POEMS READ BY DAVID CLARK AND JON WESICK AT MANOJ’S SHUSO HOSSEN CEREMONY.

My recent posts have had to do with my Shuso Hossen Ceremony held at The Vista Zen Center on March 5th, 2016. (Click on “Shuso Hossen Ceremony” in the CATEGORIES BOX to the right to see other articles on the topic).   In addition to several performances on my part, I also asked other members to perform or make presentations and many of these will be the subject of future posts.  This post is devoted to poems read by David ( Kaishin) Clark and Jon Wesick (see their biographies below).

The link below will take you to a video made of their readings, along with subtitles so you can read as well as hear the poems.  The video was recorded from a stationary camera in a room with low light, so the visuals are not great, but you can hear the poems clearly. Also, below the Bios and the Link are transcripts of the poems read by these poets at the Ceremony and a few others as well.  Enjoy

https://youtu.be/McVr3ML-9zY

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David Clark was born and raised in San Diego. A life-long resident of the county, he and his wife, Diane, have lived in Vista for the last twenty years.  His poetic work reflects his many interests, but is especially informed by his study and practice of Zen Buddhism and key Buddhist texts such as the Avatamsaka and the Lankavatara Sutras. David is an admirer of the concise poetic forms of classical Chinese and Japanese poets. His work has been published in the yearly San Diego Poetry Annuals for 2012, ’14, ’15 and ’16.
Host of the Gelato Poetry Series, author of the poetry collection Words of Power Dances of Freedom, and an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual, Jon Wesick has published over three hundred poems in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Pearl, and Slipstream. He has also published nearly a hundred short stories. One was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. One of his poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest. Another had a link on the Car Talk website. Jon has a Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts.
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Shuso Hossen Poems by Kaishin David Clark

The following are the poems that I read at the Shuso Hossen Program at the Vista Zen Center. I present them here in the order in which they were read. These poems will  be included in an upcoming  volume of selected poems to be published later this year. 

 

A Fool Once Again

Writing poems again?

Old fool!

Capturing thoughts in words

Is like collecting butterflies

Made of smoke.

                                                           Sweet Drum

                                                           I left the many

And I took the one,

Now I dance to the beat

Of my own sweet drum,

                                                    And I don’t have a care

For what may come,

While I dance to the rhythm

Of my own sweet drum.

When you add the columns

And you read the sum,

You may gain the many

When you take the one.

And you won’t be ruled

By the things that come,

When you dance to the beat

Of your own sweet drum.

 

 

                                                           Drop the Blade

Although you cut it

All day long,

It never bleeds.

Dice it a thousand times,

There are no pieces.

Chop at it with all your might,

You will never carry a stick away!

Drop the blade and you

May take the whole thing.

Which Bird?

Look now, in the garden!

Tell me what you see.

Is that the Blue Bird of Happiness,

Or just a gray bird of regret?

No matter either way,

In this garden

No bird alights for long…

Gone on the next breeze!

 

 

                                                               Eternal Now

 

Sit quite still

And you will see,

Freed from the bonds of

Was and will be,

The boundless realm

Of is.

If you watch attentively,

You’ll see that what is,

Endlessly,

Changes every moment,

Yet remains.

It’s the curious nature of this

Perpetual domain,

Always morphing into something

Quite the same.

Sesshin Poem

Dharma brothers and sisters

Believe it when you hear,

Once you’ve seen his face,

That damn ox is everywhere!

 

Poems by Jon Wesick                             Meditation Instruction

 

Even if an A-frame of chicken bones

is all that’s left of your last meal

and the executioner will come for you soon,

settle your awareness in the here and now.

 

Even if the turkey is still raw

ten minutes before the banquet,

Even if you lost the winning lottery ticket

and your future prosperity tumbles with pants in the dryer,

practice the here and now.

 

Even if your joke about the porn star

brought a grimace to the pastor’s lips,

Even if a fart loud as an air horn

erupted at Toastmasters,

let waves of awareness return you to the here and now.

 

Even if your neighbor uses your lawn as his dog’s toilet,

Even if that SUV takes two parking spaces,

Even if you obsess over your upcoming scene in Tarantino’s film,

Even if your Nobel Prize acceptance speech is tomorrow,

let your mind be a redwood rooted in the here and now.

 

Even if a naked Angelina Jolie (or Brad Pitt)

calls you from the bedroom,

Even if a new Lamborghini gleams in the driveway

and the keys are in your pocket,

let your mind be an immovable mountain in the here and now.

 

Even if you fantasize this immovable mind

will make you an action hero,

Even though this poem is only a metaphor

and such a mind is impossible,

Even though Einstein proved that now does not exist,

your here and now are enough.

 

*************

 

Ode to Sesshin Participants

 

Scientists of consciousness

holders of postgraduate degrees in awareness.

The meditation hall is your laboratory.

Knees and backs aching, feet numb as clubs

you gather wearing sweatpants and rakusu

to hear the endless repetition of a Boz Scaggs song

in your thoughts while certain that damn jikido

should have rung the bell ten minutes ago.

 

Yesterdays’ breakfast clogs your bowels and you would kill

for a half hour without someone knocking on the bathroom door.

You hope to finally get six hour’s sleep. And although discovering

buckwheat zafu make great pillows, you toss and turn all night,

wake at 5 AM, and do it all over again – sit, walk, chant,

move zabutons, obsess about when to brush your teeth,

and unfold oryoki napkins made into red warning flags

by first-day tomato sauce. Despite wanting to punch

that guy blocking the coffee pot, you make gassho

and bow anyway.

 

Worst day of your lives, You don’t belong here,

don’t belong anywhere so you pack your bags

and are out the door when you decide to give it one more day.

Sometime before breakfast a geyser of joy erupts inside.

Smells of delight waft from the kitchen,

One with fruit trees and rocks you sit in the garden at ease,

convinced you are the Buddha’s children.

 

Somewhere past joy your inner narrators finally shut up

leaving your minds still ponds. You who couldn’t wait to leave

now find kindness in the rules and schedule.

And when you return to the world outside

you find it noisy, strange, and cruel

 

************

DILETTANTE ZEN POEM

 

The real Zen students were sitting in full lotus before dawn

wearing their black robes and rakusu1.

I stayed up too late watching TV.

Real Zen students don’t have TV’s.

Eventually I wake up,

light a candle on the altar,

and kneel on my meditation bench.

A gasoline powered edger begins its serenade,

and a lawnmower joins in the chorus.

 

By now the real Zen students are constructing monastery buildings,

working with the dying, or reaching out to the homeless.

I drive to my wrong livelihood job,

where I’m harassed by my wrong livelihood boss.

Real Zen students call this “good training.”

I call it a pain in the ass.

 

Real Zen students vow to return to this world of patience

for countless lifetimes to save all beings.

I wonder how I’ll get through another day.

 

I’ve given up trying to be a real Zen student.

I think I’ll become a dilettante instead.

If you’d like to be one too,

we meet at 7:00 most nights in the meditation hall.

 

 

 

 

Refuge

 

If you don’t fit in at the in-crowd’s circus

and find no shelter on concrete streets of commerce,

If patrolmen of conformity roust you from your bed

of newspaper and all the bathroom doors are locked,

If faces leer from under hellish neon lights

as your nostrils sting and swell from diesel fumes,

If the masses shove you aside to snatch at shiny nickels

and hustlers’ lies drown out all thought, then let these words

be your battered spirit’s refuge: Come inside

 

and peel off that filthy uniform. It never fit. After a shower

you’ll find the courtyard’s a good place for reflection.

It contains an odd garden, mostly agave and cactus,

but you can pick guavas and custard apples from the trees.

The legs on the wooden bench by the well are uneven,

so try not to tumble when watching hummingbirds

probe California fuchsias with needlelike beaks. Stay

as long as you like. There’s no place else you need to be.

 

2005/VIII

 

This poem appeared in SpeedPoets Zine, Vol. 10.8 in November 2011.

 

 

JAKE ROSHI AND MANOJ DISCUSS THE SHUSO HOSSEN CEREMONY

Last week’s post was the beginning of a series having to do with my Shuso Hossen Ceremony held on March 5th.  Since the format of the Ceremony was a bit nontraditional, Jake Roshi wanted us to sit down and “process” the event.  I brought a series of questions to the meeting that had been sent to me by Judy after the Ceremony.  I used her questions as sort of a jumping off point for our conversation.  I video taped my discussion with Roshi and the video below is one segment of our conversation, prompted by some of Judy’s  questions.  I will likely release more parts of our discussion in the future.  Warning: this video will have more meaning for viewers who attended the Ceremony. To see earlier posts regarding my Shuso Hossen Ceremony, use the Search Categories to the right or type in “Shuso Hossen” in the Search Window.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmKaRF4lLg0

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THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME BE MYSELF AGAIN (Music Video)

Below is a link to a new video that was used in my Shuso Hossen Ceremony. It involves images of the Vista Zen Center and music produced by me and Central Florida’s favorite blues singer “Stoney” Stone.  For more background on the ceremony, the video and Stoney, read below before watching.

About a month ago I published a post titled “Koan For Manoj’s Shuso Hossen” (http://artandzentoday.com/?p=4380).  In that article I wrote:

 In this ceremony a student offers his or her understanding of the Koan and fields questions from other students about the Koan to demonstrate their readiness to be considered a senior student.  Usually, students are assigned to work on one of the traditional Koans that have been part of the training for Zen monks throughout the centuries in China and Japan.  However, my teacher has decided to explore alternative Koans that speak more to  Westerners living and practicing Zen in non-monastic circumstances.

The Ceremony was held on March 5, 1916 and  many of my upcoming posts will either entail segments from the video recordings made that night or will be based on my experiences as a Shuso at the Vista Zen Center. The essence of my Shuso Koan (see below) had to do with how I would or could fulfill the Four Bodhisattva Vows as an artist. During the Ceremony I presented 5 different musical performances that I saw as answering my Koan. In addition to my presentations, about 15  other members of the Center  also gave short performances displaying their understanding of Zen and their creative interests.  So the Ceremony consisted of a full evening of poems, songs, stories, demonstrations and short talks etc.

                                                            Shuso Koan

I ended my portion of the evening by singing Sly Stone’s “I want to Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself Again” using altered lyrics that I hoped expressed my appreciation to my teacher and fellow students for providing a safe place to practice Zen.


A week after the Ceremony, my wife’s niece Elene and her boyfriend “Stoney” visited with us for a few days. They both are musicians and play together in various venues in central Florida.   Stoney’s other band “Stoney and the Housebreakers” also play for events throughout Florida and have produced numerous CDs.  Their album “Cruisin’ For A Bluesin’ ” was the recipient of the prestigious Central Florida “CD of The Year Award” in 2009 @ The Brevard Live Florida Music Awards.(See the band’s  website: http://www.stoney3.com/ )

                                                          Elene and Stoney

Anyway, soon after our visitors arrived, I had Stoney in my studio singing the altered lyrics to the Sly Stone classic.  The short video below incorporates the recording Stoney and I produced and is accompanied by images compiled for the Shuso Hossen Ceremony to display the talents and dedication of the members of the Vista Zen Center.

https://youtu.be/WdWtlB6cphI

 

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