On Time

I suspect my expiration date code came up some time ago,
but they apparently wanted me to sample more wine, so
when I do cross over, my report will be comprehensive.

We are all here on our own special assignments. It might
seem that just being oneself would be easy enough, but
more often than not, we tend to complicate that job.

Perhaps we’ve kept ourselves so occupied with busy tasks
that we fail to notice how serious we’ve become, until we
look in the mirror and see a stressed face squinting back.

Alternately, when the grim-mouthed monks pass on, they
may discover to their chagrin they missed out on life’s fun,
meditating in cold caves, instead of playing out in the sun.

Working so hard to become happy some day, we postpone
the chance to be happy today. After all, if we can’t enjoy
our life right now, why believe we’ll be happy then?

Entangled in hopeful thoughts of attainment and gain,
all our energy stagnates in the head instead of flowing
into the heart, where our real treasure patiently pines.

In the midst of whatever we’re busy doing, we can pause
for a moment and take a good breath. Sometimes it’s only
by slowing down that we’re able to arrive here on time.

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Open Enough

In one screenplay, two gamblers, Hope and Fear,
stand at a Craps Table, rolling dice into the future.
Wins and losses alternate, they finally break even.

In another, two massive armies clash by night.
The next morning, they are at a virtual stalemate.
In both camps, the generals call for more coffee.

Then there’s the tale about the lonely soul who prayed
to the heavens for a loving mate, but when the right one
came around, he was far too busy praying to even notice.

A poor wretch stood on the same corner every day, but
instead of begging, he just played his toy flute. A composer
heard the tune, published it as his own, and became rich.

How about the one where the elderly Bishop concluded
the morning services, then retreated to his dim sanctuary.
He kept a picture there in a drawer which he never opened.

There’s the story of the woman who was world-weary.
She went to the sea, intending to end it all, but the sunset
was so exquisite, she smiled and let it change her heart.

There was the boy who wanted to go to the stars.
He trained for years in preparation for such a flight.
Before he could go, the space program was cancelled.

A man thought he’d wasted enough time on social media.
He was ready to the leave the internet that day, but then saw
a post that intrigued him, and a month later he was married.

Eventually we realize that life is filled with ironies, unresolved
contradictions, and odd mysteries. It is also laden with beauty,
grace, and joy if we are open enough in our hearts to receive it.

Rather than craving for what we don’t have, we can want instead
what we already have — wouldn’t it quiet the noise in our head?
And Bob, how about paying attention to what you’ve just said?

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Only Dreaming

Eager seekers throughout the centuries have embarked
on arduous pilgrimages in search of the elusive “truth”,
merely to discover that there is no truth, only dreaming.

Time after time, we hear politicians promising to make
the world a better place, but by now we realize that
those who believe their words are only dreaming.

Some imagine that accumulating great material wealth
will assure enduring happiness, but eventually learn
to their dismay that they have been only dreaming.

Unscrupulous preachers claim they alone can lead you
to the Light as long as you pay their asking fee, but if
you blindly follow them, then you are only dreaming.

There are those who propose that life is predetermined.
Others believe in free will. People will believe all sorts
of things, though belief itself is really only dreaming.

Some will say that “might makes right”, and whomever
has the deadliest weapons wins, but history has shown
over and over again, such notions are only dreaming.

Others will assert that their race, or gender, or the religion
they espouse makes them superior to their fellow humans,
but those who adhere to such ignorance are only dreaming.

Ending each verse with the same words is a clever literary
device, but if I imagine that my lines will be remembered
even to the next day, then I’m certainly only dreaming!

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Writing In Our Sleep

Last night I composed a new poem in my sleep.
An idea came to me, and the words just flowed.

I read it over several times, editing here and there,
until at last I was quite pleased with the result.

When I awoke this morning, however, the poem
was completely forgotten. Isn’t that how it goes?

Perhaps those who visit with me now and then
will come across that poem in their sleep.

They may read it and later wake up smiling,
but not sure why — life is funny that way.

Really, it doesn’t matter. We’re all making poetry
in our sleep, then forgetting it again and again.

We all imagine we are awake, mostly because
dreaming can often seem so real, so poetic.

Every moment is a new poem we are adding
to the luminous book of our lives.

When we pass over, our friends will read each line
and offer their sincere congratulations for having
made the effort. The praise will be well-earned.

With each new life we start again with a clean
blank page. All former dream poems are forgotten.

They are left behind on a shelf in the big library
while we work out our new materials here:

poems of innocence and experience, of desire
and its satisfaction, of love and loss, of forgetting
and then remembering, and all that comes between.

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Water Imagining Itself

The water in our bird baths has been everywhere —
the snows of the Himalayas, the Nile Delta, Glacier Lake,
the deepest trenches of the Pacific Ocean, the Amazon
Rain Forests, even the flood that old Noah barely escaped.

Water is the most versatile world traveler, and since we are
essentially water beings, we have all been everywhere too.
Even though we might momentarily appear as solid and
separate beings, all of our molecules are connected.

If we truly understood what we are made of, we might
put an end to all of our conflicts right now and happily
splash around without some grudge or score to settle.

Just so, upon hearing a songbird trilling, we can be amazed
all over again that water can do such a wonderful thing —
it can turn itself into a tree, a bear, a mother hen, a cloud,
and even the one who is reading these words right now!

To all water readers, I salute you! Water sends salutations
of gladness and recognition to itself in the watery forms
of you and I and all of our trillion oceanic friends.

Likewise, perhaps we can better understand what
they mean when they say, “Go with the flow!”

After all, stagnant water can become pretty odorous.
On the other hand, still pools may hold many secrets in
their depths, so we need to learn to live with contradictions.

Even when the river pours itself into the sea, water is not
done. It really has no end. It simply recycles itself perpetually,
in harmony with the respiration of infinity, as do we.

When we miraculously appear in this world, water has not
increased itself; when we pass on, water is not diminished.

There is a vast and luminous space of pure awareness
within which all water is eternally transforming
as the liquid play of consciousness itself.

The next time you’re out for a swim in the ocean, river,
lake, or neighborhood pool, turn over on your back
for a moment, look up, and imagine that!



Jai sm

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October, Part 3

I have been out in the front yard stacking wood. I take
more work breaks now, because the body requires it.
What once took three hours now takes three days.

Still, it is pleasant to sit on these cool Fall mornings
and watch as the sunlight gradually sweeps across
the Boxwood, Buddleia, Kousa, Chinese Fringe,
and then over the Dogwoods and Laurels.

Now a hanging leaf has drifted down from an oak,
snagged itself on a branch for the day, and waves
back and forth in the slight breeze, beckoning.

As the sunlight finally permeates it, rendering it
prismatically translucent, the natural ambient noise
in the background goes silent, and even the Blue Jays
chasing each other around the trees stop squawking.

As I gaze at this lovely sight, nothing comes to mind.
It is what it is, and I sense words would be redundant.
By allowing its presence to expand until it occupies
my complete attention, everything else vanishes.

I disappear, the wood waiting to be stacked dissolves
in light, and there is only this lit leaf radiating the great
perfection, the answer to every question never asked.

Suddenly the spell is broken from behind by the arrival
of the mail truck. I walk over to the driver and greet her.

We chat briefly about the local fires as she hands me
a box and two letters. The box contains some coffee
Mazie ordered. I am ready to try a cup right now.

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Please Enjoy It

When they told the old woman that her husband
had died during surgery, she sighed slightly,
then pulled the blankets over her head.

She never did emerge alive from her covers,
but instead left a short handwritten note
on the table by her bedside. It read:

There is a bottle of good wine in the kitchen
cabinet, right above the sink. Enjoy it.

There is a wheel of freshly smoked cheese
in a drawer in the refrigerator. Enjoy it.

The baker down the street on the corner makes
an excellent sourdough baguette. Enjoy it.

When your babies try to speak for the first time,
listen to their whole story, and enjoy it.

If you hear small children conversing happily
with their invisible friends, enjoy it.

Whenever someone smiles and tells you
that they love you, enjoy it.

If you wake at sunrise, go to your window,
open it wide, inhale, and enjoy it.

At sunset, if you see flocks of birds winging
homeward in the vanishing light, enjoy it.

When your best day and your worst day
turn out to be the same day, enjoy it.

When criticism and praise both amount
to exactly the same thing, enjoy it.

If your friends and enemies become the same
cherished dear ones in your eyes, enjoy it.

When you can swallow the infinite ocean
of hope and fear in one gulp, enjoy it.

If, for you, love is all that matters, enjoy it.

When guardian angels part your rib cage
so that your waiting soul can fly out at last
and merge with the great light, enjoy it!

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