Sunday, April 24, 2011


Does the eye of the rain know it’s a tear?

Does that ray of light know

that even at night

it’s a revolutionary among flowers?

Between the giver and the given

between a human and his god

between a human and her void

the gift of a gift of a gift.

And the gifts aren’t hidden

even when you cover your eyes.

I saw a baglady the other day

who hadn’t given it all away yet

who was positively beatific

in an atmosphere

that only she could breathe

but the shining under her rags

told me she lived on light.

She was a waterlily in a swamp.

And I wondered if she knew it.

What I don’t know I intuit

so even if she did

how could that add

one drop of bliss

to an abyss that was already full?

Experience makes a gift of a school.

The blossom grants the apple its absence.

The wind is Johnny Appleseed.

Or the mad old farmer at the end of his life

that was seen hanging on to the tail

of a black bull

in the backwoods of Westport

sowing the groves with grain.

So the birches had bread

he gave aways his brain.

So the dead know

we haven’t departed

we leave them our pain

in the company of flowers.

Things don’t have origins.

They have givers.

Even in math

giving is an axiomatic fact.

Does the sumac know it’s a phoenix in the fall?

The lifework of a universe

in every eyelash

in every bud on the locust tree

in every branch of coral on the moon

in every pimple on your ass.

If the all were not whole in the least of us

all things would cease to exist.

Life wouldn’t be possible

if it ever short-changed itself

watered a gram

diluted the whiskey

thinned our blood like a mosquito.

Life would be an also-ran

that didn’t quite make it to the moon.

Does the stone

that forged it out of fire and iron

know it’s giving Excalibur

back to the water?

Or the magician his wand?

The diviner his witching rod?

The poet his computer?

Giving isn’t a moral vow

you make to the universe.

It’s the way we survive.

Say one word truly in any language

and you’ve endowed the gift of speech

on inanimate things that were mute

about all the things they had to tell you

in your own voice.

This is not mysticism.

This is not science.

This is not the Uncertainty Principle

of some random atomic spiritual life.

I’m not drinking my reflection

from the wellspring of a mirror.

It’s as clear as a chandelier.

You can’t keep

what you won’t give away.

And it isn’t the giver.

It isn’t the given.

It’s the giving that’s crucial.

The Buddha gave Ananda a rose.

I don’t know what kind of flower it was for sure

but let’s suppose.

It isn’t the rose that’s famous

it’s the giving that has come down to us

through the years

thorns and all

heart to heart

hand to hand

human to human

rose petals on the mindstream.

The enlightened dreams

of an unttainable man.

If you’re ice

absolute Kelvin

dispassionate as entropy

profound as blue glass to an ancient Roman

you’re still not sublime

until you learn to give it all away.

Empty the urns of the fireflies

like the ghosts of earthbound insights

and scatter their ashs on the wind

and they’ll tell you how

to light the night up

and play like water

that doesn’t know how to live any other way.

Giving took water for a body

as soon as it saw how beautiful

the wild iris and blue narcissus were.

Wisdom is water.

Compassion is water.

And there’s no end of the modes of it.

Water is the light’s favourite mirror.

And the most fun.

And what are we

if not clouds

if not wombs

cut off from the sea like kites

if not sacks of water

fruit that leaks like a crucified pear

hoping if we’ve got to be poured out of ourselves

like pitchers

it’s over a garden.

Chandeliers of rain when we cry

even the windows have learned

to weep along with us

glaciers and glass

slow inexorable tears

that like to linger on the past

as if there future weren’t full of it.

Like a garden in the fall

that gives what it’s got left to the birds

however you think you’ve emptied the cup

such is the generosity of water

there’s always one last

unfathomable watershed of a drop left

to give back to the water-giver.

And when you do

pour it away from you

like Dogen Zenji

as a sign of respect for the river.



If you don’t want a pulse

I’m not going to force one on you.

If you want to hold your breath on the moon

as if you were protecting the last flag

of its lost atmosphere

as your face turns blue as a moodring

I’m not going to show up like a gust of wind

and blow stars in your face

like the playful ghost

of a dandelion gone to seed.

The stars don’t twinkle in the eyes of the dead.

And when they cry in the mirror

their tears don’t make ripples.

The trees take their engagement rings off

and the mystic specificity of every snowflake

is banked like a fingerprint

someone forgot to wash off

when they thawed like a serial killer

in the warmth of an artificial heart

in a glacial interrogation room

with two-faced mirrors

sporting a camera

that cuddles like a recording device.

Clarity doesn’t mean

that everytime something shines

your mind jumps in front of your eyes

to make a point of the light.

If making a tent of a mental starmap

is enough of a sky for you

I’m not going to expose you to the radiance.

If your idea of extending your senses

is mirrors and lenses

I’m not going to make Spinoza

grind them all over again in his garret.

No donkey.

No stick.

No carrot.

I don’t need to make scaffoldings of thought

to climb up and paint the overview

in Botticellian blue

when I know it’s where it’s always been

right under my feet.

I starwalk on the things I’ve seen

and deepen my shadows

to inspire the light to burn hotter and brighter.

But fear of the dark

makes you lower your voice

everytime you hear a bird in a hidden grove

singing its heart out to the night

as if no one else were listening

and whisper

What was that?

I’m afraid.

But I can’t hear it for you

like an old Druid

divining in a sacred wood

and give you an interpretation

that would do your listening any good.

I’m not into cutting the balls off oaks

like mistletoe

or the mountain oysters of rams in the Rockies

or the figs of goats

with the sickle of the moon

to keep them from running amok with desire.

It’s the nature of fire

to always get out of hand.

Ask that red-tailed hawk of a heart

with blinders on

like an executioner’s hood

you keep tethered by a leg to your arm

what it’s like to get high

on your own thermals

alone on a late August afternoon

wheeling through double helices

like the spark of a planet in the sun

with the wingspan of an uninhibited sky.

But I’m not out to hunt your morning doves

like bloodless loveletters.

I admire the sails

but where’s the lifeboat.?

Where are the oars the feathers the wings?

I don’t want to waste a good star

on someone who isn’t rowing.

Row row row your boat

gently down the stream.

Merrily merrily merrily merrily

life is but a dream.

But even if you’re sleepwalking

you can still stub your heart on a rock

and find yourself caught in an earthquake.

If you don’t want to wake up

from the inside out

what good would it do to knock?

I’m not going to brainwash my ghost

into being ashamed it had a body once.

And who’s to say

that haunting isn’t just another way

of advancing your senses

into mediums they’ve never worked with before

like the seedbeds of new internal worlds

rooted in our starmud

like waterlilies anchored in a swamp

waiting for the wind to fill their sails

and drive them down the mindstream

to brighten the nightlife

in their ports of call?

One of the liberal graces of an enlightened life

is that you suffer fewer deaths

than you have afterlives.

And if you hear someone calling

it isn’t a summons to a seance.

How do I know this?

Because all of those who don’t.

The tree is made from the crutch

just as much as the crutch is made from the tree.

Two acts of compassion from the same heartwood.

Even the dead branch is delirious with fruit

that has ripened in the midnight sun

of an unexpected insight.

Birth doesn’t start the work

and death doesn’t finish it.

When opposites

look at each other in the mind mirror

one isn’t far

and the other near.

One isn’t love

and the other hate.

They copulate like sacred snakes

like the bannisters on the stairwells

of our dna

like wavelengths of life

from the same radiant source

long before forms and shadows

and when they meet eye to eye

it isn’t Hammurabi and Odeipus

it isn’t Lear and the wanton gods

it isn’t Tiresius being led around

like a blind old woman by a child for seven years.

It’s a union

a coincidence of the contradictories

a synthesis of opposites

that differentiates identities

like the names that we choose for our children.

A rainbow isn’t the optical illusion of a raindrop

anymore than your face

is a delusion of the mirror

or the moon’s reflection on water is.

The water can’t grasp it

or reject it.

And if water can’t wash it off

maybe it’s not a stain.

Graffitti under the bridge

or writing on the wall

maybe they’re not watercolours in the rain.

Maybe when I lay my head down to sleep

on the hard rock of my brain

my dreams are the grass and saxifrage

that cracks it open like a fortune-cookie

or a message in a bottle

to read it like a genome.

Why run around like hieroglyphics

looking for a Rosetta stone

so you can understand yourself?

Why put a gate on your homelessness

to keep the wind and the weeds out?

Nothing’s empty.

Nothings’s real.

Everything has a creative feel about it.

Absurdity isn’t the black sheep of meaning.

Innocence isn’t driven out into the wilderness

like the scapegoat for a guilty world

to return like a prodigal tiger of karmic wrath.

Temples to chaos

are built in the ruins of perennial philosophies

that keep popping up like flowers

that don’t know when to quit.

Water air life fire light

all make better cornerstones

than Carrara marble or quicksand.

Because there’s nothing immaterial about the mind

it can grow a body out of nothing

like a tree grows an apple out of bees.

Delusion is the ore of enlightenment

It will weep gold

if you turn up the heat

to the cosmic intensity

of any one of an infinity

of transformative universes.

But the clarity of the mind

isn’t fixed like a mirror.

The mind has ripples in it.

It moves.

It grows.

It lives like a lake

Like a watersnake dripping with moonlight

as it swims to the further shore.

It’s always moving to keep its balance

like a stream does

or a fish

or blood.

The more people come together

they deeper they feel their solitude.

The deeper the grave that’s dug in the valley

the closer the mountain is to stars.

One mile east is one mile west

so that far is this close.

The candle doesn’t enflame the lover

but blow it out

and you set him ablaze.

All things are like that.

The ones you miss the most

are the ones you hold most near.

That’s what these words do.

They span the polarities

like migrating birds

habitable planets


and Monarch butterflies.

Life changes to stay the same.

Life’s changing all the time

to sustain its original harmony.

At one and the same moment

the whole of the universe

and everyone in it

is both the afterlife

and future of a single atom

that’s been exploding into existence

wavelength after wavelength

insight after insight

like an enlightenment experience

that’s never complete

because the more it understands

the less it grasps.

It returns home

without ever having left the place

with empty hands

and nothing to say

that could possibly explain its absence

though Wednesday’s child is full of grace.

In a field of vision deeper than seeing

the eye is a mere toy of insight

and feeling and thought

a soft alloy of body and mind

blood starmud and water.

Not readiness.

Not ripeness.

But awareness is all.

Beyond being and non-being

there are no guides.

There are no teachers.

There are no mirrors.

There are no more Dantes to mislead Virgil.

When everything is missing

what is there about life

that isn’t already fulfilled?