Saturday, May 18, 2013


image borrowed from bing


“ Zen is not philosophy, it is poetry. It does not propose,
it simply persuades. It does not argue, it simply sings.”

The slave’s rut, worn smooth by countless feet,
was never really my soul’s domicile, though
I labored there with my chained brethren--

surrounded by those leaden-eyed, gray-skinned
worker bees, who at the end of each shift, gleefully
unsnapped their harnesses, and raced home
to their mind-numbing technology & toys--

whilst I , always the first to arrive & last to leave,
savored the puffy dandelions poking their sassy
heads out of the cracks in the concrete, marveled

at the mirth of the dust that danced in the perfect
bands of light, enjoying the horseplay between
sun & earth, shadows & radiation there on
the red linoleum of the employee restroom, smiling

at the fat hawk’s nest perched atop the phone pole
at the head of my alley, and always when I strode
gently across my back yard I longed to be

the magnificent Maple in my neighbor’s yard, just
supremely solid, tall, immovable, unblinking with
branches as thick as elephant legs, always
receptive but never judgmental, rooted
firmly in the Now;

bearing, wearing luxurious leaves without pride,
shedding them by the tubful when Autumn’s
death was upon them, within them; plugged

pugnaciously but not perniciously deep
into the spiritual girding of axis & reality,
the colonic cycle of Life, unafraid

of the woodsman’s axe, sweetly oblivious
to Homeland Security, the IRS, jihadists,
big screen plasma televisions, and war
games--both video & visceral;

and it has taught me without words,
now that my servitude has ended
and I busily tread the path from bondage
to freedom, I can immerse my self
in my Self, celebratory and joyous

that this time I eluded both faith & devotion
and have emerged from the chrysalis 
unscathed, still curious and creative;

barking like the vicious dog on the other side
of my Sears chain link fence, still seeking
some tiny particles of the greater Truth;

that which eternally defies definition, regardless
of how many lifetimes I have pursued it,
or of how many karmic pitfalls I have stumbled
into and pulled myself out of, or through.

At this juncture, imbedded in this moment,
I have fully accepted Leonard Cohen
as my personal prophet poet, Jikan, who

after several years of seclusion & meditation
on top of Mt. Baldy, came down and returned
to smoking,
to alcohol,
to women,
to song,

because he finally found the strength
to inactively enter the Zen dialogue:

“What is mind?
No matter.
What is Matter?
Never mind.”

Glenn Buttkus

May 2013

Posted over on sVerse Poets Poetics

Would you like the author to read this poem to you?


Brian Miller said...

ha. i could think of worse zen teachers than cohen...rather like the dance of particles in the light and horse play between the earth and sun, truth is found where it has always been, when we see it again for the first time...loved the journey man

Björn said...

That Zen comment sounds like the right guiding star to live by...

Cheers ... from a Europe obsessed tonight in competing in bad music.

Claudia said...

smiles on cohen as personal prophet.. sometimes it takes a long journey til we find our own way, isn't it...

Mary said...

Following the zen way sounds good to me...and with Leonard Cohen as one's personal prophet, even better.

Heaven said...

This was quite a journey Glenn to attaining insights of life and its definition ~ For the moment, I am enjoying the puffy dandelions poking their heads out of the park ~ Smiles ~

Kelvin S.M. said...

...alcohol, smoking, women, song --- perpetual plagues that are so hard to give up... drop one or two and half of you die... a change will come in time when you don't force it to happen... smiles... do not attempt to skin the monks so to feel an inner peace... it will just drown you out...smiles...

Anonymous said...

Marvelous wording, and having read Cohen's "Book of Lomging" as well as interviews with him in the "Shambhala sun", I certainly appreciate your choice : )

henna ink said...

I really like these sections:

"savored the puffy dandelions poking their sassy
heads out of the cracks in the concrete, marveled"

"this time I eluded both faith & devotion
and have emerged from the chrysalis
unscathed, still curious and creative"

"because he finally found the strength
to inactively enter the Zen dialogue:
'What is mind?
No matter.
What is Matter?
Never mind.'"

Wyeth Bailey said...

I was hooked from the start, "The slave’s rut, worn smooth by countless feet . . . " and I settled in to follow this journey of a poem. Very gritty, alternately pleasing and repulsive, thoroughly honest. I loved it.

Semaphore said...

Cohen, for me, stands as a master straddling two worlds of poetry, in song and in verse, and his philosophical explorations in either have cleared the underbrush for many poetic journeys. A wonderful evocation of that celebrated life and mind.

George Polley said...

Thank you Glenn for sending me this one. I like it.


Judy Mauer said...

fuggedaboutit was one of my favorites so far.