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M. L. Weber




Cloud, Mountain 




        Kukai wandered, very much alone, yet being an idiot
                                    he did not mind

        he paid no mind, he paid no landlord, luckily
                                    it was a dry summer

        so he wandered, full of thoughts, which he let go,
                                    which he did not mind

.

As you might listen to music
you move from beat to beat
with ease
"when it flows"

.

                    A twisted strip of road disappears barely past
                    the first foothill
                              I drive in shadow
                    while above
                              snow glints in sun
                    blue beyond that
                              blue with the mountains
                    blue turned purple by green
                    the white prevails against the blue
                    sun glints off windshields
                                on a road
                    south of Las Vegas
                    a traffic jam in the middle of nowhere

                    To the top of the mountain
                    a dark line of telephone poles

.

Life consists of captured moments
         separated by abysses
         of despair

confusion, frustration, ice cream cones at Howard Johnson's

then fill up the car
head towards Las Cruces
past Lordsburg
where a Guatemalan
in a cowboy hat
sat on his saddle
his thumb stuck out

.

                         Aluminum paint on tin siding,
                         shines in moonlight,
                         hangs on, rust dark between the ridges
                         the moon isn't much bigger really
                         than a dime held at arm's length
                         it just seems to loom over the old garage
                         casting a large shadow
                         hiding half of the wrecked car
                         sprawled out in front
 
                                              its windows
                                         busted into jewels

.

A statue of St. Francis stands near a gas station
the sun blasts through a cloud of smog

The saint projects his cross
forward militantly

Or with exuberant blessing
seems about to step off his pedestal

The gas station is white, sepulchral
against the gray of the street

A homeless man keeps his eyes down
his body not wanting to move

but it is daylight
he cannot stop here

.

Three crosses by a highway
                mark death by accident
death by car wreck
                Thick clouds moved
in all morning
                 but here the light breaks through

Sand on the road shoulder
                 glints like gold
all the brighter against
                  the gray landscape
dry, dust-blown
                  grassland at best
at worst, turning into desert

.

The wind took the clouds
away, the sky
clean and deep somehow
as if blue had a cottony texture-
tiny spots that intimate shadow

Perhaps it is black space not quite covered

.

A wide meadow spreads out,
runs down,

one side against the rocks,
bushes filled with birds

You called it "magpie meadow"

Under the sun,
your skin only reddened
between the freckles,
a white line
across the forehead

where your hair fell
to the side

.

The mind has several waiting rooms

but only one
receptionist.

.

Kukai on himself:

          "He was not known for his talents, and his words and
           actions were nothing to speak of.  Sleeping in the snow
           with only his arm to pillow his head, and eating wild
           plants on the cloudy peaks-that is all he knew."


.

                The mind can be other
 than absorbed
                 in thoughts about
                 what to do,
       what I should have done,
                 and instead be at one with the body
   with a breath
                            an itch
                                          a pain you move
through your shoulders
                     the slight shift of the spine
        as you straighten up
                     the sound of a car passing

            someone else's breathing

                     a bird chirping

     the subtext of thoughts

                      blooming like crystals

.

  "But I watch myself do everything.
    I want to know what I'm doing.
               I have to decide."

                             "What are you saying?"

"I must decide to decide,
         I can't be
 without a guide
         for then I'd be nothing."

"What are you saying?"

          "I mean if
you don't think about why you're doing
something you're just at the mercy of chance."

"What are you saying?"

.

Pain as pain
pleasure as pleasure
pain passes through
pleasure passes through

.                                          

         Kukai walked in a snowfall with no wind, no mind
                                    sparse, big flakes

         falling straight down, out of a foggy, white sky
                                    silent, deep brush land

         covered the hills where he walked until he came
                                    to a slanted face

         of sandstone, red and still warm from yesterday's sun
                                    the snowflakes melted

         as soon as they fell, he looked up and saw them appear
                                    one by one, gray

         against the white of the sky, taking on shadows
                                    as they came into view

         individuated, some fell perfect onto the stone
                                    outlined there, six arms

         of the hexagon, then absorbed by the rock's heat
                                    into the porous surface

         or falling on his eyelashes, he had to blink them away
                                    and looked into distance

         space filled with moving points, drawing Kukai
                                    across the hills

.
						

         Winter being the most poetic season, or autumn,
                                    summer the least-

         but autumn perhaps is too showy, flares briefly,
                                    solitude comes

         more with winter and heat is felt
                                    as Thoreau said

         "by the least fleck of sun"
                                    hitting the walker

         unexpectedly, and silence
                                   and the drama of

         a winter night, clean, dry, bright with stars
                                    or cast with a moon

.				
				
         When you arise to begin your unknown journey
                                    call it fated
destiny, or simply destination, direction
                                     on which you spiral, seeking
       the chosen way-
                                  though now it seems less than
clear which way is chosen as the king's patronage
                             no longer applies
       sadhus do not wander the roads
                           and few give hospitality to the poor

.			

Kukai believed in freedom, this is what he sought-
                         not a paradise
of earthly riches, nor a pleasure of the body
                          though
spiritual bliss includes a physical calm
                          yet evil disappointed him

and when he journeyed he was often robbed

.						

                   He arrived at a palace
in late January
                   where, on her daily speed-walk after
vomiting a light breakfast,
the queen saw him
spreading his poncho
over the frost-sparkled grass
of the manor lawn
                    She took him to be a guru
as he tried to ignore her shapely legs
pink with the cold air
and exercise.
                     To her, he seemed
graceful as he assumed
the lotus position
                     his hands on his knees
his eyes settling six feet in front
and staying there as she circled
looking him over

                  "Excuse me," she said,
for she was not a snob, and though a queen
did not like to intrude on anyone,
                   "could I ask
you a question?"
                   Kukai looked up-
seeing the queen's smile
quite alarmed him
                    that is, he fell in love
at that moment
                    if you can call it love
for he fell about twice a day
which he had noticed as being too often
so it wasn't the smile that alarmed
nor the love
                    but the awareness
of it happening
                    so often
which alarmed him
                    (though at a later stage the alarm
would be noticed-Kukai then thought
he saw all his emotions
clearly
-the "love" for example-
blooming instantly
as he flushed from his face
to the center of his seated manhood)

                      The queen
continued,
 his reply too laconic,
"Do you have to push yourself to meditate
or does it just come easily to you?"

Kukai's mind stuttered,
                        the question
was so broad, the implications
of why she asked it, Kukai's personal backstory,
his present relation to his practice,
how a woman could have such white teeth,
and a thousand other contexts
roared into his mind
                         but he tried
not to be too slow
                         she might think him mute

"One must find the time," he said,
"then you must sit.  If those two things
are difficult
then you must push, yes.
Allow yourself to sit however you may,
you should not press the mind
into what you think 'meditation' is.
                             Okay?"

"Are you hungry?" the queen asked,
finding his words too simple,
though sincere.
                             "I'll have a meal brought to you."

Kukai raised his hand to protest, but she said,
"It's no problem, I'm the queen of this land,
and you are welcome, gentle teacher.
Now I must walk,"
                              and she left abruptly,
starting up her stop watch once again
to make sure she worked off the proper amount of calories

.

          A constant "wall to wall" thread
                             of babble,
     the random detail
                         You keep going over and over
          what you expect to do this evening
what time you should get home, shower, and the car needs gas
          It's all very busy, but
you think you keep some order, assert control until the night
                     when dreams crowd in
They usually make only snatches of sense-
     it seems you look for their meaning
with the higher part of your mind, glean some story
     from the flood, though when you try to close
upon the actual words they fall apart into
          jumble
                      A ceaseless sub-text
spirals itself through the visual tricks in which
               distortions come easily
like gods turning into swans, bulls and snakes

.

                            "For instance, it's difficult at first to adjust
                            to solitary practice after life in the everyday
                            world. Unexpected things happen in the mind,
                            delusions and attachments come welling up, and
                            subconscious fixations can grow out of all
                            proportion because one's concentration is so
                            deep. . . . Hallucinations can become intense during
                            the practice because one is going directly to a
                            deep level of the mind.  They should not be cut
                            off, however, but recognized for what they are
                            without either enjoying them or fearing them. . . .
                            During the course of the practice the
                            hallucinations gradually diminished. . . .  All my
                            senses became clearer and sharper, including my
                            smell and hearing, to the point that I felt I
                            could hear the sound of incense burning. . . ."
                                                  Taiko Yamasaki

.

Strips of blue between clouds moving horizontally
     across the horizon
the tops white, bottoms gray with shadow
     and a hint of rain
Below them swifts catch flies, circling a meadow
      surrounded by evergreens

               Relentless,
never landing, how do they see them
      such a creature, performing an everyday task
amassing tons of insects
                these birds
never stopping
                unlike we humans who must consider
our lives, some of us sit back, drink in hand
and call a life wasted
                Perhaps those
are the ones reborn as flies

.

A two-fisted man with a chicken head
holds a giant milkshake
                    his rooster comb
                    and bright red shirt
attract the eye to stop
at Sterling's Sooper Save

.

                                            Live life with a wide margin
                              like Thoreau
                                            who took a three hour walk
                              every afternoon
                                            walked later if he had to work that day

                                            walked at night
                              much of the time

                                            around his hometown,
                              a civilized abode, back when no one walked

                              people had
                              a very low
                              opinion of him
                              and his "wide margin"
                              which he said needs to left around whatever we do	

                              he said he often sat the whole morning
                              from dawn to noon
                              on his doorstep
                              listening to the birds

.

Above the gateway to the cemetery
                  a skull and crossbones
crudely cut from white poster board
and a wreath of flowers

                                 -roses and marigolds-

women bring buckets of more flowers

                    All kinds and colors
                    interwoven in chains

draped over the walls
circling the headstones
bordering the graves

.

                            Do you think the cattle
                            think themselves
                            better than this prairie?  Or the rattlesnake
                            holds himself above
                            the mice he preys upon?

.

I sink into the water letting it pass
over my lips, a gentle coolness

as if I were a little boy again
feeling my form outlined
from meeting with the water

Away in the distance
the landscape on the horizon

into which I stare with longing

      
.

samsara whirlpool

raw data of color red

raw data of a person

but words from a person are harder not to judge

can the words be raw?

acceptance and awareness are in conflict

thought of "water as water"
that is, pure  - to really taste it
but not think of it as a symbol of purity
to taste its quality
but objectively
water is neutral
as is the blue of the sky
so we do not cling to it
but neither should we not see it
not taste it

.

More than crescent, moon between broken banks of clouds
                       just gray in the end of twilight, dark sky
the clouds hold in the depth with fractal edges like waves
                       in Japanese prints, stylized across the blackness
driving toward the horizon in gegenschein:
                       the earth-shadow,	
memories of other evenings
                       flood at once 
over days of non-resemblance
                       the moments
seen linked in time 
                       only now

.

Day of darkness lightened by the death of twilight
                        weighed under gray lead
with thoughts of self-hatred
                         no entry into
the values others define
                         except a reminder
                         in a solitary car

                                                  Or this day feels like the opening
of a Hardy novel
                         the narrative grit as
            a stranger returns 
                         
.

Word-thoughts with no meaning
                           Lately I have
it seems been living only in the now
                                                      even when
      the depression hits  
                           I comment as if
      watching a play
                           as the character says earnestly
"If I had a gun I'd..."
                           which I just asked
myself 

.

Man, woman shot outside bar
a 1 a.m. scuffle outside the Cloud 9
woman rushed to hospital

Schumacher, 30, surprised the youths
in a wooded area
then was knocked off his feet
by a shotgun blast

was shot in the lower abdomen

She had seen a sketch
of a woman
it resembled her sister
State Police distributed sketches
after the bodies were found

both women were shot
in the chest
with a high powered rifle

                presents a major public health problem . . .

he kicked the victim
approximately 40 times
in the head

.

    One day Kukai saw a very old man meditating in a cave 
on top of a mountain.  He went up to him and bowed, but 
the old man ignored his visitor.  Inspired by the silence,
Kukai immediately sat down opposite the old man.  After
a while, the old man got up to make tea.  When the tea
was ready, the old man took a cup for himself, put the
cup back and resumed his meditation.  Kukai then arose
and took a cup of tea and back put it back down as the
old man had done.  Neither of them uttered a word.

     In the evening, the old man got up and prepared
dinner and ate.  Kukai  came forward and ate with
him.  After dinner they both sat again.  In the middle
of the night, the old man got up and took a stroll
around the mountain.  Kukai did likewise; then both
returned to their seats.  The next day passed in the
same manner.  They meditated together and shared their
simple meals in silence.  After seven days the old man
spoke, saying, "Sir, where do you come from?"  Kukai
replied, "The South."  The old man continued, "What
makes you come here?"  Kukai said, "To see you."  "My
face is just like this," the old man said abruptly, with a 
quick hand gesture. "There is nothing unusual about it."

.

 Four teenagers drove into an abandoned garage
in New Jersey, a turnpike town so called,
one boy in the front seat, one boy and two girls
in the back.  They had just bought
three dollars worth of gas and they drove into
the garage, closed the door, let the car run until
five hours later they were found dead
with a note on brown paper sack
and an unused pack of razor blades
(they'd all cut their wrists
before, and that didn't work)

.

     "Likeness and love hurry upward like flames . . ."

.

He'll carry you, child
with dark, heavy eyebrows
as you look back over his shoulder, six years old
too big to be carried

but you're Daddy's little girl   
it's a crowd on Canal Street in New Orleans
and Daddy's a fine, big man

.

My hand, the pores so prominent
on the back of my hand.
                                        I do not know
the back of my hand.
It is strange to me; it's grown old.

I know the wall better.
                                      The soundless room
without movement
                              until I saw my hand move.
It seemed far away,
unfelt, an object
                          and my observance
also unfelt,
                  another object.

.

A pause taking shape within space
moments that lengthen
                                    perhaps widening
the conscious
                       but also changes in time
as spirals move through interval
my body expresses me
just as my hand writes
in the particular, unavoidable way it does
my own dwelling in the spaces I occupy
time that I measure
                               I am free to look into
the whole as it happens
"from where I sit"
                             I can feel my body
or waft in thought
                             riding there
onward in a certain way

.

Children romp on a weedy hill
behind a monolith
of governmental buildings, functional,
prisonlike, one boy steps with
high knees down the hill,
leaping and flinging wide
his arms as if in freedom

.

Boys play with abandon in a ruined building,
running through holes in destroyed walls.
One laughs so hard his sides ache.
None of them seem to notice the rubble
strewn on the floors,
they run without looking down.

.

Two women in separate windows
separate boxes in a brick building
held apart by a plaster wall, they
stare down into the street.

One, fat and aged, her face
a blur of glasses and eroded features
has tied a huge American flag

to a cord that runs to the top
of her high window.

The other puts on her coat to go out.

.

     "Thank you for writing.  I had a feeling 
something was horribly wrong.  It sounds to me 
like she needs medical treatment immediately 
and that she needs to be where people can look 
after her.  It is not an inspiring place, but 
it is safe, if that is how she needs to feel 
and there is a good man there named Dr Gregory.  
It is not cheap; does she have any kind of insurance?
It sounds like something should be done fast.  Would 
it be possible to get a medical person to her and 
give here a tranquilizer that would allow her to 
get on a plane?  It is abhorrent to think of her 
vegetating in misery.  I too feel useless out here.  
My sister recently had a breakdown. She was seeing 
a psychiatrist who got a social worker to stay with 
her and get her on a plane.  But she realized she 
was in difficulty."

.

    One night, as Kukai walked along the mountain path,
he felt a sudden lightning circulate within him and
there was a roar of thunder at the top of his head.  The
mountain, the stream, the world, and his very self
vanished.  The experience lasted for about the time it
would take five inches of incense to burn.  Thereafter,
he felt like a different man, purified by his own light.
The old man told him that this lightning must be put
aside.

.

Even if you see Buddhas, throw away such visions.

.

When he left the old man, he wandered
	he was then twenty-three
and awash with emotion
                                       wandering in paradise
having escaped from the city
	where his father had died of blood cancer
his mother in a supermarket parking lot
	abduction and murder
a random act

action in the void
	                   void in the action

His sister 
	depressed in
a common way
			she found no pleasure 
in life
	not in music
not in people
                      not in art
	in a gallery she wouldn't see anything
to get excited about
	but after her medication kicked in
she collected jazz albums
	had three dates a weekend
hung with a wilder crowd
	stood up to men 
didn't care if she broke their hearts
	took what she enjoyed
without remorse
                  anhedonia evaporated like a morning mist
new thoughts filled her mind
	her old, sluggish thinking no longer seemed familiar
she said, "I have become myself"

Kukai heard this on a 25 cent per minute 
	"call anywhere" public phone
it took all his quarters then she called him back
	her name was Annie now

Instead of Ha-ning, the connection was bad
	so Kukai strained to hear
the rush of words, she poured over the phone:
	her therapist was very supportive

Her new job was going well, and she was considering
	a proposal of marriage
but she wasn't going to jump into anything
	besides she needed to make up for lost time

After all, her life had been a waste so far, hadn't it?
	All she had missed, she had never
really had a single life before, never been on dates,
	never spent money on herself

Kukai agreed, encouraged her-it was good news
	that she felt free to enjoy herself,
not let life go by, took up running marathons,
	had a new, reliable car

She'd "always been a home-body, and after what happened
	to . . .  I never felt like . . .
but now I'm confident, and if I want a man along
	I've got plenty to choose from

"You know, I think I was putting them off,
	sending out signals
that I was overly sensitive, that I
	was critical of men

"And they could sense it, you know, that I
	was unapproachable
Now I get complimented on my sense of humor
	I'm not shy, and I don't fear intimacy"

Kukai thought she sounded good, but wondered
what would happen
	when she got off  the drug
	or when her body started to tolerate it
he told her that we always try to make sense
	try to put life into a frozen form
but things constantly change
	so that we have to work with
the ups and downs
	that what seemed to make sense
can suddenly seem as remote as the surface of Jupiter
	but that Ha-ning, Annie, should hang on to the insights
she's getting now, so when it changes
	she keeps her wisdom
knows the contrast, stays direct and personal,
	up close to whatever she's feeling

.

A cupful of mountain water
	in the morning
sustains my life.
			The evening mist
nurtures my mind.

.


            "have you gone over the deep end?" 
in that I have not been worrying about wasting time 
     nor worrying about time at all
     nor worrying 
about word-thoughts
     the mind is bigger
it echoes its roots

.

An advertisement,
the portrait of a lady
in a girdle,
a lady whose eyes are obscured,
pasted over by a newer sticker   
the lady who stands over an old woman
who squints in the sun
freckles covering her face and neck

.

Four men covered with the dust
of a tannery stand close
together in a group portrait
their arms around one another
immigrants from a more intimate country

.

          emotion moves slowly
                                   echoing in themes that
          I cannot leave
                                  If only I heard her voice again
          on the telephone asking me to come
          "un oiseau chante ne sais ou"

.

                        a shadow seen passing above
          through the trees
                                     as the eyes are raising
          to meet the moon

.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine,
a woman had epileptic seizures
whenever she heard a certain tv announcer's voice.

.

   "I was in the 11th grade and I was probably six 
months pregnant.  I was thinking about it, but it 
wasn't like on purpose.  My mother thought it was 
on purpose cause I talked about babies a lot cause 
I wanted her to have one.  I wanted to take care 
of somebody.  I wanted somebody to love, feed them 
and give them advice.  Somebody to love. Somebody 
to love you back."

.

Many things can be accepted
as the truth but only one
can be made the truth

                                                but this "logic"
like a fogged up mirror
you rub all the time to get a blurry view

an image
you create

always
changing

.


"They won't let us read your suicide note
Even when you're dead they treat you like a goat

Now you're on the news channels 9 and 11
One place you ain't you know is heaven"

                                      Anonymous

.

Burnouts, dirtbags, thrashers, or skinheads,
curbheads, preppies, greasers, or groupies,
latchkeys, runaways, fuck ups, or retards,
developmentally disabled or emotionally unstable,
surfers, punks, glueheads, meth freaks, teenagers.

.

Less than human because not adult
ordered here, ordered there,
welcome nowhere except the convenience store
Loaf and Jug, 7 11, as long as they
buy something and keep the motor running
or else the cops prod them for loitering
the young seek out hidden spaces
wear their concert t shirts like a religion
the only way to say what they're about

.

Drive a half mile on the avenue
To the Whataburger parking lot
Been in AA, been in rehab,
Thrown in a mental ward, halfway house,
Find a dirty sweet pretty girl
With that "Bang a Gong" look

.

"They judge you by the way you look.
Forget it.  If you smoke a cigarette
then you're considered a waste.  And then
the teachers treat you like you're stupid.
Jocks rule the school because of the teams,
but are they smart?  No!  They just sit
there with a glazed look in their eyes.
Neat little jockish collars all spiffed up.
They just do whatever the teacher tells them.
They never disagree."

.

"Either you get clean and then walk around
feeling superior to everybody else, or they make 
you sit around and talk about drugs all day until
you want to go out and get them, or you get high
with the people there."

.

Buds for breakfast, Buds for lunch, and Buds for dinner.

.

Kukai flew back to the states, though his sister said
			she was fine he did not

particularly believe her.  Indeed, she sounded a little too high.
			He wanted to see 

for himself, and the family estate was out of probate
			ready to be settled,

though precious little was left.  It had been eaten away
			by lawyers and debts;

still, he had no money, only his plane ticket home,
			so it was time to resupply.

Kukai arrived in Boston, head shaven, in saffron robes,
			begging bowl in backpack.

The airport Krisnas left him alone as he walked meditatively
			straight to the taxis.

He had only carry-on and so was free at once to plunge
			into the whirlpool,

the samsara of the city.  He met his sister after work
			at her new apartment.

With her, everything was new-job, car, clothes, boyfriend,
			stereo, carpet,
in approximately that order of importance.

.

"Body, speech, mind:
                                  the three secrets
Fill the world.
Space is the sublime meditation hall.
The mountain is the brush,
The sea the ink.
Heaven and earth the case that holds the sutras."
                            -Kukai		

.

Carol came to Athena's for a weekend
	to the house on the sea
Gloucester, Mass., sun bright on the waves,
	they walked around the bay,
or in the wooded commons on an old railroad bed,
up and down
the hilly streets
filled with clapboard houses
	the wind blew in a clean sea air
Carol felt free
	far away from the city
Athena made her laugh
	she wished she would stay,
the only friends Carol had, aside from work,
	were Mike's
none of them as amusing as Athena
	and shouldn't she go back to school
finish the degree so long put off
	With all the colleges nearby
she should pursue her interests
	Athena did not seem
to disagree
	      it wouldn't be bad
would be a change
	from red-neck fishermen
perhaps she'd meet
someone who'd intrigue her
	more than bore her
look at C.G. Jung
	they'd both carried the Portable
like a Bible in the old days
	"you've never followed up on that," Carol argued,
"there's so much more now-at least give it some thought"

After Carol left,  Athena remained
	looked into the options
she couldn't fish forever,
	it's either academe
or import-export eventually
                                            what else is there
she thought
                    unless my artwork would sell

the housing market down					    
summer coming
the best time to be in Gloucester
lay ahead

                  no use rushing
away, stay,
                  check out the bookstores,
the schools,
                   independent study,
get a tan,

                Alaska's too full of mosquitoes now,

paint on the beach in Gloucester

work out the karma for all those dead salmon

images of fish heads, fish blood

pouring onto the paper

                                     blue water
shimmering ocean

	                    squat boats
	
weathered human faces straining

webs of nets
                  
                       pulling in the life of the sea

suffocating in the air

                                     Her paintings in oil
too much for the tourist shops
but they took the watercolors
less intense and colorful
they'd grace your living room
with a touch of sea

                                One day
on the beach 
                     in a strong wind
Athena persisted
                     in painting a large canvas
the wind reminded her
                     of a gale she'd been in
the bucking canvas of the boat
                     the spray an energy she needed
when Kukai wandered by
                                        alone on the deserted beach
he said, "You like the wind"
                                              Not a question
she looked at him
                             not a skinhead she decided
as she'd thought before
glancing when he was
farther down the strand
                                     "I see you're well-anchored"
he continued, meaning the rope
she'd tied with tent pegs
to hold down the easel
                                     she liked his smile
they began to talk a while
as the wind grew stronger
until finally he helped her
take in all her gear

.

"Mountain grass has turned yellow in mid-winter.
A full moon rises through the smoke of factories.
You ask me to explain the causes of good and evil.
Flying, the geese quack songs into the snowfields."

.

Kukai dined with friends, who couldn't get over
his shaven head
though the hair 
had sprouted
to an almost-crew-cut
and he had put on ordinary clothes
which his sister
had kept in storage for him
                                           he'd only worn
the robes home because his other clothes were lost
somewhere in Asia
                               like his biological father
whom he had never seen
	perhaps he lived in Hong Kong
he must be out of prison by now
Kukai remembered          
his mother's story of how they had met
Beijing in the springtime
the time in hiding 
	the journey to the south
that his father had forced her into the crowded boat
she had seen him taken by the police
on shore
	  he wanted his unborn child, Kukai,
born out of the country
	Ha-ning, his four-year-old daughter,
safe in a new land
and so his mother gave birth in the back of a restaurant
in America
	afraid of the authorities
alone at 3 a.m.
	Kukai came out easily
she cut the umbilical cord with a kitchen knife
	He barely remembered her face
last saw her 
	when she worked as housekeeper
for the couple who adopted them
	a doctor and a lawyer
they raised Kukai and Ha-ning
	as their own
sent them both to Cornell
	though Kukai dropped out
to wander 
	            
		   His old friends from college
said they envied his adventures
wished they'd gone off like that
before starting a family
and then the business 
	but at least they worked
for themselves
	
                         They offered Kukai a job
assembling hand-crafted wooden toys
that they started selling in local shops
made at home in their garage
Kukai said yes
	              it was all very casual, his friends
spiritually inclined, open,
                        the toys were ecological,
non-toxic, good for kids,
old fashioned, low-tech,
peasant-inspired, third-world, politically correct,
what's more they sold
	but money was not the bottom line
for his friends
	who had considered
a franchise but couldn't stand the hype
of a fakey frozen yogurt concession
                                                         or greasy pizza
or 900 number rip-offs

.

Silence between the thoughts

Silence within the thoughts

.

When not at Athena's, Kukai stayed with his sister
in her spare room
she didn't mind
nothing could bother her
besides she was never home
                                             and Kukai
was only there after work
                                         but the toys
were selling too fast
                                 the over-time
kept mounting
                        Kukai had to train more people
he enjoyed it
	he hired students
homeless people
	senior citizens
physically-challenged
          he supervised them						
he started handling inventory,
	ordering, acquiring 
a customer base
                           inquiries flooded in
he heard about a trade show in New York
	suggested it to his friends
said he would go.
He set up a booth
	made contacts
got nation-wide distribution
	Kukai became
"vice-president in charge of sales"
            and next Xmas season the toys became 
a phenomenon 

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