Velveteen Rabbit

Our prompt: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/williams/rabbit/rabbit.html
He said, "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

++++++++++

Wilbur

Wilbur is rough, not sleek.
 His sweater is misshapen
and beginning to run.

The moths have eaten away
 at the wool herringbone
of his soles.

The forward lean I took
 for aggression is
actually curiousity.

The scruffy appearance is not
 from brawling but crawling
through the brambles, pushing
 to see what's on
the other side.

The head cocked to the side,
 the quizzical look,
“How's it going, guy?”

Compassionate, curious.
 What I want to be
when I grow up.

—Jeffery Taylor



++++++++++

Zen Writing and The Velveteen Mouse

When JoJo came to Memorial Hospital in Houston
To be my special friend many years ago
He had wonderful bright green velvet pantaloons
And eyes that went around when he shook
And beautiful, big, round velvet ears.

JoJo was my very special amoravore.
I did not drag him around the trailer park by his foot
Like Annabelle—her head bumping along in the dirt.
JoJo was special.
Maybe it was those green velvet pantaloons?

When I flew to New York after graduation,
JoJo stayed behind in Texas.
But not for long.
I was trying to become,
And it just didn't work without JoJo.

To become takes a long time.
I ask myself, "How will you ever become
If you break easily, have sharp edges,
And have to be carefully kept?"

But I must have become
Because my joints are loose,
And lately I have begun to look very shabby.

I talk to JoJo,
Who is very real.
All the white fur is rubbed off
His beautiful mouse face
And his big, round ears.
And he tells me,
"These things don't matter at all,
Because once you are real,
You can't be ugly."

—Janelle Taylor

++++++++++

I saw a photo of me 60 years ago. “What a cute kid,” I thought. Then I remembered how I thought of myself then and was surprised at how different that was to how I think of myself now.


There is a Buddhist meditation where we scan our innards (see: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/khantipalo/wheel271.html). The idea is to not get attached to our youthful stupendous looks and to just see ourselves as nothing too appetizing.

This is more in line with the Velveteen Rabbit, who has developed her charm and grace over many years. She is no longer our prom queen. The beauty she now maintains is far deeper and more substantial.

In Europe we see buildings that are a couple of thousands of years old. Some have been maintained and others are mere skeletons of what they once were. But they all have a patina and a presence that is not seen in our modern buildings.

We are a society of the new. Models have a short life span. Unfortunately or fortunately, they don't look like the rest of us. Wouldn't it be nice to see people in the fashion ads that had bald heads and beer bellies and used a cane or wheelchair to get around? People might not look like Miss America, but on the inside, they have the patina of a building that has been around for a while and have acquired a big heart and much wisdom that has lit up the lives of many.

Sadly, some mourn their aging. They look at how they aren't as they were, not at what they are. Some attempt to change their exterior rather than paying attention to the beauty of their interior. They are looking in the wrong mirror. Hopefully they will figure it out before it is too late.

Kim Mosley

The Moon

Photo by AJ Bunyard (w/moon added)

Prompt: One evening a thief visited Ryōkan's hut at the base of the mountain only to discover there was nothing to steal. Ryōkan returned and caught him. “You have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.” The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away. Ryōkan sat naked, watching the moon. "Poor fellow," he mused, “I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon.” This story may be an interpretation of an account mentioned by Ryōkan in a haiku:

The thief left it behind:
the moon
at my window.

++++++++++

Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass.

—Dogen

++++++++++

At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face against mine.
Breathe into me.
Close the language-door
and open the love-window.
The moon won't use the door,
only the window.

―Rumi, A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings

++++++++++

All the Sky and the Moon in It

I would have fed you moon, my love,
scoop of chilled white vanilla moon,
out of black sky, into an ice cream cone.

You would have known you are everything.
(You'd have tasted the moon.)

—Emma Skogstad

++++++++++

The Moon and I

I tread on purple laurel blossoms,
Searching for the moon.
The moon is not there among the fallen blooms.
Doves are startled from magnolia trees,
Where they meant to roost tonight.
The moon is not in the branches of the dark magnolias.
A cat with nothing but its voice for a begging bowl
Asks, but I have nothing to give.
The moon is not here.
Meanwhile,
The moon –
Minding its own business –
Is not much interested in laurel blossoms,
Or magnolia trees,
Or the needs of hungry cats.
Looking up, 
Into the vastness of the empty sky,
I see the moon at last…
But only part of it.
The full sphere is mostly hidden.
Yet I am content to call
This silver crescent “the moon.”
It has other names.
In Spain it is “la luna”,
In Tibet, “dawa”.
The moon doesn’t mind what we call it.
It’s nature is neither moon
nor luna
nor dawa
nor ice cream
nor the leavings of a thief.
It knows its own way.
I know it will be back tomorrow. 

Donna Dechen Birdwell

++++++++++

I saw the moon after my friends had spotted it, high in the pale blue sky. It was framed for me by a somewhat square of tree branches that reminded me of how a cameraman holds his fingers when roughly framing a shot he's looking at, to see if it will work. It worked.

The soft spring air brought sounds of a roofing crew laying black felt over a plywood roof, the hammering of the stapler—a familiar sound from my past. The crew was working hard past the usual quitting time, in case it rained before they could get the shingles down. I wished that I could have given them the silver moon as a bonus.

I saw the moon last Sunday night from my son's backyard, in the country, outside of the city's light pollution sphere. It was “holding water” and the planet Venus, looking like a small brilliant yacht, was anchored just off the starboard shore of the silver crescent.

The night after my son was born (at home), I wrapped him in a small blanket and went out on the deck behind our house. I pulled the blanket back and held him skyward. I looked at the moon and stars sternly and said, “This is my son. Protect and guide him. I put my trust and faith in you.”

The gods have not disappointed me. They have honored my request and given me the moon.

—Robert Porter

++++++++++

A Princess in a Castle High

She's locked herself into a tower
high high above the sea
and drawn thick walls about her close
against the moon and its seduction.

Still, she cannot hold it away.
It seeps in through the barred windows
and the long tunnel of the well
where it shines up at her and seems about to speak.

On nights of the full she can hardly sleep
feeling the hiss of light, the tug
yearning to it like the waves so far below
she cannot hear their crash and pull
though, like them, she rises, jostles.

Oh, go away, she wants to say to it
what is the use of all your weeping, plucking?
and when you are joyous, you will have to feel that joy alone.

But not quite alone, in truth
because she does hear that shout of light
does clench her fist, storm with the storm
and though she tries, she cannot help but dream
and, dreaming, floats her way to sea.


Ceremony for a Moonlit Night

We cannot say it is this date
or that—the fifth of August
or the second full moon,
only, when the lake is still,
a silver plate under the silver
circle of the moon,
under the waiting stars.

Then we come
each holding in two hands
—exactly so—
a boat prepared with coping saw
and red and yellow paint,
pulled from its hiding place
for such as night as this.

Each child ties the sail,
lights the candle at the back,
and out the vessels go,
bearing their frail light into the dark.

Sarah Webb

Perfection

Kim Mosley
Mario

Mario has one leg shorter
 than the other and is
a perfect waiter, there
 with coffee,
when you need a refill,
 clearing the table of dishes
only when you're done.

He knows this business and
 works with grace
and an iambic rhythm
 to his walking.

He redefines graces for
 I'm awkward watching him
and he is not.  Like the
 three-legged dog he's
found a new rhythm and
 settled into a new
perfection, one leg shorter
 than the rest.

—Jeff Taylor 

++++++++++

I once had a teacher in college who asked me, “isn’t it terrible being as stupid as you are?” To which I replied, “Oh, not at all, I have so much to learn.” It is much easier when you don't know anything.  If everyone had one leg shorter than the other they wouldn't look down at their own legs with disdain. But they do know. When they buy a pair of shoes they discover they have to buy two pairs of shoes… or lop off some toes, or go to a speciality shop.  

I've returned to taking pictures with a real camera rather than an iPhone. I had to have the perfect camera. Well, not exactly. But at least a really good one. But now the question arises: what pictures should I be making?

I forgot that with real cameras, when you shoot in low light, only part of the picture is sharp. I did a picture of a bouquet of bananas and my wife complained that the stem was out of focus. I had missed out of focus. There is a term bokeh that refers to how a lens renders something out of focus. My lens is suppose to do that well. I love the soft look of things. It reminds me of how tentative we are. We don't really stop here or there. We are mostly hot air. And when we have a fever, we are even a little warmer.

But back to the challenge of photography. Such a simple idea of walking around with this box and telling it to "shoot" at just the right time. But when is that?

So I’ve had it with focusing. My camera only has manual focus and it is a little hard to see whether I'm in focus or not, so I ordered some focusing screen from Taiwan that is suppose to improve that. But in the mean time, I remembered that a student used to call infinity “eternity,” so I wondered why don't I just focus on eternity and let everthing else fall where they are. So what is close to me will be bokehed, and what is far will be sharp. I gave it a try and my wife said “scary.”

P.S. I got the focusing screen from Taiwan, but alas, I’m told it won’t fit in my camera. As to not focusing, I was showing my pics to a friend today and when she saw the out of focus pictures she said, “Ugh, out of focus.”


Untitled (aka: Seeds of Change)  

This piece is an example of a “zentangle.” The Zentangle® method in practice can be explored as a form of drawing meditation, similar, metaphorically, to kinhin (walking meditation). Taking the drawn line for a walk. While drawing, shading, and coloring a series of repetitive patterns, awareness is intentionally placed (again, and again) on the breath and posture. Cultivating an embodied connection with the materials at hand (pencil, pen, brush, and marker to paper), noticing and letting go of self-conscious judgment as it arises, simply drawing (walking), one line, then another, and another, one step following another, noticing when thoughts arise and flow, breathing another line, then another ... ... ...

Joshin Shaevel

imperative

A man on the street in arctic cold
shouts have a blessed day
at every passerby

until I come to believe it imperative.

He has no alms bowl, but his hat
is on the sidewalk in front of him
and I wonder how his ears are
holding up against the cold.

No one is willing
to take the gloves off
long enough to fish a dollar out.

The upturned hat holds nothing
but he is going nowhere
in spite of the cold,

and I think he is shouting
past passersby, wrapping himself
in the sound of his voice

the way Jacob wrapped himself in fur
to fool old blind Isaac into bestowing
a blessing, though in this cold

that could be the stew
he traded Esau for a shot at
pulling the wool over the old man's eyes,
hoping this day to be blessed.

—Steven Schroeder

++++++++++

Having a nice day,

having your keys inside

the locked car.

—participant

++++++++++

“but he is going nowhere”
  and has now arrived there.
Nothing needs to be done
  in this bless-ed space.
For “no one is willing
  to take the gloves off”
and so he is free of distractions,
  blessing the passing folk,
nudging them away
  from their routine
towards the blessings
  of the day.


The Almsgiver

He stands at the corner
  giving alms to the passersby
who, unlike him,
  have no upturned hat
or alms bowl to receive.

“Have a blessed day” he bestows
  on each and because
their hat covers their ears,
  unlike his,
they cannot receive
  his alms giving.

Is there merit
  in alms giving
with no receiver?
  or is the charity
to self & God?

—Jeffery Taylor

++++++++++

So his practice,
shouting blessed day,
was not so
anyone would hear.

It was bitter cold.

his mouth
was frozen shut—
he could only mean
the words.

His hat, begging
for coins,
remained cold
and empty.

What was blessed
about this day?

Was it
his practice?
His intention?
His trying to share?

Did it matter
he was frozen,
yet blessed?

Kim Mosley

turn

Sick and tired of being
sick and tired, I told
my wife I was looking in
to joining the Franciscans.
Knowing I am temperamentally
Trappist or anything discalced,
she said what do they make you do
and I said nothing then thought again
and said preach good news to birds
and she said you do that already
and (discounting the possibility
that she meant nothing) I said
nah, they preach to me.
I just say amen and
all this came to mind today
when a friend reminded
me this is Saint Bonaventure's
day and in his honor she is
trying to ignore little annoyances
but I suppose those would be
the ones a Franciscan scholar would embrace
(suffer the little, you know) and that got me to thinking
about the mind's journey, the mind's journey in,
as I recall, not up, to God, present wherever
it was, said a preacher of another order
but a like mind, you left the divine,
which could be anywhere.

Turn, turn. Take off your shoes.
Every step you step you step on holy ground.

—Steven Schroeder

++++++++++

Barefoot

                   every step you step you step on holy ground
                                                         —Steven Schroeder

Refusing shoes, the poet
makes his way without protection,
letting the ground tell him yes, I am here,
letting the toe scrape, the twig snap sharp

as water tells you dark under its stars
dark and shifting when you swim without a suit
swirls of warm or cool against unaccustomed skin
and you are alive, alive in the summer night

as the ground beneath your foot is alive, is holy
the cracks that wander the cement, holy
the nubs of drying cedar needles, holy
feel us, know us, they sing, awareness is all

and the night water, holy, gleaming
slaps the underside of the dock
cool touch of the water all around
saying this, this.

Sarah Webb

The Wheel Spun....

Prompt: When the pot breaks the potter laughs

++++++++++

The wheel spun at steady but not fast speed, humming to itself like a craftsman engaged in a monotonous but meaningful task. Its surface was clean and a thin sheen of water
reflected the morning sun that came through the window. A shadow passed over the reflection as the potter sat down on a wooden stool to start his work. He looked at the spinning, humming wheel as if he were reading a poem or a scripture. After a long pause he reached over to his side and scooped a double handful of wet clay, holding it as if it was a small newborn child.

A slight smile crinkled his blue eyes and he firmly but gently put it on the wheel that turned slower with the weight. His hands formed a short wide cone that became smooth quickly even though the hands were calloused. The hands moved slowly down on the cone and it began to get wider and flatter until the shape of a dish appeared on the steadily spinning wheel.

As the wheel slowed and stopped a smile showed through the graying whiskers of the potter. “Here is a dish that someday will serve bread or potatoes or even a fine chocolate cake!” he thought. He took a length of fine wire with wooden handles on each end and carefully slid it across the face of the wheel, under the dish to free it.
He rose, went to the sink to wash his hands and then took off his spattered apron.

The day passed and the studio grew dark and the dish dried. As the full moon rose and its silvery light hit the plate the potter came in to move it. He picked it up, turned and walked toward a high shelf. As he lifted it he stubbed his toe on a wooden form and the dish left his hands and crashed to the floor.

The potter stood in the moonlight looking down at the pieces and suddenly began to laugh, slowly, then louder, for he had owned this dish in his head where it could never be
broken.

—Robert Porter

++++++++++

1. If I had an
anxiety disorder
I'd be worried

if things were
peachy like
once I had a

car accident
and I called my
father.

"Dad," I said,
"good news,
I'm not going

to have a 2nd
car accident
today," and

"don't count
on it," he
replied, cautiously.


2. The fox found
the most delicious
grapes in the world,

only to discover
that he couldn't
reach them

and didn't want
them anyway
or so the story goes.


3. The potter sees
an opportunity when
the pot breaks and he smiles.

Dragged by her hubby's car,
my sister made it through
the dinner that followed.


4. God was in a vessel,
as big as everything.
Then he smashed the

vessel to make room
for you and me ...
and now we must

put the pieces
together, which might
be why nothing

runs that smoothly,
esp. when we expect it
to be unbroken.


5. The power
in our house went out
the other day

and I laughed,
remembering how earlier
attempts to give

my daughter and her hubby
an evening out
ended in a mini-disaster.

Kim Mosley

Useful Books for Zen Writing

We talked about wanting some books that would help with getting started in writing or would make it clearer what zen writing might be. The books I know tend toward poetry but not all of them are poetry-oriented. Anyway, here are some thoughts.

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones (easy entry, zen approach, good for self-exploration & journaling, overall system with examples) We are trading around some tapes of this book.
“Our task is to say a holy yes to the real things of our life as they exist – the real truth of who we are: several pounds overweight, the gray, cold street outside, the Christmas tinsel in the showcase, the Jewish writer in the orange booth across from her blond friend who has black children. We must become writers who accept things as they are, come to love the details, and step forward with a yes on our lips so there can be no more noes in the world, noes that invalidate life and stop these details from continuing.”

Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, Poemcrazy: freeing your life with words (easy entry, story-essays, ideas/strategies & prompts related to them)
“When the juggler said devil sticks my perception shifted and for a moment the sticks looked sharp and their clatter sounded sinister. When he called them flower sticks, the rods suddenly looped into a daisy in the air. Names are powerful. ... Take a walk outside. Pretend you are the first person who has ever seen the plants and trees on this walk. It's your job to name them.”

Deena Metzger, Writing for Your Life: A Guide and Companion to the Inner Worlds (easy entry, writing to examine one's life, explanation of principles and strategies with many examples from nonprofessional writers, tasks and prompts. She has sections on creativity, story, archetype and myth, and writing as spiritual practice. The spiritual practice section comes from a mixture of traditions, but has useful ideas for zen writing.)
“I am not suggesting that the path of the creative should or can replace other spiritual disciplines: I am only saying that it, too, has a series of practices and is a way to complement and amplify one's spiritual life.”

“These gratitudes, written as small pieces, can capture the freshness of the moment. They ask us to be present in the event as we write. ... It is too easy to give thanks absentmindedly.”

Kim Stafford, The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft (easy entry, entertaining story-essays on writing, approach resembles zen, useful and surprising concrete strategies, good for beginner or upgrading skills)
“The feeling of not getting it is a good sign, not a paralyzing signal. The writing is hard because I am seeking connections that I did not know before—that nobody knew before. To proceed under such conditions is the hardest thing to do and the only thing worth doing. ... My wife says I get quiet when I have something big coming up—a speech to give, a new class about to begin, an essay brewing. 'If I didn't know you,' she says, 'you might seem depressed. But that's not it. You're gathering new stuff, that's all.'”

Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity (easy entry, essays which combine story with idea, good for self-exploration & journaling, increasing creativity in general rather than writing alone, good overview-system for an approach to creating, homework tasks)

“Grandmother was gone before I learned the lesson her letters were teaching: survival lies in sanity, and sanity lies in paying attention. Yes, her letters said, Dad's cough is getting worse, we have lost the house, there is no money and no work, but the tiger lilies are blooming, the lizard has found that spot of sun, the roses are holding despite the heat.”

William Stafford, Crossing Unmarked Snow, Writing the Australian Crawl (easy entry, new ideas to think about writing, approach resembles zen, also includes ideas on teaching writing in a non-dominating way, fairly accessible but not overview aimed at getting you started—more a collection of interviews and bits) Whenever I read his essays or poems, I find myself writing.
“So, I mean I'm looking at the room I'm in.... Or it may be the sound of the birds outside, or it might be the residue from a dream I just left from my sleep. I don't try for being relevant to current experience but if it invites itself, I welcome it. The feeling is of greeting anything at the door and saying, 'Come on in.'”

Jane Hirshfield, Nine Gates:Entering the Mind of Poetry (advanced, ideas, poetry, draws on zen specifically, upgrading skills,)
“Writers, too, must be persons of no rank, for whom no part of existence is less—or more—holy than the rest. The writer turns to the inconsequential and almost invisible weeds for meaning as much as the glorious blossoms, values the dark parts of the story as much as the light.”

Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook (advanced, poetry, upgrading skills, overview of skills, her poetry often seems zen-like)
“It can wait. It can stay silent a lifetime. Who knows anyway what it is, that wild , silky part of ourselves without which no poem can live? But we do know this: if it is going to enter into a passionate relationship and speak what is in its portion of your mind, the other responsible and purposeful part of you had better be a Romeo.”

Gregory Orr, Poetry as Survival (advanced, ideas on poetry for healing) I recently got this and haven't read much of it yet, but it seems to be on the healing and transformative power of writing, how it helps us make order of our lives and its pain. I notice that the first essay concerns the self and what it might be, so I am guessing a zen-like approach. It is more philosophical about what poetry does but it draws some on personal example and a lot on particular poems. Dipping ahead, I find intruiging things about the need to open to the nameless. He speaks of “giving over of the self,” standing on the “threshold.”
“I had a sudden sense that the language in poetry was 'magical,' ... that it could create or transform reality rather than simply describe it. ... I felt simultaneously revealed to myself and freed of my self by the images and actions of the poem.”

Gary Gach, What Book!?: Buddha Poems From Beat to Hiphop (anthology of Buddhist poetry, short intro essay on Buddhist poetry, not as Beat-oriented as title sounds)
“Poetry reveals energies we need in order to live. Different energies are revealed by different forms. There is no one model for a 'Buddhist' poem.”

Kent Johnson and Craig Paulenich, Beneath a Single Moon: Buddhism in Contemporary American Poetry (anthology of Buddhist poetry, Buddhist poems, 30+ essays on Buddhist poetry)
from Jane Augustine's essay: “Rules for oneself maybe be unbuddhistic, but I have some:

1. Don't write what anyone could call Buddhist poetry. If this category existed, it would have to be as corrupt as Christian or Communist poetry, or Catholic mathematics—a propaganda tool for an institution or a sectarian point of view.

2. Avoid Buddhist terms whenever possible. Readers don't know what they mean, and often get the impression the poet is showing off his mysticism or 'higher levels' of achievement, wnich strikes a wrong note and defeats the poem.

Still, when writing on my father's death I used lines from The Tibetan Book of the Dead because I said them for him then, but even so, now I question this seeming inevitability of word choice. It was probably a mistake—too high-sounding, as if I were religious when I'm not.”

many authors, Writing Our Way Home, a group journey out of homelessness, pub by Doors of Hope, a homeless support center in Memphis where they gathered. (easy entry, utterly absorbing writing by people who tell about "the long process of becoming homeless and the long process of becoming housed.") Not explicitly Zen, and many of the authors speak of God, but is there anyone more qualified to describe what it is like to live in the moment? Well organized, flows beautifully. Group process they used almost identical to AZC. Every voice is a lesson for writing from the heart. 5 stars on Amazon

Steven Pressfield, The Art of War,
"I've never read a self help book that wasn't fatuous, obvious and unhelpful. Until The War of Art. It's amazingly cogent and smart on the psychology of creation. If I ever teach a writing course this would be one of the first books I'd assign, along with the letters of Flannery O'Connor."
—Jay McInerney, author of Bright Lights, Big City and Brightness Falls

Coffee Break

Prompt: “Coffee Break,” by Kwame Dawes

When my father had his stroke he held our hands tightly and squeezed—the only words he had were words of touch. I said the Lord's Prayer for him, though I had been a Buddhist for many years already then, and his squeeze said thank you. I did not want him to go—we never want them to go—and I did not want him to go alone. So I made sure I was always there when people needed to go home to rest or to eat. On the second day he could no longer respond, but I talked to him anyway and if he were alone I held his hand and sang to him. But in the third day it came to me strongly that I should leave the room. I walked down the stairs and stood among some trees by the river. When I came back, his body was still. And I thought, my father has always taken care of us. He would not go while I sat there asking him to stay.

Lightly

            “the balloons sat lightly on his still lap”
                                   Kwame Dawes “Coffee Break”

A globe of air
sits lightly on the lap of a man
a man of air

his lungs, his blood charged with air
air filling the body
making the cells

the bones, the eyes, the nails
all of him air
and around him air.

If a breeze came in the open door
it would lift the balloon
spiral it onto the floor and out

as the man who has let go of the balloon
lets go of his lungs and bones and hair
and lifts

held so lightly
letting go so lightly
over the sill and out.

Sarah Webb, 1-20-15

++++++++++

Coffee Break

Going down slow.
One friend meets me for coffee no more.
The cleaning lady will not be coming.
She's waiting in ICU for a husband
who is bouncing downhill hard,
off the breakfast stool, crumpled
in the driveway, and now she waits,
cold coffee in hand.

—Jeffery Taylor

++++++++++

No way, José!
Is life
this short?

Yesterday I had
my yearly checkup
with the eye doc.

And then
today
had the next one.

I don't think
we had aged, either
he nor I.

The balloon man
waited for coffee,
and it was too late.

First time I read it as
he'd skipped out, which
I guess he did,

in his own way,
leaving his balloons
on his still chair.

Was his lap his lap?
Does condensed or cow's milk
even matter.

In retrospect,
we'd do
things so differently.

Much differently!

I did something
bad
almost 50 years ago.

If only I could go
back in a
time machine,

slightly wiser,
and make some
better choices.

What was I
thinking?
Or was I?

It would have
been so easy just to
choose cow's milk.

Who would complain?

I could have just thought
a little of the consequences
of my actions.

Or, to save a dime,
I wrote instead of called...
and it was too late.

When you are on
a speeding train,
it doesn't take long to be late.

The eye doc said,
which is better,
a or b, and I'd blink,

and ask him
to show me a and b
over and over again.

Life is that
short.
Isn't it?

Kim Mosley

Pomegranates Prompt

Pomegranates III


Only the rind remains,
    carcass bleaching
in the dining room light,
    echoes of an
empty ribcage on
    some African plain.

Toothmarks are really just
the impressions of seeds,
    but still the illusion
persists amidst rational
    explanations that,
though true, have not the
appeal of illusion.

Calvin's image of Hobbs is
    so much more than
his parents' and we...
    we treasure Calvin's vision.

—Jeffery Taylor

++++++++++

Exercise of Appreciation: Pomegranate

Sarah led us in an Exercise of Appreciation. A gorgeous pomegranate, really deep crimson—the biggest pomegranate I have ever seen.

Something very intimate—being in the kitchen together—up close, around the island.

A plastic knife—surprisingly sharp. Kim was very sure of himself, cutting through the elegant layers of rind.

Seeds,like jewels, encased in multifaceted gossamer pulp.

The rind, now like some toothless jaw, only the sockets remain.

Justin and Brian—no longer new, or strangers. Mysteriously woven into the group by Sarah's Exercise of Appreciation.

Is this Zen Mindfulness? Bro. Lawrence might say we were practicing The Presence but perhaps The Presence was engaging us?

This vessel of safety—how does it happen? Is it skillfully woven of intense curiosity, deep affection for the journey, a willingness to embrace the stranger? No, this isn't it.

It's like raking the gravel in a Zen Way.

Kitchens are places of transformation. We came raw, cold, strangers. Now we are warm companions on this journey. No longer raw, but held, encouraged. It is The Presence.

Everything is connected when we pay attention.

—Janelle Curlin-Taylor

Zen and Poetry

What is it about Zen and poetry? There are so many Buddhist poets, enough for anthologies dedicated just to them, and—despite the warnings against reliance on words and scriptures—poetry has come to seem a Zen artistic discipline, much like archery or calligraphy or tea. The sudden flashes we call haiku are a well known part of the Zen tradition, but Zen poets write in many forms, as we learned from Norman Fischer’s recent reading at AZC. Why is poetry so natural to Zen practitioners?

In writing poetry we are mindful, not of the drying cloth on the plate or the door knob turning but of the movement of our minds. Yes, we are square in the world of form, just as we are when we sit on our cushions or experience our steps in kinhin. But we see our thoughts arising from nowhere. They appear, they turn into a poem.

Long or short, multi-layered or spare, personal or detached, poetry does something other words cannot. It is a bridge into the unsayable. We quieten and listen, let ourselves be the ground in which the void spills into form. How intimate!

Sarah Webb

myriad objects

myriad objects

float

in the sea


the full mass

of being

is sitting upright


one small movement,

and all the senses flood


the open heart

a hot coal

searing


mist rises,

clinging

to the mirror


dry for an instant

wet for all time



—devin grobert

Story

Story
               to William Greenway “Good Stories

1.
The story where he didn't win
the Nobel prize or any prize
but he lived his life anyway
waist-deep in the blue-green water.

2.
The one where he walked waist-deep
through blue-green water
and let it change him
dry to wet, bitter to salt.

3.
The one where there was no job
no child, no book, no song
except the song inside him
the song in the blue-green water.

4.
The one where he built a house
from wood the storm had tossed.
Thank you, storm, he said
through lips that cracked with sand and wind.

5.
The one where he walked
waist-deep, heart-deep
wet through and through
in the blue-green water.


It's to "The one where he won the Nobel Prize
and finally got to live by the sea,
fishing every dawn
waist deep in the blue-green water"

Sarah Webb

++++++++++

The question surfaces.

          Where is it?
          the one everyone has.
          Not only 'Where is it?'
          but 'What is it?'

          Is it a story that writes itself?
          While finding paradoxes day-by-day.
          Is it a story of reckoning with the immensity of the universe?
          Finding one's way to feeling awe, gratitude,
          and needing God only when filled with fear.

          Is it that presence underneath veils of formality, culture, and feeling
          within?

          Containing the mind's billowing breezes as we fall
          and fly.

          Looking back, at the end,

observing keenly—knowing
          You could not have lived any other life than the one you did.

—Bobbie Edwards

+++++++++

5 Stories

1. Gas leak.
Daughter moves
Home,
With little ones.

Daughter goes for
Happy hour. Kids cry.
Right pacifier? No dice,
Called daughter.

2. Lover of cranes.
Metal ones, not bird ones.
Critical to modern buildings,
Temptation arises.

She sneaks into construction site
Photographs one. It preens
Against a sky,
Displays a long thin cloud.

3. Massage today.
Who is your trainer?
You're a walking
Testimony.

Reflections on her glass table.
I liked better the
Reflections under her table
...Last month.

4. New battery, old laptop.
Less ump than the ancient
Battery.
Needs returning.

New glass for sunroom,
Fogged just after
Warranty ended.
Bad luck/planned obsolescence.

5. See art tomorrow.
Eat Indian food.
Stupid to plan.
Maybe gas leak again,

Maybe crane will eat the Indian food up,
Maybe reflections will become the object,
Maybe the sun will end the fogged glass,
Maybe tomorrow will go as planned...not!

Kim Mosley

++++++++++

After the Grail

What do you do after finding the Grail?
    Live by the sea and fish every day?
Head into the Western Desert, pausing
    only to write it all down at the request
of the sentry at the gate?

Or board a ship to the Western Havens,
    too weary to remain?
Live in the Calcutta slums, wise mother
    to all?

When you have reached
    the mountain top,
the only way forward
    is down.

—Jeffery Taylor