Zen Dictionary



In the Zen Dictionary, intention
is a blue spoon on a white plate.
If you look up koan, you’ll find
a picture of a soldier driving a John Deere tractor
around a Japanese garden.

No etymology, no diacritical marks,
just words and Zen meanings—with disclaimers
referring you to moments. Moments are
specks of starlight, sometimes moonlight,
notes falling from a monastery bell.

Thumb page ninety-two. There you’ll see
work defined as blueberry muffins.
Go back a few pages. Washing dishes
has three paragraphs that lead you toward
Benny Goodman playing rooftop clarinet.

All things conjures stirring tea. Look up
fabric and you’ll stumble into lamplight,
lamplight leads to schadenfreude, bruised tomato, then
long metal diners. There, Hank Williams
may still be singing on the lost highway.

Flipping pages, searching, you find meaning
indicates hop, skip, and jump. Each noun
you try to settle on becomes a verb,
so house transforms to seek. Each verb
becomes a noun, so spin becomes small mirror.

How glorious the adjectives! Beautiful,
the look of Cheve tail lights heading west.
Huge in Zen is all the emptiness inside
an enso flowing right into itself.
Funny is a plastic picnic plate.

And Zen, defined? Because the word occurs
so near the dictionary’s end, it occupies
left over space. And what it says
is two cats sitting on a radiator looking
out a bedroom window at the snow.

-Dick Allen

Categories: Poems & PhotosTags: , , , , , , , ,

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