Village Zendo Home
December 09 Contents

Street RetreatA 4-day retreat on the streets of Manhattan
Two Poems"The Way" and "Beside Me"
Avalokiteshvara's ArmAvalokiteshvara's Missing ArmA broken statue
Poet Anne Waldman"While I'm Here I'll Do the Work"Interview with poet Anne Waldman
Winter HaikuThree poems
Musho's TeahousePainting

The Way

"...a person of the Way fundamentally does not dwell anywhere..."

     —"Cultivating the Empty Field", Hongzhi Zenji (1091-1157)


I would be lying if I say that I don't dwell anywhere

I could never leave my rent control apartment

the last bird I saw flying far into the distance

was the pigeon that splattered the sidewalk

narrowly missing me, from the vast sky

and the lazy fish that I see

are the ones slow enough to get caught

and sold in downtown markets and sturgeon counters.

where are those white clouds

the green mountains

the clear bottomless water?

day after day

I see the tears

and suffering of the angry

the neglected, the abused

they sit across from me

and it's hard to see the way through all the gloom.

but then some days I help them sit with stability

and hope they can find the freedom to reengage the world

with some energy.

sometimes a fish is just a fish

and a life, a life

as I walk by the Hudson

I just might catch the reflection of the moon cherishing

and at home

in my sink

there are always bowls to wash

but first I sit

at the end of a long day

and drink my tea.

Photo: Navah Steiner

Beside Me

When I sit Zazen

My dog is always beside me

Each of us on our respective pillow

Her sleek body slowly stops twitching

Like my thoughts

Her eyelids grow heavy, gentle hoods over her eyes

One seeing and one blind.

Sometimes I can't stop myself

I look over at her

My little Zen master

Who has awakened me

To Being

fully alive in every moment

Eating, sleeping, panting, jumping

the sweet sorrow of parting each morning

the pure joy of return

and of greeting a loved one at the door.

and I am aware, that one day

Just as she has shown me how to live

She will pry open my blind eye

To the reality of death

When she leaves me.

But for now

We are our own Sangha

And we sit together

And breathe.

« Back to December 09 table of contents