Are You Free?

I’m not free,
She said,
I can’t fly free
Among the clouds.
Gravity is oppressing me
And holding me back.

I’m not free,
He said,
From the chain
Of causality
That stretches
From the Big Bang,
Throwing matter into motion,
To the motion of the air
From her lips
To my ear
Telling me its over.

The inevitability
Of cause and effect
Chain me down
Like a tiger in a cage.

I’m not free,
He said,
Because one day
I must die and
There’s not enough time
To do all the things;
Not enough money
To buy all the things.
I’m trapped,
Wings clipped,
By mortality.

But you are free,
Said Epictetus,
You cannot
Glide among the gulls
And cannot avoid
Inevitable endings,
But you are free
To choose
To accept the things
You have no control over
As they are.

You are free,
Said Siddhartha,
If you choose
Not to be a slave
To your desires.
Everything essential
Dwells within.
Let go of fear.
Let go of loss.

Do not expect more
Than the universe
Is willing
To give you

6/5-6/6/19

Are You Free? was originally published on Free Verse Revolution.

If you enjoy my work and would like to support my efforts beyond just being a reader, please consider becoming a supporter on Patreon. By doing so, depending on the level of support you pledge, you can have early access to content, exclusive “behind the scenes” content, and other bonuses:

Advertisements

Are You Free? @ FVR

My newest poem, Are You Free?, Is now available at the Free Verse Revolution blog:

Are You Free?

If you enjoy my work and would like to support my efforts beyond just being a reader, please consider becoming a supporter on Patreon. By doing so, depending on the level of support you pledge, you can have early access to content, exclusive “behind the scenes” content, and other bonuses:

Dukkha – a tanka

Suffering exists
And it can be overcome
The message is clear
See the source of suffering
Follow the path to freedom

2/15/19

My response to Colleen’s 2019 Weekly #Tanka Tuesday #Poetry Challenge No. 123 #SynonymsOnly

Siddhartha

siddhartha-under-bodhi-tree-540x270

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.

napo2018button2

 

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)