Tuesday, April 27, 2010




Some journeys end like rivers

in Nilotic deltas of frayed nerves

rooting in seabeds on the moon

who dream of distant waters

but sleep with intimate shadows.

Some journeys just sit down

by the side of the road

among the white sweet clover

and never get up again

and their shoes go on without them.

All journeys eventually perish

in their own beginnings

like water and blood and light.

If you’re lucky you might meet

love coming the other way

and stop and stare at each other

as a place to stay for the night

but everyone’s gone by the morning.

The best traveler has no plans

is an old Sufi insight

and then there are those

who get around like starmaps for the blind.

And though I was certain when I was young

that I knew where I was going

growing older I realized

I wasn’t the boulder

I was the flowing

and I stopped trying to take care of things

that get on well enough by themselves.

What does the wind know of blossoms and seeds

as if one were a used up beauty

a spent breath

and the other had a rendezvous

with the afterlife of a flower

like a tiny coffin

moonlighting as a locket by night?

Water doesn’t need a guide

when it’s in the mountains

or a shepherd when it’s in the valleys.

It doesn’t need to know where it’s gone before it goes.

Every journey is a pilgrimage

that wends its way to a holy shrine

in a back alley somewhere

you’ve followed like a lifeline

on the palm of your hand

all the way down to the base of your thumb

hooking rides all along the highway

as far as the next town.

If Chaucer were alive today

he’d be driving cab by now.

He’d know how to get around in London

without jacking up his fares.

Some journeys can go on for light-years.

Some are just quick slides down the banister

to the bottom of the stairs.

Lost in a dark forest on your thirty-third birthday

or limping horseless along the grail-ways

as if the world were the pebble in your shoe

blue angels on your shoulder

trying to fly you into a soft landing 

and a serpent at your feet

driving you out of Eden

into your infinite homelessness

like a universe with nothing but stars for a GPS

the way things go

sometimes no is the only shortcut to yes

when yes stops short of forever.

Sometimes the journey feels like a flying carpet

under the Buddha’s behind

but it isn’t the Buddha that moves

it’s his mind.

And the saddest delusion

I’ve ever encountered along the way

I shook like a star that was following me

in the wrong direction 

were all these people who seek the divine

by looking forward to

what they’re leaving behind.

Do the blind lead those with eyes

like a vine leads grapes to wine?

Some journeys wobble like a drunk

walking a straight line

like small planets with vertigo

pulled in opposite directions

by massive sinkholes in space

posing as the marble cornerstones

of the freewheeling allnight casinos

double-dealing the light

in a game of cosmic roulette.

But space gives time as good as it gets

and the spiders don’t stop to ask the fish

how to improve their nets

or teach the moon to weave.

Some journeys don’t give a shit

and some believe they’ve got a trump up their sleeve

like a god they can pull out in the nick of time

at the end of it all

like Christopher Columbus making landfall at dusk

like the sun going down over the wrong continent

looking for a northwest passage

through the isthmus of Panama

like an interloper groping another man’s wife.

Seven times down

eight times up

such is life

when it’s as legless

as an inflated Bhodidarma punching doll

that’s just taken a right cross in the ring

when the vertical’s empowered by the horizontal

and the full lotus you mistook for a vehicle

that would carry you all the way to the end of the line 

turns out to be just another kind of chair

circling a north star that doesn’t go anywhere

like a circumpolar constellation

that’s never made hajj to the Kaaba

to square the circle.

But don’t feel sorry for Queen Cassiopoea.

Some journeys die like salt in the desert.

Not every river’s trying to make it to the sea.

And then there are people who take the high road

and walk for years over water fire and stars

and only ever make it as far as who they are

when they discover how their blood

has led them in circles like the rain

heartened by the new start

of the way they came.