Monday, November 17, 2014


(Anyone who's reading this blog for some other reason, sorry for all the recent poetry reprints. It's just a convenient place to put them, when I want them to be re-read for some reason. This one was published in my third chapbook, _Doctor of Dead Letters_.)


I should have been prepared
By those TV shows
"Touched By An Angel"
"Joan of Arcadia"
How many actors have dressed up as God?
I used to wonder
If I, too
Could clip a halo-light on to my collar
Deadpan "I am an angel from God"
And become a religious experience

I should have been prepared
By all those actors
When the limo pulled up on the busy late night street
And the window rolled down
I saw his expensive tie
As he looked out coldly
And I thought "Must be some obnoxious rich guy"
But it was God

I should have been prepared
Couldn't he appear as anything, anywhere
A burning bush or a light from the sky?
This time he had a dome light
He turned to look at me and asked if I was saving something
I assumed that he meant the parking space
I was standing in
And said "not for you"
That may have been a mistake

I should have been prepared
There's a long tradition about how to talk to God
Humility, personal virtue
Reminding him of his good side
But of course he knew how I'd answer
And now I'd said it
"I am the creator of worlds", he said
"Where were you when I made the stars?
I am the Alpha and the Omega
And that parking space is mine
Your soul is mine"
And all of a sudden I knew who He was
He didn't have to do tricks like the TV actors do
When God wants you to know it's Him, you know it

I should have been prepared
I stuttered a bit
And having started with bravado, had to go on
"You are the destroyer of worlds too
The same stories that tell how you
Reimburse people in heavenly small claims court
Tell how you put others away for eternity
And when we say we don't understand
You start going on about how we're children
Or sheep. How we're your shiftless slum tenants."
He stopped me with a look

I should have been prepared
But He was merciful anyway
He'd heard my kind of blather billions of times before
Silently I knew that I'd been given another chance
And I stepped back out of the parking space
His. His.
And as his limo pulled up
I started to sing Hosannas

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Oscar in Samsara

I heard the words of the Buddha
They were about skandhas, sense-impressions
Sense-impressions – piles of five, for the five senses, heaps

That was the flash of enlightenment
I heard the Buddha laugh

Those heaps, impermanent and valueless,
Were trash
I love trash

Nothing stays the same
Nothing is made of itself
The trash lies in piles, in the way
Kick it, and the foot
That kicks is trash

That is the truth
Intended to make us happy
To give up desire, attachment to trash
That is the trash of truth

Everything dirty, growing, in spots
Never to be seen again
The faces that I love
Temporary, uncaptureable
Even the monuments grow dingy
Even the innermost thoughts
The world, and its images
A giant garbage can

Walking along the railroad tracks
I saw them, and turned to the four year old
Walking with me
Look, rusty bolts!
And fasteners to turn on them
We brought them home
They became part of us
Polished, less rusty by many turnings
Finally put away
When trash passes, there is suffering
The bolts, did they last?
They were like what we ate

A picture is the trash of a moment
Snapped off
Poems are word-trash
When words go, they will go too
Memories, feelings
Rot away, change color, get dusty

The first kiss that mattered
We were surrounded by paper
Bales and bags of it
Piled, in the trailer where we worked, recycling it
Amidst all the trash that we moved
The work, the kiss, the life
The four year old, later
The bolts and the fasteners
All from trash
A gift from my mother the day I was born
The perception of it
Small stones, colors
Are picked up, rejoiced
The pink and green and brown
And stubborn rockiness of them
And saved, and lost
And suffered, with each loss
The pattern passed on
To the recycling center
The bags and bales and heaps

Buddha, there is a problem
It is everywhere
Everything, there are no boundaries
Within the garbage can
No eye to see it
But the momentary notice
Of each person, pattern, hope
Though it leads to mourning
Trash slipping away from trash
Though nothing can be kept
That is where I'm stuck
Particular, attached
To these bits of it
In all its stubborn grime
I love it because it's trash