Poems Related to the Dharma

The Wayless Way

by Meister Eckhart

To live the wayless way
free and yet bound
learn to live
among things but not in things.
All God’s friends live this way—
among cares
but not within cares.
How wonderful it is to be so spiritually mature
that one exists
both outside and inside,
one seizes and is seized,
one sees and is seen,
one holds and is held—
that is the goal where the spirit remains at rest
united to eternity.
There our work and activity in time
is just as noble and as full of joy
as Mary Magdalene’s retreat in the desert.
Remember Martha who in her spiritual maturity
was so real
that her works did not hinder her.

translated by Matthew Fox

Tail of the Tiger

by Chögyam Trungpa

Darkness is good
With an incense stick burning,
Herbert speaks good language
Which becomes onomatopoeic,
Jews Jew
Because of Gentiles,
Thunder is good
It knows the mountains,
Food is bad for you
It makes you eat more,
Magic is contagious
Because there is none.
What is magic?
What isn’t magic?
Is food shelter?
Or is shelter food?
The magicians are magpies,
A tiger is a poodle,
Having a tail is equal to having a stiff upper lip,
Giant is dwarf—
Have a baby sitter!
Don’t tread on the tail of a flea.

Poem for Jay Wentworth

by Steven Ferguson

I’ve quit poetry
he says over the phone.

My mind jumps back
and I think,
well, I’ve left everything.

Not because I’m mad,
but because my wounds won’t heal like this.

Betrayed by this body,
a would be has been
who never was what he 
could be, always holding back and sulking.
Like now.

I’ve quit poetry, he said.
Like Mishima,
who quit poetry,
who burned down 
the most beautiful temple he could find,

and then burned down his own
warrior’s fit body by opening 
to sight and air
his entrails.

His secrets then
oozing out, ugly,
the clarity of what he burned
in loneliness to say:

“I too quit poetry
as no human love can 
keep me alive in it.”

No human love is even attainable by me either,
now trapped in this old
and wounded body
of accumulating losses
of one sort or another,
a bad attitude with

wounds that don’t completely heal
and open up at the most
inconvenient times,
spilling out into 
words of stale air,

as Mishima’s guts
for real, seeped out 
to reveal his own complex disappointment;

feeling that true love eluded him again.
and thus, in solidarity,
I too quit poetry,

The Eye

by Meister Eckhart

The eye with which I see God
       is the same eye with which God sees me.

translated by Matthew Fox