Losing them, fixing them, forgetting to put them in
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No Zen master me!
I’m going to my grave
gnashing my teeth
and moaning over
how neglected I was.
Damn all you false masters
of serenity! Take your calm
and shove it. Struggle
is what it means
to be alive and free.
A thousand years may be beyond me
but I can turn this morning into forever.
For thirty years I’ve studied ancient Chinese poets
and Taoist texts, and often I have longed to abjure
this world, these days, to see through the dust of our
fleeting, temporal lives and thus accede to immortality.
But, alas, and luckily for me — Character is fate.
I love this world too much to want to find a way
away from it. I give my soul to my senses.
I love the sound of birds, the sight of the wind
passing through the trees. I live for the swollen cock,
the soaking cunt, a bowl of vegetables and noodles,
a cup of wine, the sweet aroma of some tea.
How could heaven be anywhere but here?
This place, this momentary now, today — is eternity
and it is here in me and in my dying life.
Your October Readers Write section on “Vietnam” was a fascinating and heartbreaking journey back to that anguished and volatile period in our country’s history. I think it would be an excellent addition to history classes on the Vietnam War. I also enjoyed that “crank” Judevine Mountain’s poems. I recently escaped from a graduate program in English, and “In An Age of Academic Mandarins” caused me to burst out laughing.
Hal Crowther’s “The Beat Goes On” pointed out how deeply intertwined are American culture and the ideology of war. His essay reminded me of my own experience during the Gulf War. At that time, I was working at a community hospital in a small New England city. In my department, employees were encouraged to wear red, white, and blue clothing every other Friday to show their support for the war. (I usually came to work those days dressed in black.) As if this weren’t enough, my boss, in a fit of patriotic fervor, ordered an American flag for the waiting room. It turned out to be so large that the flagpole had to be trimmed so it would fit. Throughout that period I experienced an almost constant nausea about being an American, a sickness of spirit that I could literally feel in my gut.