RE-ENTRY ALLOWED

He sits on the cushion
staring through hooded eyes
at the wall in front of him.
He expects exactly nothing to happen,
expects there to be no sound
within his mind, only what
happens without, expects that time
will cease for him, or
will at least cease to matter.
He is not disappointed.
The bell rings, he arises,
and walks back into the world
where everything happens,
there is only sound, and
he stares at his watch knowing
time has moved on in ways
he can never hope to fully grasp.

A POINTED REPLY

Between this point and that
lies a vast uncharted space
noted on every cartographers chart.
If you ask how this
could be possible, I reply
it’s like listening to silence
and hearing each sound
deeply embedded in the one
next to it, a glissando of
what exactly? Uncertainty?
That is the whole point
in the final analysis, for
between that point and this one
everything exists in that one place.

A MURDEROUS CACOPHONY

The crows were at it in the park today,
unable, it seemed, to agree on anything
and unwilling to let any other have the last word.
I asked them to stop, and that bought
all of fifteen seconds of peace before one
decided the debate needed to go on.
It was a cacophony hard on the ears,
and I wondered if the person who decided
that crows in groups were a murder
had ever stopped to listen, for to me
any group of crows is a cacophony.
As I thought this a small gathering
of wrens took up their autumn song,
and in the face of that sweet,
trilling chorus even the crows fell silent.

TOKUSAN’S ASSEMBLY 正法眼蔵 三十六

When the Buddha offered
true wisdom, no one
was present to hear it.
Those who were not there
understood it fully.
Where will you look
for true wisdom?
Will your ears here
what your mouth cannot say?
Only with closed eyes
will the light become clear.


A reflection on Case 36 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye).

IN DREAMS

Late in the night
a train rolled by
through the city, a few
miles down the hill
from here, its horn
muted but still required
at crossings.
I know it appeared
in my dreams,
but I cannot tell
if it was as the heron
in flight over the lake,
or the long bearded
hiker with the oversize
backpack who wandered
down our street
and became a slat
in the fence
at the dead end.