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Gary Wilkens

Heart for the Dharma


Upon hearing that the Buddha would be passing
through their country, three good monks
with hearts for the dharma set out to see him.
As they left a storm arose, making the way hard.
The wind stung and the rain bit-one monk fell
behind with illness, while the others went on.
The storm rolled from the sky, but the two monks
pressed ahead. Resting along a road one night
they were robbed, beaten and one monk killed.
The last monk was left alone in the wilderness,
barely alive in his ragged robe,
until a bird flew ahead and whistled him a song.
He followed the bird until he came to the garden
where the Buddha was to be preaching. He searched
among the flowers and trees but was again alone.
He sat upon a rock, wandering why his journey had
been so hard only to miss the Buddha. Suddenly

a group of monks neared, asking where the Buddha was.
'Oh, monks,' said he, 'I have come to a garden of beauties
with a heart for the dharma, but all I find is emptiness'.
Upon hearing this all the monks became enlightened.


Mahayana Love Poem

In a world
built of Nothing


the seams

and the Nothingness
seeps through

and oozes all over
the carpet

as when

I tell you
I love you

and you



Gary Charles Wilkens, Assistant Professor of English at Norfolk State University, was the winner of the 2006 Texas Review Breakthrough Poetry Prize for his first book, The Red Light Was My Mind. His poems have appeared in about 50 online and print venues, among them The Texas Review, The Cortland Review, the Adirondack Review, The Prague Revue, and The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume II: Mississippi.