Satori In Oakland

Jay Dancing Bear

written summer 09
while housesitting in SF and Oakland
Satori in Oakland
What went wrong
100 pounds of shit
I am a poet
What Happens to Old Poets

Snapshot of a life
New Year’s Morning 2010
Love a bug today
Dream Detour

Satori in Oakland

Hey, Kerouac had to go to Paris
I get to do it right here in Oaktown
Land of the free, home of the brave

and hey, is this real satori, or
am i just bullshitting myself
maybe trying to bullshit you
pumping myself up with my own self importance
the way poets do
when they’re wearing plaid sweatpants and a grey T shirt

and hey, does it matter about
my satori
when what matters is
your satori

What went wrong?

What went wrong?

Was it a word, a look, a hurt feeling
a small wound that festered, growing
more toxic with the passage of the years
perhaps a succession of such small wounds

Was it a great gaping wound
some large injury
done to him at some time in his life, who knows when
a wound which no one knew about, and so
when the worst happened
everyone was shocked

was it what was done to him
the largeness or smallness of it, or

was it the bitterness with which
he regarded it, obsessed over it
almost cherished it with his thoughts and attention
turning it over and over in his mind
like some dark poisonous spider

could it have been prevented, stopped
ameliorated by some intervention, whose intervention?
Did he ask for help, cry for help, turn away help, say
no, nothing’s wrong with me, I’m OK
leave me alone

Who knew, and who should have known
could have known
did know?

The end result, shock waves
rippling through
family, friends, acquaintances

even people to whom he was just an article in the paper
a story they heard
one more human tragedy
one more confirmation to them of what they already knew
or thought they knew
an excuse to vent fears, anger, frustration
because if it could happen to him
maybe it could happen to them
or someone close to them
so if they can make some sense of it
even to say “he deserved what he got”
maybe they can feel a tad bit safer
in a world where it seems like
anything can happen
at any time

So what went wrong?
How to make some sense of it?
I don’t know

100 Pounds of shit

I woke up this morning with a hundred pounds of shit
in me

all the breads, meats, cheeses, pastries, pizza, chinese food, burritos,
breakfasts, lunches, dinners,
healthy and unhealthy food
I stuffed it in my mouth
shoved it down my throat, now
all shit
it’s all shit now
the toilet was full
I was lucky to get it all out of me, rather than carrying around
all that shit
full of shit, full of shit

what about all the psychic shit
the residual detritus of all the
unskillful thoughts
fear, guilt, anger, shame, depression, repression, and all the rest of
that shit
most of it amounting to one simple word
me me me me me me me

all that psychic shit
how do i shit that out?
Can i just go to a big psychic outhouse and

maybe there’d be nothing left of me
maybe i’d only weigh 6 ounces

and what about other people?
I don’t want to sound judgemental, but
so many of them seem to be
pretty full of shit too, and, to me, it looks like
most of them don’t seem to know it
most of them look quite content to be
full of shit

all the restaurants, bars, TV shows, movies, books, newspapers, websites
all of it
are they just places to load ourselves up with
sounds pretty cynical to me, but there’s some truth to it
Maybe that’s what’s we’re here on earth to do
eat and shit
but i don’t think so

So this will be one more poem with no clear ending
no moral of the story
one more poem that
starts with a roar
ends with a whimper

the mantra
shit, shit, full of shit
what are we going to do about it
shit, shit, full of shit
what are we going to do about it

I am a Poet

I am a poet
that explains why i’m drunk
why i can’t pay my rent
why i treat my women like shit
why i piss and moan constantly

It’s just a fucking excuse for
not being honest with myself
what an asshole i am
doing something about it

What Happens to Old Poets

Do they bake in the sun like old red bricks
do they get so drunk, so often, that they
get so lost that they can’t be found
do they get bitter about their
lack of recognition, money, women
do they wish that they had been born to be
auto mechanics, bus drivers, carpenters
anything simple that pays cash
without the restless urge that led them to spend their lives as
the scribes of the mystery goddess

No, I think that most of them are proud
some perhaps too proud for their own good, and maybe even
grateful for the privilege

Snapshot of a LIFE
(containing two quotes from Ram Dass)

Waking up, lying in bed
sensation in my toe
sound of the cars
thoughts in my mind
get up
do this, do that
he did this! she did that!

I could
sit at my computer
watch my TV
listen to my radio
read the newspaper
write this “poem”
a thousand things to do
a thousand distractions

hot cup of tea, can i give myself to it
or just partially

hot buttered roll, can i enjoy it
or just a little bit
because my attention is going to the thoughts in my head
and i can’t feel or taste anything fully
when my attention is going to the thoughts in my head
i think, therefore i am
not fully alive

the new student asked the old zen teacher for some guidance
“have you eaten”
“wash your dishes”

the world is so complicated
are we enjoying our lives, more or less
than when all we had to do was to find berries to eat?

we try to live as long as possible
at the same time we spend most of our lives
zoned out
checked out
not present

Hell, i want to live as long as possible
I want to LIVE as much as possible
so easy to get sucked in to unconsciousness
the price of liberty, constant vigilance

Is it possible to stay present, and have thoughts
and sit at the computer, watch the TV, listen to the radio, read the newspaper
Nobody ever taught me how to do that in school
Nobody mentioned it
Nobody said
“a day can feel like a week, if you stay awake, or
a week can feel like an hour, if you sleep through most of it”
Nobody said
“the satisfaction which you are looking for,
that you work so hard, selling the hours of your life to make money for,
that you chase endlessly in all the distractions of the world,
is in the HOW you eat, drink, fuck, watch TV
the doing itself is useless, unsatisfying
if your attention is not there”
to quote Ram Dass
“you must be present to win”

When i get drunk, i feel really there
until i notice that my body feels numb
drink lies to me
is everything else lying to me too?
the video game?
the winning hand in poker?
the adrenaline rush?
they’re all wonderful, when i’m
checked in, not
checked out

So, an early morning diatribe
a protest against my own tendencies
a wish, a hope, a realization
a cup of tea
a flower
a foggy day
eternity and nothingness
the inner and the outer

is consciousness just our thoughts and sensations?
are we just our bodies and minds?
are we in our bodies and minds?
do we have our bodies and minds?
we came here, to do, what, to be, what?

was it all,
(second Ram Dass quote)
(drum roll please)


New Year’s Morning, 2010

I woke up and wrote and wrote all the poems below (and a couple of songs)
New Year’s Morning, 2010
the body has it’s own rhythms
it likes to wake up slow
pause during the day
take naps
stretch, yawn
move, run, jump
dancethe mind, especially the ego
is a tyrant
ordering the body around mercilessly
forcing it to work, work, work
and almost never play

Even when the ego thinks it’s having fun
I’m drinking, I’m smoking, I’m talking
I might get lucky with this woman
All too often the body is saying
Please don’t smoke, please don’t drink
I need to rest, we woke up at 6AM
Worked all day
Get lucky at 4 PM, not 2 AM

and worse, the ego says
I have a goal
i want to make a million dollars, and
that means we work
6 days a week
12 hours a day
Eat fast food, in a hurry
We can relax and move later
so the ego says

The body says
you’re not listening, i have to get your attention, and so
a little illness, and then a bigger one, and a bigger one

the ego refuses to listen
Takes a pill, gets a surgery
ignores the body
doesn’t even feel the body most of the time

who has felt the sensations in their toe
foot, arm
right side, left side
except when the attention is forcibly drawn by

and so
the brutal master
whips the overworked slave
without nourishing and nurturing
without realizing that
slave and master is a perversion of the true relationship
which is that of equal partners

without realizing that bliss is to be found
in the exquisite sensation of moving one’s arm
6 inches, 3 inches, one inch, one micron
if one will only allow oneself to feel fully and
value the sensations

there is more bliss in that than in all the toys the world offers

some people say:
“he who dies with the most toys wins”
I say:
he who dies with millions of toys
and millions of dollars
wealth, fame, success
yet has never truly been embodied
never felt the bliss of the air
in and out of the nostrils
never felt the bliss of
toe, foot, arm, side, all
is impoverished beyond belief
the poorest of the poor
a disembodied spirit
a hungry ghost
who can never fill his belly
by eating a mirage

Nothing wrong with wealth, fame, success, toys
but they are only means to an end
embodiment, love, relationships, service
communication, health
peace and joy, and maybe even
what the mystics speak of
tat tvam asi, thou art that
that is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

and so, dear reader
Perhaps we can only change the world
to the extent that we change ourselves
That’s a very good place to start


anchankamini-women and gold
Maharaji told Ram Dass
beware of women and gold
After many past lives as a monk
and still others as a drunken artist
I have this to say:

I am open, receptive and grateful to spirit
for all the good things of the earth
all of the earthly pleasures
the soft skin, the ripe fruit
the fragrant perfumes
the wines
the music

the fine crafts
and on and on and on

I pray that i may never forget that
It is all transitory
as the Buddha Shakyamuni noticed
sickness, old age and death
come to everyone
all the yoga, organic food and good luck
in the world
will not change that
sooner or later, all things pass

Having said that
i am done with rejecting the world
I renounce my vows of poverty and chastity
although i still enjoy simplicity
and meditation, chi gung

, yoga, study, organic food
have become my greatest pleasures
far more satisfying than
getting so drunk I puked
and woke up with a hangover
ever was
Far more satisfying than spending time and money on
electronic toys that gave me no love
which was what i needed all along
far more satisfying than fucking emotionally damaged women
ever was
and of course i was, and perhaps still am, emotionally damaged myself

Having said that

women and gold
in a healthy way
healthy relations
money for the purpose of helping others
as well as for my own pleasure

Bring it on!

The last few nights i have been awake
late enough to hear the midnight train calling me

Taking my traveler’s side pouch off the wall
I knock the dust off and
Put it on

Love a bug today

A bee flew in my window this morning
He looked around
to see if there were any flowers around for him to pollinate, said
I am here to work, to serve
to keep the whole system going

How generous these little creatures are
The bees, the worms, all of them
close to the bottom of the food chain, the eco-system
doing the grunt work, taking care of all the little tasks
that need to be done
that we need to be done

Thank you, thank you, thank you
let’s all love a bug today

Dream Detour

From the outside
it looks like i have forgotten my dreams
the dreams i’ve had for 30 years, or more
That is %1000 WRONG

I have never forgotten my dreams
I have done much preparation and purification
just as one properly tempers a clay pot
before filling it with boiling oil
aromatic, expensive, perfumed oil

So many people with dreams similar to mine
have lived fast and died young
They were not seasoned enough to handle the fires of life
I have lived slow
I am aging well
I am more skilled at my trade than ever before
I have more to say

I have been on a long, long detour, and
sooner or later
I WILL arrive


and as you know, poets can always use money. I am putting all my poems and other work up here for free so that everyone can benefit, i have no qualms about soliciting donations to keep that work going.
Below is a paypal button which you can use to send me money to pay rent and buy food, guitar strings and equipment, cell phone time and maybe a few luxuries.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

2 thoughts on “Satori In Oakland

  1. curious if you are from Oakland? I was born there and lived there until my late 30s or so – you just look so familiar.


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