Sunday, March 6, 2016

Bankei via Stephen Berg

First Song
by Stephen Berg

never was    always will be
mind before mind
earth water fire wind
sleep there tonight

you you on fire
burning yourself
to this burning house

all the way back
to the womb
can’t remember a thing

good bad
self self

winter’s wonderful
in summer

summer breezes
even before autumn’s

rich now
you hate the poor
and forget when you
had nothing

you saved every dollar
a fiend
watched by the famished
wraiths of your self

your whole life
making money
could not pay off

clinging wanting
nothing on my mind
that’s why I can say
it’s all mine

you want someone you love
only because
you never knew her

you can’t forget
not to remember
someone you never forgot

looking back
you see it one brief evening
realize    see
everything’s a lie

bitter? does this
incredible world of grief
hurt? why wound yourself
brooding on dreams?

no hands    no eyes
nothing exists
touch see
that’s it

all this
in unreal
instead of clutching your head
go and sing

your mind
torments you
because you need it

hating hell
loving heaven
torture yourself
in this joyous world

the hating mind
itself is not bad
not not hating
what’s bad

good    bad
crumple into a ball
of trash
for the gutter

ideas about
what you should do
never existed
I    I    I

with Buddhism
nothing’s new

enlightenment really?
keep wrestling with yourself

these days enlightenment
means nothing to me
so I wake up
feeling fine

tired of praying
for salvation    look
at those poor beautiful flowers

along the river
in    out

die    live
day and night here
listen    the world’s
your hand

are pitiful
all dressed up    dazzled
by brocade robes

come from your mind
right wrong right wrong
never were

call it this    that
it doesn’t exist
except this page
except these wavering phrases

praised abused
like a block of wood straight through
my head’s the universe
can’t hide my ugliness my clumsiness

so I just go along
with what is
without anger
without happiness

nothing to see    nothing to know
before after now
call and you’ll hear
its heartbreaking silence

[from Stephen Berg's The Steel Cricket: Versions 1958-1997]

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