A Zen Erasure – by Bobby Parrott

Twenty silver coins warmed
in a leather pouch, the quiet
swirl of gasoline in a plastic bottle.
Both inside the monk’s robe,
cool against his skin. Today is.
Huang has rehearsed this scene,

moves to the top of the marble
steps, smiles at lunchtime business
suits crisscrossing the open courtyard.
The seven orange-robed disciples, heads
shaven, settle. A bevy of birds. Huang
pours the coins out into his open hand

while skyscrapers high above admire
the reckless abstraction of airplanes.
Huang tries to empty his mind, though
somehow his mother’s face happens.
Every day I die, he chants, and her face
dissolves in a hazy smile. Coins clatter,

trickling through his upstretched fingers
to sparkle down the white steps. Before
turned heads can focus, he’s uncapped
the plastic bottle, pouring the icy liquid.
Every day, I die, he shivers in a gurgle
as his best friend Govinda scratches

the head of the match on the dry marble
step. Huang has inhaled the gasoline’s
vapor. The sudden wave of heat dreams
him up into a pungent vertigo. Govinda
turns away. Earth spills open. Skyscrapers
fly down from their perches. Huang’s

lotus pose uncoils as the incandescent roar
engulfs him, and somewhere a scream
rises. The monk’s body darkens like a time-
lapse video, an orange blossom wilting
into black. Sooty smoke and rolling flames
erase sunlight, draw him away into memory.

 

Bobby Parrott‘s poems appear or are forthcoming in RHINO, Tilted House, Whale Road Review, The Hopper, Phantom Kangaroo, and elsewhere. In his own words, “The intentions of trees are a form of loneliness we climb like a ladder.” Immersed in a forest-spun jacket of toy dirigibles, not sure if his poems are writing him or vice-versa, this queer writer dreams himself out of formlessness in the chartreuse meditation capsule known as Fort Collins, Colorado where he lives with his partner Lucien, their top house plant Zebrina, and his flippant hyper-quantum robotic assistant Nordstrom.