AVERAGE

I am indistinct, male
of reasonable height
and weight, a bit much
more than I care,
but hardly distinct.

I have not suffered
mysogeny, been
overlooked for
being the wrong
gender, as if
there is right
and wrong.

I have not felt
the sting
of racism, I am
merely one
of the lemmings
marching along
to the abyss
certain of my
privilege, able
to cede my
humanity.

CHURCHES

I have already visited
countless churches

basilicas, shrines
and admired the art,

the simple beauty,
free of liturgy and belief.

I did not stop
to pray, to implead,

merely to see,
to listen, to absorb.

for I was a Jew.
a nonbeliever

in a Christian world
silently tolerated.

Now, I have learned
I was only half Jewish,

half, hidden a polyglot
of Christianity,

a descendant of saints,
and now churches

have a heavy weight
I find hard to bear.

KANNON’S STATUE 鐵笛倒吹 語十八

If you meet the Bodhisattva
you don’t ask someone
to carve the image from your mind.
To the carver, she weighs but an ounce
and can be carried
on his fingertip
but try and lift her
and you will not be able
to move her from her place.

All Buddhas
are one Buddha
but his Buddha
will never be
your Buddha.

A reflection on Case 58 of the Iron Flute Koans.

BLUES

He is for it or he is
against it, and if you could
predict the vacillations you
could develop the means
of measuring the flux of sanity.

You could as easily grasp
the water flowing downriver
and by asking select questions
determine the next heavy rain,

but the odds are good
you will be outside when
the deluge begins, and
only its ultimate weight
and duration remain to be felt.

It all comes down to the same
thing, if you could paint the sky
blue, precisely which shade
of blue would you use and why
that one for heaven’s sake

LIKE DUST

We are obligated to carry
memories, and as we
get older, the burden grows
ever heavier, we bend
under its weight, knowing
we dare not lose even one
for once cast off, the weight
is carried off like the smallest
feather on a storming wind.
Soon enough it is we who
Will become the burden
that others must carry
and we hope they will
willingly shoulder the load
lest we become the excised
dust of a forgotten stone
grown over with weeds.

THE WEIGHT

There is a heaviness to the sky
a weightiness belied
by the gray of the clouds,
even the departing sun
seems to whisper that it
will be replaced by rain in short order.
You feel the weight bearing down,
as the heat of the day dissipates,
and although the first drops
have not yet fallen, you know
that it is best to be within
when the rain begins
for it will do so without warning
and with little care
for your presence,
for this is how Spring
demands your attention.

KANNON’S STATUE 鐵笛倒吹 語十八

If you meet the Bodhisattva,
you don’t ask someone
to carve the image from your mind.
To the carver, she weighs but an ounce
and can be carried
on his fingertip
but try to lift her
and you will not be able
to move her from her place.

All Buddhas
are one Buddha
but his Buddha
will never be
your Buddha.


A reflection on case 58 of the Iron Flute (Tetteki Tosui)