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  • Writer's pictureKevin O'Keefe

Ten-Day Silent Retreat


All my brothers shuffle

as if, off to the gallows

or like they just got off a horse

after a hard three-day ride.

In the sky above, silver-black birds 

wrestle for dominance. They do not

realize that they are talon-locked as they fall

to their deaths.

Hold onto something strong or

lash yourself to that rock. The masks

of Mara of many and you have 

vowed to reveal them all.

The rings of an oak tree and my

fingerprints are similar.

Could we be related?


Stop pretending there is anything you’d rather be doing:

A  scratch on the floor, streaks on that window,

light filtered thru weeds, somebody’s heavy footfall,

that stain on the carpet - beauty everywhere you look.


Pain. What pain?

Pleasure. What pleasure?

Just observe being a 

mass of tiny shimmering

glimmering bubbles.

Tiny bubbles in the shattering

fluted glass of the universe.


Now they walk without aim

knowing all is lost.

All misery, pain or pleasure

All doors open

No hands on the wheel

No wheel, no hands.


They say just before an earthquake

or a great fire all the animals 

in the forest flee. 

That’s what it felt like this morning,

hard to tell if it rained last night 

or was just about to now.


behind the pagoda

on her side

lies an oak grandmother 


Her scabby trunk, 

a condo complex 

for red squirrels.

Her shattered base black 

and sickly, the root ball 

as high as my head

Mosses sprout,

slugs frolic,

mushrooms rejoice.

If not for her son

who braces her on 

the down side of this hill

she would surely yield 

to gravity and roll into 

the stream bed.


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