I have stared long enough at the glowing flat rectangles of computer screens. Let us give more time for doing things in the real world...plant a plant, walk the dogs, read a real book, go to the opera. ~ Edward Tufte
“If a woman can’t be trusted with a choice, how can she be trusted with a baby?”
Study and protect our living Constitution, or ignorance and manipulation will prevail. Legal precedence matters.
AMERICA Although she feeds me bread of bitterness, And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth, Stealing my breath of life, I will confess I love this cultured hell that tests my youth. Her vigor flows like tides into my blood, Giving me strength erect against her hate, Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood. Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state, I stand within her walls with not a shred Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer. Darkly I gaze into the days ahead, And see her might and granite wonders there, Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand, Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand. Claude McKay, 1921 Shenandoah Literary
LAST DAYS OF WINTER War settles like dust for there is no other side when winds blow particles from Sudan to Hiroshima to icy rivers that wild coho struggle against to lay their bright eggs. On the first day of the first war declared in this century the Asian Art Museum opens its doors with stilt-walkers dressed as emperors and geishas, and with musicians from Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, for music and art transcend transient politics and borders. Even the museum’s map of Asia’s Buddhist centers proclaims Tibet’s sovereignty within China’s yawning border. Across the street a demonstration swells before City Hall to protest a war veiled in an amalgam of virtue, misinformation and covert interests. Something ghostlike transforms this city. While most stores close, in others clerks focus like compulsive-obsessives just to get through the day and homeless walk the streets as if San Francisco’s sole inhabitants. One woman, hair plaited with a plethora of mismatched ribbons mirroring her clothes, crosses against red. She zigzags mostly between the yellow lines while drivers remain uncharacteristically patient as if acknowledging the difficulty of accepting war without dissolving in a despair that threatens one’s ever-transient connection with life. Within these museum’s walls images of Buddha, Bodhisattvas, White Tara embody prayers for all sentient beings and symbolize compassion, wisdom, the acceptance of suffering, as well as our ability to skillfully control rather than be controlled by our mad-wraith desires. It’s no longer a matter of us versus them, good versus evil. We are all messengers of God and we are all godless. Energy is neither created nor destroyed. All those who have lived and don’t yet live share our bodies through the food we eat, the air we breathe, the cells that ferociously regenerate throughout our lives. Prayer wheels fill these halls with unbound intent that passes through the walls, the streets, the world: may all beings be healthy, may all beings be happy, may all beings live in peace.
Thank you to the editors of Buddhist Poetry Review for first publishing this poem.
SIMULTANEITY When you touch me—I am breath rather than a woman breathing. One thousand wings, a single beat, split sky with summer rain. Breath rather than breathing fills the empty glass. Split sky with summer rain to reveal horses carved in stone. Fill the empty glass with wine of roses, lilac, heather; reveal horses carved in stone but not hands that formed their symmetry. With wine of roses, lilac, heather, toast grass that fractures concrete blocks but not hands that formed the symmetry of streets concealing streams. Toast grass that fractures concrete blocks beside the woman reaching towards you; on streets concealing streams she begs for food, shelter beyond grasp. There is a woman reaching towards you; her face is old, possessions few, as she begs for food, shelter beyond grasp, and I see you, I see myself within her mask. Her face is old, possessions few; she came to laugh—she came to love, and I see you, I see myself within her mask reflecting how the earth breathes. We came to laugh—we came to love; one thousand wings, a single beat reflecting how the earth breathes when you touch me.