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.
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