Thursday, November 17, 2011



Enlightenment isn’t lumpy

even if sometimes you’ve got your heart

stuck in your throat

like a bird in a chimney

warming up like a phoenix

to go the way of the sumac leaves

and the ghosts of smoke

on the pyres of the sky burials

of the Canada geese.

Just because November

can’t feel its pulse

and the garden snakes are nesting

like a sloppy knot of wavelengths

deep in the cold heartwood

of a rootless tree that can feel

the brutal chill of serpent fire

running up its spine like a lightning rod

doesn’t mean enlightenment’s a placebo

you have to keep away from the kids.

It’s real enough to be unattainable

without disrespecting the integrity

of the picture plane.

It hides out in the open

where no one ever thinks to look.

The simpler it gets

the bigger the book you need to write

in order to conclude ambiguously

you do and you don’t not understand it.

Say not two

and all is well.

And mean it deeper than you can say it

so that pain doesn’t adulterate the child

that’s trying to transcend it

by hanging on to the lifelines

of his fire-proof constellations

like the kites of distant stars burning in the wind.

Enlightenment doesn’t care

if you’ve lost your integrity.

Your absence of self-respect

for someone who isn’t there

is a rare opportunity

to uphold the dignity

of stars and rivers and trees.

Enlightenment’s just the blossom.

It’s not the fruit

of what there is yet to be.

The smell of autumn

in a windfall of apples

cradled like small planets in your arms.

Enlightenment isn’t salvation from pain.

It’s an invitation to forsake yourself

in the name of nothing you can explain.

The blossom let’s go to make room for the fruit.

The perfumes of the spring give way

to the aromas of decay.

But they’re both sweet

because there’s nothing about either of them

that’s everlasting.

It may be an old root.

But it blossoms in the spring.

It may be a dead branch

but the nightbird stops to sing.

And the full moon shines

like a skull full of signs

above its dark abundance.

Enlightenment isn’t out of the reach of anyone

because it’s got infinitely long arms

and puts the stars at your fingertips

and says play what you want

as long as it’s something

we all can dance to

on our way to the grave

like fireflies in the wake of a thunderstorm.

Enlightenment doesn’t take life too seriously

even when it makes a tantrum

of its elemental innocence

and goes supernova.

Deep in the nuclear core of its heart

it’s creatively playful on a cosmic scale.

The darkest inspiration

of its genius for making

an art of its existence

is life.

Simple and beautiful

as the laughter of children

collecting sea shells on the moon.

Even when you’re severely lost

enlightenment doesn’t hand you a flashlight

and say go look for your mind

like the holy grail in a sacred wood.

It deepens your solitude.

It blows the candle out

until you emerge like a star

from the profusion of your own darkness

and stand in the doorway

of your own shining

amazed by what you can see

when enlightenment isn’t blinding.