“Does the spoon perceive the soup?”
Does the spoon perceive the soup?
Does the rake perceive the leaves it rakes?
Does the sock perceive the foot as it enters?
Does the car perceive the man who drives the car?
Does the mountain feel the one who climbs the mountain?
Does the sea take umbrage from the fish within it?
Does the bed rejoice when lovers lie upon it?
Does the grave take notice when the body enters?
Is there a bell that hears its own ringing?
Will pockets shy from every coin they hold?
Can the laying on of hands make any difference?
Do words hear themselves?
Yes / No No / Yes
As in a square dance,
twirl them around and do-si-do,
link hands and find your way home.
The Zen Master Thinks About Christianity
“Could you completely calm your soul
you’d hear God whispering to you
It would be like, I think,
becoming aware of all the radio,
TV and cell phone sound waves and light waves
constantly passing through our bodies,
how bathed we are in them,
that static, that blur,
and then hearing,
as in a heavy rainfall,
the plash of a single stone
someone unaccountably cast
upon the waters.
Zen, also, is like that.
Dick Allen’s This Shadowy Place, his eighth
collection of poems, won the national 2013 New Criterion Poetry
Prize and is forthcoming. Earlier of his
“Zen Master Poems” have appeared in or are forthcoming in The Hudson
Review, Rattle, American Poetry Review, Tricycle, On Barcelona,
and The New Criterion. He does walking meditation around the
shores of Thrushwood Lake,
in Connecticut, where he
serves as Connecticut’s State Poet