Quaker Meeting

On Sunday morning I love
the priestless ceremony
of a Quaker Meeting.
The minister is each of us, ordained
by the power of simplicity.
Silence is the sermon,
Presence the ritual,
Breathing out, the offering,
Breathing in, the Spirit's gift.
No one even has to say, 'Amen'.
The wood thrush said it at dawn,
waking the world to this
First Day.

Fallujah


Training in the woods
at Fort Lewis, Washington,
on patrol and for a moment
quite alone,
you happen upon a trillium,
moon-silver secret revelation
piercing the fern-green gloom.
You bow down whispering,
"Thank you for showing me
what’s inside."
Six months later on patrol
in the shimmering rubble
of Fallujah,
you happen upon a girl
three days dead,
her body cut nearly in half
by American fire -
your fire, my fire -
her large intestine blossoming
in the desert sun,
a terrible sweetness
in your nostrils.
You bow down whispering,
"Thank you for showing me
what's inside."
For others, it goes on.
For you,
this is the last war.

It's Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day.
Summer is on.
Glutted with the stench
of glory, we make speeches
all afternoon
trying to convince
child warriors and
their moms
that the best damn thing
you can do for your country
is die.

Serve

A very deep way to serve
your nation, your land, your
ancestor's warrior spirit,
is to muster up some courage
and let a glittering stream flow
down from the silent mountain
in your heart,
washing every passer-by,
especially the ones with
open wounds.
Don't blame anyone for
anything...
Be more like a peony
that blossoms after rain, in
morning sunbeams.
She doesn't look for
the gardener or the gazer
most worthy to behold
her hidden treasures.
She just drowns every bee, warbler,
mongrel stray and hyperactive
boy on a stolen bicycle, each
strange and distant star
whose light will not reach us for
a thousand years, in her
diamond-scented invitation
to forgive.

Photo: a peony on my dining room table

Cannot Say

I cannot say what it is.
I can only say what it is like.
Therefor, creation is speech,
a song, a chant...
Light is darkness
remembering herself.
The earth is emptiness
birthing herself like a blossom.
My naked awareness
is a Bridegroom
embracing the Bride,
who is my breath.
She enfolds the most
infinitesimal sensation
as her Child.
O Shiva, bathe this body
with the mothering inhalation
of your Shakti.'
Is there any other prayer?
The holy Trinity: awareness,
prana, sensation
in every particle of me.
Yoga: their union.
My eternal vow: to dissolve
each moment into countless
sparks of nothing.
I cannot say what it is.
I can only say what it is like.
Therefor the cosmos is a poem.

Tower

The tower of remembrance
comes crashing down.
A breath of Presence
gently blows away the dust
of your stories.
You are graciously fallen
to your most ancient
foundation,
the beaten hollow
of your heart.
It is a fall that heals you,
here in the golden center
of an exhalation
where you have no
circumference.
Astonishment blossoms.
By the wave of wonder
one heartbeat unfolds,
you heal the earth.
Don't worry,
just return to the core
of breath, blood, bone.
Give someone
the flower of your body
this moment.

Drink

Your heart is not a pump my dear,
but a sacrificial bowl on an alter of bone
filled with the blood of ancestors,
bulls, lambs, doves, wine,
moon-mulled moth wings,
tassels of spider silk,
filings from the whetted
executioner's blade,
glistenings of gristle and
death, voices yearning
for your womb and all the
forgettings of your milk again.
Bear them, let them drink.


Renoir, 'Mother and Child.'

Credo: A Poem from 'Savor Eternity'


My prayer wheel is the turning year,
the sun my confessor, my priestess the moon.

My daily offices are morning mist, evening swallows,
hush of midnight.

My scripture, white clouds on blue emptiness;
pictograms of geese, pointing South.

I gave up theology to watch the bees make honey.
My anointing is the mud between my toes.

The barefoot poet, Jesus, taught me to mulch and till
the heavens into loam.

His Spirit is a quietness in my heart.
Hope gets in the way; the source is gratitude.

Through vaulted arches of hemlock and cedar,
a thrush bell calls me to prayer.

May the pilgrim melt into her path, the path
into the goal,

the goal into this moment, and the very first step
into Waylessness…
________
 LINK to the publisher, Saint Julian Press,
Release date: Jun 17, 2016

Collage by Rashani Réa, whose book, 

'Shimmering Birthless,' is the companion
volume to my poems: a lovely coffee-table

art book! LINK

Work

When you were poor
you did not sprawl among poppies
on the banks of the stream
singing, "I am rich! I am rich!"
No, friend, you did some work.
And now that you are on fire
with thirst for the Beloved,
do you fall on your pillow
like a bee into the rose, mumbling,
"I drown in the nectar of love"?
No, friend, you work.
You become this fire,
the thirst itself,
and do the deeper work
of begging!

Commentary: I realize that "beg" is a disturbing word, a jolt of awakening. If you don't like it, use the word "Yearn." But there is an ancient tradition of holy begging. In those times, beggars had great dignity. Their bowl was infinitely deep, their mind completely empty, their heart groundless. That kind of bowl can generate abundance from nothingness. That beggar is Buddha.

Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Evidently he saw no difference between beggars and kings. The Greek word he used for "poor" was "ptokos," which is more radical than "poor": it means "destitute, utterly empty, powerless." Grace flows easily into such bottomless abysmal yearning.

When you are in the presence of the Master, you surrender everything. You become destitute. You realize it was never yours to begin with. That is the perfect poverty of the true beggar. Then you can live by grace, like a king.

But I don't know what I'm talking about. If I did, I wouldn't be a beggar.

Homeless Garden: Roses Among Bambo

For the Homeless Garden Project, Santa Cruz

Every flower has a home
in its own beauty,
its own pollen,
and in its seed
when it returns
to the beginning...
Friend, remember that
when you feel homeless.
 *

'Roses Parmi les Bambous'

Chaque fleur a une maison
dans sa propre beauté,
son propre pollen
et sa semence,
lorsqu'elle retourne
au commencement ...
Ami, rappelle-toi de cela
Lorsque tu te sens sans-abri.
Photo: Kristy Thompson
Translated into French by Francine Gaulin

Risk

I risk
falling inward
and finally resting
in who I am,
this too intimate
infinite sky
at the end of a breath...
I am afraid
of my heart.
Please
take my hand.
Come with me.


Photo: Sky over Puget Sound taken near my house

Mindful Breathing

Look a little deeper
into a beetle wing,
layers of gray
in a shard of obsidian,
or an iris labia, that
swelling cerulean
sky in your garden.
Penetrate each veil
of motherly matter
and you will see billions
of fragile angelic spheres
swarming around your heart,
contending for one center,
this tiny diamond silence
at the tip of your exhalation.
Do not move!
You might topple their
precarious symmetry,
each from her
vulnerable poise,
shattering the earth
into primal transparencies,
a host of flights and
echoes of light
scattered through the
vastness of quantum
uncertainty... Why
do you think it is so
crucial to cherish one
quiet moment?
Because you balance
this entire creation
here!
Between breaths.

Turiya*

All night long while
our bodies sleep
you and I are one star
watching over them.
Their breath flows
gently up to us and
touches the milk of
our darkness, then
returns, fragrant
with healing musk.
This is the work of
Turiya, the Witness
beyond dreams,
beyond waking.
It is who we really
are, safeguarding
ourselves with
constant love.

Photo by Amy Lamb
*In the Upanishads, Turiya is the term for the fourth of state of consciousness, the Witness, who is eternally awake beneath the other three states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep.

Small As God

"Ano-raniyan, mahato-mahiyan:
Smaller than the smallest, greater

than the greatest." ~Upanishads
God is smaller than a gnat.
God is smaller than a fleck
of pollen on a bee's foot,
smaller than a wave of gravity
in the ocean of a quark.
God is smaller than the time
it takes light to pass
through the width of a hair.
Any creature as small as God
must be un-created.
To get that small,
you'd have to contain the universe.
You'd have to disappear
into everything,
and be as humble
as a last breath.
No body is as small as God.

Honey Dance




Time heals all wounds they say.
I say we are the wounds
in the green body of time herself.

We harden into berries,
swell, blush, fall, burst,
surrender our seed.

Grubs discover us
and restore us to death,
scrivening black letters

of emptiness into our bones,
the name of the hole.
Yet we need holes to fill

with music, until our absence
becomes a final breath,
the sky.

This is the honey dance
of crystal and sap that happens
among fallen apples

bleeding out their gold
through fissures of slow-cooked
wine, revealing the way

of the worm in the red delicious…
Yet through all our vanishings
a sweet amrita flows and

one bee only escapes, laden
with vestiges of late September,
the stolen treasures of impermanence…

(Still Life with Apples, Cezanne)

This Is My Birth Day

Awakened space uses thought when a specific problem needs solving, then settles back into dynamic silence, wonder and emptiness, like a vast blue sky.
People who are always thinking, but not aware, search for peace. People who are aware, but not always thinking, are peace.
Meditation is not thinking. Meditation is the choice to quit the search and repose in this primordial clarity of the cloudless sky.
When I realize that 'I' am no-thing but pure awareness, the past dissolves, the future never arises.
No matter how many stories the world tries to impose on my awakened space, they do not cling to "me." I am not a victim and I am not to blame.
I am free to be born with this inhalation, free to die with this exhalation. The clarity of Presence outshines every form.
This all comes of seeing that simply to Be is overflowing bliss. The Master ignited this seeing. That is why I say, "Jai Guru Dev."

Shed

I shed every petal,

crushed every pollen drop

to fragrance without form,

peeled the seed away

and cracked each casing

of the emerald germ

down to the black

Upanishadic hollow...

Still, I could not feel You.

I relinquished every veil

of innocence and shame,

became more naked

than the moon before the sun.

offered my flesh

to the fire of wanting,

melted every photon to its

wave of darkness.

Still, I could not touch

the Love of whom fools stammer...

So I hid in your Hiddenness,

tore off my wings and

spiraled down into the rhythm

of your stillness.

fell into the sea where

breath goes before it returns,

I knelt on the shore of

my own ancient heart,

faithful to the last lost pulse.

In a wickless flame,

in a soft scarlet chaos

without root or stem,

I became infinite.

Longing blossomed in the golden void.

I became you.

Winter Solstice



I am indeed human.
Tonight I dwell in deep poverty.
Who knows if I will inherit
the gold that is on fire
in the ore of my chest?

Human indeed, sustained
by perpetual loss.
Tonight who knows if
I will taste wealth overflowing
from a single breath?

I am human. I blossom
precariously on broken stems,
thirsting for sweetness,
rooted in the dark.
Who knows if I will ever drink
the healing sap
from my own hollow seed?

Human indeed, suckling
an abysmal sorrow.
Who will share the breast milk
of my emptiness?
This wound does not close.
It is the eye of wisdom,
a human gash.

Who knows if, tonight,
I may finally embrace
the fierce beauty of my own
beaten heart?

Hear a reading of this poem on Sound Cloud LINK

Aging

Dear one, you cannot reverse
the aging process.
But you can turn your breath
into light,
pouring it through 
the hollow places
in your body,
filling every atom like
a golden chalice to the brim
with the invisible sap
of eternity.
Then the Master can 
drink from you,
and you are not one moment old!

Be Still and Know

“Be still and know that I am God.”
~Psalm 46:10


We celebrate the oscillation
of our inner stillness
in waves of “I” and “Thou.”
The play of Lover and Beloved
inside us is the play of
Subject and Object
in every act of perception,
beat or beatific.
The space between these
I-Thou quantum fluctuations
in the vacuum
of pure consciousness
is the space of creation,
where worlds burst forth
for the sake of perception,
an apple bud on a twig tip,
the scent of lilac in the blues
of your garden,
the ancient touch
of dancers dancing
for no other reason.


Picture: 'Virtual Particles in the Quantum Vacuum'
by Robert J. Tiess

Perfection



I renounce perfection,
yet it returns
unbidden in the plum bud,

in dew crystal, moss softness
on bare toes, or my own face
distilled in your gaze.

Purity
is the inevitable consequence
of not seeking it.

Precisely when I know nothing
I become the omniscient wisdom
of my body.

Precisely when I want nothing
I inherit the incalculable wealth
of this moment.

Precisely when I am nothing
my emptiness engenders
the world.

Why not celebrate
the infinitesimal satori
of a hummingbird's wing?

Now let us have some tea,
green, smoky,
bitter and pure as light.

No End

Here's the secret:
there is no end.
They say time heals
all wounds.
I say we are the wounds
in the green body
of Time herself.
We harden into berries,
swell, blush, fall, burst,
surrender our seed.
Worms discover us and
write their black
letters of emptiness
in our flesh.
Somehow our veins
awaken, filled with
golden light and we are
breathing sky again.

Kali Make Faces At Me


Kali, make faces at me,
stop my breath
and frighten me
into enlightenment.
Parvati, with serpentine
midnight moves
seduce me
into meditation.
Shakti, Goddess,
do not dance with me,
dance through me,
a spine of melted stars.


(Collage by Rashani Réa)