Friday, October 23, 2009

A Koan

Do badgers share

I’m not sure

We cannot sit for hours underneath the Pipal tree
Contemplating life
We tend to wander off, distracted
rooting for the truth through leaf and loam
None of us I know have reached

But there are some faint signs of commonality

We are sufficiently perturbed by illness, old age, death
The prospect of a merely prosperous life
To flee from comfort, as if it were itself the cause of suffering
Taking up the sword instead, for spiritual battle

We’re a little heartless when it comes to hearth and home
Spouses left in empty beds to fret
While we quest off, wandering in company of
Good, wise, somewhat strange companions

And sometimes, silent in the muffled night
Trundling along our way
Just for a moment, we see the world the way it is
Not black and white, but endless shades of grey

And so I ask again
Do badgers share in Buddha nature?
I think maybe yes

But here’s the rub: our bodhi status does no earthly good
We’re mindful of this state, awake to possibilities

So if you notice I’m asleep, please
Give me a shove and wake me up
To start the search again
I promise not to bite...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Impromptu (экспромтом)

Hmmm, a dash of allspice
Would amplify the cinnamon

No applesauce!
A jar of Trader Joe Mango Puree, instead

The moths have nested in the whole wheat flour
Ick. Mix white whole wheat with rye

You counterattack
My feint seamlessly segues into a finished lunge

You flèche and try to mow me down
Hey look! A parry 2 and riposte to your back as you run by

Your arm pulls back, minutely, on your step
Attack on preparation—Bam!

My best ideas come when I do not think

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Upekkha (Equanimity)

Losing with good humor
—a skill at which I’d rather not become adept
By dint of earnest repetition

Alas, it seems this is the
Awkward grace I’m granted
Opportunity to practice

OK, then—get it right

The outward forms are not so hard
The smile, the bow, the hand that grasps
Transferring strength to victor from the vanquished

Grab the body cord and tug
Gently extract the splintered pride
That’s lodged beneath my nails

Neatly mark my name
Scribble without jabbing through the slip
That documents my every defect, touch by touch

Thank the ref no matter what
(drunk, hung over, deafened by his ear buds, generous with cards)
Neatly pack and stow my sodden gear

And turn to cheer my teammates
Ruthlessly suppressing jealousy
That flares with every lovely touch that is not mine

So this is my assignment:

Acceptance of abiding
In a world I can’t manipulate
To suit my ends

At this rate, there’s chance I’ll reach perfection
Then can I move on to study victory?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nama Sanghaya

One—a constant source of cheer
One—sets an example with her dogged persistence
One—despite his arrogance is very good to fence, an education
One—freely dispenses copious advice (often unsought)
One—a quiet source of wisdom, spreading calm
Several rough and tumble squirts whose gleeful scrapping
Lifts my heart

Some regular as rising and procession of the sun
Some lunar in their periodic practice
Some footloose comets swinging through when fancy strikes
Others flame, burn out and disappear

Somehow these fractious elements
With precious little commonality
Integrate and form
Coherent constellations
Mapping our relationships from one to one to one
And finally to all

In this refuge
Nobody gets forgotten
No one’s left behind

Here are my teachers, my training and
My strange and lumpy family
Slightly broken but still good
Yes, give thanks
Still good

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Why am I always fencing your last touch?
Maybe you look at my frustrations and you see—yourself

I become a mirror into time
Tilting towards the past
An endlessly repeating loop—
The moment when you froze;
Fractional slip in your attention;
A fatal and whole-hearted choice
In the wrong direction

But I’m not you
Or him, for what that’s worth
It does no good to nail me with
The oh-so-clever riposte that occurred to you
A little bit too late
It doesn’t change the outcome
Just leaves me bruised

So turn the mirror to the wall, ok?
Reset the clock
Focus on what’s here, right now
On writing stories into future history
I promise, if you choose to try again
I’ll be there on your side, cheering every action
Empathizing with you on the lousy calls

Meanwhile, let’s take it as an article of faith that you can hit me
anytime you want
No need to prove that theorem—let’s move on.