Singing the Same Question

For a poet whose fidelity has been to the timeless voice of that underground stream in which all that is wiser than us sings, speaking of God has produced an interesting echo throughout the years: like singing the same question in different weather; first into the wind, then into a crowd, and now before and after the crash of ancient waves. All the while, critics have been reflexive in their reactions: leaning in, backing away, looking puzzled, getting angry. Yet… Read more

The Waterbird Way

In speaking about the non-dependence of the mind, Dōgen says, “Coming, going, the waterbirds don’t leave a trace, don’t follow a path.” There are many ways to understand. Driven by our need to be seen, the mind can understand in the manner that a plow cuts the earth, overturning everything it encounters; leaving nothing as it was found. Or as Dōgen suggests, in our need to see, the mind can understand in the manner that a waterbird enters and leaves… Read more

Love Is As Love Does

This is the world of Grandma Minnie, the Brooklyn of my youth so full of unknown wonders and windows as far as I could see, out of which countless heads would lean and call for children I didn’t really know. But the open windows everywhere made me feel we were all connected, made me feel that each living room washed into the next. I would sit on the cement stoop and watch one drama waft into the street and mix… Read more

To See and Hear

I couldn’t keep the damn glasses clean. Kept wiping them and curs- ing them. And my left ear was get- ting worse. Those across the room were shouting secrets behind a water- fall. But I wasn’t ready. Kept wiping the damn glasses. Kept trying to make sense of things I couldn’t hear. I didn’t feel stubborn. And I want so very much to see and hear. Then after a long un- folding, the cocoon my soul was eating through gave… Read more

Before the Moon

How this ache stops me, old teacher that it is. Often on the way home when the wiper won’t clear it away. Or after a call with a friend who longs for something he can’t quite name. After utter companionship, not knowing what to say, when everyone has gone to bed, and the moon has stopped being shy, I put my tongue on the table like a paper weight and walk wordless through the night. The place where beauty meets… Read more

Breaking Trance

It is raining lightly and the sheep are standing still in the wet field, stopped by beads of water from the sky on their ears, their eyes, their mouths. They look like statues breaking their trance. Alive for the first time, they wonder, what is this magical place where the very air kisses you everywhere. Falling in love with the world is like this. Read more

Lesson Plan

The lost bird remembers how to sing as it splashes in a puddle and forgets how to fly. This was the teacher’s answer to his student’s complaints about living on earth. Read more

Human Migration

They say we began before we could speak, that whether running from some woolly mammoth or squinting to see into the sun, we stood erect and began to search. They say this was a million years ago. Some- where in Africa, as the long wind with a thousand scents swept through the high grass. What they don’t say is that it’s all been one nameless soul using many lives in one endless search. It’s been forty thou- sand generations, skin… Read more

Life Around the Fire

My neighbor and I wave to each other through the trees; though we don’t even know each other’s name. After a snowstorm, we worm our way out. I admit it’s comforting to see another in the open, leaning on his shovel, his breath clouding as he looks again to the sky. There’s something primal in knowing that we each have a fire we huddle around. I love clearing the path to our door and leaving the light on. Of course,… Read more

The Sublime Disturbance

As the wind makes a different song through the same tree as its branches break, God makes finer and finer music through the wearing down of our will. Read more

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