Tao Te Ching #33, Mirrors

Qoheleth declared all to be


emptiness encased in

shiny superficiality,

marketed as meaningful,

but quickly forgotten in the glare

of that which is shinier,


and just beyond our reach.

Vanity, my name is Vanity..

until I learn my true name.

And that name can be learned


by leaning into the image of myself

in the mirror of a pine tree’s

sticky, sap-stained bark;

or in the mirror of a mountain range

where snow-covered peaks are hidden

behind winter’s-grey/golden clouds;

or in the mirror of a thousand soldiers’

graves at the edges of a

Pennsylvanian battlefield;

or in the mirror of flashing fish scales

or a red/yellow/blue/white supernovas

or in a drop of sidewalk rainwater.


I am, too:

in Meaning without words

in Reflection without plot

in Holiness without divinity.

And my true name?

My true name is that

I have

no name.

Tao Te Ching #30, war songs

Mine eyes have seen the glory

of the coming of the Lord

He is trampling out the vintage

where the grapes of wrath

were stored but now

are turned into land mines,

and buried.

On the third day

(or the second or the fifth,

or maybe some day years from now)

some unsuspecting chump

will step on a long-forgotten mine,


and ascend into heaven

on the loosed lightning of TNT,

in a smear of furious death.

I believe in the Holy Spirit:

I’ve seen him in the watchfires

of a hundred circling camps.

And I believe in the holy catholic church-

they’ve builded him an altar in the morning dews and damps.

I believe in the communion of saints

and the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of bodies,

(even blown-apart ones)

and life everlasting.

Even though

Our god

Our god

Our god is marching on.

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Tao Te Ching #29, gods and birds

Drawing a picture of the bird outside my window

gives me no control (none at all) over him.

No matter that the scarlet and ecru of the bird’s wings

are perfectly blended in an imagined water-color

flurry of feathers..

the bird is gone, flying away from the sound of my

commanding voice,

and beyond the reach of the prayers

with which I plead to the God of my bidding,

for the bird’s return.

Either God is not listening, or

I am irrelevant in Creation’s

thrusting toward tomorrow.

The bird doesn’t need me.

Nor, it seems-

at least in the way I believed it to be so-

does God.

I am free now to enjoy both.

Unencumbered by chains.

Tao Te Ching 28, Snake

Without the canyon,

there would be no river.

And without the river,

the canyon is not.

They are One.

It is the words I choose

that tear apart their Wholeness.

It is my inability to know One,

that causes me to imagine Two.

This is a confusion that does not exist for the



and nematodes

thriving within their known Universe.

They are unaware of the violence I do

to their world

with my thinking.


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Tao Te Ching 23, The Winter Dove

There, by the driveway,

below the bare lilac branches


a dove,

perfect in lines and delicate color

contrasting in curvature against

the new snow,




It died there sometime in the night

in temperatures that wrapped the

dying dove in its final

repose and held it there

gently- yes, gently:

she has been touched gently

in her final breaths-

every feather is perfect.


So perfect that I touch,

hoping that I will cause

a flurry of wings,

but it is not to be..

the dove has waited for

the end, without knowing of


knowing only, perhaps,

the anticipation,

after a short rest,

of another flight.

Tao Te Ching #19, Emptiness

The Servant emptied himself of

uniform, honor, and accolade

by kneeling on a plank floor

with a towel

and washing street dirt and shit

from the feet of his friends.


No volume of leather-bound

liturgical ritual, written on calfskin

in illuminated inks of gold and indigo

can change that dark and beautiful

scandal-filled night.

No doctrinal platitudes

spoken in sonorous sobriety

by centuries of bejeweled shamen

can drown out the sounds of

the wet towel, the filled basin, and

the guttural wonder of

men confronted by true


and perfect




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Tao Te Ching #18, Ruach

That which we see is shaped
by that which we cannot see.

When we see our Great Home as
a reflection of our will, however,
rather than formed by the
winds of the universe,
then we are inviting those with the
biggest voices, the
biggest fists, and the
biggest armies
to fly flags in the
shapes and colors
of their own wills,
and to hide from our perceptions
any recognition whatsoever
of the invisible winds..

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