TALKING TO SHIVABALAYOGI ABOUT THE MOTHER’S SHAKTI

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for Carol and for Stefan Pyne

“…if you feel like a room without a roof…if you feel that happiness is the Truth…”
P Williams

Happiness coming over me!
Silver schools of Gulf trout moving in waves under the skin!
Every mullet in the Gulf has a name.
Both their eyes have names.
The scales that cover their eyes each has a name
written in a kind of fire known only to the Most High.

But you tell me joy is evidence of a wound.
The Mother is always lifting up her children
to wipe the blood from our eyes.
You say we are moving down this road alone, alone
but every body is one candle lit inside another.
We make the necessary efforts to shine and one day we all
catch fire together.

Sitting at my ease now, becoming more and more
like the air around me
I swim into another body made of inhaled breath
the hand of the first body is stroking the long white beard of the other.
I can taste my name being called.
Because I am saying this, I know it’s nearly time for me
to die.

But for now I am a rooster strutting on the roof ridge of a white church
my feathers all red and gold!
Elaborate coxcomb thrown back fluttering in a furnace of wind
I go cockadoodledoing while the preacher tries to preach.

Hey you crying on your knees!
Hey you, bent over with your back broken under weight of fear and guilt
come outside and whirl with me!
Everything you believe about yourself is vomit.
Your sermons are mouthfuls of rancid meat!
Why not come out whirling with your arms full of fire?

Take this gallon can of gasoline and pour it over both our heads!
My fingers are match sticks already struck with fire.

bee in flight on the road to the White Salmon River

bee in flight, taken on the road to the White Salmon River

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THE LAME LEAP LIKE DEER

Shivabalayogi Maharaj 1935-1994

Shivabalayogi Maharaj
1935-1994

“The lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shouts for joy. Water gushes forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”
Isaiah 35:6

“To live in the world and yet to keep above the world is like walking on the water.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan

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Shivabalayogi,
you have made my body a place of worship
an unfenced pasture where creeks stream together in a confluence
of laughter.

My heart is a drum beat for singing your name
and you are its drummer.
Your voice is released in waves and I go walking on its water
bones becoming light under the skin
the hollowness inside them filled with laughing gas.

There is no one above me now, no one below
only you.
You tell me I hear your voice when I listen well to my own.
I am listening now. I am listening.

You say
“I came because you waited all your life for me.”
Now everywhere I look I see your face as fire
and its green radiance.

You tell me
“The falling bird remembers how to fly.
The heart works well, once it has been broken.”
Now the ground opens under my feet. I find myself suddenly in air!

Shivabalayogi
you take me to the limits of the sky
where there is nothing left to leave behind.
Out where there are no names and no in coming breath
is the dome of a sky
black as polished obsidian and full of stars.
This sky seems infinite in all directions but is not.

What seems to be an endless sky is only the pupil
of your right eye.

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PRAYER TO MY GURU, SHRI SHIVABALAYOGI MAHARAJ

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Shivabalayogi Maharaj

Shivabalayogi Maharaj 1935-1994

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I followed you by rivers of phlegm and blood
followed you by rivers of gas 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
more than the smoke of memory gone into fire
more than what is left when bones splinter and change
to ash.

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.

two

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
do.

three

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 hands.

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 telling someone on the street
“Abandon every face, see only sky.
If you must kneel, kneel completely through the earth.
You are free! You are not a prostitute 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!

four

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
followed by thunder, followed by rain!

Sometimes we may 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
that a circle is as good as 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.

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door_and_moon

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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