Sangha/2

Stating the Obvious
for Savannah

Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem “The Good News” is good news
Universal Design is good news

Sunday potlucks are good news
Song lyrics dedicated to a friend are good news

Vigiling for Palestine is still good news even with the 24/7 bad news in Gaza
Hand-drawn posters are good news

Bicycling in the city and Forest Park is good news
Pablo Neruda poem is good news

Saying “Yes!” is good news
Serene indifference to texting is good news

Health Literacy is good news
Cheerfulness is very good news

Classmate camaraderie is good news
Knowing what one is meant to do is good news

Not putting your light under a bushel basket is good news
Home sweet home (but not more than two weeks) is good news

Unfinished graph of consciousness poem on Palestine is good news
You (obviously) are good news

Cece’s Smile
For Mary and Matt

A while after Mev died
I went to a gathering at Jesuit Hall
In honor of Guadalupe Carney
Who had lived in Honduras with the poor

Scores of people were there
Across the crowded room I saw Cece
Who must have been 14 at that time
She saw me and let loose a smile to raise the dead

That beam of eyes that mouth and that hand wave were familiar to me
I felt instantly at ease
Happy and grateful
To behold Cece (to remember Mev)

For all I know Cece wasn’t trying to offer me consolation
She was being herself
And that consoled me
For a while that day

In those days desolation would appear just as suddenly
It might be seeing a woman in a wheelchair
Or one wearing a scarf in an unusual way
Or a Doppelgänger walking away from me down the aisle at Schnucks

Consolation came
But then went
And that was a desolation
Some of the time

Desolation came
And then went
And that was a consolation
Some of the time

There were times when desolation came
It was as if it was occupying my soul
Colonizing it
Setting up an infrastructure

Leading me to think:
This is the way it’s gonna be
And in those moments
(Sometimes those hours)

I was convinced
“This shit is here to stay”
I was always wrong about that, though
Which wasn’t always all that much consolation

All these years later
I remember Cece’s smile
A gift she unwittingly gave me
And which reminds me today

What got me through
Were hundreds
Nay
Thousands of moments like that

May we play a part
In such moments
For those feeling surrounded
By a loss that’s unfathomable

No Birth No Death (After a Sangha Discussion on the Lotus Sutra)

In ten years (or thirty)
Thich Nhat Hanh will still be among the living

Just like today
I will see him in your smile

“I Love Self-Righteous People!”

Dear Bella Levenshteyn
I’m astounded on a daily basis:

The hand-written letters I receive
From dear ones via the USPS!!!

In my circle of near and far-flung friends
We are keeping alive this art form

The following is from Marvin
(You remember, from my Beserkley days

He’s part of a sangha out there
That meets twice a week!)

I am happy to share his ode with you
Perry Schimmel

I love self-righteous people!
I dig them!

Best thing is—
They’re not hard to find!

They’re just being themselves
It comes so naturally to them

It doesn’t matter where they are politically
I’m not choosey:

I love the smug right-wingers
I love the irritable left-wingers

I’m drawn to them
I seek them out

At the cafés
In the plazas

During happy hour
At coffee and donuts

On Telegraph Ave
In the Rose Garden

I’ve got to see them
Be with them

Cherish their predictable rants
Their spouting off about any and everything

Bask in those precious minutes amid their dogmatism
Their incessant yammering about how right they are

Identify with precision the specks of truth
Their cocksureness covers over

I love self-righteous people!
They are my greatest teachers!

They are so generous too
They give me countless opportunities

Whenever I am with them
Or see them on television

Or hear them on radio
To realize just how much

They remind me
Of me

The Way of the World

—Anicca, Pali, noun, impermanence; the arising, passing away, and changing of all phenomena; one of the Bengali Buddhist teacher Munindra’s oft used expressions in daily life was, “Anicca, anicca.” See Mirka Knaster, Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munidra (Shambhala, 2010).

“Those honey-colored ramparts at your ear”
Anicca, anicca

The life of the party
Anicca, anicca

20/20 vision
Anicca, anicca

BFF
Anicca, anicca

BMW
Anicca, anicca

“Thy eternal summer”
Anicca, anicca

Standing ovations
Anicca, anicca

The winning goal
Anicca, anicca

50,000 new visitors each month
Anicca, anicca

A twenty-year-old’s lissomeness on the beach
Anicca, anicca

Endless Summer LP
Anicca, anicca

That smitten look
Anicca, anicca

Nocturnal chatter orgies
Anicca, anicca

Ultimate orgasm
Anicca, anicca

Marvel of Mary Jane’s brownies
Anicca, anicca

Goosebumps
Anicca, anicca

Rage
Anicca, anicca

Dread
Anicca, anicca

Schadenfreude
Anicca, anicca

Kleshas
Anicca, anicca

120/80
Anicca, anicca

Kafka’s neurotic suffering
Anicca, anicca

Che’s motorcycle
Anicca, anicca

Sandinista Revolution
Anicca, anicca

Mona Lisa
Anicca, anicca

Twin Towers
Anicca, anicca

1000+ followers
Anicca, anicca

Dylan’s folk purity
Anicca, anicca

LOL
Anicca, anicca

Day at the French Laundry
Anicca, anicca

B/w print by Sebastião Salgado
Anicca, anicca

Roman hegemony of the known world
Anicca, anicca

USSR
Anicca, anicca

American global hegemony
Anicca, anicca

“Best minds of my generation”
Anicca, anicca

Cheer Up

Hungry ghosts are everywhere
But bodhisattvas are everywhere too

Suffering is everywhere
But the transnational sangha is everywhere too

This page is part of my book, Dear Love of Comrades, which you can read here.

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