Little Nuggets of Wisdom

On Work

Someone with a job
         is never secure
Someone with a calling
         is never unemployed

         is a state of wallet
         is a state of mind

Sleeping in the window
         While I work
My yellow cat's teachings
         Are lost on me

A poet must discipline himself everyday
Basho said that
Poor Basho
Doesn’t know how famous he is

What is the sound
         Of one hand working
While the other hand
         Holds the fishing pole?

Food Chain
Bug in the water
Fish on the hook
Dinner on the table
Tax man at the door

Cool fountain beckons me
         to join the children, so serious in their splashing play
I dangle my feet, soak the bottoms of my pants
         and sigh for their parents, trapped
                   inside their suits,
                            inside their jobs,
                                      inside their buildings.
They pore over spreadsheets
         compose urgent memos
                   yawn their way through meetings
Propelled onward by stale coffee
and visions of payday
While I play in the water
         with their children.

No man stands so tall
         as when he stoops to help a child
Too bad there are no children
         down at the office

The Day Chuang Tzu
Got Laid Off

Was I then a poet
Dreaming of being a suit
Or am I now a suit
Dreaming of being a poet

The frontier spirit isn’t dead
         it’s just grown soft
Scratching for gold
         at the lotto machine

They promoted Professor Gallagher
         made him a chair
Forgot to tell him
         how many butts he’d look up to

I am my poems
My poems are me
So who am I
When the Muse stays home?

If I think therefore I am
Am I not on the days that
I think not?

I look in the mirror
And I see
The only face
I will never see

Spider on my wall
Eight legs dance
Across a silver web
Can’t I dance with two?

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On Dreams

Live your dreams
Before they come true
Just in case
You never wake up

The journey of
         a thousand miles
begins with a
         longing inward glance

Look close
         Cactus flower blossoms
See far
         Distant mountain beckons

Be today
         Keep you attention in the present
See tomorrow
         Keep your vision in the future

I seem to be unsure
of my way
It’s a good thing that
there are many roads to success

In the sterile quiet of the exam room
doctor ponders the unusual x-ray
What do you prescribe for chest pain
caused by a dying dream
trapped inside the heart?

Crowd files out of the art gallery
         red sun sets unnoticed
It would never fit
         on the living room wall

Who would chase
What they don’t really want?
And why would you want
What you can’t really have?

If you can dream it you can do it
Hearing that the ambitious young man
Went to bed with a smile on his face
         One big sleep away from success

Late Night Comedy
In the middle of the night I
Wake up, laughing
I wish I could remember
What was so damn funny?

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On Elinghtenment

I write
You read
If you finish before I do
Please let me know

Bless You
Subtle Wisdom
Is Often Misdiagnosed

A Ha!
         Hah Hah!!!
         cracks me up

If you don’t have a question
         you don’t have a clue
If you aren’t searching
         you must really be lost

I looked down into the water
Saw a reflection of my face
My face looked up at me
Saw clouds in the sky

Frozen pond gleams in the sun
     I skate across the surface
How hard it is to know
         what lies underneath

In cosmic serenity the yogi sits
         Perched atop legs coiled like springs
Blissfully unaware that at any moment
         They could launch him into space

The clocks run a bit slow
         In the library
Time, it seems, can’t help but to
         Meander through the stacks
         And for a while
         Slide between the covers
         Of a good book

What an amazing thing
         to discover for the first time
Wisdom that you have known
         for three thousand years

Teach me to think more clearly
         Student implores
Don’t think so much
         Master replies

Far off in the distance
         I see the person I want to be
It will be a long journey
         I must walk slowly

Speak then listen
         write then read
Always know
         never understand

In the airport madness
         I see a sanctuary of solitude
But there’s no peace here
         with CNN hanging
from the ceiling
How far we have come from the
Primitive entertainment
         of Socrates

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On Courage

Soar to the stars
         Crash and burn
The difference between courage and crazy
         Is often evident only in retrospect

Keep moving
         So fear cannot catch you
Keep still
         So fear cannot find you

When afraid for the future
         concentrate your attention
on the work of today
When afraid of today
         fix your vision
on the dreams of tomorrow

The pen…
Must truly be mightier than the sword
Else why would I be so afraid
of that pen
Lying unsheathed
On my writing table?

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On Attention

He was so crazy he was brilliant
         so brilliant he was dumb
What is one to make
         of a paradoxymoron

Strolling along a sidewalk
         a bump disturbs my dreams
My alarm clock
         did not finish its job

Attention!  May I please have…
Where was I?  Oh, yeah.
It’s a deficit that keeps my poems
So short – and disordered.

May I have your attention please?
A gift so thoughtlessly  requested;
So carelessly given;
So rarely appreciated.

We each need an alarm clock
Tucked in the back of the head
To remind us that being half-awake
Is the same as being half-dead

Grains of Sand
Ragged man sitting alone by the fountain
absorbed in a passionate debate
with someone from the
invisible dimension
ignores me passing by
even though I smile and say hi
he’s got far more interesting companions

Last night I dreamed
That I had solved all of
The world’s greatest problems
They were solutions worthy of
Socrates and Plato and Aristotle
Unfortunately, when I tried to remember
These flashes of genius in the morning
It was all Greek to me

No matter what it is
         I am doing
I know that I should be
         Doing something else
With all those other somethings
         Weighing over me
I usually end up doing
         Nothing at all

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On Prayer

         is the ultimate victory
         of soul
                   over ego

The Lord works in
         mysterious ways
And usually without
         a sense of urgency

What is the sound
         Of one hand praying
While the other hand
         Claps from the sidelines?

What is the sound
         Of one hand praying
While the other hand
         Pulls the arm on a slot machine?

Be careful what you pray for
I prayed for wisdom
         was answered with a study guide
I prayed for strength
         was answered with an exercise regimen
I prayed for courage
         was answered with a call to commitment
I prayed for generalities
         was answered with specifics

My best lines have come and gone, unrecorded
While hiking the back country trails
Where the silence is so profound all you can hear
Is the sound of your own thoughts and the Voice of God
And the challenge is to know
         Who’s doing the talking

Cardinals flock and
elephants herd
The art of poetry is
in the right word

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On Peace

Feeling the onrush
of time
I step aside
And let it fly by

In the desert
         The silence is so profound
You can take all of it you want
         And there’s still plenty left
                   For everyone else who comes

The glitz and glamour of Vegas
Plastic beads at Club Med
Drunken smiles of affectionate strangers
How much I miss
When I hike alone in the desert

People look at me
And see
Someone else

He spent his whole life
         In the pursuit of happiness
Finally caught up
         Died a happy man

The sun will shine tomorrow,
though I may be sick in bed
The sun will shine in a million years
though I may well be dead

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