WHAT IS IT NOW, PILGRIM?

It is far past time that I
went on a pilgrimage.
I’m not at all sure just what sort
of a pilgrim I’d likely be.
As a now Buddhist child
of the late 60’s, the Plymouth Colony
model clearly isn’t workable.
And in my own late 60’s, now
with a fused spine and creaky
knees and shoulders, foreign travel
looks less and less of an option.
I’ve long since given up acid
and mescaline, and I never got
the hang of astral projection,
so perhaps I need to think smaller
and just wander over to my local
wine shop for a couple of bottles
of a decent Rioja and Galicia
and dreams of the Camino de Santiago.

ANGRY, BUT ONLY A LITTLE

You want it spicy, but just so that
the tongue remembers it a moment
after the mouth has moved on, a lingering
sense of having been present.
It should be a mantilla, a shawl,
not the blanket some claim, gently
caressing, lighting up the plate.
Its host, freshly from the rollers,
was born for this moment,
and welcomes its friend, and
the teeth of its visitors, accompanied
by the grapes carefully pressed
and aged for this occasion.
The tomatoes sigh as the last
of the arrabiatta is consumed
and evening slips quietly into dreams.

SATORI

The empty wine bottle
nestling the foot
of the postal box
wants nothing more
that to speak its mind
but it is forsworn
to silence, and stares
into the old Maytag box
tucked in the alley
next to the dumpster.
The bedraggled man
sits against the wall
and debates the meaning
of knowledge with
the Buddha lying
in a fetal ball
on the soggy asphalt.

PARTIALLY WHOLLY

It is incredibly difficult
to be a truly holy man, it isn’t
enough to inspire peace
with your words and presence,
you had better walk on water,
turn water into wine, heal
with the touch of a single finger.
You can’t simply stand up
for justice at the risk
of your own life and limb,
you have to wander around
a desert, carry tablets
down the side of a mountain.
You cannot be compassion,
you have to forsake everything
and be always available
for questions that have no answers.
It’s a real problem, since we
all seek to be holy, but no one
wants to do the hard work of it.

REMEMBERED

She said she
recalled the spilled
glass of wine that stained
her white linen blouse.
She said
the city swallows people
like a hungry beast
that will never be sated.
I taste the summer sun
and the sweetness
of an early rain
in the Shiraz
that foretells
approaching winter.
The city is a cat
that curls by the lake
and purrs to
the gently rising moon.
She, who was once
very real, is now
little more than
a fading dream,
and I, the dreamer,
willingly cede that dream
to the wonder
of this moment,
and this.