Bodhi Dharma meditated in front of a wall for nine years

I worry because I haven’t seen Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Nor am I current in some things that count; I have not what I should have

And what counted for Bodhi Dharma? What should he have had

In his meditation during nine years in front of a wall

OK, so his culture was different

And meditation counted, counted maybe as much as

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, a Lexus, what I should have

Bodhi Dharma aspired to a Shaolin Monastery, anyway

What Bodhi Dharma should have did not count to the Shaolin Monastery

I won’t say I want a life in which having does not count at all

But I will say I want a touchstone for our culture to scrape against

A touchstone to scrape against to evaluate our culture’s metal

I sure hope that Borat Subsequent Moviefilm will not scrape as gold

But I do fear that owning a Lexus would

Various and diverse ideologies coexist in the freedom our culture prizes

Meditation, a Lexus, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm coexist, compete as treasures of our hearts

Even in Christianity, having has infiltrated, called the prosperity gospel

With Jesus a mendicant and the gospel no one can serve God and mammon

And I am no mendicant, and I have not watched Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Episodic prayer and meditation, episodic piano, and episodic happiness on a good day, I have


I can’t practice with Depakote in me

Playing over the same wrong notes I know better

Before my nightly dose, and it’s all a waste after the pills

It’s only been 6 months since my last med adjustment

It was all a waste for 27 years before my p-doc took me off olanzapine

And I couldn’t play my embarrassed way through a single song

Finish a Tai Ch’i form and someone in the studio noticed

Me wearing a Harvard sweatshirt and asked me

About it and why I couldn’t get it

Now the fog clears in the morning like sleeping off a drunk

And I get back to the piano and the new charts I’m learning

For the new band I’m forming I think I can play in as if my old chops

Were still there, when I could play Bach’s Toccata in D-Minor

And now I’m stumbling through Little Wing after my 10PM meds

The Depakote I can’t play under the influence of or operate heavy machinery

And it’s only rote scales which I need anyway

After my nightly dose, the waste that descends upon me and my practice sessions

I can’t play under the influence of Depakote

Only write


I left my idealism somewhere

Back in early manhood, apprenticeship

For getting by only. 

My knees hurt

Not like they did before, to pay the bills

Dragged in rows by a Commercial Walk Behind Mower

All day

Isn’t it ironic that Wordsworth will sing of

Quarry workers singing as he

Wanders in his daffodils

Whitman will praise the common laborer As he loiters in the grass

The privations, the deprivations

The catalogue of things to do without

Logged into my bitterness–

Formerly an occupation–I try not to be bitter.

I read Hemingway to buoy my spirits–

His Catholic poverty in Paris,

His un-Christian feeling of superiority

Over the vague wealthy.  I guess I feel superior

Or try to feel superior to buoy my spirits.

The indignities,

The fear as I lie to a bill-collector,

Slough subordination,

Try to feel above it all.

To dignify the working class

Your sore knees

Must speak more than their pain—

The bills that demand this dignity

The landed idle

Still demand my money

As they loiter

In the end

I will have to forget

The laborious pain

Of achieving a place of less pain.

            Pain where?

Will I be able to forget adulthood?

When eternity speaks its demands.


The words of the Rig Veda are chanted

The revelation that the Rishis heard

Rhythmic hymns that Sarasvati granted

Written down as sacred text and word

The Rishis have been called visionaries

In more than one textbook that I have found

Writing from Eurocentric theories

Which teach that vision is more spiritual than sound

Sarasvati, Goddess of music,

Revealed Her wisdom through the sense of hearing

When all the laws that we call linguistic

Were melody and music and singing


I am better with us together

Better than I was when I was alone

We’re both better with each other

Than when each of us was only one

We two together made me make a start

Toward a new approach to the life I’m living

Which never would have happened when apart

Apart from you and all the life you’re giving

With us together, your life flows into my own

Your influence wore down my harsh self-assertion

As water’s current smooths adamantine stone

Or discordant edges in a person

Like a river’s constant, faithful current

You give me consistent affirmation,

My heart secure with your encouragement,

I work my dreams into manifestation

All with you and all because of you

I incarnate learning with confidence

Ever seeking teachings to help me grow

And guide my heart in spiritual ascendance

Our love is a crucible, burning

With refining fire that purifies

All our aspirations, all our learning

Rising to a finer us, to higher highs

NOVEMBER 2, 2020

The love poem I want to write tonight is superseded

Everything is superseded by a microdot on a piece of paper

A microdot in a timeline of chaos, flashpoint in history

In one single day, the anxiety will culminate in a vote

Four years of conflicted administration, conflicted nation

That broke out in outright civil war, bloody war

Wounds that haven’t healed in one hundred sixty years,

An outbreak breaking out in protests, riots, civil speech exhausted

Wealth disparity, despair, disinformation, lies

Pandemic denied in a pantomime economy

Destined for collapse through dying workers, denied workers

Dying jobs markets, dying for relief from a dead congress

All summed up in a microdot on a piece of paper

Destined for the ballot box—summation but not salvation

For the sins of our forefathers, writ into racial blood,

Radical divide, denied equal opportunity


Fragmenting a national illusion persisting in a culture of cruelty

For outsiders, inside the inner-city blight in a nation

Of freedom for insiders, a segregation of insiders, by insiders, for insiders

White trashed lives whose sway they aim to own, even my own life

Had I not left town they would have kept me down, destined to be an outsider

Like my music partner from New Orleans who never did break in

I can’t leave all this undone, unsung—this division, this decision

In a pantomime economy, in a pandemic, in a microdot on a piece of paper

Just a microdot in a timeline of chaos