Monthly Archives: September 2016

A Stone Woman Bears a Child By Night

“The mountains and waters of the immediate present are the manifestation of the path of the ancient Buddhas. Because they are the self before the emergence of signs, they are the penetrating liberation of immediate actuality. By the height and breadth of the qualities of the mountains, the virtue of riding the clouds is always mastered from the mountains and the subtle work of following the wind as a rule penetrates through to liberation from the mountains. The green mountains are forever walking. A stone woman bears a child by night. If one doubts the walking of the mountains, one doesn’t even yet know one’s own walking.”

–Dogen, founder of the Soto Zen school, 1200-1253

Note: I find it interesting that the founder of Soto Zen was lavish, even gorgeous in his symbolic imagery. On top of that he was an exquisite poet. Many of us today associate Zen with minimalism and austerity . Perhaps those are not essential elements.

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Poem for the Anniversary of 9/11

On the tenth anniversary
of planes used as killing missiles,
I walked ground zero on a sunny,
late summer morning. 

Wired men in plainclothes with weapons dotted the streets
like fearful fungi. A navy gunboat in the east river. Memorial bagpipers practiced their military skirls in Battery Park.

This morning, on the fifteenth anniversary, the memorials, the relatives, the silences.

The pipers have returned. This time they are playing an old Stephen Foster song, Hard Times Come Again No More, calling on Whitman’s grass to finally begin its tuneful work.

“…’tis the song, the sigh of the weary,
hard times, hard times come again no more.
Many days you have lingered around my cabin door,
Oh hard times, come again no more.”

Memorizing Gifts

James Stockdale, the longest held American prisoner of war in Vietnam,  said the love of poetry was an important quality for enduring the unendurable. “You thirst to remember, the clutter of all the trivia evaporates and with care you make deep excursions into past recollections. Verses were hoarded and gone over each day. The person who had memorized a lot of poetry was the bearer of great gifts.”

Three Fibonacci Poems

Note: Fibonacci poems are based on the Fibonacci series of numbers.

what
I
wouldn’t give
to see you
covered in yellow Post-It notes
all the way from Titstown down to Asskatchewan
****
when
the
world hands
you a fruitcake
leave it on the porch
for someone else to crack their teeth on
or until it molders into something you can wrap up for aunt sarah
****
when
the
days dwindle
down to a
precious few, these precious days
I’ll spend with you, eating souvlaki and playing
old Sinatra songs like this one over and over and over and over