Five Dogs In

On a somewhat friendlier note (than Suicidal manikins…)

A Bodhisattva is an awakened being who chooses to return to this suffering world again and again, until all of the numberless sentient beings have awakened. This can take many forms, from reincarnation in the Hell Realm (as Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion, attempted causing his head to explode into a thousand pieces) to great teachers in this human realm, to the sweetness of a truly good dog.

 

 

black dog, brown eyes

action jackson, yes?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Dogs In

each of my dogs has taught me

how to be better to the next

 

five dogs in – finally gentled

 

 

 

sleeping dog, early morning

abby, early morning 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes

sometimes

 

in the evening after the heat

has broken and the dishes are done

the air in the house goes silver –

late day light filtering in

my dog and I like to sit in that light

and listen to the world as it cools

 

sometimes

 

he looks up and catches me

watching him sleep

 

sometimes

 

we hold each other’s stare

as if either of us looking away

just might shatter

 

everything

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

chilidish things

 I was walking in a bookstore when the phrase, “we always believed that she could fly” came into my mind, loudly.  That night, a poem arose.  The details are from my mother’s memorial….

 

tombstone, child's grave

detail of weathered tombstone, barnett, VT

 

 

chilidish things 

 

we stood in a circle about the grave

some read poems and some

 

chose silence. the funeral director

placed her ashes into the hole

 

while redwing blackbirds sang

in the fields. we always assumed

 

that she could fly, but then we

were only children, eager to cling

 

to childish things

 

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

My Father

My father, Allen Medford Fink, died of lung cancer in 1986 at age 72. He was not an easy man. As I explained once to an adult nephew, he was our father, so we wanted to be close to him, but it could be a dangerous place to stand. He taught us to be strong. But as I grow older myself, I can see that if my brother and I are, in our own ways, more gentle, well, he must certainly have given us the seeds of this gentleness as well.

 My father was 42 years old when I was born, so he was dead by the time my sons Patrick and Nathan were born. But his presence remains. In the Buddhist cosmology, the “three times” of past, present and future and not as solid as we ordinarily take them to be. Perhaps this is how I know that if he were to meet my sons today, I am certain he would be amazed. I am certain that he would be most pleased.

My father with me, the baby, and my big brother Joe on the lawn of our small house in Detroit in 1958.

My father with me, the baby, and my big brother Joe on the lawn of our small house in Detroit in 1958.

Written April 2015 in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah —

rains

the wind

is beginning to howl

a late season snow coming in.

by morning, everything

will be blown back

into white.

 

I remember my father

staring out the kitchen window,

massive and simmering,

considering the evening sky.

 

he left the farm just before the war-

came North, but never lost the habit

of weather,

 

of watching the clouds

for signs of impending danger

of flashing from sun into thunder

with no warning.

 

we’re grateful for the snow-

it’s been dry here for too long.

 

redemption can come

through the blessings of rain

of a rain that falls hard all day

of a rain that might protect us

 

from the lightning

from rage without warning

from the flames

t

hat can race up from the valley

and sweep us all away

incinerating everything

 

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

Memory

green eyes old bones

 

 

 

 

Memory

 

didn’t we kiss for the first time

yesterday, on this too brief passage

through the invisible gardens

of time? the dogwoods

 

by the old dutch church drop all

of their flowers at once, blanketing

 

the ancient graves with white

for a single day each year. memory

 

is all the immortality we’re offered.

this, at least, we must promise one another –

me, I vow never to forget your eyes,

and you, you my love

must always remember my hands.

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

stones

stones-2

I’m old enough now to see

how I’ve lived my life in dogs,

each a sun-warmed stone

in this stream of loneliness.

by these have I kept my feet dry,

have I so far made it across.

I look into the brown eyes

of my young black dog,

and can’t help but do the math.

My heart breaks in the knowing

of that distant day when he tells me —

it is time. When do we begin

to die? not at birth, surely,

there’s such a rush to life

for so long, but it slows somewhere,

somehow deep inside of itself

it starts to slow, until one day

as we sit together talking,

this slowing shows itself

in our faces, in our eyes, in our first

clear diminishing, and then we know,

yes we know. We’ve had a week now

of cold nights and windy mornings

the clouds dropping down, scraping

the tops of the aspens, stripping them

of leaves. Snow will come soon

to these mountains, but for today,

I still have this chair by the stream,

still the sounds of the stream over stones,

still a black dog warming his bones

in the late day sun. for today,

this is sufficient. for today this

is wealth enough for a life.

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

Moroccan Elements – Part 2

on hearing the voices of children late at night from our riad deep within the Medinah….

 

 

vortex                 last night

last night, just as I closed the door

to consciousness and stepped into

the cool blue anteroom of sleep, I heard

the voices of small children, rising, falling,

echoing through the house, familiar voices

passing just beyond my comprehension.

are these the voices of children

 

 

gone before, or of those still to come –

or are these the sounds of the lost

and harshly punished parts of myself

that are running now, their small

black and white shoes clattering

down the long wooden hallways of time,

rushing to see who’s come to the door,

to see who’s come to reclaim them

after such an unforgivably long time.

 

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

old snow

Image

 

old snow

 

 

I’m old enough now

to feel the arc of my life rising

over the years, the shape of it

and the erosion of old certainties

beneath. when we’re young

we experience ourselves as a point

as beings out of time. but I’ve knelt

in this cathedral long enough now

to be conscious of the beads of sequential

experience clicking softly through

my fingers, this error in perception

I refer to as me. the gap

between the man in the mirror

and the man in my mind grows larger

by the day, as if some piece of me

is trying to circle back to the origin

even as the physical me noses over

and begins to accelerate toward the final

target. maybe one day I’ll come full circle

and meet the boy of my original self.

what would we say? who would be

the teacher? and who the taught?

how much might finally be forgiven?

Winter is ending at last in these mountains

but the snow lingers in the shadows

like a difficult lesson— that everything melts

but in its own time, that even old snow

can still shine, that old ice

can still be dangerous, that old fingers

can still bleed.

 

 

© oldbonesnewsnow.com/ J.A. Fink

Recent Entries for Picturecompete’s contest “Aging”

While I didn’t win this contest, the sponsors were generous in sharing the “Ann’s Hand” image as well as a link to this blog on their Facebook page. None of the winners of the contest really resonated with me– it was still useful to enter and get feedback…

 

The gent in the middle is my late father in law- he was, in his youth, a true SOB, though he softened into a gentle old man as he aged. I think here, his eyes show the fire of his youth even if his face (and his eyebrows) have moved on

 

The hand and the other face are of my friend Ann who is 92 years old. I met her on a writing workshop in Montana last summer– she had just come back from a semester at sea. Wonderful woman…