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Inner Ocean Fantasy 2011
25” x25"
by John Babcock

Photo by Linda Babcock

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Dane Cervine

Spiritual Panhandling

A one-legged Tibetan monk on a single crutch
approaches me dressed in worn burgundy & yellow
outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral, places
a plastic golden Buddha amulet
in my hand, then a small wrist-band
of wooden prayer beads on my arm,
and smiles. The dark brown beads
are simple, beautiful, and I now
want to believe, really, anything
he has to say. However,
speaking no English,
he can only point
to a small black book
which he flips open
like a newspaper reporter
revealing a worn picture
of a Tibetan monastery
scotch-taped inside the cover,
with a list of scrawled names
on the slender white pages
opposite a column for
$20 donation notations.
I do believe his eyes,
fetch the bill from my wallet
and place it in his hand
just like that. Whether
this gesture helps
erect an immense timber
painted golden in some remote
exiled monastery, or, really,
just helps a poor one-legged monk
to eat, or God forbid, enjoy
a pint of Tongba or Raksi,
I will never know. But today,
it is enough to give, see
the laughter in his brown eyes,
the hop in his one good leg.

Pink Roses

The stone body of the young Buddha statue
sits serenely beneath the pink rose bush
in my backyard, smooth face inured
to the scent of petals profligate
round him. I remember

as a freshman in high school sitting
with an open Bible on my lap in the fragrant grass
while Ted, a rebel Jesus Freak a few years older
stared hard at me after prayer group,
said, You’re too young to lose yourself
like this. Told me to close the Good Book,
find a girl, take her under the bleachers
at the next football game, smell her perfume,
nibble her ear. I had no idea what he was talking about,
though I suspected he understood something
of desire’s impossible nature,
had seen him slip his drummer’s hand
under his girlfriend’s sweater at the Jesus rock concert,
watched her smile, accept his hand
as though it were God’s.

Ted was wiser than the young stone monk
sitting in my backyard unaffected
by the psychedelic pink flowering
before his closed eyes. After all,
even the young Buddha had to become
drunk with desire before it left him empty enough
to escape the prison of the pleasure palace.

Only then did his Third Eye open,
his blood swoon drunk again
at the scent of blossoms
pink, everywhere.

One Life Worth Living

Gary is painting the bathroom today,
clean & sober after destroying
his big Hollywood gig painting the homes of stars,
now cleaning his brushes in my backyard
happy, after almost dying, to be so
alive. Which starts me writing
as the solar orb we both bask in
steals into my poem like an orange Samurai
slashing the air with Haiku, which my son texts me,
just now, from Boston in snow: tiny poems
from college on my Apple phone screen—
and though these words are nothing
but cartoon dialogue balloons appearing
white then blue, they are just as miraculous
as Emily’s carefully folded poem heresies
secreted under her floor boards, or Walt’s
rambling lines that made a poem haul
the entire wild weight of a country
on its black rails. Someone

must make the tiny letters work,
fashion a kind of incarnation in Word
where Gary cleans his brushes,
Walt savors his sprig of wheat,
Emily sits at her wooden table,
knowing the world depends on this
to go on. How the furnace of sun
burns its way into my thumbs
typing miniature Haiku replies
to a boy staring at Boston snow
from his dorm room bed like Basho.

Dane Cervine’s latest book is entitled How Therapists Dance, from Plain View Press (2013), which also published his previous book The Jeweled Net of Indra.  His poems have been chosen by Adrienne Rich for a National Writers Union Award; by Tony Hoagland as a finalist for the Wabash Poetry Prize; a Second Place prize for the Caesura, and the Morton Marcus contests; twice a finalist for, and the 2013 winner of the Atlanta Review’s International Poetry Prize; and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Dane’s work has appeared in a wide variety of journals including The Hudson Review, The SUN Magazine, Catamaran Literary Review, Red Wheelbarrow, numerous anthologies, newspapers, video & animation. Look for his essays at TriQuarterly, CONTRARY, The Turning Wheel, and forthcoming in Miramar. Visit his website at:  Dane lives in Santa Cruz, California, where he works as a therapist.

Karen Ackland
Paul Skenazy

Wilma Marcus Chandler
Dane Cervine
Dion Farquhar
Lisa Allen Ortiz

John Babcock

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