isn’t begging, not like at home, at least,
but he does bow and offer a plastic
amulet, and you a few euros in exchange,
as much out of guilt as charity,
but cognizant that this is likely
just another scam, there is no Temple
being rebuilt in Myanmar, no monks
chanting your favor as the stupa rises.
Later, as night sets in, back on the boat
and heading up river, you think you see a man
sitting lotus on the shore, smiling at you,
saying, “it is all intention, and yours
was honorable,” as you palm the amulet
in your pocket, the same one that now
sits on your desk in the corner
where you keep careful eye on your karma.