Category Archives: Dharma

A sincere category…

“The Rage of Odysseus and the Cyclops”

 

[Polyphemus, painted by Jean-Leon Gerome]

“The Rage of Odysseus and the Cyclops”
Escaping near disaster made me bold.
Against the pleas companions wisely spoke,
I would not cease to taunt a wounded foe—
To make him feel again the blow
That rendered sightless that unsightly eye—
An eye that saw a meal, and little more,
Where gentler eyes would see a man in need.

The crash of boulders and resulting waves
Alarmed the crew, but rage was further fueled,
Not quenched, by drenching rains of salty sea—
The fire inside my spirit roared with flames
That strove to match the waves in height.
I thought I’d shout the fire ‘til none remained.

Despite increasing vehemence and force,
The hills he hurled and fiery words I shot
Became more futile as our distance grew.
Although I was exhausted, flames still burned.

Enraged about the men he had devoured,
I had endangered friends who were alive.
The smoke I blew had made me nearly blind,
And boulders hurled did not restore his sight.

a poem in blank verse–by Paul Burgess

Certain scenes from Homer continue to inspire me. This is the third poem I have written on this scene. The other two are here: https://paulwhitberg.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/cyclops/   https://paulwhitberg.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/the-blinding-of-the-cyclops-polyphemus/[As with everything I post, this is a first draft.]

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“Skeleton”

This is the first part of a reflection on inter-being and the nature of self as an impermanent, ever-changing aggregate of historical, natural, social, and psychological factors. Who knows if I will ever finish the piece?

This skeleton–revealed when little else remains

beneath the hollow crown of cracking skull

A hue of paper marred with coffee stains–

…this is no more you than a ship its hull.

 

 

 

“Mindless Life in Ghostly Shadows”

a sonnet by Paul Burgess–this is one of my rare “serious” works. I would genuinely appreciate any feedback readers would provide.

This drinking tea to empty out a cup
And doing tasks to cross them off our lists
Directs the eyes to what is coming up,
Although what’s here, and nothing else, exists.
If sewing only to complete a dress
With thoughts of only what will next arrive,
Then shadows and a deathly emptiness
Accompany all moments we’re alive.

Without Awareness, tapestries of what has passed
Are woven presents filled with ghostly dreams,
And threads of faded “Now” that we’ve amassed
Will hold together Future’s fraying seams.
To always look behind or play the seer
Exchanges “is” for “is not truly here.”

This poem was inspired by the following passage from Thich Nhat Hahn’s Miracle of Mindfulness:

If while washing the dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.”…If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future–and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life” (5).

“Cheer Up, You Gloomy Bastards!”

A poem in ottava rima by Paul Burgess

Expecting pleasure always, never strife,
You curse existence saying it’s insane
And claim Despair’s your mother, Gloom’s your wife.
Your home you’ve often called the “House of Pain.”
Unmet conditions you’ve imposed on life
Don’t justify the way that you complain.
Refrain from putting poison in your cup—
That’s how to cheer a gloomy bastard up.

 

“Anagram” (an epigram on the topic–by Paul Burgess; also posted here: https://paulwhitberg.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/poem-an-epigram-on-an-anagram-by-paul-burgess/

A “poem” might become a mixed up “mope,”

Composed by some absurdly gloomy dope.

2 Limericks on the Topic– by Paul Burgess

If to write’s to complain and complain…
And complain, as if life were all pain,
Perhaps I’m no good,
And maybe I should
…complain and complain, and complain.

Some poets will write as if gloom
Were pervading all life to the tomb.
Of one who would write
With a heart that is light,
They’d declare, “For his kind, there’s no room.”

“Right Speech”

Sometimes we speak clumsily and create internal knots in others. Then we say, ‘I was just telling the truth.’ It may be the truth, but if our way of speaking causes unnecessary suffering, it is not Right Speech. The truth must be presented in ways that others can accept. Words that damage or destroy are not Right Speech. [Thich Nhat Hahn, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, p. 89)

“Right Speech”

There’s a man who will never retract*
The words he has said with no tact.
He will often reply,
“There’s too many a guy
Who is kinder in speech than in act.”*

a limerick by Paul Burgess

*Of course, what is said cannot be unsaid. It is better to speak carefully in the first place than to retract something harmful one has said.

*The speaker of the poem mixes wisdom with folly…I will stop treating my light limerick as if it were a literary work meriting scholarly scrutiny:)

Right Speech + Right Action= 🙂

 

“Pills: a Modern Fable”

by Paul Burgess […a poem on the tendency to treat symptoms rather can causes and to escape pain rather than deal with it]

One day while walking through the nearby hills,
I came across a lady selling pills.
She said to take her tablets twice a day,
And troubles would all start to melt away.
The pills provided such a soaring high
That I returned to buy a new supply.
But where she’d been I heard no human sound,
And nothing of that lady was there found.
Along with waves of troubles flooding back,
I count among my woes those pills I lack.

 

“To Anxiety” [Complete; parts 1-3]

In response to the following prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-day-four/ [Since I rarely write anything so personal or serious, I would genuinely appreciate constructive feedback.]

A  3-part letter in blank verse [unrhymed iambic pentameter]

Pt. I
Although I’ve spent a lot of time with you,
And you would often hold me, stand by me,
Remain with me in best and worst of times—
To starve equanimity while feeding fear
With nourishment required by peace’s roots—
Your frequent recent absences bring no tears
To eyes no longer clouded by your breath’s
Impenetrable, nauseating fog.

Pt. II
I never could escape when trying to flee.
To struggle only tightened boa-like
Embraces slowly piercing heart with bones.
Exhausted and resigned to dying in your grip,
I ceased to claw, to scratch, to push away—
No more diversion, dreaming, fear, or hope.
Observing, only watching, touching you,
I saw your face more clearly than before.

Pt. III
The wave of panic darkening your eyes
Expressed your fear; you knew what I had grasped.
Though coiled around your nearly vanquished prey,
Without my help, your strength began to wane.
You’d only grown so strong because I’d fed you;
I was entangled because I’d pulled the knots.
You let me go because I let you go.
On future visits, bring your food or starve.

“Anxiety” Pt. III

In response to the following prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-day-four/ [Since I rarely write anything so personal or serious, I would genuinely appreciate constructive feedback.]

You will find the first part here: https://paulwhitberg.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/anxiety-pt-i/

and the second part herehttps://paulwhitberg.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/anxiety-pt-ii/

“[To} Anxiety” Pt. III

The wave of panic darkening your eyes
Expressed your fear; you knew what I had grasped.
Though coiled around your nearly vanquished prey,
Without my help, your strength began to wane.
You’d only grown so strong because I’d fed you;
I was entangled because I’d pulled the knots.
You let me go because I let you go.
On future visits, bring your food or starve.

“Anxiety” Pt. II

In response to the following prompt: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-day-four/ [Since I rarely write anything so personal or serious, I would genuinely appreciate constructive feedback.]

You will find the first part here: https://paulwhitberg.wordpress.com/2014/06/05/anxiety-pt-i/

“[To} Anxiety” Pt. II

I never could escape when trying to flee.
To struggle only tightened boa-like
Embraces slowly piercing heart with bones.
Exhausted and resigned to dying in your grip,
I ceased to claw, to scratch, to push away—
No more diversion, dreaming, fear, or hope.
Observing, only watching, touching you,
I saw your face more clearly than before.