PRAYERS IN WINTER

Baba Hand Writings for USA

There is no difference between faith and unbelief.

Words are bloody rags placed on an altar.

“I believe, I believe…”

Dead men slow dancing with worms, ashes raining from their eyes.

Every prayer, including this one, a tsunami of self pity

a rogue wave in a daub of spit!

All day our faces are gulfs of green undrinkable water.

At night coyotes hunt the river bank for lives more quiet than their own.

Ten years ago you told me

“Come to the river in morning, among grass widows, in blades of light.

Come repeat a name composed entirely of water.

Whisper these syllables across the river not as prayers

but as breath let go of, not expected to return.”

Now you say

“Don’t try to find me where I’ve always been.

Look for me in dangerous places where the poor cook their own hands

for food.

I am the poor and the dead.  I am meat in the fire.

Only when the tongue is taken back into your mouth in ashes

can you speak my name again.

Only when the roof of the mouth collapses in fire

and the skull is broken into, robbed of everything

it possesses.

Only when you are empty as the endless canopy of sky

can you kneel like a drunk man

amazed to find the full moon floating in a cup of wine.

When you can see the mountains of the moon

bearing witness to a light only the blind may see

and sing words only they can sing whose throats have been cut

only then speak my name.”

There is an oak tree planted by the river

so old only its leaves know the world still exists.

When I sleep, I hear the west fork of that river

and smell it in the fine hair on my wrists.

There is something in me wants to be that cold

wants to come back to itself in deep water

where the river curves and the bank is undermined.

There is a quiet that goes on gathering in the river

until it touches a man between his shoulder blades and he wakes.

But there is no meaning in this world.

There is heaven. There is hell. There is purgatory

and there are hallways leading between them.

You tell me

“Every house is on fire!

The moon is dancing naked on the roof ridge

with all her feathers fallen to the ground!”

You say

“Throw off your blankets! Your sheets are in flames!

The bed where you are sleeping is now the unmade sky!”

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TOUCHING THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT

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I come to you afraid of death,
as an epileptic fears swallowing his tongue.
Come with faith that I know nothing.
A drunk man, naked and sweating in your sheets,
I come doubting my own existence.
White faced and sober, mouth spitting out ashes
I come to touch the hem of your garment.

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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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LINES WRITTEN BY A MAN IN HIS THIRTIES

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The body starts falling away.
Begins the long process of leaving me behind,
a wife happier alone.

Everything my eyes see will die.
Everything these hands take hold is torn from them.
Tomorrow the world will say, “Get out.”

Still I am carried into the valley between Carol’s breasts
where a salty stream of sweat is washing me.

I wade in that water to the dripping cave between her thighs.
A sincere opening leads inward to a fire that eats my body for food.

I am happy here, all bones now
one flake of ash smeared on my throat as ornament.

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