That Sort of Freedom


My first attempt at Haibun. 

The commuter train’s cars heave along dilapidated rust covered tracks. They wrangle past summer cottages, bungalows and the soot covered buildings of Poughkeepsie, to end their journey in a final sway of creaking springs and tortured steel, at Grand Central Station.

From my apartment it’s a short walk—close enough to afford a private view just outside the grounds of the retreats cropped along the Hudson—to touch the banks of that other river, the iron river—its flow caressing the heart of this huge land, lining it with the silver steel of a new adventure waiting just down the track.

I’ve walked those rails. I’d sit and meditate, or smoke, or just sing out-loud to myself, making up songs that I imagined could one day become part of the canon of American songs. Or, not. Either way, it didn’t matter. What I liked was the way the sun, warm on my back, reflected off the shiny rails, shimmering, as I tried to match my steps to the awkward spacing of the railroad ties.

The crunch of the granite stones under my feet, the heat rising off the rust and gravel between the tracks gave me a good feeling, as if stepping on the iron of those rails somehow could put me in touch with another existence, a reality detached from this world’s assault on the Stream of consciousness. Lost in the ozone, simplicit, without a care; a wandering will o’ the wisp dharma bum, content with the euphoric splendor of a Saturday afternoon all lazy-like and sunlit, replete with a breeze from the river swirling the leaves of the trees in a happy dance, I quietly contemplated the empty completeness of the earth and its Spirit, the life that flows in the leaves and dark dirt and pine needles underfoot; frogs whomping, breathing their own life into the Cosmic eternity of my being. Walking on these rails has always made me feel that way.

the simplicit fool
knocks sprockets with the universe
calls it freedom

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