ENLIGHTENMENT ISN’T LUMPY
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
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
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.