poems as hand- and foot-holds on a glass mountain

Casting Off


“Although understanding itself is time, 

  understanding does not depend 

    on its own arrival.”

                      – Dogen



Casting off is a poem journey

notebook and pencil in hand, ancient now

as clay tablets but more intimate than a computer screen

and Intimacy is what we’re after

strange we have to travel to get there

strapping on our Kevlar to wait in an airport 

while our luggage flies to Cairo

This time mind is an ocean, ocean this time-mind

easier than subject/object and heroically post-modern

but very strange; the trip’s first lesson

We’re flying Discontent, the world’s oldest airline

and first language (and the last?)

only the blessed are at peace and they’re all dead

a high price for a ticket

We’re hoping this isn’t a death journey

squeezing through slimy underground passages

with a flashlight in our teeth

but we’ve notice we can’t really choose our Context,

can only visit what’s there, the trip’s second lesson

but can choose an attitude

from a nearly endless rack at a nearby mall

including a large section of nearly identical white suits

all sizes with no labels and a box of crayons

After two weeks at the airport we realize

     that was the journey

and try to piece it together from memory

with a series of disposable questions

The first dozen or so are blanks

then we begin to pick up clues

no leaving, no arriving

pacing or sitting staring out large windows

at an unchanging patch of tarmac

reading the news over and over

making small-talk with total strangers

slowly the mind turns these 

and begins noticing the ocean it always is

in an endless intimate intriguing return flight


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