Sutra For Poets Who Would Be Buddhas

Stitch shut the million mouths of books.
Find a smiling teacher, still alive.
Become as trusting as a child or bird.
(Stop flinching, doctors, masters, sleeping
children, dear hearts, perched on the edge
of your self, dreaming of wingless flight.)
We will not be graded on a curve or for creative twist.
There is no need to be the teacher’s pet. (Stop fawning.)
We must do what is taught and only trust at first;
experience has not yet bred our confidence.

Notice your hesitation. Notice you are a mess.
We’ve read hundreds of books and still are fully dressed.
Listen. Follow, just this once. It can’t hurt to try.
Proud EuroAmericanScholarPoetJudeoChristianCapitalists,
We’ve believed the books we bought are enough!
But know this: they have never walked through doors
of scorching anger or burned with blue desire.
Books have no faces, sex, hands, breasts or beating hearts!
(Secretly, we believe in bellies more than alphabets.)

Here is the hard part, the poet’s heresy:
Stop worshipping words,
especially your own, for just a moment,
for many moments. Every morning for life.
(Here they come again! again! atomic cockroach words!
ever waxing gibbous words! whispering, spoiled
school girl words! billions of blinding sunrise words!)

Regardless of what the Good Book says,
the Word is not your flesh. Of course, it is, but isn’t.
It is wind. Just like flesh, but trickier. More subtle.
Flesh remembers before words do.
Pain lodges first in flesh.
Start here. Look.

All that pain. Incessantly we’ve talked
about it thinking it will help. It doesn’t.
(So you were dragged to a small cow town,
so you broke your braided vow,
so you gave up your child’s now now
for a fuller bank account.

See how the words spin axle deep?)
Words can’t talk you out of you.
Stop talking to yourself.
Get beneath your marvelous story.
Learn the colors of your ancient winds.
Watch them swirl and pass.

You will cry in your bed
when the sky finally falls upon you,
into you, through you,
when you realize neither your own shining idea
of enlightenment, nor your best poem,
nor your oldest moldy book was enough
to save you from your handmade map,
your precious night, your one-eyed fear.

We’ve been so proud. We lost years reading,
lulled into thinking we got Jack’s It.

Dry your tears. It isn’t in books. It is you. Sit.

Sit on the ground in front of someone (not me, friend)
who can introduce you to your own mind.
Not your smart ego that bosses your dumb one around
(you’ve already met a million times, Tenzin said),
but the sky-mouthed one beneath,
laughing through your stories’ clouds.

One story: I didn’t want a teacher.
But now you have one. Surrender.
He knows the sky-mouthed one in you
inside before you do, will teach you:
spine straight, neck long, hands folded
jaw loose, tongue relaxed, eyes closed, heart wide.
He points to your wordless, lineless lines.

You sigh. You see.

Then you become the sky book you read.
The key is familiarity. Sit.
Under stars and buzzing alley wires,
in the dark morning’s artificial lights,
in your grim windowless office,
over the sunken sorrowed grave,
next to your sleeping lover, aging dog,
any where, every day. There is time.

The more often you read yourself
the sooner your stories fly off the page.
Words become locust sound and starling waves.
Pain becomes five dancing prism lights,
every one a grinning doorless doorway
into quickstarred space, your heartbeat sky.

Then you realize the fuss you made
about bowing to a teacher was a waste.
When you bow to him, you bow
to your own seamless cosmos nature.
He knew this from the start and
tricked your pride. Humble now, you pray
to your own clear mind. You are the teacher.
You are the book beyond flames.
You can no longer put yourself down.

2011

3 Responses to “Sutra For Poets Who Would Be Buddhas”

  1. C says:

    Wow, She sets her luggage down firmly.

  2. Amy says:

    WOW! This is such a beautiful poem….each stanza could stand alone and together they go beyond the words…straight to the heart.

    • wordweed says:

      Thank you so much, Amy, for the positive feedback. My new friend and fellow poet, Cameron Scott, helped me give birth to this one with rich feedback and suggestions on the early draft. Thanks also for including your url with your response. I look forward to checking out your blog! Cheers!

Leave a Reply