He walks into the room
hoping he won’t be seen
and if seen, won’t be recognized.
Not many know him,
none, he is certain, truly
know him, merely his image
and the idea they have of him.
It has been this way
for centuries, and he can barely
recall the acts done, the words
spoken in his name.
He has been here forever
but they wait, patiently,
expecting a return
he cannot make until
they let go of their dreams
and see the reality of him.

THREE CALLS 鐵笛倒吹 三十九

If your name is called
how do you answer?
If it is called again
and then again, will
your answer always
be exactly the same,
or will you grow angry
and deny even yourself?

Surely your teacher
knows who you are
but knowing yourself,
that is the highest mountain
you will be asked to climb.

A reflection on case 39 of the Iron Flute Koans



If a poor man offers you
the finest diamond
do you take it, and what
of the gift of a crust of bread
from the wealthy man.
Each gift, in its way,
is worthy of rejection.

Once I grasped at great thoughts –
now I can forget my own name
and wonder whose face it is
that I see in the mirror.

A reflection on Case 70 of The Iron Flute (Tetteki tōsui).


He is fond of the name
Alejandro Carlos
Ernesto Rodrigo Guttierez.
The fact is,
he loves the name.
He knows it has
a certain nobility to it.
It enbodies and
conveys strengh and character.
It is a source of pride
and great satisfaction.
The name makes him taller, bolder.
There is so much in a name,
that name in particular.
“Vinny,” his mother shouts,
“Vincenzo Balducci, come down here
nd take the trash out, your chores
come first around here young man.
He is not at all fond
of the name Vincenzo.


I wrote a note
to remind me
to remind you
of that thing
you didn’t want
to forget, but
I can’t remember
where I put it.
Have you seen it?

I am rapidly
approaching that point
when counting black hairs
on my head is easier
then counting years.

This year I finally
remembered your birthday, now
if I could only think
of your name.

In the mall last week
I walked excitedly
into “The Body Shoppe”
only to find they
don’t sell replacement parts.