Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Declaring Love


we don't need them around anymore

the logic choppers    the bean counters
and hairsplitters    the control freaks who
snuff out our joy and pin dead butterflies
to the rigid straitjackets of their pride

we can't permit them access anymore

those traffickers in still-beating hearts
the users and takers who worship nothing
except their own insatiable appetites

it's time to throw off that brainwashing!

I've rediscovered a Universal Grammar
and the only pronoun it recognizes is "we"

there's a Holy Light irradiating everything
It can never be bought    sold    possessed

so we won't listen to the frauds anymore

the hawkers of glitzy trinkets and gewgaws
the pushers of money and power and fame

now that I've seen the real Treasure blazing
those counterfeit glories are worthless to me


  Where's the real Treasure? Our materialistic culture screams every day that it's in "money and power and fame." But this is a destructive, consuming lie. Once we've seen, experienced "a Holy Light irradiating everything" we realize that the Divine Source, the Pearl Beyond Price, is always present and available within us, and shining forth as well all around us. There's an open, empty, waiting place inside which can only be filled by God.

                               HYMN TO GAIA
                             (for Rob Amerine)

I hear your voice this morning    so quiet and small
whispering through the tiny clusters of white buds
on the asparagus fern    their delicate almond scent

of course it's just one of your numberless languages
another roared in that F-5 tornado! yes-devastation
is also you speaking    yet you sing to us in birdcalls

how many nights I listen while you kiss the leaves
with rain    how many days your winds compel me
you go your own deep ways    destroying    creating

Earth Mother    not a single instant rocks my world
when every naked atom isn't thrumming with you
I'm your flesh your blood your creature your child!

teach is to dwell here always in a sacred manner
to understand even a pebble is imbued with soul
teach us to realize--each breath we take is a prayer

I suffer from a primal wound that will never close
unless I align my whole self harmoniously with you
I hunger for justice transcending the ego's appetite

in the still small voice of fragrant buds blossoming
I come home to you    receive the balm of your love
nothing less than our total union will heal me now


     As a species, we're lurching headlong down an unsustainable path, and climate change is just one of the many warning sirens blaring in our ears. Ultimately, our only hope to change this, is to transform our consciousness; to return once more to spiritual balance, to sacred communion with all life and with the living Earth herself.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Soul And Heart

                INEXPLICABLE JOY
                     (for Vic Martin)

the noon sun the blue sky the cold wind
                 and this inexplicable joy
cannot be separated

                             I'm in awe by how
everything's connected         by what free
wide-open directions
              shoot forth from my soul

don't tell me it can't be true
                I know otherwise
           I've parsed the hidden maps
                             cracked the secret codes                           

two and two don't always make four
     what goes up
                        doesn't always come down
it's just a complicated excuse
                             for the side effects
                                                       of miracle

the noon sun the blue sky the cold wind
    and this inexplicable joy
                        cannot be separated

I'm flat-out tipsy 
       to be born a living   breathing
                             dumbstruck part of it all


     Sheer Joy is the fountaining Source of the Universe, and that Source is the quintessence of each of us. When we're at home inside, one with our own Divinity, then we know Joy as our birthright--not a treasure we hunger for from this world, but a miracle we pour forth into the world. We're not born to be consumers, but Creators! Embracing and expressing our own Joy is the crux of our creativity.


you don't choose it    it chooses you
quietly as a feather dropping   or loud
as the roof collapsing on your head
either way you'll know    just wait

all is the same   everything's different
you never surrender   yet always yield
yes   be ready for paradox   it becomes
the air you drink    water you breathe

nothing seems so ordinary
nothing could be more bizarre
one day an earthquake can't move you
the next--a simple touch rocks your world!

each instant arrives sans instructions
you must assemble them all from scratch
the sky and earth will help a little
the moon can explain a thing or two

you lose importance    gain meaning
every hour your footprints get smaller
but your cracked-open heart expands
until there's nobody left outside it


      If Joy is the Source, Love is the Path, and Love is always the "path with a heart"--different in its particulars for each of us, but universal in its summoning of the highest purpose and deepest meaning for our lives. At the same time, our path with a heart is inescapably paradoxical. Why? Because it begins and ends in the unfathomable mystery of God.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Finding Words

                         FLYING BLIND 

hard not to know what to say      or what not
everything's a riddle    camouflaged yet clear

this second for instance   an empty coffee cup
that itchy rash flaring again on my right foot

cram life into one box or another   never mind
it all runs together        the inside spills out
the outside spills in   a prayer becomes a pickle

or the forceps of meaning--knee-knocking truth
then boulders shudder and fixed stars move

let's not kid ourselves      we're all flying blind 
it's the only way of getting where we need to go

reality isn't a dingy snapshot of two strangers
though they were charming     no denying this

still    better to grope onward    a spooked child
stuttering awake inside their demolished house

a thousand beginning spurt from that wound...


     The poet starts out in the middle of the mess--feelings, sensations, imaginings, confusions--groping with words to somehow bring forth a gleam of meaning, using language to "make it new" in a way which others can relate to. Truly, he or she is flying blind, exploring the unknown, fumbling with both inner and outer uncertainties; yet "it's the only way of getting where we need to go." 

                        KEEPING THE VOW

there's much muddle and considerable darkness
just as dawn begins spreading its luminous stain
and that distant train whistle sounds mournfully
while bare trees braille branches against the sky

vowing once to be a singer I chanted my songs
crying ecstasy and anguish    glory and madness
and I won't stop pouring them forth even now
though the cracks keep swallowing what I love

but how can I undertake with my flimsy voice
to stanch the world's tsunami of pain   suffering
cruelty   death?   flinging words into the abyss
I see them scatter like confetti    then disappear

nothing's changed    yet a subversive little hope
shudders through these derelict bones   I think
if I could finally surrender my heart to oblivion
it would bloom as this day does -- spilling light


      Could I have conceived, when I first made that vow to chant my songs all out, holding nothing back, putting it all on the line, just how implacably the cracks would keep swallowing all I love? Did I have the faintest clue how deep and dark the abyss is, into which I would fling my confetti of words? Hardly. But it doesn't matter. This is what I was born for. And in some way I can't "explain" in any other words, if I can "finally surrender my heart to oblivion" it will be reborn and renewed. At the crux of reality--paradox!


Monday, September 7, 2015

Saving Grace

                                STORM'S EYE

     We dance round in a ring and suppose,
     The Secret sits in the middle and knows.
                                           -- Robert Frost

my mind's not dancing in a ring but drastically
blundering through sleepless centuries tonight

I plead   whine   pray   try desperate bargaining
anything to sabotage the feedback loop of fear

I think I might cartwheel forever into the abyss
stalking my obsessions   being stalked by them

but then   out of nowhere    the Inconceivable
blooms open!   envelops me   gathers me home

released from the hurricane's wrangle   I pass
through a gauntlet of thunder to its radiant eye

I don't know what I said or did to invoke it--
this wormhole of grace enwrapping my soul

impossibly    I'm breathing "not this/not that"
furled deep in a Nothingness nothing can harm


     Who has not experienced them--those agonizing sleepless nights, these concentrated Dark Nights of the Soul? Gerard Manley Hopkins described one this way: "I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day./ What hours, O what black hours we have spent/ This night! what sights you, heart, saw; what ways you went!/ And more must, in yet longer light's delay." Yet there are times when our desperate prayers are answered, beyond our wildest hopes, and this poem evokes one such instance. At the eye of every storm, if we come there, if we're brought there, there is this pure, luminous calm, this saving grace.

                      THERE WAS A BOY

there was a boy who could hide in the sound
rain makes falling on a dented garbage can lid
or slowly disappear with the dwindling drone
of an airplane's propellers   when leaves spoke
to the wind he was listening   and as the seeds
woke secretly underground he heard that too

there was a boy who could see invisible things
like a root groping downward year after year
or the faces of the dead forming inside stones
he was born half turned to some other world
and could never cease watching for its signals
even after The Thought Police arrested his soul

there was a boy who stayed alive in the man
who learned how to resist The Thought Police
and fight off the cannibal vampires and spurn
any scoffer who said  "Grow up and get real!"
this boy knows what he knows    he'll never
surrender    he'll always be part of the Infinite


     I think the saving grace I experienced in the midst of a seemingly endless night of insomnia was possible because, against all odds, that Infinite Child inside me never surrendered.  R.D. Laing wrote: "We live in a secular world. In order to adapt to this world, the child learns to abdicate its ecstasy." What a terrible thought! And yet how often it's true.

        But my Infinite Child never will abdicate his ecstasy. May this be the same for you!



Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Crickets And Crows

    After a three year hiatus (except for one poem), I'm now resuming this blog. I'll be sharing a selection of poems written over the past few years, mostly in chronological order, as well as an occasional drawing. Most of the poems and drawings will be accompanied by a brief prose commentary. Here we go!


dawn breaking
hardly another soul about
just a cat crouching in the grass


not a car coming
not a truck going
no need for the traffic light


perched on the rim
of the trash container
still as sculpture--a hawk!


these homeless sleeping
small islands huddled
on the slopes of the park


even before sunrise
this dancing fountain
celebrates the new day!


tiny, reddish, so fast!
whatever it was
bolted into the bushes!


sun coming up
in the east, moon
going down in the west


dew-covered lawn
the tip of every grass blade
catches fire!


green lichen grows
such intricate patterns
on the dead branch


bathing in a puddle
feathers fluffed out
that robin looks happy!


big fat toadstool
you've found the perfect spot
hidden in the damp shade


from the vanishing
pockets of darkness
crickets keep singing


     I've long loved Japanese Haiku, and every now and then I write them, usually in a single poem sequence, as here. I adhere to the brief, traditional 3-line format, but I don't worry about a rigid, 17-syllable count for each poem. After all, these are American Haiku. During my walk, I'd been struck by so many vivid moments! After I got home I quickly jotted them down. Later, when I sought to render my experience in verse, Haiku seemed the ideal form, as individual pearls on a strand all combine to create a glowing necklace.

                                  DAWN FLIGHT

these crows roosted restlessly above the city streets last night
now they teeter on the topmost branches of a towering tree
then plunge into the sky again--caw-cawing to wake the dead--
shadows dwindling toward a faint blood smear on the horizon

one part of the man watching at the window flies with them
riding the winds to raid and plunder farm fields far to the east
black and glittering his crow's eye! sharp and jabbing his beak!
dark and wild his fierce heart drumming in its tiny cage of ribs!


     The crow is my totem animal, and as a poet I feel a shaman's identification with it. But I think we all have a much greater affinity with nature than we're usually aware of. We need to get out of our heads more, and into our hearts and guts. That's where the other creatures live, and until we can join them there, we'll always be consuming and destroying their only world, and ours.