Sunday, June 28, 2020

Not Even Not Zen 209: Return of the Ambitious One

adapted from Wikimedia Commons
Return of the Ambitious One

It's a moment like a few others,
with an arm around an old girlfriend,
naked next to each other after an evening
of laughter, debate, and wine,
auburn hair against my cheek,
breasts against my sternum;
and in that moment, she shivers, sighs.

She doesn't believe in love -
so she's said many times - and though we
had sex the night before
she doesn't want it now, I can tell.

She crouches into me,
careful where she puts her legs,
determined to stay celibate for the night
but ashamed, a little guilt-ridden.
So she pretends to be more tired than she is.

It's a moment of reflection.
I feel the breath of her sigh on my throat,
think about how she hurt me before,
how terrible and wonderful she was,
how she 'wants to be friends.'
And I realize she will run away,
just like last time,
now that we've had sex.
The only difference is, this time she feels guilty
and she doesn't wear her makeup to bed
and, just maybe, she's not so afraid
to show me herself.
And I think, 'Well, it's silly, but
I guess I do love her.'

I can't help chuckling.
She has already told me tonight
she does not love me.

"Okay, what is it?" she says.

"Oh," and I pause to feel certain,
discover that there is not even a thought needed.
“I’m seeing dream images, I guess.
Maybe I’m tired.”

“Can we just rest?” she suggests.


Her body curves in tighter to mine.
But she is not really tired,
not either of us, really,
so I listen to her breathing for half an hour
before her rhythm relaxes
and she begins to sleep in my arms.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Not Even Not Zen 208: Note on a Napkin

Mailbox in Flowers, Kasharp, Wikimedia
Note on a Napkin

I said, "My love is like a
'68 station wagon, inefficient and invulnerable,
a plower of mailboxes, a pet-killer,
There’s poodle-fur in my tires
So come, drive with me."

You said, "Love is not funny.
And you drive too fast,"
as we cruised to your house,
as I opened the passenger door,
as we walked you to the gate.

I pleaded for you to travel, to take any risk.
“Put dents in everything!
Your car, my car, any person, any object!
Travel the reaches of the globe
and know that I will be there for you.”

You should have run off with my heart.
Oh, I would have tended your goldfish
as a sign of my love for you;
I would have worn your cat on my shoulder,
cherished lost strands of your hair,
never vacuumed your couch,
if only you had let me get broken-hearted.

You could have left your tire tracks all over my life
but you never took the wheel,
not for me, not for anybody,
not even yourself.

I turned the corner a little slower tonight
as I drove past your house.
There, I saw your Volvo in the driveway,
wondered if you ever leave the garage.
It was a late night, full of bleary-eyed
self-pity, and I raged at
the rust in my body, the oil like curdled milk,
all the missed chances of my life.
And now I must apologize.

Please understand, it was with love
and also with slight near-sightedness
that I ran over your mailbox.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Aesop's Progress - Almost a Collection

Woodcutter and the Trees, Arthur Rackham (Wikimedia Commons)

There's only one thing worse than writing about writing.  That's blogging about blogging.

The title of this series of essays about the blog comes from a book of stories that I never finished compiling.  It was a book intended for my parents.  Since I'd read the Aesop collection in our house at least a dozen times, maybe more than twenty, really, before I was ten years old, I think they would have understood the title.

Ultimately, I created several different collections and considered a variety of names for them.  With family and friends, I collected photographs to serve for the artwork.  The collection never made it as far as becoming a book, though.

Aesop's Progress


  • Aesop's Progress - Almost
  • Aesop's Progress - The Blog Begins
  • Aesop's Progress - It's Small
  • Aesop's Progress - It's Growing
  • Aesop's Progress - Rise of the Influencers
  • Aesop's Progress - The Mystery of the Ukraine
  • Aesop's Progress - The Israeli Influencer
  • Aesop's Progress - NotZen Continues

  • Sunday, June 7, 2020

    Not Even Not Zen 208.7: Aesop's Progress - NotZen Continues


    Part 7: NotZen Continues

    The NotZen site lives on. With no art, the lowest ad settings, and no connections to other blogs, it pretty much does everything wrong. I’m writing more slowly. Instead of producing a story every week or two, I’m coming out with less than one per month.

    I’m taking time to write other things. Even so, the NotZen story ideas sometimes seem urgent or at least important. As I write, I have four finished and waiting plus I've jotted notes on others. There are times like that. Usually nowadays, the need feels less dramatic with the kids out of the house and very few folks around who want to talk about secular Buddhism. I’m trying my hand at more humorous stuff on the theory that the world could use more smiles.

    In December 2015, the U.S. readership fell to fourth for the month. I thought the U.S. would continue to decline in readers but it has climbed back up to second, generally, behind either Israel or Hong Kong.

    Israel, Ukraine, Russia, France, and Hong Kong have all passed China for foreign readership. Germany, United Arab Emirates, and Turkey are not far behind. Then come various European countries. In 2016, the site got roughly two to four thousand readers per story. In 2017 and 2018, the count continued to rise. In 2019, it fell, but even so there are a steady stream of readers coming in to read old stories even when a new NotZen story has not been posted.