Last Day

Each morning, a Buddhist monk
asks an imaginary bird sitting on his shoulder,

“Is today the day I will die?”

The bird doesn’t answer, its perching reminding
the monk to decide how he wants to live
his last day.

If today is the day I will die,

I want to write a poem,
send a silent blessing to two people quarreling on a street,
address by name a cashier at a grocery store,
express compassion to a despondent brother,
seek forgiveness from those I have grieved.

If I awake tomorrow, I’ll ask the bird again.

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After closing his practice of 35 years in 2011 as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and with the publication of his first collection of poems, “A Heart on Fire, Poems from the Flames,” in 2014, David C. Weiss has been devoted to writing poetry and leading workshops for new poets. He is on the faculty of OLLI College at the University of Southern Maine and a visiting instructor of poetry at Sera Jhy Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in South India. David plays the “shakuhachi,” a Japanese end-blown bamboo flute used by monks of the “Fuke” school of Zen Buddhism in the practice of “suizen” (blowing meditation). He earned his Master of Theology and Ph.D. in Pastoral Psychology degrees from Boston University. You can follow David on his website.

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