Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Taking A Break

     I've decided to step away from this blog for a while and take a rest--at least until I'm once more motivated by writing and/or art I feel compelled to share. Thanks for your interest, and responses. I'll let you know when I start posting again.
-- Bob

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ancient Wisdom

     Here's a third set of poem/drawing companion pieces from The Sacred Well: Songs From The Waters Of Life:

                        OLD STONES

When we walk near old stones--say in a wall
that once bounded or divided things, but now
lies weathered, crumbling, mostly overgrown
with creepers and vines--sometimes they speak,
chanting spells from the subterranean world,
muttering in a tongue we can almost hear.

Listen. What are they saying? Can you tell?
I sense myself becoming heavier, dissolving,
my soul groping down through layers of soil,
jostled by stumps, fossils, artifacts, bones.
It is good to come to rest there, deep below,
where all the beginnings and endings are one.

Far inside me a primeval being is achored
by great, gnarled roots to a time before time,
to stark landscapes where no footfall echoes,
no voices cry. And what it knows, it knows
as death knows life; as the stone's shadow
knows what burns in the heart of the stone.


No more words.
In the name of this place
we drink in with our breathing,
stay quiet like a flower
so the nightbirds will start singing.

-- Rumi --

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Roots And Stars

Here's another poem/drawing combo from my book The Sacred Well: Songs From The Waters Of Life.


We don't know a word to say certain things.
They're too far inside. Silence attends them.
Every effort at speech fritters out and away.
This is how it is when you capsize my soul.
Our talk confounds us. For behind the voices
there's a Being who does not speak at all.

We don't know a word to say certain things.
The true name for that One is Namelessness,
our glances seeking an inconceivable Face.
I have felt the eyes and sensed the smile.
The clean light of each morning reveals it.
When night gropes up from roots, it shines.

We don't know a word to say certain things.
But because we stammer, there's hope for us.
As long as Mystery survives, and Magnitude,
I'll encounter you with growing awe, amazed
at what forever eludes me; yet grateful, too,
that beauty has a Source beyond this world.


And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss;
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

-- Pablo Neruda --

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ending And Beginning

   Last week's posting marked the final entry of a 35-week series, during which I wrote prose meditations that were each inspired by a line from a poem I'd previously written--either in 2009 or early 2010. It was challenging but rewarding to explore, in a more philosophical spirit, some of the wider implications of the poems' allusive utterances, and then to combine both with related original artwork and selected quotations. I had fun and learned a lot. I hope you did too.

      I've created many other poems and drawings however--some very recently, others across the years. So I'm going to make selections from among these and post them each week, as the Spirit moves, adding any comments which may seem relevant and helpful. Along those lines, here's a poem I wrote in May about spiritual balance:

                       TRUE LINE

landing at the perfect angle of approach
       you can hold onto your sanity without
          exploding in a spectacular fireball

impeccable balance is everything
one fear to the left    one rage to the right
                      you're cooked

finding the true line       a pure trajectory
that's the ticket!
        what can derange you then?

I spent many lifetimes figuring this out
crashing     burning     crashing     burning
                over and over

but now I've got it
    heart light       mind clear
          hands barely touching the controls


     The following drawing and poem are companion pieces, both part of a book I wrote in 1996-97 titled The Sacred Well: Songs From The Waters Of Life. Although usually a poem is inspired by an artwork (a literary practice called "ekphrasis"), in this instance the reverse is true--the poem came first, then the artistic vision inspired by it.


Amazing, isn't it? To be a woman, a man.
What does it mean? I'm born to love
what dies; born to die myself; born
all hunched up like a question mark.
But who inside me keeps asking? Who
cannot rest? Don't you sense it? Beyond
this dying animal, a deeper life begins!

Listen, I'm blundering around, same as you.
Every day I start off into the Labyrinth,
always a novice, groping this way and that,
straining to grasp the riddle of my soul.
And each night, wearily, I crawl into bed,
slanting downward through the Great Dark,
small as a raindrop, immense as a storm.




Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Receiving The Angel

                THE MESSENGER

tire tracks crisscross in the slushy snow
there's half a foot more still on the way
spring's too far off even to think about

yet for the first time this stormy winter
somewhere close among bare branches
the mourning dove    like a muted oracle
calls out over and over through sullen air

don't roll over and burrow back to sleep
or lay awake     haunted by aimless fear

the angel of a thousand guises has spoken

it doesn't care if you're tired of struggling
it doesn't believe in loneliness or self-pity

only that today is new  clean   open   free!

so don't turn over and cringe back to sleep
or lay awake  brooding on ancient wounds

you've been summoned by a primal voice
which cannot lie   stand up   breathe deep

take another shaky step into the unknown


The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across
the doorsill where two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep.

-- Rumi --


     All are interconnected. Everything's charged with meaning. "Coincidence" is just a word for significance we don't understand yet--or once did but have forgotten. the ancients knew this: and the scattering of vanishing tribal peoples who remain still do.

     Which means unheralded messengers enter our lives each day, although mostly we don't even recognize them, never mind grasp what they're trying to tell us. Not to imply that such understanding is easy. Intuitive sensitivity and careful discernment are essential. We must be open, alert, balanced, receptive, humble.

     The message's meaning is identical to the messenger. In other words, there's no separation between inner and outer, self and other, knower and known. Psychological awareness fuses with sensory perception to dissolve the illusion of duality into one seamless whole.

     Every message, each messenger, is utterly unique, symbolizing a single, unrepeatable convergence of giver and receiver in space and time. Simultaneously, every message, each messenger, is forever the same, calling us back home to the infinite and eternal mystery of our own souls.

     By definition then, the language a messenger speaks is always paradox--this is an intrinsic part of the message itself. Every messenger transcends boundaries and demolishes categories. Our intellect's determination to compartmentalize reality into either/or dichotomies is flummoxed and derailed.

     We've been brainwashed by an onslaught of disenchanters, but we live in an enchanted universe nevertheless. Angels of wisdom, justice, mercy and freedom--Divine Messengers wearing a thousand guises--arrive daily at the portals of our consciousness. All we need do is recognize them and invite them in.