Karma – Poems On Anger and Redemption

one act in anger

lifetimes of merit fade – flames

devour the land

———————————

(the grinding wheel of samsara)

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As Pema Chodron said (more or less)

(https://pemachodronfoundation.org/)

“All these years of practice, same shitty old mind”

It’s said that Samsara, the endless cycle of birth, old age, sickness and death, is subtle, grinding and pervasive. And so it is. Recently, I had the “opportunity” to look directly at my own root klesha, that of anger (kleshas are the habitual behaviors that keep us stuck in Samsara, lifetime after lifetime –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleshas_(Buddhism).) On a recent trip with my wife and dear friends, I got triggered and without thinking acted out of irritation and anger. In addition to directly harming someone most dear to me, I could instantly feel whatever merit I may have accumulated in years of meditation practice completely drain away.

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, “merit” is said to be accumulated through practice and is essential as fuel for further practice on the path to awakening (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merit_(Buddhism)

It’s also said that a single act of anger can destroy lifetimes of merit. And so it felt.

Actions cannot be undone, only addressed by subsequent action. We practice, we stumble, we get up again and resolve to do better. Perhaps, with grace, to soften the karma of this earlier action. And so it goes,

around and around and around…

Two poems then, the haiku above and the poem below, speaking to the experience of action and remorse – may they be of benefit

Jeff

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Karma

anger, rising like a flame, 
brief yellow, white hot
and she’s hurt
this girl you’ve always loved 
completely. thoughtless, 
you’ve burned her to white bone.
actions refuse to be undone.
whatever merit you’ve gathered
turns to dust, blows away
on the icy winds of hell.
dedicate whatever days remain
to her.
breathe only love and loving kindness.
you will fail
but at least you will try.
prostate and purify
collect mantra like dreams
offer incense, the tendrils of smoke
rising into heaven. your hair
beginning to burn.

Murmuration – her small voice rising like a brand new day

her small voice rising -
18 months old, beginning to find her voice, arising spontaneously from space
her innate wisdom, a flock of freshly hatched words, rising

Murmuration

her small voice rising

in the dark above the bars

of the crib, a morning

murmuration

beginning, spinning, rising

a flock of freshly hatched words

still translucent and damp

where did she come from?

this spontaneous consciousness

this ascending double helix

of intelligence – pulsating, spiraling

wave upon brilliant wave

of innate wisdom, elaborating

her sweet song, a spark

radiating across the unending space

of possibility, coming now

to crack open the darkness

like a star

like the first soft light

of a brand new day

© 2021 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

Wordless Love – the Sweet Experience of Loving an Old Dog

Sweet Jackson, the old black dog, asleep by the fire

Wordless Love

in this light-shortened night

I draw near the fire

with my old black dog.

neither of us

can keep our feet warm

anymore.

I place my hand on his ribs

and watch them rise and fall,

feel the beating

of his precious heart,

and know then the sharp dread

of the beginning of ending

of dissolution, of the warm

moist breath of emptiness,

of loss, of the exquisite fragility

of this simple, bottomless

wordless love

© 2021 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

Steps – this exquisite girl, rising on her tiny toes…

will rise again on tiny toes
rising on her tiny toes

Steps

our son called this morning

to let us know she’s okay

that it was only a passing fever

a bit of a rash, the hours in the ER

notwithstanding

we kept our cool throughout

my wife and I – seasoned baby vets

unflappable

despite the fact

that the medical folks don’t know a thing

just that the fever has finally

broken

so soon

this exquisite girl

will rise again on tiny toes

and resume her accelerating steps

into tomorrow

while we

will resume our shuffling steps

toward our destined places

at last

as vaguely comic characters

from her dimly remembered

past

© 2021 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

one sunday morning

my granddaughter

is not permitted to get sick

I forbid it. her smile

is too crooked and too beautiful

to rest in a fevered face

she’s highly likely, of course

to be just fine

in a day or two, a random

pediatric bug. of course

she will be fine.

so I’ll look to care for my old dog

who isn’t eating this morning

“off his feed”  they say

as happens to us oldsters

every now and again

so I’ll boil up some rice

mix in a little chicken stock

and give us each a bowl.

we can eat together

ever so carefully

in silence

while we wait for the phone to ring.

a brilliant day

 

V8.4984

 

a brilliant day

mountains, flowers, lakes

 

then a red truck pulls out blind

 

no time for thought,

tires screaming on hot blacktop,

the car sliding, too fast, too fast,

no room

 

a white face in the window

a man turning, surprised

 

we bear down, burning fifty

to zero in thirty feet and somehow

we slide right,

rock to a stop

just

short

 

the whole thing flashes faster than thought

 

the face glares at me,

slams his truck across traffic

and disappears

 

we look at each other

seemingly fine

no harm, no foul?

 

driving home, my right arm

shakes like current

sizzling in a frayed wire

 

in the dark garage

I close my eyes,

the hot engine ticking down in silence

 

 

our lives continue

 

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

pray for rain

drivingtoWhales.iphone-2

 

pray for rain

 

we had no rain

 

for the month of May, weeks on end

of the warming winds of spring

drying the trees, the grasses, the earth

into tinder just waiting for a spark

 

these mountains

rounded by time, looming

over the cities, each one burning

scattered across the darkened land

like dying stars

 

the poets are overmatched –

so many viruses sweeping the world

 

at once

 

the breadth and scale of human stupidity

cruelty, burning and burning

 

we look to the eyes of the children

and see the depth of our failures

all of our fine words turning to ash

on our tongues – how

will it ever end?

 

listen deeply

 

beg forgiveness

 

lift a shovel

 

pray for rain

 

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

it means we made promises

I embraced her as we left the church forty years ago today, and she has not released my heart ever since…

edit wedding.5309

 

it means we made promises

 

it means we made promises

on the last day of may

both still clean still possible.

 

it means we made plans and babies

and sent them both

to bang against the world.

 

it means we learned to cut

and leave no trace

no blood trail for evidence.

 

it means we gave up on wonderful

and wove a nest

out of ordinary.

 

it means we rattle now toward evening

in our dark compartment

as the engine enters the tunnel’s mouth.

 

it means I can still catch your breath

between my fingers.

 

it means you

can still close my eyes with your lips.

 

it means the fire burns

until the last dry wood is gone.

 

 

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

such a fool

 

after all these years, you’d think I might have learned a thing or two…

 

ball

 

such a fool

 

what becomes of our memories

when we die? do they simply vanish

with the last flickering spark?

 

so many years of careful assembly

and rearrangement – why would the gods

invest so much in something so frail?

 

maybe instead we pass a kind of key

to those we leave behind

so that as long as they remember us,

 

our life’s collection

of learning and stories, heartbreak and joy,

remains connected, alive, flowing

 

in waves of what we call wisdom,

what we call beauty, accessible to any and all

with a beating human heart.

 

as I wander, hands in my pockets,

I absently jingle my enormous ring of keys,

and across the heavens the ancestors

 

and all of those who went before me,

rejoice at this music, beginning to dance and sing

at the warm pleasure of still being known.

 

then one by one, they look down at me

and start to laugh, shaking their celestial heads

in wonder, that despite a lifetime afloat

 

in this ancestral sea of wisdom

I insist on remaining

a complete and utter fool.

 

 

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com