Buddhomage: poetry of Nirvana Linden

1.

Calling

Sipping Rhone wine under the flounces

of the massive Lime-flower tree

aroma and tree-breeze trouble me.

The wine is at its best, the flowers at their peak,

and yet my habitual absorption in

the sensory is being tugged at,

overstretched like used muslin.

 

The perfection of sky balanced on primeval forests

almost eludes me at this time,

but more shockingly, your once-hallowed words are already

lost in the lime flower piles at my feet.

For I hear someone calling me from the white marble of Montpellier.

 

A dream in our shuttered salon,

witnessed by red alpine logs in the stove,

compels me to descend our mountain hairpins

on the weekly bus, alive with grape-pickers.

My suitcase is slotted between their stained baskets,

our destination the white marble of Montpellier.

 

You demand why and who and how I must go down from

this ultimate haven of Cathars, Catholics, shepherds.

But the gist of your question once so-revered descends

in the evening sizzle of biftek,

buried in an armful of bay leaves and vine twigs.

For I hear someone calling me from

the vivid painted timbers of Montpellier.

 

The fierce row on the boards at bedtime,

your coarse tears extinguishing the candles

and unbalancing the stable slab of incense,

propels me away from your faithless fleshy cloisters.

You hurl bells, burn sutras in your ashtray

demand and denounce my path to this ‘borrowed’ deity

making last-ditch interrogations under a strong light.

But the gist of your spite is sucked

into the Lama’s Himalayan eyes, and his butter lamps,

dredged over the ample of his saffron robes,

as he welcomes me to the wooden temple in an orchard in Montpellier.

 

‘‘You heard my calling. I knew you would come soon.’’

2.

bell

I can get closer with the words

you give which touch my heart

not human words of sinew or teeth

but words from the invisible world

effortless and coursing through the air

 

I can use my hands to catch the words

with my mudra on open pipe in my lap

They are not only words for ears

but for eyes of my heart, for my line.

Essential words, no waste, not one excess

 

The words are a sign from the Buddha.

They say the way to polish my original nature

which has become tarnished with excess

and distorted by the devilish ego

my shortcomings, my blindnesses.

 

There is a bell which rings my tune

rings my connection to the spiritual current.

It sounds easily making me smile.

But my mission, you spell out for me,

is to enable it to ring not just for pleasure

but to execute a continual shine.

 

I am indeed close with your words.

I vow to keep the bell of my mind

vibrating with my grace and

unceasing attention to the divine.

Even though it may be broken or tilted,

the beater having rolled out of sight,

I must forever vibrate with my heart of goodness.

3.

bows

Humans first stood up tall to reach different fruit,

to survive in the style of giraffe.

They stretched their necks and eyes

and took up new territory on wide plains

to watch for prey and conquistadors,

whilst nibbling delights from under the sky.

 

They reached and stretched until a speck

of pride like gravel in the gizzard

grew into a gleaming pearl

lodged deep in the corner of a sinew,

and people tore themselves out

of contentment and creaturedom,

striving to be god,

eating only the fruit nearest the sun.

 

‘The best,’ ‘the most,’ ‘the most beautiful’

became the stuff of a happy life,

and gratitude and respect were

lavished only on the pearly self.

To lower the gaze was to settle for less,

to bend the neck a submission,

to incline the body towards the earth,

intolerable reduction.

 

But you best-know that bowing is

the truly beautiful moment

in which to sincerely cast away

those pearls of the deluded mind,

and that true happiness is to bring

the pick of the fruits nearest heaven to others.

4.

chant

From where I am now, songs of love and war and longing seem extravagant,

perhaps viewed as a rehearsal for the actual event.

I am certain that the mind limbers the valves of the voice,

checks the air flow to make volume and tone,

flexes the aperture of the space between the lips,

and makes certain of the skill of the tongue.

 

We might say that the song distils visible drops

of the aspirations of human flesh,

but that the chant instils the invisible drops

of the absoluteness of all energies of all universes,

whether known or unknown,

and that this itself  is the actual event – the heart’s big aria.

 

No checks are necessary. There is nothing to be done.

The exquisitenesses of love and war and longing

uncoil into the fast white stream of mountain sincerity.

Namu: deep thanks to the guides and guardians.

Namu: deep thanks to the ancestors and faith makers.

Namu: deep thanks to the hearts and words of the enlightened.

Namu: deep thanks to you, and to me through you.

 

We chant with the sun and moon,

running our hoses of sound into the sky and sea.

We chant with the vocalists of candle and incense.

We chant to convert our thoughty flesh to sonic light

which mingles with the imperceptible multitude.

5.

consecration

It’s not all about kings bodies or delicate young queens

the mitred archbishop or the bulbous basilica,

the streets lined with flag-wavers

waiting for their dream royal carriage to pass their spot.

It’s not even about slowly unveiled plaques

or ribbon cutting in a unison of dress suits.

It’s not something outside of your jurisdiction

rarefied by the rubbing of history or a mighty celestial power.

It’s simply about your heart. The rest is icing.

 

It’s exactly about the minute mosaics on the

inside of the basilica of your very heart,

the fragments of your own personal truth

mixed in with those of the great truth.

It’s particularly about how far you can kid yourself

with a home-grown species of sincerity,

a holiness, a being seen to be good doer-ness,

this viscous covering of the learned and feigned.

It’s not about caring for others from a precipice of fear.

 

Listen. It’s you who rides in the dream carriage

smiling at the millions of gibbering flags,

you who arrives at the great double doors

to the cathedral of your true nature,

you who accepts the crown of responsibility

to the greater truth of the universe and your part in it.

For, if your breadth can cover the bed of your honesty with self,

you will, in contemplation, be well-able

to consecrate your own heart and soul

for the sake of others and of your real nature.

6.

hands

My hands, once infatuated with ivory keyboards of concert pianos,

made a million finger patterns.

My hands, once besotted with rose-wood fingerboards of violoncellos,

strenuously slid and stretched.

I formerly thought my anatomy was designed to decipher

the cryptics of great composers, wriggling in their homes of sound.

 

If though, the hands reflect the heart, as the wise and wistful advise,

then this heart has retired from such athletics,

removed from such aerial deliveries of human passions.

 

My hands now make only one pattern,

their highly-trained muscles toned down,

their edges content to abut in the vertical,

palms to lie soundless on palms ‘in gassho.’

 

Messages are no longer resonant events on sound boards,

or the exotic wares of the quivering of gut.

Instead, they coalesce into a silent clasping in palms,

in tall and tingling fingers matched

in adjacent and content thumbs.

A manual consecration of the heart of the only truth.

 

Now concert keyboards are locked,

tuned strings are snapped and coiled.

There is no more the squeak and strive of the mental way.

My hands ‘in gassho’ have finally come home

to absolute devotion and gratitude entire.

7.

master

He sits on a expertly-crafted teak throne,

each intricacy letting through the light

to enhance the polished finish

 

the makers having bowed deftly three times

for each tap of their hammers

a throne performance of light and wood.

 

The Master is polished too and devotional

His left hand darkened by prayer beads

His right wide across his skirted lap

 

He speaks silence and light which

Harmonise with polished wood and bowings

To create a state where all details are amalgam

 

Deep ochre robes part with the the polish of a shoulder

which is unexpected on a throne of filigree

His stillness a fine tree, leaf-green eyes promising plump spring buds

8.

temples

Lives pass through a grand marble square

clutching the bright packages of their desires.

The significance of their costumes, ways of walking,

their companions, eludes time and space,

wheelchairs and other perceptions of their world.

Tricked into self-grasping they fail to sweep the

dark corners of their lives clean,

but anger and ignorance combat the dark,

doubt and delusion are good bed mates,

and they busy themselves building and demolishing concepts.

 

But there are some lives, which dawdle in small coloured

temples unblinking before candles and incense,

suffused with light and beyond belief.

They are alone, empty-handed and motionless.

9.

tower

The meal was filling, delicious, diversionary.

You ‘watched us eat’ and ‘it got later,’

both baubles of the child Time, and his playmate Space,

and I was not sure you wanted such a ceremony,

was never certain that you were there in my mind,

though always certain in my heart,

until the moment with the fire in the water.

Now I am certain of both!

 

My pre-occupation that the others believed

was turned out of me by a sort of self-effacement,

which you and I are both capable of.

You know, a ‘who’s interested in me anyway?’

which can engender self-containment of an almost religious stature.

But I had secretly placed you in the Asia of my mind,

where every attention was paid to your death tower,

its building and festoonment.

 

Yes, I know now that the urge to unceasingly travel

the great overgrown pansy pot of Asia on and on,

despite such fear of the realness of living drama

in every street gutter and beneath each tin roof,

was bound up with how I could help you to die, and me to live.

 

So, I took you there often in my mind while you were so ill,

And I wanted to be the one,

though daughters are not sufficiently revered,

to stand with your Ganges body,

and to break open your sternum with a

heavy metal bar to let out your heart.

 

I took you to Bali and walked behind

your elegant toppling tower,

carried by bare-backs to the cremation site.

It was tall with masks and flowers,

your swathed body peeping out of the very top,

an orchid in your mouth.

Later, before incineration of this fecund stilt of festivities

grazing the feverish island sky,

I would win the race to the top,

beating siblings and cousins,

and so win the flower you sucked,

along with your enlightenment,

plucking them both and shinning down to earth.

For you, my Silk Road father,

needed no master, unlike me.

But when the time came in a English drawing room,

I hand-built the tower on my own,

close ones passing me what I needed-

stiff hollow struts and cross-pieces,

red carnations, candles, a pomander stuck with favourite cloves

string, selotape, another charge of thick red wine in my goblet.

The heaps of newspapers surrounding me indicated a modern tower,

perhaps a five-minute one, pre-fabricated,

plasticated, welded together overnight.

But it was none of these.

I took newspaper sheets and rolled them in tight tubes like thin rods,

Sticking their seams swiftly to avoid unravelling

sitting on the Turkish rug of carnation red and mountain blue.

Mine were the tightest, the others hesitant.

Perhaps they were nervous of being accomplices

to my taking the laws of death into my own hands.

 

Then, the full-performance of the rogue cremation

down in a babbling brook which kept my orchard

from appropriation by the fields and fells.

The sky was black, wind and rain propelling me

toppling down the slippery dark bank

to carefully float the paper tower on its board

and grip its moorings for your death and my life.

Its ignition showed your route, a blaze of memory.

Then you pulled me churning through smallish waves,

flames and smoke somehow an incongruence on water.

 

This little English brook would reach the great Ocean

with some fragment of your photograph,

placed like a figure-head on the tower’s bow.

A snippet of your naval hero’s hat with its RN band.

A splinter of your slim devoted lips.

A glob of the pulp of your dark blue eyes of faith.

And me, waist-high in torrents, a soft wet page of you.

10.

words

‘You must wear white garments from now on.

Kick away shoes and know earth with your feet’

 

gift words sprinkled lightly through this very life

on the lips of drunkards

in a sharp hand slap on my cheek

on the sanctum of the master’s tongue

 

a stranger speaking destiny

on seemingly un-kissed lips

the kiss sought out in

the silent smooth flap of

mouths of truth against each other.

 

you see, words have ever and all been uttered

the gabbling carousel turning without cease,

the entire supply deposited with the Big Bang.

But are we ready to hear them

over tea, secreted among platitudes

and the incongruousness of thought and speech

cups and saucers which do not match.

 

The higher self does not take tea

with the sugar of insincerity,

and its positive ears are able to catch

the words on the muzzle of every species of wooden horse.

 

‘I must wear white garments from now on.

I will kick away shoes and know the earth with my feet.’

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