SEVEN PRAYERS WRITTEN IN THE SPRING OF 1974

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I WILL LEAN INTO YOUR VOICE

I will drink your voice as a willow drinks the 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 as if in a seizure.
The magnificent Eye that sees all creatures afloat in Itself
sees me!

I want to run my hand over the nylon covering your void.

Let me call your name.

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Lord Krishna Bewilders Brahma

PRAISING KRSNA

Standing on a lake, playing his flute,
golden dhoti waving, 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 is gathered back into Being.
He stops playing and eats a mango.

Over a sourceless, sounding lake he walks
every footstep leaving a child waking up in the water
of the Mother’s womb.

We are praising you Krsna,
praising you Krsna,
Krsna!

.

Photo of bee taken on the road to the White Salmon River.

Photo of bee taken on the road to the White Salmon River.

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 flood that lifts the Ark.

I am calling you like a young tree frog calls for his mate in the night.
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 to know you.

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

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

.

bee in flight on the road to the White Salmon River

bee in flight on the road to the White Salmon River

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 my self.

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 in winter and died.
See 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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MY BEAUTIFUL GRANDMOTHER IN HER BED

 

Clara and Charles Reed - 50th Anniversary (1)

 

for Clara Reed and all who loved her

“Charles, all I want is you to be a good man and a song leader in the church.” Nana

Light is coming down through the sweet persimmon tree
walking from limb to limb to be near us.
The light through your window is rising up my legs
to my chest now
covering my forehead.
Nana, the light jumps to your bed and is gone
up the sleeves of your pajamas!

There is a grackle on your sidewalk
walking like a shopping mall salesman in new Italian shoes.
But how can I tell you about the blue fire of a grackle’s wing?
I’m not that young anymore.
There are lines on my face where white sheets of skin hang.
Before I die in a bed like you I will disappear in mountains.

Nana, two Mexican boys are running up your street with a blue jay
in a birdcage!
Fast behind them is a dog with a diaper in his mouth.
The light is all around us now and still
you are sleeping.

Sometimes I want to turn away from you
walk away from hands that smell like talc
from bones like butcher knives cutting through your arms.
There is a muley cow skull grazing through your face.
Your paralyzed legs want to jump out of bed
run 265 miles up Highway 59 to Palestine, Texas where you were happy in the church
giving away eggs to ungrateful neighbors during The Depression.

Nana, I don’t believe you know who I am today.
You grip my right hand while I feed you jello with the left.
You told me once that if God took me by the hair, jerked back my head
and put a knife to my throat
I should make my throat a fountain of praise for him!

Nana, the devil is draining all the honest blood from your face.
Let him drown in that red sea while you escape into the desert.

I took the kids to Galveston last week.
We rode the ferry to Bolivar Island and Eli said the water looked like leather.
But to me the Gulf was the hastily braided hair of a woman
running naked, shrieking through the streets of Galveston and Houston
clear to Palestine and beyond.

Cattle will be found drowned in the desert covered with barnacles!

That night we watched men dragging nets in the surf for mullet.
I saw a seagull rip the delicate skin over a ribcage of water
and come away with nothing but paper in his mouth.

I remember your hair when I was a boy
up in tight braids close to the scalp in daylight.
Let down long at night and brushed out
your hair was like Matagorda Bay
stars flattened on waves and tossed away.

Sometimes I feel my blood beating against the sky.
Sometimes it’s so quiet I can’t hear it.
Who will listen to what the blood says?
Who will put an ear to my throat and tell me what the red blood says?

Long ago you told me words are shallow graves
where tired men lie.
You said there is a love that will pull out teeth with a pair of pliers
a love that will break ribs getting to our hearts
and you were right.

Now you say the dead ring bells in heaven.
The wings of fallen sparrows fold under layers of ashes.
Shadows follow each other through the streets like widows to a graveyard.

I say let the dead ring their bells!
Let the moon sharpen its sickle blade against my spine!
Let naked trees offer arm loads of snow to the nickle colored sky!
I want blood turtles to return to the sea!
I want the earth to open her swollen legs and let us out!

Nana you lie here curled in a fetus, every tooth gone
ribs bandaged from a fall
wearing a diaper.

God has taken you by the hair, jerked back your head and put a knife to your throat.
Make your throat a fountain of praise for him.
Go to the sky
and listen to the tongues of singing locust trees.
Let them sing for you.

The sun is full in the sweet persimmon tree.
Morning doves let down their wings around you.
Hold my hand as you would the right hand of Jesus and follow his blood
from vein to vein back to the heart.