Tuesday, April 20, 2010




As long as pyramids

have gazed upon their own reflections in sand

I’ve waited for an afterlife among the stars

that didn’t pull its roots up from here

and forgetting how sweet it was among the flowers

disappear like grass from the Sahara.

And the gates to wherever I’m going

keep opening and closing like the wings of a bird

that’s never going to get off the ground.

Things go round and round like life and death

as if they were one kitten chasing its own tail

and jumping straight up in the air like a hair-do at its own shadow.

I give water back to the river.

I give the air back my breath.

It was always this way

long before I was born.

You give back what was given to you

like a secret whispered in your ear

that was never meant for anyone but you to hear

your own voice in the sound of the night

giving itself back to the silence

that clarifies everything

by not trying to.

Life isn’t something you make your way through.

Life isn’t something that comes back on you

like a wave that’s lost its footing.

Life is as motherless as space

that bears all things within itself

like forms in time.

Cling to life and you’ll lose your hold.

Let go of it and you’ll endure like a cornerstone.

Be time and you’ll never grow old.

Act your age and you’re still just a cheap thrill to eternity.

It’s easier to forget what you never understood

than it is to remember you’re insane

but if you go around seeking compassion and lucidity

as if they were things you had to learn

that means you have none

and everyone’s in pain.

Going with the flow

you sit still on your flying carpet

and your mind moves like the wind beneath you.

Digging your heels in like a horse with spurs

and a burr under its saddle

the unbroken stallion

spreads its wings among the stars

and your mind doesn’t give an inch.

Wisdom isn’t in the way you see things.

It’s in the way you don’t.

If you stop bringing your own eyes

to the things you’re looking at

they’ll give you their own to see them by.

If you don’t bring your own ears to the listening

it’s easy to know what the stars are talking about.

If you don’t bring a mind like a headmaster

to everything that makes a fool of you in life

when you try to understand life

as if it were a school you had to excel in

you can see clearly that life isn’t a discipline.

There’s nothing to win.

There’s nothing to lose.

What you reject now

you will later accept.

And you can read

the palm of your hand

and cast your fortune

by placing a bet on the running of rivers

but true lifelines are always perfect circles of rain

no two ever the same

as they progress the way they came.

So who can ever be ahead

and who can ever be left behind?

The dark watersheds of the mind

don’t hold their fountains up like trophies.

Don’t say a word at the beginning of creation

like a talkative god

who knows too many names for things

and you can feel life

giving birth to life within you

moment by moment

like the muse

of her own inexhaustible inspiration.

The wise man sits like a dunce in the corner

as the fool lectures on folly

and more hatred

has been perpetrated by the good

in the name of love

than the bad who haven’t heard the word

and turned an echo into a calling

and said nothing.

If I jump toward paradise

tell me quick

is that rising or falling?

And if I shine out in all directions

like an autumn water star

that blooms among the lilies

that coronate their own reflections

one crown up

and one crown down

is that the sky using the water for a mirror

or water peering into the sky?

And which of all the ways the light takes is wrong?

If you think of yourself as a thing

then you must wait to be illuminated.

But when reality stops being solid

and everything turns to space and time

where is there any darkness within you that’s blind?

Where is there any face in the night

even in despair

even in delusion

even in anger and longing and grief

even on the terminal rows of disbelief

hoping for a reprieve from that it once despised like proof

that isn’t the moon-face of an enlightened mind

dressing up for Halloween?

Why look for the meaning of life outside yourself

like a vampire looking for a grail

when it’s the theme of blood in your body

that writes its holy book in braille

so you can read in the dark

when the light fails

tall tales of your own spiritual insight

and how hard it is to understand

that there’s nothing to stand on?

Gravity might hang on awhile

like a rejected lover

to what space lets go of cavalierly

and that’s clearly how earth got to be

the round cornerstone of stability

that mothered us into being

like hot spin on the q-ball of a long shot

that swept the elemental table like a floor.

But we’re still just a little chalk and English on a blackboard

that hasn’t been completely rubbed out

by the writing on the wall.

And we sit here like buddhas in the abyss

listening for echoes even before we call

trying to see the stars before the arising of signs

and grasp true things without mouths

like a language that’s never been spoken

to anyone who’s learned to speak.

May it dawn upon us all

sooner than yesterday

like blind lightning

rooted in the birth of time

in this first and last moment of the universe

that we are the homeless lost and found

of everything we seek.

























































Writing love poems like belated elegies

to people who died before I was born.

Missing the future as if it were already gone.

I’ve sweetened my blood like the wines of time

but it’s time that lives on

like the wine-dark sea of a blind poet.

I imagine my way in and out of things like air

and every day I wear a different atmosphere

and every night I’m naked as the moon

through the window of a sleepless room.

My dreams are ashamed of me

but my eyes can’t help but see

what isn’t there.

I’m a kind of dark energy

that shapes things behind the scenes

by pouring the stars out

like serpents of hot metal

flowing out of black matter

like ores that burn to shed their skin like light

the night’s outgrown faster than space.

And I don’t know if folly is wiser than pain

but I have suffered variously enough

to know that if you’re not wounded in life by a sword

you’ll be wounded by a plough

and that a bell can be a weapon of mass destruction

that can break the spirit of the most explosive cannon shell

that ever tried to make a lasting impact

on the bodies and souls of the innocent.

I’m not absolutely indifferent

but even the laws of relativity

feel like strangers in a large enough frame of reference

where there’s no starproof roof you can take shelter under

like classical physics

or goldfish bowl of celestial spheres

that changes the water every day like your tears.

And I’m Zen enough

not to stuff the impersonal secret of the universe

into my sentimental little heart

and there isn’t a dragon on drugs

that would venture into the unholy places I’ve been

where just to have eyes is obscene

and to look upon anything with compassion

where even the enlightened are unclean

is to hear the sound of one hand clapping

like the Buddha in the way

you killed with detachment

like a spiritual version of gangrene.

I uphold the dignity of a foolish human being

like a royal blood-line

that died out species ago

like the Sahara covered in trees

before the big freeze that crawled toward Bethlehem

like an ice sphinx older than water.

I’m a starter civilization in a skull-bound cave

scrawling paint on the walls

like grafitti from a spray can

outlining the negative space of an amputated hand

to prove I was here and human

in the presence of everything I am

that’s perpetually missing.

I think of life as a siren

that sits on top of the world mountain

like a rock in the middle of the cosmic sea

that sings to me like a fountain to a bird

to risk everything I’ve heard

in the precocious silence of my assent

as if that were always what my life was meant to say.

Yes to it all.

It’s beautiful.

It roots in us like lightning in a dark heart.

It kills us into itself like life perishing into life

like firewalks and waterclocks

we had to pass over

to get to the other side

like chickens and bodhisattvas.

It rocks the stillness at the center of things

like a blackhole in a guitar

that adjusts its strings to the light

and sings of sorrows that weep their way through the night

like wounded mindstreams

losing themselves in oceanic visions

of worlds within worlds within sight

of a drowning man

whose eyelids overturned like lifeboats

that couldn’t save him from his dreams.