Friday, January 12, 2018

Today


Today 

  



Along the journey of my life, I came
To a place unmapped and so without a name.
And there I wandered—lost, confused and torn,
Not knowing where to go or whom to blame.

And all the yearnings and regrets were there
And all the worries that we humans bear.
Their constant clamor so perturbed my mind,
For what was present, I could hardly care.

But then, when I had burned for long in hell,
And what was right or wrong could hardly tell,
From deepest dark, a flash of insight came
That gave me light and made my being well.

******

And I will now, with feeble phrases, try
To tell you what I saw, when death was nigh,
That surely saved my life and gave me peace—
Enough at least to give me strength to cry.

The tears of men are scarce and rarely seen,
And some may deem that vision as obscene.
And so, in private, these are mostly shed,
By those whose public faces seem serene.

And yet, that weeping, when it comes, may bring
Its own relief, as all that woe can sing
That till that time was mute and caged within,
But now, towards the open sky, takes wing.

******

Oh yesterdays of happiness or grief,
Tomorrows built of chance or blind belief—
Allow today, with all its pleasure-pain,
To bloom and yield its hue and fragrance brief.

The past is memory. The future, who can see?
So what is it that’s there, for you and me?
No matter what the part or whose the script,
The present scene is where we each must be.

The day goes by. The morrow is not here.
What use is our regret and all our fear?
This moment is the only thing we each
Can have and fashion. Let us hold it dear.

*******

And yet it passes—and is then no more,
Except in memory. All indeed is flow.
It can be felt but then it can’t be held—
This precious moment that we must let go.

And that’s the secret that is known to all
Except the batter who has missed the ball
And then would lure it back—or fears the next—
For that’s the trap in which we humans fall.

These things, the sages have described—and yet,
Too often, in delusion, we forget
That as in everything, our practice makes
Us better in the things that we regret.

******

To find the sight that saints and sinners sought
But could not find, as they, like all, were caught
Within the swirling fog, our practices
Should each dissolve—along with all we’re taught.

So all our learning, from the first to last,
And hopes and worries, to the streaming, fast,
We then relinquish, so the present breath
Can flow unhindered by the future, past.

And this unlearning is the way we ken
That light obscured to all the learned men,
For only when we’re rid of the thief that’s thought
Is the present fully sensed—in the grace of Zen.

******
 
Embrace the living being in your arms,
No matter what the lack may be of charms.
Inhale the moment. Pause, and then exhale.
You’ve been with God—and freed from all that harms.

And all of this that I have written here
Had come to me, in a vision sharp and clear—
That all my words may only serve to dull—
Within that hell of madness and of fear.

And since that time, I’ve slowly walked a while,
And stumbled, fallen, wandered back a mile,
But being opened by the knife to light,
I sense the darkness—and I wince and smile.

******

Our lives are eddies in this world of flow
And each obstruction ends in more of woe.
We breathe and drink and eat—and yet we know
That all that’s taken in must surely go.

And yet, I would not, in a manner brute
Or gentle, claim that all there is of truth
In healing soul and body, I have found
Or say that I have traced it to its root.

For every prophet in this field, we find
Another who is opposite in mind
And spirit. So in humbleness I’ll end
By saying this—remember to be kind.

2018 January 12th, Friday
Brooklyn, New York
    

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Glory, Alleluia!


Glory, Alleluia! 



We have got to bomb Korea,
We have got to smash Iran!
The Senators are cheering
As the Saudis sing, “We can!”

We’ve got to take out Cuba,
and Venezuela too!
But see, we have them cornered
And smothered in doo doo!

Oh see, the bombs are falling,
Like manna, from on high!
Rejoice! Our Lord is singing,
As He watches from the sky.

So sing with him, oh hombres!
Give voice to joyous cheer.
Behold! The bombs are falling
And calling in the year!

Oh see, how frail is Yemen!
She sickens and she dies.
And it’s all because of bombing,
Along with loads of lies.

Let’s hail now all the bombers—
And even John McCain.
If only he were flying
To bomb Hanoi again!

A bomb is heaven’s angel.
It drops from up on high.
It’s brother is the missile
That’s arcing through the sky!

Oh glory, Alleluia!
Oh glory be to Him!
For see, it now is raining,
And see, how mortals swim!

They’re thrashing now in rivers—
The streamings dark and red.
There are bombs and missiles raining,
And each will wreak its dread.



How wondrous is this blessing!
How marvelous, this grace!
And in the cloud that’s fiery
We see the angel’s face.

When seeking more of dollars,
Our parties are the same.
And that is why, at bombing,
We feel no trace of shame.

We’re bought and sold for dollars.
And that is all we know.
So when we learn we’re bombing,
We shout out, “Go, go, go!”

For bombs are naught but dollars
Transfigured.  And behold—
The men in priestly collars
Are urging on the bold.

“Oh go and do your duty!
For country, kill and die!
And do not pause or question
Or sort the truth and lie.

“Oh glory be to lying!
For lies have brought us gold.
The truth is sad and weary
And leaves us bare and cold.

“Oh glory, glory, glory!
For country, kill and die!
And never, ever question
When told the reason why.”

Our God has brought us dollars.
The Dollar—it is Him!
Let us bow now to the Dollar
As we watch the wretches swim.

2017 December 31st, Sun.
Brooklyn, New York
   

Friday, December 22, 2017

Hopelessness


Hopelessness

There is a value to humility
That those who’re blind from hubris cannot see,
But there’s a worth to all of those ideals
So often lost from scorn or apathy.

The eyes of children often brightly shine,
But when they’re older, then their eyes are dulled.
So also, men and women strive with zeal,
Until their strength is sapped by worldly things.

How many humans walk upon this earth
And yet feel nothing underneath their feet
Except the aches of age and weariness,
While trudging with the burdens of defeat?

When meaning and desire have both been drained,
What’s left is to what was before as is
The corpse to all the life that once had been—
Except, there’s a feeling left—of hopelessness.

2017 December 22nd, Friday
UFT teachers’ room, JHS K 220
Brooklyn, New York
  
Substitute teaching, for all its perils, offers a window of survival to those who depend on it for a bare living, and also of some remnant connection and usefulness to those who are retired from teaching.

Of course, some retired teachers have other sources of financial and emotional sustenance, and might prefer to stay as far as possible from the schools in which they spent most of their working lives.
 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Free of Sin


Free of Sin 
    

    
    
There are little birds that fly and perch
And chirp and sing out loud.
The wind is blowing through the leaves
And chasing waves on grass.
I hear the sounds as water flows
Along the little creek.
It rushes and it idles, swirls,
As frogs and insects leap.

The fish are splashing in that creek
And swimming in the pond.
The clouds are sailing through the sky
Of hues of blue above.
Who cares, on such a day as this,
While blinking in the sun,
For all the things for which this race
Of humans madly run?

******

The thoughts I thought upon that day,
The feelings that I felt,
Have risen in my mind today
And help me live again.
I remember sights and sounds
And scents—and on my skin
The touch of air and rain and sun—
And all that rain cleared day.

I saw the raindrop as it shone,
Suspended from a leaf.
I saw the rainbow in the sky,
While breathing in and out.
How pleasant was that air, that warmth
Of sun upon my skin.
In such a trance as that, it seemed
This world was free of sin.

2017 December 7th, Thu.
Brooklyn, New York
 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Futility-II


Futility-II

When sense and nonsense are so intermixed
That their untangling isn't worth our while,
We either then can make yet more of knots,
Or else can shake our heads and sadly smile.

So wisdom here resides in prudence, yet,
Too often, we attempt such tasks in vain—
For being mortals, we in time forget
And so repeat our errors once again.

And so it is with much that dogs our days,
As lessons we should earlier have learned
Appear to us as new, and so we make
The same mistakes and yet again are burned.

So some are not content with peace and try
To then procure such things as lead to war.
And those of wisdom and of heart may cry
Out loud—but cannot change how humans are.

Futility!  We meet you, by and by,
No matter what our gifts or fortunes be.
And some may meet you early, others late,
But you are always there, for those who see.

******

And yet, too easily, your children turn
To refuge in your bosom, spurning those
Who seek redress or cure for all the things
That need addressing in this world of woes.

They might have found, instead of you, that Hope
Or Faith or Courage that have given birth
To all endeavors that had sought for light
Amidst the darkness of afflicted Earth.

And let us pray that there's a balance still
Between that prudence that might save our lives
And that rebellion that is needed when
We find ourselves constrained in manmade hives.

You are the earth to which we all descend—
The dust that fills the mouths of those who die
As they are felled in battlefields or beds.
And yet, I draw my breath and say, “You lie.”

2017 November 26th, Sun.
Brooklyn, New York
  

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Be Again as Fools


Be Again as Fools

https://www.edutopia.org/sites/default/files/styles/responsive_1240px/public/slates/
 
We've had enough of gizmos and of new, addictive apps.
We’re thirsting now for teatime with the old, familiar chaps.
We're weary of this slaving that enriches banks yet more.
We'd like to switch from racing ‘round to walking, nice and slow.
We'd love to be like puppies and like kittens. Dogs and cats
Are better at this living than our modern human rats.

We sit all day in cubicles. When home, we're staring still
At glowing screens that make us dull and also make us ill.
We're penned within our cities—where we cannot see the stars.
We live in violent "peace"—and then we die in needless wars.
We scurry and we're anxious, lacking time for grief and love.
We cannot feel the ground below or see the sky above.

Let us be no more as rodents that are trapped in metal cages.
Let us touch the trees as primates that had known them through the ages.
Let us sit beside the ocean or the stream or lake or pond.
Let us look and let us listen. Let our hearts be gentle, fond.
Let us weep—and join in wailing. Let us sing and let us dance.
Let us plan—and see our planning turned to nonsense then by chance.

Let us smile and join in laughter. Let the sun and rain and air
Then sweep away the prisons that we've built from lack of care.
Let us cease then with our buying. Let us savor night and day.
Let us open up our purses, so our savings blow away.
Let us leave the mines and offices, the factories and schools.
Let us free ourselves from Mammon, and then be again as fools.

We are tired of being clever as we're driven with the herd.
Let us feel the joy of tasting and of letting go a turd.
Let us leave the wretched cities—or turn them inside out.
Let us gather 'round in circles. Let us join our hands and shout.
Let us take then our vacations here at home. That vacancy
Is what we need to be again—the fools with sanity.

2017 November 4th, Sat.
Berkeley, California

(first 4 lines of 2nd stanza
& 1st 2 of 3rd added later,
in Brooklyn, New York)

  

Friday, October 27, 2017

Solace-II


Solace-II
 


source: unreachable














When desperate and caught, it seemed,
within the devil’s coils,
I turned to verse to calm the storms
that roiled my inner seas.
And so I found a quietude
that lasted then a while—
an interval of peace, in which
that clamor would subside.

I typed out lines and sent them out
as if into the ether,
and now and then I’d hear a voice
that spoke in text to me.
And so it was for many years,
until my writing ceased—
but still at times I write my lines
and send these out to be.

For sentences can live awhile—
and even when we’re gone.
Perhaps my musings still may bring
my solaces to some—
or so I still imagine, though
the chances may be slight.
But in this way, I find relief
to carry on my life.

2017 October 27th, Fri.
Berkeley, California
---------------------------------------------------------------

Related: Solace (http://thedailypoet.blogspot.in/2015/01/solace.html