For Ken McLeod, teacher and friend- with thanks for his amazing book, An Arrow to the Heart, A Commentary on the Heart Sutra



of loose change

in the drawer

mason jars full

of dusty lincolns

the shine

of the odd dime

the rare, precious promise

of a silver dollar

savers-  we are all Ananda

collectors, listeners –

maybe we need the Buddha

to die

nothing more

to hear

© old bones, new snow/ J.A. Fink


for my friend Frank Ryan of whom I’m quite fond, though we’ve never actually met — thanks for the poems Frank!




you cant drive a nail

with a pen, or at least I

can’t– 26 letters in just one

of how many alphabets?

the neighbor kid

is kneeling on his back porch

with a rifle. his parents

are divorced but still share

the same house, and this

seems to be confusing,

so his father is trying

to make it up to him

with a gun. the older I get

the less I “get”—nothing

makes much sense

anymore, but I suppose

counting on coherence

is a common enough

mistake. a friend sent me

a book of his poems, one

for each month of the year

of the water snake, each written

on the first day of a new moon.

maybe this was the primordial

mistake, opting for solar

over lunar, a millennium

of repressed cycles of shadow

gnawing at the foundations

of everything. a poem

is a knife with no handle,

all blade, scoring the palms

of writer and reader alike.

and just so are we blood

brothers, consanguineous

across space and time

invoking this most ancient

sacrament of the human heart

our first and last defense

against snakes

and the final descent

into darkness.


© old bones, new snow/J.A. Fink