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I was gifted another poem in the series FLEXIBLE MIND yesterday. That I am studying Zen now is a huge asset to this series of poems based on a Michael McClure poem from his series Touching The Edge: Dharma Devotions from the Hummingbird Sangha. I was listening to a dharma talk on the second chapter of the seminal Soto Zen text Denkoroku, about Ananda. He had a photographic memory of everything the Buddha preached, but that alone was not sufficient for his enlightenment. You can read the particulars here, but I was reminded of a story Sam Hamill told me about being invited to speak to graduate students in an MFA program. He asked for all of their manuscripts and then put them in the garbage and asked any of the students to “tell him a poem.” After much awkward silence, one student offered to read a poem if they could retrieve their manuscript from the garbage. “No, tell me a poem” Sam insisted. No one could. Sam wanted a poem from the heart; something so important to the student that they would commit it to memory and make it a deep part of their own consciousness. It’s a good practice. It is one of the best things that has come out of the poetry slam movement.

I have reformatted the poem to two columns and produced a video with yesterday’s reading of the poem. Your thoughts about this are welcome. These two poets, (Sam, Michael) more than any others, helped me on my way and I will repay their kindnesses for the rest of my life.