My grandson has a smile
that is as old as time itself,
as young as the mind
of a four-year-old
and in this moment,
beaming, I am left
to guess which it is,
for he won’t say,
I smile with him
and time has no meaning,
no beginning, no end.
This time when we move
the question could be asked,
are we moving to somewhere
or away from somewhere
or, you fear asking, away from someone.
That may be a truth left
unsaid, saying requires
an explanation, a ripping open
of a wound just scabbed over
or still raw around the edges.
And there is a hidden risk
in the question, for an honest
response might hold up a mirror,
one you never imagined might
show the world your face.
It may be that it is the right
time and the right place,
nothing more, so we offer that
and you may grasp it if you wish,
it might even be the truth,
but you’ll never know, will you?
Ambrose Bierce walked into Mexico
one day, and was never seen again.
That was surprising enough, but
more so, he left no epitaph, the least
you would expect from a writer.
In retrospect, perhaps he was
the smarter one, for I know othersl
who have spent countless hours
trying to devise the perfect epitaph,
knowing they never quite got it right.
I almost fell victim to that trap,
but avoided it the moment that
I realized that regardless of what
I might so carefully select, it is
my heirs who will have the final say.
It was a short questionnaire,
and he wasn’t sure why they
had chosen him to answer, or
for that matter, who they were.
He was one to follow rules, so
he sat down to complete it,
they, whoever they were, said
it would only take fifteen minutes.
“Who is the one poet you would
want to be forced to spend
an entire day with, and why
did you select that person?
In true High School fashion
I skipped it, went on to the next:
“who is the real person you would
gladly spend a day with and why?”
As a poet myself, it was easy now,
and I filled out the answer
and wondered why I paused, then
froze: did I know any real people?
When you enter the hall
which seat will you take?
Your seat is determined
by how long you
have walked the Way,
how long has it been.
If you can measure the time
that marks your entry
sit at the far end
for the honored seat
is reserved for the ancients
who enter the Way again
at each passing moment.
A reflection on case 24 of the Iron Flute Koans
It was the other evening,
the first of two this month, they say.
This only happens once in a blue moon
or a couple times every two or three years
and often twice in the same year.
So once in a blue moon isn’t that long
but she said she could feel its pull,
everything threatening to topple over
and she moved very cautiously.
I have to admit I didn’t feel very much,
but I come from the people for who
the lunar cycle is the norm, so the moon
really proceeds as it should, it’s face
having little to do with my time or tide.
The moon will be full again later this month
and I will pay careful attention
to what I’m certain I will not feel then.
They clearly don’t get it
and odds are they never will.
They think perhaps prayer will work
or youth will provide some
sort of immunity, maybe
an executive decree, good
luck with that given the
swinging there to that old White House,
with the ridiculous spiked fence
in the middle of an avenue named
first state that’s actually a Commonwealth.
They can’t imagine I have a list
And all I do is make pickups
and drop offs, no thinking, no planning
just show up, tie up to the pier
and then it’s off down and across the River
all day and night, in and out
for a payment you ‘llonly make
begrudgingly, as if I care, for I
have a family to feed too, remember.