The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Buddha-nature

When I lower my eyes, the ball of pain
Swoops down from the corner of the room and fills my mind,
Insuring that when I focus on a thought, any thought,
It morphs into something else, that not one image
Is true, that nothing I see is like the thing that came before,
And instead driving the pain away, I welcome it,
For this is Buddha-nature—no-thing, never what
I imagine it to be.

February 16, 2009   Comments Off on Buddha-nature

Even This Feeble Gesture

In the face of your performance
Even this feeble gesture is a waste
So I choose to listen, not speak,
Let you play any game you please,
Pretend you’re enchanting
And easily draw a quiet laugh
Because, if challenged,
Even in the smallest things,
You will not hesitate to kill
Like a blind assassin
For it is your birthright to be
An arrogant bitch.

January 18, 2009   Comments Off on Even This Feeble Gesture

Pictures at an Exhibition

It was not easy looking at the paintings
Depicting the important moments of his life
All lovingly framed by their creator,
And not choking on my drink.
Even from behind,
Talking with others,
He had that diffident and glowing
Manner dilettantes often have,
Knowing they’re contributing something
Important to the history of art.
Studying his back,
I searched for clues that would help me
Flatter whatever illusions he had about himself—
To dampen down the embarrassment
When we finally met.
I couldn’t believe he didn’t understand
How bad his work was.
But then he turned to face me,
And with growing shock I see
That that hopeless amateur is me.

December 11, 2008   Comments Off on Pictures at an Exhibition

Exit Laughing

At the point where you have no friends,
When no one shouts your name
(Or even whispers it)
When your children are gone
And your wife has her own clockwork existence
That goes on without you,
When the illusions of youth have fled
And you are no longer sexually attractive,
You discover what it feels like
To be a threadbare carpet of diminishing value,
And because there is no one left but you,
You decide to embrace life (such as it is)
With all its contradictions, pains, and trials,
Refusing to be distracted by your sins,
Accepting fate for what it is,
And walk erect,
Laughing when the mood takes you
Directly into the void.

December 8, 2008   2 Comments

In Canaan

“Let us go to Sidon in Canaan,” she said,
“and we will break the small trunculi,
extracting the purple pigment that is so rare.
There the grapes hang on the vines,
exuding a fragrance of sweet, burnished skins,
hives drip with honey,
fields laden with grain wave in the wind,
the geese are fat,
and wasps with gossamer wings
float in the sky like drumble-drones.”
“How do you know?” I asked.
“I have been there many times,” she said.
So, of course, I agreed.
But when we got to Sidon,
the artisans had fled,
the city had been sacked,
and only the flies remained,
crawling over the bodies of the dead.
Not to be dissuaded from her purpose, she said,
“Then let us go to Tyre,
the birthplace of Europa and Elissa,
where an even finer dye
is produced from the murex shellfish.
I feel some fondness for Tyre, where at eighteen,
the men looked at me
as if I were Ganymede come back to earth,
where in empty cemeteries on moonless nights I slept,
offending only the dead.”
“All right,” I said. “Let’s go.”
But at Tyre,
the seawalls had collapsed and water covered the city.
Openly, she wept, like a child who had lost her way.
Finally, she said, “We shall go to Jerusalem,
and stand upon the two hills,
and honor the name of God.
There the breeze cuts the skin
and the mighty are fallen and the humble are raised.
No one can stand before the Holy City
and not be changed.”
But the winds of war found us even there and,
unsheathing her knife and in despair,
she stabbed herself,
and disappeared like mist into the earth.
“Who is this woman?” I cried.
The breeze pierced my skin and answered,
“Her name is Antigone;
she is a shapeshifter,
and no man can possess her.”

July 18, 2008   Comments Off on In Canaan