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John McCarthy

The Twelve Fold Chain



Your mind mistaking the limits of your mind

for the limits of the world and suffering

without cause or effect.



Your body thinking it is words thinking

it is a mind thinking it is a limit. Breathe.

            Exhale and awake.



Six senses of consciousness make up your body,

make up the eternal. Your body will become an earth

            of water and stone.



The name becomes two, a form and name becoming

no form, no name. Consciousness is an opposite.

            Truth starts to glint inside-out.



You are always some kind of earth. Your eyes open,

palms spread, nose flares, tongue laps, ears twitch;

            cosmic dust is a thought of you.



Your non-form touches an earth of no form. You

become you out of an earth’s nothing. The Phoenix

            arises from ash a virgin.



From ash comes thought like water. To arise

is to burn. The sensation of your non-form

            is a wave of thought.



Out of non-form is a craving to be form, an earth.

Where there was no pain there is now suffering,

            craving the earth out of your body.


Out of craving comes your earth clinging to you.

Your senses and self, light and darkness, open

            and close with practice they open.



You become you but do not get to keep you.

The form craved non-form. Your eyes watch

gently body into night.



Your earth will become an earth again and you

will become another form out of nothing

becoming a cycle.



Your earth will dissolve an earth again and you

will dissolve another form into nothing

dissolving, a cycle.



John McCarthy's work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in The Pinch, Salamander, Oyez Review, Midwestern Gothic, Jabberwock Review, SPECS, and The Lindenwood Review, among others. He lives in Springfield, IL where he is the assistant editor of Quiddity.