He knew she had a special
meaning for him the first time
he saw her, from his usual seat
by the window in the diner, waiting
for his bagel and cream cheese,
and she at the table along
the window of the Starbucks across
the street, which might as well
have been an ocean, so unlikely
was either to make a crossing.
By the third time she had noticed
him, and offered a polite wave,
which he gladly returned, each
assuming it was an act of civility,
each, at least he, hoping it could be more.
He thought, briefly, about dashing
across the street and meeting her,
but he was no fan of coffee, less
by far of what Starbucks served,
and their bagels, well enough said.
So they went on with waves and nods,
until the day he looked and she
wasn’t there, and he knew she had
moved on without him, left him behind
or found a place with good coffee.
Publsihed in Mehfil, #8 August 2020
Look out of the window
the garden is barren
of oaks, nor is this
a Temple in China.
If you listen carefully
a thousand branches
bend quietly in the wind,
a simple wave washing
oak leaves onto
A reflection on case 37 of the Mumonkan (Gateless Gate)
If you will mark your gate
what word will you use,
what for the door, what
for the window?
The gate knows quite well
what it is, as to door and window
and need no marking.
Even the fool knows
through each you
may enter the house,
but even the wise man
cannot tell you
how the house may enter you.
A reflection on case 46 of the Iron Flute Koans
Standing at the window
looking down on the street
is the passing man enlightened?
Call out this question to him.
If he looks upward and says yes
what do you know of his enlightenment?
Looking at a flower
is it different than its seed.
If you hold a seed in your hand
what can you say of the flower
that may some day appear.
A reflection on Case 69 of the Iron Flute Koans.
Please visit my new site: https://bird-of-the-day.com for a daily dose of avian beauty.
As I stare out the window and watch
the snow slowly build on the limbs
of the now barren sugar maple, painting
it with a whiteness that bears heavily
giving the smaller branches a better
view of the ground in which their
fruit of the summer lies buried.
I am forced to wonder if the maple
continues to watch me, if its vision
is clouded by the snowy blanket
in which it wraps itself this day,
and if it does, what must it think
of someone so sedentary when it,
bearing its winter burden can still
dance gently in the morning wind.
As a young child I recall my mother
justifying all manner of disasters based
on miscommunication, mostly hers, by
saying, “Does Macy’s talk to Bloomingdale’s?”
I didn’t care, no one did and the excuse
never worked as far as I can tell, and I now
know from experience, that of course they
talked to each other, and today they are
owned by the same corporate overseer.
So why is it that I spent the better part
of my day trying to get my old iPhone
to speak nicely to my new Samsung phone?
I wasn’t asking much, just to share contacts
and photos, but they weren’t having it,
no how, now way, not never, so I
was left to turn to a mediator, and it
pained me to call in Microsoft, but they did
have a window on a solution, so they
thanks to their outlook got to have the last word.
Settling into perfect
stillness, each of us
in our brown robes
on brown chairs, benches
cushions, note his entry
is somewhere between
the thundering of a forgotten
storm or the garbage trucks
crawling slowly down the street.
His gray-blue shirt and jeans
flash by. He is large
in every dimension,
even his breathing
nice and even
is large, but regular.
No breeze, only a large moth
comes through the open windows
and dances around
the rice paper light shades.
The incense hangs
over the burner on the altar
waiting to be carried into the room.
You return to thoughts
invite ideas to come
and quickly leave.
You grow heavy
sinking into the earth
your weight and his
The moth grows bored
and slips out the window.
You want holy teachings
boiled down, synthesized
digestible in bites
so dine on the holes
look at me, at a window
as you do a mirror
a familiar face
the face will depart
yours or his
you will awaken
to endless absence
A reflection on Case 1 of the Blue Cliff Record (Hekiganroku)
A crane stands placidly
staring through the window
as we earnestly attempt
to imitate him, hoping
he will honor the effort
if not the result.
The master is graceful
and we are far less so, and
out of the corner of my eye
I see on the crane what could be
a smile, or as easily derision,
and take comfort in the thought
that the root of the word
is shared with laughter,
and we can accept that
not as a mark of failure but effort.
The crane returns to the pond
the master to his neigong
and we imagine we are
all noble birds awaiting flight.
The money wasn’t really real then,
it came in a box with a board,
dice and property deeds, and it
was in colors, one for each denomination,
(kind of like and Canada and other countries).
It was fun having a lot of it
until the first time I snuck some
out of the house and went off
to the variety store, I’d had my eye
the magic kit they had tucked
in the front window, forgotten, now
clearly the only one of its kind.
I asked the shopkeeper how much,
he said it’s been here so long
I can’t remember, so it’s yours for a buck.
I gave him a 10, pale yellow
he laughed, said that’s foreign
so it will be 990 for the magic kit
and I can’t make change but I’ll
throw in a Mars bar if that’s okay.
It was the one and only time
that trick worked.