Poetry: R. L. Boyer

R. L. Boyer

Sabbath

 

Being, not doing, is my first joy.

Theodore Roethke

1.

Waking early, in the pre-dawn

darkness, make prayers, offering

incense to God. The Buddha-Mind.

Ground of Being. Supreme Self.

Creator. I am not separate. In

the silence, move slowly, mindfully,

stretch the body into the new day.

Practice Chi Gong to bring body,

mind, spirit into harmony; raise

Chi energy for healing. Opening

the front door of my urban hut,

look across to a small field just

beyond the curbside—parking spaces,

filled end-to-end with cars—at the

small patch of wild, overgrown grasses,

where, all too soon, new apartments

will obscure the natural world.

Silence, punctuated by birdsong—

crows, finches, mourning doves. Rumble

of distant cars speeding by on the

freeway. The muffled roar of a jet

streaking high above. A trio of

wild turkeys watch me. Move slowly,

cautiously, hiding in the tall grass.

They break the silence. Gobble, gobble,

gobble. I watch a long time, bless them for

their presence; pray for their protection.

 

2.

Later, indoors again, devote this

day to stillness, silence, punctuated

by healing prayer-songs of Tibetan

monks; meditate, reflect deeply,

notice thoughts arise, then disappear.

Release everything. Make nine bows

to my holy teachers, to my altar,

the sacred space of this humble home.

Read scriptures from ancient spiritual

traditions. Pray for peace, gratitude,

happiness, awakening, compassion

for all living beings, trees, rocks.

Nine bows to the Unborn, never

dying, Self-Nature. Buddha. God.

Creator. Nine bows to the cyclical

realm of Nature, transient, ever

flowing, interdependent,

impermanent, phenomenal world. 

Nine bows to the Source, Siva-Shakti.

 

Tomorrow, time to plan and do.

 

—for my dear friend, Bro. David Steindl-Rast

 

# # #

 

 

Presence (A Haiku Duet) 

a monk returns to 

the marketplace; seeing him, 

cherry trees bloom. 

 

all things gaze and smile 

at him as he walks by— 

even trees bow down. 

for Dainin Katagiri-Roshi 

# # #

 

 

Impermanence

–for Emrich

 

 

This morning, I wake to greet the 69th

season since my birth. Young trees

outside my urban hut are arrayed with

 

fragile newborn leaves, shedding the

last withered leaves of winter, all

dancing in the breeze. To the East, the

 

newborn sun rises above the ridge of

Sonoma Mountain as a giant white

egret glides gracefully along the base,

 

just beyond brown wintered pastures.

Beyond the greening horizon, monks and

laymen sit like Buddhas, chant sutras—

 

minds emptied, stroll the temple grounds

amid newborn riots of delicate pink

cherry blossoms on the path to Suzuki-

 

Roshi’s shrine. Spring prematurely

born in depths of winter, signs of

transience everywhere: even (global)

 

climate can change.

# # #


 

Return to Silence

—for Junpo Kando Zenji Denis Kelly-roshi

 

I.

After years, suffering from Parkinson’s disease and

cancer, a Zen-man of the Rinzai sect, a monk and 

 

bodhisattva, joined the ancestors, patriarchs, and

Buddhas—returning from form to formlessness.

 

A dissembling corpse now, five skandhas dissolved,

his identity reduced to pure essence—mysterious

 

Mind-root, source of all worlds. Now, death-inspired

offerings of candles and incense, prayers to the

 

Buddhas at the altar of sages. Spontaneous

offerings of shikantaza, as he would have liked.

 

II

In the stillness, on the zafu, releasing his memory,

breath by breath—the hand of thought opens wide.

 

Ritual imitation of all Buddhas: just sit, following

breath. In the mind, arising—adding to reality—the

 

sound of his staff thumps, still teaching the Dharma.

Echoing the summons of Siddhārtha Gautama and

 

Dōgen: “Time is short. Work out your salvation with

diligence. Make effort!” Just sitting—imitating this

 

Zen-man, imitating Buddha. Returning to silence.

“No sooner do they bloom,/than the cherry blossoms

 

scatter—/the fleeting dream/of a night that takes away

all doubt/about the white clouds on the peak.” The 

 

sitting ends, the incense stick burned down. Outside

an open window, trilling of songbirds in the gentle

 

breeze, laughter of children in the bright Spring

afternoon. Distant gong of temple bells, dissolving.

 

# # #

 

 

Shadow

Busca a tu complementario,

que marcha siempre contigo,

y suele ser tu contrario.

—Antonio Machado

 

I.

When I was young, I had a dream. I saw the

other one—like a ghost in the mirror. We

 

were still twins then—one white, one black—our

navels bound together with cord. Then, I

 

 stepped on that cord and crushed it, and sent the

 dark one away.

 

II.

Now, I’m much older and cast a bright aura. Yet,

he's still beside me, standing behind me, there

 

in the shadows—like an old serpent. Seven

hooded heads form my serpentine umbrella.

 

And when I walk now, haloed in sunlight, my

shadow still follows, wherever I go.

 

for Robert Bly

 

***

BIO: R L. Boyer is an award-winning poet, fiction author, and screenwriter. His poems have been featured in Depth Insights, Mythic Circle, deLuge, Indelible!, ReVision, SETU, and many other publications. Boyer is a two-time award recipient of the Jefferson Scholarship and a two-time award winner in Literature from the John E. Profant Foundation for the Arts, including the McGuire Family Award for 1st place in Literature. He is a depth psychologist and current doctoral student in Art and Religion at the Graduate Theological Union and UC Berkeley.


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