waddles between yurt and gate
where dog and I watch
Our lives are spotty.
How would memoirist thomas merton write his final day in Bangkok? The talk he gave. The cryptic ending about he’ll disappear. The reference to all having a Coke too prosaic a final comment for biographers.
The the fiasco of narrative about last minutes. There would have to be mention of heat, bungalow, tile floor, a bathroom, a standing fan, a faulty wire, a wound on back of head, a dead body.
His dead body. How would he write that?
He’d add wit, sardonic allusion to nihil obstats and green-billed censorship, mimeograph runoffs and notes from Dan Berrigan volunteering to edit his work (please, please) down to measurable worth.
But would he know how he died? Would he feel his heart give out, or hammer to back of head, or electric current running up arm across chest? Would he care once a final breath left him to circulate in the suddenly changed room that everyone who came into the room wherein his body was breathless did a pisspoor job of making sense of what actually happened?
Merton would suggest he quickly found himself in Gethsemane on porch of hermitage looking over pond and field as monastery bells tolled time for hours to be prayed. Who would want to stay in Thailand while police and officials decided what story of their own to tell?
Misplaced modifiers, unrelated facts about early life, someone he fell in love with, photographs undocumented and poems lacking explaining strophe.
He’d begin by saying he didn’t expect to die, not then, not there. He’d say something a Zen Buddhist would adopt as a koan and find a zafu to sit with for an hour. He’d say some words about the nothing he experiences as he tries to pray. Then laugh. He’d think that prayer would taste cold and biting like recently iced Coca Cola.
Thomas Merton wouldn’t write the final page. The reader would turn the penultimate page and find mid-sentence an empty space where three final paragraphs should be. No brush stroke, no haiku, no unsatisfying conclusion leaving the reade wanting clarity or closure.
No. He’d leave the last page blank.
When his body was delivered back to the monastery for burial he wouldn’t bother meeting up with it.
There would be a bird in a tree at edge of field doing what songs they do in late afternoon. There would be clouds trying to decide whether to rain themselves into sweet smells of soil and puddle. An easy breeze would pick him up and carry him to a fond memory just off to the side of anything he could recollect.
Of course he’d write all this down. Where’s my pen? My notebook?
“For things to reveal themselves to us,
we need to be ready to abandon our views about them. “ (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Just like that turning
corner looking back not a
thing there — verition
I don’t know what you think goes
on but I’ve no idea
Scripture speaks of God
Nature keeps her counsel — dark
matter does neither
Some think that it is easier to shoot and kill someone than to persuade them to think differently. It’s not a good strategy but it is a deep dark background insinuation of the gun people in our society to differing opinions, lifestyles, things believed — shut them up, shoot them!
Nothing on the horizon seems to be appearing to countervail that mind set.
Get your gun. Buy your bullets. Say goodbye to your life. But first, shoot them bastards.
Someone, somewhere, is writing a suicide manifesto, scoping out a vulnerable population, checking to see what his favorite deranged and obscene ranting fool is condemning today, and remembering all the slights and cancellations aimed at him since 2nd grade. Cruelty festers. And then there are murderous weapons.
“Bless me father for I have sinned” is replaced with protestations of mental illness, 2nd amendment rights, and nullifying juries.
What place blessing?
Giving metta as a skillful means doesn’t mean you agree with this person or approve of their position or their choices. It simply means that you acknowledge that they are a human being just like you—they want to be happy, to live in peace and safety, and to have good health. When you offer metta to a person who frustrates you, you’re including them in your wish that everyone has the conditions to thrive and live with joy. This is because we all deserve to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. This is true even for people you don’t like or those who are dangerous. You can adopt an attitude toward them of “I love you and no”— knowing that you will do your best to stop them from exercising their poor judgment or causing harm, while at the same time wishing for them to have well-being and ease.
(—from, Want to Change Someone Else’s Mind? Try This Instead. by Kimberly Brown, In tricycle, July 2022)
I own no gun.
I say “no” to the argument all our differences can be shot and killed.
Difference is mostly what we have.
Be different — don’t shoot.
Do not accept anything simply
Because it has been said
By your teacher,
Or because it has been written
In your sacred book,
Or because it has been
Believed by many,
Or because it has been
Handed down by your
Accept and live only
According to what will enable
You to see truth face to face.
I am looking.
Beauty is the absence of temporizing.
The aesthetics of poetics surrounds inspiration with the raw feeling of presence for the radical duration of this glance, this moment, this departure letting be and going on leaving behind brief light for others to sense someone was here.
Ensōs of pre-ruminative eternity dipped onto decaying matter moving elsewhere.
His censorship came from the outside and was a crippling burden to him, but all artists feel the weight of their own self-censorship—What can I write about? What should I write about? How should I say it?—which in some cases can be paralyzing. Merton felt this self-censorship too; it was exacerbated by the paradox that he had taken a vow of silence and had a compulsive need to write. On aesthetic grounds, he was not free of the conflict many moderns and postmoderns have felt: What is aesthetic discipline, and what is a straitjacket that leeches the life out of the words? (—from On Thomas Merton, by Mary Gordon, 2018)
A hospice sitting next to bed of the actively dying. Nothing to do. Nothing to say. The breath of attention as is moves away to passing necessities the touching amenities of anonymity and evanescence.
Whatever you think
You are saying
It is already too much
For the time-being