Remembering Beatniks

Beatnik be cool but didn't hide
anger like hippies.
Didn't hide sorrow like yuppies.
Sleeves soaked in tears that
smelt of tobacco and incense.
Consistency, said Emerson,
is for mediocre minds.
Was Emerson a beatnik?
Was Emily Dickenson a beatnik?
Definitely Walt Whitman and Jesus.
To care and not to care.
Whose tears? Did it matter?
Praise be Ferlenghetti.
Praise be City Lights Bookstore.
Praise be San Francisco
before it got gentrified.
Praise be Jack, Allan and Gary,
the poet fools of mere wisdom.
Praise be Bird, Miles, Trane
and Sonny, who still survives
on yoga. Dig that.
I had a hippie guru.
I had a yuppie guru.
Still love them both, but
now I search among cedar roots,
stream beds and roadside ditches
for truth of the cool, for all
that is beat, beatific, angry,
sad and human. You dig?
Bliss is not a separate fix.
Bliss is the mix.


As you fall
asleep tonight,
do not take your breath
for granted.
Honor her
like a royal guest.
The Goddess
kneels before you
in the form of
this inhalation,
pouring gifts
from the stars
into your heart.
Each expiration
leads to a silver door.
The key is your silence.
Step through.
Follow a rainbow
of holy darkness
into the golden void.
Listen to the wings
that carry astonishment
from death to death.
They are the blades
of grace.
Return to your flesh
by the scent of blossoms
from the crannies in your spine
under the Imbolc moon.
Now you may eat of the fruit
at the center of the garden.

Painting by Suzanne Etienne

Landscape Falling Inward

Let us tell the landscape of your body.
Ancient books sing of this garden,
but where it lies is forgotten.
I will tell you.
It is time to remember,
a time for maps, directions, inward fallings...
The Tree of Life is your spine.
It grows at the center of your flesh.
You are the desert, you are the banishment,
you are the tilling of the promised land,
you are the return.
Luminous roots extend through the sole
of your foot to the center of the world.
In the lower branches is a ripe red fruit,
a pomegranate, spilling countless stars of blood.
Perhaps it is your beating heart, bewildered and wild,
cradled in wings of the Serpent Goddess
who spirals round your stem, upward, downward,
outbreath, inbreath, offering you the wine of yourself,
whispering, "Take, eat, this is Your body."
But perhaps it is only the terrible stillness
at the center of the vortex
that inhales creation.
Your backbone is a Burning Bush
before whom Moses removes his quivering skin
like a serpent, its upper branches bursting
into the flames of your cortex,
many small but potent herbs budding
in those fiery synaptic twigs, your pituitary plum,
the almond of your amygdala,
your pineal amethyst tied like a medicine bundle
to a branch that sticks through your forehead
dripping neuro-peptide soma nectar
for thirsty desert sparrows.
The soft spot in your crown imbibes
the hidden light of a thousand new moons.
The spaciousness of death is the talisman
you were born with.
What you felt when you were a pollywog
in the womb, chasing your tail,
swimming among distant stars,
you have permission to feel today.
Remember your asanas, how you imitated
lions and pigeons, made intergalactic gestures,
rolling, stretching, twisting pudgy angel fire
into a molecular song?
You still have permission to dance.
Remember exploring the sounds of your body,
those un-struck embryonic bells of meditation
before there were commandments,
when every scripture was a flame
ignited in your rib cage?
You were a syzygy of burps,
"Ah! Um! Bhum! Shrim! Phwat!"
having no idea that your baby talk
was full of mantras, all of them meaning,
"Let there be light!"
your tongue the creator.
You were a double helix of unutterable
conversations with silence:
you fell asleep murmuring,
"So'ham, So'ham, I am God, I am God."
Your little fists ecstatic mudras,
your chest a shaman's drum, your throat
a medicine woman's rattle, twined
with sinews of snake on tortoise shell,
every babble a bija filled
with Great Mother Shakti.
In slumber your breathing sustained
the tides and moon for the world
where you were about to be born.
Don't you know that your parents first met
in the garden between an inhalation
and a sigh?
Was it the season of swelling or repose?
You walked with the Goddess
in the cool of the evening,
through the scent of laughter,
the murmur of pollen.
You were the garden, She was the Spring.
And yes, you have permission
to return there now.

Hear the poem read at this LINK.


How may I recreate
the earth?
Let me take,
no, receive
one breath, tasting
starlight in the
effortless ascent
from my belly
to the space above
my crown.
I remember now.
This is the stream
of innocence
that bathed us all
before we took our
first steps.
Ours was the courage
of unwavering gratitude,
redeeming the world
with wonder.
There now.
I have done it.
And the earth
is new.

What I Mean When I Say Light

When I tell you that you are Light, what I mean is not this ray of moon stuff, or a golden kiss on green Summer leaves.

I do not mean what pours over roses, anointing them with the blood of the afternoon, or the passion of an atom's voice in the carillon of a molecule.

I do not mean the ancient caress of stars on your retina, their wine taste spilling down your optic nerve into the hidden chalice behind your face.

I mean a Light inside light, I mean the rustle of bright darkness, I mean this edgeless wave of awakening, the tremor of emptiness, the spasm of gravity curling unboundedness into a proton.

I mean the blossoming of the void into a golden flower.

I mean the infinitesimal daemon of joy, tingling your bewildered flesh at the slightest brilliant stabbing of my glance.

Dear one, be an invisible current in the waveless sea, a river of wind in the empty sky, a star-wild spiraling of crystal in the silence of a stone.

Be a trumpet of whiteness whirled from the stillness in a lily's seed.

Why will you not believe in the Goddess of undulation who reposes in the blackest hollow of your spine?

What I mean by Light cannot be seen by looking, dear.

Now let your silver webs un-weave the New Moon; let gazes return to the gazer.

Meet me here, in the mirror of amazement, where there is neither birth nor death between your Radiance and its reflection.

Flecks of God

Our gazes touch.

                  Why seek otherness?

   Those flecks of gold

        in the corners of your eye
           are all Me, Me, Me,
 angelic shattered dance
                  of mirror fragments,

      up fluttering moth wings

            reunited in a breeze,

  sudden inhalation

               of astonishment,

       all You, You, You,

each perception swirling

            in flecks of God.

Kali's Most Distressing Face

I am Kali Ma, the goddess returning.
I have come to shatter your temple's inmost walls,
to show a more lovely and distressing gaze.
My most beautiful form is whatever you are resisting.
My most beautiful face is whoever you are judging.
And where you do not want to look,
there I dumbfound you to surrender.

I am Kali Ma, the goddess returning

to the human mirror, but this time
not as a bloodthirsty Hindu succubus
dancing over dead demons
in her necklace of skulls,
because she is already old-fashioned 
and too easily admired.
Here is a form more timely and horrific:
but do not be afraid, it is only your reflection...
I do not take the Metro downtown
to join the women's march
because I already live here,
in the heart of the city
where I am in labor
seven days a week.
I cannot take part in your protest
because you are protesting me.
I am young and white and working class.
I am Catholic.
I am pro-life.
I did not go to college.
I did not get a degree in the Sociology
of Gender and Revolution.
I am Kali Ma.
I went to night school in accounting.
I am the goddess returning
to start my own dry cleaning business,
which is very hard.
I bring home almost nothing in profit,
because my business wears
a choking necklace not of skulls,
but regulations and taxes.
I am Kali, I am a corporation.
The protesters won't miss me.
They call me a capitalist.
They call me a Catholic.
Those are not dirty words to me.

I am Kali.
I spend my Saturdays
steam-pressing shirts and suits.
But I am proud, I work hard,
I own my own business.
Then I go home to hang
my daughter's clothes out to dry
from my fire escape
on a laundry line
strung through white smog
in the ally between
two one way streets.
Here is my secret tantra:
I refused to have an abortion.
Here is my hidden darshan:
I voted Republican.
Can you bare to look at me?
I am the face of the Goddess,
I am the one you have judged,
the one you are learning to love.
Photo: Gordon Parks, International Center of Photography

Why Tara Turns Green

Some parts of your body are alive
and some are numbed by shame.
The purpose of meditation
is to wake up the Goddess
in your supernova toes,
erotic photons in your bones,
let neutrinos ring like mindfulness bells
in the temple of your rib cage,
make every proton rhythmic with a star,
inspire a leukocyte to waltz
with a red dwarf in your brain.
This is how ancestors dance
with angels in your blood.
Have your received a morning glory's
promiscuous smile,
a kiss of dust on your sole?
O yogini, devoted monk, I know
you've been trying to sing
without lips,
"I am not this body!"

But Adam was a breath of mud.
His first wife, Lilith, liked to ride
on top, and Jesus died
on the Tree of Life shouting,
"I won't leave anything behind!"
He claimed each semen sparkle
and every tear you mingle
with marrow and loam.

The half-chewed morsel
of bagel in your mouth
is the kingdom of his perfect joy.
Don't you know he has a secret name
that means, "Miracle of Worms"
and Bodhi Tree is Body Tree?
That's why Tara turns green
when her fingers stroke the ground.
It's why we share food,
pray for sacred land and water,
laugh when we see babies,
spin like wizened leaves at sunset
when we die, keep coming
back for more.

Hear a reading of this poem on SoundCloud


I am not a white.
I am not a black.
I am not of any tribe
or nation.
I am not a goat or sheep
but this particular creature,
nostrils flaring,
hallowed to selfhood
by briefest sensation.
My own musk and spoor
is not like yours.
My skin bristles with
the color of wind,
rain, mud and sunbeam.
This one quivering
solitary asymmetric
horn-racked ragged-edged
animal I am.
And my personhood
will not be immersed
in the herd.


Groping for what I
already am,
getting rid of what I
never carried,
trying to perfect
this fickle reflection
called 'the world' -
better I spend such
wasted energy
gazing at the clouds
on Granite Peak,
nothing to attain,
nothing to renounce,
learning the Way
from dripping cedars
in white emptiness.

Polish Your Spine

Polish the hollow of your spine
with the cloth of breathing.
Cleanse the pot in your chest
where drop by drop
the nectar ferments.
What is this wine,
secret and dark,
distilled from silence?
break open your heart and see
the sun, the moon, the stars!

Painting, Gabriel Dante Rossetti

I Miss My Davy Crockett Lunch Box

I miss my official
Davy Crockett lunch box
with its sepulchral wombs of food,
bologna and cheese sandwiches
on Bond Bread with
Tastykake Chocolate Juniors.
Forget the carrot slices.
No one preached to me then
about gluten or sugar.
We ate pigs.
I once met Oscar Meyer,
an aging midget in a wiener truck.
I also suffer unutterable longing
for my Donald Duck Pez Dispenser.
My health is fine, so are my teeth,
despite the Fizzies and Flavor Straws
for which I feel an impenetrable mystery
of nostalgia, almost as timeless
as my devotion to comic books like
‘Blackhawk’ and 'Tales from the Crypt.'

We had less outrage then, more fun.
Rainbows of wonder
the clouds of daily
human failure and injustice.

My favorite Saturday morning shows:
'Ramar of the Jungle'  and 'Sky King.'
'Sea Hunt' with Lloyd Bridges,
father of Jeff, was obscure and
beyond my comprehension.
But my heart is still haunted
by Rin Tin Tin and Rusty,
especially the episode when
they were lost on the prairie
and got saved from a stampede
by White Buffalo Woman.
All gone now, all ghosts,
flickering in the dreamtime of YouTube.
Gone with the sound of typewriters
and spring-wound alarm clocks
ticking by my bed.
Gone with Buster Brown Shoes and
Beeman's Black Jack gum.
No one preached to me then.
No one was offended.
Time was a golden-waved wheat field
in the summer wind.


Petals in a bud, rivers in a spring,
twins in a womb, lovers in love.
Once it was like this: I (Love) You.
Now it's like this: (I) Love (You).
What longs for me inside your chest
longs for you in mine. 
Between your breathing out and
my breathing in, one stillness...
Feathered seeds on ocean winds
carry my words to your distant loam.
Only you can hear them falling, gently
disturbing the stars with a question:
When do we fall in love
with Love itself?


Nothing more naive
than thinking that we know
how begonias spill out of themselves,
How that first em-budded
moment of dark energy,
infinite in mass yet raptured
in a pointless bindhu
could widen soft petals of light
to become our faces gazing
back toward their creation
with eyes of awakening space
that sparkle with galaxies
dancing inside us out there.

(Photo by Kristy Thomas)


Don't be so attracted
by disinformation.
Wisdom comes
from a pulsing well
of silence.
Remember where
your root goes in Winter
to get sap.
A great Simplicity
warms the earth
from inside.
Only rest
in your heart,
that beaten creature
who is the Master of


This remembrance of Pain 
was offered 
in the fire of Yoga,
burnt away 
in the dance of Presence,
released as the fragrance 
of Joy.
Just keep praising
your Body!

You Are Not A Secret

       Eve Naming the Birds, by William Blake

 "In Bahia, Brazil, April 1832. Sublime devotion the prevalent feeling... 
Twiners entwining twiners. Tresses like hair. Beautiful Lepidoptera. 
Silence. Hosanna!"  ~Charles Darwin, Journals

You, my dear, are not a secret.
Don't wait to be discovered.

God has already shouted your name
to all the planets and stars, crying,

"Look what I did not create,
so that she could make herself!"

Your light isn't sealed in a crock of humility,
a gesture of religion, an asana slathered

in scented yoga gel.
You are not the Platonic shadow

of a glossy image from the vogue
of a higher world.

You are the incomparable body
whom earth and water, fire and wind

feel drawn to imitate by dancing.
Green spuds and nipples quiver

from the lenient soil
at the faintest thunder of your aimless

barefoot wandering. Birds sing not
to wake you, but because you are awake.

Why don't you slip out of all seven veils
into something more comfortable:

the earth, that first pure nakedness
at whom stars tremble?

My Favorite Yoga Posture

My favorite yoga posture
is not the continuous motion
of clouds on a summer evening,
or the sky in its asana
of perfect emptiness,
nor the gesture of a cobra, a locust, a lion.
To each of us a yoga
ancient as our innocence!
Mine must be 
the Fallen Angel Pose
which is whatever my body
is doing right now
like a leaf in November
finally scraping the Earth,
mere matter rooted
in the mysterious prayer of
its weight by the rolling world,
inevitably sacred.

Other Ways To Pray

Smiling we know
is a form of meditation.
Weeping is also
a kind of prayer.
Being anxious and fully
feeling the sensation
in your belly
without naming it
is very deep yoga.
Being angry and
letting the fire burn
a hole through your forehead
is profound samadhi.
Be the hole.
There are other ways to pray.
This day is sacred
because the full moon makes
everything collapse
and go wrong.
Angels of dust and womb-blood
conspire to stop your mind
from thinking clearly
so that you will finally
fall down
like a tangle of compost,
grieving, sighing, mumbling
to the darkness.


A glance of love is seven billion times  
more powerful than a beam of light.

The sun does not need to veil its gaze,
but our longing must conceal itself

in lips and shadows, bodies and reflections.
Only experienced lovers unlace and expose

their devastating splendor,
undressing memories and tongues,

stripping flesh down to an inhalation
and the warmer body inside a breath,

slipping eyes out of their tears 
to step naked into the darkness 

of that trembling kiss the moon gives water.
Until you are ready for love, my dear,

hide in a veil beneath a veil, as blue stillness
hides in the shimmering mirage of Krishna's face.

Trinity: A Poem from 'Wounded Bud'

In the beginning
the Father gazed
into the mirror of the Spirit
and saw Christ.
That mirror was the womb
of eternal silence,
for even God is mothered
by a Mystery.
Then Christ gaze in the mirror
and saw You.
You too were born
of that Joy!