Is Anybody Here?*
I’ve been told all my adult life
To ask this question
Ever since I became a Buddhist
Forty years ago.
The answer, it seems, is both yes and no.
Someone appears to be writing this poem.
Yet, except for occasional revisions,
The words for “my” poems come from somewhere else
Than the normal, rational, irrational, conscious mind.
We just give it a go.
All arrangements are temporary
Get stupid and see if it makes you any more real.
It’s always time to rain on someone else’s parade.
Manifestations of life, although numerous, are getting smaller all the time.
First you break down then you come back to life.
We’re all animals. We have no choice.
You never go until you do.
*Written while watching Is Anybody There by John Crowley
Life on a String*
Why is empty space white?
Ask the sun about waterfalls in Heaven.
Of the god of death
We ask fewer questions.
The water is too rough.
Break the strings slowly in my heart.
Here’s some blue to mend the hole in the sky.
Saint, get a butterfly kite.
*Written while watching Life on a String, a Chinese film set in Mongolia
In Front of Kato Nobukijo’s Ten Arhants Examining a Painting of White-Robed Compassion*
When I die, I want to be composed of letters.
My own words, if possible,
In a language I understand.
Would you care to paint this portrait, now
With trees composed of words behind me?
I might be surrounded by whatever friends
I have left at that time,
Each composed of their favorite words, as well,
Mine or theirs, as someone chooses.
There might even be a picture of a picture within,
Perhaps alternating all the words I love.
This would be possible with a computer-produced image
Inside a hand-made painting.
*Kato Nobukijo (1734-1810) painted this work, in which all the images are composed of tiny Chinese ideograms from Chapter 4 of the Lotus sutra. Arhants are a Buddha or a Bodhisattva’s helpmates and are considered to be fully enlightened.
RECONFIGURATIONS: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture, http://reconfigurations.blogspot.com/, ISSN: 1938-3592, Volume Three (2009): Immanence/ Imminence