Tag Archives: buddha

Columbus Park

Older Chinese men playing Chinese chess, Columbus Park, Mulberry Street, Chinatown, New York City, New York USA.

Columbus Park

Layers, on this island the pearly nacre of creation — darkness,
light swirl for my attention. Walled around the park are giant
buildings, shades of gray and brown, windows glinting,
dark mirrors. I traveled a thousand miles to get here,

to find something, the heart of something, heaven,
earth, sore feet, my own heart. I am a dry sponge,
tramping from one street to the next, darting eyes
quick to latch on, transcend movement, freeze-frame

all in memory. The benches call out to me; I can’t refuse,
down low in Manhattan, where Chinese congregate,
playing some fast game. Like mah-johngg, like dominoes,
like poker, like checkers.  And a wino passes out on the bench

next to me — his mouth gapes, his teeth darkened with decay,
his tongue moving as he breathes. I am here on my bench
otherwise alone, trying to remember my divine nature.
The fact I don’t feel full of knowledge is sure evidence

I am. Nobody ever talks about how in his twenty-ninth
year, the Buddha left his wife and child in the middle of the night
without even saying goodbye. Nobody speaks of the tears
they shed next day. Buddha’s sobbing wife

is the mother of all things, and I have never known
her name. And I know without knowing I have two
souls — the one that will die with my body, the other that will
wander the world. Everything here becomes holy;

I take the wino in my arms, feeling his foul breath
grow sweet, becoming perfume of heaven. The world blooms;
I am its soul, dancing upon the knife-blade, bleeding, but not
falling. No, not falling. As I understand, so shall I be delivered.

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She Hates Numbers

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How Art Thou Received? (a prayer for refugees)

How Art Thou Received? (a prayer for refugees)

Imagine: suddenly, without warning (because that is how war arrives) you are a war refugee! Simply running away from being murdered. And how are you received when you can finally stop running, when you are out of range of the guns, the bombs, the blood? No countries to take you. No one to feed you. You are a skeletal pawn in a skeletal game.

Embalmed corpses declare war on the living and fight for their “territory” against other embalmed corpses using armies of young people; embalmed corpses feeding on fresh, young blood.

I know something is very wrong, somewhere. It must be addressed, and addressed properly. Our prayer, our incantation, our spell to heal, must be more powerfully crafted, more distilled, more essential, than was the horrid spell we are trying to break: a tradition of might over right, strong but wrong, a spell of ignorance which has caused so much harm, and is trying to do more… powered by the love of power, the love of control over people.

The scarred parts of the heart can be replenished; the broken parts, glued; the weak parts, strengthened; the fear assuaged, the pain relieved. But the desire to change, to truly alchemize oneself, spin that straw into gold… the gold of the sun… the silver of the stars… the red planet… the North Star… primal navigation by looking not at the ground, but by looking up, to the sky… that kind of desire doesn’t visit often.

If you want to know where you are going, be sure your map is accurate, or at least doesn’t kill you. Migrating birds know this. Power & Liberation. Slave & free. Joy & Suffering. High & low.

Craving slaves, some are trying to roll us back to serfdom, only they can use our own science & technology to rape us! Serfdom: tied by birth to land. You are a pawn, a source of income; in thrall to your Lord and Master. Freeing serfs is always a struggle. Brute force arm-wrestles the human race, and brute force often pins people to the mat, but… you cannot keep people down for long. The oppressed will continue to spring up and defend their inalienable human rights. All people are created equal: including our ancestors, who existed long before the self-anointed first “private property” owners. Human beings are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, yes? The earth cannot belong to any one of us. Period. We own this planet. All of us.

 

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Opening editorial message for Truth, the magazine, 1st draft

illustration truth the magazine opening editorial statement

Opening editorial message for Truth, the magazine, 1st draft:

First off, my name is not really Kimberly Townsend Palmer. It is, or rather, should be, Kimberly Townsend Pomikala. Pomikala is a Bohemian name, which my father was born with but which was changed by his family not too long after he started school in Arcadia, California. It was changed because one fine, sunny day he came home in tears after being called a “dirty Bohunk” by the other children. It was 1943, and the world, and finally the United States, had long been at war. The biggest battles were not being fought on battlefields but being fought inside the human heart. Many families lost their entire physical existence, multiple generations snuffed out in less time than it takes to inhale, exhale — mine lost only its identity. A small price to pay for being safe in southern California, in a town named for the residence of the Greek gods. So my father grew up as a camouflaged ethnic. The name was changed, but the inside could not be changed. He never felt at home anywhere he went. He might well have been a war refugee of a metaphysical battle — a battle, the fundamental struggle humanity has been waging since its inception, the inexorable war between truth and ignorance. Factual accuracy is not always the truth — truth goes to the essence of a thing. Not the surface, but what is deep within.

The story is told how Eve caused the fall of humanity from the garden of Eden by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What is the remedy for this? What is the essential nugget of truth we may take away from that crucial moment? My answer is: there is no absolute good, there is no absolute evil — there is but truth and ignorance. Eating the apple and gaining the surface knowledge of good and evil was a trap humanity fell into, a trap we have been struggling to release ourselves from ever since. Love exists. Hate exists. Both can serve the truth. Both can serve ignorance. We must harness ourselves to the wagon of truth and pull our heavy burden to wherever the driver leads us. The driver is God, the driver is love, the driver is peace, serenity and acceptance of the way things are on this planet. Many things we label good and many things we label evil are in fact neither. They are simply in the service of truth or in the service of ignorance. Satan, in the guise of the serpent, led Eve and Adam into a terrible, incomprehensible trap and God is now and has always been guiding humanity out of that trap. The reason God forbade eating of that fruit was it was not yet the right time for humanity to have that knowledge.

Plainly put, we are not yet advanced enough to receive the knowledge of good and evil. God is the only entity qualified to eat of that tree. We have taken a small, superficial bite of knowledge and used our imperfect bodies, minds and hearts to inflict merciless cruelty and oppression on others. Our biggest enemy is pride — believing we, as fragile, physical and temporal beings, can ever know enough to accurately judge another’s worth before God. How dare judges and juries impose the death penalty! It is not our role to take life, which is bestowed by God. It is our role to live it and seek the truth and banish ignorance. We are entitled to keep ourselves safe, we can ensure our physical and emotional safety from injustice and repression — but we cannot ever presume to know the will of God.

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my tete a tete with officer charles owens, a nonfiction note

147

“What can I do for you, officer?”

“Why are you so hostile?”

He asked for my license and registration and proof of insurance, which I gave him. He walked back to his vehicle and did whatever police officers do, I suppose run my driver’s license number to make sure I wasn’t wanted for some crime or something. And to make sure the vehicle wasn’t stolen, I suppose. And to make sure I had insurance, because that was something else he could have given me a ticket for. I do give Ofc. Owens points for being thorough. Just not any points for being correct.

“I’m giving you a ticket for careless driving.”

“How was my driving careless?”

“I heard your tires squeal.”

“But the road is wet, it has been misting for at least the past hour, maybe two.”

“The road is perfectly dry.” The mist swirled around his head as he spoke those words. I thought to myself, doesn’t he notice it?

“Is this the best use of your valuable law enforcement time? Giving a woman driving home alone at one a.m. in a white Toyota minivan a ticket because you heard her tires squeal on the damp pavement?”

“I smell beer on your breath.”

“Well, I did have one with dinner, about four hours ago, I haven’t brushed my teeth yet. I suppose that’s it. Would you like to perform a field sobriety test?”

“No.”

“Would you like to do a breathalyzer?”

“I’d have to call the van. Do you want me to call the van?”

“Sure, let’s have a party! No, that’s okay, you don’t have to call the van.”

Further discussion, about the ramifications of the ticket, etc., how to contest it, etc.

“Oh, you have a dog? What’s his name?”

“Justice.”

“Can I meet him?”

“No.”

“Can I take your photograph?”

“Yes.” I did so. It wasn’t the greatest, as his eyes were closed, but under the circumstances I did not think it wise to ask to take another. Ofc. Owens was clearly having a bad night.

When I first saw Officer Charles Owens, he was sitting inside his police vehicle, parked in the Lloyd Clarke’s parking lot, apparently conferring with another officer in another police vehicle. They were both inside their vehicles, each with the driver’s window rolled down, the vehicles thus facing in opposite directions. I am not certain, but the other officer may have been a female, as it seems I remember seeing a ponytail.

When Ofc. Owens first noticed me, I was turning left on to 13th Street from 16th Avenue. I had been hauling heavy vanloads of farm equipment earlier in the day, from Gainesville to Micanopy, and now my van was empty, and much lighter. After all the farm transportation, I had taken a friend to dinner and then dropped him off at his home and stood in his carport talking with him for half an hour or so, and the entire time I watched mist coming down.

I was very tired, and traveling by myself, back to an empty house, a situation I had not found myself in, in decades. Due to the mist, when I pressed on the accelerator, the wet road caused a slight squeal from my tires. I did not veer from my carefully steered path, I did not speed, nor was there any other car in the intersection, or even anywhere near the intersection. At that hour on a Wednesday, the roads were practically empty.

Officer Owens’ car was the one pointed with its nose facing south, the direction in which I was traveling, so he immediately pulled out of the parking lot and followed me, his lights flashing. I pulled over as soon as I realized it was me he was following, and turned right, on to 10th Avenue.

I was then two blocks or so from home. I rolled down the window of my car after he approached my vehicle, and asked him, in what I thought was my nicest and most cooperative voice, what I could do for him. I was exhausted and getting divorced in two days, but I did my best to be polite.

The first thing he said to me was why was I so “hostile.” I told him I wasn’t feeling hostile in the slightest, but that I was very, very tired and just wanted to get home, and being a female driving across town, alone at 1 a.m., was not something I enjoyed. I was, however, annoyed, because I thought his stopping me was entirely unnecessary and a waste of valuable taxpayer resources.

I started to tell Ofc. Owens a couple of pertinent facts that might have affected his decision-making processes, such as the fact that I was being divorced in two days, by my husband of ten years, after almost dying from a brain tumor the previous April, a tumor which had been wrapped around my optic nerve and the major aorta in my brain and had been in that site for between 17 to 34 years, and had made me feel horrible for at least the prior 5 years. I was getting divorced, as far as I could tell, because my husband preferred me half-dead and didn’t like the fact that I was not in that state anymore, and actually wanted him to get off the couch once in a while.

“I don’t want to hear any of your personal information,” he said as soon as I said my first word on those topics. I complied, and did not insist to be heard.

I live at the corner of 8th Avenue and 15th Street, and I am well aware of the driving skills usually displayed on 13th Street. Careless driving is not what I do. I am an excellent driver, and the only accident on my record was one in which my then-teenaged daughter’s car was parked in the driveway of my home, and a drunken college student plowed into it, and into the tree next to the driveway, and sped off with such haste that the smell of burning rubber could be smelt for hours afterwards.

The insurance company told me that even though my car was unoccupied and parked, I was being charged with an at fault accident because the vehicle was in my name. I was told there was nothing I could do about it. I live in an extremely loud, noisy and “party” neighborhood, which I nonetheless love and tolerate because I like to be in the middle of town. Needless to say, I know the value of the police force and respect what they do highly. However, Ofc. Owens made a bad call. It happens. Everyone makes mistakes. One was made here. I was not driving carelessly. End of story.

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Columbus Park, a poem

illustration columbus park

Columbus Park

Layers, on this island the pearly nacre of creation — darkness,
light swirl for my attention. Walled around the park are giant
buildings, shades of gray and brown, windows glinting,
dark mirrors. I traveled a thousand miles to get here,

to find something, the heart of something, heaven,
earth, sore feet, my own heart. I am a dry sponge,
tramping from one street to the next, darting eyes
quick to latch on, transcend movement, freeze-frame

all in memory. The benches call out to me; I can’t refuse,
down low in Manhattan, where Chinese congregate,
playing some fast game. Like mah-johngg, like dominoes,
like poker. And a wino passes out on the bench

next to me — his mouth gapes, his teeth darkened with decay,
his tongue moving as he breathes. I am here on my bench
otherwise alone, trying to remember my divine nature.
The fact I don’t feel full of knowledge is sure evidence

I am. Nobody ever talks about how in his twenty-ninth
year, the Buddha left his wife and child in the middle of the night
without even saying goodbye. Nobody speaks of the tears
they shed next day. Buddha’s sobbing wife

is the mother of all things, and I have never known
her name. And I know without knowing I have two
souls — the one that will die with my body, the other that will
wander the world. Everything here becomes holy;

I take the wino in my arms, feeling his foul breath
grow sweet, becoming perfume of heaven. The world blooms;
I am its soul, dancing upon the knife-blade, bleeding, but not
falling. No, not falling. As I understand, so shall I be delivered.

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