“Identity” or, What Bodhidharma Said

there is this thing looking out here
I don’t know what it is
there are identities all over the place
that people love and keep
“i am an engineer” they say
or “i am the mother of twins”
long ago my father would joke
about someone’s son going out to find himself
“when they return” my father asked “do they ever say
i have come back because i have found myself”?

in my sock puppet world, all wear masks:
the fat redhead in her tight jeans
the indian with hands laced behind his back
and his tummy thrust out–
the dharma master said
“would you give me hallowe’en candy?”
“not without a costume” i said
“well, what is this?”
“a uniform!” i said
the worst is the blank faced jabberer
with the rough complexion
trying to talk her way into popularity–
doesn’t she know to just not give a shit?
that’s the key
i let my friends choose me
they are all pretty!
the others do as they please
“i am a divorced father”
“i am an ex-alcoholic”
“i am a buddhist”

where is the satisfaction in it…
the ‘identity thing’?
using the knife of a word they exclude
as they include themselves
“i am” is so easy until amongst the others
and within oneself there arises the thought
if this, then not that and that and that..
better to have tasks, tone of voice, stature, clothing
the incurious masses need no more than that
spirituality is a luxury for those
too proud for TV

here is this thing looking out there
i don’t know what it is
i am painted in colors
this era is littered with the corpses of image
everything is photographed and recorded
and shared and saved and forgotten
these are echos of echos
and mirrors facing one another
it makes me sleepy to think of it…
where i stand
here is this thing looking out there
here is this thing looking out
here is this thing looking
here is this thing
here is this
here is
what?
where?

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