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Category: Buddhism

POEM: the dharma according to Norman

the dharma according to Norman

4:14 a.m.
he jumps on my ribs as
I sleep on my side
I get up to pee, then
lie on my back
he settles on my chest

5:30 a.m.
this time he meows &
gently bumps my nose
we get up, trying not to wake Owen
I put on shorts & a t-shirt
beside the kitchen table, then
feed Norman

6:10 a.m.
three bells ring
I bow as I finish zazen
turn to find him sleeping
on the recliner behind me
he yowls softly as I scratch his tummy

/ / /

Jason Crane
5 August 2020
Tucson, AZ

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POEM: Prayer

Prayer

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva,
I’m putting you in this poem
to sound more like Allen Ginsberg.

Kannon Bodhisattva,
I just cleaned the toilet
then looked at myself in the mirror.

Jizo Bodhisattva,
protector of travelers & children,
I am a wandering boy putting distance
between himself & his past.

I worry less about the
ten thousand things
than I used to,
but let’s not kid ourselves.

/ / /

Jason Crane
30 May 2020
Tucson, AZ

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POEM: The still small voice

The still small voice
(for Fr. Edgar Holden)

A lotus tattoo & a statue of the Buddha;
I turn halfway to look down the road behind me.
Flinching from the name of God like a slapped child,
I yearn for the gentle mysticism of Merton,
for a life among flagstones & evensong.
There are burrs on my clothing & scratches on my skin
from running through fields to evade my pursuers.
At night I hear the still small voice:
“How’re you going to make your way in the world
when you weren’t cut out for working?”
Twenty years ago I took a monk to a quiet spot
in the Sonoran Desert, left him there with his brothers
to bathe in the sunset & silence. I drove back to town
wondering whether I should have stayed there with them.

/ / /

Jason Crane
2 April 2020
Tucson, AZ

Note: The two lines in quotation marks are from Warren Zevon’s song “The French Inhaler.”

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BOOK REVIEW: Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind by Maura Soshin O’Halloran

I came across this book at Bookmans in Tucson during our apartment-hunting trip a couple weeks ago. I’d never heard of the book or of Soshin O’Halloran, but I’m an admirer of books about the lives of Buddhist monastics and other practitioners. Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind is a collection of diary entries and letters published after O’Halloran’s death in a car accident at the age of 27. She was on a tour of Asia following three years as a Buddhist nun in Japan. It’s a lovely book; honest and forthright and brimming with zeal for her newfound Buddhist practice. At times the focus on kensho (englightenment) was a little much for me, but that’s because the flavor of Buddhism I practice doesn’t emphasize that aspect of Zen to the extent that Soshin’s did. It’s a worthwhile book, made bittersweet in the knowledge that she died just weeks after receiving transmission and being given permission to teach.

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POEM: Petals

Petals

“that which would kill you /
bursts into flowers”
— Jessica Smith

Soshin immortalized
an iris on the page.
She herself gone
at twenty-seven.
You & I seek
the same permanence;
faces turned toward the sun
till a breeze carries us away.

/ / /

Jason Crane
19 February 2020
State College PA

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POEM: I Got Me Babe

I Got Me Babe

Curled up before the fake fire,
wrapped up in a book about
the Great War
(wars not make one great),
I am myself.

I’ve spent minutes & hours & days
& years peering intently into
the 6 or so inches inside my skull.
It’s all in there, or so I’ve read.
Some days I think I can see me.

I see my face in my mind’s eye
& it looks just like me.
I run my fingertips over
the denim of my jeans
& feel like I’m supposed to feel.

Other days I sit at a metal desk
with fake wood on top,
entering data & answering phones
& helping things get from here to there.
Well, I say “I” but it isn’t me.

Whale Dave says you can be yourself
at the 7-Eleven. Or at the Pentagon.
Or in a shed on the Cape. Hmmm. Maybe.
I haven’t tried any of those spots yet,
but I’ve tried 40 or so different towns,

an equal number of jobs, and it’s only
occasionally, just every once in a while,
that I’m myself. Like on a Sunday afternoon
or a Wednesday morning.
Times like that.

My radio plays “I Got You Babe”
one morning, like the guy in the movie.
I reach over to shut it off but I can’t find it.
I open my eyes to see my bed
floating through space.

/ / /

Jason Crane
25 November 2019
State College PA

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