• The Carnival – Tin Horn


    Tin Horn


    Tin Horn stands on a deserted city street
    strewn with the rubble and chaos of war

    empty storefronts yawn like the gaping mouths
    eye sockets of bleached skulls lining limestone cliffs

    in the distance
    he hears
    a clock strike the hour

    a voice calls out
    “Hello” softly

    he reels in his step
    he must be dreaming

    stooping to pick up
    a piece of paper that floats to the ground

    he reads words
    smeared and smudged
    written in a terrifying scrawl

    “And look at you boy
    gone crazy in the night
    barking at the moon

    and look at you boy
    you are lost”

    he pauses

    “You have thrown
    every anchor
    of Saving Grace

    and you have cut the lines!
    and my god!” he reads
    “Oh my god,
    you’re still lost!”

    he tears up the paper and screams: “No!
    No!” he stumbles around a corner running

    a crowd of faceless people
    their clothes tattered and bloody
    emerge from the ruins of a cathedral pock-marked
    by mortar shells

    he hears the voice again
    Hello” this time with a sense of urgency
    “Hello!” yet, it is as soft as the flutter of a dove

    the crowd raises their arms in unison
    they point at a tower
    with a huge clock hands frozen

    Tin Horn!” they call his name!
    “Tin Horn!” they speak in a soft babble murmuring

    Tin Horn!
    The time! Check The Time!”

    out of nowhere
    the voice he’s heard becomes a dove
    and lands on one of the hands of the clock

    time stands still…and so does Tin Horn

    he turns pallid
    an incomprehensible grief consumes him
    and he sputters like a child:

    “I have searched through books
    and scoured the ink on printed page
    and have I found an answer? no
    I could not find one there

    “And I have tried to catch the rainbow’s end
    in hopes to find

    a pot of gold but only found a bucket of illusion”

    he trembles with an unspeakable sense of loss and sobs
    groaning in his sleep

    (To be continued…)

  • The Carnival – A Wagon Full of Empty


    A Wagon Full of Empty


    a wagon
    creaks down the lane
    towards a house
    on Maple

    the horses toil
    in sweat and froth
    as children gather around

    “Tin!” grandma grabs at her apron
    charging into the parlor
    calling up the stairs

    “It’s here!” she calls
    “Why aren’t you coming down?” gasping
    “Lord have mercy!”

    Tin Horn rushes out of the bathroom
    “All right Grandma” he rubs at his face with a towel
    “I’m coming!”

    “The wagon’s here!” cries baby Horn
    his sister Filo (short for Philomena)
    hustles him away from the door
    “The wagon! The wagon’s come”

    Tin Horn passes his two siblings
    puts on a shirt and calls out “Over here!”
    he approaches the wagon with

    “Are you Tin Horn?”
    the d-driver speaks under his breath
    with a stammer

    Tin Horn jumps on the running board
    of the panel van that is somewhat like a milk wagon
    (only empty) and swings himself into the front seat
    “Can we stop?”

    “For what?” the driver
    sh-shouts “We ain’t got all day!”
    “The neighbors want to see the wagon!”

    “Ah! Ya seen it once
    ya’ve seen ’em all!” he spits
    as he whips the lead horse with a snap

    the wagon turns onto Main Street
    “We’ve got Wally to pick up and Orly
    and that friend o’ yourn
    Chew? He’s comin’ too ain’t he?”

    “So what’s the hurry?” Tin Horn thinks out loud
    “It’s not even nightfall
    just hot”

    the wagon lumbers
    along magnolia covered streets
    and the rhododendron sculpted lawns
    of forgotten Victorian mansions

    on the edge of town at an old farmhouse
    the commotion starts all over again

    “My you’d think
    no one’s ever seen
    an empty wagon!” gr-griped the driver

    pulling the horses to a stop
    he calls to the next rider
    “Get on quick!”

    no sooner has Orly
    sprawled into the back
    than the wagon drives on
    his fan club left waving in the dust

    at the next stop
    Waldorf’s people rush towards the wagon
    fifteen strong and counting

    “No time to stop!” the d-driver yells
    “Get on now!” the wagon yanks forward
    leaving Wally in a heap
    next to Orly

    down the road
    in the dusky sunlight
    Chew Lin Fat’s is the last stop

    it is a huge hotel-restaurant-in-one called the “Forbidden City”
    only there are no guests living in the hotel
    just the workers who man the kitchen

    but don’t worry;
    despite the name
    the only thing served is Cantonese cuisine

    Chew Lin is standing outside as the wagon pulls up
    and is on and aboard without fanfare
    the driver mumbles and grumbles
    for nothing else to say

    a yellow moon rises
    in the dark velvet sky
    vapors float around the wagon’s lamp
    in dreamlike

    (To be continued…)

  • The Journey of the Sea Turtle



    The Journey of the Sea Turtle


    swimming through the Stream of Consciousness
    it’s flippers brush back thoughts as it gently moves further
    into the depths

    “The sea turtle swims
    through the Stream of Consciousness”

    I find this guided imagery the best during the night when sleep is difficult—insomnia.

  • Two Inches Above the Ground



    Two Inches Above the Ground 


    “Enlightenment  is like everyday consciousness but two inches above the ground.”

    D. T. Suzuki

    I read an interesting guided meditation by one of my favorite writers, Paul Loughman, who also goes by the name desertcurmudgeon on the blog Two Voices In One Transmission (see link below). If ever there was a must-read blog—with topics ranging from the minuscule to the grandiose, the political to the spiritual (two most unrelated topics, in my opinion—unless you’re talking Right Wing Conservative Cristioinsanity—I’m definitely not referring to that here), this blog is it. It’s hard to describe the complexity of thought and at the same time utter common sense you will meet in his writings. So I offer the following—not so much as an example—but as a topic I found very important in my continuing quest to make sense of Zen. As brilliant and cosmos-shaking as his usual, it was originally posted on May 14, 2017:

    Guess what?  You have never touched anything.  The human nervous system is akin to a power plant that provides electricity to a sprawling metropolis.  Neurons in the brain and [Central Nervous System] communicate via electrical impulses creating a wave of pulses that act upon the senses and form a literal electromagnetic field around the body’s exterior.  […]  Since the interactions between the electromagnetic field and objects of the physical world result in tactile sensations, the nature of which depend on the pressure exerted by the object’s own invisible electrical skin, we go through life unaware of this powerful but infinitesimal barrier.  Hence, we think that we are gripping a steering wheel, caressing our lover’s face, or petting our dog when, in fact, it is only our electromagnetism that is making contact. […]

    An amazing insight. Molecules never touch! I knew that. But then again, I never gave it a second thought. That is, until Mr Loughman describes how this seemingly minor detail can change our viewpoint about who we are and how we fit into the scheme of Everything-Else. Paul continues: Continue reading

  • Moksha



    Liberation from the cycle of Samsara

    feel pain
    —life is a sea of suffering

    accept this
    as the natural state
    before passing from Death/Rebirth
    to release

    • “However much he concentrated upon his own mind to find its root and ground, he found only his own effort to concentrate. The evening before his awakening he simply “gave up,” relaxed his ascetic diet, and ate some nourishing food. Thereupon he felt at once that a profound change was coming over him. He sat beneath the tree, vowing never to rise until he had attained the supreme awakening, and—according to a tradition—sat all through the night until the first glimpse of the morning star suddenly provoked a state of perfect clarity and understanding. This was anuttara samyak sambodhi , “unexcelled, complete awakening,” liberation from maya and from the everlasting Round of birth-and-death (samsara), which goes on and on for as long as a man tries in any way whatsoever to grasp at his own life.” 

      Alan Watts – The Way of Zen 

  • Through the Eye of the Needle – Future Tense | Past Perfect


    Future Tense | Past Perfect

    the creak of the boats’ bows crunching against their moorings
    the warm sun shining off waters that harbor dreams untold
    on this day they seemed to shout to all the world of the
    grandeur of the days of the ancient boatmen

    I heard the surf and felt the wind from the raw sea
    an allure that once sent men rushing to the day’s catch
    an exhilaration unlike any we might ever hope to feel again
    the tunnels that crossed the Atlantic made short work of that
    fish farms and synthetic seafood had taken the bite out of the great sea
    the “last frontier” we once called it

    instead of exploring that undiscovered world
    and conquering it; we simply bypassed it entirely
    leaving it to its last service as an industrial sewer
    its waters tinted by the algae of waste
    a metaphoric greening; brought on by the dyes
    of the world’s currencies leaching from the coffers
    of exploitation; leaving the stench of refuse
    where once wafted the scent of life

    I grieved the incomprehensible loss; I mourned—
    where I once too, sang the “Body Electric”; grappled
    with the stark brutality of a science gone mad—
    I  found myself wrestling with a different reality
    —the violation of man’s inherent right to live as part of the earth
    to sprout from its very fiber; to breathe the intoxicating air of vitality
    now replaced by the sting of ozone and the harshness
    of a vengeful sunlight that continuously robs us
    of our essence; the sweet oil of our existence

    -The Professor
    (anno 2030)

  • Through the Eye of the Needle – The Cello




    The Cello

    his huge hands
    were able to coax
    the most delicate tones
    from the instrument

    he would take the cello to his bear-like form
    and with a certain familiarity
    slowly thrum the strings
    testing their pitch
    plucking at the lower register with deft fingertips
    insuring the proper timbre

    as he played
    the sound filled the room
    vibrating with a soothing warmth
    that softened the damp chill
    of  a rainy afternoon

    with the exquisite theme
    from a Beethoven string quartet
    he would build to a frenzied crescendo
    down to a soft diminuendo within seconds
    and finish with a vibrato
    that seemed to increase in length
    with each harmonic trembling of the tone

    the professor
    prided himself grandly
    on that ability to play

    but now
    lost in his twilight
    he appeared all the more
    grateful to me for the opportunity
    to teach his craft

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