SOME JOURNEYS END
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.