Sunday Poem: Buddhist Chronicles 9

BUDDHIST CHRONICLES 9

9

Yasodhara

Yesterday
the magnolia’s perfect bowl
brimmed with rain-water

Now, a single petal,
mottled cream and brown,
droops outward

The bowl is broken

Rahula runs towards me
his laughing face upturned

Two raindrops tremble
on the blossom’s ivory lip

…………………………………….

Sunday Poem: Buddhist Chronicles 8

In this poem, we stand with Siddhartha at the boundary between the world we know and the one that awaits our unfolding. What threshold invites you to step into your future today? How do you feel about it? Will you say yes to the call of the river?

BUDDHIST CHRONICLES

8

At The Boundary: The River Anoma

You stand on my northern bank,
a lacerated young man, with tender-soled feet.
Your tears prick my skin;
droplets of salt swirl in secret eddies.

Do you know what you invoke, O prince?
I am as wide as the chasm between lives.
My waters erase the known world.
My ways are ancient
and hard. I dwindle mountains into pebbles
round and smooth as pearls.
There is no immunity here.
Men have drowned in these currents.

You hack off your hair with a sword, leave it blowing
like straw on my flanks. But that which you sever
once you step into my belly
will bleed dark as rubies:
fearful, benevolent as death itself.

Loneliness will wear you down with the slow grinding
of millstones. Your mind will be drenched in fear
and hunger. You will twist in currents of longing
while fish nibble at your entrails.

Think well, before you enter my embrace.

………………………………………………………

Today’s poem is dedicated to the memory of P. K. Page, poet, artist, visionary, and my friend, whose death this week at age 93 has left poetry lovers bereft. I’m so grateful for the light of her passage through this earth.

As always, I’d love your company on this journey of poetic discovery. Please share your poems, insights, heart and humor in Comments. Our conversation draws us closer to the hearth-fire of community and connection.

Sunday Poem: Buddhist Chronicles 7

BUDDHIST CHRONICLES

7

Siddhartha At The Boundary Of The Sakya Kingdom

Moonless night; cloud
silk across lowering sky.

In my father’s palace Yasodhara sleeps,
my son’s newborn body curled against her breast:
a snail in its shell.

I have turned my trembling back
on all I love,

tethered still by ropes of desire,
longing. O heart

that hammers against the doors of the sky–
I creep forward to meet this cryptic night.

The river hisses, a cobra at my feet.
I can bear no more goodbyes.

I must make a fist of this heart.

Channa, take my clothes;
these silks and jewels chafe like a yoke.

Give them to my father. Tell him, I will return

when I have found the jewel I seek. Kanthaka,
you must gallop back to the palace too.

I cannot take you with me.

…………………………………………………………………….

Continuing the saga of Siddhartha and his family, this week we hear from the man himself.

As always, I’d love to have you join me on this journey of poetic play and discovery. Please share your poems, insights, songs and musings in Comments. Our conversation brings brave new worlds into being.

Sunday Poem: Buddhist Chronicles 6

BUDDHIST CHRONICLES

6

Suddhodana’s Dilemma

The king sits in council
with his ministers. His heir
has vanished,
choosing the ascetic’s empty bowl
over the imperial crown.

Seven sages had predicted this
the day Siddhartha was born.
His would be a destiny of choice:
Emperor
or Enlightened One.

The king tried
to keep his heir at home. He buried
the writhing of the flesh
under garments of gold.
Ascetics were plentiful as leaves.
He had only one first-born son.

Now he wrinkles the imperial forehead.
Turns brusquely to his chief minister,
orders Prince Nanda to be brought
to the council chamber.

……………………………………………………….

As always, I’d love to hear your poems, as well as your thoughts, feelings and insights on Poetry Sunday.

The rhythm of poetry is the rhythm of breath and heartbeat. Poems connect us across the chasms of history, geography, language and culture to the essence of what’s in our hearts.

Siddhartha’s story, and that of the people and places that he loved, unfolded centuries ago. Yet the essential truth of his experience is also our own…

Let’s raise our voices in this communion of poetry together.

Sunday Poem #15: Buddhist Chronicles 5

BUDDHIST CHRONICLES

5

Yasodhara’s Lament

Tides of grief
through my veins

From this swollen heart into estuaries

I mourn the wrack
to come

I have stored pain like marrow
like treasure in the caves

of my bones

Bloodwaters crash and break
on this spiny shore

………………………………………

This week’s poem continues the saga of Siddhartha and his family, after he has left home in search of enlightenment.

As always, I’d love to hear your poems, thoughts, feelings and insights on Poetry Sunday. Poems are the call and response of our hearts. Let’s share them and celebrate the love that we are, together.

Sunday Poem #14: Buddhist Chronicles 4

BUDDHIST CHRONICLES

4

Prajapati

I loved Siddhartha as my own
my sister’s child, suckled
at my breast

but I saw him always
for what he was

a prince
shielded by garden walls.

He had never known death;
even the flowers in his orchards

were picked before their petals fell.
He never knew the stench of decay

or the rotting fruit
life vomits up.

Yasodhara was different;
she knew their happiness was fragile

a pale blue egg bravely held
in the hollow of her hand.

She fought for it

while he, who had never been denied
crushed it

in his fist.

And yet, he was tender,
an orchid sweetening this mountain air

his father’s prize

he could have turned out spoiled as a peacock
all those palaces built for him, all those

dancing girls with naked breasts and
rubies gleaming in their pubic hair.

But he had a purity of heart that would not let him
sink into these pleasures. He was very young

when his cousin shot a swan and claimed it
as his trophy. Siddhartha drew the arrow from the bird’s

bleeding breast, warmed her injured heart against his own,
nursed her till she healed
and flew away.

Still, he was a prince
raised to believe
the kingdom took wing from him.

Selfish in his way, as she in hers, he was all
clarity and air,
cool detachment;

she was earth, and water.

Asceticism.
Appetite.

And yet, they chose each other.

This is the secret that overflows
in her eyes.

I wasn’t surprised when he left,
though I feared for Yasodhara’s sanity.

………………………………………………….

As always, I’d love to hear your poems, thoughts, feelings and insights on Poetry Sunday. Poems are the call and response of our hearts. Let’s share them and celebrate the love that we are, together.

Sunday Poem #13: Buddhist Chronicles 3

This is the third in the suite of narrative poems, the Buddhist Chronicles. Rahula was Siddhartha’s young son, born after his father left the family to seek enlightenment. If you missed the first two poems in this series, you can read them here and here.

…………………………………….

Buddhist Chronicles

3

Rahula’s Demand

Where is my father?
Why do you sit all day by the window
gazing out at the sky, and at this winding path
that leads away from our mountain kingdom?

Mother, come, play with me. I have a new monkey
with soft white fur, black rings around his eyes;
he speaks to me in monkey tongue,
tells me stories of the bazaar.

Why must I stay here in grandfather’s palace?
It is pestilent with women and old men
hiding from the cold.

I want to see my father.
Take me to him.

……………………………

As always, I’d love to hear your insights, thoughts and poems in Comments. Poetry is an act of communion, an exploration of intersecting realities, a song, the rhythm of breath in words. Let’s play poetry together.

Sunday Poem # 12 – Buddhist Chronicles 2

This week’s Sunday Poem is the second in a nine-part narrative series – the Buddhist Chronicles. (If you missed the first poem in the sequence, you can read it here.)

I’ve long been fascinated by the story of Siddhartha, of his life as a man before he became the Buddha, the Enlightened One.

These poems began with a question: How do each of the people in this story bear the costs of one man’s search for enlightenment?

And that led to a more universal question: What are the costs of a paradigm that separates the material world from its soul or essence? How do we experience the pain of this separation in our own lives? How does the earth pay the price for this fragmentation?

And then, further: What is the Great Pattern that holds both fragmentation and wholeness in Love?

As always, I’d love to hear your comments about your own experiences with this issue. How does it play out in your life?

And yes, it’s Poetry Sunday, so please share your poems! Poetry enriches all of us.

Buddhist Chronicles

2
Rejection

Don’t preach to me, Siddhartha. You are an old man
who masquerades in a young man’s clothes.
Don’t talk to me of afterlife; I know what I know.
My body is my guide. Beat of pulse, belly’s cry,
the raging of my thighs tell me all I need to know.
Your heavenly consolations are not for me.

Go to your hermit’s cave, Siddhartha. Reject
the body’s truths of blood and bone
for arid philosophical perfection.
Sultry night and all the burning stars will
bed with me when you are gone.

Sunday Poem #11 – Buddhist Chronicles

This week’s Sunday Poem is the first in a nine-part narrative series — the Buddhist Chronicles. I’ve long been fascinated by the story of Siddhartha, of his life as a man before he became the Buddha, the Enlightened One.

The poems began with a question: How do each of the people in this (universal) story bear the costs of one man’s search for enlightenment?

That question led to others, and to an exploration of a spiritual question.

To me, the body is soul in its most solidly incarnate form. Yet many religions and spiritual practices regard the body as a cloak for spirit, to be transcended or shed or otherwise separated like chaff from wheat.

What are the costs of a paradigm that separates the material world from its soul or essence?

How do we, as individuals, experience the pain of this separation in our own lives? How does the earth pay the price for this view of less-than-wholeness?

As always, I’d love to hear your comments about your own experiences with this issue. How does it play out in your life?

And yes, it’s Poetry Sunday, so please share your poems! Poetry enriches all of us.

BUDDHIST CHRONICLES

1

Yashodhara and Siddhartha: The Parting

Would you leave me, Siddhartha? This bed,
its crumpled sheets still bear the imprint
of our bodies. Look, I will cut off my hair,
these heavy tresses you love to twine around your wrists;
I will lock my legs around your waist.
I will not let you go.

Will you leave me?

I left my father’s orchards for you,
learned to love these echoing hills
because they are your home.
My only home is you.
I left them all: my mother, who wept at our wedding,
like the Ganges in full flood; my father, brother,
the country of my birth.
I came to you bereft of language;
we spoke in whispers of blood, thunder of flesh
rejoicing. Do you remember? We made love
on the balcony until it broke and we fell,
still entwined, onto the ground below.

And now you tell me you must go?

You say you’ve looked into the entrails
of suffering and cannot rest until you know
how the story ends. Your mind trembled
when you met that unholy trinity:
sickness old age death.
But we are young, Siddhartha,
my belly leaps with new life. Stay.
Stay for your child
if not for me.

Why can you not stay? Does my beauty
unman you? Your mouth flutters like a bird
beneath my fingers and my heart shouts
in my chest and yet, the curve of my lips,
is it the entrance to death’s cave?
Must you go?
……………………………………………………..

  • You are a sovereign being,
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