POEM: reenlisting

for Owen

I didn’t go home after the war, instead —
rucksack slung over my shoulder
ashamed of who I’d become
& of who I’d left behind —

I wandered for years
winding a course through scrubland
surviving on tofu &
the kindness of strangers

later still I rose up from the South
ancient ground of (some of) my people
ankles swelling in a cramped bus seat
beside the Appalachian Trail

I’d always hated Pennsylvania
swore never to live there
so of course that’s where the bus stopped
less than a mile from my children

now, though I imagine water
& gulls above the Atlantic,
I find the ground hardening beneath my feet
as I relearn the delicate art of balance

on a blanket in the park
on a rain-soaked Friday evening
I took the ring from your fingers
& realized I’d gone home after all

/ / /

Jason Crane
22 March 2018
Butler PA

Posted in Family, My poems, Pennsylvania, Poetry, Travel | Leave a comment

POEM: things the Buddha said

Photo by Jason Crane

things the Buddha said

the Buddha said to thine own self be true
the Buddha said take two of these and call me in the morning
the Buddha said a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
the Buddha said better dead than red
the Buddha said don’t fire till you see the whites (of their eyes)
the Buddha said we have nothing to fear but fear itself
the Buddha said we didn’t land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock
            landed on us
the Buddha said outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend
the Buddha paused then said inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read
the Buddha said mourn for the dead and fight like hell for the living
the Buddha said the only way to stop a bad man with a gun is
            a good man with a gun
the Buddha said no puppet, no puppet, you’re the puppet
the Buddha said one of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces
the Buddha said come with me if you want to live
the Buddha said the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice
the Buddha said these prices are insane
the Buddha said get away from me kid, you’re bothering me
the Buddha said this could be the start of a beautiful friendship
the Buddha said where’s the beef
the Buddha said taste the rainbow
the Buddha said a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle
the Buddha said only you can prevent forest fires
the Buddha said one and one-half wandering Jews
the Buddha said ancient Chinese secret
the Buddha said I never met a man I didn’t like
the Buddha said don’t look back, something might be gaining on you
the Buddha said I stop somewhere waiting for you
the Buddha said put a tiger in your tank
the Buddha said god does not play dice with the universe
the Buddha said Mister Gorbachev, tear down this wall
the Buddha said ich bin ein Berliner
the Buddha said freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose
the Buddha said the brown acid that is circulating around us
            is not specifically too good
the Buddha said when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro
the Buddha said I am everyday people
the Buddha said but wait there’s more

/ / /

Jason Crane
20 March 2018
Butler, PA

Posted in Buddhism, My poems, Poetry | 2 Comments

POEM: every white person has a Cherokee grandma

every white person has a Cherokee grandma

every white person has a Cherokee grandma
& a dream catcher dangling like a promise
from the rear-view mirror of their Forester
they never look back because
someone might be losing everything

we grow up learning to love hot cocoa
from the box, the name with the funny accent
over the final e — & it certainly is final, nailing
the coffin lid shut as the last drop of water
disappears beneath a tight plastic cap

we let them have what they want
because we cannot face who we’ve become
or who we had to kill to get here
Nikes squishing through the mud
made by mixing blood & dirt

tie your lips shut so capitalism doesn’t slip out
stay in the protective circle or the Bogey Man (TM)
will come for you
do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?
do you remember where you were when it was too late?

/ / /

Jason Crane
15 March 2018
Butler PA

Posted in My poems, New Orleans, Pennsylvania, Poetry, Politics & Activism | Leave a comment

Morning epiphany

Had a big epiphany this morning. The religious zeal and calling I feel is directed toward the creation of an intentional community. I also feel a very strong love and gratitude for Buddhism. My Buddhism has been a solitary practice for so long that I’ve tended to dissociate the religious/community calling from Buddhism. With the recent creation of an evening meditation group, and a planned trip to the local Zen center this weekend, I feel a merging of my calling and my Buddhist practice. Maybe I’m finally finding my path.

Posted in Buddhism, Religion, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

POEM: Chris & Jeff at the bar (aka the sages of Temperanceville)

Chris & Jeff at the bar (aka the sages of Temperanceville)

Jeff leans over to Chris like a conspirator:
“They’re tryin’ to turn everything into fuckin’ ‘right to work.’”
He looks up at the TV news, snorts air through his nose.
On the screen: West Virginia teachers on strike.
“They wanna take everythin’ away from ’em,” Jeff growls.
Chris nods, on his fourth phone call in 10 minutes.
“How many I got left, hon?” Jeff asks the bartender.
(She’s flying past, cradling a basket of bread
like a newborn babe.) “You’ve got one, Jeff.”
“I’ll take it, then, and give Chris one more, too.”
Next story: the baseball players union is suing the league.
“Good for them. Give it to ’em!”
Welcome to Pittsburgh. Eat your hoagie.

/ / /

Jason Crane
27 February 2018
The Village Tavern
in Pittsburgh’s West End
(formerly Temperanceville, PA)

Posted in Labor movement, My poems, Pennsylvania, Poetry | Leave a comment

HAIKU: 25 February 2018

feet sore from walking
back sweaty from early warmth
jump in shower — ah!

/ / /

Jason Crane
25 February 2015
State College PA

I go through periods of reading and writing haiku. I’ve done it ever since I moved to Japan in 1991 and picked up a copy of Basho’s Narrow Road To The Deep North in a bookstore in Sendai. Today I listened to this talk from Upaya Zen Center (where I almost ended up living in 2013) and decided it was time to start writing haiku again.

In the past I paid little to no attention to the 17-syllable rule, given that in Japanese it’s not even syllables that are counted. But Craig Strand’s part of the talk changed my mind. He said that focusing on three elements — form, season and present mind — frees the mind to express exactly what is there. In other words, the restrictions allow for true freedom. So I’m going to try sticking to 17 syllables.

Posted in Haiku, My poems, Poetry | 1 Comment