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.








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 a maple tree, shaking its 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.


Lord Krishna Bewilders Brahma


Standing on a lake, playing his flute,
golden dhoti waving, he is 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 worlds are 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,


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.
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.



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.




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 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!




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.




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.




for my friend Jon Madian

You who beat my heart
we are walking the road to the White Salmon River together.
I see the river gorge is the outline of your body
and hear the happy whistling of chickadees as the breath
through your nostrils.
Tinkling bells of rain water announce you are here

and you are alive.

You tell me there is no wall between evil and good.
The watcher sees his own eyes
shining back to him in the dark.

In the dark we won’t recognize our own face
or notice the left hand reaching out for the right.
You say, The dead speak, glowing with good intentions
but you should not listen to them.
Find out what is true for yourself.

Evil and good bleed into one another.
They are always mouth to mouth
as the Brazos River is to the Gulf of Mexico,
the mud tongue of one tasting the salt tongue of the other.

In the estuary of the Brazos
I have seen black and white men no one values
pull garfish from rainbow colored water.
Then roll them in cornmeal
flecks of tar visible in the flesh when it is laid down in lard
to fry.

There are men who cannot survive a salt river
who must believe they are all one thing and not another.
But in the mouth of the river, the one is food
for the other.

There is a body
where the memory of horror and of loss is still alive.
There is another body composed of Brazos water
moving as a wave into the Gulf.

In a dream, I am taken through this open window.
Travel flooded streets grey with diesel.
I am carried by the Brazos and we are rolling
in a torrent of the Holy Mother’s love.

We flow on through alley ways seeking the drunk and the dead
bending down over them as a friend.
A blue wind follows, lifting those who are ready
into the sky.

You tell me all of us are thieves.
When the stone is rolled away from the tomb
we take with us what we have stolen from ourselves.
The cotton we are bound in is unwrapped by a blue wind
and we see the sky round as the mouth of a cave.
We hear it calling a name that sounds like water.


Swamiji's Bio 022

Shivabalayogi Maharaj

Shivabalayogi Maharaj 1935-1994


I followed you by rivers of phlegm and blood
followed you by rivers of wind and strong digestive juices and I found you
in my heart.

What I call my heart is you.

Now I want to hear you sing and play the flute the Virgin played
when she danced before our Lord in pious circles
as the moon does in her orbit.

Once more I want to see you consulting with widows about their hemorrhoids
and with men my age asking for money.

I am more than 60 now
and less than the smoke of memory gone into fire.
Less than what is left when bones splinter and become

When not even the echo of my voice is left
there you are!

With my hands I am listening for your voice spread over me like a flag of sky.
Open and let go of,  carried in wind and snapping like a prayer shawl!

The mind without end or beginning.
The heart alone with itself,  the heart alone.
I listen for that.


Whatever prayer is, this is a prayer:
the whistling a redbird makes shot through the wing with a pellet gun.
The cry of a buzzard falling from the forehead of an oak tree in Stephen’s Creek, Texas
shot from an amazing distance with a 22 rifle when I was twelve.

The arc of it falling still beautiful in memory as the breast of a woman
or the flared nostrils of a muley cow in labor.
The arc of falling is my prayer and the memory
of hitting the ground still trying
to breathe.
My own red face in the mirror is my prayer when I am feeling old
and bitter and used.

There is no burden greater than breath turned against itself.
But if you are who I say you are, you hear these words before I


They say you are God but you are not God.

God is just one more man who doesn’t listen when we go down crying on our knees.
You are more than God and I am laid bare to you!

The coarse hair over my heart
you know it well.
When I call your name you see the gaps between the crooked teeth I want to hide
behind my hand.

I have the tongue of a crow slit by a peanut farmer’s son and taught to speak
the words of men.
If I couldn’t lie there would be nothing left to say.

I am poor poor poor poor. I am poor!

I can’t earn your love.
I can only stalk you as a crow will a slice of wonder bread
that falls from your high window to this ground.

I tell you my heart is a decorated doorway
that the ribs over my heart are sanded smooth and lacquered with mantras
chanted in the remains of a East Texas accent.
But the face I show you only you can see
who see through walls and time before emptiness becomes a man.

Once I heard you talking to someone on the street
in front of a rich man’s house.
“Abandon every face, see only sky.
If you must kneel, kneel completely through the earth.
You are free! You are not a fallen woman and God is not your pimp.”

I kneel and I feel myself carried underground to the unconceived beginnings of a river.

I am the decorated doorway
the one you pass through walking with an arm of moon around your waist.
I will kneel before you like a man
or I will wear a long white skirt that drags the ground with a red hem.
I will dance for you with honeysuckle in my hair.


Shree Maa said to me
“Who am I? I am nothing, zero! If you want to see God, look in your mirror.”

I can’t say who I am
but I go round you like a red tailed hawk around a wild magnolia tree.
A wild magnolia tree in which a red winged blackbird sings.

Sometimes when the moon rises, our blood follows the limping heart and flows
in a spiral through the body.
Like the mob that followed Jesus through the winding streets of Jerusalem
when the cross was on his back, the sun setting on his head,
we are followed by thunder, followed by rain!

Sometimes we feel a wing has been torn out of our spine.
Shree Maa told me that with one good wing we can fly in circles around our Lord.
A circle is good as a straight line when all we want is to be
with you.

Before I came to rest in the one whose breast is white and fragrant as magnolia
I ate the flesh and drank the blood of memory.
My heart was a bible with verses marked by sticks of chewing gum.

Now in early morning I kneel by streams of breath
and with the moon as my witness
admit to you
I know nothing nothing nothing.





for Baba Shiva Rudra Balayogi, who taught me this Mantra

May the Divine consider my prayers that all eruptions of thought subside, that the mind relax into the heart, and the heart be conscious of Itself.



I know nothing.

Thoughts come and I believe in them and I love them.

In that loss of attention a world is born

in which every flower has a name unknown to itself,

in which every moment has a Mother and a Father,

a beginning and an end that are so close together they are

essentially the same.



Between the Mother and the Father is a snow melt river

boiling through a narrow gorge.

Along that river a billion lives are lived,

a billion blessings, a billion curses.



To find the quiet that was never lost, I walk into a desert,

try to dig down through rock and bone to the river underground

but that river is a river of blood.

No one wants to drink from it or see it come open into the light

of day.

We want to know it and be known by it only in the dark,

when artificial light fails us and doors are all closed




When the mind comes back to itself there is unheard applause.

There is rejoicing that leads by a red dirt road

back to the Quiet.

At the end of that road is no imagined home, no one weeping

for our return.

There is the space  between thoughts,  a sky with no

end to it.





written for my father, Julius Richard Hopkins, Jr., in my early forties


I feel my father rising up through me like a buffalo fish
greasy from the river bottom.
He comes up one eyed, looking at the moon
with rusted fish hooks, cat gut lines across his mouth.
And as the moon kneels down through willow branches
looking at herself in water rings
my father sees himself in me.

I see him in my shaving mirror, his coffee jitter, bit of toilet paper on the weak
and dimpled chin
smell of poot around him damp as flannel.

Taste his cigarette breath as my own again.
Listen for and hear
hound dogs baying at an empty sweetgum tree
the moon curled in its higher branches
where a possum was the night before.
There is joy in that.

I am nine months pregnant with my father
ready now to deliver
his face shouldering through mine.
I will share that face with him a while
and show his eyes for mine.
Then I will let my father rise beyond the surface of the San Jacinto River
where the sun is risen already.