The Buddha thinks of his trust fund

“In my father’s dwelling three lotus ponds were made purposely for me. Blue lotuses bloomed in one, red in another, and white in the third. I used no sandalwood that was not of Kaasi. …Night and day a white parasol was held over me so that I might not be touched by heat or cold, dust, leaves or dew.”

Does it make it easier to renounce a thing
when you know you could always come back to it?
Does it salve the conscience to throw away a gift
when you tell yourself there’s always more
where that came from? Does it make you braver
to say you are burning that bridge, walking
away from the stays of family and kin, the arms
of a lover; the leaf-shaded neighborhood where you
played with friends in childhood, the village
that knew you and everyone else by name?
Is your body more comforted by thin garments
worn alike in sun and rain and winter chill?
Does it satisfy your hunger to eat a meal
begged for plating on a leaf instead of on china
laid on a linen-covered table? And is a small
mound of rice sprinkled with salt more filling
a repast than a rich stew flavored with cardamom
and butter? Do you recall, in college not so long ago,
your literature teacher describing the tragic hero
as someone whose eventual fall from grace is made
more trenchant because he has something to lose?
Isn’t it true that everything spurned with such
careful intention turns into a more industrious
ambassador for the republic of unfulfilled desire?

~ for Karen An-hwei Lee


In response to Via Negativa: Homeless.


This morning early Sir W. Batten went to Rochester, where he expects to be chosen Parliament man.
At the office all the morning, dined at home and with my wife to Westminster, where I had business with the Commissioner for paying the seamen about my Lord’s pay, and my wife at Mrs. Hunt’s.
I called her home, and made inquiry at Greatorex’s and in other places to hear of Mr. Barlow (thinking to hear that he is dead), but I cannot find it so, but the contrary. Home and called at my Lady Batten’s, and supped there, and so home.
This day an ambassador from Florence was brought into the town in state.
Good hopes given me to-day that Mrs. Davis is going away from us, her husband going shortly to Ireland. Yesterday it was said was to be the day that the Princess Henrietta was to marry the Duke d’Anjou in France.
This day I found in the newes-booke that Roger Pepys is chosen at Cambridge for the town, the first place that we hear of to have made their choice yet.
To bed with my head and mind full of business, which do a little put me out of order, and I do find myself to become more and more thoughtful about getting of money than ever heretofore.

I miss the sea in other places
I cannot find a home.
Call me an ambassador to
the first place that put me
out of myself.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Monday 18 March 1660/61.

Five Worry Beads

This is for the whites of eggs I failed to coax
to airiness, so they puddled at the bottom of the bowl

This is for the ring of silver I was given
but lost one day in a shower stall at the gym

This is for the gate I thoughtlessly let swing, that hit
the child traipsing behind full on the forehead

This is for the years that stretched like doors
in a dream hallway, so you couldn’t hear my voice

This is for the compass rose that turned and the weather
vane that tilted when I opened my arms to embrace the wind


This entry is part 54 of 91 in the series Toward Noon: 3verses


Harried by crows,
the pale red-tailed hawk
glides along the ridge

and lands in a stand
of black locusts broken
by last December’s ice,

one more pale wound
among the ragged spears
of raw wood.

School of hard knocks

(Lord’s day). At church in the morning, a stranger preached a good honest and painfull sermon. My wife and I dined upon a chine of beef at Sir W. Batten’s, so to church again. Then home, and put some papers in order. Then to supper at Sir W. Batten’s again, where my wife by chance fell down and hurt her knees exceedingly. So home and to bed.

Each honest pain
upon a chin? A church—
a chance hurt.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 17 March 1660/61.


This entry is part 53 of 91 in the series Toward Noon: 3verses


A circling crow
turns into a hawk
as it clears the trees

with their bare-boned
parceling of the light. And then
those upswept wings—

primaries splayed like hands
open to the ground—
can only be vulture.

Holy roller

Early at Sir Wm. Pen’s, and there before Mr. Turner did reconcile the business of the purveyance between us two. Then to Whitehall to my Lord’s, and dined with him, and so to Whitefriars and saw “The Spanish Curate,” in which I had no great content.
So home, and was very much troubled that Will staid out late, and went to bed angry, intending not to let him come in, but by and by he comes and I did let him in, and he did tell me that he was at Guildhall helping to pay off the seamen, and cast the books late. Which since I found to be true. So to sleep, being in bed when he came.

The business of the Lord
is in a tent. I went
to bed angry, but by and by
I let him tell me all.
I am the Book I sleep in.

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 16 March 1660/61.


This entry is part 52 of 91 in the series Toward Noon: 3verses


A gray day in March
is the best time to go hunting
for teaberries—

bright as fresh drops of blood
under the glossy wings
of wintergreen,

sharp and sweet
after all those months
of frozen burial.