Tuesday, May 2, 2017

ENCOUNTERS WITH THE UNKNOWN



           KNOCKING ON THE DOOR

I knock   knock   and knock at the door
of the new poem that wants to be born
but as it swings wide open there's only
Emptiness--Emptiness waits to blossom
to grow transparent on this page  in me

so I ask   ask   and ask of the Emptiness
"what do You want? why are You here?"
but Emptiness replies only with Silence
it seems Silence also presses to be born
born right now   at the center of my life

I knock   knock   and knock at the door
of Silence until it too swings wide open
and there in Silence's heart is Presence
nothing I can see hear touch taste smell
just utter connection   pure relationship

so I ask   ask   and ask of this Presence
"what do You want? why are You here?"
and the Presence says  (without a word)
"I'm the deathless Source of all you are
what's infinite and eternal in your soul"

                           ***



     For me, starting a new poem is always an encounter with the Unknown. Unless I'm willing to face that Emptiness, that chaos of infinite possibilities in the world, and inside me, I'll never take the all-out, naked risks necessary to break through my ego's prattling, or the inevitable constrictions and evasions of language itself. More and more, this creative emptying opens me to unmediated Presence, that Eternal Source which dwells in the heart of Silence, and from Which all meaningful speech is born.



                     BIRTH THROES

drawing a blank   it's what always happens
right here at the beginning   without a clue
facing the blank page   everything possible
what's hardest?   wrestling with emptiness
what's sweetest?   dancing with emptiness
no barriers   no rules or limits   wide open!
such freedom's breathtaking   scary as hell
but I dive in anyway   taking crazy chances

now I'm splashing around in a huge ocean
trying not to panic   praying not to drown
the next line pops up like an inflated dingy
and I climb in   hold tight   gasp for breath
roller-coastering these mountainous swells
feels like they rise up in eight-line stanzas 
if I could just keep afloat for one more line
maybe I can weather this fierce soul-storm

gradually a vast wind subsides   the waves
slacken   here I am again   sitting in a chair
staring at the page   but it's no longer blank
there's a struggle marking it   a raw voyage
as if something naked and primal got born
I'm not sure what that is or why this ruckus
but I want it to live   flourish   grow strong
I want it to exfoliate in me as fearless love!

                             ***


     This poem expresses its own birth throes from the bloody womb of the Unknown. It's a harrowing journey to a new world through the ocean of chaos and uncertainty. But isn't this always the way if any new, vital life ever succeeds in being born? Incarnation's not for sissies! To give birth to form, meaning, new possibility, out of nothingness and emptiness--isn't this the essence of the creative act? We must be willing to surrender control and put everything on the line, plunging nakedly through the storm of transformation. As Friedrich Nietzsche wrote: "One must have chaos in one, to give birth to a dancing star."

  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

THE COMPANIONSHIP OF ANGELS



            TROUBLE WITH ANGELS


hanging out with Angels means deciding
making the choice   I can't be near Them
learn at Their invisible knees of wisdom
if I just run with the party-hearty crowd
solitude's the temple where Angels teach

better sport spiritual sunglasses though
Their Light's as blinding as the noon sun
it's not that we see Them   They see us!
see right through us   see straight down
to our bare souls--all shadows expunged!

our trouble with Angels is the intensity
of Their ardor   it's not like mortal love
stuttering   compromised   full of doubt
They love impeccably   They never stop
never cease Their service for an instant

not warm and fuzzy or cuddly and tame
Angels instruct with a fierce exactitude
They compel us to transform ourselves
painfully shedding our old brittle husks
we're dumbstruck   capsized by wonder!

once we feel such transcendent Intimacy
it changes us   we're pierced by Holy Joy!
our worst loneliness isn't for each other
it's to be cut off from the Eternal Realms
Angels illuminate our aching to go Home


                            ***


     Whether we know it or not, there are more highly evolved spiritual Beings--usually undetectable by our five senses--who attend us, interact with us, teach us and guide us, if we're awake and receptive to their influence. But "solitude''s the temple where Angels teach." If we're not willing or able to go there--off alone, away from the busy, distracting everyday world--we're not likely to encounter Them. And if perchance we do, it's not likely to be a "warm and fuzzy or cuddly and tame" experience! Because Their gaze pierces straight through to the core of our souls, and most of us can't bear to feel so drastically exposed--even to, especially to!-- Divine Love. But how else can we be healed?



               SIDEKICK TO SOMEONE

       No words can express the abyss
  between isolation and having one ally.
                                     -- G.K. Chesterton


I'm the sidekick to Someone without a face
      Who smiles nonetheless
Someone silently walks beside me
                        although They have no feet
I'm the junior partner in a conglomerate
                   whose central office is Eternity

there's a cosmic laughter that's no joke
that star-quake reshuffles all my molecules
   a single seismic chuckle shivers my bones!

"Mr Self-Pity" snubs this Invisible Friend
"Mr Poor Me" squats with his tin cup
          begging crumbs from total strangers
meanwhile my Divine Pal juggles diamonds!

outer eyes are for scanning everyday things
   inner vision pierces straight to the soul
outer ears register human sounds and voices
inner listening flares open to Angels' songs!

I've got one foot still on the dock
                      the other already in the boat 
and the tide's going out       time to set sail
          just my Shipmate and me
                 time to dare the bravest voyage!

we navigate a foam-flecked ocean of stars...


                              ***


   The alienating illusion is that we're all ultimately isolated. Consequently, we're always needy and longing for other humans to somehow fill the void of our chronic loneliness. But the actual, cosmic Reality is that we're never alone! We each indeed do have a Guardian Angel--as corny and deluded as that may sound in the withering blast of political cynicism and scientific materialism. Nevertheless, I know from overwhelming personal encounter that it's true. When I think I'm incurably alone, the master--or rather victim--of my fate, then I'm blind to the greater Reality. But when I humbly and gratefully play my natural part as "sidekick to Someone"--then I awaken to the life I was meant to live and the person I was born to be.






Tuesday, April 18, 2017

THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW



                                DARKER CRIMSON


a short piece   single cello   with keening violins
it opens my heart's wound so tenderly   achingly

a stroke of darker crimson as the sun slides down
the last longing glance from a dying lover's eyes...

to be a deathless soul   burning in a needy animal
any words   even this music   can only hint at that

all comedy   all tragedy   rocks and rolls around it
a kiss and bite   a laugh and howl   fused into one

if you encounter me here   my strip-searched self
explore with humility   from your own nakedness

then maybe I can bear to be touched   even loved
knowing you shiver to the same bittersweet music

a short piece   single cello   with keening violins
do you feel it?  does it break open your heart too?


                                   ***


     Is there any way to escape the pain, the grief, the dark side of being human? If so, I've not discovered it--nor has anyone else, as far as I know. Our living and our dying are ultimately shrouded in mystery. Of all the arts, for me music comes closest to expressing this--and when it does, the heart's wound I always carry does indeed open so tenderly...achingly. Yet I'm grateful for this pain, because it breaks me open, as nothing else could, to my solidarity and empathy with my brothers and sisters everywhere, and with all living things. There's no path to the mountaintop which does not first pass through the valley of the shadow...



                 THE WOUND


I'm trying to plumb it to the source
the lone spelunker rappelling down
a bottomless abyss   the deeper I go
the further I sink from air and light

I know it was ripped open by deaths
a sister's cancer   her mother's grief
my father's heart attack   other loves
suffered   lost   abandoned   betrayed

I know a scared child cowers inside it
who runs away and hides   who rages
at heaven   hell   this asylum between
whose trust in love itself was zapped

but it's huger darker colder than these
I plunge back in time   beyond one life
to where all Creation's agonies tunnel
my taproot drinks from primal pain

pain that's mine   yours   each being's
Earth's ravaging pain and every star's
pain of any soul spawned by Eternity
pain born in the outrageous cry "I AM!"


                         ***


    The key to this poem is the last stanza, the revelation that beyond all "the slings and arrows" I've experienced in my life, there's a "huger darker colder" anguish which can be traced all the way back to the primal wound of birth trauma. I think this is true for more of us than we realize; it's the unintended impact of overly intrusive modern obstetrical technology upon newborns who were much more conscious, sensitive and vulnerable in utero than we're willing to admit. Writing this poem proved to be a personal catharsis, since after I completed it, that deep, underlying pain was finally transformed through creative insight.



   

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

WE ARE THAT



                 AN OPEN SECRET


the limpid color of our gaze   that's why
we can't see it   the luminous silence of
our listening   that's what we can't hear

not cloud-obscured on the mountaintop
nor buried deep in the darkest crevasse
it inspires the revelation of each breath!

when we thirst it's water   clear and cold
when we hunger   it's fresh-baked bread
yet it's even dearer   simpler than these

we spend our whole life longing for this
a prize all our eager seeking can't grasp
but it shines in the searching of our eyes!

nothing tricksey here   it's an open secret
want to join the ecstatic ones who know?
empty yourself of self   become pure light


                             ***


     We search out there, in the world, for what we want and need. But who is it who does this searching? Wisdom comes from evolving self-awareness. Consciousness itself is the great conundrum, one which even the most advanced quantum physics can't solve. One day we wake up and realize--we ourselves are the Universe, waking to its own Divinity! 



                      REBIRTH
                    (for Nelson)


I'm smack-dab in the midst of it again
and it's smack-dab in the midst of me
is a mourning dove perching in a tree?
or does it call from the crux of my soul

those intrepid magnolias--they bloom
despite the frost   within me also they
thrum   so riotously awake!   as though
each spring obliterates all boundaries

which is why I get daffy over daffodils
how they flaunt their gaudy trumpets!
I take the same ridiculous risk myself
blaring the scandalous anthem  "I AM!"

then there's the grass--another prodigy!
it spears up through cold crust   reborn
out there   under an unscarred blue sky
and in here   where the sky never ends


                           ***


    I've always been a spring junkie. It's my favorite season, although seldom the easiest. Part of me struggles to return from a winter dormancy which sometimes feels almost like death. Yet when I thrill to those first irrepressible signals of nature's resurrection--say, the magnolia's blossoms, a mourning dove's call, or the gaudy trumpets of the daffodils!--then the nascent, renewed life deep within me stirs, resonates and responds. I discover that the rebirth outside me, and the rebirth inside me, have converged as One.


                                  ***


      The two poems in today's blog, as well as the poems in the preceding two blog posts, are all from my latest book COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS: Songs Of An Ecstatic Soul. It can be purchased at Amazon.com (feed "Cosmic Ecstatic Bob Savino" into the search engine). This book, as well as my two others--REPORT FROM THE FRONTIER and BLACK BUTTERFLY--also will be on sale when I read at the Lawrence Poetry Fair, held this Saturday, April 15, from 2 to 5 p.m.,  940 New Hampshire St., Lawrence KS. 




                        

Sunday, April 2, 2017

SIFTINGS OF THE SOUL


                HEARING WIND GUST


hearing wind gust through bare branches
draws me back home to what's elemental
in my bones   their roots still tangled with
The Big Bang   the roil of galaxies forming

an infinitesimally living spark of all this   I
sense I also contain it all   experience it all
all time and space   all dying and becoming
the abyss of the void   the birthing of stars!

when you and I vastly meet   we encounter
as two universes--both familiar and strange
each an uncharted cosmos to the other  yet
each an indispensable portion of the whole

I'm floored by the enormity of a single seed
stunned by the intimacy of the morning sky!
everything's connected   everything engages
everything's a cryptic companion of my soul


                              ***


  There's nothing but relationship. Complete independence, total isolation, is an alienated illusion. The gleaming from the farthest star, shining into my eyes after traveling untold light years, changes me--for I myself am created from star-stuff. As Walt Whitman wrote: "All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses; and to die is different from what anyone supposed, and luckier."



                THE STILL SMALL VOICE


I might believe I have infinite choices about
how to live   but underlying all that confusion
there's only one--saying either "yes" or "no"
to a mystery   the still small voice of my soul

most of us   most of the time   crave to have it
both ways   I know I do   my ego or id clamors
"me first!" "me now!"  and off the rails I lurch
careening blindly toward my next train wreck

"what hit me?"  "how'd this happen?"  "why?"
I'm the bewildered victim of my own conceit
so back I stumble to humility's kindergarten
hoping to grasp the teaching I failed to learn

which isn't rocket science   it's an open secret
I parse it in the glowing full moon calling me
catch it in the muted cry of a mourning dove
sense it shiver when you voyage into my eyes

the universe's great mantra isn't "I" but "We"
like each glittering shard of the kaleidoscope
whatever exists is part of a profounder Unity
it murmurs in the still small voice of my soul


                               ***


    It's with us all the time, if only we will listen. It guide's us through the maze of each day's struggle and confusion, if only we can hear. Go deep, become silent within, open to the mystery. This is our Home Base, our Refuge among all the sound and fury of the world. When we're awake and attuned there, we're never alone. We're in intimate communion with the still small voice of our soul.