coffee with the buddha

Hatred never ends by hatred but by love alone is healed. This is the ancient and eternal law.
—  the Buddha
Change in a Coffee Cup

It’s 1998 and you’re in New York.
You sit Buddha-style
         Like a beggar’s cup
         On a cold Brooklyn sidewalk.
The passersby stuff coins in you
         Like a karma slot machine;
         They measure their generosity
         Against your God-bless-you’s. 

Raised, reared, reviled in Texas —
         That’s where you’ll return to;
         Less welcome than a polished
         Thief dry-drifting through
                   Oil-rich streets.
You are a blood-warm stain on the sidewalk;
         Bitter as wormwood, pale as pigeon
         Shit, dirty like a soiled rubber, pleading
         Like an empty coffee cup 
         For greenbacks and silver.

So, you’ve sown roots in a shelter
         Like a soup-bowl monk;
         Eating yesterday’s bagels,
         Sleeping on threadbare mats,
         And smelling the lozenges 
                   In a sick man’s cough,

Now cold night unpeels white 
         Stripes from the sky,
Glass giants electrified stab
         At the moon like spears,
Brick-red daggers plunge 
         Deep into the black,
And twilight bleeds rain bright 
         As falling stars. 

It’s bleak October and the wind
         Rolls musty sewage down
         The gasoline avenues.
The towers rise in the distance
         And rise like twin Babels.
You walk among the gray 
         Metroplex-catacombs, among
         The coffin-cars and the 
         Multitudes, the split atomic 
         Families, and through the 
         Nuclear waste allies. 

Solitude calls your name
         Like a number in a 
         Food stamp line. The Hudson
         Washes with toxins and tears
                   Your shattered eyes.
Ocean ice-streams flow
         Between your bones.
                   Brain electricity 
         Ignites hot billboards,
                   Subway lines,
                   Buzzing bulbs —
         Soul thrilling and brilliant. 

You know too much not to laugh
         At loneliness, 
         Even communal solitude.
You are a shadow
         Indistinguishable from night. 

Soon — winter
         Streets too impoverished,
         Too feverish, too 
         Congested with white 
         For your vagabond boots. 
Your weak roots will be pulled out
         Like weeds between sidewalk slabs. 

So, bundle-up your carriage in Glad bags.
Return south, thin as a greyhound,
         Sick as a cigarette butt.
1998 falls fast behind your 
         Footsteps … leave 
Nothing else … save an empty coffee cup.

(This poem is written about my own life As a homeless teen on the street of New York..)
To insist on a spiritual practice that has served you in the past is to carry a raft on your back after you have crossed the river.
—  The Buddha
To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.
—  the Buddha