Monday, July 26, 2010




Dogpaddling in the wind

with the black walnut trees.

My thoughts sway with the breeze

and whatever I’m feeling

I’m at ease with the way things are

and are not

for the moment.

But it’s a relative truth

not an absolute way of being.

I don’t expect it to last.

It’s not the kind of peace

that comes with a past

that’s rooted in anything.

Among the great perennial acts of grace

that flower like goldenrod and loosestrife

all through these abandoned fields

that have returned to themselves

like veterans of foreign wars

on someone else’s doorstep

it’s just a blade of grass.

But I’m grateful.

I don’t know to whom or what.

God’s more of a political party now than a candidate.

But a vote for one is a vote for all of them

and as the Arabs say about the secret garden

I try to enter heaven by the right gate

and for me that’s always been the backdoor.

Blueweed chicory vetch Queen Anne’s Lace

rough-fruited cinquefoil

enamel buttercups

and three kinds of clover

blooming along this road I’m walking on

like a snake flowing through Eden

as the late afternoon air settles its dust

and cools into an eye

of  blue-green peacock sky

at the first sight of Venus

taking the long way around the sun

high in the west on her own.

And a little further along the ecliptic

the first crescent of the moon

thinner than a sword-edge of Damascene steel.

An eyelash of the radiance

that fell from the night

while it was trying

to feel its way into stars

emerging out of the abyss

of an intuitive inspiration

that spoke to the light of the darkness inside

through a crack in a mirror

that once was blind

but now can see again.

Sometimes I think all the stories we make up

about the origins of creation

are just the mythical hindsight

of why we bear

the unbearable pain of living

that would drive us undeniably insane

if we didn’t have a lie or two to fall back on

even if it’s merely to marvel

that the immensity of so much

over such immeasurable reachs of time

could mean so spectacularly little.

Call it imagination

but it’s really only the genius of wonder

that pictures things on the inside

to give what’s dark and unknown

a place around the fire

like strangers far from home.

It’s a kind of spiritual hospitality

that lets the world in

like a nightstorm

through the windows and the doors

of our eyes our minds

our hearts our pores

even when it tracks emotional starmud

all over our immaculately deceptive floors.

Nothing stays clean for very long.

The meaning gets soiled in matter.

And compassion’s always been

an outrageously messy affair

that seldom picks up after itself

when there’s no one around to care.

I pick up an old hand-painted sign

that’s overturned in the matted grass

at the foot of a basswood tree

that’s hung on to the nail

like somebody’s word.

Private property.

Trespassers keep out.

Violators will be shot.

But there hasn’t been anybody

around here for years

to hear the open gate tell it

as if the woods had ears

and there was nothing to worry about.

Somebody once owned a grain of dirt

in the oceanic enormity of a place

that dwarfs the stars

like homesick bodhisattvas

with the boundless space

there is yet to enlighten

before we can all enter paradise

like gardeners bedding down with hunters.

In the meantime

life waits like a loveletter

in a mailbox full of bullet-holes

for somebody that was meant

to read it and understand it

without knowing who it’s from.