ANYWHERE BUT

I was twelve at the time, would have
chosen to be anywhere but there.
I hated visiting her at home, but this
took my disgust to a whole new level.
We were never close, never would be,
she so old, so old world, so unlike
anyone I had known, so like the women
sitting outside the old hotels on South Beach
waiting for a wave or death, whichever
first flowed in, life having long ebbed.
The room as I remember it was barren,
bleached to a lack of any color,
the bed a white frame, white sheets,
a small white indentation staring
up at the ceiling, up at heaven,
and everywhere what I imagined
were steel bars through which we
and the doctors and nurses could pass,
but which held her tightly within,
serving out what remained
of her ever shortening life sentence.

SAY WHAT?

The introductions were relaxed
but complete as befits three people
in a small room, she the linchpin
knowing each of the others, utter strangers
to each other, save in her stories.
The men stared at each other gently
ensuring the other saw only a smile
for the better part of two minutes, basking
in the silence that introductions demand.
“I am really surprised,” the older man said,
“it is truly odd, but you look at absolutely, exactly
like what I imagined the adopted son
of Isadore Myers would look like
not more than 30 seconds ago.”
“It is truly odd,” the younger man replied,
“you look nothing at all like
the man I met in this room
not a second more than a minute ago,
and why, pray tell,
is that woman over there smiling?

VERBIS, VERBIS, VERBIS

Whatever you do, do not open the closet in the back room. If you do, what would happen would rival a scene from countless bad comedies. Things pent up within would come rushing forth, a tidal wave that would certainly engulf you and leave you wishing you had never laid a hand on the closet door knob in the first place. So now that you have been forewarned, I will not be responsible for the consequences if you are foolish enough to ignore me. Just remember, I am a man of words and that closet is my repository.

REFLECTION

He’s mostly bald
and generally something of a grouch.
When he enters a room, the key
is to nod in recognition
but not in invitation.
You know, regardless
of the topic at hand,
he will have something
to say and it, no matter how
you perfume it, will nevertheless
have that air of negativity
he has so ably mastered.
So many others, and especially you,
have perfected the art
of deflected avoidance,
at least until that moment
you come face-to-face with him
in your morning mirror.

ROOMS

I am reasonably certain, he said,
that they are weaving a rug
in the next room, a large one,
I imagine, or at least a wall tapestry.
It should be a medieval scene, dogs,
a knight or gentleman, a child or two,
and in the center a beautiful woman.
Actually, if they are weaving it for me,
I don’t care about the dogs, knights
or children, as long as she is beautiful.
Until they are done, I will just dream
of what they are doing for me
in the dark room at the end of the hall.

WWJD?

He walks into the room
hoping he won’t be seen
and if seen, won’t be recognized.
Not many know him,
none, he is certain, truly
know him, merely his image
and the idea they have of him.
It has been this way
for centuries, and he can barely
recall the acts done, the words
spoken in his name.
He has been here forever
but they wait, patiently,
expecting a return
he cannot make until
they let go of their dreams
and see the reality of him.

RUYGE’S ULTIMATE STAGE鐵笛倒吹 二十八

 

If you answer the question
I will ask you another
each more difficult.

If you enter a room
and catalog its contents
there will always be a door
leading to yet another room,
another inventory to be taken
to determine what is there
and what is missing.

It is only when you enter
an empty room,
that you will find all things.


A reflection on case 28 of the Iron Flute Koans

SKELETONS

Their corpses have been gathering dust
in the closet where I keep them,
in boxes, once neatly labeled, but
the collection has grown so large
I’ve given up any attempt at organization.
I do, periodically, take a glance
into the boxes, take a few out
and carefully consider them, but
heeding the proscription, I always
put them back into their box.
Fortunately these corpses have
no discernible odor, and no one
who hasn’t peered in the closet would
imagine that simple cardboard boxes
would be replete with such corpses.
Still we need the room, so it is time
to be truly rid of all these words,
but sadly though I wanted to ship them
to the person who caused their demise, I learned
William Faulkner left no forwarding address.

NANSEN’S REJECTIONS 鐵笛倒吹 四十四

If you come before Master Nansen
will you come holding the posture
of a monk or a lay person
and when Nansen turns you away
how will you exit the room?

Nested hands
and gassho hands
both are so easily manacled,
why leave the room at all?


A reflection on case 44 of the Iron Flute (Tetteki Tosui)