Friday, November 29, 2013

... then or now?

Part I:

In a workshop
on mindfulness
I wondered
whether I’d
let go of my past
or
turn to the present.

I worked so hard
on that past,
why throw all that
away,
I wondered?

What a waste!

Why would anyone
throw out the baby
with the bath water?

A Buddhist monk claimed
there is a way to be present
thinking about the past.

Convinced
by what he said,
I understood
nothing more than
he believed he could.




If nothing else,
I was convinced
by his sincerity.

Six years later,
I remember
the monks conviction.

I consider now,
looking back,
how my feet planted
in THIS ground,
thinking
about THAT ground.

If a gust of wind came,
would I blow over
or stand my ground?


Part II:

I remember,
fifty years ago
a loss—
the other guys walked
my girlfriend home.


I discovered jealously,
chasing them down
the asphalt road,
turning to sand
as it neared the surf.

Funny thing was,
now that I go back,
I had never
walked her home,
or even
thought about it.

I missed out
not doing that.

Something incomplete
about that day.

I was so angry
I threw my bike
in the bushes
and yelled something
vile at them
as they passed
over the dunes.

So how do I,
sitting in this chair
many years later
return to this little town,
a few feet from the ocean,
without forgetting
how many miles
and how many days
I am from that ocean.

Without forgetting
how,
on her wedding day,
they drank too much
and went over a cliff.


Part III:

I hear a dog barking.
Is it that lab
that I had picked up roving
near my house
50+ years ago,
or is it a dog
here and now?

And how do
these worlds intersect?

Where might
I be?
Where am I,
there or here,
then or now?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Do ships return?


I wanted to write a poem. The first two lines came to me when I was sitting. They were perfect—so perfect that I knew that I would not forget them. Who forgets something that is so perfect? You? Me? Oh, wait … I just remembered that it was two lines. And there were no fancy words in those lines.

It is coming now. The ship goes off to sea, leaving me behind. It was something like that. Do you ever feel left behind? Like when someone goes on a trip. There we have the crack (this was written in a Zen writing group and our prompt was from my classmates’ (Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge) book, poemcrazy.

We see the ship leave and we know that it is going to another world. We stay in our world. But our world is not the same because the ship is not in it any longer.

I didn't want to think about any more of the poem. I knew that I should be calming the sea and not making waves. I was trying to settle my mind and I had this fantasy that the bell would ring and the meditation session would be over and the rest of the poem would come to me effortlessly.

The ship goes off to sea,
leaving me behind.
What do I do with myself,
waiting for it to return?

Do ships really return?

This isn't going well. Sounds like some dumb sophomoric philosophical journey. Yikes!

But really … Have you had the experience that ships never really return? They have their grand adventure and then are reborn into something else.

Maybe I should write the poem more abstractly? Maybe a haiku?

Ship off,
Me behind, waiting
for nothing.

But maybe that wouldn't be so clear. You know what I mean by nothing. Right? Since the ship can't come back, I can't wait for it. Or I guess I could wait, if I want to set myself up for disappointment.

What is it that we wait for anyway? And is it ever the same when it comes?

Not that thinking again. Feel like hitting myself over the head.

Ship goes off to S E E
Someday to return
a different ship.

Maybe that's closer.

Where is the ship now? Is it dark and still as it is here, or is the sun rising and the waves bellowing? Have the people on the ship bonded into a tribe, making it impossible for anyone else to intervene?When the ship returns will it look the same, even if it is not the ship that left?

Returned ship never left,
only to fool
the watchman
counting the days ...
believing this or that.