Shiva Temple

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

flags waving
men shouting
tall prayer towers leaning over
about to fall

women will colored decorations on their heads
dancers following dressed in gold
and then the black boar
with white tusks

the lord and creator of dance
moves in a circle of fire
where everything that can burn
is burned away
and all that is left
is that which cannot be consumed
by fire
even though it is always aflame

he asks us to destroy
all memory and loss
and dance with him
in the blazing brilliance
of emptiness
and space


                                                  Ubud, Bali


  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

on a cold winter evening
five old Nepali men
sit cross-legged in
a Vishnu temple in Bhaktapur
singing songs of praise
into the night

on the darkened street
a few passersby
touch their hands to foreheads
in silent tribute
but no one stops to listen
to their songs

except for one

The River Answered

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

I said to the river:
"My life is not the same"

the river said:
Nothing stays the same

the rocks and boulders
change their shape
as my waters
pass over them


I said to the river:
"I am afraid of losing my life"

The river ansered:
My life is constant loss

I flow downstream
into a riverbed
into a lake
into the great ocean
always my waters
disappear on their way past


"Sometimes I am in sorrow"
I said to the river
"Sometime I am in bliss"

The river replied:
My waters keeps flowing

over one bend there is sunshine
in another shade
a rushing downstream
over rocks
and then a tranquil pool

"I am lonely"
I said to the river

The river answered:
I am always alone
but never lonely

I have the trees
their overhanging
arches and limbs
their leaves and seeds

I have the stones
of different colors
and hues

I have the sunlight
always streaming in
over rock
over tree
over mountain

I have the everpresent Earth
of sand and soil
underneath me
holding me
in her arms


"My life is almost over"
I said to the river

The river spoke:
No life ever ends
in eternity

Your life will forever
in these rocks
these trees
these drops of water
that lead into
the sea

The song of the earth
is your song
the blue of the sky
is lit with your light


I said to the river
"Then I shall be River"

The River answered:

Looking Like A Young Mother Teresa

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

a shawl thrown over her head
Bombay shirt and sash
walking down a Kathmandu street
from Iowa by way of Arizona
on her way back to Calcutta

we visit Tibetans at the Monkey Temple
meet the rinpoche
wear white scarves
red cords around our necks
to show that we have been blessed

take a taxi to Boudanath
circle the great white stupa
spin the prayer wheels

before she returns to her ashram
she tells me she has been reborn
from previous lifetimes--
her karma brought her to the great Midwest
so she could search and search
in the long long journey
to get back


Everything You Know Is Wrong

  • Posted on: 26 November 2015
  • By: Joe

There was no revolution in China:
the workers don't call each other "comrade"
there's a Kentucky Fried Chicken stand
across from Mao's mausoleum
the Forbidden City is no longer forbidden
the Great Wall is crumbling
and the restaurants don't serve tea or tell fortunes

Buddhists in Thailand drink Pepsi in the temples
smoke cigarettes in the shadows
teenaged monks with shaved heads and saffron robes
play games on their iPhones
and pin up posters of girls in bikinis

The sun isn't red over Japan
the samurais are wearing gray three-piece suits
Hiroshima is not in ruins
and New York has moved to Tokyo

                 (you know)
                                  is wrong

logic is illogical
the spiritual path has no directions
there is no one buried in the tombs
the seed contains the fruit
we are awake only in dreams