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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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)