Daniel Paul Marshall lives on the island of Jeju, where he runs a guesthouse & bar that he built with his wife. He has had poems published in a few journals, including Four Ties Lit Review, The Contemporary Haibun Online, Underfoot, and The High Window.
A handful of prayers & the day’s work is done.
Time to sip expensive Yemeni coffee
& build an online presence with their iPhones
& cheap | superimposed wisdom they’ve yet to fully grasp
the complexity of. Seeing them | it tires me
to hear people defend Buddhism as a philosophy not a faith |
as if that somehow discounts them from the usual charges
pitched against contesting branches of ideology.
It is an ideology: has drawbacks & is led by powerful men
with slot machine eyes & a thirsty wallet.
Their cartoon image | bright crystal-ball heads |
eyes squeezed shut | a lotus in their cupped hands
—this image is a bigger mystery to me than sutras
: a means to disarm & mediate abulia in tourists
: a bag of rice for Buddha is ₩10000. 10000 days of prayer
₩300000. i may be cynical but | i wouldn’t put it past them
to steal out into the jet streams of the mountain night
& from beneath the eyes of Siddartha’s 50ft replica |
filch the oblationary rice & steam it for breakfast.
i see the pretense of humility. See.
The real thing would be to know the end
of the mind is acknowledged failure
with inverted hands.
It no doubt started with one of those
4-D visions he gets | in the mirrored cube of his head
: Dangun raising morale as the long exodus
from the Pamir range wound down at Baekdusan
—his knackered caravan of followers in need
of their burdens lightened | so Dangun took out his
tungso flute & blew their tired to smithereens.
No silicon dipped idiosyncrasy of Internet
to teach him how to carve a tungso flute |
Daesa-nim set out for Jiri Mt in S.Jeolla province
to a bamboo forest | & steadied into meditation
—called on the forest’s collect-call-consciousness
which one of you wouldn’t mind being hacked
down— the canopy hushed… one well-knit & brave agreed.
He became the bamboo’s devoted pupil
— interviewed it | asking what steps I need to take
to transmigrate the wood into immortal
instrument— it whispered lessons plainly in his ear
how to file | sand | shape— the right
amount of ℉ & method to scorch holes
that starve enough oxygen to forge a note |
the right measure of varnish to embalm
& how to carve the lip plate | to resurrect
the tunes which weather cradles in wet & wind.
The job done | tungso like an old man’s cane |
he had to learn deliverance of notes with bated breath
—that too the tungso helped him with: seared the scores
into the hind of his thoughts to plot their own path
up cracks of light like vines
in his shamanic altar.
Leviathan impaled upon a cypress tree |
its throat bust open like a sinking ship.
A poet’s posture | mimicking the anglepoise lamp.
A sack of hammers lobbed at a hive of bees.
Foucault demurely yawning | asked to unify
his theory. Watch a person embody the inversion of
a stereotype & flabbergasted wonder if a whole life
inside an office cubicle | letting the key
strokes presage crow’s feet in the temple…
See this shoe box here | this jumble of cables |
if you can untangle them without frustration…
The fulcrum of an idea on the tip of 2 kids’ minds
— a lamp switched off then on. A child
to point at the sun & say where’s it gone?