LOST IN A DREAM

In my dream last night, I was lost
in a city of mostly dogs, but what was odd
is that they were all standard poodles
who only wanted to lick my hand and cheek.
I tell you this not because the dream
was unusual, it was in fact rather mundane.
I didn’t awaken with a damp face,
and there was no indication I
had been visited by a dog’s tongue.
I tell you this because you must
imagine how truly strange it was
for all of those dogs to meet
but a single human lost in a dream
that they couldn’t hope to comprehend.

JOSHU’S DWELLING 鐵笛倒吹 七十

 

If a poor man offers you
the finest diamond
do you take it, and what
of the gift of a crust of bread
from the wealthy man.
Each gift, in its way,
is worthy of rejection.

Once I grasped at great thoughts –
now I can forget my own name
and wonder whose face it is
that I see in the mirror.


A reflection on Case 70 of The Iron Flute (Tetteki tōsui).

VAIROCANA (NARA DAIBUTSU)

Daibutsu, you sit placidly
staring down at the throng
that slowly bows before you.
You can small the faint
essence of the joss sticks
wafting from the great cast iron pot
outside the massive doors.
“Do not act as if the world were real”
you whisper, or so it seems
to my chilled ears, “it is
all but an illusion.”
I see a faint smile
cross your lips, then fly off
on the early winter breeze.
“The path is Noble, but it is
no path, turn from it
and you will find it,
but seek it and it will be gone.”
I turn from you and feel
the touch of your hand
between my shoulders.
As I walk through the gate
a deer nuzzles up against my leg
“nothing in this world
can be enjoyed forever”
the deer says, “but would you
have a scrap of cake for me,
a tribute to our enlightened guide?”

RELATIVITY

I can no more
imagine a lack of freedom
then they can imagine
the freedom I assume.
It is always like that
imaginings are real
until you try to make them
corporeal, then the evanescence
is all that is real.
It is easy to ask
how can they live
in such poverty, and had
they free voice they
might ask how you
don’t drown in a sea
of freedom and choice.
We cannot see
the world through
each other’s eyes
if we don’t first see
each other’s eyes.

WITHOUT WITHIN

Within a rock
there is another rock
that sits in the middle of the stream,
in sight, just out of reach.

Within a cloud
there is another cloud
whose rain has fed
a barren field.

Within this city
there is another city
whose streets I have walked
in countless dreams.

Within this mirror
there is another mirror
that reflects the face
within my face.