Ex

Exhalation, ejaculation, excretion.
These are the sacred doors
to the temple of Loss.
No one overflows who is not empty.
Pump the harmonium
to get the music.
No out, no in.
Prepare the oracle broth
of a trillion sisters, menstrual mead.
The air in the drum of non-duality
cannot be breathed.
To catch the ocean
of silence in your net,
just let the waves break into song.
Only plankton get through,
yet they feed everything.
Become small and intensely
green now, because that's what
will happen to you anyway.
What vessel can you cling to?
The grail won't take you over
this sea of wine.
The ghee lamp won't contain
your last prayer.
No need for anointed kings:
everyone has a throne in the bathroom.
Enlightenment without catastrophe
is the twinkling of garbage
in a clogged sink.
Who shattered the crystal cup
and threw it in with husks
of garlic and purple onion?
How many spiritual techniques
can you thread on one breath?
The seed gets burnt up
in the flower.
Flames of love annihilate
your eyes, your tongue, your
nipples and fingertips.
Where there are vital organs,
there are holes.
Unplugging drains is soul work.
Flush light through.
Even your crown is an anus.
The bottoms of your feet are mouths.
Each pore of skin ejaculates the sap
of what manure becomes
when it smolders into ashes
of grace.
You are neither the oil can
nor the spark,
neither hollow stem nor
risen juice.
Be glad you're covered in compost.
Become the combustion,
the whole disaster
flinging her petals at the moon.
You are the snake who leaves
her crinkled skin on a black stone,
libation for an April sunbeam.
You are the purest fire of Gehenna,
not an incinerated bone
of Jesus' body.
You are the misfortune
of whatever has a name.
You are the comedy of silence.
Don't mean anything.
Just become food.

Shivo'ham

Between darkness and light,
a tear...
Between silence and song,
a breath...
From the earth to the sky
my spine is hollow,
waiting to be filled
like a butterfly's tongue
that yearns
for the honeysuckle's sap.
Yet I would be filled
from the blackest soil
to the star of emptiness
not with the food of flowers
but with your lightning,
O Shambo, Lord
of sweet annihilation.

Hospice (from the book 'Savor Eternity...')




Take a breath from the infinite.
Even one is immeasurable.

Now pour it back into eternity…
This is how you die.

This is how you play  
with giving and receiving.

From the center of your tears
light is born.

If they call this your deathbed,
please don't worry.

It is like the deathbed
of a golden dahlia.

You too must go down
into the bulb.
 
___________

LINK to the book, 'Savory Eternity One Moment At A Time'
Illustrations by Rashani Réa

Wild Flower Yoga


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


No one teaches yoga
to a flower.
Bending in the garden's breath
toward warmth more golden,
without precision
of posture or form -
perfection being rigidity -
the floret undulates and
almost falls into its own
embodied gush
of unseen root wine
spilt from a seed that bursts
into nourishment
through the ancient humus
of the un-dead.
Petalstemrootspore,
the blossom a continuum,
seamless river of
aboriginal darkness churned
with comet grit,
aligned with starry
spirals of wonder in
tongue petals running
through the luminous foods of air,
gentle scimitars we humans
no longer carry
in our empty sheaths
of expectation...
Let us repose without effort
in green gravity,
remembering this wild
flower yoga,
root to bloom, your kiss
connected to its inhalation,
stem to seed, your mind
at rest on its breastbone,
sprout to loam, your yearning
threaded to the embryo
you honed with 10,000 deaths.
Your soul is but a portion
of the planting whose pollen
you flung on a wind of blood
in your Mother.
O too thoughtfully
up-rooted one,
bow down to the nearest
scarlet-tousled weed and cry,
'Teach me!'

Invitation



You Are Cordially Invited
To the Cotillion
of Your Imperfections.
Please Bring Your
Most Beautiful Disaster
In a Sparkling Gown
So that We may Honor Her
As the Living Gateway
To Love.

Aquaintance

How can it be selfish to gaze
at the beauty of your own soul?
Countless raindrops contain the sun.
We fall in love with one reflection.
A dragonfly has mirror wings.
Your eyes show friend and foe alike
how all hearts sparkle with
outrageous splendor.
Can you give a kiss
that you have not received
from your own breath?
Can you offer the flower
of the Imperishable
if you have not found the seed
in the furrow of your missing rib?
Let the grace of who you are
teach you what to look for
in every stranger.
Now be honest, friend.
There really are no strangers,
only You and I.

Poetry Yoga



Invocation
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.

Standing
Now abandon every routine.
There is no sequence of postures.
Valiantly stand, like a mossy wizened
Winter oak, yet softly wind-swayed.
What you long for is the sparkling
void of this breath, this breeze,
where it comes to rest like
a feather on your breastbone.
You are dancing with the Beloved,
even though you are alone.
Let her be your inhalation,
Kali’s wand your backbone,
your pelvis her boat of night
ferrying the moon on rising falling
tides of secret sweetness.
Quietly spiral the stars
on their black axis of surrender
in the hollow between your nipples,
the silence of awakened space in
the ligaments between each bone,
your muscles bathed in waters of
pure attention, moving from their
ocean wheels, each cell in your body
a galaxy of suns, threaded soft
as cotton, spun
from Wordless uncreated Light…
Micro-movements
inventing themselves
out of your molten stillness.
Now the dance is yours.
There are no instructions.
Go nowhere, whirl more slowly
through this golden food of emptiness,
all pain and sweetness
mingled in a single sensation,
the motionless explosion
of the rose in your chest…

From the baby’s soft spot
in your crown
to the sap-dripping sacrum
runs a nerve down whose hollow core
the liquid lightning hums.
Follow that thunderbolt
all the way Om to your toes.
The soles of your feet root down
in dark sod, where you pour out
the wine of breathing, a libation.
The world is a mirage
shimmering through your pure
blue sky.
Other-ness must be inside you!
Let it all be inside you now:
the song of the wood thrush,
forest mushrooms under a tangle
of devil's claw, sunbeams frozen
at this end into mountain tops,
vagabond comets, crazy angels
gazing over the rim of entropy
toward a distant horizon
of derelict light
curved into a dewdrop
on a blade of alfalfa…

Keep swaying in this breeze,
the perfume of the Goddess,
a scent called, “Annihilation.”
Adore the Lord of Bewilderment.
Shivo’ham, Shivo’ham…
All that remains is a swirl of cinders,
earths that were, and are to come.
Grasping the enormity of the disaster,
we know that we cannot control
the laughter that creates the world.

NOTE: This piece is actually used as a prompt for standing movement and meditation in the Poetryoga Playshop that give in faith communities. I have also given this playshop at East West Bookstore in Seattle, and the New Renaissance Bookshop in Portland.

Beyond My Prayers

Beyond my prayers and fears
I'm grateful for a caterpillar's fuzz,
grateful for the smell of rain
on fallen golden alder leaf,
and for this well of tears;
for the gift of breath not taken
but received, my heart's refrain;
for a time of love, a time of grief,
a kiss of wind, the dark solace
of early sunset through bare trees,
the falling southward sound of geese;
grateful for what is
no longer filtered
through what was;
and for a body to awaken
in the miracle of Presence,
making all things new...
Come with me and be wildered.
Are you not the silent radiance
you've been praying to?

First Flower

Never-beginning
ever-ending pilgrimage
to a snow drop, now.

All Things Being Equal

Taking the first breath
with outrageous delight.
Organizing 700,000 protesters
to march for justice.
Knitting a wool blanket
for a baby.
Building a sustainable
earth-friendly outhouse.
Painting plum blossoms in April.
The final exhalation
gratefully offered.
All things being equal,
all sacraments, and all
mirages in the still blue sky
of attention,
I've given up searching
for vast significance.
I look for the great
in the small.
On my fingertip
the dissolving beauty
of innumerable suns
in a snowflake.
The galaxy we're lost in
on a snail's back.
In a moth wing, the silver-blue
pin-wheel nebula.
A horoscope of frost
at my window
telling ancient stories,
foreshadowing the shape
of eternity.
And at the moment of my death,
a ladybug.
I am lying in the grass
on a summer afternoon.
My heart, which has been
breaking for decades,
finally pries itself open.
Ladybug lands on a weed,
bending it down for a bridge.
I gaze into unfathomable green
as she gathers my last breath
into her crimson stole,
starred with imperial
black opals,
and carries me gently across,
not into another world but
deeper into this one.


Hear a reading: LINK

Praise Song

Praise the local, composted, and small.
Look what springs from last year's garbage.
Who needs a committee?
Who needs Republicans or Democrats?
Look what springs from coffee grinds and worm dung.
Who needs capital letters after their name?
Praise the local, composted, and small.
Who needs nations, states, and borders?
Nature bends straight lines, and curves right angles.
Our cheeks are the forest, our bones are the mountains,
our thoughts are the clouds, our clarity the sky.
Our wealth is a meadow of anemones in April.
Who needs Goldman Sachs or the Federal Reserve?
Look what springs from old broccoli and yam skins.
Who needs enemies?
Look over your backyard fence:
just neighbors, gardening in old hats,
as far as the eye can see.
Look what springs from seeds delighting in themselves.
Praise the local, composted, and small.
Who needs more than enough?
Who needs more than enough?
Look what springs from your heart.


To hear this poem: LINK

Yearning

All this yearning springs
from a hollow seed
containing every
branch and fruit.
Gratitude for this breath
is the secret
force of creation.
Meet me in the silence
between songs.

Spirit Guide

My spirit guide has moved
from his flower pot on my porch
to a skunk cabbage in the wetland,
joining his chorus of friends
on their first night of
Spring practice.
The song they are singing is called,
'Love is Greener than the Kiss of a Raindrop
and Sadder than Sunrise in a Mist of Roses
If You Are a Frog.'

Visit

The Goddess whispered to my heart,
You are not here to suffer.

Learn from the bee.
You are here to make honey.

Visit dark sticky places
In everything that blossoms.
________

A poem from 'Wounded Bud.' Someone sent me a podcast from a radio program called 'Body Trust' where this poem was read to illustrate the healing power of short poems memorized. Thank you, Body Trust.

Crossroad

The crossroad is pathless
here, at the center of your body,
where one breath pours into another.
Meet me here and I will change you
like a beam refracted through a lens of sap.
Meet me here and you will change me
like a meson colliding
with the dark particle of its other self.
This circle is already full
before it becomes the world.
Find your way home, get lost
in all directions at once:
this is called the center.
I will let you wander through me.
May I wander through you?
This is called the heart.
Arrive, speaking the master's words.
Depart, singing your own song.


(A Poem from my book, 'Wounded Bud')


 

Generation

My generation looked Eastward,
traveled to Rishikesh, Kyoto, Katmandu,
brought home gifts of Yoga, Vedanta,
meditation, pranayam -
thank you, thank you.
This generation looks Southward,
travels to Cusco, Volcano Poaz, the Amazon,
brings home gifts of the Shaman,
songs of the forest -
thank you, thank you.
Where will the next generation go?
Perhaps they'll look Omward,
travel into the heart,
bring back gifts of Presence -
this moment, this body, this breath.
Thank you.

Start the Day

Start the day with
three miracles.
Savor a breath.
Repose in your body.
Let pure attention
crystallize in
diamond silence.
Now like a broken seed
allow the world to
flower out of you.
Nothing today will
be ordinary.
If you begin
with astonishment,
sunbeams, raindrops,
wind and stone
will do the rest.

Wild Iris

To be is perfect joy.
This
is why flowers are speechless.
Each petal reveals the ancient secret.
Creation is not a Word.

You could be a wild iris seeded by stray wind,
bursting by a ruined fence beyond the empty barn
where pigeons startle and flash in dusty sunbeams
stuttered through chinks of warped cedar.

Don't try to say it.
The passion in the fragrance of evening shadows
is all that matters, boding good rain.

There is a gaze through whom silence spills
from mirror to mirror its useless beauty
in streams of not pretending to know.
Be like this.

At day's end, feign no more wisdom

than when you awoke.
Trellised on that ruined fence,
bend under graces of weightless sky,
entwined with every weed of revelation.
Flower without trying, and be wild.

Flash

A flash out of the void
a vanishing
you said it wasn't real
you said that clinging 
to it was sorrow 
you attended long lectures
about its non-existence
weekend retreats to get
rid of what wasn't there
but at night alone you
often admitted to having
no idea what it is
where it comes from or
what this luminous darkness
means that fills you not
with dread so much as
ineffable yearning all you
really know is that your  
life is the flash the perpetual

echo after image in the eye 
that cannot see out of its
own dazzled blindness ripe
and desperate now why not
confess how much you need
the Beloved?

Lies

As soon as I speak your Name, I lie.
And if I call you Nameless, I lie.
If I say Thou I lie, if I say Me I lie.
If I say Two, it is almost the greatest lie.
But One is the mother of lies.
Let my lies reveal the truth.
Let my lies reveal the tiny blue violet of your face
blossoming through the dark fissure,
splitting the stone.
Let my lies reveal the warm brown hills
and valleys of your body.
Let my lies reveal the flash of your grin
in the warrior's sword, the scent of milk
in the bundled softness of an infant's lips.
Let my lies be the eyes of God gazing on the world.
Shiva, Shiva, Shiva, this world of lies!
This poem of lies!

Yoga Teacher: A Poem from 'Savor Eternity'

“A baby is a yoga teacher.” ~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

A baby is a yoga teacher.
A flower is a yoga teacher,
the morning glory, here and gone.

A raindrop is a yoga teacher.
A teardrop, the ocean and moon.

Why? Because
they achieve loveliness
through aloneness, eternity
through impermanence.
Selah.

Time is a yoga teacher if
you watch it because
it is not really here.
Between rocks in a mountain stream,
the flash of a vanishing trout.

Or the electricity of a cat doing nothing.
Or the current in a wire birds love
to perch on that would kill you.

Anger is a yoga teacher
if you gently stay with it
in your belly and watch
the alchemy of bullet lead
dissolving into sorrow,
the mercury of tears
into peace.

Your mother's death is a yoga teacher.
When she is gone, she is
the soil itself and whatever
is green.

Now listen to the most
distant sound you can hear.
That is your yoga teacher
bearing you into silence
with a graceful gesture,
the posture of annihilation.

One breath is the price you pay
to enter his ashram.
It costs more than you could ever keep.

Give everything away
to your yoga teacher
who stands in the doorway
of the next inhalation.

His classroom is the stillness
between heartbeats.
Formlessness his perfect asana.

A sip of fresh water is your yoga teacher,
a mouthful of bread
melting into a smile for no reason,
gratitude for dust,
a groundless falling through your chest
into the radiant emptiness
at the center of all
these swirling stars.

Miracles

The miracle is
always in the soft, the small,
the momentary.

Jug

I poured out this jug of emptiness
until the world was full.

The night in my cup overflowed
with stars of ecstasy.

Brother, we got drunk
when we were still each other.

That was long before we became two.
We still can't tell the difference

between darkness and light.
All we do now is sing.

Endangered pods swim through our eyes
seeking sanctuary in other gazes.

The old earth dissolves into this one
every time we blink.

There is a sound that roses make
when they blossom at midnight

at the touch of the moon's fingers.
We hear it when we breathe.

Remind me, inebriated friend,
what the password is for entering
the kingdom of silence.

Words To Say Love


We don't have enough words to say "love,"
that is why we have hands.
We don't have enough deeds to do love,
that is why we have tears.
We don't have enough tears to feel love,
so we have silence.
We don't have enough wonder to contain love,
so we surrender.
Now the soft morning rain is over.
  A tiny broken sun trembles
on the tip of every fern.

The vireo returns to heal the earth
with a song.

Brunch

Earth our waitress comes
to the table in her rumpled apron
stained with a hundred juices.
"What will it be this morning?"
"Let's start with some mist
in one of those green valleys,
and a cup of black loam with
a single tree frog.
"Then fallen apples over easy
with extra worms,
a side of scattered leaves
in a caramelized sunbeam." 
"That comes with Summer's last
abandoned bird's nest salad," she says.
Or soup of the day, fern bog with
skunk cabbage and blue chanterelles." 
"I'll take the soup,
a half carafe of Autumn rain 
and a cruller the shape
of a groundhog's hole."
She remembers your order by heart.
She knows what you love.
Old ones come back to this place.
Then they bring grandchildren.
There's a line to get in.
Sometimes it seems
we have to wait a year,
but its worth it.
_______
Published in 'Clementine Unbound,'
A Journal of Juicy Poetry,' Winter 2016

Stumble



Blessed are you when you stumble
into your perfect dance.
Blessed are you when you trip
and fall into your planting.
God does not apologize for her mistakes.
The footprint of the lost becomes a path
and the apple tree offers her first fruit to worms.
Of a thousand scattered seeds, only one grows.
Ruthlessly forgive yourself.
Chance every moment.
This rambunctious thistle was a milkweed thread
spinning in the breath of the unknown.
Sprawl into blossom, tumble back to seed.
Curled in frozen darkness, ferment
all Winter in your white hot potency
until she wakens you, whispering,
"Whirl again, little one,
there are no mistakes!"

Poem from my first book, 'Wounded Bud.'