Tag Archives: truth

Buddha’s Dogs

I enjoy this poem. I’ve experienced day long meditations and I relate to the dog metaphor and overall humor. Despite practice I don’t meditate well. I automatically look for interesting things or plans to think about and when I finally get to my breath, I’m quickly distracted. I have been chasing the same dogs around in my mind forever despite plans to weed out and eradicate circular and non productive thoughts permanently! My greatest comforts include knowing others’ dwell in the same human condition I do.

Buddha’s Dogs                                                                      Susan Browne

I’m at a day-long meditation retreat, eight hours of watching

my mind with my mind,

and I already fell asleep twice and nearly fell out of my chair,

and it’s not even noon yet.

In the morning session, I learned to count my thoughts, ten in

one minute, and the longest

was to leave and go to San Anselmo and shop, then find an

outdoor cafe and order a glass

of Sancerre, smoked trout with roasted potatoes and baby

carrots and a bowl of gazpacho.

But I stayed and learned to name my thoughts, so far they are:

wanting, wanting, wanting,

wanting, wanting, wanting, wanting, wanting, judgment,

sadness.  Don’t identify with your

thoughts, the teacher says, you are not your personality, not your

ego-identification,

then he bangs the gong for lunch.  Whoever, whatever I am is

given instruction

in the walking meditation and the eating meditation and walks

outside with the other

meditators, and we wobble across the lake like The Night of the

Living Dead.

I meditate slowly, falling over a few times because I kept my

foot in the air too long,

towards a bench, sit slowly down, and slowly eat my sandwich,

noticing the bread,

(sourdough), noticing the taste, (tuna, sourdough), noticing

the smell, (sourdough, tuna),

thanking the sourdough, the tuna, the ocean, the boat, the

fisherman, the field, the grain,

the farmer, the Saran Wrap that kept this food fresh for this

body made of food and desire

and the hope of getting through the rest of this day without

dying of boredom.

Sun then cloud then sun.  I notice a maple leaf on my sandwich.

It seems awfully large.

Slowly brushing it away, I feel so sad I can hardly stand it, so I

name my thoughts; they are:

sadness about my mother, judgment about my father, wanting

the child I never had.

I notice I’ve been chasing the same thoughts like dogs around

the same park most of my life,

notice the leaf tumbling gold to the grass.  The gong sounds,

and back in the hall.

I decide to try lying down meditation, and let myself sleep.  The

Buddha in my dream is me,

surrounded by dogs wagging their tails, licking my hands.

I wake up

for the forgiveness meditation, the teacher saying, never put

anyone out of your heart,

and the heart opens and knows it won’t last and will have to

open again and again,

chasing those dogs around and around in the sun then cloud

then sun.

Hate Hotel

This poem is fun unless you hate it! Some people find it disturbing, others funny. I like any poem that is great for discussion and this one is. Make sure you share it. I relate to the emotions in the poem and enjoyed the images. The militaristic view is masculine and very relevant to our current world. I love the last stanza, it awoke my heart.

Hate Hotel                                                                              Tony Hoagland

Sometimes I like to think about the people I hate.

I take my room at the Hate Hotel, and I sit and flip

through the heavy pages of the photographs,

the rogue’s gallery of the faces I loathe.

My lamp of resentment sputters twice, then comes on strong,

filling the room with its red light.

That’s how hate works—it thrills you and kills you

with its deep heat. Sometimes I like to sit and soak

in the Jacuzzi of my hate, hatching my plots

like a general running his hands over a military map—

and my bombers have been sent out

over the dwellings of my foes,

and are releasing their cargo of ill will

on the targets below, the hate bombs falling in silence

into the lives of the hate-

recipients. From the high window of my office

in the Government of Hate,

where I stay up late, working hard,

where I make no bargains, entertain no

scenarios of reconciliation,

I watch the hot flowers flare up all across

the city, the state, the continent—

I sip my soft drink of hate on the rocks

and let the punishment go on unstopped,

—again and again I let hate

get pregnant and give birth

to hate which gets pregnant

and gives birth again—

and only after I feel that hate

has trampled the land, burned it down

to some kingdom come of cautery and ash.

Only after it has waxed and waned and waxed all night

only then can I let hate

creep back in the door. Curl up at my feet

and sleep. Little pussycat hate. Home sweet hate.

The Seven of Pentacles

If you are a tarot card user you are likely familiar with the pentacles suit and perhaps the gardener who is represented in the image on most decks. Choosing the most positive reading, the card is about the harvest after a lot of work tending the plantings. In the poem, Marge Piercy makes the gardener feminine which is not traditional. But it is a new world, after all! Take your time with the poem, gardening is a great metaphor for the layers of living we must work through.

The Seven Of Pentacles                                            Marge Piercy

 

Under a sky the color of pea soup

she is looking at her work growing away there

actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans

as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.

If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,

if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,

if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,

if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,

then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

 

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.

You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.

More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.

Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.

Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.

Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.

Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

 

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.

Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.

Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,

a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us

interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

 

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:

reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.

This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,

for every gardener knows that after the digging, after

the planting,

after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.

Mother Lets Off a Little Steam

This poem is a wild ride well worth a car trip. The life that is embedded in the story through the images and dialogue is wonderful. The mother and daughters are very familiar as well as the conflicts inherit to family and writing dilemmas. Enjoy!

Mother Lets Off a Little Steam                                              J. Allyn Rosser

I don’t know how I’m expected to get anything done

with these two constantly at odds, cranky sisters

in the backseat on a long ride to the wrong place.

Muse wants the Tunnel of Love on a roller coaster,

and to be spirited there on something more elegant

than a carpet. She’d better marry rich, is all I can say.

Truth wants a deserted rest area with a flat rock to sit on.

I’m not kidding. This is what she’d like the most.

A view of flat rock from a seat of flat rock.

There’s a scuffle. “Do I have to stop this car or what?”

But I’m going seventy, we’re late, it’s rush hour,

there’s no berm to stop on and they both know it.

Muse pops up in the rearview, rhinestone ruby shades

bouncing painful darts of light into the corner of my eye.

“I have to go again,” she hiccups. It’s a ruse.

She wants, as always, a new gewgaw, a rainbow slurpee,

or one of those impossible-to-lick seriously huge lollipops.

Her candy breath reaches and nearly sickens me.

Whereas Truth is so stolid, so smugly abstemious,

it makes you want to shake her hard, knock the wiser-than-

you-know gaze askew, disturb the pristine implacability

of those conspicuously ringless hands folded in her lap.

Placid as a cow in the shade on a hot day.

Oh I love them, you know, but on days like this—

Sit down,” Truth says, levelly. “Try and make me!”

In terms of strength you wouldn’t want to put your money

on Muse. Truth has always been a good eater,

fond of climbing outdoors. Built like a moose.

Her sister craves exotic sauces and chocolate,

and some weird combinations of tart and savory,

but try getting her to eat one pea. One grain of plain rice.

She’s slight in form but tricky, reckless, unpredictable,

and in certain situations this defeats Truth,

who simply has to be right about everything.

So in spite of her years and her methodical,

relentless scrutiny, she often misses the point.

Meanwhile her sister will just up and blurt something

that at first makes no sense, but then it turns out

to be astonishingly right, the more you think about it.

That’s what really ticks off Truth, when we say

“the more you think about it.” Her eyes narrow

and her face just sort of shuts down. You pity her then.

She likes her facts neatly stacked on the table.

Muse shrugs a lot, changes sides like a fish,

isn’t fazed by paradox. I think she thrives on it.

“Sit,” Truth says again, “DOWN.” “Why should I,

you’re jealous because I’m taller than you.”

“You are not,” “Am too.” “Are not.” “My head

almost touches when I stand but you have to stoop,

so I’m taller.” “No way,” “My eyes are higher. See?”

There is a muffled thump. “Don’t make me stop this car,”

I say stupidly, but else can I do? Muse snickers,

Truth snorts softly. I can’t help it, I keep going,

“I’m never taking the two of you with me anywhere

ever again!” “Okay,” says Truth. “Fine with me,”

Muse sings out. Now they’re in league I can’t win.

They know perfectly well that without Muse there is no vehicle

without Truth no road.

J. Learns the Difference Between Poverty and Having No Money

This is a poem that called forth varied reactions in writing class.  Some found it depressing and it raised confusion;  both made me doubt my reasons for introducing it.  Finally, though someone called it beautiful, which completed the gamut of responses.  I found it to be a poem that unfolded with every reading.  I read it out loud in the beginning of four different groups and it surprised me every time.  My first reason for using it had to do with the idea of money, which is a necessity many creative endeavor-rees struggle with. This poem is also part of an interesting series by the poet. I enjoy the way he’s found to refer to himself!

J. Learns the Difference Between Poverty and Having No Money                    Jeffrey Schultz

After Ernesto Trejo

 

And the morning’s marine layer cloud cover’s just beginning to unhinge,

to let the buttery light of another daybreak slip through

And weigh down the dead lawns and sagging rooftops

of this neighborhood, where Cold War era television antennas

Still cast shadows like B-52s heading offshore, where poverty, this early

is the smell of Malt-O-Meal and the dregs of thin beer

Washed down the sink. Where the shift begins at 7AM,

but consciousness has a way of coming round as slowly

As this old computer monitor flickers its dull sixteen colors into being.

On it, the names and numbers of laundromat and liquor store owners,

Fast food managers and lawn care companies; it’s my job

to cold call them, read from a script on the benefits of membership

In the Executive Dining Club, not take No for an answer.

I’m no good and both the boss and I know it, and he’s hovering

When the scraped-out voice of the woman on my phone answers me with

My husband’s been killed, and then, instead of hanging up,

Throws the receiver down next to something— dishwasher or window AC,

I don’t know— but something close, it sounds, to tearing itself apart,

Something cycling through an awful, screeching noise.

And it’s because I’ve paused that the boss flings a pencil

Into the wall in front of me and edges closer, and because of the fear

of unemployment forms or the sky opening up if I were to walk out,

And because this sound— the un-oiled, flak-fouled crack of it—

has left me standing suddenly at the end of a runway, planes

Screaming low overhead and loaded for the beginning of the end of the world,

that I start back into the script, start back as if I believe each word,

Even though, in the rattle and dust of the jet-wash, no one hears a thing.

Hiding Again from the Jehovah’s Witnesses

This spring I had two sets of Jehovah’s Witnesses within the same week. It was spring and close to Easter and just past Passover.  I didn’t hide from the visitors at the front door, blessed as I am with a barking dog who monitors every aspect of the front yard.  We spoke briefly and they presented me with reading materials and an invitation to a service.  They also said they’d like to come back and visit with me some more.

It seems there is an opening in the psyche, occurring each spring, that might allow something new to emerge from the places we are otherwise closed off from the rest of the year.  You can’t fault people who hold the possibility of positive change, for you and for themselves.  Even if it is a little dark.

Hiding Again from the Jehovah’s Witnesses                          Sarah Gordon

 

Testimonials cower me, especially

of the spirit. I don’t want to open my door

to earnest strangers, I don’t want to meet

their eyes. Their cheerful chatter

on the other side of the screen

assumes an intimacy I do not feel.

They dress for Sunday on Saturday

and open their Bibles, the leather cracked,

finger a verse or two, and they’re certain.

So now I hover beside the windowless

wall in the front hall, where I hear,

in the domestic distance, the washer

sloshing, the dryer spinning my clothes

in and out of control, and perhaps the

swish of angel wings. My intrepid

visitors ring twice, quietly awaiting

this reluctant soul, thrice baptized,

loved beyond measure, or so

I’ve been told. But I don’t want

to hear news of the end (it’s coming,

you know), I won’t learn the signs

to watch for: rivers shriveling here,

sandbagged there, polar bears

in our back yard, birds plummeting

from the sky through no fault of their own,

and worse, the buzzing ears and frantic

hearts that lead us to run, lickety-split,

through red lights, guardrails, and

family fortunes, with an occasional

backward glance, the pillar of salt be damned.

The witnesses from Jehovah want in,

they want me to be watchful. They say

that’s what Jesus wants.

But I am leaning low and still

on the other side of the wall,

and when I close my eyes,

I’m invisible.