Pause and consider why so many questions
require you, you feel, to consult your watch,
to call up a calendar, to appoint time.
Time has no appointments, time is not
an arrow, though we strive always to aim it,
to send it flying in our desired direction.
Time is a point in space, surrounded by
all ten directions, going toward none of them.
Ask why this moment is not enough, why you need
the next though it does not exist.
What are you trying to escape by searching
for tomorrow, lingering in yesterday?
Yesterday no longer exists, so why
do you assume tomorrow does, and what
of this moment, which exists only now,
and what of the red leaf sitting
in mid-air awaiting your awed attention?
A reflection on Case 6 of the Hekiganroku (Blue Cliff Record)
“As you get older,” he said,
“the body grows remarkably
adept at telling you when
you have done too much,
or done something you shouldn’t.”
What he didn’t say, the critical
piece of advice I wish I heard,
is that the body only speaks
well after the fact, a lecture
surely, but never a warning.
No one wants to go a step
short, to miss whatever mark
someone randomly established,
but the price of a step too far
is high and often long lasting.
My back sat me down this
morning , and with that smirk
told me the lifting yesterday
could be paid for over a week,
and my arthritic knees nodded.
A cold day
how many other winters
can you remember,
how many future winters
can your mind grasp?
Can you hold yesterday
in the palm of your hand
can you wrap tomorrow
around your thumb?
Between the palms
lies all life and being.
A reflection on case 16 of the Iron Flute Koans
He can remember it as though it was just yesterday. Actually it was just yesterday, but for him that had little to do with memory. Bits of his childhood would come flooding back: the city, the cousins who took him in for the few dollars his mother could offer. But his grandsons are a vague shadow, sometimes present, sometimes faded into the background. He ex-wife is ever present, and he clings to her, despite her death, wondering if they will get back together. I don’t want to tell him that his wish will require a firm belief by them both in a hereafter, and that neither of them was very good at directions in any event, so who knows where they will end up.
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Between now and then,
between yesterday to and today,
between night and day,
between birth and death,
between good and evil,
between heaven and hell,
between light and dark,
between joy and sadness,
our lives occur
and we are so
to see it happen,
lost in dreams
of what never will be,
I took yesterday and pressed it between the pages of my unabridged dictionary. The day began at sunrise and ended just before it became a supplicant, though to what, was not at all apparent. Days can be frustrating when they refuse to allow sufficient margins. I always thought Thursday’s among the best behaved, or at least the most compliant but that’s no longer so. The promise they used to hold out is evanescent now. It doesn’t really matter anyway for when I went to get it today to place it in my book of days, of course it was gone. I won’t look for it, yet one day it will, like so many others turn up amid the page barely preceding histrionics.
Yesterday the cat
explained at great length
that we occupy
her house because
she loves us, but that we
dare not take
this status for granted.
I scratched her behind her ears
to signify my agreement
and so she took my simple
act of kindness.
You get another week
she said, purring.
Tomorrow, in all likelihood,
the park will still be there,
we will still be walking there,
the Austrian Pines will still
stare down at us on the path,
and the cardinal will flash by,
his cry for attention in a red blaze.
Tomorrow all this will likely happen
as it did yesterday and last week,
and yet nothing will be the same,
nothing, nothing at all.
Tomorrow, unlike yesterday
which no longer exists,
everything is promised
and nothing guaranteed.
There is no eventuality
in the present moment
and this is where we
are forced to live.
none of this
it was only
Today slipped by
and I failed
to notice it.
It is how
things go in life,