FINIS

When it all ends,
just what will you
being doing
the moment before.
Of course you cannot
know, for you have
no idea just when
it will end. And
if it ends as a result
of your actions,
then you won’t know
that it is your action
that is ending it,
so that is no winner
in this game.
And before you
get lost in thought,
ponder this simple
concept deeply first.
Since I haven’t told you
what it is, you
can’t know even
when it ends.
And by the way
it just did.

IN THE BEGINNING

You so very want
there to be no ending
but there must be, just
as there had to be a beginning
and you had no say about that.
Endings are hard, they remind you
of small deaths, all but one,
but each is also a birth of sorts,
and like you know, they arise
and you have no say about them.
These few lines will
soon enough draw to an end
although that may be one
you don’t so much mind.
But as you put them away
they are the beginning of a thought
you never imagined would arise.

CRYPTIC (an acrostic)

God, it was a long night, unending
needs unsated, brought to the edge
man is a cruel beast, half master
as pleading supplicant, half slave
much the child, begging, wanting
as if food or thought would give
man humanity, elevated above
needs, existing outside, independent a
God, ruler of illusion and fantasy.


First Appeared in Aura Literary Arts Review, Vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 1996.

SLOW STREAM

The river that I imagined,
a torrent of words and images
is little more than a dry trickle,
construction cranes along one shore
hauling away half- and ill-formed thoughts,
leaving only desire and frustration
as a marker of what might have been.
I looked at each bend, hidden from sight
as harboring that epiphany
that I promised myself, and not
further evidence of my own delusion.
We will make port this afternoon
Where I can, at last, offload
my frustration and these shards
of a fantasy now gone to dust.

SOUTHERN MOUNTAIN 鐵笛倒吹 四十二

When you visit the Southern Mountain
what will you say
of its Northern brother?
Returning northward what words
will best describe the Southern peak?

Answer carefully after much thought
or remain silent, both choices
are yours to select, as both
mountains caress the passing clouds
and reach out for the sun
which neither may grasp.


A reflection on case 42 of the Iron Flute Koans.

CHOSHA’S STOP ILLUSORY THINKING

Before life there is death,
before death there is life.
In life there is death,
in death there is life,
a worm cut in two,
each half moves,
in each a new worm
or is there one worm.
This I ask you, but
answer or no answer
both are full
of Buddha nature.


A reflection on Case 20 of the Shobogenzo (Dogen’s True Dharma Eye)

How Is It!

I can never fully comprehend
iwhy they never seem able to see
things from my perspective, it really
isn’t the all that hard.
After all, they claim to know me
better than I know myself.
Today they never ask if I liked
what they chose to serve me,
why I left the food, sometimes?
Today think I might really
and I mean truly and deeply,
hate argyle sweaters and hams?
And it isn’t just their blindness
that gets me, is the arrogance
that goes with it, as though no one
but them has ever had a deep thought
well, we’ll see what they think
the hairball I hacked up on their pillow.