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Jon Wesick

Reading Zen on the Train


It’s in these pages – the isolated monastery

gnarled plum tree blossoming in the snow

bell at 4:00 AM, old monks, black robes

zafu, zabuton, full lotus

sound of a wooden block in the courtyard


Cell phone ring

“Hey Bro, I’m on the train by Solana Beach!

Where’s the nearest liquor store?”

Neither tattooed hand covers the mouth

that coughs infectious spores into shared air.


Bell reverberating into silence

sore knees, lonely candle

Even here, the dust and dirt of this world

Do you want something more than this?


“My supervisor sets me up for failure.

Those guys in Irvine haven’t cooperated at all.

When I went to her for help, she said

I should develop a working relationship with them.

Working relationship.”


Drum beat, kesas on shaved heads

“I wear the Tathagata’s teaching saving all sentient beings.”

Hanya Hara Shin Gyo

bows, a cascade of bells


“Tickets please!” The conductor

carries his silver punch from seat to seat.

A boy with Down Syndrome recites the schedule.


Breakfast – a ballet of chopsticks and lacquer bowls

work, kitchen

wash rice, chop vegetables

a sutra in a bag of mushrooms


The Coaster approaches Del Mar.

Passengers scan the ocean for fins.

A baby dolphin jumps from the waves.


The abbot, an ancient buddha

the koan – polishing a brick to  make a mirror

No ultimate –  No Buddha

No everyday –  No teaching

Fish cannot live in sterile water.



Host of the Gelato Poetry Series, instigator of the San Diego Poetry Un-Slam, and an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual, Jon Wesick has published nearly three hundred poems in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Pearl, and Slipstream. He has also published over fifty short stories. Jon has a Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts. One of his poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest.