JOSHU SEES THROUGH THE OLD WOMAN

When, on the path,
you com across a problem
you cannot solve
you may turn
to your teacher
and ask for
the solution.

Do not expect
an answer
for your teacher
has none, but
if you listen carefully
to his silent breath
in and out,
he will lead you
to the answer.

A reflection on Casew 10 of the Book of Equanimity (SHôYôROKU 従容錄)

WRITE ON

The problem with too many
songwriters these days is
that they either pose a question
but demand answers, or only
partially answer their own question,
leaving the listener to guess
at the balance of the answer.

You are atop my list, sadly,
dear Alanis, for when you ask
if it is ironic, for most
of your examples I must
respond that it is not so.

And Paul, nice song, but
would you care to tell us
the other forty-five ways
to leave your lover?

But in the spirit of giving
to Michael Stipe I say
I spoke to Ken and we
agree it is 88.5 MHz.

EIRE

There are two principal problems
with Ireland, and I found both
to be utterly insurrmountable.

Every town, even Galway City
at any time of day or night
looked like it should be a postcard.

Add to that the horror that in
every pub I visited it was assumed
that if asked I would sing a song

or, realizing I have no singing
voice, I would recite a poem
from William Butler Yeats

which I sadly could not, yet after
the third pint of Guinness
I could, I think, recite my name.

RAINY DAY

The rain came sideways today, or almost so. The cat decided that if she needed a bath, she’d give it to herself and opted to watch the storm through the sliding glass door to the lanai. When it ended, she ventured back out, checking out the various and sundry chairs, all hers she assumes, and settled for the recliner in the inner corner, as much for dryness as comfort, but clearly offering both. She invited us out to join her, but all of the other seats were damp from the storm. She didn’t see what that was a problem, she had only the one coat, we could change clothes any time we wanted. We decided to watch her through the sliding glass door.

LEAD ME NOT

Strange as it may seem,
I was tempted to consider
Catholicism, not the Roman kind
but that of the breakawy churches
who accept all, gay or straight,
married or divorced, the whole
lot of mankind just because.

They do believe in heaven
which is a good alternative
to the Bardo, and having choices
is a good thing even in death.

I was truly tempted to give
it my all when I realized that
it was problematic, for it had
led me into temptation and that
is something you pray doesn’t happen,
and if I want a conundrum
Buddhism offers me plenty.

CINEMATIC MEMORY

You want to shout that they don’t make movies like they used to, romantic comedies without R ratings for gratuitous sex or language. We both know this is true, but the problem is not that they don’t make those movies, that is the symptom. The problem is that they don’t make audiences like they used to, ones that loved thoughtful romantic comedies, and filmmakers always stoop to the mass of audiences o matter how low they have to go, for that is where the money is.

REALITY, OF A SORT

The single greatest problem
with dreams is that they
are utterly real when you
are dreaming, the absurd
is not only permitted
but expected, and in that
moment it is hardly absurd.

The dead and living come
and go with impunity,
and you welcome them
as real people because
for that period of time
they are as real as you are.

But awakening, you realize
it was all a dream, and
your life is remarkably
absurd, and it all seems
so utterly frustrating
and wholly unreal.

THE LANGUAGE OF ZEN

The greatest problem
with our language
in the practice of zazen
can seem insurmountable.

We are lovers of tenses,
a dozen to choose from,
one spawning offspring,
time ever important to us.

In zen, on the cushion
there is no past, no future,
perfect or otherwise, nor
our friend the conditional.

We strive to always be
in the moment, there is now
and nothing else, and we
ought to strive to never be tense.

FOSSIL FUEL

It should give you pause
to consider that, in the midst
of boundless greed, enmeshed
in the near cult of self, rushing
always to go nowhere quickly,
certain the problems of the world,
can be solved tomorrow, using
resources that may never be
replenished or substituted for,

when we are dead and buried,
we will be the fossil fuels
that future generations
rightfully shun in horror.

TODAY

Today we want very much to pray
but words fail us yet again, and we doubt
God would hear our entreaty anyway,
since this is a disaster of our own making.

This is the problem of free will, as so many
discovered across Europe during the second
of the wars to end all wars, as did the people
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well.

If God listened we would hear a reply:
“You made this mess, it is up to you to fix it
so get on with it, but do wait until
the pandemic subsides a bit more if you would.”