Peter Dale Scott | CHAINSAW DHAMMA



After the pre-dawn hour of chanting
and meditation in the dhamma hall
on Setting in Motion the Wheel of Dhamma
lokutaro yo ca tadattha-dipano
(that which is beyond the conditioned world)

and after the hot oatmeal
prepared by the anagarikas in white …………………… lay attendants
remains of frost dripping off the kitchen roof

the monks in saffron robes
reassemble for the morning meeting
the chores monk assigns a team
to cut away all the brushwood on the trail
below a height of thirteen feet
so that the Nor-Cal cement truck
can drive securely up to the unfinished
Monks’ Utilities Building
without scratching its paint

He warns to be mindful
when using the chainsaw
to cut no more than
two or three manzanitas in a row
the wood is so hard
the chain will heat up
and maybe snake off its
saw bar rail

Anicca vata sankhara
(all forms are impermanent)

Pali words
that have been chanted daily
without a break

for over two thousand years

[Wat Abhayagiri, January 10, 2009]

Author’s Bio

Peter Dale Scott, a Canadian, was born in Montreal in 1929, the only son of F. R. Scott and Marian Dale Scott. His chief poetry books include Coming to Jakarta (1989), Mosaic Orpheus (2009), Tilting Point (2012), and Walking on Darkness (forthcoming). In 2002, he was awarded the Lannan Poetry Award.