I WAIT FOR YOU

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for Carol

 

 

one

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

burning.

 

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 can’t 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.

 

two

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.

 

 

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MORE LIKE THE SKY THAN THE SKY ITSELF

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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.

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WORDS WRITTEN TO MY WIFE AFTER WORKING OUTDOORS IN WINTER

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in 1994, for Carol

1

A river of blood runs under the bridge of the rib cage.

I have come home from work with a cracked tooth
the pain of it like a soft flickering of lightning.

See a new moon hung in the frost broken limbs of our maple tree.
I want to lay my face against that moon, calling, “Carol, Carol…”
A light coming on gradually inside this leather box
I call myself.

2

I am a working man behind on his payments.
Loans taken out in another life eat my liver like a crow.
I can’t afford these words I am saying.
Can’t afford the assurance of men who walk in straight lines
or of those who follow their own desires
toward imagined pleasure or pain.

3

You tell me the way to heal is first
find the wound.
Go to it tenderly as you would a woman.
Stay with her, giving what you are to what you are.
Nothing stays the same, you say.
Even pain finally moves toward itself.
When self meets self, there is an end
to it.

4

But I say, let all words bleed away.
I hold up empty hands asking you to make them
emptier.

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GO TO HER

…I brought him to my Mother’s house
to the bedchamber of the one who conceived me.

Song of Soloman 3:4

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Go to her.

Leave the flesh waving behind
as if it were an acre of maize.
Float out to Her, calling her name.
Your voice is a morning glory opening in the throat,
the name forming on your tongue
one thousand syllables of falling water.
We are drawn from our Mother’s well
fed by Her spring, hidden until sung for
in the folds of Her.

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THE RUDRA GAYATRI MANTRA

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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.

 

1

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.

 

2

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.

 

3

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

inward.

 

4

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.

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FOR JUAN RAMON JIMENEZ

juan-ramon-jimaenez

 

1973

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.

 

 

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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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