The Screen

They…the ubiquitous ‘they’…say to 

wake and sleep and go through the

day with my mind like a white screen

that life can be clearly projected on.

Is that even possible?

On waking, dream images continue

to drift in and out—last night, it was

the satin dress I was required to wear

in my role of counselor/realtor to a 

woman with an aviary.  It was filled 

with what she insisted were doves,

though they were striped and dotted 

in every extravagant color.

Then come thoughts of breakfast.

    NO!  NO!

Say blessings first! Give thanks!

I give thanks for the thought of

a soft-boiled egg, a creamy yellow

center, a dab of butter and strong

black coffee.  But the dog comes

first.  He does his yoga stretches

and wags happily as I reattach

his green collar that jingles.  He

is one proud Chihuahua…a dog

of strong preferences and a sense

of protectiveness.  Later at the park, 

he growls, snaps at the Great Dane

who tries to befriend him.

And so it goes all day long:  breathe in 

and banish the movies of what to do 

after the park:  grocery shop, write the

holiday letter, pine to travel to 

the sea.  Notice long gray moss 

hanging in the live oaks.  Notice

the reflections in Shoal Creek 

and the presence of fall colors 

on the winter solstice. Breathe

in the golden light and note to 

self:  how lucky, how lovely to 

breathe deeply when so many 

around us struggle.  How lovely

to see the giant tree invite me to

climb, recline on her long

stretching limbs.  

And for a moment, that moment,

the screen is not a screen but 

only blue sky

with a blue heron 


flapping away into her



—Beverly Voss


If it’s true

(could it be?)

that we reveal to others

only a fraction of all

that goes on inside

our minds—

with untold millions of thoughts

flitting at random

in a blur of impression—

and untold millions more





if it’s true

just who are you


—Marilyn Duncan


Dim the lights,

take a breath,

strike a pose,

hold the blink,

project serenity, 

exude equanimity,

breathe in silence,

breathe out insolence,

toss the vanity,

check the mirror,


—Marilyn Duncan

A Death by Covid

  Everday life is like a movie …

Have a pure, white screen.  — Sunryu Suzuki

The mind is white and silent.

Then we fill it with our baby lungs, our searching eyes. 

We scream or coo to bring us what we need.

From the start we add, I want, I need. 

Joy. Despair.

The e mail informed me of his death.

I read it to my friends as we sat with lowered tea cups. 

When I opened my computer, there it had sat: 

unexpected, final. No more chances.

They knew him too, had worried 

what might happen at his release, coming soon.

We couldn’t believe it. Dead. 

Two days before his sentence ended.

The statement to the news gave no name. 

It could have been any prisoner, any cause.

Any of us, any day, any cause. 

One site linked to a photo: 

long, graying beard, erratic and sparse

on a face that had always been smooth,

eyes dim and blinking.

I wondered how far he had sunk into himself.

He did not seem to see out of those eyes.

And was it him?

The boy who wandered alone past midnight on dirty streets, 

whose breath choked as he scratched and flailed

against classmates piled heavy on top of him, 

the man who raged against the fate that trapped him,

who feared his failure, who drew a woman close

and loved—or tried to love—

was that man there, that boy?

The reds and blacks of his mind could fade to white.

I saw it in his photographs: a flame of ice

melting on basalt, a girl—his sister in a tweed coat—

spinning between track lanes that led to different futures.

He had it in him to be still, to let the screen pale to white,

to see that clearly.

Years ago and in a different country. I cannot know

the mind inside the man.

Nor do I know if it whitened at his death.

Did he go into silence then?

And can he take a breath now?

Some time, some place, can he begin again?

—Sarah Webb


I said the other day that I don’t like curriculums. I seem to be going through a period of not liking things. I suppose I could figure out what I really don’t like, so that the other stuff wouldn’t have to suffer. But that isn’t in the cards for today. Suzuki Roshi talked about turning on a pure plain white screen. In meeting others, whether it be an individual or a group, that seems to make so much sense. Another Zen teacher quoted or misquoted Buddha saying “Gaze upon your thoughts with kindness and remain still.” As we gaze either upon ourselves or others, with stillness and presence it is hard to be anything but kind. The next nugget from the Zen teacher was this phrase, “without manipulation or judgement.”

So you walk into the classroom. If you were a boy scout or a sailor, you’d wet your finger and see which way the wind was blowing. That’s starting with a pure, plain white screen. You certainly can have a topic but curriculum seems to bind you to a particular approach to the topic. Suppose you approach the other as a pure white screen. At first you notice how they walk into the room, and then you notice how they are when they sit down. Are they ready for wonder and curiosity, or are they preoccupied with what happened last and how are we might be perceiving their constructed colorful screen?

When we sit in meditation we can construct the same pure white screen. We might have pictures on the wall, but we can pull down the screen and start there. When you clear your mind, what appears? What have you been obsessing about that is on your screen. You walk into the zendo? You bow to the zafu and then you bow to the room. Finally you are sitting and physically still. But where are you? Did you remember to even open the door? Did you get out of your car? What is on your screen?

You don’t have to worry about being bored. The whiter and purer the screen the more it will reflect the space around you. You’ll see everything in the room, including yourself. You’ll see your mother who hit you. You’ll see your father who deceived you. You’ll find your childhood pet who licked you on the face. The challenge is simply to watch the movie rather than to be in the movie. Typically you have nothing to add to the old stories. But you do have the opportunity to watch these thoughts as you might watch birds playing in a spring puddle, without “manipulation or judgement.”

Kim Mosley