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.
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.
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.
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
I pick up my keys from the table and they slip and I drop them Reaching for the floor where my keys lie like a damp dollar bill I hear unrelated sounds
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.
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.
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 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. (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.
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."
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
The Houston Arboretum at Memorial Park, Houston, Texas.