FOR MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE IN HER SICK BED

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

Back home I tell you how windows can 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, red and gold as a maple leaf
where welcome drops of rain will pool
for hummingbirds to drink.
Through our kitchen window there is a light
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.

 

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LITTLE SONGS AND PRAYERS FOR CAROL

Every spoken word is a lie but the same words being sung are true.

1

I find myself laughing for no reason

cry when there is no cause to cry.

I go out when moonlight is sharp as a woman’s slap

to see a round face that is not my own

but find I am looking into my own right eye!

I don’t know who I am not.

I am all places, all people, every seed and every open blade of grass.

I am what you are.

2

I keep a close watch on this heart

see my mind look for and find

no answers.

I watch the heart let go of everything and look to itself

alone.

You are my heart

a sky in all directions.

Above and below you are my heart.

3

All we know is what we can never be told.

But we are not forgotten when we forget ourselves.

Someone is close

someone kneeling in water whose breath is a spiral.

4

There is a yellow light the color of peach flesh

laid across everything alive.

There is a naked awe in being here

whether in bolts of happiness

or in grinding or sudden suffering.

Whether I move with those who are moving

or stand in shadows as a thief of breath I am with you.

I am you.

5

The silence after a question that has no answer goes on forever.

Our minds stop

when we are not afraid to be completely alone.

The sky cracks open

the crown of the head is born from the womb.

We see the whole blue body come

between the Mother’s legs like a mountain of sky!

6

Alone or together

our hearts are gathered into one.

We are carried up like farm dogs in a funnel cloud.

7

The heart is a spring of water.

To reach it we must kneel and put our mouths near the mud.

We have to smell the mud and taste it in ourselves

to know.

Kneel if you dare.

Drink only if you are brave.

8

All night long thunder with lightning!

Earthquakes open canyons in the sea!

Inconsequential hills are lifted up as mountains.

Cities fold in waves of salt that are red as blood!

But by morning, the tidal flood receded

I smell the Gulf drying in nets of your hair.

Quail are ticking in the fallen leaves

and you are spread across everything like the sky suddenly awake!

Twenty-three years ago you shouted

“Every word you say is a lie!”

Between untruth and total silence I became your husband.

9

Now my teeth are going one at a time

as the petals of our ornamental cherry tree are pulled

by gusts of wind.

Connective tissue in the joints, eyesight, hearing, all are going.

There is a darkness in my heart

the dark of springs deep in earth

of water too cold to drink that must be warmed first in your hands.

Words come to me one at a time

like leaves torn from pin oak trees sixty years ago in Texas

that were carried underground in a torrent

and rise to surface in this spring of water.

As the poor make windows out of bottles, I make a bed for you

of these leaves.

10

I don’t know what love is.

There are no objects and no relationships.

Only one being like a sky that has no mouth but speaks anyway

no arms but we are all embraced by it!

I am the one behind the mirror

who sees without being seen.

I could line my driveway with the skulls

of every body I have been.

11

I am alone

in a house with no stairway to an upper room

no back door out.

In the quiet where a cricket rubs his legs together

I sit in this chair instead of working

knowing I am not a body

not the chair the body sits on

not the floor that supports the chair.

This house is mortgaged and I look around with rented eyes.

There is no sadness in a fact

and no rejoicing in what is simply true.

I am alone and like the cricket I make a song from what

I am.

12

I have followed you through all the veins of the body

and come back alone to the knot

of the heart.

All words end in the silence.

They vanish!

The heart never even forms a thought.

No words come from there

and none can reach it that are not first changed to fire.

13

Sometimes I wake up in the cold

and there is no face in the mirror

no voice

only a dry leaf for a tongue

and emptiness like a handful of fire!

14

If you walk in a spiral through this city

following lines of power, drawn by your own intelligence

you will find a place where I am already waiting

arms full of flowers buzzing with bees.

I wait for you in every cell.

There is a happiness coiled inside me

and tightly folded as the wings of meadowlarks!

15

I follow you

wind blowing through me all the names

of the dead I am.

There is one name I answer to, so much like silence

that I answer it with silence.

16

Some believe in the quiet between two words

God can be heard breathing.

My faith is never to believe.

My prayer is not to speak the first word.

17

You told me

don’t resist the rising breath

even if your lungs are filled until they break your ribs.

Don’t stop

until all this sky is breathed inside you!

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PRAYERS TO THE DIVINE FOR CAROL

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I will go down to the root

down to the finest tendrils of what I am
draw into myself the clearest water
bring it up through all the veins of the body.
I will pour myself drop by drop over your feet
over your shining hands.

Swaha

 

My heart does not belong to me

not my breath
not even the sensitive tissue around a hollow tooth.
Nothing is mine.

 

I will leave this world at the right time carried away in a flood.

Fear will not stop me from stepping into the water.
The river will harden under my crooked toes.
The moon will guide me to another earth and I will land exactly
where I belong.
As long as you are there
it will always be here.  It will always be now.

 

You say we are who we seek

that I am coiled inside you  waiting to be born.
The hands that pull me from the birth canal
are my own hands  red with blood!
You say that breath is prayer.
My breath unites with yours and we become two wings of a white crane
following the Guadalupe River into Matagorda Bay.
There may be a heaven
beyond which there is another and another…
1008 arms of the infinite may wrap around each other
but in the center of everything there is a sky so full of light
beyond  which there is nothing to be said.

 

I am not afraid of you.

Every drop of my blood is a prayer flag
red and snapping.
I am kneeling in the curved shadow of your sword
where there is no difference between laughing and crying.

 

I hear rivers in flood carrying away the dead

but I am the living and the unborn.
Sometimes I hear a voice I call my own.
Sounds like cicadas writing scriptures in the leaves of  sweet gum trees
feels like the oiled moon gliding across my shoulder.
I am the river that pumps from your heart.
Your arms warm as blood are my magic circle.
The sky opens like a pomegranate.  Stars fall around us!
Oceans rise up waving swords.
Armies of slaves and their smirking masters throw children into pits of fire!
All the horrendous faces of my mind are hysterical with blood!
But your arms are a circle of moon, a wheel of fire with us inside
it.

 

Just before dawn meadowlark and morning dove are with me

and the moon is still a challenge to the dark.
Now when rivers are flooding
and the crying of seven billion is like seven billion knots in my heart
I call your name.
Even with my fingers stiff with secret guilt I can clap my hands.
I can stand in the highest place I know and shout your name!
When you are gone I feel something in my heart
I call Carol.
When I can’t hear your voice I call your name.
When I can’t touch your feet that are wide as this world and so small
I touch my own!
Because there’s something in my heart I call
Carol.

 

Your face is a sky where worlds give birth to other worlds.

There is a shining in you like the moon in a wild
persimmon tree.
When my face is dark with imagined sorrows
a light comes from there.
In your quiet I hear wolves and waterfalls and in my own heart
atoms are whirling.
Sometimes I strut like a grackle, a poor man in cheap
but gaudy clothes.
If you smile at me, I say
“I am approved!  I am acceptable to God!”
If you ignore me  and become a mountain blazing with attention
turned inward
I say,  “How great is my silence!”
But with your help I can cross the distance between us.
In that sky between your eyes and mine
birds fall exhausted with flight!
They fall but never hit the ground.
With you there is no difference between falling
and flying.

 

Who follows me in this winding street?

Who is there before me waiting?
Who rips the scab from my heart and lets the cleansing blood
begin to flow?
Who heals in my hands and in my feet the wounds of Christ
never mine to bear?
I seem to wander. I seem to stagger through wet streets
where neon snakes are coiled in rain.
But in my heart a miracle is happening!
From where I stand  I bow to you.
You who follows me in this winding street and you who are there before me
waiting.

 

My heart will break and go on beating.

I know this.
My heart will stop but I will go on into the blossom, into the red fruit
of wanting nothing in this world but you!
When I walk in wet pastures, called there by the moon
I am breathing at the same rate as poplar trees.
It is true we breathe each others’ breath like lovers!

 

There is only one sky.

Above and below there is only sky.
You are that sky!
When I walk in high places along the barricades I have built
I come unexpectedly to the cliff of what  I only  think I know.
Then I reach for you.
It is like falling off this world!  It is flying!
I am yours.
I am your breath coming in your breath going out.
Even if I don’t know what I’m talking about.
If I turn suddenly away from you demanding money
I am yours.
For a long time I squatted in shadows
shouting my own praises, then demeaning myself.
I called myself Christ and Judas
the right hand and the left.
Now I am tired of being anyone.
Help me stand still for this one moment.
Shine your light through every object,  every feeling, every thought.
I want to see through everything and be not even dust!
Nothing!

 

I will not sleep.

I will go out into the flying light
the sky spread wide between my heart and yours.
I want to see you in the morning, come from the mountain.
I am not a child.
It may be summer now but I can smell the winter coming.
There is a coldness in the river waiting to enter every body.
The first time we met
someone came in the night and took me down from a cross.
You said
“Why nail your left hand to a tree and ask me to nail the right?”
You are the right hand and you are shining.
I don’t have to suffer anymore.
It is finished!

Dhani-Dhani_Radhika_ke_Charan1a

LILY OF THE VALLEY, THE BRIGHT AND MORNING STAR

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for Carol and Shivabalayogi

one

In the undertow of evening I am settled around myself.
Those who have lived long enough to keep quiet
should be listened to.

In the valley between my shoulder blades I sing about a river
running underground.

I am always kneeling.
I kneel to the one who knows but will not speak the first word
that sets these worlds in motion.

two

Every man is alone and every woman is breathing in the Gulf
with schools of mullet in her tidal hair.
All night long the left hand feels in the dark for the right.
Shivabalayogi is my Guru. Carol is my wife.

This is all I know.

three

The angel of the Lord is flying
over the Cascade Range and Hood River Valley.
Wings made of fire drop light into the undergrowth.

Now I am a standing flame.
My fingers are match sticks all struck at once!
I am the river in the Douglas fir
the living water rising up through root and trunk
taking in and giving out breath!

You are above me spread out as breath and as the prayer of breath.
Shivabalayogi I am kneeling to you.
Carol I am kneeling to you.

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