Inspired by: A Demented Holy Man
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Ode to a Buddhist
Ode to a Buddhist
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Inside the entrails of an underground
mini-mall, in the heart of Queens,
is the noodle-house

where I eat lunch.
It's so often crowded here,
oriental strangers sit side-by-side

pretending to be even-stranger cousins
stuck at the cusp 
of making talk, stumbling.

I sit next to a bearded man, very old,
who reminds me of my religious studies
professor from college, the one

who taught us nothing in particular
other than perhaps the ecstasy
of feeling one's foot 

or a strange indifference to the suffering
of beggars in the sky. Because,
you cannot reach them, he said,

you cannot reach them. 
No. We could not reach him:
His students - we'd huddle

over lunch and conjecture about the color 
of his car, whether he owned a cat
or dog, whether it was a Buddhist cat,

much the same way frat boys 
plotted lasciviously about dark, 
gushing sex and the unmentionable.

Instead, this man I'm sitting next to
is old and street-worn, gray, his mind
lost in the neighborhood where it is dusk,

muttering a grocery list to himself.
And to have thought. My professor
was so ordinary a sufferer:

he slurps his noodles clumsily, 
working up this insipid lyric.
Nobody gives a shit.
The identity of the professor is either obvious or a great mystery.

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