The Spiritual

Wall, Cave, and Pillar Statements, after Asôka

In order to perfect all readers
the statements should be carved
on rock walls, on cave walls,
and on the side of pillars so
the charm of their instruction can
affect the mountain climbers near
the cliffs, the plainsmen near
the pillars, and the city people near
the caves they go to on vacations.

Footnote to Howl

Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy! The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy!
Everything is holy! everybody’ s holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity! Everyman’ s an angel!
The bum’ s as holy as the seraphim! the madman is holy as you my soul are holy!
The typewriter is holy the poem is holy the voice is holy the hearers are holy the ecstasy is holy!

The King and Seer

The King asks, “Tell me, what is the highest meaning of the holiest truths?”
The Seer answers, “Emptiness, without holiness.”

The King is a restless seeker.
The Seer is a ruler and thief.

I am seriously watching how trees are always missing some leaves.
They sweep the air looking for them. Nothing distracts them. Nothing.
Where leaves are missing between the branches, beautiful sun porches,
which disappear when the tree reaches them.

“Who are you?” the King asks.
“It is not like that,” the Seer says.

You May Leave a Memory, Or You Can be Feted by Crows

Three years, Huang Gongwang
worked on his famous handscroll,
Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains.

As he put successive applications of ink to paper
over the “one burst of creation,” his original design,
it is said he often sang like a tree frog
and danced on his old bare feet.

One day, he adds one hemp fiber stroke,
the next a moss dot.

What patience he had,
like a cat who comes back season after season to a mole’ s tunnel.

A Practical Mom

can go to Bible study every Sunday
and swear she’ s still not convinced,
but she likes to be around people who are.
We have the same conversation
every few years — I’ ll ask her if she stops
to admire the perfect leaves
of the Japanese maple
she waters in her backyard,
or tell her how I can gaze for hours
at a desert sky and know this
as divine. Nature, she says,
doesn’ t hold her interest. Not nearly
as much as the greens, pinks, and grays
of a Diebenkorn abstract, or the antique