BEGGAR’S TALE

I speak clearly, concisely
in an ancient, long forgotten
tongue that none understand.

I tell my tale, leaving out
nothing, a summoner
in a deaf world, whispering

of coins, pulled from
an empty pocket and cast
at your feet, soundless.

I point to signs, lettered
in my careful hand, without
meaning, cryptic to you

You urge me to trust
in your god even as
you deny me my own

who sits by the gate
wrapped in rags, waiting
to for rain to melt the pillar.

First published in Glimpse, Issue 54, Fall 2021

RINZAI PLANTS A PINE 鐵笛倒吹 十八

If you have a seed
in your pocket
what will you do with it?
Even a small seed
planted carefully
in the middle of a forest
may take hold and grow.

Tamp the soil with your toe
three time, three times again
secure in knowing
this tree will never
provide you shade.


A reflection on Case 18 of the Iron Flute Koans

FINDING

He was no longer sure
quite where he found it,
or whether it was talisman
or just an amulet, but
he didn’t believe the distinction
really mattered at all.
He carried it with him
everywhere he went,
was sure to put it
ins his pocket each day.
Many said it did nothing
for him, brought him
no better luck, no change
in his circumstances,
but he was quick
to point out how much
worse things might have been
had he never found it.