(This piece is dedicated to my comrades at the Zen Monastery)
The Zen Master Ummon, when asked:
“What is the Tao?”
Heart-struck, from this mountain’s cliff moonlight falls with no end in sight. All eyes raised to the sky tonight will be granted the vision of their own plight.
When the moon was graced by the sun with such sight, it tumbled from its perch on a cloud of unknowing,with nothing below to break its fall, helplessly falling with nowhere to land —
no rope, no hope, no helping hand.
I sit here sighing where the same moon grazed, gazing sentimentally at all the little mementos it kept to remind itself of stories once cherished, slow hazy autumn glides through memory, tiny pieces of light from hearts like mine, translated into small breathless poems, fondly folded on the altar of remembrance, awaiting a fire that will not be denied.
We can speak openly here without words, the moon would silently understand. If the Mystery could be grasped by the mind that makes words, it wouldn’t be so mysterious.
But whose glad ashes are these tonight, sifting through the wan moonlight, grazing by the lunar station in the softer part of this dream creation?
Whoever believes it’s a dream – beware. Whoever imagines it’s not – prepare:
just blink an eye is all.
Answer your own roll call, or else be blown along cold coasts of reason.
Mind you now, it’s the perfect season.
You, who never imagined you’d find yourself there, find yourself here, where the girl on the swing in the moonlight is why all of your hopeful intentions won’t fly.
All eyes are cast down in comatose town.
Sitting pretty in Torpidity City, wriggling toes nobody knows, you bide your time like dominoes.
A wooden fish pounded by candle light, hollow skull sound in the dead of night, paces old sutras mumbled just right.
Ringing a bell in an empty room, tea cups drained to a green tea moon, patiently observing those inclinations, engrossed in interior conversations:
“What is, is what?”
distracts somehow from a paralyzed butt.
The carnival of their own nervous system passes for some as Crazy Wisdom, yet nothing disturbs your facade of poise, except your mind’s own nut-cracking noise.
Stylish in your two-toed socks you ponder the humorous paradox – that all this time you’ve been the wall that stands between yourself and all.
Stung by clearlight intuition, the simple obvious recognition:
your narrative has been a fiction –
a kind of superimposition.
Honesty crooks its bony finger, still you’d rather pause and linger, gaze awhile at the empty mirror, contemplate which love is dearer, or whose imagined face is nearer.
With each breath billions of beings perish, regardless of those you choose to cherish.
The ghost that clings to vines and trees relives the vanishing memories of home-grown scars and wish-on stars, avatars in blades of grass, and yes — the inevitable ash,
of vacant stares and digital gestures, of probing indifference, partial deliverance, of flashlight glimpses of indivisibility, left-handed paths to indescribability,
of clamming up or pleading insane,
it all comes down to a masquerade game —
of chakra balloons and identity cartoons, ecstatic swoons beneath full moons, of would-be heroes and noble cowards, till night is spent and the mouth’s gone sour, whence bunch after bunch of edible flowers are mashed into soup, and then devoured!
And though you vow to seek no more, before the Man behind the door, that sly addictive phantom cunning winds your gears and sets you running.
But then this man — this man is striding down silk roads in moist acceleration.
His urge: to merge sky-deep in dawn, to amplify creation.
This man: will he go round endlessly? Will he wade this deep debris? Will he drink his hemlock tea?
Will he pivot, wheel, and fire? Will he douse his doom desire?
Will he gargle Lotus Lake? Will he differentiate?
Will he bork and rift away? Will he hang himself today?
Like something, like anything, time drifts off in day-dream-streams, while you still ponder what it means.
A shepherd herds his ashes home, across the pink-lit eyelid sky:
so slow, so slow you start to cry, like candle wax you trickle down, like falling leaves come floating down, down the swaying sides of sky; oh so serene you slide on down, engulfed in hypnagogic blues, your journals full of sad haikus.
Through milky mood aquariums, through thought-form sanitariums, through arcane mental miscellany, like a snowflake missionary melting in the air above the ground, you mellow down.
Through the outposts of illusion, past the place of precious things, where the salivation armies of a million sirens sing, you chase the ring.
Through fields of pod plants spewing spores, through layers of succulent metaphors, through vestibules of narcotic monotony, vague perception’s dulled cacophony;
past graveyards filled with inspiration, gravity’s gift to aspiration, so slow, so slow you slide on down to blend with sleep and simile, surrendered to the nth degree, with “Déjà vu!” upon your lips, sincerity between your hips, perhaps to dream the same strange dream:
waiting, waiting in frail pale light — it matters little, day or night – waiting, waiting, not knowing for what, when the wind chimes all of a sudden stop.
Apocalyptics stripe the sky, first streak, then stammer – hammered into place in space.
You turn and start to say some thing, some thing you think you thought you heard about the silent source of words, about the culling of the herds, about the fraudulence of beliefs, about the longing for relief, and still you keep on sliding down, between your breath, between your thoughts, allowing all, though all be naught;
and all returns as you return, like ice to water, night to day, whence animals stretch and stroll away, the stars on schedule shudder still, frogs leap off the windowsill and hop straight for the bushes.
Part of you becomes HELLO, part of you GOOD-BYE but it’s all right, tonight, to speak in tongues, to fill your lungs, to find no blame, no guilt or shame, to trip off the top of a hundred foot pole, or burrow in holes like predictable moles in this part of the dream, this play, this scene – drawing your own conclusions.
Nevertheless, somehow something must move, I guess — the host is the host, the guest is the guest. A cinder sparks in a pit of ashes, glad eyes moisten behind stiff lashes.
For once you waking up reply:
“Today no saint, tonight no suicide!”
Yet before you can even try this on, and fabricate a slick new con, Somebody, Nobody, long well-gone, raises his staff and shouts: