The dharma is like an avocado
Gary Snyder. Photo via The American Poetry Review
By John Pappas / From Rapid City
A Zen recluse, Gary Snyder still lives in the backcountry of the Sierra Nevada. A hermit, academic and family man, Gary embraces the householder life with simple ethics, hard work and harder compassion. The core of his training comes from the Soto Zen school in Kyoto where he lived and trained. This has been the lynchpin of his life practice — morning prayer, meditation, and a deep engagement with nature punctuate his writing from early on. While many other poets of the Beat Generation dabbled and looked up to the practice of zazen and the words of the Buddha, Gary took on the words of the Dharma with the audacity of a roughneck drilling for oil in hill country and with the dedication of a fire lookout.
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Paul Celan - Flowers
The stone in the air, which I followed.
Your eye, as blind as the stone.
we baled the darkness empty, we found
the word that ascended summer:
Flower - a blind man’s word.
Your eye and mine:
Heart wall upon heart wall
adds petals to it.
One more word like this word, and the hammers
will swing over open ground.
e. e. cummings - somewhere i have never travelled
somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
any experience, your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully, mysteriously) her first rose
or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully, suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility: whose texture
compels me with the colour of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens; only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands
The Sex Pastels: How Sid Vicious painted watercolor flowers and sunsets.
because we can never be happy enough.
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Nicolas Bangle - You Have Every Right To Break Another
We were taking drugs in the winter,
my concept forest, newgrowth trees
everywhere there were animals in dark corners
and our arrangement was terrifying:
one of you was there and so the other couldn’t be,
always, an incomplete idea and
set fire to so many houses.
I don’t want to exist anymore. I want to bleed
on your blue curtains. The fact that statements like
“I don’t want to exist anymore” alienate people
is precisely what I love about them.
Loneliness makes a sound like footsteps in an art museum.
Calmness. The discoloration of the night sky,
how our parents still pay our phone bills
to bring us together in a way that defies
the notion of being together entirely.
You want to re-arrange your bedroom.
I want to bleed on your blue curtains
and contradict my feelings on consumer waste in America.
I want your sharp nails on my back.
I want a back that’s made of chalkboard or artistic validation.
"Taking drugs in the winter"
seemed like a meaningful way to start a poem about missing you.
I love you. Things are terrible.
If I could choose one instant to live in
it would be this one.
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“It was strangely like war. They attacked the forest as if it were an enemy to be pushed back from the beachheads, driven into the hills, broken into patches, and wiped out. Many operators thought they were not only making lumber but liberating the land from the trees.”
Murray Morgan, 1955
Jean Rhys - Ellen Kennedy
That will begin very soon I think
I’ve illegally downloaded two new depressing songs
I’ve placed a copy of Good Morning, Midnight under my pillow for easy reference
I’ve printed out the tablature for every Morrissey song I know so I can sing them to myself
Alone in my room
Just a few things are needed really
To make me calm
While I figure out a simple, clean, and effective way to kill myself,
With minimal stress for the person who has to find and dispose of my body
But I’ll probably never think of a way
Because I’ll probably never kill myself
I’ll just lie in my bed suffocating myself with my pillows
While listening to the four songs you said were your favorite
And maybe burn myself a little with the iron
On special occasions
And the next time I’m in a subway station,
I’ll stand a little further on the yellow line
Or maybe the next I’m at your apartment
I’ll try a little harder.
Timothy Donnelly - His Future As Attilla The Hun
But when I try to envision what it might be like to live
detached from the circuitry that suffers me to crave
what I know I’ll never need, or what I need but have
in abundance already, I feel the cloud of food-court
breakfast loosen its embrace, I feel the shopping center
drop as its escalator tenders me up to the story
intended for conference space. I feel my doubt diminish, my debt
diminish; I feel a snow that falls on public statuary
doesn’t do so sadly because it does so without profit.
I feel less toxic. I feel the thought my only prospect
lies under a train for the coverage stop. Don’t think I never
thought that way because I have and do, all through
blank October a dollar in my pocket back and forth
to university. Let the record not not show. I have
deserted me for what I lack and am not worth. All of this
unfolds through episodes that pale as fast as others
gain from my inertia: I have watched, I’ll keep watching
out from under blankets as the days trip over the
days before out cold on the gold linoleum behind them
where we make the others rich with sick persistence.
But when I try to envision what it might be like to change,
I see three doors in front of me, and by implication
opportunity, rooms full of it as the mind itself is full
thinking of a time before time was, or of the infinite
couch from which none part, and while the first two doors
have their appeal, it’s the third I like best, the one
behind which opens a meadow, vast, and in it, grazing
on buttercups, an errant heifer with a wounded foot,
its bloody hoofprints followed by a curious shepherd back
to something sharp in the grass, the point of a long
sword which, unearthed, the shepherd now polishes with
his rodent-skin tunic, letting the Eurasian sun play
upon it for effect, a gift for me, a task, an instrument to lay
waste to the empire now placed before me at my feet.