GATE GATE

The hardest thing of all
is that there is no one to entreat,
no one who has to sort the infinite
voices, note who requested what
so that delivery of the prayers, the few
that warrant granting, go
to the correct person, particularly
given that there is no system in place
to track the whims of the grantor.
Still, you take to the mat,
fold your legs, or tuck them
under the sitting bench, and unfocus
hoping those wishes will slip away
on a sea of intervening thoughts,
and there will be, just for a moment,
nothing at all, and that, you know,
would be as close as you get to everything.

USER’S MANUAL

In my dreams last night
I thought I came across the Buddha
while off wandering somewhere
I could not recognize.
I thought long and hard
about following Linji’s proscription
and killing the Buddha,
but while lost in contemplation
the Buddha took up his keisaku,
said “if you cannot follow
the simplest of directions,
if you are so lost in thought
you can never attain buddhahood”
and with one significant blow
instantly killed my dream
and allowed me to finally see.

TEMPUS FUGIT

The problem with bringing then
into now is that now slips away
and then no longer really exists.
You may wish all you like for summer
to remain, but Autumn demands her due
and even the leaves grow tired
and need that final rest.
Do not deny the clouds, but treat them
like a stray thought, let them
be present, and let them leave
and take what they offer
without complaint, for they
are fragile and will flee
like the kitten, and you
will never be able to coax

a return until they are ready.
Now, where were you?

MINDFUL MINDLESS NESS

The difference between
before and after
is the moment we
can never seem to grasp.
In the time it takes
to read the definition
of evanescence, its meaning
is lost to history.
That, ultimately
is the failure of thought
and logic, for the process
is so overwhelming
what we process is turned
to dust in a windstorm
of the mind’s desire.

BODHI VILLANELLE

Sitting beneath the Bodhi tree
I wrestle with passing thoughts
in an unending struggle with me.

The true face of the pain I see
results from what I have wrought
sitting beneath the Bodhi tree.

I grow tired, wish to flee–
above all, to avoid being caught
in an unending struggle with me

for a single moment. I can be
something greater than I thought
sitting beneath the Bodhi tree.

That will be my apogee
until overcome by the battle fought
in an unending struggle with me.

For that brief moment I and we
will be one, as the Buddha taught
sitting beneath the Bodhi tree
in an unending struggle with me.