Empty Bowl

Daniel David

Did the young prince sleep,
I have often wondered,
did his stomach rumble?
Did Siddhartha eat under
the boughs of the Bodhi tree?
Forty-nine days, then nirvana!

Now the Buddha,
he picked up his empty bowl
and sought his supper on the street.
Buddha beggar – blessed panhandler.
Buddha became that man
on the subway proffering a paper cup.

A vast portion of Buddha’s day,
busy between bouts of awakening,
was spent seeking his buffet.
I can’t help but recall The Little Red Hen:
if we all cup empty bowls
of nirvana, every farmer’s ideal,

who tills the soil, sows the seed,
who threshes the sheaves, mills the flour,
who kneads and bakes the dough?
Who lays the bread in Buddha’s empty bowl?
And, by the way, who wove
Buddha’s brilliant, saffron robe?

At least Jesus dished loaves
and fishes, turned water into wine,
bellies content after the sermon.
(Did they hear any of it when hungry?)
Did the Buddha ladle a little
dose of enlightenment for his repast?

Daniel David is a writer, artist and professor living along the southern shore of Lake Erie in North America. His poems have appeared widely in a number of venues across the United States, in Canada, and the United Kingdom. His publications also include articles in the Journal of Creative Behavior; chapbooks Close to Home and Two Buddha; and his novel, Flying Over Erie.

"I acknowledge a kind of readiness for poems more so than the existence of a muse or the idea of inspiration. This readiness requires listening intently to my surroundings; a humility of purpose and acceptance; and a quiet, though often exasperating, patience. I do not seek a poem out but rather encourage the images to arrive at my threshold. I allow the words to form, to emerge naturally and organically, in a place somewhere between a vibrant reality and the recesses of my unconscious. I relish the elusive aspect of this emergence. Often the greatest challenge and the greatest reward is to find aesthetic significance in seemingly mundane, day-to-day occurrences. Each poem evolves in its own unique manner. There is no delineated, predictable order or destination; there are few preconceptions. The initial inception is expanded, combined with newly discovered associations, and gradually finds a voice of intent."