"Give me the daring to take hold of the darkness." ~Lalladev

Hello, my name is Darkness
and I am addicted to light.
I began to savor sunbeams
about the age of four,
the hopeless habit of drowning in flowers.
The first sip I remember:
a yellow chrysanthemum
on an October afternoon.
Now I guzzle from the grail
of the full moon.
I wake after midnight craving stars
and creep downstairs, tip toe
by the refrigerator,
past the hard cider and cheese,
wander out beyond the pumpkins
to the edge of the forest
leaving crystal footprints in frost.
It is not the florid summer noon
that mystics love,
but the radiant liquór of what is not,
the hidden pulsar in the void.
I stand here shamelessly shining
from belly to brow with blackness,
the secret nectar known to mad
Taoist mountain poets,
Benedictines drunk with vigil hymns,
Sufis, Beguínes, the whirling ones,
wiccans of Mary magic.
I sway tipsy as a reed in its
hollow twister of stillness
until my root tingles down
to the planetary seed
and my crown is aglitter
with Andromeda.
By sunrise I am utterly wasted.
O Nabasvan,
breath of the mother-hour,
hour when silence turns milk-white
and ghostly mushrooms quiver up
like nipples of the crone
from musky mud-moss,
I promise to conceal what
men are not ready to know.
Hello, my name is Luminous
and I am addicted to night.
Pierce me with
the flame of your shadow.
Let my body sheathe your
dagger of angels.

A reading at SoundCloud: LINK

Inhale Counting Four

I must confess I'm getting bored
with spiritual practices.
Inhale counting 4, exhale counting 6.
I did this in first grade arithmetic…
Perform Frog Asana better
than anyone else in yoga class.
Can't wait to practice Corpse Pose
and just lie here doing nothing…
Wonder if her mantra works better than mine:
Tantric bija, $1200…
My guru is flawless, but yours
had an affair with a cheerleader…
If you buy your meditation at an ashram,
where it's been on the shelf for a thousand years,
be sure to check the expiration date:
it should say "Now" …
Breathing in, say “breathing in.”
Breathing out, say “out…”
Why not say, “My grandmother
rides a red bicycle?”
Now replace the thought of that lady's rump
with a thought of emptiness....
So I took these complaints to the Master,
who said, “When did you ever see me
actually doing any of that crap?”
Then he threw his arm over my shoulder
and lead me to The Tavern of Awakening,
where everyone gets instantly drunk
by practicing absolutely nothing.
Those fools are always dancing in a circle
and nobody knows who started the celebration
or why...
If you come, bring a big empty stein.
No one will ask who invited you.
Friend, isn’t it finally time to
run out of patience?
Be a wave of Right Now
crashing on the Ordinary.
Just do who you are
and pulverize diamonds
with your whirling.


When your mind becomes
empty and clear
as the bluest sky,
the golden sun appears
all by itself.
No need to ask or try.
Let the night of your heart
be hollow as a womb.
Then you will give birth
to a radiance purer
than ten million stars.
This is how Christ is born
in the silence
of the black Madonna.
No need to pray.
Just breathe gratitude.

Remind Yourself

How do you remind yourself
that you are perfectly and
agelessly beautiful?
By not doing anything
just for a moment.
Then you return
to the first spark
of your boundless glory,
and for the rest of the day
in your work or play there is
a magical inebriation
that keeps you unborn,
while all night long you are
so stunning that the stars
come very close to gaze
into your sleeping face
and bathe in the gentleness
of your breathing.

Painting by Barbara Berger,
from 'Grandfather Twilight'

Wild Flower Yoga

'There are 196 verses in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.
Only three of them deal with asanas.'  ~Swamiji

Your flesh is the open gate.
Let all your pain be offered
in the fire of Yoga,
burnt away in the dance of Presence,
released in the fragrance of Wonder.
Take sensations in your body
more seriously, friend.
They contain the stars…
Now abandon every routine.
There is no sequence of postures.
Valiantly stand like a mossy wizened
Winter oak, softly wind-swayed.
What you long for is the sparkling
void of this breath-breeze
where it comes to rest like
a feather on your breastbone.
You are dancing with the Goddess,
even though you are alone.
Let her be your inhalation,
Kali’s wand your backbone,
your pelvis her boat of night
ferrying your secret moon
on rising falling tides of sweetness.
Quietly now, wind your planets
on the black axis of surrender
in the hollow between your nipples.
Hear the silence of awakened space  
in the ligaments between each bone,
your muscles bathed in waters
of pure attention, 
each atom of your flesh a wave
of moonlight threaded on cotton,
spun from uncreated fire…
inventing themselves
out of your molten stillness.
Now the dance is yours.
There are no instructions.
Go nowhere, whirl more slowly
through golden emptiness,
sorrow and ecstasy
mingled in one sensation,
the motionless explosion
of the rose
entangled in your rib cage…
No one teaches yoga
to a flower.
Bending in the garden's breath
toward topaz warmth
without precision or posture,
trust in the bending itself.
Let these thoughts fall back
like petals into your
embodied gush
of unseen stem-wine.
Aligned and spiraling
with galaxies of wonder,
unfurl flesh beyond form.
Do you have any edges?

The air is luminous food.

Repose without effort
in green gravity,
feeling your whole
wildflower body,
root to blossom,
one undulating hollow
for the pull of honey,
your inhalation nectar,
your exhalation a kiss
on the dark mouth
of your creator.
From the baby’s soft spot
in your crown
to the sap-dripping sacrum
runs an empty nerve through whom
the liquid lightning hums.
Follow that thunderbolt
all the way Om to your toes.
Root down to loam.
Let your yearning be
threaded to the embryo
you honed with 10,000 deaths.
When the world was made,
this breath was here!,
flinging your pollen on blood-wind
in the vastness of the Mother.
O too thoughtfully up-rooted one,
bow down to the nearest
scarlet-tousled weed and cry,
'Teach me!'

A reading of this guided poetry-meditation
on SoundCloud: LINK

Photo by Laurent Berthier


My rosary is broken.
It's scattered beads
have become the stars
and "I" the silence
between them.
Yet the thread is
still tethered

to my heartbeat.
Here's the secret -
if you let the Goddess
be your breath

you won't need any rules

but joy and kindness.

Painting by Georgia O'Keeffe

'I Am The Door'

Why were you given
this wound
in your heart's core?
To find a luminous portal.
And what use is
this doorway of light?
Not a way out, but in.
Not for fleeing toward
the realm of angels,
but giving birth
to the Sun.
Here, in the green world
there is pain and burning
but great love.
Drink from your grail
of fire.
Breathe out beams
of healing.


This world is your mirror
and a mirror is never unjust.
No one has ever been wounded
by a reflection.
All this terror and beauty,
all these demons and devas,
beasts and flowers
are precisely and exquisitely
as You Are,
as I Am,
as our mingled dreams in air.
O friend, create the rainbow.
Ravel up into a glimmer of your eye
whatever you need to awaken
fearlessness and compassion.
Whoever you meet, you are.
Whoever you judge, you become.
Forgive them all for being
Behold your face
in the mirror of God.


Sky, moon, mountain,
cedar, fern,
the doe and fawn
standing in the alder grove,
a barn owl swerving
into white mist on
silent wings,
and here my foot,
my belly, breath and eye,

the seeing that swells
from silence outward -
all creatures pour forth
from this Autumn dahlia
on my back porch.
The universe is organized
through wonder.


If he does not touch you
in the softness
of your inhalation,
if he does not walk with you
in the garden
between heartbeats,
how can you say that
you have ever really met

the Teacher?

And how will you know
when he is here?
Dear one, your emptiness
turns indigo and fragrant
as a hyacinth.
You no longer fear
growing hollow

or falling like a leaf.
Your dark places overflow
with musk, with nectar,
with yearning.

You cease to pray
for light because
the midnight stillness

under your breastbone
is a maelstrom of stars.
A waveless flame

glows inside you
even when your body sleeps.
This is your mind,
lit by the silence
of love.

You are present to yourself,
like gold to the warmth
in a sunbeam,
like sweetness to the milk
of the mother.
And the dignity of
this very breath,
how it places the soul
in each atom of your flesh,
is the Master's
secret name.


If you let the Goddess
be your breath,
you won't need any rules
but Joy and Kindness.

~Painting by Joy Gilinsky

I Keep Saying

I keep saying over and over,
"Treat every inhalation as a gift
and listen to what listens."
This message isn't what I've heard
but what I Am.
Through the sparkling of your atoms,
which is starlight in the luscious
nectar of darkness,
silence sings.
Yet in this tidal wave of grace
you still have some work to do:
breathe out.
The Goddess gives you All
so that you can bestow All.
Do you need a discipline?
Make space for Her.
Did she not make space for you?
Stop investing in the future of your wounds.
You've made a cult of pain for eons
and where did it lead you?
Don't occupy a mirage.
Resistance and outrage
are vainglorious bling.
Don't say, "Look at me, I hurt more than you!"
You'll just wind up a hungry ghost,
sucking rocks through your nostrils,
pumping ashes up each capillary.
Face it friend, your mind is tired,
not your body.
You thought you needed wings,
but you only need emptiness.
Your body is a window at dawn.
Use it for seeing light.


to our back porch
every morning
for breakfast.
He likes toast.
Solitary and beautiful
he keeps the crows away
and blesses home.
When I go hiking in
the wilderness and
Ravencalls I pray
a green thanksgiving,
because I know that I am
entering the space
of fresh creation.
He is the gatekeeper
between the worlds.
His wings beat
rhythm in the void.
me a vision, maybe
just another animal,
a marmot, a mountain
goat, an old bear
that turquoise
whirling miracle, 
a hummingbird...
But hasn't the time
come round again on earth
when animal guides shall
teach us more than all
those holy disembodied
ghosts from heaven?

Painting: Haida Gwaii Raven by Darlene Fletcher

Thank You

Thank you for
the wounded flute
of my body,
these holes for your
song-making breath.
Seven golden cups
overflowing with wine
I offer you,
but you are the wine.
Thank you for
the empty places
inside me.
They are eyes that see
deep into the stranger,
lover, wanderer,
father on the doorstep,
whom I so gradually
recognize (it takes
a thousand lives)
as you.
Don't all wounds
widen into one
ancient emptiness?
We all have them,
but in different places,
and the same places.
Isn't the purest
prayer simply

Painting: Return of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32) by Ghislaine Howard.

Sabbath Morning Prayer

This morning, before dawn,
my heart whispered to the Goddess,
"Thank you for this breath."
The Goddess smiled and
the silence of her smile said,
"I AM your breath."
"O Goddess," I replied,
"when my mind is elsewhere,
this expiration is a ghost
moving through old bones.
But when I pour my attention
into your current of presence,
my breath ripples and glistens
with seeds, clustered galaxies,
pearl garden worlds of Krishna,
Ram and all the Devas,
bubbling from the dark nectar
of the vast Unborn.
And my bones overflow with
ageless wine..."
The Goddess's only reply
was to pour the next breath
into the cup of my forehead,
a broken rosary of gold,
tasting of honey, tingling down
the back of my throat
to the tangled jasmine
in the trellis of my ribs.
I said, "This inhalation hums
with mysterious music,
which must be the stream of
Word-less joy that created
the heavens and the earth."
The Goddess smiled and
the silence of her smile said,
"This is the stream of my Grace."
Then she sent her sacred Owl,
whose gift is death,
soaring across the sea
of my astonishment.

Getting Old

Getting old.
Eating more of what I like and less of what I should,
but not swigging so much noonday sun,
just sipping the wine of Autumn afternoon.
Still sauntering up switchbacks on the mountain,
heading for bluer sky,
but hobbled by the descent, bones without oil.
My dreams haven't changed though.
I just don't believe them any more.
Glorious cartoons on a golden screen.
Still the old tumbling brook of thoughts, memories, desires.
But its no longer me.
I'm the quiet meadow the stream chatters through.
I watch and am.
Sometimes I climb stairs on a mission,
only to stand in front of my closet
wondering what I came for.
The long neat row of old coats, pressed pants,
starched shirts I never wear anymore,
look like silent travelers waiting for a train
at the end of summer,
returning without my body
to a city whose name I have forgotten.
O teller of the past, I forgive you
for re-inventing that peculiar affection called "time,"
lighting it a little more gold from behind
at each recital.
But I relinquish the past gladly,
having never made anything of the future,
spending most of my day talking to animals,
a cat, two dogs, a raven, a squirrel,
and myriad chickadees.
I listen to coyotes at night with a strange envy,
wishing I had been more feral and alone.
Now I stay away from crowds, concerts, malls.
But if ever I must go there, Christmas shopping,
I stroll by the cosmetics counter, the girls
considering many colors and flavors of lipstick,
tangerine, tropical storm, luster of the jungle,
and I whisper, "You are already beautiful!"
In the morning I smile
at children on their way to school.
I want to walk breathlessly beside them
and share the secret fruit of wisdom, saying,
"Don't follow the rules, just be kind.
Make your math teacher explain what it means,
not just how to get the right answer.
Insist on reading Walt Whitman, the stuff that doesn't rhyme.
Only pay attention to the teachers who smile.
You are incomparable: grades mean nothing.
It's OK to eat candy,
just don't throw the wrapper on the ground.
It's OK to cry, even if you are a boy.
Say, I don't know, as often as you can.
Play the flute.
Make up new words.
Don't follow the rules, just be kind.
Did I say that?"
As I write this, sitting by the window,
warmed by the same old sun in a thousand fresh raindrops,
I can't remember why I came upstairs.
It must have been to tell you this.


What is the color of silence?
The fragrance of the void?
The sound that emptiness made
ages ago in the starry un-struck bell
of possibility?
What is the taste of your death song
as you drown in the unfathomable
sea of a single breath?
This is no time for modesty.
Be fiercely naked.
What shape is the boundless sensation
of the eye that sees itself
in brilliant darkness?
You know that I am speaking of your face
that gazes at me in the mirror
of a mind without thought.
I am speaking of your exhalation,
your pollen-scented bija,
the peacock of listening, the bee
of desire fastened by its kiss
to the honey-drop on your stamen.
You know that your poor
gardenia heart is bursting
at the sound of my flute.
Berries ruptured into wine.
The entire garden quivers.
Spheres become waves when I
walk with you in the cool
of the evening.
Now soften your glance.
Stop searching for me.
Repose in your own vast
golden presence.
Rest as wonder, here,
where a beam of my grace
touches your body on the hollow
just above the curved horizon
of your ancient belly, just
below your beaten heart.
This is the valley of amber
where the moon is always full
and a warm stream ever flows
from the hive inside you.
I keep telling you about
this womb of night, the home
where every pilgrim breath
returns, carrying the silent
treasure of your Name.

Full Moon Meditation

Breathing in,
feel the reflection
of the full moon
settling like a swan
on the sea of blue
in every cell
of your body...
Breathing out,
let your mind be pulled
in a tide of wonder
toward the unfathomable
Silence is not a practice.
Silence is your Being.

If You Pray

If you pray because
you believe it will
change the earth,
don't waste this
precious breath.
If you pray because
your mind is at war
with the way things are,
then solve your mind,
not the world.
But if you pray because
a bruised defiant bud
breaks open inside you,
these razor-sweet petals,
this mad fragrance
unquenchable, then pray
for me, friend.
I exist because you are here.
In all this green lovely
wounded world,
you have entered my
I need you from afar.

Photo: Ricardo Dacunha

One Tear

One silent tear
washes away a thousand
words of rage.
There are small
luminous deeds of
courage and kindness
even here on earth,
yes, here especially.
Why does the last
chrysanthemum look
more beautiful?
Winter is coming.
Be brave.

Painting, Reiko Morita


When bitter words
arise in your mind,
drown them in an exhalation.
The next breath sparkles
with the nectar of emptiness.
Compassion is your nature.
No need to acquire
what silently flowers
in the absence of blame.

Two Dimensions

Life has two dimensions,
Being and Doing.
When Doing is rooted
in the soil of Being,
a human is wildly
creative and powerful,
yet gentle and fragrant.
At dawn and sunset,
sink into the ground.
Return to the root.
Become pure sap,
just Being, not Doing.
This is meditation.
Then flower again
into action, refreshed.
As the rhythm of rooting
and blossoming flows on,
Your Being will infuse
your Doing

just as the sun pervades
each petal and leaf
of the coral rose.
This is the teaching
of the ancient garden,
the garden of the masters.

Photo, Aile Shebar


Gently allow
the silent stream
of breathing
to replace the chatter
of your thoughts.
Worry and argument
only mislead you
to the tangled wasteland
of past and future.
But breath flows down
from the mountain of wonder
to the ocean
of Presence.
There's a place where
this melting
and flowing began.
We met there, friend,
and now we meet here
as waves
in the wild green chaos
of the heart.

Photo: I took this on Gobbler's Nob
looking toward Mt. Rainier


The petals have fallen.
Now, a swollen berry.
Sorrow and sweetness are one.
Truth is not a point of view.
It's the vast space of listening,
the bliss of
dropping judgment.

A Poppy

A poppy opens,
creating the sky.
The lie of causation.
Don't keep your bewilderment
a secret.
Flower in Silence.
Breathe the Goddess.
Wherever you wander
is the heart.
Keep drowning.
There's a groundless well
inside you.
Death comes out of there,
and laughter.
The turquoise egg
plummets through stillness
yet the whisper of night
wordlessly weaves
a nest around it.
The blossom is born
from its fragrance.
There was never a beginning.
The lie of time.
Emptiness before creation.
Blackness before grace.
Now feel in your body
how love reveals
her wave in every particle.
Don't keep your bewilderment
a secret.

Photo by Laurent Berthier


Why Mecca?
No haj
but Allah's swirling gaze
in the golden motion
of a rose.
Why Jerusalem?
No pilgrimage
but the gesture of a mothwing
on a fallen dahlia,
Christ coming
gently again
before you go anywhere.
Why Benares?
The flutesong of a tanager
passing through these woods
will take you South
to Shyam's intoxicating garden.
Just wander
where a breath goes
to perish in amazement.
Love is not a journey
but an opening.
Is there a single
infinitesimal dot
in all of space or time
that does not overflow
with the nectar
you've been thirsting for?


"Emptiness" is only
a metaphysical concept,
but "loss" is a commitment
to follow the pain
deep into your chest
until it leaves
through the exit-wound.
Become the arrow
that gashed you,
the green worm
entering the pit
of your own sweetness.
Understand before
the journey begins
that Darkness is not
the absence but the womb
of Light.
Poised in perpetual equinox,
don't be so sure
you ever got out of the egg.
Bend toward Winter now,
the mothering etherium,
umbilicus running
back into the marrow
between the stars.
Let tears turn to strong wine,
crushed from sweet
hard berries of desire.
Then hear the gentlest
lingering sparrows,
the tree frogs and thistle-laden
wind singing
about your fearlessness.

Photo: bench in my back yard


A drop of silence
dissolves the world
into night.
Out of emptiness
geese cry,
meaning nothing
but their ineffable sound.
This poem
continues as a shudder
of aloneness
in your bedroom.
Unwilling pilgrim,
you keep returning
to the paroxysm of your
unendurable stillness.
Finally you fling the half
eaten carcass of your heart
into the dark promise
of the next breath,
the davening of the moon
a welcome distraction
from the prayer of dying,
the yearning of birth.
Pilgrim, didn't you know?
You can breathe in the womb.
Satisfy all hungers
with hollowness.

The fact that you survived
until this moment
proves that you are not alone.
Existence is a vast community
of tears.

Photo: Ansel Adams, Leaves, Mt. Rainier National Park

Frail Wings


Awareness of a thistle
is a thistle,
awareness of a mountain,
a mountain,
awareness of your lovely eyes,
your lovely eyes.
But awareness of awareness
is no thing, just
the infinite sky
that fills all creatures
with the azure ecstasy
of Being.
Isn't it time for us to spin
around like dancers,
to catch and see
the radiance
of the seer?

Don't rely on
other people's money.
Rely on your
next breath.
Don't rely on
the Guru.
Rely on your
next breath.
Don't rely on
your beauty,
your eloquent mind,
your weighty education,
your body's prowess.
Just rely on
the string of priceless
magical emeralds,
the liquid diamonds
threaded through you,
the inward sea
that sweeps creation away
like a leaf.
Become poor.
Receive true wealth.
Rely only
on this breath.

Don't Wait

Don't wait for the light.
Breathe in darkness
until it becomes the glow
inside you.
Have faith in the power
of hollow things
to bear fruit.
This is the work
of Autumn, the work
of Grace.
Learn from the withering
sunflower how
to empty your self
and scatter a thousand
Spring mornings.

Painting: Gustav Klimpt, Country Garden with Sunflowers

Poem for the Fourth Night of Navaratri

I don’t believe in wine.
I taste it.
I don’t believe in breath.
I savor the bouquet of white roses,
ocean-crushed pearls.
I welcome the Goddess Shakti
into the electric marrow
of my nerves.
But I do not believe in her.
She is too near
for the mind to know.
What spirals up my backbone
out of black sod,
spilling delectable sap
from the stamen in my crown,
fountaining toward the hungry stars,
is not an idea
but a serpent, burning her way
through every wound.


Allow your heart
to be drawn ever deeper
into the 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.
Before there was the Word
of God,
there was the Silence
of the Mother.

* Photo by Aile Shebar

Elder Song

For the first day of Autumn...

I'm older now,
I travel the stem,
sink seedward,
returning to sap.
Then I explode into scarlet petals of death,
the ones you see on the last rose in your garden.

I am the musk of eldering wine 
scented from the two oak barrels in your heart.
I am the worn letters of blood
on your stone tablets of breathing.
I make medicine drip from the berry
in your pineal gland.
It runs down a string of pearls
into the place your songs come from.
What kisses happen in the jasmine pistil
of your hypothalamus?
I have felt them.
They set off thunder under your breast bone.

I know what the sounds of unseen wings
in your lungs mean,
and how often stars make wishes on your fingertips.
I hear the chime of darkness, translate it
into your eyes as sunrise.
I smell what inebriates the midnight wind
that rummages through the garden in your hips.

If you knew what I know, which is only one
very small thing, like a black worm
in a bright apple, yet more succulent
than the knowledge of philosophers,
you would keep your tongue naked
and wordless for the taste of the next inhalation.
You would surely understand that though
the journey seems long, when you walk
slowly with the Truth,
you polish the earth, each step
the planting of a rainbow.

Remove your graduation gown,
your belt, your socks and underwear,
your memory, your name.
Now enter the forest, glistening,
slow-reeling through rings of mushrooms.
Don't do it in this poem,
do it tonight in the real forest.
If you don't have a wild place nearby,
you are living in the wrong world.

To dance alone in the exposure of old trees,
bare feet dew-stung, ankles
gathering spider silk and threads
of tomorrow's morning glory,
may be the one solution to many problems
we have not yet tried.

Now let the golden moon make honey
of your silence.
When you return, don't tell.


I stay Om.
My lineage is the ancient
silence of Now.
My journey is deepening stillness.
My path is the distance of one breath
from the crown of the head to the molten core
of my fierce frail heart.
My teacher is the Serpent.
I am the beast who becomes God.
I will bring my body with me,
all its musky scent and savor.
I pray for ruin.
O Lord of radiant desolation,
tear down the wall between "higher" and "lower,"
the dike that walls off the sea
of pain and beauty below.
Let my path be tangled
in the wilderness of my spleen.
Let this trail descend
into the diamond cavern of yearning in my loins.
Come, seeker, stay in my ashram for free.
Look for a dilapidated barn,
odorous with horse and doggy dander.
Cowherd lasses enter and leave in the moonlight
with steaming pails of raw milk,
wrinkled saris, smeared lipstick.
Angry peacocks will wake you at 4 a.m.
The one thing you can never do here
is sleep.
Otherwise, no rules.
On the gate is a sign that says,
"Animals Only!"
That means you.


The world is scary
and I'm scared.
That's the Truth.
The world is in chaos
and I refuse to pretend
that I know what to do.
Do you hear me?
I'm scared
and I don't know.
Yet when I tell
the Truth
a sacred
white buffalo
wanders into my heart
and I feel a peace
that the world
cannot give
or take away.
Do you hear me?
Perhaps this
is what we can
all do together:
Be scared.
Don't know.
Tell the truth.

What Is Dry


Out of the sand
so much beauty.
From what is dry
the luscious.
Seeker, you crave
pleasures with your
eyes and ears,
nostrils, tongue
and skin,
yet the only
sensation that
fulfill you is

the scentless
invisible opening
of the cactus
at night

in the desert
of your chest.

Photo: cactus flower, Kristy Thompson