Watching the dragon

Once upon a time when the days were brighter and the nights deeper,
when the flowers smelled sweeter
we could stand all day in the rain and not get wet
we would wander down the crashing streams running rils of water falling
ancient lullabies of kings and queens, knights and knaves, and ladies in
the living forest in the bare roots of gnarled trees
happy cracks of laughing rocks
a play ground for whimsy and dreams
the maid eyes closed tightly
could leap from the tallest cliff,
to the water below.

In the dampest molding dungeon,
the alchemist examines his findings,
a life of trying to turn lead into gold
In the tallest teetering tower
the philosopher tries to find meaning
a life of trying to make water from blood
And in the richest embroidered and carved and ornate throne room,
goblins and gnomes and trolls
and other hideous creatures of the dark
labor endlessly
pounding and banging to right the wretched room.

On the ramparts shawl wrapped
a one eyed ogress stares over the edges,
looking at the fetid moat below
shall I jump eyes closed she asks
as I did when I was young?
Overhead the winged harpy calls
don’t fly unless your eyes are wide open.

The witch stirs her iron cauldron with a ladle made of copper
The witch stirs the dust with her old straw broom
The witch stirs her soup with a wooden spoon
and as for her yarn, the wheel it turns and it turns.

The wind bangs open
her humble wooden door,
but no it is the king
bow thee down on your knees
as the king puts out his jeweled hand for a kiss
the magic seeps from her
drop by black and oily drop
it smokes sparking gem by sparking gem

Behind the witches green ones
the yellow eyes of the the dragon

The maid, the ogress and the witch congress.
Fealty and Loyalty are not the same
Graciousness is wasted on the profane

With a sigh
the maid bookmarks her devotional
with a grunt
the witch makes a secret mark in her book of spells
with a smile
the ogress stares with her one good eye.

Meanwhile the dragon slips silently slithering
waiting for a turn.


Ancient Rhyme

I feel old, like an ancient civilization

rich with an intricate and balanced beauty

I feel embroidered like the blanketed bed of a king

Open for his new bride

I feel like a lantern

made of clay

lit on the inside

but thick and heavy on the out

I think I will dream awhile

in this stone fortress

that has no outside doors

meanwhile I stand upon the ramparts

waiting for an angel, flying

to drop a gift at my feet

It is a beautiful dream

I feel like an ancient rhyme

a long journeyed tale to be told

but only in a whisper

in an echoing cavern

of an arching rotunda.

Buddhism · Poetry

Stoppered Vessel

I think I am an egg
that something can give birth
from my substance
but in an instant I know
there is no golden sustenance
in my interior
nor the sticky stuff
of transparent nutrient
I am a pottered vase
painted with homespun glaze
ordinary and plain.

I think I am empty inside
grain long eaten by a mouse
water long evaporated to the elements
bones turned to dust and dumped unceremoniously into the sewer
wine soaked deep into the interior pores

I am not at peace here
with my unknown interior
Perhaps I should rest awhile
to see what may come
perhaps I am a reliquary
in some damp and dripping grotto
a thousand visitors have passed me by
in search of a higher thing
or residing quietly in the dry desert of
an Anasazi ruin
Found after an eon by a
conscientious explorer
and left safe in my hidden niche
Perhaps I am in the dead sea caves
A scroll to be read by
a Biblical scholar and tucked away
as blasphemy

And yet perhaps I am empty
inside my ceramic shell
An echoing cavern
painted with running beasts
inscribed with intricate patterns
an echoing hollow space
that if you place your ear
upon the open lip
you shall hear
only my breath
like the ocean surf


waiting to be opened.


Happy Accidents


I ask for help and am told my direction, I was right but I felt a need to make sure.  He tells me you must go to the African Art Museum.  Oh I said that is exactly where I am going.  He wishes me well and tells me God Bless.  And bless you too I say thank you so much.  I step out of the dark and dirty tunnel and into the air, the spring is full here and the birds are singing, and for some reason I am transported to Caracas Venezuela.  I wander these balmy neighborhoods in search of my self and only find what I have lost and not what I hope for.  I laugh at myself for wishing for the ear of an old friend and yet still I wish I could say what I have in my heart.

I haved a mission and I am headed there when my head is turned by images of the Buddha.  I walk into a stuffy old museum, there an older woman is giving directions to an Asian woman and her mother.  I wait.  I ask for help and she gives it, her smiling face and bright eyes a reflection of myself.

I begin to wander these old rooms and find myself standing in front of a display case, the photo in the link above cannot possibly do justice to the intensely carved and intricate beauty of this piece.  I find that in this moment all of my thoughts are blown away, my emotions dissipate like clouds, my words are like raindrops, too numerous to count and my very soul is worn smooth like the slate after the passing of countless storms.  I open my mouth and only breath comes and goes.  Wow.  I am wow.

I walk into the Whistler room and am non plussed, how can he be famous this close to this other art.  The work is pale and ordinary like the Korean ceramics.  I take a magnifying glass in my hand and look at the work of the Persian miniatures.  I am afraid my breath with fog the glass I am standing so close to examine the intricate one hair brush of gold inlaid roses on a wall paper high up above an arched doorway, where undoubtedly some hijabed woman waits for her husbands guests to be on their way.  She must be embroidering more of the intricate fabrics that adorn her home.  I wander room to room transported.

As I leave I stop and tell the woman at the information desk, thank you for your help today.  And I said, what a gem you have here.  All the other buildings with their snapping flags and flashy names, and here you have this unassuming old building filled with art so precious and spectacular.  Nothing else this whole day will compare.  Except I realize as I write these words the orchid room in the Botanical Garden.