From the innermost shores

Deep introspection
brought me long ago
to these poorly known
deep innermost shores.

Keen on the harvest of the spirit
but weary of ritual and dogma,
I was neither leader nor follower
and so these lands alone I entered.

In becoming faithful to myself,
self-reliant and authentic,
I stayed close to the essential and simple
and away from extremes and excess.

Along rough paths I progressed,
felt terror alongside crags,
suffered thirst on dry hot plains
and in pestilent mires delayed.

I settled at last in a simple hut,
plucked weeds and cleaned around,
planting with great care some good seeds
brought from the ancient West and East.

Under a gentle Sun steadily I worked,
in earnest this inner garden tended,
taking at last of myself possession
and becoming one with Nature.

In arriving back to these shores,
I finally feel a calm strength,
hard-won and deeply felt,
crucial to set course and sail,

out in the unknown again.

Marcus Antoninus

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Crossing the threshold of meaning

days and nights
self and community
hermitage and service
voices, smiles and frowns
silence and solitude
ten thousand early mornings
ten thousand late afternoons
a million thoughts
this winding path
wherever it leads
the mere fact of remembrance
the austere peace of understanding
what we learned
what we left
what we meant
not passing clouds
but gentle suns
shining upon each other

Marcus Antoninus

Leaving the ivory tower

I was young and naive
and among kindred souls
in a harbor for curiosity,
in a comradeship in inquiry
hoped to be.

I worked hard and somehow shone,
but I refused to please and bow.
Loads of darkness and philistinism,
pettiness and nepotism,
I came to see.

My heart-mind understood
that something wasn’t right,
I had grown a stranger,
and no longer felt part.
And so I left.

I did not slam the door,
as Nietzsche did.
but just as T’ao Yuan-Ming,
calm and resolute,
walked out of that inn.

I now stand alone out in the unknown,
and the wisdom of ancient sages implore:
admired spirits! help me inside grow
a garden of serenity, understanding and joy
upon which the Sun will always gently glow.

Marcus Antoninus
(on recently leaving my last academic post)

Ode to a lost time

Long ago, in far away lands,
I grew up admiring the stars,
dreaming of distant mountains
and smelling the fresh grass.
In the crisp winter sky,
Centaurus shone proud and high,
and in lazy warm summer days
benteveos sang to the Sun.

One day I left for the north,
who knows looking for what,
now the childhood world already lost,
my old birds and stars will not come back.
I sit prisoner of space time,
with these memories warming my heart,
under a new gentle Sun
in these new here and now.

Marcus Antoninus

Reminder to myself

Keep calm and composed,
and faithful to yourself.
With your ruling center clear,
a cool mind no matter the noise,
persevering along your path to sagehood.

These are self-strengthening measures.
Practice until they become a part of your nature.
In all circumstances.
And the benefits will spill over
you and the world around you.

Marcus Antoninus

A rough path

waiting for nourishment
patient and alert
today I found myself wading turbulent waters
keeping fears at bay
expecting the unexpected
I embrace change and persevere.
learning to accept
learning to learn
I strive to turn difficulty into opportunity
a rough path bringing growth and joy
while the Sun still shines upon my inner garden.

Marcus Antoninus