One City

One City

Dharma Poetry: Tyler Doherty

          Big nasty-looking blue-black hornet
    with obscene dangly stinger
weaves in & out
          of rusted white Chevy’s dented
                                      front grill–

        pancake flat back tire tilts the rig
        cobwebs around the plough
                                                       (10:50 am)


That’s a Tyler Doherty poem.  From his collection Bodhidharma Never Came to Hatboro.  Doherty is a product of both Daido Loori’s Zen Mountain Monastery and Trungpa’s Kerouac School of Poetics at Naropa University.  He’s an American Buddhist poet, and he’s got good stuff.  (Full disclosure: I met Tyler at a Shambhala meditation retreat in Philadelphia a few years ago.)

Here is where I hear the dharma in Doherty:


In his Zen-like koans:

Right Effort

How find glasses
without glasses?

In his brevity and humor:

Poetry Equals

I waited around all day for this?

In his occupying that space where thinking mind is no longer a big deal:

from Bodhidharma Never Came to Hatboro

“…thought’s all bark no bite
ever-seductive hurly burly
signifying nothing arf arf…”

Sometimes the view comes through loud and clear:

“life universe everything marvelous
   Technicolour swarm of phenomenal blips
      best regarded as dream–

                      1 down
                      9,999 to go



But what most strikes me in Doherty is his naturalism and his ecology.  In Doherty’s view, the only true time is natural time, is the earth’s time, is a time looping over mountains and oceans.  And as in the hornet poem above, Doherty is always observing the natural world, the comings and goings of the non-human world.  In the introduction to his book, someone says of Doherty, “This guy goes out & learns the fucking grasses.”  But Doherty’s naturalism is not the same as Synder’s.  Because Doherty’s is more firmly rooted in the everyday life of suburbia, of Hatboro, Pennsylvania.  There is a swallowtail butterfly here, but there is also Smokey Robinson on the radio, a Fourth of July poolside scene, and the advertising lingo that so dominates our psyches, “Tyler comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.”  In the above poem, there is both the hornet and the Chevy, and that works for me.


For more, check out Doherty’s excellent review of Andrew Schelling’s book of poems.  And if you do find Doherty’s slim volume in your hands one day, be sure to check out the masterpiece therein, namely, the eight page poem “Autobiography”, in which Doherty writes:

“…Tyler is one napkin under Garble, unquenchable in the sun.
Tyler should be regarded as a star at dawn, a bubble in a
     stream, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a
     flickering lamp, a phantom and a dream.”


Comments read comments(2)
post a comment
Anan E. Maus

posted September 5, 2009 at 11:43 pm

a haiku-sketch of mine:
Dogwood, White And Plum
These Blossoms Like Open Palms
White, Purple And Plum
Some Buddhist poetry links:
Poetry by Han Shan
Buddhist Poems
All Haiku
Haiku by Basho
The Narrow Road to the Deep North
by Basho
Basho’s Trail
neat stuff…..
a National Geographic photography spread – includes a photo of the trail that Zen haiku poet Basho took around Japan…
Some poems by Thich Nhat Hahn:

report abuse

gary gach

posted September 7, 2009 at 11:23 am

Thank you for the heads up on this poet!
Do you think Chogyam Trungpa was correct in betting that if Dharma comes to America it would be on wings of poetry? (I’m thinking the Naropa Poetics Program).
And now this: in response to reader requests, Tricycle has recently launched a poetry club online.
Beginning Tues Sept 8, the latest addition will be a haiku corner: a fresh new lively haiku space ~ where your presence will much make it so. Next time you’re in the neighborhood, stop by. As Howard Rheingold says, “What it is, is –> up to you.”
Address: (minimal registration required)
Yr humble host,
the neighbor’s cat
pauses in the garden by the stone

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting One City. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Most Recent Buddhist Story By Beliefnet Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading! ...

posted 2:29:05pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mixing technology and practice
There were many more good sessions at the Wisdom 2.0 conference this weekend. The intention of the organizers is to post videos. I'll let you know when. Here are some of my notes from a second panel. How do we use modern, social media ...

posted 3:54:40pm May. 02, 2010 | read full post »

Wisdom 2.0
If a zen master were sitting next to the chief technical officer of Twitter, what would they talk about? That sounds like a hypothetical overheared at a bar in San Francisco. But this weekend I saw the very thing at Soren Gordhamer's Wisdom 2.0 ...

posted 1:43:19pm May. 01, 2010 | read full post »

The Buddha at Work - "All we are is dust in the wind, dude."
"The only true wisdom consists of knowing that you know nothing." - Alex Winter, as Bill S. Preston, Esq. in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure"That's us, dude!" - Keanu Reeves, as Ted "Theodore" LoganWhoa! Excellent! I've had ...

posted 2:20:00pm Jan. 28, 2010 | read full post »

Sometimes You Find Enlightenment by Punching People in the Face
This week I'm curating a guest post from Jonathan Mead, a friend who inspires by living life on his own terms and sharing what he can with others.  To quote from Jonathan's own site, Illuminated Mind: "The reason for everything: To create a ...

posted 12:32:23pm Jan. 27, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.