I CAME HERE TO CRY

Bleecker Street photo by Rob Sacks

Bleecker Street photo by Rob Sacks

“He who depends upon his eyes for sight, his ears for hearing and his mouth for speech, he is still dead.” Hazrat Inayat Khan

You who are the eye of my eyes
what I hear has first been heard by you.
You speak in tongues for the living and the dead. I am only a ghost
come back to tell the living
they cannot die.

I came here to know the Fire as a wife knows her husband
our legs tangled in each others’ like the root ball of a flame tree.
All my leaves are burning now
and while your hands go on feeling in the dark for me
I am gone where smoke goes.

I came here to cry.
I came to bathe in a gulf of spilled tears
to swallow the salt I am swimming in.
Now everything tastes like blood.

All my friends are sparrows.
The moon is white as wonder bread and our wings are beating
against its light.
I tell you there is a kind of dancing here
just not the kind the rich will pay good money for.

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STREETS AT DAWN, HONKING LIKE GEESE

One of my favorite poems, written in 1984, when I was 34 years old.

MnnV SW S USA 005 Chisos Mountains Texas

I am crushed like paper on which a child has drawn a picture of her father
in red crayola.
I am blown through strange neighborhoods
where windows growl with fierce flowers.

Stunned by blow after blow, I have gone down on my good knee.
Friends walked away from me
because I was foaming at the mouth
wandering through streets, terrified of water.

But in time I lifted my face and saw the moon sitting in a pin oak tree
drawing water up into its white corona.

I rose
sharp blades of grass falling from my chest
helped by invisible hands
and by an angel with a thick scar across his nose
who sat by me on the bus from Ft. Stockton to El Paso.

It is to him I speak now:

I don’t remember your name.
Your Mother came from Mexico by night
when the moon was a finger nail bitten to the quick.

She gave birth to you squatting by a drain pipe on the American side
her hair still wet from the river
her white blouse stained red by the river.
Pulling you out with her own hands like Moses was from the river
she gave you something you could not throw away
though you tried to in alleys, with your arm full of needles.

Going to high-school in El Paso you were stabbed thirteen times
by the brothers of a girl whose eyes were black as two cups of coffee
whose kisses were gulps of border wine.

Sitting with me on the bus
wearing a Mexican wedding shirt of virgin acrylic
you were talking about knife and bullet wounds and about El Senor.
You lifted the tail of your shirt, slowly, as a bride would lift her veil
to show me your scars.

By bus light I counted them
while the sky spread out like two wings of a black bird
hunting the desert for something ready to be
born.

Water drawn out of stones by the moon
collected on the antlers of deer and antelope roaming dry river beds.
A million spines of cactus pointed to a million different stars
while I counted those scars

and I felt my own wounds burned closed by a fire you built in my heart.
In light given off by your face, I felt my own face composed and graceful as a fist
full of peonies.

In the seat behind us a woman was talking about her monkey
how when she was away from home he wouldn’t eat his peanuts
or run his little comb through his hair.

In front, an old man in shorts and polo shirt with a penguin on the pocket
told how in the 1920’s
he had picked up Walt Disney hitch hiking
and carried him for the first time into the city of Angels.

You were laughing beside me.
You said in Viet Nam you were hit by shrapnel
and lost the bridge of your nose.
But the Virgin came in a dream, walking on the crescent of a black moon
to tell you, you wouldn’t die.

Back in El Paso you whipped those brothers
married the girl
learned to beat the dents out of car bodies and paint them new.

But after your son was born your wife dyed her hair the color of flames
and hung a hat over the face of the Virgin.
You came home early from work and found her naked with a man.
He jumped out a window while you stood there like a pin oak
broken by lightning!

She took drugs and lived with men who beat your son.
You had to learn to see her walking in the streets with the arms of strangers
around her waist like shadows
and not scream, not pull a knife!

Finally you forgave her and went back to work.
Now the moon pours over you like the Jordan River.
You sing a new song, a happy song, your son high on your shoulders
the streets at dawn opening to each other
calling out each others’ names
laughing, shouting, honking like geese!

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FOR MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE IN HER SICK BED

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I come from the river, singing
Om sri sri aing aing namah namah
“O beautiful Mother, I am kneeling, I am kneeling.”

Back home I tell you how windows fill suddenly with sky
how purple finches will fly through the walls of our bedroom
where there is not even a rug on the floor
not a quilt spread across the bed.
Only one old chair and all the birds of heaven
circling inside us.

Your face is open
all red and gold as  maple leaves
where welcome drops of rain will pool
for hummingbirds to drink.
Through our kitchen window a light is coming
innocent as a sea shanty
being sung by an eight year old girl.
Let us live in this welcome light.
In particles and in waves, let us live together
inside this welcome light.

Be healed.

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WORDS WRITTEN ON THE MORNING OF MY SIXTY-FIFTH BIRTHDAY

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for my friends Rob Sacks, whose first girl friend in high school was born on this same day, Aja Thomas, whose birthday is the 29th of April, and for Rick Lehman who was born on July 26, 1950.

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I know well the bitter wine that Jesus bled
when he cut his foot on pot shards
stepping into the Jordan.

When the dove of light opened its wings and the sky
bled for him the many voices of our Fathers
their hands all hard and oily on the backs of our heads
desperate to bless us.

Underneath our fingernails, the dirt not washed clean
by the river
is there to remind us where we came from
what we are.

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TALKING TO SHIVABALAYOGI ABOUT THE MOON

Posted in honor of the twelfth visit to America by His Holiness, Baba Shiva Rudra Balayogi Maharaj, Shivabalayogi’s only monastic disciple.

Baba and Shivabalayogi

Baba and Shivabalayogi

There is happiness
like a bee hive humming inside the black locust tree
where the orphaned squirrel makes his home among thorns.

No one can fill what has never been empty
nor displace what is always full
but when love sits down in your heart, it overflows.

Some look at my face and see a slammed door
locked against the cold
but inside this empty room I am always calling your name.

In rapture, the little white dog
watches his master’s face for half an hour
wondering if the light around her head is edible.

Now in the middle of the night I am awake
watching the moon blossom in that cloud shaped like the palm of an open hand.
Between two locust trees where someone has strung a drying line
a thousand ants are walking.
Each one carries in its jaws a white petal round as the moon.

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APRIL 2015

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April 1

The sweet pain
when we fall in love
becoming more like the quiet
we wake to alone in the middle of the night.
The way the earth is alone, even with a billion
suns around it.
That sweet pain and this heart are all I have
to offer you.

April 2

Ten thousand doors that open into heaven
or to a prison cell.
Generosity is withheld from those we cannot bear to look in the eye
when we forget there is no Other.

April 3

When we are locked inside of rooms
all we need do is lean against a wall.
Effortlessness, whether in suffering or joy
creates space between atoms.
Knowing this, we pass through.

April 4

Fourth of April
I wake to rain and backache. Pain in the left elbow
become chronic.
In the crown of my head
wood doves mated for life are cooing
over their first eggs.
Your face is where I come to live, to die and be
born again.
I look at you and see the world from a thousand open windows.
Doves are flying out of them!
How the old are always making love
with their eyes.

April 5

You may be tired now but you won’t be tired then.
You may believe you are joyless but you are filled
and over flowing.
You are standing on tip toes trying not to drown in waves
of this ocean of joy.

I give you my word on it.

April 6

Drops of blood streaming down my arm
follow the same course the River Jordan does
exactly.

The power to receive energy from light
to release it
without effort or intention
is there.
The power to deceive, to corrupt and be corrupted
to believe that nothing we do has any consequences
is also there in the human heart.

Where does it all come from?
God finds it too elementary to explain.
We go on like this until our hearts understand
how to give back what we hope for
exactly.

April 7

My preference is that God look exactly like the one I love
and answer to her name.
Or like the stranger I pass without acknowledging.
The orphaned squirrel who came to the toe of my boot
calling for his mother
or every leaf of every tree I have seen or not seen.
The sparkling emptiness between stars.
Your right hand taking hold of mine.
My own face in a spoonful of water or your face right now.

April 8

I would like to have something of my Grandfather’s
small enough to hold in the hand.
He always told me
“To be intoxicated with God is alright
but it is still an intensity of ego
just as joy and rage are both intensities of Awe.
Here, where we are now
is where the love is.”

April 9

Life is the stone we break our hearts upon.
You are luckier than most.
You have wasted your opportunities in the world
thrown your many talents into dust.
It is now and has always been broken hearted love
that is the source, the goal and the perfection
of every life lived well.

April 10

There is a hollow in which I live.
A creek running through it that will flood
in April.
I can allow a heart to take form inside of emptiness
to open and accept every face as my own.
First pretend to be a person
then feel a Presence separate from your self.
Begin to love this Presence as if it is another.
All to make an opening, so what is Real
can enter as breath
that blows away every structure of belief.
Allows the Real to be perceived and held
to what extent a human being can.
As Robin Williamson sings, “Whatever you think
it’s more than that.”

April 11

There is an Existence alive and conscious of itself
moving within the single wide trailer of the self.
It comes as great wind
taking down walls, breaking windows
blowing doors off of their hinges.
For those who have ears, it speaks. For those who have eyes, it appears.
For those with heart, it opens inside them
a blossom whose nectar is blood.

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AFTER NIGHT BATHING IN STEPHENS CREEK, TEXAS, I AM CARRIED UP LIKE ELIJAH INTO HEAVEN

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As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
2 Kings 2:11

for Carol and for David Spero

There is quivering in the creek water
like the flanks of a mare in heat.

In the pasture behind the log barn, there is vibration in the blood
of the seed bull.
Circling the moon, two hawks are watching
him lift himself on to the backs of heifers.
Laying his head between their shoulder blades to smell the quiet
in their sweat.

Now in air thick and damp as a lover’s tongue
there are tremolos of fireflies, teeming wings of mosquitoes!
A million gnats too small to be seen are carried over treetops
in heated waves of air.

I am joined in this air by web worms
by flying spiders climbing into oak trees to make sails of their silk.
Together, we throw ourselves into the sky
while the moon is naked as a dancer’s breast!

Moonlight the color of skin is stretched wide across the bottom land
where the ground slopes back to Stephens Creek
and javelinas come to rut.

There is a tingling in every cell where the captive has been locked
so long inside of freedom.
I am ready now
for the moon to take me in waves
over pine thickets, over rivers dammed the colors of coiling snakes.

I am flying!

I am carried from the San Jacinto River, north to Palestine, Texas
and beyond!

I am flying!

Anyone who welcomes me now, I welcome as my own self
and give myself in return.
As the heart of a man should be
mine is!

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SEVEN PRAYERS WRITTEN IN THE SPRING OF 1974

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I WILL LEAN INTO YOUR VOICE

I will lean into your voice as a willow leans into wind.
The terror of your nails!
The meat of your presence!

The seed bull enters his herd with a trumpet!
Grackles fly out of maple trees, shaking their limbs like a seizure
and the magnificent Eye that sees all creatures afloat in itself
sees me!

I want to run my hands along the nylon over your void. Let me
call your name.

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PRAISING KRSNA

Standing on a lake, playing his flute,
golden dhoti giving birth to wheat fields in the air.
Worlds, men and women tangled with stars
are streaming from the flute!

He speaks his own name and universes leap into being.
He keeps quiet and everything melts back into his Being.
He stops playing and eats a mango!

Over the sourceless, sounding lake he walks
every footstep leaving a child waking up in water.
We are praising you Krsna,
praising you Krsna,
Krsna!

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I LOOK IN THE INFINITE DIRECTIONS OF THE EYE

I look in the infinite directions of the Eye.
See your face upon the Earth,
the circle of your mouth,
your teeth like white geese whose beaks point toward the sun.
Hear a caravan of wind, a shipment of breezes,
thunder carrying your Voice over the farms.
You are the ark and the creator of the ark.

I am calling you like a young tree frog.
I am calling like a cricket to the moon.

I want to be stripped of limitation, forced full of lights.
I want to be a raining presence of affection,
to stand naked before you
and give myself wholly to the river off your glance.

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PRAYING IN A HORSE PASTURE NEAR MIDNIGHT

I enter through a wound
going down into the world
where fire walks, embodied in blood.

I walk into the fire and I burn
upside down in a suit of ashes.

Near midnight
I drink words from a broken cistern,
words and ashes mixed together.

I want the earth never to have existed!
I want colors going back into light!
I am afraid of little breezes touching my arm!
See wings made of moon light beating in the dark!

Something in me wants the iris to float out of my eyes,
wants me to be old, to surrender to the sky,
give up to the floating scenery I am described by.
I want that too!
I want to disappear, become all this.
I want to be with you and know you won’t get tired of me.

Come down to this pasture where long eared donkeys bray.
Come down from the tower of the trees
or bring me up.

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HEARING TREE FOGS IN THE RAIN

Hearing tree frogs in the rain, I draw back curtains,
let their clear syllables fall across my boots.

Last night we slept together touching ankles.
Now I stand at the window
holding in my hands the green light of cedars.

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I SPEAK OF THE NEW BIRTH!

I speak through a cylinder of foam
birds raging in my throat.
A season of nails falls from my hands,
my feet.
The sky slides into my shoulders.

I am not this, I am not that!
The hundred angles of my smile attach to light.
I speak of the new birth!
Nothing is tangled.
The star is a star after all.
The coil is a river and the river is myself.

Watch for me, where I fly in the body of an oriole,
an answer without a question!

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PRAYING BY A CATTLE TANK

I want to be touched by the nameless Presence.
I want my lips to be leaves of fire!
But there are flies on the surface of the cattle tank.
A mare with a belly like a church house has come down
to drink the water.
From where I sit, I  see
the jawbone of a cow that bloated and died.
And a blue jay, everything eaten but its feathers!

I hold my hands up against the land, the sky, oak trees
without end.

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Lord Krishna Bewilders Brahma