NAM

He said, “I survived the war,
was up to my armpits in water
wading through the night
through the rice plants
that would never bear grain
once we called in the orange.
I walk through minefields,
the noise a deafening silence
since the only sound that mattered
was the click that shouted death
You think Ii have issues now
and in your mind I certainly do
but you my issues didn’t go away
like Jamie’s, he heard that click and a moment
later his issues were gone, and the moon
was painted blood red that night
and it inhabits my dreams still.

RIVER CROSSING

We crossed the Hudson this afternoon
on a Dutch named bridge
in a driving rain so strong
you could hear little over the beat
of the wipers throwing sheets of water.
You wondered why the superstructure
was only on the Eastern end.
I wondered why they had to have
a Dutch name no one can translate.
The river’s surprisingly wide here
and you can’t even see the dead fish
or the waste from the plants up river,
its just a silver sheet of water
and the slashing of the wipers
and that name no one can translate.


First appeared in Calliope 21:1, 1997

TIPPING THE WATER BOTTLE 無門關 四十

These few words
gathered neatly on a scrap
of simple paper,
what do you call it?

Answer carefully for you response
may carry the keys
to the doors of Mount Tai-i.
Better still, upend
the water bottle, watch
the ink and water form
a gentle pool into which
no pebble drops.


A reflelction on case 40 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)

VERITAS

Denial grows easier with practice
until you get to the point
were even the existence
absolute proof is little more
than an obstacle to be skirted.
They know it is easy, a facile task
to an audience that wants to believe.
That is the key, for wanting
to believe is enough to make
the false true, and even beginning
to step deeper into the swamp
will not stop them, for even
as the water rises about them
they see what might be
and ignore what is, and
what will be, for a promise believe
is always enough, until it isn’t.

KENSHO

It will arrive before you know it,
will be gone again
before you realize it was even here.
This is how it is supposed to be,
Even if not how we want it.
We will know it had been there
and that needs to be enough
for we would try and grasp it,
try to contain it, hold it.
But we are a sieve to water,
an hourglass to sand,
and satori would have
no other way.

OVER UNDER SIDEWAYS DOWN

He is fond of saying that it is
“water under the dam,” and she
constantly calls him on it, reminding him
that water goes over the dam.

He smiles when she does this
and reminds her that it isn’t a dam
if water is going over it, and it is mindless
to say its water under the bridge

for that is the essential nature of bridges,
and, he adds, when I say it, you know I’m flying
by the seat of my pants, so why don’t
you just give it a rest for now, okay?

She replies, if that is what you want,
I will gladly do so, just realize that this
is why almost all your verbal analogies
have a tendency to crash and burn.