Startle





The grape does not return to say,
I have become wine.
There's no turning back from the crushing.

A shark's fin cleaves the wave
Without wounding water.
The bolt of lightning leaves no stain

In emptiness. What we call the world
Is just an afterimage of something
Flashed and gone.

This is how seventy or eighty years
Lingers on the back of my retina,
Fading golden orb that glitters

With Bodhisattva’s I’ve known
Holding janitor’s mops and crowbars,
Waving P.H.D.’s and fake visas, decked

Out in Nike’s, flak jackets and diapers.
Mandala of the glory of the void
Miraged inside a blink,

Containing neither wisdom nor merit
For all the pain and beauty
Of ten thousand love affairs…

Who could contain That?
Shatter this cup of light.
The luminous silence before birth

And the gleaming stillness after death
Are the same moment, this one.
The bell ping of wine tasting,

What use? To waken the tongue.
The memory of the fragrance of composted rose:
What use? To waken

What cannot be remembered.
Come now, grow in the beauty of dying.
No longer need we speak of the soul.

We only speak of the leisurely
Magnificent pulse of yellow and scarlet
Monarch butterfly wings

On a cobalt sprig of Summer phlox,
Suddenly startled
Into disappearing.