Mission (A Detailed Map)


You have a deep green mission on a thirsty planet:
to invoke the robin by listening in the dark.
At 3 A.M., let your inhalation be the fragrance
of honeysuckle on a ragged breeze. Ransack

the meadow, then surrender to unscented night.


Breathe through your forehead. Smell the stars.

You have another eye, like a gash in your lung,

that sees our shadows as golden beams.

You have an ear in your belly that hears our weeping

as oceanic moonlight.


You’ve been a marmot lacerated by the hunter’s trap,
curled in deep snow, warmed by crimson seepage

of your essence through fur.

You’ve been the chafe of sand-grains in a shell
grown lovely through silence, solidified into black pearl.


There was blood on the sheaf, and then on the floor.

Why let your trauma turn to stone?
Healing comes from the energy of the wound itself,

not from the story of how it happened.

Don't waste time being anyone but a Lover.


Permeate the loneliness of voiceless creatures.

Give hope to strangers that this moment is enough
by showing them the gold in their shadows.

Teach old men and small children how to survive

in the kingdom of impermanence.

Be the wound made whole by staying open.

Do beauty with your hands, but remember,

peace is not made, it is breathed.


Now fall into the cavern of your ancient brain.

Enter the empty ballroom where the part

of you that never sleeps is always whirling.

Don't linger. Descend to the wine cellar.

Taste the blood that Jesus ages into brandy,

oaked in the cask of your amygdala.

You've been braiding your dreams

into a rope for safety. Let it go.

Plummet toward awakening.


The descent is not groundless. You land.

You wake again, the waking within waking.

You find your heart, beating

in a musty pump-house, where you've

been before, many many times.


You are kneeling by the spring where

all through lightless days and luminous nights,

newts, salamanders, bullfrogs ponder and repose

in the wild reptilian splendor that your body

wants more than a soul.

Pass through the portal of the ordinary.

There is no other way to get through this miracle.

Part the almond-scented serpent skin and enter gently,

muttering this spell: "Ameen, Ameen,

all things dissolve into themselves."


Who you strive to become is not nearly

so lovely as who you are.

These are simple words, my friend,

but they were born of many tears.



Photo by Neil Dickie


Abandoned Barn


In the abandoned barn
a forgotten wind chime
rung by the wandering breeze
ever so quietly,
a silence just before
and just after.
If you cannot taste
the Great Disappointment,
how can you savor
the Great Liberation?
The Great Disappointment 
is knowing that this 
is all there is.
The Great Liberation 
is knowing that this 
is all there is.
The silence just before
and just after.

Wounded Flute (To Rumi)

We met on the endless ride into stillness,

seated on the same donkey, every atom

of my flesh an oasis, every atom of yours a well.

When we gazed at each other, we could not speak,

because our mouths were filled with one sky.

Still our hearts broke with that sound, the scratch

of brittle leaves against the prison window.

When the breeze blew out of the East, how those

iron bars rang with sweet songs of exile!

If we did not hone our loins with stabbing tears

of ancient friendship, what beauty could seep

from our jagged bones, like the wine

Christ served at the wedding?

Nothing caused this radiance between our ribs,

we simply gave up trying to arrive.

Yet beauty is more lovely half-veiled, seen by

one whose eyes have been polished by waiting.

You danced at the edge of a meadow near Aleppo

in rags of moonlight, frog song, and blackberries.

These were but appearances, I know,

for we are a broken mala whose scattered beads

became the stars, and we the silence between them, 

though their thread is still tethered to the sacrum, 

where the pain of yearning gushes up.

This wounded flute makes music because

it has been torn from a living branch, like yours,

with seven gashes for the song-maker's breath.

Don't all wounds widen into one ancestral emptiness?

Everyone receives them, yet in different places.

They keep us open to the gift of the Beloved's absence,

the grace of the One, floating on an ocean of zeros -

which must be why the purest prayer is merely


Thanksgiving For My Skin


I am grateful for my skin. Though it is edgeless

and, at the farthest fractal of its holobodygram,

merely blinding diamond consciousness,

with neither form nor color, still,

I am grateful for my flesh in all its hues,

roseate, brown, wheaten, peach, mahogany,

crow's feet and frown lines.


I am grateful for my lymph nodes, sinews and fat,

for bonefulls of dark energy and their marrowy burrows

which shall be the feast of earthworms and larvae.

I am grateful that my plasma will coagulate

into the crème brulee of magots.


I am grateful for the live volcano of my basal ganglia,

for the reptilian gangsters who dwell in my hippocampus,

for the neuroplastic salamanders of my intuition

flicking out their twin sulfuric tongues,

for axons and dendrites copulating in my caves of fire.


I am especially grateful for my crevices and pits:

Romanesque intestinal corridors,

the pagan granaries of my belly,

my windpipe snoring Buxtehude,

the chthonic spiraling mollusk of my inner ear

which contains the ocean of listening,

and the infinitesimal sky within a synapse,

pregnant with unbegotten constellations -

the Dolphin, Unicorn, Moth, and Griffon.

Stillborn, starless, they will yet be connected

by threads of hope, and I will surely see them

when I gaze beyond darkness.

I am grateful for the aurora borealis in my belly,

I give thanks for the kindly sun who shines

in the firmament between my nipples,

for the Christ jewel rising in each inhalation

over the horizon of my diaphragm, sparkling

through the rain forest of my alveoli.

I Am not God, but what God Is.


And I am grateful for the domed cathedral in my eyeball,

rose window latticed with veins of second sight,

where fugitive tomorrows find sanctuary, bearing

witness of a world to come.


For my wounded skull-cap I am grateful,

unhealed infant softness where a beam of Me

still floats upward in a milky braid

pouring backward into night; and still I climb

hand over hand over mind into the moon,

to the sun, to the raw chocolate whirlpool

of Andromeda, cauldron of sweetness,

holographic portal that welcomes me into a waltz

with clustered nebulae, unnumbered sparks

of the impossible - for I am not God, but what God Is -

waltzing 'til I fall, and fall into myself again,

remembering the flesh, remembering that all

this light is nothing but my body.


NASA photo of me as an embryo, Antennae Galaxies

Only One Law


When your mother lives in the street
and sleeps on the sidewalk
in front of your brownstone,
you need many laws
to keep you safe.
They all say the same thing,
"Stay away."
But when you invite her inside,
you recognize, indeed,
she is your mother,
the one who brings this breath.
She sits down by the fireplace
where your grief is burning
and you give her something warm to sip
from the bowl in your chest
you've carefully kept
from too much beating.
You notice, indeed,
there are many cracks in it now.
And you remember, it was she
who gave you this bowl,
just as her mother gave it to her.
Then you discover
that only one law is required,
the one that says to every stranger,
"Welcome home."

Hunter's Moon, 3 A.M.

The journey is over at this end of the rainbow. The colors of the garden all exist in the prism of a hollow seed. The answer is the silence where the question never arises.

The world appears as I appear to myself. This is response ability. Between pistil and stamen, a sweetness; between "I" and "Thou," some kind of pollen so gold and soft it melts all into one, then back into two.

This honey thickens before the flower has even sprouted. Where was it brewed? In my body, where breath kissed breath. Knowing this could bring the bees home.


Nothing caused the radiance in my chest. I simply gave up trying to arrive. Now I contain the cosmos like a feather holding up a cloud. Breaths cannot be counted, each inhalation is the last.


For the rest of the day, a magical inebriation keeps me unborn. No effort required. The discipline is simply my agreement to be nowhere else. Is there a place called Else?


It must be here, at 3 A.M., under the hunter's moon. Dissolving thought, I dissolve vast distances. A clear black mirror, untainted by any image of past or future, I am an ever-expanding stillness, filled with swirling galaxies.


Because my mind is dark matter, more subtle than the body, I permeate each proton, each atom of every cell; I pervade the forests and mountains, the space between the stars, the uncreated void beyond them.


It must be here, in the dark, where I pulse with the breath of light, here that I meet the true teacher, the one both inside and out, the one who disappears into frog song, blueberries, ragged mist at the edge of the meadow. 


 Photo from the Orlando Sentinel

Wild Flower Yoga

No one teaches yoga to a flower.

Learn bending from her stem,

the supple power of green

no hurricane can crush.

Breathe from the seed.


Without a sequence or routine,

your body is a river of postures

flowing toward the ocean of repose.

The zephyr of this breath

rests like a feather on your belly.


After so many years of practice, can you

give up formal poses and just move

to the rhythm of begonias in October?


Rooted as a weathered oak, can you sway

with seasons of in-pouring and out-pouring,

ligaments softening in the void,

a starry wheel rolling out of your chest,

the axis of the galaxy
poised between your nipples?


Can you dance with the Beloved,

even when you are alone,

your backbone Kali’s wand,

your pelvis her boat, laden

with its cargo of moonbeams,

and let a serpent pierce your heart?


The mind does not survive her thunderbolt of silence.

All that remains is the flesh.

You wander in the wilderness at midnight.

You trust in the candle of breathing, stepping softly
into the next lit pool of faith.

Your eyes tell beads of gratitude,

pearled on a wordless tendril

of exhalation,

and the fierce name of your Mother

protects you from the shadows of false light.


Dear one, there are intricate

miracles of attention

woven into the quivering sinews

of your heart, each nerve threaded

to a certain ache of sweetness

in the meadows and the woods.


Keep it soft, like the mystery

of gristle in a baby’s crown.

That is the door you leave by,

made whole by lost drops.

Be a connoisseur of tears.


From your sacrum to your fontanelle,

a hollow nerve of liquid lightning hums.

Follow it Om to your toes.

It’s your own dance now.


No more instructions.

The sutras are your bones.

No do's and don'ts in your body,

but majestic spirals of molten stillness

swelling from caverns of marrow.

Micro-movements inventing themselves.

No one teaches yoga to a flower.

Breathe from the seed.

They Give Workshops

Everybody is a spiritual teacher,
a life coach, except me.
They give workshops,
I just mutter to the sun.
They teach you there is
no teacher, and nothing to learn.
No practice, no path,
no lineage, no master.
Just the workshop, $300.
Petals from a wind-blown rose,
they drift in their own
delightful fragrance.
I am the naked stem,
not even green.
The scentless sap
of this breath connects me
to the root,
and the root leads
to a tiny seed.
What a fool I am,
hunkering down
into the brown earth,
naked and groundless.
Devotion in the dark.
I charge no fee
for these murmurings:
Petals blow away.
The root of the Guru remains.
The seed is God.
You are the berry.

Painting: Erica P. Johnson


Jesus said, "You can't put new wine in old skins." Because, as the new wine ferments and expands, it bursts the wine skin. So it is with our rage. Rage is the wine of Presence trapped in the mind of the past. Rage is a vast heart bound by old concepts.

The zygies, or paired opposites, of yesterday's ideology - male/female, blackness/whiteness, East/West, Body/Soul, Socialist/Capitalist - don't work anymore. They only feed conflict. They are the archons that keep the spirit in bondage. It is like trying to carry the ocean in a little measuring cup. You have to smash the cup and dive in with your whole body, stripped naked of old stories.

When our living rage bursts free from the bondage of yesterday's mind, it transforms into a completely different quality of energy. No longer anger, but love, it is the very same energy in a new vibration, unshackled from concepts. This energy is sacred fire that rises from the heart, consuming all with beauty, a fire that creates what Is by destroying what is Not.

From the heart, the fire rises to the throat, speaking words of healing, not condemnation. Then it is a blue flame that emanates from the brow, bathing the world not with anger but wisdom. Then it is a fountain through the crown - O keep soft your fontanelle, and let its portal never close, that fragrant bindhu where your Mother kissed you! - sending out silken threads of wonder that connect you to the galaxy. You are the weaver of the web that catches the stars, greening the earth with the dew of their light. You do not await a new creation. You ARE the new creation.

Image: a mandala by Rashani Réa from the book we did together, called "The Fire of Darkness: What Burned Me Away Completely, I Became"

Important To Say

It is important to say
that the sun does not caress
this mossy stone without delight,
and the breeze does not ripple
a pond in the meadow without rapture.
All night in the fern forest, trillium shine.
They see through eyes more ancient
than ours, and not without a tear.
At first light, petals of magnolia,
filled with rain, fall and bruise themselves
not without that peculiar sorrow
which is the soul of time.
Before I leave this place
it is important to say
that I have heard the voice of the raven,
wise as the silence that was already here
when God shouted, "Light!"
I have seen the whole blue curve
of the cosmos in a robin’s egg.
I want you to marvel at the grace of the small,
the yearning in an apple bud,
the pebble's presence.
I want you to hear every creature cry,
“I am patience in a stone, ardor in a peony,
the whisper of grief in a meadow of scattered bones.
We are from the stars and they are not cold.
Loam is alive with all our relations.
Mitakwe Oyasin!
And yes, the vast empty night,
even when you think you are alone,
is awake, awake with love,
a vigil unto itself, like you,
silently tenderly burning.”

Honest To God

I finally got honest to God.
I said, "Everybody's either
begging or selling something:
what's your angle?"
God said, "I'm begging
for your next breath.
And I'm offering a deal:
Give me back the sound of rain.
Give me the touch of golden fur.
Give me the tweet of the flycatcher,
the blue sky in the chalice
of a morning glory.
Give me the fragrance of compost
when April finally arrives
with her chorus of worms.
Give me the scent that drives
you maddest, the memory
of her hair, or the brackish sea wind
luring you back to the sandy shore.
Give me the way the stars appeared
when you climbed like a silver goat
into their jagged emptiness.
The payment I'm asking is
every sensation and its echo
in the grail cells of your body.
Let them be my flesh too.
Offer it all, then become
as hollow as an orchid's stem.
In return, I'll pour my breath
back into your heart,
a diamond stream of
uncreated stars.
Then you will know your Name."

Art by Elena Kotliarker

Autumn's Door

“You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you what you can never learn from schoolmasters.” ~St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Don't veer from the razor's edge. The grit of your bondage is the gravel path to liberation. Be instantly enlightened through whatever you deeply observe. In the bond of each sensation, be the unbounded witness.
The merest soundsmelltouchtasteglitterblink is your Guru's countenance. Whatever jaggedness of space or shrapnel of time arises before you this instant is the Mandala of Supreme Awakening. Bow down your nose, iris, fingertip, tongue. Eternity is over, you're ready for a moment on earth.

Through a dewdrop on a spider's web, enter the temple of intergalactic diamond emptiness.
Pass through frog croak, wand of fading lavender, Autumn musk of deflated tomato in the ruined garden. The portal to the miraculous is a toadstool.

Your atoms ever-perishing, breath, marrow, brain cells ever-perishing, your hopes and memories ever-perishing, let all forms be as they are, ever-perishing. Yet this "ever" is deathless.

Now you hear the heron shriek, flapping away over withered cattails, and your heart erupts with the uncreated laughter that created the world. Your exhalation is the whole sky. As tears without circumference stream down your cheek, you bathe your mother, your father, all your relations for seven generations past and to come, in waves of astonishment.


Photo by Donna Kennedy. Collage by Rashani Réa
using words from one of my poems.