Before You Sleep



     Go to your chest
and become the softest sound.
           Your inhalation? No,
the murmuring that was here
      before anyone breathed
                a Word of light,
bioluminescence of emptiness,
          undulating in the fertile sea
                of not yet, not yet.
Uncreated love
           ceaselessly expanding
      into this world of dust
                because there is no
           resistance in the void.
And you?
                A gentle rippling
of distant stars in night water,
           risen now in tidal waves
                     of silence, ravaging
      the fragile effort of the mind
                     to know.
           Just drown
in the grace of not seeking
                and come home.
This utter failure to
                     touch bottom
           is called "the heart."
Your Beloved is so intimate
                there is no other,
      ever waiting, ever longing
for you to plunge into yourself
           like a dagger of absence,
     a diamond blade that
                hones what is
      with the brilliance
                     of what is not.
For You, I cease.
      For Me, you are whetted
                by fire into nothing.
Yet we are both possessed
           by hosts of the blessed
      and the lost
                like pollen
           in a bursting flower.
See, hear, taste, touch.
      Go to your chest.
           Do not breathe.
If you understand this,
                you are not here.


Photo by Kristy Thompson

Cookie


"It is not what goes into your mouth that defiles you,
but what comes out of it." ~Matt 15:11

Dear friend, I am Jesus,

and I have come to tell you

to eat.

Eat without shame.

Eat without listening

to experts,

the ones in your head.

Make peace with gluten.

Hug that little demon

peanut butter cup.

Be no longer afraid

to bake with

real butter.

Dunk a home-made

oatmeal raisin cookie,

no, no! Better yet,

a fresh-baked toll house

chocolate chip cookie

in a big glass

of cold milk filled

with the double digested cud

of green grass,

oats and sunbeams.

Just so, just so,

I pronounce all foods pure!

Why not ginger snaps

made with real molasses?

why not donuts in

steaming dark coffee?

I know that you can smell this.

I know that these words

like the odor of cornbread

will make you crave and eat

what you should not.

Why shouldn't you?

Where does 'should' come from?

If you were here to abstain,

your mother and father

would have abstained

from conceiving you.

Now make peace

with gluten.

With little demon Hershey kisses.

Fall in love with butter again.
Take, eat this cookie.
This is my body.
Savored as a prayer 

in your mouth,

devoured with all your heart,

moist and chewy,

hot and round,

let it be a host

for the ravishing down-pour

of my love.

 


Woof

 

My breath is woven

           out of your breath.

     Your breath is woven

                out of mine.

     Strands of evanescent 

          pearl, each bead

     a cluster of gazes

                that have not yet

           received their eyes.

The tapestry of stars,

      a warp and woof

                of seeing.

And you an undulation

           of spider silk 

from the pit of the belly

      to the crown of the skull,

a filament of respiration

           reeling in the moon.

Sacred kinesthesia, 

           braiding air

     with light and song,

                the gossamer

     pull and release,

how you spin a body

     from the ineffable loom

              of stillness,

     how you knit

                  your silence

          into a garment of fire.

Mine out of yours,

            yours of mine,

     even God is woven 

               from our breath.

 
 
 
NASA photo, the Lagoon Nebula

Things Fall

My belly refuses to obey. My patriarchal tongue colonizes my whole body. I have other organs who are anarchists. They throw bombs at the officers of my sacred story. Sometimes my heart is a pot-still of Irish whisky. All I can trust is the mud between my naked toes. And listen to the whisper of my knees. I bow down before an old cedar, and give up self-improvement. There is no me left to feel like a victim. Only the messy sweetness of grace, the incalculable unity of chaos. It all comes together when I abandon trying. Things don't fall apart, they fall in place.


Photo: took this in the Carbon River Rain Forest, Winter, Mt. Rainier

Song


Merge with your doubt.
Drown in bewilderment.
Though non-existent, past and future
are too heavy to bear.
But take heart.
Every atom of bones and trees,
stones in the path,
eyes of ornamental owls
guarding the gates of the
abandoned sanatorium,
are filled with empty sky.
At home in loss,
you too are weightless.
Be a golden mountain
dancing in the void.
Ever moved by the stillness
of a Mother's breath,
fall into the orbit of your song,
that old favorite called,
'I Don't Know!'



Photo by Jim Graham, my homeland, Chester County PA

Patanjáli Blues


A svelte and blissfully sun-tanned
          yoga teacher taught me:
"Yoga means wholeness.
     If you want to be whole
          you must harmonize your mind,
               heart, breath, and body."
"That sounds like too much work," I said.
     "What if I leave them as they are,
          scattered across the linoleum,
               and just hug the whole mess?
          Wouldn't that be pretty much
                    the same yoga?"
She kicked me out of her studio.
     So here I am, rambling 
               down the sidewalk, 
     practicing Coyote Asana
          without even knowing how, 
     and mumbling my favorite 
               Jack Kerouac quote:
"Whether you're sitting 
     at the bar, or climbing 
          the Matterhorn, it's all 
               the same void, baby!"
 
 
 
Photo: Jack at the Kettle of Fish bar, East Village


Every Quark


Every quark of gristle
           sings to a star
     about some incomprehensible
           connection
between pain and beauty.
     Angels cock
             their heads, perplexed
and ever so sweetly
      troubled
             by the music
emitted from your nuclei.
      Something about your
               gravity and grief
gives them
       courage. They long
to clothe themselves in bone,
            the very stuff that
      weighs you down
to this mother
           of bodies,
      the planet pulsing
with silver hair, sweet grass,
               empty park
      benches and
               lonely faces
of dissolving frost
     on maple leaves.
               All Gods yearn
to fathom the
      opacity of your tears,
           and smother their
                brilliant souls
in dust.


Cistine Madonna Cherubs by Raphael
 

 



Thirst

 

Sometimes when I've poked my stick too much and muddied up the water, the best thing to do is absolutely nothing, silently, until the stream clears.

To attain perfect clarity by not interfering is also action. Waves of stillness. Words full of quiet. To dance like a mountain on a cloud. These are the signs of the Witness.

This morning I am called, not to improve my doing, but to deepen my Being. In Hebrew, the word shabbat literally means "stop!" Let my Sabbath nourish the earth.

Lie fallow, boldly decay, regenerate, take time. When I take time for time, I move in eternity. I hear ten thousand seeds of Spring singing in the silence of Samhain. Winter comes lovely like a bride, rummaging among my bones. Isis, Ishtar, Cybele, Anat, the Magdalene weeping at our tomb. Desolation is the field of the Mother.

Perhaps you hold great knowledge, great power. Perhaps you have become the "spiritual teacher." You no longer need the Beloved. You no longer need a morning and evening practice. You no longer need a lineage of wisdom to root you down in the ancient now.

But I do. I am a fool. I have dropped knowledge. I have dropped power. I thirst for the grace of the Beloved, who is deeper inside me than I am.

Pungency of the ruined gourd. Musk of the withered chrysanthemum. A dazed bee in a wild meadow turned gold, I scent fragrant nectar. Here is the secret, friend. The Beloved's grace is deeper than knowing, deeper than power, deeper inside than I am. It flows out of my heart, to seek my heart, to gather my heart, and guide my heart home.

Let my Sabbath nourish the earth.

What Is The Difference?

What is the difference between a human breath and the breath of the Goddess?

Gratitude. Thanksgiving transmutes the air into an ocean of Shakti.

The hollow of your nostril is the entrance to her grotto. On cool moist caverns

of your body are engraved the secret runes of her dance.

 

Beneath your tongue, nectar drops effervesce with the sound of infinitesimal chimes.
A Spring breeze plays through the leaves and twigs of your alveoli.


In this garden of breaths is the kunj where Radha meets Krishna in a love
so pure it seems illicit to all who are not Gopis, or playmates of the groom.


And deep in the shadows of that kunj is a portal made of resonance,
where you pass into the name of Shambho, to disappear.


The black hole of swirling stillness at the galactic core of every atom
is the mouth of prayer.


What else can you do but fall into that spiral well of rubies, to become
a mere exhalation, tumbling down a staircase of crystal probabilities?


Follow the infernal passage, a thread of spider silk, until your gaze emerges
in the ruins of a desert palace. Use another eye to see beneath the veil.


You're in a city of thousand-fathomed temples encrusted in coral, at the bottom
of the breath-ocean, where reptiles made of amethyst sparkle with prana.


Surely, this is the night-breath you share with panthers, moth-wings,
mushrooms, snow, and worlds whose gravity has not yet kissed your body!


Don't be seduced by distances. All distance is a lie.
What were you looking for?


Your own name engraved on scarlet petals in a blossom of astonishment,

as you receive a scorching kiss from the formless golden Sun.


Dear friend, the splendor without circumference is You. Your querulous gaze
emerges from the very orb of glory you’ve been seeking.

Whose voice is singing, “I thirst for the grace of a Being who is deeper
within me than I? Yours, dear friend, yours...


The image of your own amazed face dazzles the mirror in your chest.
You marvel at feral constellations roaming the midnight of your amygdala.


As your veins breathe ancient rivers of blood, as your nerves
breathe quasars from the womb of time, as your lungs breathe
the unborn sky, so your heart breathes God.

 

Whatever flows in and out, honor That.

 

Now a sunbeam pierces the bud. There is a cry of pain.
This too is the name of the Goddess.

 

The bud opens, becomes a flower.
Yet the blossom does not say, "It is my doing."

 

For the sake of the fragrance of devotion did Thou become I.

For the sake of the flavor of friendship did I become Thou.
_______________________________

Link : Hear an audio reading of this poem.
Photo: Underside of a cherry blossom by Dean Hueber.

This Is Not The End

This is not the end of the world, but the beginning. A time to do something New. Old ideologies, religions, political concepts of the left and right, dry up and fall like brittle leaves, all swept away, destroyed by a gentle breath of Presence.

You are not "shifting" into a new dimension, a new age, or a higher level of consciousness. You are dissolving all dimensions into one whole awareness, which cannot be divided into levels, planes, star-ages, or degrees of initiation. You must evaporate these illusions into energy itself. This is your real Dharma, your real Duty. It transforms the earth.

Such alchemy does not happen in time. The effortless sinking of Presence into deeper Presence has no duration. To awaken is to discover that the transformation has always already happened. It happened before the beginning, in the un-created core of this Ancient Now.

Is there an I who left Om at the age of One to finally arrive where I Am? Was there a journey? Simply turn from your fearful angry mind to the space between your thoughts, which is the space between the stars, which is the radiant clarity of an open heart. Then let the whole creation burst from that cornucopia of emptiness.

Root down in the hollow of your seed, be naked, drop every garment of belief. Let go of your hope and your story. Relax into the divine darkness of uncertainty, the wound of not knowing. Then the glory of ten billion suns will blossom from the stillness between your heartbeats.

Miracles happen in the field of the effortless. Repose in the ayin soph, the diamond point of no-thing, where exhalation ends and inhalation begins. This is the glowing dimension-less bindhu, the seed of the wild flower of grace, just an inch or two in front of your chest.

Breathe down into That, and for one eternal instant be breathless. Galaxies whirl out of this space. It is the loam of stars. Here, the earth is refreshed and recreated. Come and see for yourself. Bring all your relations.


 
Mandala by dear friend, Rashani Réa, from the book we made together called, "The Fire Of Darkness: What Burned Me Away Completely, I Became" (See books below)





The Mystical Bride

 

If She does not caress you
with your own inhalation,
or walk with you in the garden
between heartbeats,
how can you say that you have
ever really met the Goddess?
And how will you know when
She is here? Dear one,
your emptiness turns indigo,
fragrant as jasmine.
Your numb places overflow
with the nectar of yearning.
You no longer fear growing hollow,
or floating like a leaf
on the stream of night.
You do not fall asleep, you fall
into prayer, a kind of wedding,
a vow without words.
The bride wears your breath
as her luminous veil.
She presses on your brow
a throbbing pearl of wakefulness,
the kiss of solitude.
Instead of slumber, a waveless
flame glows in your body,
lit by love’s silence.
In the darkest hour
you cease to ask for light
because the midnight stillness
under your breastbone
is a maelstrom of stars.
You are present to yourself,
like silver in a moonbeam,
like sweetness in a mother’s milk.
And the dignity of this very breath,
how it gently places the soul
in each cell of your flesh,
is your Beloved’s secret name.



Exquisite photo by dear friend Aile Shebar

Minus (A Poem from 'Savor Eternity...')

I got drunk
on the gin
of subtraction.
From every creature
I deducted your name.
From your name
I subtracted my breath.
The remainder
was nectar.
Then I took away
the one who tasted it.
I think I may have subtracted
loss itself.
Now there is only
a fragrance of poppies,
a forest the color
of blood, the green
of parrot shouts,
the silver of glistening
toads, evocative
of death not by violence
but beauty.
I subtracted the veil
between worlds.
What remains is
the entangled chaos
of my astonishment.
Pay attention.
The Beloved is whispering,
“Loss will teach you
everything.”



Photo by Laurent Berthier


Sukkot


 
When she walks
through the vineyard of your body
hidden gashes open like flowers
exuding the fragrance
of their own healing.
She sings through wounds
where absence blossoms,
the absence of old stories.
Now they are layered in loam
for the press of her footsteps.
Find joy in the presence
of perishing.
Don't count the umbered
and fallen she crushes
under her weightless tread
into sweet nectar.
Without the pain of love,
where is the wine?
Weave a tabernacle of these vines.
Leave the edges of your field
unplucked for the hungry.
If you want to be healed,
let the wanderers,
the people of the land,
rest in your hut for seven nights.
There is room for everyone
in your flesh, all the tribes.
Is this not how she comes
to dwell in you,
a breath-full of stars?



Painting by William-Adolph Bouguereau

Crocus

What is always already open and free gets veiled by seeking it.

We assume that our bondage is the result of lifetimes, requiring lifetimes to unbind, when in fact we invent our bondage each moment, and each moment we are free to drop it.

This very breath is an opportunity to sweep the mind clear, and fall in love. Fall in love with what, with whom? With Love. Then the universe gushes in, filling the void with otherness.

Star-clusters, chrysanthemums, mountains gleaming with first snow, dragonflies and mushroom spores, gushing out of our own heart, fiercely, softly, weightless as God.

But we do not see or feel or respire the truth. Why? Because we are in bondage to yesterday's mind and its toxic residue in the nervous system. And our nation's media, with its politicians, magnify this toxic self-generated dis-ease. They feed on it and it empowers them.

The cure of our national dis-ease is neither the Left nor the Right, neither socialism nor trumpism, law and order, nor rebellion. What does our nation need? Our nation needs to burst its heart chakra.

Take some time each day to meditate, to bathe in the radiance of what is already open and free. Then, in your chosen work, wherever you serve or play, simply remind each other in a thousand small ways how ineffably beautiful our true nature is.

The radical act is being present. The revolution is to breathe. Postpone the apocalypse, procrastinate catastrophe, but not the crocus, enfolding this golden alfalfa field in an unexpected drop of amethyst, lately come to the motherland.

Gratitude expands the heart. This is the secret of our energy. The world will be gone in an instant, but you still have time to inhale. Why not take in billions of suns with the next inhalation, from belly to throat, a riotous pollen of joy, undulating through hollows of sorrow?

One shouting flower in this meadow of desolation might herald the new earth. This is not a spiritual exercise. It's how Christ sees the lilies. So'ham. A single breath changes everything.



Photo: Autumn crocus in a field near my home

 

The Final Rose

 

In a place neither inside nor out,
a nounless silence of no thought,
not even a thought of silence,
the final rose is burning
its black hole through your retina,
pressing a turquoise pineal kiss
on the back of your skull.

The fragrance drifts through umber petals
the way a soul exits a crinkled body,
except that the soul is only
a description of itself,
but the scent of withered rose is real,
un-predicated on its name.

We say, "In the beginning,"
but this place is before the beginning.
We say, "was the Word,"
but why assume it was a noun?
"In the beginning," then, "was the Verb,"
neither of the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd person.
Please, no pronouns either.

Perhaps there are no objects at all,
and the act of worlding is thing-less.
Perhaps the cosmos we can speak of
is only our thought about it,
every concept a shield,
the earth a blaze of sweet destroy 
to cauterize our lips and singe
our lenses with wonder.

But what of Jesus, Mary,
the Virgin, the Lamb? Perhaps
they weary of their disembodied stains
on a cathedral window, fixed
in a catechism of glass.

They long to dissolve in the beams
that pass through them,
to pierce the eye and liquify the mind,
quickening our ancient glands
that once flicked out the world,
ineffable as a poison tongue.

They would have us forget their names
so that they might clothe their loving
in luminous verbs like "to fall,"
which is, in fact, how you arrived
in this place of the final rose,
where things, nouns, certainties
must perish in terrible fire.