He was one of those stuffy professorial types;
so tight, if he ate coal he’d shit diamonds.
He wanted to know “my lineage.”
He wanted to know “who my teachers were” and “my teacher’s teachers.”
He wanted to know “by what authority” did I speak.
You don’t look like a Zen guy, he said, pointing to my cowboy boots.
I contemplated his line of inquiry for a moment
and imagined Bodhidharma or Suzuki Shosan grabbing him by his bowtie.
My lineage is Dust in the Wind Zen, my friend.
I follow the Original Cowboy (Laozi) as best I can.
My teacher was Lady River, who followed The River, and guided people to The River.
Now, she meditates inside the Big Dipper.
Her teacher was a mysterious man named don Juan Alejandro from Guerrero.
I never met him. He’s nothing but ashes now, at the bottom of Sumidero Canyon.
I don’t speak by any authority but my own. I am a poet, after all. We don’t follow rules.
To use a spelling proffered by William Least-Heat Moon,
I am a product of this beloved North American Erth.
As for Zen, which Zen are we talking about exactly?
flower and tree identification-Zen
meditating on trout and heron while fly-fishing Zen.
fry bread and campfire coffee-Zen
blackstrap molasses cowboy beans-Zen
roasting green chiles and tortilla-making Zen.
thousands in one sangha-Zen
there’s no-distractions solitary living-Zen
there’s watching people in the city-Zen
there’s making love and basking in the afterglow-Zen.
black ink on brush-Zen
sword and bow-drawing Zen
routing bandits with a walking staff-Zen
sweating prayers in a steam house-Zen.
dreaming in the silence-Zen
wind-riding to the sound of a drumbeat-Zen.
sitting like a mountain-Zen
breathing like a forest-Zen.
There’s even throwing-away-the-word-Zen Zen….
where, every step of the way,
the Wayfarer brushes off the red dust of this mad world
off-gasses weighty residues and accumulated toxic vapors
and returns to the Pristine Heart-Mind of Silence
that is a child of the river flowing through it all.
Which Zen would you like to discuss?