The Lesson of Pain: Lessen the Pain

“The Marrow of Zen,” one of the sutras of Shunryu Suzuki’s book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, relates zen practitioners to four horses, with the fourth horse responding only after the pain of the whip penetrates to the marrow of its bones. If alcoholics need to hit rock bottom, I have some sense of what that…

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Tick Tock

The ticks I pick from your flesh have the verve of John Donne’s flea but much more adhesive with the fervor of Lyme Disease.   The garden’s a death trap, the primrose and forget-me-nots funereal and dungeon-breathed. Spreading composed mulch to conceal   the yawn of a hundred open graves I tire of myself and…

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Lunar Dogma

She believes the snow is a mirror Turned upwards toward her face, A catalyst for the frigid light Burning in the old, dappled pines.   She believes that love Is one or two canoes Drifting in soft degrees Over dark, polished waters.   She believes the young boy Carrying his notebook beneath her shadow Is…

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Her First Word

Her first word was material. The adults wondered why she skipped all the warm-up words like mama and daddy.   So odd, they commented. Why did that word emerge first from the buttery spread of childhood?   Her home smelled like codfish balls and beer. The Mona Lisa, torn from a magazine, hung on a…

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Pistons Outpace Reluctant Marching

When war draws people into positions Where they face the unfaceable Tired after toiling or driven to their demise Outpacing the wish for life When mortality has no returns Beyond reluctant excitement And fear of terror erupts Tightening chest and claustrophobing tranquility Until patience runs out and death or revolt become options And anxiety reaches…

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Signs that Your Mother Was a Hoarder

Cigarette butts and the ash of Salem Lights in never-emptied glass ashtrays.  Crumpled take-out paper bags from Wendy’s piled next to the couch.  Mold growing on the pink rubber mat in the bathtub.  Cardigans, size M, in heather, taupe, and buttery yellow with mother-of-pearl buttons heaped on the dresser.  A letter dated 1967 from a…

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