Some nights I have no choice.
The spinning cells of my body won’t let me sleep.
Following the instructions of the Ikkyū School,
I hold an involuntary night vigil
for this strained, pained, blood-stained world.
Find the thread of joy in the midst of suffering.
It is a good practice
but I always seem to end up
having a Zen tantrum these days.
O bodhisattva-warriors of times gone by,
couldn’t you have given us a bit more damn warning?
I suddenly think of that last image in Jim Harrison’s death poem —
a once-lush world — “God’s body” — wounded, hollowed out,
like an abandoned wasp nest;
his own lamentation about Termite Culture and The World of Red Dust.
For a second, I think of antidotes.
Maybe it’s time for me to go on a Buddhist retreat?
I laugh out loud at myself.
What the hell would they do with me?
I’m the Archie Bunker of Buddhism;
the Lucian Connally of Zen.
Cicadas in the pines
a northerly Gulf wind
and drive me naked into the steam of night.
I gaze down at my sun-baked feet
and know they are claustrophobic and angry at me.
They wanted to have wandered by now —
The Water Palace at Taman Soekasada Ujung
How could I possibly go on a “vacation”, anyway,
with all of this evil running the show?
How could I relax into the rhythm of the road
with the image of precious children crammed into cages?
I untie the binding cords of body-mind,
hoist the sails of this weather-beaten neurocircuitry,
and ride the wind.
I see myself tucking them all in,
praying that Kannon, the Mother of All Mothers, is with them.
(c) 2019 / Frank LaRue Owen / purelandpoetry.com