“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!