Every time I step on that
old floor you half-way fixed,
my big toe finds the bent nail
not quite hammered in
And I think of cursing you
but of course I don’t.
Can’t take the bad karma
at this stage of life.
So I smile
remembering your moxie
and your half-baked skills
and the family you have to support
and I think I’ll put a rug there,
to cover the hazard, but I don’t.
Can’t find one to spare.
And I think of my half-baked compassion
and how I’ll get from here to anywhere
and I think of my first hero
Bodhi Dharma, crossing continents
to carry a message of import,
waiting years to be heard,
then saying, there’s nowhere to go.
“To dwell in the three realms
is to dwell in a burning house.
To have a body is to suffer.”
To step on a bent nail barely counts
unless it helps me remember
what really matters. We’re here, then not.
quote from The Zen Teachings of Bodhi Dharma, translated by Red Pine, p 5.
Mary Newell lives in the lower Hudson Valley. Her chapbook, TILT/ HOVER/ VEER is forthcoming from Codhill Press in January 2019. Her poems were published in BlazeVox, Dispatches from the Poetry Wars, Spoon River Poetry Review, Hopper Literary Magazine, Earth’s Daughters, Written River, About Place, etc. She has also written reviews and essays, including “Shades of Melancholy: Darker Moods in Dickinson’s Poetry” in Melancholia: Hinge as Innominate Limina, by Will Alexander, Heller Levinson, and Mary Newell. Dr. Newell (MA Columbia, BA Berkeley) received a doctorate from Fordham University in American Literature and the Environment. She has taught literature and writing at Fordham University, West Point, and other colleges. Website: https://manitoulive.wixsite.com/maryn