Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Nearing Summer Solstice

Here's another favorite "seasonal" poem I like to post every year.

Nearing Summer Solstice

At Tires for Less on Route 9
I wait to exchange snow studs
for all season tires past the April deadline--
A young skinhead,
with spider web on his naked
elbow strips the lugs
which hit the floor as he moves on haunches,
feral menace with a drill bit.
I pace the pavement,
looking down at the Connecticut River.
At the edge of blacktop next to a field of low
lying wildflowers and scrub brush,
broken glass and butts indicate I'm not the first.
Two monarchs catch my attention, then flecks
of orange move among purple cones,
a different butterfly, with fur edges.
This day is long with light and I have time
to wonder how they know to convene
by the hundreds in this dump
oblivious to trucks and cars speeding past,
their movements counterpoint
to my own noisy impatience, calmed a moment,
until spider boy calls me over.

Reprinted from Connotation, November 2009

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Poem I Found Among my Papers---Is it Mine or Someone Else's?

Going through 40 years of papers I found this poem draft in my handwriting  without a date or author.....Some of the syntax seems like mine, in other places not so. Generally, I do not copy out poems by others. On occasion I've found poem fragments without recollection of writing them down which seem strangely unfamiliar while familiar too. If the following work is NOT by me, my apology. In this instance not so interested in the weak craft with excessive use of passive verb tenses and adverbs but more in the content. So here it is:


I've not been troubled much
by self-definition, 
leaving such works---
when all was said and done---
to others less inclined
to live, it seems to me, 
but called mysteriously,
to the judgement seat.
Spread your nets fastidiously,
catch a fish or two, 
but where's the sea?
Life's a tangle, isn't it
of pointed fingers?
Just where they point
escapes me!
Live in the web,
if you insist, I'll take
the spaces in between.
Quarrel how the  fountain's 
to be shaped,
I'm one with the water
or I'm nothing, I'll agree,
but shapely, nonetheless
Zero has its elegance
and so do lips
but what's said once
is never said again
I live in the once 
I die in the twice again.

So here's my first revision  dated Memorial Day, May 28, 2017 on a rainy afternoon. Will let it sit awhile. 

I'm not troubled much
by self-definition, 
leaving such work---
to others less inclined
to live in mystery.
Spread your nets fastidiously,
catch a fish or two, 
but where's the sea?
Life's a tangle, isn't it
of pointed fingers?
Just where they point
escapes me!
Live in the web,
if you insist, I'll take
the spaces in between.
Quarrel how the fountain's 
shaped, I'm one with the water
or I'm nothing,
Zero has its elegance
and so do lips
but what's said once
is never said again
I live in the once 

I die in the twice again.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

I Have Eaten

Fresh baked bread to die for, better than sex, when hungry
Grandma’s Icebox chocolate pudding in green dishes
Holiday House ice cream sodas and Shirley Temples in Malibu
My mother’s zucchini casserole and lentil salads when the cupboards were bare
My father’s left-over lamb roast cooked in white beans
I have eaten cherry pie at Knox Berry Farm
Babushka’s Pirozhki cross country on AM Track in 1965
I ate the crisp wafers of the body of Christ numerous times

Verandah’s crepes
Richard Wizansky’s ginger meatballs
Catherine Mariott’s Noodles High
Joan Marr's pickled cauliflower
Ellen Snyder's grape leaves
Mimi's Bueberry Bomb
Peter Gould's Key Lime pie
Usual fare at Packers Corner Farm

Remember well those cannolis from the North End
Miss Hornbeak's candied orange and grapefruit peals
Susan Nagelson's french bread while at Smith

Hungarian Goulash with R.D. Laing on 15th Street when he arrived two weeks early
Drank vanilla shakes in Boulder with Harry Smith whose teeth were rotten
Poached salmon I made for William Burroughs and Company on his birthday
That strange dinner party of celestial disrupt when Philip Whalen upset 
    the poet's table at Anne Waldman's when his chair tipped over setting in slow 
       motion the bottle of wine whose content landed in the crotch 
          of esteemed Japanese scholar.........

Borscht at Christine’s with Allen Ginsberg on First Avenue
    and late breakfast in his kitchen when I delivered mail
Homemade ravioli from Houston Street with John Waldman 
Noodle soup with Gina on first Avenue after work
Yanny's stir fried greens, Eliot's vegan fare in Chinatown

These are memorable 
and on and on

Dim Sum with Chogyam Trungpa in his living  room  with Christian contemplatives 
Made Momos with the Sakyong, now Mipham Rinpoche, at '86 seminary
Wheat grass walking with Gelek Rinpoche in Manhattan
Martha's Rice and Beans with the Vajra Regent
More Greens & meat with Trogawa Rinpoche and Khenpo Brothers 
     in John Giorno's Bunker
I've eaten killer Big Macs with Tsultrim Allione
     on road trip with dakinis 
Sushi with Chogyal Namkhai Norbu and home cooked meals
   in Portland and Cambridge 

A decade of residency meals with NEC poets and disgruntled faculty
I'm more than happy to forget

Now I eat through heaps of garbage
Psychic dross
Most friends dead 

Do Chod-- cook for others
I'm fulfilled
Now I eat air, drink light 
My head bald with Chemo
Preparing for what’s next

Jacqueline Gens
Shelburne Falls, MA

An old draft revised on May 12, 2017 
one sleepless night at 1:30 AM 
and still tinkering

Revised again May 28, 2017, June 18, 2017

Thursday, February 23, 2017

My Annual Losar Poem : Year of the Fire Rooster/Bird

Original art by Ingmar Pema Dechen, 2017

Year of the Fire Rooster/Bird

Ever awake among the slumbering
Lively harbinger of whatever awaits
Each day no task too daunting
For just as the sun rises
You’re always ready for any occasion
Reliable, precise, and to the point
No poison too toxic nor lethal
For that bright display which cheers us on
O great Fire Bird who arises from ashes
To transport us beyond our limits
In shining iridescence to meet our purpose
We welcome your daily summons
Into the fray at day’s break

Jacqueline Gens
Tsegyalgar East
Dakini Day, 2.21.17

Please credit Jacqueline and Ingmar if you you forward their image and poem. They are currently collaborating on rendering all sixty animal/element combinations into illustrated/poems. To read more about this project called "The Mansion of Elements" visit here.  There you will also find poems from 2007 to the present. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Remembering Gelek Rimpoche (1939-2017)

A tender moment with Philip Glass, Gelek Rimpoche and Allen, 1989

Today,  I learned of Gelek Rimpoche's passing, a sad event for his many students and people whose lives he touched. Born in 1939, Gelek Rimpoche was one of the last of his generation to be educated traditionally--a rigorous training from early childhood. He proved an effective Teacher to Americans having many prominent students such as Allen Ginsberg, Philip Glass, Richard Gere, and others. 

One day in 1989 when I had begun to work in the office of Allen Ginsberg, I remember well the first time I met Rimpoche and heard his unique voice (he favored the Rimpoche spelling as opposed to the more common Rinpoche) via a phone call he made asking to speak with Allen who was not in his office. He wanted to ask If Allen could be on his board of Jewel Heart or something official like that. I remember listing to him Allen's other dharma obligations. In any case,  he was quite engaging with very good English. Later I traveled a number of times with Allen to Ann Arbor, MI where Rimpoche at that time  gave weekly teachings in a small Gonpa above his garage. He was a marvelous master of Tsongkhapa's lineage and the lam rim  teachings.    Although,  I felt more drawn to the Dzogchen teaching, at the time, I really respected his methods and to this day employ his analytical meditation technique--which is extremely important as a base for one's understanding of the so called "nature of mind."

Gelek Rimpoche and Allen had a lot of fun. Often when Gelek Rimpoche stayed with Allen in his rather humble six floor walk-up apartment on East 12th Street, I would see them together while delivering Allen's mail. Gelek Rimpoche was especially fond of telling many ribald tales about the sexual practices of monks in Tibet which  Allen found amusing. They also shared a keen love of the daily news--Allen, the NYTimes and Gelek Rimpoche, CNN. 
I remember during the first Iraq war we were all watching George Bush Senior on CNN and Gelek Rimpoche saying that he (George Bush senior) had no idea of the karmic implications of his policies for America. 

My sincere regards to all of Gelek Rimpoche's many fine students who are among the most kind and generous dharma practitioners in America. The apple, as they say, does not fall far from the tree. To learn more about Gelek Rimpoche's teachings and Jewel Heart visit:

Jacqueline Gens and Gelek Rimpoche at Allen's kitchen table--
photo by Allen Ginsberg circa early 1990.s

Jacqueline Gens
February 15, 2017

*Photo taken with Allen Ginsberg's camera in Ann Arbor, MI 1989 by Gloria Boyajian

On Lion's Roar  you can read a series of articles by Gelek Rimpoche