ON THE PRECIPICE

He never imagined for a moment
that he would be here, here
of all places, on the precipice
of an abyss the likes of which
he only visited in nightmares.

And he knew, when he looked
back he knew he would see
the pack of Abyssinians heading
for him, and that was another
nightmare given his cat allergy
and his intense Ailurophobia.

So there it was, on one hand
the abyss, on the the other
the Abyssinians, simply
an abysmal Morton’s fork
and he felt he had to face
death, and in that moment
the alarm went off and he was
awake in a pool of sweat.

THE WORLD-HONORED ONE POINTS TO THE EARTH

As you wander around
looking for a place
to build a temple,
looking for eden,
looking for nirvana,
stop and simply sit,
listen to the breeze
teaching you the Dharma,
the clouds chanting
the sutras in a harmony
beyond your hearing.
Look down for you
are in your temple,
sitting in eden
nirvana at your feet.

A reflection on case 4 of the Book of Equanimity Koans

MADE IN

You learn to shop carefully,
always searching for where
an item is made, avoiding places
you know are not socially responsible.

The search is complicated
by the lack of nearby stores,
by the ubiquity of Amazon,
by the certainty that the product
won’t arrive for some time,
and when you find one
you like, you scroll down
and see the magic buzzword
“Imported” and you know
from experience that
is another way of saying China,
and the search goes on.

WHEREVER I LAY MY HEAD

You say that you are uncertain
if this place yet feels like home,
and look at me silently
questioning how I feel.

I answer as silently that
you are here, I am here
so it does feel like home
just as everywhere would
when we are together there.

Without speaking you remind
me that even I would admit
a hotel room is not home despite
our presence, and I agree that
places with suitcases are excepted.

TALKING ART

The good and the bad of acquiring a new work of art is that you have to listen carefully when it tells you just where in your home it has to be. You may have other ideas, but it is best to set them aside, for ultimately the art knows far better than you. All you must do is listen carefully, and mindfully but devoid of preconceptions. And new works of art come with a knowledge of how those domino mazes are constructed, for once they find where they need and must be, the art that occupied that place is duty bound to tell you where it wants next to be, and so on. So gather up your tools, ladder, picture hooks and nails for this is going to be a much longer day than you envisioned.

FLIGHT

We imagine that they are
disappearing into the clouds
only to reemerge
in a different place.

Nothing could be further
from the truth for they,
these raptors flying
on monstroius wings,
are shredding the clouds
ripping free their fruit,
eating of the sweetest
parts, letting the rest
fall down on us
as we scurry away
afraid of being soaked
in their remnants.

ABSOLUTION

The birds in the wetland
speak to me in my dreams,
telling tales of what this place
was before we arrived
and forever changed it.

They don’t curse us, although
they remind us we are cursed
by our own actions, but
they do pity us, ground bound
living in our own waste.

In the morning the birds
have disappeared, a few
vultures carrying off the bodies
left by the bobcats whose
territory we have made our own.

At night I say a prayer
for the departed birds, and in
my dreams they come again,
and reject my prayer as hollow
and seeking only absolution.

THE HALF TRUTH

As a Jewish kid in a small city
I suppose I had it pretty good, enough
of us that I didn’t totally stand out,
and it helped living a single block
from the Jewish funeral home, some
just didn’t want to travel all that far
when the inevitable time came.

But we soon moved to the suburbs,
the shtetl neighborhood was gone,
and I was a Jewboy to more than a few,
so the Temple felt like a safe place,
setting aside all the OT stories
which were wholly unblievable.

I took a fair number of lumps
for killing Christ and all other
imaginary sins freely attributed.

I wish I knew then that as an adoptee
I was really only half Jewish,
and that the other half among
my distant kin were kings and saints
as well as a fair number of sinners.

MELODY

The melody arose from the most unexpected place.
They heard it deep within the woods
and even the birds fell silent
peering around, searching
for its unrevealed source.
It carried on for several verses
and then, as quickly as it came
it was gone, the final note
carried off by a spring wind.
No one entered, no one left
the woods that day
and though many searched
no instrument was found
and the trees of the woods
grew silent at the searchers’ approach.