Wednesday, April 14, 2010




The only way to control things is with an open hand.

Water on rock

a fist can’t do anything to stop the rain

that keeps washing its bloody knuckles

by kissing the raw red buds of the pain-killing poppies clean.

Anger grows ashamed of itself

in the presence of unopposible compassion

just as planets are humbled by their atmospheres.

The soft supple things of life insist

and the hard brittle ones comply.

Bullies are the broken toys of wimps.

Power limps.

But space is an open hand.

Mass may shape it

but it teaches matter how to move

just as the sky converts its openness

into a cloud and a bird

or the silence nurtures

the embryo of a blue word

in the empty womb of the dark mother

like the echo of something that can’t be said.

The only way to control things is with an open hand.

Not a posture of giving.

Not a posture of receiving.

Not a posture of greeting or farewell.

Not hanging on or letting go

but the single bridge they both make

when they’re both at peace with the flow.

It’s not the branch it’s not the trunk

it’s not the root it’s not the fruit

but the open handedness of its leaves

that is a tree’s consummate passion.

Isis tatoos her star on their palms

like sailors and sails

to keep them from drowning

and into the valleys of their open hands

that lie at the foot of their crook-backed mountains

the aloof stars risk the intimacy of fireflies

and fate flows down like tributaries into the mindstream

as life roots its wildflowers on both shores

as if there were no sides to the flowing

of our binary lifelines.

The only way to control things is with an open hand.

You cannot bind the knower to the knowing

as if time had to know where eternity was going

before anything could change.

X marks the spot where all maps are born

to lead you back to yourself

like a treasure you forgot to bury.

An open hand is a ploughed field ready for seed.

An open hand is the generosity that is inherent in need.

An open hand is and is not an open hand.

No hinges can define it

because it’s not a two-faced Janus

standing in the doorway of a new year.

An open hand doesn’t look forward.

And open hand doesn’t look back.

What opens like a flower doesn’t close like a door

and when a hand opens

it opens at the urging of a light within

that makes the light without glow like the mother of wine.

An open hand isn’t the writing on the wall.

Moses came down the mountain with a stone tablet

but an open hand makes an avalanche of the ten commandments

and goes its own way without submission or regret

like a vine with a prehensile grip.

An open hand is the only way to control things

when things are out of control.

It isn’t a day of yes followed by a night of no.

There’s nothing divine or infernal about it.

An open hand is all that humans need to know

about their own nature

when they let their gods and demons go.

Nothing missing.

Nothing complete.

An open hand is enlightenment.

A fist puts a bad spin on ignorance.

An open hand is a book older than the Bible.

An open hand isn’t a tool

or a new kind of stealth weapon.

And open hand isn’t a weathervane

or a rudder in the wind

or one wing of a bird

with a secret twin.

An open hand is the only way to control things

without killing them for their own good.

An open hand does not say thou shalt not

or you should.

An open hand is not a white flag of surrender

a victory flag or a sloppy salute.

It’s not the price tag you look at

when no one is looking

on a second-hand suit

you’ve been wearing out like a body for years.

An open hand isn’t the hesitant offer of an uncertain friend

held out like a placebo that can’t heal anything.

You might have fixed the palings

but you still haven’t mended the fence.

An open hand is the way things feel when you’re truly alive.

It’s got nothing to do with how the fittest survive.

An open hand is the afterlife of a fist that died in defeat

trying to unseat an older power

that swallows it like a god

dissolves a cube of sugar in water

and finds it sweet to be absolved of the deed.

An open hand is a cup that could hold an ocean

but never overflows.

An open hand isn’t a relic of the thorns

that pinned a butterfly messiah

to the webbed cross of a sacreligious spider

or Ciceronian appendages nailed to a senate door

like a bill that didn’t pass

or Che Guevara’s hands cut off

by the people they laboured for like rebel fruit

that went against the grain of the tree

that poisoned everybody like a jackboot.

An open hand isn’t a proposal for reform.

It’s not the new norm.

It’s not what not to do

when people are watching you

to see if you’re the same as them.

An open hand is the only way to control things

when you don’t know what to do

at the genetic crossroads

of cosmic and domestic things

that weigh on your mind

like the dirty laundry of evolution

piling up in the corners

like falling standards of confusion.

It doesn’t question anything

so it never rejects an answer.

It doesn’t pretend to be the sign

that beatifies its own suggestion.

An open hand isn’t trying to make

a housewife of an iris

or trying to nail things down

to get a grip on things

like a man who knows how to suffer like a floor.

An open hand isn’t something

worth living or dying for.

It won’t save your life.

It won’t take it.

It’s not a lifeboat or an anchor.

Four fingers and a conductor for a thumb

don’t make a choir of flesh

that will make the angels come like groupies

and just because

you’ve got runners on four bases

doesn’t mean you can hit a homerun

like the stand-in umpire

behind the homeplate of your palm.

Four men out and one man on

and the thumb bunts to the outfield

in the last inning of a pre-fixed playoff game

that shaves the score like a pencil into points.

An open hand is the only way to disarm a fist

that buries the road you’re on

like an improvised explosive device

timed to go off in your face like a hand grenade.

The only way to control things without controlling them

is with an open hand.

An open hand does not deny or affirm.

An open hand legislates like the light

and judges like the rain.

Five fingers are the roots of a hung jury.

Five syllables of an incommensurable life sentence.

An open hand isn’t the servile agent of a willful mind.

It doesn’t do anyone’s bidding.

It isn’t the delta at the end of a long river

whose life flashs before its eyes

like an ancient civilization

as it disappears into the sea.

An open hand doesn’t squat on the ground

like some denuded navel-gazer

who mistakes his belly-button for his third eye.

An open hand says as much to the deaf as the blind.

The only way to control things is with an open hand.

An open hand is the sign of a mind at rest

with what it doesn’t understand.

An open hand isn’t a contract with anything.

An open hand isn’t a flatlining fist.

An open hand is a loveletter that doesn’t insist

on being returned like a dove

that’s just discovered land.

An open hand is the fairest image of a god

ever created in the likeness of a human.

An open hand is the omnidirectional threshold

of the homelessness we built

on a cornerstone of quicksand

like water moonlighting as a rose.

An open hand isn’t celibate or promiscuous.

An open hand warms itself

around the cold fires of the stars

and tells tall tales about the constellations

of scars and callouses that have sprung up

like villages along its lifelines.

The only way to control things is with an open hand.

An open hand is a myth of origins

that ends where it begins.

An open hand makes no distinction

between matter and mind.

An open hand is the enlightened gesture

of a human who knows without grasping

what they don’t understand

and welcomes without expectation

all those who cross over it like the floor

and pass under it like the roof

of a house without a door or a window

to keep anything in or out.

An open hand is as certain as doubt

it doesn’t know what it’s all about

but the only way to control things

when they’re coming apart

and coming together

is with a hand

as open as an ample heart

that gets it by letting it go

one breath one death

one footstep one heartbeat

one spring one autumn

one hail and farewell after another.

The only way to control things is with a open hand.

An open hand rests in its power like the flower

the Buddha gave away to Ananda

as all he could and couldn’t and wouldn’t say.

Seekers look for starmaps to paradise

like the night looking for the day

that shines all around them

and blinds them.

But look as they may

an open hand is always the way that finds them.

The only way to control things is with an open hand

that binds us to the boundlessness

of letting go of who we are

like a star on the lam

that poured itself out like insight

to say to the night I am.

This is my hand.

It’s open.