Saturday, August 29, 2009




Not the sum of all your yesterdays

and more than all of your tomorrows

could ever dream of being,

not a negligible, small thing,

nor great beyond proportion,

you inhabit your own mystery

like a godess who feels like a stranger

in her own universe,

trying to get the hang of it

like the slang of a foreign language

that won’t let her across the border

without picture i.d.

You long for something

and immediately summon

everything that’s missing

in the spirit’s lost and found,

no life, no answer, no sound,

no lamp in the hand of the nightwatchman

flashing like the moon

through your broken windows.

It’s impossible to pick the berry

from the thorn of yourself

as a first drop of blood

gathers like an eye

at the tip of your wounded finger

and even if you did manage

to raise it like a kiss to your lips,

is it sweet, is it bitter,

or does love taste like the sea?

That simulacrum you call yourself

may be a work of art,

an amazement of mirrors

that dance like water

when you enhance the night

like a lonely heart

with the grace of your reflection,

but even the moon

can get in your eye sometimes

and smear the view with hot tears

for all you might have been

before you broke your brushes

like crutches

at the foot of your masterpiece.

Dogen Zenji said

in the middle of the thirteenth century

just a moment ago in medieval Japan:

When the truth doesn’t fill your body and mind

you always feel as if you’ve had enough,

but when the truth does fill your body and mind,

you always feel as if something were missing.

That’s a jewel that’s worth turning in the night.

That’s the dark heart

that summons you into the mystery

like an intimacy beyond

your own personal history.

Why waste your time

trying to find out

how many demons

can dance on the heads of the pins

in the heart of a voodoo doll,

or angels, if you’re a better liar?

You’re just trying to imagine a heaven

without fire

and ashes that rise like doves

from the chimneys of Auschwitz.

Is it any wonder then

that every moon you eat

like an unhappy fortune-cookie

tastes like an eclipse?

And I’ve never known

whether you’re trying to improve

the standing of the world

in your person

or your person

in the standing of the world

when you turn heads

like a sphinx in the rain

that never looks anyone’s way.

But if you were to look deeply

into the nature of any grain of sand

it would make the pyramids

look like mere child’s play,

the first alphabet blocks

of a desert with something to say to the stars

high overhead and so very very, intimately far away

like the small bells of longing

that bruise the heart of a lost child

who knows that no one

is coming to look for her

who can see

through anyone’s eyes but their own

what it means to be alive in the world alone.