John Steele

Koan Zen master leans in close and shouts,Show me your face before your mother was born. I stare into the void. Shaking his bellhe sends me away. Off-balance, I rise, bow out. That night, I dream I’m walkingthrough some unknown city, lost. I climb on a bus, rummage through pockets,shrug my shoulders, expose my empty hands. Driver mumbles, Show me your face.I trace my brow, cheeks, jawbone, chin. He motions me in.

Sitting Mountain Kneeling with your sit bones on the groundbetween your heels to form your mountain base,extend your toes straight back, interlaceyour fingers, and stretch them up to form your crown. Press your mountain mass down through your shinsand stretch your arms to lift your summit throughthe clouds and mist into the oh-so-blue,where silence roars within the sound of wind. When skies are clear the mountain sees forever.Cloudy days do not disturb its mood.It sits content through any weather.It does not croon. It does not brood.The mountain sits in perfect solitude.And so you sit, one moment… forever.

John Whitney Steele is a psychologist, yoga teacher, assistant editor of Think: A Journal of Poetry, Fiction and Essays, and graduate of the MFA Poetry Program at Western Colorado University, where he studied with Julie Kane, David Rothman, and Ernest Hilbert. His chapbook, The Stones Keep Watch, is scheduled to be launched by Kelsay Books in the fall, 2021. A Pushcart Prize nominee, his poetry has appeared before in Buddhist Poetry Review and most recently in Ariel Chart, Asses of Parnassus, Blue Unicorn, Chained Muse, Eastern Structures, Lighten Up Online, The Lyric, Mountains Talking, Muse India, New Lyre, The Orchards, Road Not Taken, Sparks of Calliope, and Yoga Samachar. Born in Toronto and raised among the pines and silver birches of Foot’s Bay, Ontario, John lives in Boulder, Colorado where he often encounters his muse while hiking in the mountains. He can be found online at