The Mouse of Man


A man with a gray mouse
in his mouth
smokes a cigar
white walls of smoke
with writing on them
that the mouse can read
but doesn’t.

The man was once told
“It’s me or that thing”
and he chose the hills
because they seemed to contain both
in their memory.

The man thinks of chromatic poker games
that clack and twist in thought
swirling about him like a cloud, in a way.

In a way he needs the mouse
but it doesn’t need him.
In a way, the mouse would have it that
there was no one but he and the man;
that is the way of becoming,
but not the way of man.

“When you find the way to be,”
the mouse often says
“come find me.”
Of course this is confusing—
like a smokey mirror.

The man sleeps standing up.
He hasn’t sat down in 15 years,
saying “It’s my karma.”
This makes the mouse lazy
and it tires of the thought of thought.

The mouse is a man of action
but can’t do much about the man
who manages only a little at a time
to forget his senses
and focus on what was meant by
“Beauty in nothingness.”
Thinking, he fills his sky-clad room with smoke
while the mouse watches, knowing something
of the way things might be.

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