for Carol and for Stefan Pyne
“…if you feel like a room without a roof…if you feel that happiness is the Truth…”
Happiness comes over me
silver schools of Gulf trout moving in waves under the skin!
Every mullet in the Gulf has a name.
Both their eyes have names
and the scales that cover them each has a name
written in a kind of fire known only to the Most High.
But you tell me joy is evidence of a wound.
The Mother is always lifting up her children
to wipe the blood from their eyes.
You say we are moving down this road alone, alone
but every body is one candle lit inside another.
We make the necessary efforts to shine and one day we all
come back together.
Sitting at my ease now, becoming more and more
like the air around me
I go into another body made of inhaled breath.
The hand of the first body is stroking the long white hair of the other
and I can taste my name being called.
Because I’m saying this, I know it’s nearly time for me
but for now I am a rooster strutting on the roof ridge of a church
my feathers all red and gold!
Elaborate coxcomb thrown back fluttering in a furnace of wind
I go cockadoodledoing while the preacher tries to preach.
Hey you crying on your knees!
Hey you, bent over with your back broken under weight of fear and guilt
come outside and whirl with me!
Everything you believe about yourself is vomit.
Your sermons are mouthfuls of rancid meat!
Why not come whirling with your arms full of fire?
Take this gallon can of gasoline and pour it over both our heads!
My fingers are match sticks already struck with fire.
bee in flight, taken on the road to the White Salmon River
“The lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shouts for joy. Water gushes forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”
“To live in the world and yet to keep above the world is like walking on the water.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan
you make my body a place of worship
an unfenced pasture where creeks stream together in a confluence
My heart is a drum beat for singing your name
and you are its drummer.
Your voice is released in waves and I go walking on its water
bones becoming light under the skin
the hollowness inside them filled with laughing gas.
There is no one above me now, no one below
You tell me I hear your voice when I listen well to my own.
I am listening now. I am listening.
“I came because you waited all your life for me.”
Now everywhere I look I see your face as fire
and its green radiance.
You tell me
“The falling bird remembers how to fly.
The heart works well, once it has been broken.”
Now the ground opens under my feet. I find myself suddenly in air!
you take me to the limits of the sky
where there is nothing left to leave behind.
Out where there are no names and no in coming breath
is the dome of a sky
black as polished obsidian and full of stars.
This sky seems infinite in all directions but is not.
What seems to be an endless sky is only the pupil
of your right eye.
Man on Fire by Sue Reed
What we were we remain, for people we have hurt.
Never change, never grow old, never die.
in my 20’s and 30’s, I was always in an ecstasy or a rage.
Nothing in between but the silence of a monk
self immolated, flames where my lips were meant to be.
Tongue either raw or a burnt offering.
If you knew me then, kindly read these words
and if you still wish that I were dead
forgive me first.
That is what I’m asking for.
Now that I am growing old, the circle darkens
under the eye.
Fingers broken in a fall cry out.
What mattered once breaks into small and smaller divisions of the space
we are falling through
and the one I love comes closer, bending down to look me full in the face.
Every body will die in harness
while I am standing at this open window
not claiming your existence as my own, not wanting to believe
in what I am.
It has always been my existence not yours in doubt.
Suddenly the moon is in the poplar tree with its companion the first star.
Photo of bee taken on the road to the White Salmon River.
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 can never die.
I came here to know the Fire as a wife knows her husband
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 this gulf of spilled tears
and to swallow the salt I am swimming in.
Now everything tastes like blood
but it is your blood who gave birth to me.
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.
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.
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.
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.