Poetry December 2006

Five Household Statues of Buddha

The bronze Buddha in our living room,
his eyes closed, his hands resting comfortably
against his inside thighs—
what does he mean to tell me about the river heron?

And the green sleeping Buddha
stretched out upon his side along our poetry bookcase,
serene as a watch fob in his stylized pose—
what is he saying about the price of all good things?

What is the black Buddha saying,
sitting on the mantelpiece
as if on a lotus? If you would not suffer,
you must not desire?

And the small Tara Buddha
who looks upon the road outside
from the windowsill perch she shares with both our cats—
is she so content I cannot learn from her?

Lastly, the happiness Buddha,
late of China, his round gold stomach glistening
under my fading light—
shall I not trust him to laugh my life into his?

Presented by

Dick Allen is the author of six collections of poetry, including The Day Before (2003) and Ode to the Cold War: Poems New and Collected (1997). He lives in Connecticut.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

Video

Is Minneapolis the Best City in America?

No other place mixes affordability, opportunity, and wealth so well.

More in Entertainment

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In