Siddhartha

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Sweet Siddhartha
Pampered prince,
Living in supposed happiness
Behind the gilded gates
Of your father.
Small suspicions sprout
That the purpose of life
May not have as much to do
With fine dining and shiny rocks
As you were led to believe.

A triad of trips beyond teach
The reality and inevitability
Of old age, sickness, and death,
The pervasive suffering of humankind
Out in the world
Beyond your walls.

Escaping indulgence
In the quiet of the night,
Accepting asceticism
In search of truth
And a cure,
Sitting, studying with yogis
And begging before kings.

No less suffering,
No more satisfied.

Yet the cure for the world’s pain
Was waiting to be found
Halfway between
Asceticism and excess,
Riches and renunciation,
Under the old fig tree
Near the calm pond
Where the lotus blooms.

4/5-4/6/18

My sixth poem for National Poetry Writing Month.

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The Road You’re On (Tanka)

Not in ecstasy,
Nor anger, nor agony.
Find the middle path
‘Tween ascetic and excess
Free from suffering and grief.

3/21/18

My response to Colleen’s 2018 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 76: JOY & FURY, #SnyonymnsOnly.

Looking for Truth

You can look in your books,
Old and new,
Of beginnings and births,
Journeys and exiles,
Looking for truth
In a burning bush,
Or hanging on a Roman tree.

Search the history of time
For big bangs and clouds of gas,
Using probability and fuzzy logic,
Rationality and intellect,
Dialectic and dialogue,
Searching for truth outside the cave
In the depth of a black hole;
In the cry of a baby universe.

You can look inside,
Examine the depths of your soul,
For compassion and humility,
Poetry and purpose,
Knowing the only thing
You can truly know,
Controlling the only thing
You can truly control,
Be present
In the only moment you have,
Looking for truth
Under an Indian fig tree,
With an Athenian gadfly;
Between the pages of an emperor’s journal.

You can look outside,
At starving children on the streets,
At parents slaving to survive,
Living in quiet desperation
At the pleasure of the oligarchs
In the castle on the hill,
500 yards from urine stained crack houses,
6 miles from Robert E. Lee’s hoouse
And the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Looking for truth
In the eyes of a stranger
Or the hand of a friend.

11/13/98-12/28/17

 

Chaos and Cure

Chaos around you:
Be in the world, not of it.
Chaos within you:
Be still, breath,
Be present in this moment,
The only true reality.
Be mindful of your thoughts,
Be aware of your reactions.
The only things you truly control.
Find refuge in the palace of your mind,
That quiet place inside your soul.

10/17-10/23/17

Still on the Road

Driving down the poison highway
Through the nightmares of my youth:
Saccharine poetry, suicidal thoughts;
Disastrous experiments with vermouth.

Sterilizing self-inflicted wounds
With tequila, scotch and beer.
Bathed in sticky sweat,
Self-loathing, and fear.

Decades down a dusty highway
Through the terrors of middle-age:
Thinning hair; graying beard
Covering the still smoldering rage.

Calming the demons of the mind
With a single chilled glass of mead,
Wounds healed; scars run deep,
And occasionally still bleed.

Seeking release from suffering
In Athens; under an old fig tree.
A chance to finally flourish,
Living life in true equanimity.

9/27/17

All there is (Senryu)

Breath flows in and out
Heart beat rhythm slowing down
All there is is now.

4/6/17

Poem #9 for National Poetry Writing Month (aka #NaPoWriMo)

Dreams of Poems Already Written

Allen was in Asgard reciting America and
Singing the Buddhist Bible Blues for All-Father Odin
While Bobby and Baldr compared notes concerning
Daily dreams of darkness, depression, and death.
Byron rode up and down Bifröst bridge
Writing a poem about Don Juan
(No, not that one, the new one!)
Marcus Aurelius read the mythologies of Midgard,
Studied philosophy with Plato,
Admiring the stoicism of Socrates,
As Rimbaud wrote rhyming prose about Ragnarök,
Containing nothing but the truth,
Delivering it to Valhalla for the consideration of
Siddhartha, Thor and Wōđanaz.

4/2/17

Poem #3 for National Poetry Writing Month (aka #NaPoWriMo)

Evolution

Time before human memory, trading gills for lungs
Crawling onto dry land, into holes and up trees,
Growing legs, fur, tails and tiny little brains
That would soon be far to big for a birth canal.

Out of the trees, walking on two feet,
Hands free for carrying, nose picking and tool making.
Lower back pain discovered and bequeathed
To future generations for free.

Out of Africa around Mediterranean: north.
Cousins walk east until it becomes west,
Reunited when shortcuts are sailed.

Families become tribes, become communities, become villiages,
Become cities, become states, become countries and empires.
Gatherers become hunters, become farmers, become craftsman and artists,
Become citizens, become soldiers, become pawns of powerful men.

Brain growing visionaries become shaman, become oracles,
Become poets, prophets, philosophers and priests.

Curiosity, thirst for knowledge, need to understand
The world around: how it works and why.
Turn inside: who am I? What am I?
Realize that you to must one day die.

Needs become wants, become desires, become suffering,
Fear to lose, fight to keep, to steal, to fight, to kill and wage war.
Accumulate things, power; wealth.
Chase fleeting moments of sensory pleasure.
You will still one day die.
Try to avoid the inevitable; suffering is unavoidable.
Slave to desire, pleasure and greed can never really be free.
Sage, divorced from desire, seeking power over only his self,
Can never be anything else.

November 2016

America

Oh, America, you schizophrenic maladjusted
Nightmare train of well intentioned paving stones,
What have we done now?

Feeling angry, frustrated and scared.
Things changing rapidly around you,
Up is down, black is white,
Majority today, minority tomorrow.
Afraid of being done unto as you have done.

Feeling dejected, ignored and disenfranchised,
By millionaire politicians that pretend to care about you
Every four to six years.

So you shack up with the first sociopath that comes along,
Pays attention, tells you you’re pretty,
And offers to take you away from it all.

Waking next day hungover regret,
Tiny hands cupping breasts under the sheets,
Spooning your ass, his limp little tool spent.
Just another trophy on a narcissist’s wall.

America, Julia Roberts whore with a heart of gold
Waiting for the right billionaire to come along
And save you from the cold hard streets (and herpes).
Must’ve never read the Buddha’s Dhammapada:
Nobody can Richard Gere you out of the whorehouse but you.

America, you under educated Ritalin starved paranoid
ADD suffering superstitious conspiracy theorist,
I love you, warts and all.
Despite oligarchy, plutocrats, and
Fucking the working class in the ass with the tax code.
Despite rampant racism, sexism, homophobia
And general xenophobic bigotry.
Despite egotism, corporate greed and the military industrial complex.
Despite manifest destiny and imperialist colonialism
Despite Corruption, Anti-intellectualism, elitism and hypocrisy.
I love you.
Not for what you are, or what you’ve been,
But what you dream of being:
Land of the free, Home of the brave,
Inalienable human rights to pursue
Life, liberty and happiness.
Equality and equity.
Sanctuary for huddled masses across the globe.

11/10-11/21/16

Holy Lotus Cradle

sacred_lotus_nelumbo_nucifera

Have I dreamed this dream before,
Or is this something new?
A psycho-chemical reaction of my brain,
Or a mystical case of deja-vu?

Your face doesn’t ring a bell,
I don’t recall your name,
But I know I know you from somewhere,
Your presence feels the same.

Is our karma a chain,
Holding us down against our will,
Or is it a holy lotus cradle
Lifting us above the swill?

Break the chains, crack them,
Snap them, set yourself free.
Nothing can keep you from
Being who you’re meant to be.

Let the flower grow.
Water, feed it, let it flourish,
In return for the effort,
Your very soul it will nourish.

In the Spring, a sight to behold,
A bloom rising most beautifully,
As we all need help sometimes
To arrive at our destiny.

November 2010

Image from WikiPedia