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Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Howie Klein

Check out last Saturday's podcast with Howie Klein. He came from Millbrook to the SFZC at the behest of Alan Marlowe and Diane di Prima in 1973. He migrated eventually to Trungpa land Boulder. Lots of stops along the way. His close friend Barbara Handler wrote this poem for his recent 80th birthday. 

Ode to Howie

In 1942 was born

Upon a bright and august morn

A carrot-top with eyes of blue

Who lived across from the Bronx zoo.

He grew to be a strapping lad

Mostly good but sometimes bad

Which prompted his mom to declare

Him a”disgusting animal” with her evening prayer.

Nonetheless, he grew and thrived

At Gompers High School he arrived,

friends with Junior and running track,

graduating with his mind intact.

But then he discovered psychedelics

And all the old forms became but relics

His mind expanded, it grew and grew

Until he wasn’t sure quite what to do.

Then followed adventures near and far

From Millbrook to Arizona he followed his star

from Leary to Bill Haines and other strange men

‘Til he finally found a refuge in zen.

Our hero now settled in Frisco

(This was well before the advent of disco)

But when that came along, he headed to Boulder

To follow and revere another dharma holder.

He worked in construction, built stuff from wood

Acted in The Mikado and knew that he should

Practice each day, then go to Seminary

Where he’d learn to visualize yidams most scary.

He lived with delight at RMDC

And headed the kitchen as a marquis

Did some prostrations and made plenty of jokes

Hanging at campfires with other folks.

But flotation in this dharmic ocean

Was upended by maternal devotion

So off to New York he headed 

To care for his mom to whom he felt indebted.

He visited her weekly and learned to bake pies

lived with Mickey and hung with some guys

But he was lonely there and he was bored, too 

And wasn’t really sure where to go or what to do.

Life went on and on and on ’til Mom finally passed

But our hero stayed stuck in Piermont until–at last!

In California Roberta wanted a deck for a pool

So off he headed to Guerneville, a sweet red-woodsy jewel.

And there he’s remained baking pies, growing flowers,

Doing calligraphy and sometimes even showers.

Cultivating vegetables, building furniture, 

Making a mess, but always a nurturer.

He loves the Sadhana devoutly

And soon will no doubt be

Named umdze of the year

(Not a bad late life career).

And now he’s reached an age to revere

This is it–eighty is here.

Howie’s still funny, kindly, and warm

Still generous, friendly, in fine fettle and form.

To know him is to love him

To love him is to pray

That he stay with us much longer

and continue to play.

And so here I am now to celebrate and say

To my favorite Buddhist Jew A hearty happy birthday to you