AN ALIEN(‘S) JOURNEY

He has just returned
from the land of Others, where
he expected to see
all manner of things
that would, could
never happened to him.
He thought he would be able
to explain why this was,
but now those things
are happening to him.
He suspects it is because
he came to close
to the land of Those People,
and he is certain
are the cause
of all the trouble
in his carefully
constructed world.
It is why, he says,
he never wanted
anything to do with them.

WHO IS HE? 無門關 四十語

Sitting with Shakya and Maitreya
in the utter stillness of early morning
you each strain to hear
the master’s voice.

Do not take up Shakya’s bow
or attempt to mount Maitreya’s horse
Do not engage Hoen in discussion
but look inward, hand
your bow to Maitreya,
the reins to Shakya.

There is only one horse, one bow
so see yourself sitting
peaceful and silent,
utterly alone.


A reflection on Case 45 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)

TRANSITIONS

Dusk is that hour
when the mind and eyes
mark the slow transition
from light to dark.
As day slides off,
things that were obvious,
things that once were simple,
grow in complexity
until the intricacy
threatens to overwhelm you.
When night fully settles,
sanity returns grudgingly
and the memory of dusk
is but a pebble nestling
the bottom of the pond.

A POET IS

A poet is a child who
on seeing a blank page
must fill it with dreams

hears the song of the nightingale
in the din of passing traffic

comforts the lonely mother recalling
the pain of a thousand births

sees in each passing cloud
the tears of a generation

feels the heat of the sun
amidst the winter’s blizzard

carries the bones of young men
from the fields on which they fell

cries with the child
hobbling on war shattered legs

curses the generals whose souls
have been cast off before battle

cannot forget, trading
nightmares for dreams.

PHILOSOPHER’S STONE

The philosopher
sits on a rock
overlooking a pond
with a single water lily.
To defeat your enemy,
you must have his mind.
To have his mind,
you must be him.
To be him, you must
cast off self-loathing
When there is no loathing,
he is not your enemy.
If you have no enemies,
you may sit on a rock
and look over a pond,
but only if there is
but a single water lily.