The Nocturnal Habits of Daylight

Light, upon young skin
I noticed you by the grace of it
and the rays of it glancing off
of everything you touched.

Radiance beyond
the duality of particle and wave
we, spinning and wobbling
like fresh formed planets
in a steady stream of it.

But the Sun of these better days
had yet to rise:

It was dark the hour we met
and that poor Sun probably burns
knowing now that I had seen you first
and by its own light
that it had carelessly loaned
to the Moon that night.
No hearts were harmed, or even moved for that matter, in the making of this love poem.

Zen Curious

The archer's faulted for its lack
Subgenius craves it—calls it slack

Potter shaping mound of clay
Seeks wabi-sabi, so they say

Outnumbered by the many foe
Kung Fu's the only way to go

The Koan reaches eager ears
Throws a wrench into the gears

Like pyramids, real power now
Though no one knows exactly how

An author knows this very well:
Slipped in the title, book will sell

That certain something thought of when
You don't know what to call it: Zen

Just for fun, search “Zen and the Art of” and see all the various suggestions offered by your search engine. (I recommend DuckDuckGo as a privacy oriented search alternative to the big guys. I do not use Google anymore.) Turns out that Robert Pirsig was riffing on another book’s title when he published Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: which was Zen in the Art of Archery, by German philosophy professor Eugen Herrigel, published in 1948.

Kyūdō: Bows are called Yumi (, lit. “Bow“)

Something striking to me about Western culture is that it’s thoroughly grounded in materialist orthodoxy but is endlessly fascinated with the ‘Mysteries of the East’ like Zen and martial arts. Everybody doesn’t like something, but nobody doesn’t like Kung Fu.

America is a Cop Show

The Ballad of Knee-jerk Holler

America is a cop show
That started way back when
A slave took off and got away
And they fetched him back again

America is a sitcom
Where life is neatly framed
The laughs are prerecorded
And the foil neatly blamed

America is a racket
A scheme that is sublime
It lets the rich stay filthy rich
On someone else's dime

America is an advert
Tells you how to spend the buck
You worked so hard to pocket
At that job you got by luck

America is that famous city
Shining on a hill
That once belonged to someone else
The ones we had to kill

America is a voter
Empowered to enthrone
The one who keeps the system rigged
Who tosses you the bone

America is a grifter
Who lied his way to power
That many still support him
Is a situation dour

America is a system
Designed to self-correct
It barely pulled it off this time
It very nearly wrecked

America is a dreamer
Full of hope and faith and cheer
Who takes his knocks and gets back up
To face another year

Signal Soup

The blind embossed words
are all but hidden unless
the light is just right

Squinting in candlelight 
I angle the board edgewise
to the flame and see it

Worded like the stark declaration
of a law suit

The Hopelessness
of Things Ending
As Rooted in
The Heartlessness
of Things Beginning
      VS.
The Suchness
of Things et al

It is case law and
the basis of endless appeals
to the adjudication of
this issue, or that
ladled out of the cauldron 
of a steaming signal soup

The volume itself
is filled with children's
crayon scribbles
illustrating what no lawyer
could ever decipher
and is always left open
to biased interpretation

Addendum:

At some point, humans learned to make shoes.

Now we marvel at the pleasure
of going barefoot.

Image by Mari Kanezaki from Pixabay

I Am the Flip Side of You

I pray they find strength
the many who do
have to deal each day
with someone like you.

And may they be patient
the ones who agree
to put up each day
with someone like me.

Let's take a break
from the friction and fuss
and simply admit that
we both are like us.

In theory it works
or it seems like it should
in practice invariably
comes to no good.

Birth Control

I struck all the lines
that didn't quite work
and wound up here

An unwed title and
an explanation that
no one wants to hear

I don't even recall
how it began

An indulged impulse
like a fling with someone
you knew was wrong going in

Backspace key clatters like a backhoe
filling a morbid trench

The Homemaker’s Book of the Dead

The vastness of space
does quake the heart
and the depths of eternity
may give pause to wonder
—but who has the time?

A house is a bardo
between once clean and clean again
where suppressed memories
and hard water spots
do plot their comebacks
and the circling around of it
hides in the pleats of its own skirt

Where the mind does ever dwell
stinks of heaven, with notes of hell
and in the spaces there between
stray sweepings join and hide
so that all else may be clean

To dust indeed shall we return
through beggar's guts we tread
eternity is the maid's day off
tough luck, you hopeful dead

bardo—Used loosely, “bardo” is the state of existence intermediate to death and rebirth. According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one’s next birth, when one’s consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. These usually follow a particular sequence of degeneration from, just after death, the clearest experiences of reality of which one is spiritually capable, and then proceeding to terrifying hallucinations that arise as the maturation of one’s previous unskillful actions (karma). For the prepared and appropriately trained individuals, the bardo offers a state of great opportunity for liberation, since authentic insight may arise with the direct experience of reality; for others, it can become a place of danger as the karmically created hallucinations can impel one into a less than desirable rebirth.[citation needed] (modified from wikipedia)

More on The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Most importantly, this common form of the title comes from the original (1927) translation by Walter Evans-Wentz who had misunderstood the text as being the Tibetan equivalent of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The text, which is a part of larger Nyingma teaching, is actually titled, Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo. Evans-Wentz’s translation has been found to be tainted with error and misunderstanding, as he relied on his studies of Theosophy and Hinduism to guide his work. He had no familiarity with Tibetan Buddhism. The translation by Robert Thurman (yes, he is Uma’s dad) will probably be the most accessible to the generally curious.

My next poetry collection, should there be one, will likely be entitled Eternity is the Maid’s Day Off.

Away

Mother, where were you?

On that fateful day when we
eyed the sonograms of past performance
and like card counters tried
to outthink the music
and our feet got carried away.

You remember that day?

Well, it's gone now, away
a set-loose shout in the canyons
of this endless ambition, but
comes back after some delay
the eerie echo, "away."


Intensive Care

Plain-bellied Water Snake, non-venomous denizen of the Southeastern US.
I walk in these woods
nestled deep within a
tangle of highways

The hum of traffic
beyond the treeline elaborates
what a calm clouded day
could have settled completely
without raising its voice

Fire and storm, unrest
flood and calamity, all at some
distance now, a stunning calm
as I rest on a bench

Cooper's Hawk swoops
low through the canopy
and finds a perch nearby

A female Common Yellowthroat
works a boggy shallow near the parking lot
as young mothers stroll
with infants in carriages

Snakes uncoil in the
tan water by the boardwalk
in the heart of this sprawling city
and in the pit of my stomach

Restaurants and business offices
and butterflies, the damp
forest floor, tree shade, the air

I surrender myself to the sum of it
to the expert nursing staff
here in intensive care
Gulf Fritillary
Monarch

The Houston Arboretum at Memorial Park, Houston, Texas.