Shin Yu Pai

Mind Lake
one hour into the 10-mile trek aroundWhite Rock Lake, Lama Dorje turnsto his slowest disciple and says,Don’t feel bad to go at your own speed.
The teacher picks up his pace, a redspeck retreating into the distancehemmed in by his closest associates –a gaggle of golden-haired female patrons –
I steel myself to rise to the challengewhen you suggest we slow downkeep pace alongside guru’s pupilwith the foot injury;
we are none of us social – silent in our thoughts of circumambulation,hiking past Winfrey Point,Flagpole Hill, the Bath House,
to each his own relationshipto the sacred – the body of waterclosest to Mount Meru in Tibet –Manasa Sarovar, Mind Lake
this inland sea where buffalo oncedrifted encircled now by million-dollar estates winking at dusk uponcompletion of our death march,
everyone’s gone home, we breakaway to separate vehicles,finding no trace of the teacherwe must master letting go

the night monksfrom Drepung Loselingperform the closing
prayer to removeexternal obstacles,a lecture takes place
on the other side of campus:Tristan Taormino, feministpornographer draws a record
crowd of students in a talkon polyamory, swinging& sex-positive cultureLama Gala is morehumorous then sexywhen he forgets the word
for “genitals” while describingthe root chakra “down there”though it’s the throat center
from which tonal chantingemanates, forming the colorof each seed syllable
through the control and innertone of the voice box -
I muse uponthe poetry-writing ENTwho fed a scope
down her throat to tape a videoof herself reading Wallace Stevens’“Man with the Blue Guitar” –
round picture,the cropped tondo“of things exactly as they are”
projected raw fleshbeating open & closedhow there was something
pretty gross aboutthe whole act –wondering
how the tenormight have changed ifthe recitative text
had been the corpus of the Heart Sutra

Shin Yu Pai is the author of Adamantine (White Pine, 2010), Sightings (1913 Press), and Equivalence (La Alameda), as well as a number of smaller letterpressed books arts project produced in limited editions. Her work is anthologized in The Wisdom Anthology of North American Buddhist Poetry and America Zen: A Gathering of Poets and has appeared in Tricycle and Zen Monster. She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and studied also at Naropa University. For more information, visit