“Over a million people gathered in Hong Kong this week to view a tooth, said to have been retrieved from the ashes of Buddha’s funeral pyre.”


As the ashes of his body whirled to clouds,

it is said the prophet dispensed a dental detail,

proof he once traversed the Ganges Valley

Perhaps that’s why Master

admonished me to touch tongue to tooth

to block distraction.


On paradoxical autumn afternoons

I often found that tooth,

wishing the sunlight so thin

no shadows struck the lawn.

Nothing came to me in zazen

and zazen guided me to nothing.


On another day along a river,

long after Master’s oblique oblongs,

I tasted my tooth no longer pure,

felt places on inner cheeks I’d chewed raw,

places a younger man struggles to find

and an older man mumbles about.


Gone the subtleties of haiku and haiga,

replaced by mouth of bone, of relic,

rot of shroud giving way to lust,

freedom of spirit, longing, drift.


I lay past time that morning, aligning lungs

with large inhalations of the prairie rain

permutating on the shingles of the roof,

stretched and rose,

enjoyed strong martinis on a balcony

overlooking the clover meadow;

grilled a sirloin medium rare,

slept deep and well,

dreamed myself a jolly buddha,

incisors beaming in the dark!