Eulogy For A Thrush

I am glad we were home
that afternoon
when the Varied Thrush
flew against our windowpane,
then lay amazed
among the pine cones
wondering how transparency
could be so like a diamond.
We watched her breast,
the color of a fallen leaf,
pulse slowly, more slowly,
her black beak groping
for some breeze.
Then she was still
but not alone.
Our mere presence
enfolded her,
tender as the Autumn air
she could not breathe.

Begin

I spent my whole life
learning to be a beginner.
Now is my first step.

Birthday

Today stars and galaxies
throw a party for the molecules
in your body,
drunk with the rare sweet
vintage of paradox:
You've been here 4.5
billion years,
and you're not one breath old!

Name of the Wound (A Poem from 'Wounded Bud')

What the bud calls a wound
we call blossoming.


This is how angels see our
gashed and broken places.


They keep singing,
"Stay open, stay open!"

Don't you know that
through your tears


that world flows as light
into this one?
(From my first book, 'Wounded Bud,'
Collage by Rashani Réa)

Autumn's Door (from the book, 'Savor Eternity...)



Look! Scarlet mushrooms
nippled in rotted dahlias,
crinkled leaves in moon silence,

harpsichords of dew
chiming their destiny of ice,
tiny omens of oblivion,
weightier than summer.

Thus do the angels of frolic
scatter their keys before you!
Open your nostrils now, your throat

to the sacred odor of spoil.
Don't be afraid to root in the putrid
rind and peel, spent tea and wizened
roses, webbed in veils of ghostly mold.

Find wisdom, go to the ruined garden,
where no waste is and beauty makes
use of the useless.

Ponder the calligraphy of worms.
Enter whatever is empty.
In the sepulcher of an ulcerous gourd
smell your way beyond the shroud.

Gaze into a spider’s web, that
fretwork of desolation, window
to your own abyss. Become

thistledown threaded in a breath
of November sky, careless where
you root. Follow one
commandment: Be ye perfect,

ever arriving 
exactly where
you are,
 precisely at the moment

you get here.

Every Atom

Every atom of your body
is singing to a star
about some incomprehensible
connection
between pain and beauty.
Gods cock their heads,
perplexed and ever
so sweetly troubled
by the music emitted
from your nuclei.
Something about your
gravity and grief
gives them courage.
They long to clothe themselves
in what weighs you down
to this mother of bodies,
the planet pulsing
with gray hair and sweet grass,
empty park benches,
lonely faces of dissolving frost
on maple leaves.
Angels yearn to fathom
this opacity of tears,
and smother their
brilliant souls
in dust.

Hajj


Make the pilgrimage to your own chest.

Why travel to Mecca, Benares,
Jerusalem or Rome?


This motion of blossoming
round the Khaba stone
is the golden whorl of Allah's gaze,
the healing gesture

of Christ's left hand,

divine amazement

in a frond of lavender.



The soft rose of the galaxy

and the gentle cyclone of this breath

are one circular path.

Is your heart not the wine press
of friendship, your eyebrows
snowy peaks of bread

distributed to the poor?

Is your belly not a well-aged cask
of happiness,
the crown of you head a cup
full of lightning?

Gaze into your flesh, friend.
Your bronchial tube is the well of stars.



Could there be a single
infinitesimal dot of your body
that does not overflow with
the nectar you’ve been thirsting for?

Don't Go On

 
Don't go on 
about Oneness.
Just fall silently in love
with duality
and see what happens.
Meet your pain with the kiss
of direct perception.
The peep of a frog, the sting 

of a nettle, the vacancy 
of the park bench covered 
with wet leaves
where we met and surely 

touched one summer afternoon -
all signs of awakening,
signs that the perceiver
is finally enamored 

of this grievous broken-open
unfallen world.

Collage by Rashani Réa



What's Planted

What's planted
in the ground
springs up over
and over again
in time...
What's planted in
the groundless
springs up just once
in eternity.

Majnoon's Story (from my first book, 'Wounded Bud')


I fell in love with Layla, the king's daughter, but she was betrothed to the Prince of Light.

I did not yet know that she was my soul, cast up out of sea-foam, already lying unveiled in the shell of my heart.

So I became a wanderer, and went mad in the forest. Every bursting bud was her mouth. Every bee, stinging its wildflower, drank from my kiss.

I spun seasons with my yearning, turned Winter to Spring with my desire; bled under a pine, praying to meet her in death.

Now listen, friend, when you thirst enough for the Gift of her face, you will comprehend a way of inebriation that imbibes nothing but the nectar of moonlight: a way to make love with the eternal Virgin.

I call this way "bewilderment," because it takes place in the forest, through the wildest most pathless discipline: but you may call it a gushing wound.

Yes, it opens my chest, a fountain of darkness, effusing a great final sigh, signifying that I have surrendered to the purity of No Restraint.

I don't care if you are not understanding this! The gash in my heart encompasses your misunderstanding as well as perfect knowledge; it sucks in the universe, and the uncreated space beyond.

Like a swollen berry on a withered vine, I drop from my body.
 


Pan's feet press me through the sieve of the earth, into a barrel made of oak and rosewood, and other trees from the center of the Garden.

"You aren't juice any more!" says my crusher. "That was for children and pretenders. I turn you into wine, so that those who get drunk on your songs will remember everything."

This is my story, lovers and friends. This is how a drop of sorrow can sweeten the whole cup!

Cell

Never-ending bewilderment,
otherwise known
as surrender.
The space between
one moment and the next,
filled with the nectar of devotion.
Each bee knows only
its delicious cell.
The honeycomb gushes
infinitesimal abundances.
Friend, just rest
in your own gold.
Make the world overflow.
You are not this chattering stream
of opinions, memories and desires.
You are not your thoughts.
Rest as the luminosity
of original emptiness.
You are the mirror,
not the images reflected on it.
The only real liberation
is freedom from the mind itself.
As the Autumn spider
spins her silver web
against the dark
without getting stuck in the threads
of her own creation,
let your mind be a field
of magical play
where beggars and kings,
warriors, lovers,
witches and fools
get caught in the net of desire.
Just watch.
Witness what glistens
against the dark.
Remain still.
You are not that glitter.
You are the night.

Allow

Allow your heart
to be drawn ever deeper
into this self-luminous
unbearably beautiful jewel
of Silence.
Something glows here
softer than any touch,
more enticing
than any lover.
Playful and birthless,
a joy without cause,
this Light makes us free.
Silence is the mother.

* Photo by Aile Shebar

Listen

In the white noise
of many opinions
I long to hear the silence
creatures make
when they are listening.
There is no thought,
only the mysterious harmony
of trees and raindrops.
Invisible things appear.
The deer step gently
out of the mist.
When we listen,
the heart opens
fearlessly.
No need to defend itself.
No need to form an opinion
about anything.




(Photo taken on Mt. Tahoma,
hiking with my brother Dave)

Transmutation

Transmute the pollen of sexual yearning
to golden soul honey.
This is how to make flowers luminous
and all gardens share one light.
This is how cocoa beans ferment
and the tongue gets sweet without sugar;
how heaven and earth,
the sap and petal, fuse;
how Gopis are in love
and bridesmaids know the Groom.
On the borderline between
the body and its aura
there's a marketplace for atoms of delight.
The contraband is innocence,
the price, surrender.
Jesus was a bee-keeper,
Mary a maker of mead.
Keep this secret, and store up radiance.

Equinox

Autumn crocuses
splashed with Summer's last sunbeam -
shadows deepening.

Name of the Wound

What the bud calls a wound
we call blossoming.


This is how angels see our
gashed and broken places.


They keep singing,
"Stay open, stay open!"

Don't you know that
through your tears


that world flows as light
into this one?

(From my first book, 'Wounded Bud,' Collage by Rashani Réa)

Stop

"When the time comes..." Stop
right there! No time comes, no time
goes. The time is Now.

Seed

When the silence within you becomes
more delicious than any music,
when your old heart releases
a fragrance like the rose,
even though your garden has
withered to its Autumn root,
when your breath grows still
and clear as the sky
and the mighty empire around you
falls like a brittle leaf,
this is prayer. Never doubt
that the gentle murmur of God's name
is the seed
of a new creation.

Banquet

We don't create this world of laughter and weeping.
It's poured into our cup at the wedding.

We're not the center of creation:
we're the tilt and wobble that makes
the spinning finally come to rest.

No heart beats itself: something else
whips us like cream into this sweetness
and dollops a little of us onto everything.

Don't be a guest, be the feast.
The host will fill your cup again and again.

He’ll whisper your name and remind you
of that summer night

when you couldn't tell the difference
between moonbeams and your fingers,
bees and pollen.

You were planted then: you burst open now.
The sign of recognition

is falling inward
from a great height,
and never reaching
the bottom of the grail.

(A poem from my first book, 'Wounded Bud.')

Both



Collage of my poem by Rashani Réa

Learn to be both
the circling moth 
and its flame.
We all have a need
to become what we need.
Even now our wings
are lit by death.
The soul is the deepest
organ in the body,
and it is on fire.

Before I Write You A Poem

Before I write you a poem I ask,
"What does the loneliest soul
need to hear right now?"

The universe rings its silence
of stars, galaxies gonging
as in the first moment of eternity

hollowing a space in my
reptilian brain where a voice
murmurs, "Tell them
it takes no effort at all
to melt the heart.
Just be without a center.

“Stop the search.
Spin your tears
into sweetness.
Trample your pain
into wine."

"They will not comprehend
such foolish words!" I cry.

"Oh yes they will!"

"Who are you, Poem-Giver?"

"I am your love for the hummingbird
who comes as a beggar to your window,
clothed like a king.
I am the bug embalmed
in spider's silk.
I am the golden moment
your craving is fulfilled,
just before the twinge
of your next desire.

“Rest in Me. now.
I am the magical name you give
to ordinary thing."

Gaze


Gaze at the full moon.
You have 10,000 questions?
Silence is the answer.

Ephemera for a Harvest Moon



Just remembering the truth makes me dance.
This ephemera we call 70, milk star
in a tadpole's egg, reflection
of the Eye itself on ripples
of voluptuous petroleum night.

Harvest moon such silent thunder in my forehead,
I bathe in a breath-beam that lasers my soul
through a broken string of pearls, or are they
raindrops on a 67 Chevy’s shattered windshield
tangled in thistles just beyond the bright
blue tents of the homeless encampment
under Interstate I-5?

I am reminded of Sukka huts
in the golden vineyards of Shechem.
I am reminded of my vow:
nothing inferior, nothing supreme,
nothing separate, nothing equal -

Every facet of this jewel a rainbow prism
lit with the lie of distances,
and every heart an overflow of otherness.
Can anything be impure that is washed
in the blackness of God? 

You are I am you, two mirrors
face to face, nothing between us
but a luminous mirage where love plays
hide-and-seek with its own yearning.

How else could the sea of compassion
dance in a syringe
discarded among dandelions?
Behind the abandoned mental asylum
there's a garden: will you meet me there,
draped in your hospital gauze?

Those who see creatures of darkness
sparkling in the void will guide you
through the tall wounded sunflowers.

Ask Teiresius, who wears Raybans
because the underworld is so bright.
Ask the dead poet Jesus, still hitchhiking
on the express lane, where no one stops.
Ask the astrophysicist on Mount Meru,
the one with an observatory between his eyebrows,
listening for the first light.

Ask Tech Support from Benares
how to apply the azure tint of Ohm's law
to your transsexual cheekbones,
how to smother your tongue in gravitons
of honey from beyond the Milky Way.
I am reminded of a chocolate whirlpool
where diamonds are crushed
from the mastodons of my desire. 

O Shiva Sundaram, O Goddess Shambhavi,
naked night-swimmers in the well of my bliss,
O serpent of silence in the drum,
O spellbound motionless pure erotic dancer
who flails my body from its soul
and dons it for a sacred veil
to cloak your own divine nakedness -

Why do you taunt me, dripping with soma,
appearing and disappearing
in a fractal mist among the mushrooms
at the edges of my nerve meadow?

You wander in the wilderness between my nipples.
You nudge my belly with insatiable dispassion.
I inhale your kiss.
You un-poison my mind.
I am intoxicated with purity.
 
Open the wound of my invisible eye,
O Virgin Moon, whose soul is light,
whose body is darkness.

I have no offering but these words.
They are silent petals floating
on your ocean of shamelessness.
And whoever the flower was,
it has dropped everything
to become fragrance alone.

LINK: Hear a reading of this poem at SoundCloud.

Last

Last petals of summer,
pungence of the dying garden,
transparency of alder leaf,
your grandmother's hand.
The way the full moon hides
her face in a veil of tears.
Your tears, friend.
Peace comes
without ceremony.

No votive flame
of consolation.
No bell of mindfulness.
No lover's elegiac midnight kiss.

Quiet as evening dew
the fist of your dear heart
unclenches; you scent
the fragrance of loss.
This too is a portion of the earth's
unspeakable beauty.

Open



I'm in an open relationship
with my heart.
How can I contain my passion for snails?
Milkweed in autumn, the foreplay of otters,
the holes in old socks that live
for decades in a drawer,
stray cats, lonely porcelain Sleeping
Beauty and the Prince
salt and pepper shakers,
coyotes moaning in the wetland,
wayward petals that wander
far from their roses
on rain-swollen breaths of September.
Each creature, I'm afraid,
is my favorite partner.
You, you above all.
I say that to everyone, don't I?
After love making,
the universe and I just lie here
gazing through our tears.
Who is the sweat-beaded Dancer?
Who is the Witness wearing only
a necklace of stars?
One who burns completely,
leaving neither smoke
nor ashes,
becomes pure.

Words and Actions

Some say that actions are
more powerful than words
because words in the mind
are only shadows and signs
of the things they signify.
But there are some words,
ancient, sweet with sap,
fragrant with pollen,
that fall into the bodhi field,
intuition beyond thought.
Some words are even seeds
light, germs of awakening,
that heal the body, and some
words penetrate the silence
of the heart, most potent
acts and sub-nuclear
explosions that dance in
black holes at the centers
of un-created galaxies,
reminding every dimensionless
point in eternal space
that there is no time, no
matter no motion, only
consciousness its
Self.

Mountain Mother

Thank you Mountain Mother,
whose overflowing breast
nurtures us with white streams.
You are boundless healing.
You have no other name
but the silence of your majesty.
Thank you, spirit of the trail,
for every trail has a spirit,
and every spirit has a trail.
Thank you perfect sun and moon,
wind and dust and cloudless sky.
I offer you the pain in my knees.
I know that every atom in my bones
is filled with the bliss
of intergalactic spaciousness.
It is a good day to die.
It is a good day to be born.
O Soul, be not deluded
even by this beauty:
Earth bowing brown and green at your feet
is but the shadow of your body,
Blue firmament above but a reflection
of your consciousness.
What is a full moon but the likeness
of your mind at peace?
What is the sun but an image
of the pulsating hollow
an inch above your belly,
your golden manipura
spilling treasures of generosity?
Even this vast crystal dome
of the Mountain Mother
is but a mirror of the radiance
that surges from a dark well deeper
inside you than yourself.
(Photo and poem today, after
a full moon hike to Mount Tahoma)

Stillness

The stillness you seek inside
is all around you,
effervescent with stars,
hungering tears and
waves of otherness.
The strength you want in
in a noble leader
is the heart-crushing softness
of your own breath.
The touch you yearn for
in the nearness of a lover
undulates your spine,
fermented nectar
rising from the green earth
to kiss the boundless sky
through your body.
I keep telling you, dear friend,
you seek the One you are.

Confession



I have a confession to make.
I am always drunk.
Especially when I have just consumed
a nightfull of stars.
The milky way makes me drunk,
lightning bugs make me drunk,
and at dawn the telltale honeysuckle
at the ragged edge of a meadow.
Tears make me drunk.
Even a sip of your face, the gentlest
kiss and I can't remember
my name.
I go reeling down the street,
begging. Nuns
and social workers try
to help me back to normal.
They discover me gazing into my heart
and slapping my own cheeks.
They explain to passers-by,
'He is not himself today."
But that's just the problem:
I Am.
The sun and moon have given me up
for adoption.
Gravity cannot contain me.
The weight of my body
is a prayer.
Is it my fault I was born
with a fathomless cup
at the center of my chest
where You won't stop
pouring
into Me
with every breath?


Painting: Mahmoud Farshchian

Three Yogis

The jnana yogi's mantra:
"I don't know,"
repeated over and over
as he falls asleep until
body, mind and soul all snore
and the one who
doesn't know
remains eternally
awake.
The bhakti yogi's prayer:
"Even when my heart is dry
and I feel no love for You
your love is all around me
like space
but more silent,
soft as a uterus.
My emptiness
is your compassion."
The karma yogi's discipline:
"When I am weary of doing
I will do even more,
until the "I" who felt weary
is burnt away
and all that remains is
your breath, O Swirler
of Galaxies.
Now flow through the night
of my stillness
and dance me.

Good News

Jesus made it so clear that
he did not want to "save" us;
he wanted us to become
what he is.
Crucify the concepts
that cling to the cross
of duality -
past and future,
heaven and hell,
matter and spirit,
ignorance and enlightenment.
Your resurrection is the pollen
at the heart of the rose.
Your emptiness glows
with compassion.
Dissolve in the womb
of this sparkling moment:
it is the Kingdom.
If you think that the Kingdom
is anywhere else,
you have already fallen
into exile.
Here is the Gospel, the Good News:
you are what you have been seeking.

Into Jazz




If I could go back anywhere
in time, meet anyone, naturally
Jesus would be high on my list.
I’d be on a dusty path
in Galilean noonday heat.
He’d be sitting in the meadow
with a handful of workers
eating figs from a sack, sharing
his bread, the owner of the land
quickly approaching, red in
the face, shouting, “Now look here!
These men and women aren’t for hire!”
Jesus offers him a fig, saying
“Asalam aleikam,” then stands up
and walks to the road
where his eyes greet mine but
he doesn't speak, just smiles
and that is all I need...
Of course I'd want to visit
the garden of Vrindaban too,
at the end of the previous age
when human bodies were still
more like sunbeams than bone.
It would be midnight.
I'd hide behind a tulsi tree,
watching Lord Krishna dance
with the cowherd girls.
I linger and gaze only a moment,
yet that gaze becomes a dark well
from which I drink for
ten thousand years…
I wouldn’t mind visiting the steps
of the Acropolis either, back when
that crinkled indefatigable elf,
looking older than his years, his
crank case sputtering wisdom, asked
troubling questions to eager youth.
I’d whisper, “Watch out old man, 
they're going to arrest you for this!”
I vanish and he chuckles to himself,
cocking his head and muttering
into the empty sky, “Is that so?”
Then Socrates tells the children,
“My daimon just visited me...”
As for Adam and Eve, if they
were ever real, I wouldn’t care
to meet them, the old bores,
but I'd want to visit their garden
and look for Adam’s first wife, Lilith,
inviting her to walk in the cool
of the evening with me, by the edge
of the forest, far from any God…
Yet of all times and places,
I’d most want to visit 1958
on the Lower East Side
at the Five Spot Café,
a sultry August evening
in smoky gin-scented shadows.
There are tears in my eyes
alone at a wooden table, just
listening to the lightning
of the all but forgotten
tenor sax of Johnny Griffin,
who's sitting in with
Thelonious Monk's quartet
in one of those anonymous
sacramental signs that
we're all truly angels on Earth, 
here to turn the light we've
brought down with us
into jazz.

Autumn

First rain in two moons.
Frogs rejoice in my garden,
voices of flowers.