Why would anyone want to sit
cross-legged for an hour a day,
motionless, every itch unscratched,
striving for clear mind, fighting sleep?
Right now I'm part human, part dog,
part hungry ghost, part bodhisattva,
longing for the afternoon I'm already in.

Around me the whole dark immediate
forest is collapsing, the pines purple
with storm-light, the house suddenly still.
I killed two baby trout today.
I was fishing the brook barbless,
after little ones for the pond.
These two swallowed the hook.
Brookies: five inches, four inches.
Now I atone for it all.

For years I sat zazen intermittently
while reading fervently, a form of bullshit.
I wore a cloak of asceticism, and wandered
from abandoned outpost to abandoned outpost,
reading each wind-toughened note
on the front doors:
The livestock wandered off to who-knows-where.

Sometimes I still go swimming secretly
in the joyful garrulous river,
the delicious white-water of thought,
or play on the ladders of logic,
re-asking Dogen's question:
If we're all born Buddhas,
why seek enlightenment?
The dogs know. Look at them,
wrestling the ancient eternal questions,
play-crouching, mock-fighting over a stick.

How I feel age coming on me now,
fast, suddenly way too fast,
tremor in my hands typing this,
playing the keyboard like a piano,
puppet bones dancing, clickety-click.
My very bones, right here in front of me!
It's a matter of life and death.