IN A HIDDEN CORNER

As stars go, of course
it is rather nondescript,
small, middle aged
stuck in a distant corner
of a not all that
impressive galaxy.

Yet each morning
it sweeps the sky
storing all of its kin,
even the biggest
and brightest, into
its own celestial closet
where they will
remain locked away
until it decides
it needs a rest
and lets them return
to once again
paint the sky.

JEALOUSY (AGAIN)

We are jealous of trees,
anchored as we are
to a grasping earth,
able to tear free only
momentarily or with
the help of machines,

for trees can approach
the clouds, swaddle
all manner of birds,
and, we are certain,
know heaven more
intimately than we can.

And trees are jealous
of birds, able to fly
well above their highest
branches, knowing
the true blue of the sky
and the verdant base
from which they took flight.

Just for the fun of it I asked ChatGPT to write a poem on this topic. Here is its effort:

In envy we gaze upon the sky, Watching birds soar with such grace and ease, Their wings taking them to places high, Leaving us on the ground to freeze.

We long to join them in their flight, To feel the wind beneath our wings, To escape the troubles of our plight, And spread our arms to feel the fling.

But alas, we are not meant to fly, Our feet firmly planted on the earth, While birds glide through the clouds on high, Showing us the true meaning of worth.

We may be jealous of their freedom, But let us not forget our own, For we have the ability to dream, And make our own paths to be shown.

So let us not dwell on jealousy, For we too have our own unique gifts, Let us embrace our humanity, And find joy in the life we’re given

PRISONERS

As we sit
in the great metal tube
we imagine ourselves
birds awaiting the freedom
only the sky offers.

The clouds reach down
swaddling us and we
realize that we have
yet to fledge, likely
never will do so.

Peering out the small
window, the earth shrinks
and grows large again,
and as we step out,
the birds look at us
and feel only pity.

GANTO’S SIT STILL

How can I bring
three worlds together?
Sitting still,
deep in silence,
I can carry the mountain
to the shore,
where the sea,
land and sky
merge in perfect
harmony.

A reflection on case 75 of the Shobogenzo (True Dharma Eye) Koans

A SIMPLE TASK

You misunderstand me, he said,
I did not ask you to write a poem
about a flower, anyone can do that,
I asked you to write a poem with a flower.

Do not ask me what the poem
will be about, ask the flower, but
first you must learn to speak
the language of the flowers.

If you find this difficult, consult
the sky, it is fluent in almost all
species of plant life, mother to
them at one time or another.

When you have finished, cast it
to the morning breeze, that
it might find purchase somewhere
and sing its song to a new audience.

THE NATURAL KEY TO HEAVEN

The hawk sits on a branch
looking up at the sky, knowing
this is perfection, lifting up
chasing a cloud, floating lazily.

The butterfly flits from plant
to plant, tasting the fruits
that nature has given her,
perfection in a single moment.

The cat sleeps on a rocker
the breeze rustling her coat,
until waking for dinner
which appears at her request.

We spend hours searching
for the keys to heaven, hoping
to insure what comes after this
life, but so often not living it.

WEATHER KARMA

It never rained
when I visited Senso-ji
and Todai-ji Temples.
I attributed this to good
fortune, the Buddha
clearing the skies
for my visit.
The young monk
said the Buddha
cares nothing
for weather, so
I should thank
the Japan Meteorological
Agency although they
never seem to give
him the weather
he truly wants.

HABITS

Tonight’s moon will look
similar to last nights, or so
we assume since the clouds
denied us that view again.

It will be fuller, more plump
less an empty cup, now one
almost full, spilling its light
into the all too dark sky.

If she is hidden again, we
will turn to our imagination,
for the moon is a creature
of habit, having learned from us.

A SEPTEMBER SKY

Lie back, I said to her,
just stare up that way
stare into the sky
without any clear focus.
Do you see him now,
the hunter with his bow
outstretched, the belt
cinched about his waist
locked in his eternal search
for the prey that would free him
from his nightly quest.
And there, I pointed
can you see the great bear
gamboling with her child
or there a goddess reclining
on her heavenly throne.
Now she said, that’s
not it at all, not even close,
look over there, don’t you see
a small child crying out
for her mother,
and there, two lovers
locked in an eternal embrace,
their lips barely touching,
hips pressed together
reclining as one,
and there, clear as day
a cat lying curled
as though sleeping
in the warmth of a hearth.

Publshed in As Above, So Below, Issue 9, August 2022
https://issuu.com/bethanyrivers77/docs/as_above_so_below_issue_9

DUSK

There is nothing like, no
words to adequately describe,
that moment when a cloud-
hazed sun lingers wishfully
just above the horizon, grasping
the sky with brilliant talons
of light, fearing becoming
lost in a darkness that will,
on this night of the new moon,
engulf us all in its inky shroud.

We know, or pray, the sun
will return in hours, just
as the sun knows its work
is never done so long as it
has light to give, hoping
that final collapse is eons away.

As it finally settles beyond
sight, we smile, retreat
to the table and consume
our dinner and wine, our
daily companion forgotten
until its dawning return.