ALL THAT JAZZ

The magic of jazz
is not what you think,
there is nothing random
even in the wildest, in
the acidest of solos.

Cacophony is randomness
and the key to jazz
is to see the
invisible logic,
read the mind,
be the mind
of the musician.

It is zen, but only
if you stop searching
and just be in its
moment.

WORKSHOP

Grace settles into the chair,
less an act of sitting than
of floating down onto the seat.
She has borrowed my grandmother’s
smile, kind, gentle, inviting.
She pulls a book from her bag,
its pages or most of them
dog eared, and I glimpse
some annotations in the margins.
We sit around her like children
awaiting presents on a holiday,
as acolytes seeking knowledge
from a font of poetic and prosaic
wisdom, or so we think.
She reads in a voice that is
at once soft and loud enough
to reach the back of the room,
opening the book to a random
page and diving in, then after
what seems like a minute and
an hour, she stops and asks
for questions. We sit dumbstruck
for a moment then fire at her
like machine gunners on the range.
She answers each, claims she is
a simple grandmother who writes
but we know better, know we
are in the presence of a true master.

IN MOURNING

I will soon enough be
in mourning for literature
and philosophy for the moment
is approaching when they
will be lost, or I suppose
simply subsumed, swallowed
up in a cloud appearing
momentarily then gone.

The day is rapidly approaching
and if you doubt it
for even a moment, go
to your local library, if
it has not closed, and note
the diminishing number
of books, replaced
by computers, where
everything can be found
while the power is on,
but just try and read there
when a candle is the only light.

ZHAOZHOU’S “LOSING THE MIND IN CONFUSION”

Be forewarned
the greatest wisdom
is written on water
on a cloud –
the sun reads it clearly
so why are you
so blind to it?

A blind man will not
be mislead by signs
a deaf man cannot
fall victim
to the siren’s song.

A reflection on Case 11 of the Shobogenzo Koans (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

GUIDEBOOK HELL

When did we decide we needed
a manual for everything, a field guide
to living, tour books piled high
before we leave on a trip,
having meant to read them
and dragging one or two along
to study when we get there?

Ask yourself what you might
have seen in some foreign city
with the time you spent
head buried in a tour guide
learning what someone else
thought was important for you
to see or do, what you might
have stumbled across
just wandering the streets.