Surrounded by the Buddha’s bounty,

a calming serenity hushes the crowd

as a docent provides a brief biography . . .


The bump of knowledge crowns his head with

Tightly bundled curls of second-growth hair,

Framed by long lobes stretched by gold earrings.


“Only real Buddhas have these three things!”

I hear her, but I wonder if it’s truly those that

make Buddhas something more than . . . men.


It is this “something more” in which to bask,

a golden warmth of subtle majesty renounced,

to shoulder the suffering of the world at large.


A larger world was what he sought,

the world of intense introspection,

in order to understand . . . himself.


With minds on fire and pillars of intellect,

exposed, crucified, pinned as for dissection,

performing mundane exercises, shoveling shit;


Bodhisattvas exchanging thoughts for actions,

expiring moment to moment in Phoenix flames,

waiting to be reborn . . . endlessly.    


by Richard Hartwell


Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school English teacher living in Moreno Valley, California. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing poetry, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon

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