Sunday, June 05, 2005


As I look out the window
of my forty-fourth year
at a rainbow
stretching from the mountain-curve of heaven
to the foot of Shinyodo pagoda
I sense a struggle of spirit beside me.
Looking down I see
my son, in infant conflict
with a vice like all others:
the tissue box
(pull up one,
up pops another).

He looks up to me, as if for advice,
his eyes full of
full of
the big question,
that rainbows all our lives...
What should I answer?
What do I know?
Should I be silent,
let him find his own way
without the wealth of my experience?
Or should I say simply:
"Don't do it!"
and stop him before he begins,
leave the struggle for later
and later
till one day he decides
to get even?

When in doubt,
So at last I tell him: "That, son, is temptation.
And it has no end.
It will mess up your life
if you don't gain control:
I don't mean be rigidly good, but don't be
thoroughly bad; don' t let it net you either way.
You stay in charge.
And it's better you start young,
like now,
to be carefully human,
selective of your vices;
one needs a few for balance, but carefully chosen.
Choose your virtues, too;
it's not in you to be god-like,
unless you want only distant admirers
and no friends.
And this: when you resist,
do so with a will.
When you surrender
surrender carefully, to the max.
Balance the best of your moments
so that your life will be live,
so when it comes to its end, you will find
that you have not died, but come to live
with others like yourself
and can regale the group
with tales of true humanity.

I leave him;
find him later, asleep
in a heaven of tissues.

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