When did dapper cedar waxwing
put on his tuxedo for the berry feast?
Why did coyote flash his silver bling
in the moonlight?
How could you not notice
the naked alder drop her golden gown?
She sighed too softly.
And your garment of perfect happiness?
Weave it not from a thread of causation,
but breath - herringbone tweed
of past and future, twill
of star and gristle, intricate knit
of rainbows lining the dark cocoon
of your sankalpa, your secret vow.
Let it be one self-luminous
silent silken sutra, almost whispering,
"There is no other."
Friend, if you must go to war,
win it in your belly.
These woods, prairies, insouciant
ruined gardens of September,
have nothing to do with your disquiet.
They already celebrate
a victory of flowers.
“Not until the soul breathes in the fragrance of its own
lunacy can it stop
being a stranger to itself.” ~Attar, Conference of the Birds
Photo by Tom Archer
A poem of mine in Braided Way Magazine marvelously translated into Gaelic (ancient Irish) by Gabriel Rosenstock. Thank you, Gabriel! LINK
Through with the big corporation.
Through with the nation-state.
Through with the global church, the world guru.
Ready to return and taste the sparkling
renaissance of the small and the local.
No left or right: the center, yes,
but without circumference.
Better to barter a bushel of peas
for a well-honed axe handle,
graze my sheep in the commons
with yours, the sacred pasture
at the heart of every village.
Our little farms touching in one meadow,
we’ll send bees back and forth in a country
with no border but the stars.
No minarets and spires, but treetops,
Raven Mother perched in one,
Eagle Father in another, calling us
to lauds and evensong.
Shamanic circles, bio-regional theologies.
Eight billion gods, each with a human body.
And one ancestral bonfire
to change the bones of the dead into the sky.
I will dance like a flame in your kiln,
you like a pear on my table.
Let there be drums in the ancient forest
filled with the rhythm of our roots.
Every house a temple, every child a priest,
every leaf an offering, every word a prayer.
And so in each shall be increased
the mystery that is everywhere.
Deireadh leis an gcorparáid mhór.
Deireadh leis an náisiún-stát.
Deireadh leis an eaglais dhomhanda, gúrú an domhain.
Réidh chun filleadh agus blaiseadh den athbheochan
lonrach sa rud is lú agus sa rud áitiúil.
Gan deas ná clé ann: an lár, sea,
ach gan imlíne ar bith.
a mhalartú ar hanla tua dea-snoite,
na caoirigh a chur ar iníor sa choimín
le do thréadsa, ba mhaith sin
an féarach beannaithe i lár gach sráidbhaile.
Ár bhfeirmeacha beaga in aon mhóinéar amháin,
beacha á gcur sall is anall againn i dtír
nach mbeadh de theorainn aici ach na réaltaí.
Gan túirín gan spuaic, ach barr na gcrann,
ár Máthair an fiach dubh ar chrann díobh
ár nAthair an fiolar ar cheann eile, ag glaoch orainn
chun moltaí is chun easparta.
Fáinní seamanacha, diagachtaí bithréigiúnacha.
Ocht mbilliún dia, a cholainn féin acu go léir.
agus tine chnámh shinseartha amháin
chun spéir a dhéanamh de chnámha na marbh.
Damhsód mar lasair i d’áithse,
tusa mar phiorra ar an mbord.
Bíodh drumaí ann san fhoraois ársa
lán de rithimí ár bhfréamhacha.
Gach tigh ina theampall, gach páiste ina shagart,
gach duilleog ina hofráil, gach briathar ina phaidir.
agus méadófar ar an mistéir
atá i ngach ball faoin spéir.
You’re all wrong. Every damn one of you.
How do I know? I’m wrong too.
I’m better at being wrong than you are.
I’ve been wrong since the Big Bang.
Even that is wrong. There was no beginning.
We are eternally evolving microbial mistakes
in a boundless sparkling slime of green Beauty.
When you add and subtract all
the Buddha’s good deeds and little blunders
over thousands of Bodhisattva lives,
the sum is neither greater nor less than one.
Without the mistakes, there’s no dance.
Any little slip-up might be the serendipitous
mutation that ensures our survival,
O graceful sin of Adam!
How could we encounter a butterfly without
the grisly mishap in the cocoon?
Would we enjoy our popcorn were it not
for the hunchbacked caveman who tripped over
his own enormous feet, spilling a handful
of kernels into the fire? Where would you be
without your mother’s carelessness
concerning the moon? Stumbling is sacred.
It is better than dancing. Were it not for
our holy uncalculated awkwardness,
no creatures would exist – nothing but the
oceanic symmetry of Zero, frozen mouth
of a silent God, yearning to say ‘O!’
through the dense white hole no Word escapes.
As for me, I lie awake in the dark,
surrounded by snoring animals.
I’m always wrong. The people you need
to watch out for are the ones who are always
This little madness was published in 'Braided Way Magazine', 8/19/21
This wedding was planned before you were born.
Your ancient Heart and the Mother of Dances
were the elders who arranged it.
worry, they knew what they were doing.
They run the beachfront honeymoon hotel
of crushed emeralds
where we all stay between lives.
chose this breath to marry your body.
Now you go stumbling down the aisle,
wondering if you're ready for this,
making eyes at the guests in their pews,
doubting, muttering to yourself,
I marry this one instead?"
tripping over your veil!
Stop chatting with strangers and unruly cousins!
Just keep gazing toward the sanctuary,
at the one who waits for you there.
The chuppah your vine-tangled ribs,
the aisle your exhalation of surrender.
As you walk down, you gradually awaken.
procession is a pour of wine.
Your beloved is the bottom of the cup,
a mirror of empurpled splendor.
you pour your gladness into that face,
and taste of that ancestral vintage,
bride and groom, priest and wedding
all dissolve in the fire of “Yes.”
Once you say, “I Do,”
these grapes become wine.
Painting by Marc Chagall
I received a massage from NoBody, who says that the "information age" is over. All information is a corrupted file, because it leads to the delusion that there is a knower separate from the known. The very act of in-forming creates an illusory distinction between inward and outward, when in fact reality is a continuum of consciousness: pure energy aware of itself without being separate from itself. There is no "interior life" separate from the exterior life. The boundary between inner and outer is only a mirage. The soul and the body are entangled on the grapevine of ISness. We are here to be tasted and touched, not informed. Massaged, not messaged.
The cosmic flowering of energy that we call the world, the universe, was too much for us at birth. It blew our minds. That was the original trauma. We turned around to flee from the terrible beauty of creation. It was too intimate an explosion, because it was all our own consciousness. So we tried to get back "inside" the mother. But there was no going back. Therefor we fabricated an illusory sense of "inside," called "mind" or "ego," and we are still in flight, back into the ghost of "me," which does not exist.
We invented duality in the birth canal, an utterly false fracture of this cornucopic kaleidoscopic joyfully meaningless Miracle into inner-outer, spirit-matter, self-other, subject-object, and we are still under the spell of our own traumatic double-vision: but in fact there is only This, the radiant ineffably gentle explosion of consciousness into waves of no-thing - thoughts, neutrinos, quarks, cells, blueberries, chrysanthemums, clouds, moons, galaxies - one and seamless and all made of the same stuff, which is Awareness, self-luminous, self-creating, arising/dissolving each instant with absolutely no past or future, no meaning or purpose, for any meaning or purpose would imply a thinker standing separate from what IS. But there is no one inside or above to find a purpose in the marvelous order of chaos, which is its own triumphant dance of quiddity, all creatures shining just as they are in the radiance of Being. We might call it all "the play of God," except that there is no "of" between "play" and "God," who Is the dance itself, a seamless beam from the heart's core to the farthest softest rim of blossoming space.
And so we slaughter each other, compete with each other, bully each other, fear each other. Why? Because we're really lashing out at our own little "me," trying to rid ourselves of our own false existence, heartsick that we ever invented such a paltry separate thing. And we know prior to thought - not "deep down inside" but everywhere - that there is no self but everyone, entangled in the bliss of indomitable cosmic Wonder, an oceanic Wonder that bubbles with instantaneous selves. Thus the end of violence comes only with the end of our division into "me" and the "world."
As the great Jewish scholar Rabbi Abraham Herschel wrote, the true religion is "radical amazement." And as the young Martin Luther said when he was a mystic, before he froze his "me" into mind-born dogma: "Bewilderment is the true faith!" For we are all born mystics traumatized by birth, when we ruptured the continuum of incomprehensible rapture, and separated the still-born "soul" from the world "out there." O weep for the child who invented the false idea that there is something "wrong," or even a mind who could be "wrong." Yes, weep for the child who thought up a "me" who could ever be separate from Thee, or from the star-wild wholeness of Love.
Oh blackness, Oh 3 a.m., Oh womb, voluptuous ink of poems, O Virgin of Montserrat, the blessed symmetry of zero, quantum vacuum gushing particles of night, Oh fountain and fecundity of nothing, without your one eternal uncreated No this mad and multitudinous dance of Yes could never have been born - Oh Light is not enough, I love the Dark!
Photo of Venus and Saturn conjunction taken on a walk near my house.
Prose poem published in The Yes Book.
Image: 'high-energy ghost-particle from outer space,' published at CNN
is a slight excitement in the field of infinite Rest, an ever so gentle
whisper in the field of infinite Silence - the secret source of Power.
Photo: The hibiscus in my backyard bloomed last night. The air cleared and the blue sky shouted and all distances dissolved in the intimacy of the Self.
"Someone asked me, "Are you a Christian, a Hindu, or a Buddhist? I can't tell which."I answered, "Neither can I!"
"You must be confused," he said.
"Blessed are you when you are confused, for then the mind must descend into the heart."
"But what is your religion?"he asked.
"Listen, friend. I was a born-again Christian, a twice-born Hindu, and an un-born Buddhist. Then the Goddess hugged me to her bosom of unfathomable silence, and suckled me on the mere sweet milk of breathing.
"Un-created fire gushed up my spine, poured through the wound in my heart, and fountained out my empty crown. These eyes became black holes at the center of twin galaxies whose blinding light has not yet reached this world.
"Now I am just a finger writing on trembling waters: Impermanence is the soul of Beauty."
Thank you water. I love you. Rain.
Thank you dirt. I love you. Molder down.
Thank you sun, at dawn or evening.
Clothe me in your beams.
Thank you, death. You feed the loam
with bodies large and small.
I return to you.
O stars, I'm not sure what you do,
but without you would I be?
I love you, held or falling.
Thank you, masked workers
in orchards or trucks at 5 a.m.
I love you,
bruising your hands with fruit.
Thank you wind.
I receive you like a moaning pine.
You lift me like a thistle.
In my foolishness I see no difference
between my body and an alder leaf.
Autumn comes, hollowing
a place for the soul in things.
My soul is parched with praising.
I would sing like a wren,
disturbing the great silence.
Photo: Monk's Garden, County Kerry
It's time for the sacred
Time to dissolve the Big into the Small.
Time to pulverize the general
into luminous particulars.
Melt guns. Topple steeples.
Aren’t we all just zinging leptons?
Time to deck abandoned halls of Congress
with honeysuckle, bee hives, elk scat.
Time for herons and cormorants to roost
in shattered window nooks over Wall Street,
Trump Tower sagging limp under clusters
of morning glories. Time to replace the Left
and the Right with millions of whirling olive bodies.
Let dandelions explode through marble floors
in Hollywood, the Hamptons, where once were
$50,000 a plate dinner parties for the DNC.
Time to replace the federal state with bio-regional
communes, and the multinational corporation
with family farming collectives.
Time to replace bureaucrats with troubadours,
with poets in their muddy toenails.
Time to granulate the mega-church,
the global NGO, the world-wide guru cult
into village dances, drum circles in the woods,
throb of bone flute and tortoise rattle.
It’s time for the sacred collapse, and the silent
glow of ancient dust the moment just after.
Time for the random veneration of pebbles,
indecipherable runes on moth wings,
tools you carve from older tools, using
your grandmother's songs, your fingers
more umber than the tools they hone.
Protect your identity: back up 700 lifetimes
of information in a purgatorial iCloud,
then erase it with a single breath.
Take off your underwear and smudge
with warm ashes of archaic dollar bills.
Use only roots, herbs, tinctures
of lavender and yarrow for currency.
I'll let you have my Goldman Sachs
portfolio for six fresh pomegranates.
I'll give you wordless secrets of meditation
in exchange for your gaze.
Art by Vladimir Manyuhin
Take a rest from the restless mind. Sink into the eye of the heart that looks by feeling. Sea-feel every cell of your body as an ocean of love, each strand of DNA immersed in healing waves of luminous breath. Since this is utterly real, you don't need to visualize, imagine, or try. Just feel, see, become aware. The miracle is here already, but it is activated by awareness.
Einstein daydreamed at his
sliding down a lazy sunbeam at the speed of light.
E = mc2
August Kekule fell asleep in front of the fireplace,
his rational mind exhausted.
He discovered the circular structure
of the benzene molecule
dreaming of a luminous serpent biting its own tail.
Dr. Oppenheimer directed the Manhattan Project,
inventing the first atom bomb.
He also studied Sanskrit.
As he watched the explosion in the desert at Yucca Flats,
he muttered verses from the Bhagavad Gita.
"I am become the destroyer of worlds.
Even if you beheld the light of 10,000 suns,
you would not see one particle of my glory."
The first Neanderthal was a scientist too.
He gathered a handful of useless corn,
jagged and tasteless as broken teeth.
Then he stumbled, spilling the kernels on hot coals.
It was an accident.
They popped, grew soft and fragrant.
He tasted one.
Science asks very simple questions
without clinging to answers,
for the answers are dancing like dust motes
in a golden ray.
Science is not knowing,
but knowing how much we don't know.
Paying attention to particulars, yet trusting
in the limitless space of possibility between electrons.
Science is careful, not infallible,
intuiting the way all creatures ground their hearts
in a paradox of quantum uncertainty.
The answers are dancing like dust in a golden ray.
Photo: J. Robert Oppenheimer
"Hi Fred, hope you are doing well. I wanted to share with you the current state of the books I have of you. You wrote in the preface: 'I hope it gets dog-eared and frayed, used like a hand tool.' Well they sure did, and got soaked, molded, here in the jungle of Costa Rica! Yet each & every poem is still readable and read."
God! I think you have, Issa, and so much more!
The common sparrow has no little "i" trying to sing "better" than any other sparrow. The song that pours through her astonishment is the song of All singing to All through All. And that is how we humans were meant to sing, with the added bonus of being Self-Aware. But instead of using our awareness to celebrate the All, we use it to fabricate a small, independent, separate "i." Isn't it time to fall back into the heart-song of the universe? Don't worry. Allness only makes your voice more unique. The ocean become the drop.
A light flows from my center
yet shines from somewhere
When I get used to that
it seems more like a garden.
Then I hear a flute deep inside
and yearn to know who lives there,
dancing in the moonlight.
Write this on my tomb, friend:
All he did was wonder.
To enter the wedding
of breathing out and in
I open the gate of emptiness.
If there is a Beloved,
there must be a Lover.
Write this on my tomb, friend:
All he did was wonder
why it takes an Other
to awaken Oneness.
Grace is not an abstraction
but a living touch
ignited by a glance,
an exhalation, a scent
of rose and evening rain.
The Master may appear
before you in white robes,
brown face and sandaled toes.
But that is only an occasion
for the Sun and Moon
to kiss and shimmer
in your own chest.
Write this on my tomb, friend:
His deepest pleasure
was to drown in the gaze
that spills from your eyes.