Friday, December 19, 2014

Ceremony



These great comings-together

These slight turns you made
even as a child toward this place


The scratched slide
of your mother’s record
falling from the stack,
up toward your heart,
moving in you, nearer
with every minute revolution

Ax splits wood,
separating vertical grain
it never knew it possessed

Salt water clashes on stone,
new velocity hurling
every atom with totality
of first or last time

Sure foot of your grandfather
dancing the sneak-up
lifts the unbearable weight
of a hundred generations,
reassuring earth she is seen,
known, pursued and chosen

Curvature of the mounds
one thousand, million layers deep,
bones and the exacting timbre of
each of your ancestors’ laughs,
reaching up toward your lonely back
and rolling you down the new-cut grass


The night you left camp
and climbed the wall
at the border between
these lives you could’ve led,
had you believed everyone then

Gun in hand of the robber
who haunts your house
glints diamond hard
in the moonlight streaking
through glass, your sweat,
your sun-starved skin

Stowaway spirits
in the particle smasher
lunge for each other’s throats,
the one that is for you
tearing at the jugular
in a violence of mute beauty

Steel sparks and grinds the track
in exquisite tension,
keeping the whole train
from plunging off
the edge of the world

The cracking whip
of your hair on the wind
as you spin around
to chase the demon
running after you








Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Orenda

Great Tree of Peace, Adirondacks


Beauty, these days,
has become elusive.

You look at the picture of
aspens printing yellow hands
on dark snow-capped pines
and think nothing but the headlines—
the thoughts, the thoughts,
the thoughts without power.

The shapes no longer move you;
the stories are leverage
to define your image to the crowd.
No wonder your dreaming is 
as distant, as erratic as your pulse.

What would your ancestors say?
They were tired, too, back when
they had but one choice at a time
hanging there smooth before them.

Perhaps their lives depended on
seeing every shift of the wind,
but even so, only some
sat at the foot of ancient council trees
and saw
the other world.

So it's likely that they,
even now, 
are carrying you with compassion
to that hidden spring between the cliffs
they too got lost on,
letting down your broken body
into the healing water 
that moves like a song.

You must let beauty come back to you.
Seep into your wounds and
into your marrow again;
be the word that makes you clean,
that lifts you into its current
so that you're always traveling together,
keeping watch while the other sleeps.

Oh how it still loves you,
even as you lay there half-dead,
undreaming,
having gorged yourself on all
that promises and numbs.
It never stops its search party,
never hesitates to scale the walls of the fort,
break down the great dark door
and spirit you out of your opulent dungeon.

It lives for the moment
you feel its love again,
when you open the gifts
it's saved up for you
all these wandering years.










Sunday, October 26, 2014

There could be holy fallout

These days when I don't have many words of my own...thanks, Hafez.  I run into you at just the right moments.



We are often in battle.
So often defending every side of the fort,
it may seem, 
all 
alone.

Sit down, my dear,
take a few deep 

breaths,
think about 

a loyal friend.
Where is your 
music,
your pet, 

a brush?

Surely one 
who has lasted as long 
as you
knows some path, 

some place inside
that can give a sweet 
respite.

If you cannot 
slay your panic,
then say within
as convincingly as you can,
It is all God’s will!

Now pick up your life again.
Let whatever is out there
come charging in,
Laugh 
and spit into the air,
and
there could 
be holy fallout.

Throw 
those ladders like tiny matchsticks
with just phantoms upon them
you thought were trying 

to scale your heart.

Your love has such
an eloquent sound.
The sky and I 

want to hear it!

If you still feel helpless,
give our battle cry again—
(Hafez has shouted it
 a thousand-and-one times!)
It is all,
It is all the Beloved’s will!

What is 
that luminous rain I see
all around you 
in the future,
Sweeping in from the east plain?

It looks like, 
O it looks like
Holy fallout
filling your mouth and your palms
with Joy!









Wednesday, September 17, 2014

In a Tree House

I'm sorry it's been a while; eventually I'll start posting again. In the meantime, I thought I'd share with you a few old, old poems by other people.

This one by the great Hafez (1315–1390) has meant a lot to me ever since I came across it a few months ago. 

Enjoy along with this lovely song by the lovely Azam Ali (just click and it'll play in another window): Noor (The Light in My Eyes).

Bristlecone Pine : Project 80

Light
will someday split you open
even if your life is now a cage.
For a divine seed, 
the crown of destiny,
is hidden and sown 
on an ancient fertile plain
you hold the title to.

Love will surely bust you wide open
into an unfettered blooming new galaxy
even if your mind is now
a spoiled mule.

A life-giving radiance will come;
bounty from the Friend will come––

O look again within yourself,
for I know you were once the elegant host
to all the marvels in creation.

Up from a sacred cleft of your body
a bow rises each night
and shoots your soul into God.

Behold the Beautiful Drunk Singing One
from the lunar vantage point of love––

He is conducting the affairs
of the whole universe

While throwing wild parties
in a tree house
on a limb in your heart.










Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Luring song



This, this is the thing
the heart of the universe
the nucleus of the acorn
the one sound beneath all sounds
the direction all directions 
eventually run.

This is why you are hungry.
Why you go searching
even when you don’t know you are.
Why grace alights
as a fragile winged creature
on the stone in your belly
and brings it back to life
calling it through the million years
of stony hibernation,
the slow sleep 
of the uncalled.

And so I am calling you.
And so you are called.
And so the universe
the acorn
the one sound
the directions
they hear me.

And so the call
it travels through the heartline into the being
into secret cathedrals and crevices
beneath the skin 
of earth.

And so we are drawn.
The movement of God beneath atoms of light,
of darkness, unthinkable particles
goes finally unhindered.
It is
the simplest ceremony.

I see you coming from
the edge of the desert
over the curve of the foothill
up from the other side of the solar system.
I see the water and the wind
rejoice.












Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hope is an animal that leaves you a feather to let you know it sees you



It could be anywhere; so 
unlikely it's likely 

Ridiculous possibilities or
the reason someone always wins the lottery


Under one of these far stones in deepest space or 
right behind your ear, as if it lived there all along


It's unsayable and so you must sing it 
every evening when no one hears your frequency


So profound you must use it up on
children who still speak with mysterious language


Send your healing spit into the
whirlwind destined to touch down nowhere



Like TB cocooned in a capsule that
the drugs simply keep at bay




  










Thursday, June 12, 2014

Easy Target



1. Words that arrest the pulmonary valve

I am a sucker, always
ready to be crushed.

Pull the cord 
of this robe at any 
time and I’ll be exposed,
the whole length of my
soulish ribbon so easily
unraveled with your
single reveal,
lie or not.

And it is okay.
The ones who love
just to love, they’re the 
ones put away in asylums 
to dream on the fumes, the 
entrails of these heart explosions
and their atomic wake; they’re the
ones drugged for the sake of 
generative factories that fuel
the world’s healing machine;
they’re kept in padded 
rooms that pretend to 
keep them from 
falling on their 
own swords.

But we, the unraveled,
the easily exposed, the
naked and around the world
in 80 days breakers of records—
we know the shimmer of hope
when we see it. Even when
nothing but a lightsail a
lifetime of stars away.



2.  What is real is what is unseen

Inside 
this desert is a carved acacia organ unplayed, 
cloaked by a red curtain in a theater of damp walls and
echoes.

Outside
an old white man still escaping jungle
theaters plays Blind Willie Johnson songs
off-beat, his thin voice naïve and
beautiful.

Underneath
is a grid of tunnels that makes the whole
city sing unawares, notes like drops that make caves
one decade at a time, notes like bullets that ricochet from
angled wall to ceiling to wall, aiming with
intrigue.

And above,
a whole world of drying blankets and
kite magicians, ravens that map out in their ink eyes
every inch of the rooftops, the earth, and relay it in sung loops
of history, revelatory clouds rolling black coverings
off hills that were always there, growing in
secret.



3. Even when hunger drives you

You resist with your downshift,
you reverse right off the reservation.

You chase the fast without vengeance,
only learning to eat air, to drink wavering

molten light right as it passes through you, over
the curve of the world. Velocity saps your blood.

You throw your roots farther out, before
the gold in the frying pan can say when.









Friday, May 16, 2014

Prosthetics

A very old spokenword poem.

Coal miners, Ladrymbai










I hate that you had no dad.
No father, yeah, like a missing leg,
he should’ve been there but gangrene
was eating him. He cut himself off,
and now you hobble, magnificent, on your
one, muscle-strapped, overworked leg.

There’s no going back.
No one can sew those dead flesh years
back on your healed-over stump.
No one can make the fire-sharp pain,
the mad, thumping pain, the now dull pain
that aches in damp weather go away—
no one can make you forget he’s not there,
even if you don’t remember him.

I want to fix it. I wave my arms
furiously, muttering incantations over
the thick, synthetic trunk of a limb
deep in the night as you sleep, detached.
In the day you never seem to mind
your fake leg, but I do. Cause I see you
try to get up in your sleep, try to walk
to the kitchen on a phantom limb. I see
you cry when you fall back on your bed,
reaching for what isn’t there.

So back in the daylight
I wince every time your heavy leg bangs
into the asphalt on one end, bangs
into your scarred, hidden stump on the
other. All the things that try to keep you up
bruise you. All your highs that come down
with a crash—all your people who let you run
on them for a second and then yank
themselves away with a laugh and a bang—
yes—I wince.

'Cause I can’t walk for you, I can’t
donate one of my limbs. My dad’s my dad,
my past’s my past. And you are you.
We lose every three-legged race cause
you’re too fast for me. But here are my
arms.











Friday, April 4, 2014

Riddles for the Shadow on the Other Side of the Mountain & the Pillar of Fire at the Top


A.  
The heat bore down and
the city staggered and I was glad.
It was something to feel in the
bones, to push our limits, to
equalize. To touch your skin,
somewhere in this city.


B.  
I have nothing left but half-formed
questions at the end of each night. Beginning
with what—the needle or the plough? Half-
played actions—to winnow or to fray? What
is creation, if not the movements of
molecules that keep our blood from
freezing over as we sleep?


Selah.


A.  
You never stop. You sing it again.
And again. The ocean follows your pull
and yet the land is never flooded; you move
back and then forward and always back
and so forth; you never stop and so
I am pulled, too. With a body of
water always between us.


B.  
You said I wasn’t dead, only
sleeping. But I was tangled in a maze
and jumping from story to story with
no body of my own. You said that
the mourners should be silent, but
the quiet that moved with the speed
of lava from your words snatched
the breath of every thought from
the middle of my gut. If I am alive,
I am speechless and unable to explain.


Selah.


A.  
Truly: did you see me? Did you read the
blank pages concealed in the book around my
neck? That must be why I became a ghost
thereafter, nameless and conjured only
in tales told around the fire. If only you’d
flipped the pages in the opposite direction.
You never would’ve been content
with a simple haunting.


B.  
The shadow of your wing,
wild goose, is a refuge of weather
without rules. And so I am comforted
without knowledge by bone-crushing
thunder and left weeping under a
perfect circle of rainbow. If
I am covered, which I am,
the wind rushing at my bare skin
is nothing but a cloak.


Selah.


A.  
I dare you. At the edge of
the woods. But that is all, and I am
left running in the silence of shifting
dimensions, having never been followed
there before. All must find that seam
between times by their own search.
Only comets brush my side; only 
stars say my name.


B.  
This light at the summit: I recognize
its shape, its temperature, even at this
distance. Old love, I never stop fitting
my hands and feet into these crevices I know
you carved before the beginning of the
world to bear me upward. I forget the blood
seeping from these jagged wounds whenever
I hear the air flying up to meet you.


Selah.


A.  
To travel yet never go outside—may this
blind fate never reach you. You have no idea
how many enemies pursue you. And so this is how
you climb through the bars on the window, this is how you
climb the ladder to the roof.  I want to show you the side
of the cliff where you can see them coming, where you
draw the velocity of every wave into a song you’ll
hurl at each one before it sinks its teeth into your sleep.
I leave you with this: May beauty shock your eyes
open, simple as that.


Selah.


C.  
What happens if this shape is moving
unseen up the other side? Will we burn to ash and
spirit when we reach the edge of the stone altar at the
top? Or see the continents rolled out before us, see
the world for the first time? In truth: I have assumed
I climb alone. In truth: I still assume. In truth: I know
nothing but the pull of every muscle moving upward, the
pull of some hidden magnet pulsing through the mountain,
the pull of light, the pull of light. 















Sunday, March 16, 2014

Creation

NASA : Perpetual Ocean


I want you to understand

that there is no flow—

this is all irrigation, breaking

ground to find a vein of water



This is being half alive

but running a message barefoot

from mountain to mountain,

chewing root and imagining water



This is moving stones

in the dry valley when no one’s looking

then evaporating back into baked air

till the time comes again to do the

miracle that turns dust atoms to water



This is rain in a field

that can no longer hold it—

blind groping for roots that

have worn down to shreds, to

outlines of words without water



This is building a dam without a river,

believing springs will one day rush up 

from deep earth and begin a deluge; 

building a boat and waiting

to be lifted by invisible water



I want you to understand

that I am still half alive—

and the part of me that sleeps

is spinning stories outside time—



And on some other earth,

formless and void, some spirit roves

over the water, waiting for the

word that says light