Apprenticing to the Steam

This poem, yet-to-be-published, inspired the track "Cicada" on Roy Mattson's wonderful album, Music of the Smoky Rainbow

If you apprentice yourself to the steam

surrounding Zen master Cicada,

I have to warn you:

Through the long reverberating waves

and short-pulsing bursts of his teaching

something will be installed within you.

A hot glowing coal of knowledge

that slowly burns out

everything superfluous

inside of you.

In the end, you’ll be empty


idle —

cicada song

human heartbeat


You can’t make plans anymore

look for an angle

pine after old loves

...or would-be ones.

Ego’s factory and distribution center

has a sign out front that reads:

Closed for Business.

You’ve become a ghost, prematurely,

in a world quickly on its own way to dying.

Now, there is only watching the years trot by

waiting for the body to catch up

with that

which Cicada Mind

is already most intimate.