for Carol




I don’t remember you.

You are always here as breath and as circulating blood.

Cover my face with a blanket of dirt and I will be with you in the sudden sky

sky with no stars, only our four eyes there



I am homeless.  You are the alley way I dream and wake in.

I  follow the curbs of your body looking for a hand

out in blessing.

Your voice is with me as tidal horns of traffic

and as drunk men in empty parking lots cursing God because they have lost another tooth.

Your voice is with me as  wings of pigeons leaving these magnolia trees

then returning.


Nothing is hidden from you and you are not hidden from me.

You stand in front, behind, on every side, alert as barrels full of fire.

From the corner of my eye I see your reflection in standing water

arms open to the murky sky, a dollar bill at your feet someone has thrown down

in disgust.


You tell me that on both sides of every struggle there is unbroken faith.

You say I am surrounded by mirrors

and that every mirror is an open grave where you are willing to lie down naked

to finish this struggle in my arms.


I cannot die

until my body remembers its relationship with the space between stars.

That’s when the dead let go, floating out of their graves, dressed for a wedding!

I am not afraid to love you as a human being, as something less than an angel

and more trust worthy than a God.

I have known your waves of love.

They carried me here

where I walk in  these gutters running with rain

where I wait for you and for your last wave.

I did not come here to capture light, to hold it prisoner

then release it finally into night.

I did not come here to whisper “OM, OM…”

I came for you.


In my sleep I dream of wheat fields

bordered by pines and poplar trees in a river of wind.

Startled wood doves are bleeding into dawn.

Two hawks circle me

their shadows cutting through  the grain  like curved scythes.



66 years gone now.

I am not a young man ripe with love.

I do not follow the road that likes to rise between a young man’s legs.

Now I wake from my dreams in a bed, long married

happy, learning the bliss of contentment, the bliss of being satisfied.

I see you coming

sometimes with your hands raised in blessing, sometimes with a butcher’s knife.

Either way my love.


I like to go out walking, greeting strangers as if they are Rama

and I am Hanuman, his servant and friend.

The sky is not a wall for me. The grave is not a promise.

It is the marriage bed.

All that is left of me now is the outline of a body taut with emptiness.

But there is also a subtle joy

that does not much disturb itself with laughter or with tears.


I wait for you

to lay my head upon the shoulderless curve of you.






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!”





for my dear friend, Rob Sacks, on his birthday

We seem to be alone but we are not.

Seem to be solid but we are more like sky than the sky itself.

All day long busy pouring water from one hand

into the other.

At end of day we get back to open air.

Stand listening to the wind

separating calls of dog, coyote, wild turkey, formations of geese

from the sound the sky makes going red.





I will kneel before imaginary gods
Take their blue hands as wings
And fly as one of them into persimmon trees
To sing the sweet fruit down

But the one I love
Breaks the back of the world, hammering its vertebrae to dust!

I will sit before my willow fire
Banking heat, storing what light I can.
When night comes as increase of darkness
I will hold cupped hands against the afterglow of that collected light
And sing the songs old men sing before they curl into a bed of ashes.

But the one I love imagines this world
Then comes with wrecking balls, comes with hammers, comes with demolicious fire.

There is nothing better than to wake suddenly in flames!
Walking down the river road in a wedding coat of fire
I find that I am dead already!

These words are memories.
Hearing them, the blue jay turns his back
And lifts his wings into a locust tree.



“the laughter rolling like a hoop out of His mouth and into mine…” Anne Sexton

...the laughter rolling like a hoop out of His mouth and into mine...

There is joy that can shatter bone, freeing lightening from its marrow!

There is laughter roiling the settled blood!

When the sky is painted with desire

All swans with broken wings come healed from the river.

Streets  fill with women wearing earrings that are hoops of fire

And the happiness prepared for us finds us falling under weight

Of  light.

Urgent with wind whipped fig trees,  urgent with a million wings of sparrows,

All the golden, spangled streets are ready

For those who believe and also for those who doubt.




 for Eli and Jeff, “Your love has given me wings.” 


At 52 with help from my sons
I place a 40 foot ladder and raise it to full extension, braced  against the stump
of a chinkapin tree.

With the ladder held and steadied by my sons, I climb
to the roof of a rich man’s house
looking over miles of  the Hood River Valley come into bloom.

She is beautiful in Spring as a Mexican girl dressed for her wedding.
Through her middle  is a flow of water continually drunk with gladness
for itself alone.

From the head of the valley to where it empties into the Columbia
there is always this laughter!

Today I climb  in fog and middle 50’s, clouds with their arms all around me.

Above a certain height the knowledge,  I can fall
is balanced  by an equal certainty,  I can fly.

Having fallen before,   I know the cost of coming suddenly to  earth:
three cracked vertebrae and the sternum bone,
right fore finger broken at the knuckle,
nose in four places crushed and re-supported with steel,
collarbone snapped so I had to sleep sitting up two months on the couch,
pissing through a vacuum cleaner hose into an empty bucket
of bone white enamel.

From where I sit now I can choose the world I  live in.
If I choose flight I will leave this world and land gracefully in

If I fall from here, the result  will be the same.

I see pear blossoms weighted down with drops of rain in the ashes of the morning,
before the heat of wheat deserts is drawn through lungs
of the river gorge.

I  see the languid body of our Lord  uncoiling from  sheets of sky.
Hear the river praising itself over rocks worn smooth with laughter.

The shallower the water, the louder is its praise.

And I  hear what the desert promises when she whispers in my hollow ear   saying,
There is no difference between falling and flying.

The wheat deserts say that everything in this world is a door.
To fall is one door.   To fly is another.
And when a pear blossom the color of the risen moon is cut by wind and carried up to me on the roof of a rich man’s house,
this  is a third kind of door.

In the marrow of my breast bone that once was cracked but now
is made whole
there is a staircase spiraling  into quiet.

There is an emptiness inside the bone I have learned to walk through.

Now I can say,  I am completely alone, or I can say I walk hand in hand with my Lord.
There is no difference between falling and flying
as long as I will pay the price this world insists upon.

The first step away from selfishness is a falling that gives us wings.

When pride is exhausted, it gives way to greater clarity
so the head may fall of its own weight to rest over the beating heart.

What was lost is found
not in the closed but in the open, empty hand.

Then our faces shine like spoons full of water.
We are gathered into someone’s arms whose only name is Silence.

From where I sit I see a silver blade of sky and the first blood of morning
but I don’t look for meaning in this light.
I sit here counting the single, unspoken and unthought syllable

of the quiet.

Over and over the same syllable of the only name I answer to,
the name that is yours alone in whom I am harvested in Fall.

                          I am flying!

I am climbing down this ladder to my sons.







Because I have known the space between thoughts

known and endured terrible silences

I keep quiet, say nothing.

I find myself walking around the house in a coma

the right hand held in the left.

The moon sitting in the window is watching me like a child.

I want to be a happy man but if this house won’t cooperate

I will leave it!

I will wind the arms of the sky around my head and leap

into the subtle body of my soul!

When I become whole, I may never speak again

or I may speak for the first time of my secret visions

of my memories of angels in the cornfields

of the light around my Grandma’s coiled and braided hair

of  the green flames of pine trees.






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 her 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.