Here is the latest installment of Poet’s Corner, presented by the Edmonds-based EPIC Poetry Group.
Kenjiro Nomura, Artist
1. Black and White
The driven leaves are gone
and skeletal woods are rising from the dead
to clothe the black with flesh again.
Spilt ink on a blank page:
ragged black clouds feather downward,
diminishing the white sky.
Suffering gives birth to happiness,
happiness to suffering.
Separately, they are black ink
on black paper
or white on white.
The evil and the good define each other.
They love one another as pure black ink
loves the purity of whiteness.
Like all opposites,
black and white produce each other,
imply each other,
and conceptually are yoked together.
Streaming from the prism between the people and God
are seven point seven billion slivers of light.
A stunning diversity of color is flowing from the white.
Each sliver is unique on the limitless color wheel.
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue,
indigo, and violet are at one with the original whole.
The rainbow is one continuum, like branches and the bole,
connecting people with people and the people with God.
Extinguish the light source and the colors disappear!
All human diversity is part of a greater unity.
Our sense of a separate self is a functional necessity,
but the focus on the separate self is the cause of suffering.
Focus instead on the infinite divine self,
which represents true reality, and you will find
the source of light for the life of all mankind
beyond the prism between the people and God.
~ ~ ~ ~
Adults Sitting Around Drinking
Friends and relatives joined us
for barbeque on our patio.
The weather was mild
and some of the kids
were still in the pool.
I was not in a good mood.
It was just after I broke up
with my first serious girlfriend.
I was brooding in the shadows
quietly observing the adults
sitting in their folding chairs
with drinks in hand.
This was not a beer and wine crowd.
The martini was Mother’s favorite
and, also, it was the favorite
with a plurality of the gathering,
but there were mixed drinks
with gin, vodka, and bourbon.
Dad was drinking Jim Beam
with ice and a splash of water.
There was a large bottle of Seagram’s 7
blended whiskey on the kitchen counter.
There was plenty of alcohol
and my parents made sure
everyone had a full glass
at all times.
I was used to seeing adults
sitting around drinking,
but for the first time in my life
I asked the question:
What is the point of all this drinking?
I knew the standard explanation—
when people work hard,
they need to relax
at the end of the week
and alcohol helps them do that.
But in that moment, it occurred to me
my parents and their friends
might be seeking a kind of numbness
to life itself,
and I failed to understand
how that made them feel
better about themselves.
Meanwhile, I kept thinking
about my own failed love life.
Like most fifteen-year-old boys,
I assumed marriage would be wonderful
because you could have sex every night.
But when I looked at Dad and Mother
and the other couples
on our brick patio,
it seemed that train left the station
many years ago
and was no longer a factor at all.
If it wasn’t a factor,
why were some of the couples
at the barbeque still happy together
when others, like my parents,
were determined to blur their expectations
in a fog of alcohol?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dave Baldwin retired in 2017 from the Walt Disney Company after more than 40 years as a technical writer and editor. He lives in Lake Stevens.