Doren Robbins

Rookie - 0 Points (1949 / Los Angeles, California)

Not A Zen Man

Poem by Doren Robbins

Roamed around drunken on Crete
maybe too long. In my chaos I met
an obsessed man from Belgium
who studied Zen a man about fifty
roaming around after a little stone
of cancer swallowed his wife.

Drinking wine from a bottle
outside his tent we talked about
books until I mentioned Thomas Merton
then he leapt up spilling
cigarette ashes into our wine
and all over my black sleeve.

He started going on about
Thomas Merton's book
Zen and the Birds of Appetite,
addressing me abstractly
saying there is nowhere
to go, that we aren't here

that nothing's here he was raving about
a mountain, and about a woman, and when
you are nowhere she comes to you
because there is nothing there
and she will climb the mountain
because nothing is there you aren't there

only a mountain. And his eyes were wildly alert
with something he had taken from that monk
Thomas Merton not from the other
books we talked of not from Homer
or Dostoyevsky, or Lawrence Durrell,
his 'savior, ' he said, the one who led him

to the Greek Islands in the first place.
I didn't know about 'saviours.'
If I had a savior it was Dostoyevsky
because I always mistook passion and exaggeration
for character I was a chaotic man,
not a Zen man, I was a man of bitter seeds,
not a Zen man: when the cart stopped
I was the one who whipped the cart
not the ox...later, roamed drunk
back through bamboo to the room
of a chaotic man with my floorboards
and the handrail uneven, the stairway gouged,

holes throughout the moldings
I thought, nevermind, this is
my stitched thing, this is my pocked thing
if only I could sit on that ledge
farther down within it, I thought,
if only I could hold that clove

of water, there.

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Read poems about / on: passion, woman, water, women

Poem Submitted: Wednesday, December 1, 2004