Before me, a hovering hummingbird —
my colors are reflected in its eyes,
it makes a quick decision.

Behind, the startled night creatures
run in circles, snapping at the air
with enormous teeth.

To the left, dark ships are crossing
in moonlight, no signals are exchanged.

On the right, great silent armies mass
along the border established during the panic,
waiting now for the command.

Below, families weep for their loved ones,
all wrapped in white cotton and neatly placed
in straight rows before them, like a deathly garden.

Above, the celestials pause at the wall
and, gazing down at the fallen, sigh
softly, then turn away.

Out of nowhere comes a shiver,
then all is still again.


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Never Stop Saying

Like stars fading away in the brightening dawn sky,
my human memories are receding, slipping away
into some vast repository that curious researchers
may visit in the future, searching for revealing clues.

They may occasionally stop and rub their weary eyes
while thumbing through page after tedious page
of inconsequential materials, until at last, startled,
they come upon our first momentous meeting.

That miracle will leap out at them like a tsunami
of pure emotion, and they will look at each other,
breathless — stunned by what they’ve now discovered.

The same inner surge that made the peacocks cry out
with joy at the very moment we first melted into each other
will rise within their tender hearts and overwhelm them
with waves of bliss that spawn a stream of thanks and praise.

And even though I may lose all the rest, the highs and lows
that even now seem to pale and dissolve in the merciful light
of this oncoming forgetfulness, how could I ever stop saying,
over and over again, “My Love, My Love, My Precious Love”.


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Jumping Through Hoops

Our arms are held behinds our backs
as if we were handcuffed, except that
there are no bindings, no locked chains.

We created them with our magical mind,
out of fear, out of forgetfulness.

We forget that we are always free.

At the carnival, a small clown cracks a whip
and mighty lions and tigers jump through hoops.

Who cracks the whip in our heads?

We respond to commands like circus animals:
do this, now do that, but don’t do that other thing.

Who is the real master?

Who calls the shots but this very mind
that imagines itself bound, forgetting that
it forged the chains and holds the key?

We try to grasp this mind, searching
everywhere, within and without.

This story is going nowhere.
Just walk away.

A tiger leapes through a flaming ring of fire

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It’s Not Me

Doctor’s office again.

Sitting with right leg resting on left knee,
I hold a book of poetry in my hands,
though my eyes are mostly closed.

I am not tired, just idly pondering
what’s for lunch when I return home.

In the corner of the waiting room, a television screen
features a travelogue about Glacier National Park.

A disembodied male voice is calmly narrating
how the glaciers there are rapidly vanishing.

As if he is taking us into his confidence,
he softly announces, “They’re almost gone.”

When we entered the medical building,
we paused and watched several huge air tankers
criss-crossing a perfectly crisp blue autumn sky
with row after row of fat white trails, creating
an eerie panoramic checkerboard effect.

People came and went but none looked up,
nor do many notice that all around town
the tall fir trees are dying en masse.

Somehow everybody knows, but still pretends
that everything is OK, because they have to.

In the waiting room, half a dozen patients
are busily tapping their devices, scrolling through
their messages, sometimes smiling, sometimes huffing,
sometimes absently raising their gaze to observe
the last of the glaciers fading on the TV screen.

People refuse to look around at each other,
maybe they’re ashamed of what we’ve all done.

An older woman watches a younger one take a seat
and begin devouring a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

When she can no longer hold herself back,
she clears her throat and loudly informs the eager diner,
“When I was pregnant, I ate everything in sight!”

Now a mother uses her device to snap some photos
of her young child, then turns the miniature screen
to the boy’s face and says “Look, this is you!”

The boy responds defiantly, “No, it’s not me!”

When we finally leave the building, the late-morning sky
is patched and clouded over with an artificial haze,
but the tankers keep stitching their toxic spray
back and forth over our little mountain town —
it seems they must be desperate.

From the parking lot, a man approaches and,
noticing us looking at the devastated sky,
chuckles and sighs as he passes by:
“Sure, they’re just contrails!”


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Poetry As Praising

Hearing such music — the hymn of our own imaginative fabrication,
the spontaneous rhythms of miraculous melodious mindstreams,
the source of which we can never truly know but only always be,
because if we are to be anything that is what we surely are —
we can appreciate how each breathless song poem
arose from a unique configuration of interdependent conditions
in morphing space-time that cumulatively express the rasa
of mindless embodiment, the actual fantasy moment of yes,
now, this, as it is, while we probe blindly outward with fingers
like sleep-walkers, stumbling down dim hallways at twilight time
in a facsimile of eternity, making odd geometric patterns in the air,
attempting in our stuporous samadhi to somehow touch the ineffable,
grasp it with sticky tentacles of memory, will, and cognition,
and in this way we birth an assemblage of words, a vernacular
of digital consensuality, a delirious pulsation of make-believe,
even as everything known or presumed fades playfully back
into the passing neural parade, cycling autonomously along
on the merry-go-round of love, sweet love . . . love loving itself
with no center, no circumference, no standing audience but itself,
infinitely vibrating in the soundless depths of its own rare frequency,
this captivating poetry of impermanence and presence,
love’s crazy duality death kiss, eager to die at last into itself,
each heart beat pounding out its own precise love language,
just hush now and listen: all praise, all praise, all praise . . . .


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Nap Time

One of the things I used to like about Saturdays
was being able to take a nice nap in the afternoon,
after all the required chores were finally completed.

Since I retired from my busy career, I can now
nap any time, but oddly enough, it seems I rarely do.

It’s not unlike being surrounded by delicious food,
yet not having much of an appetite anymore.

There is a chronic human dilemma which begins
when we finally get the toys we’ve yearned for,
the very ones that we were so sure we wanted,
only to find that we quickly lose interest in them,
and so off they go to the closet, taking their place
alongside all the previously discarded candidates.

We may still imagine that there is some other toy,
an ultimate one, that will satisfy our longing,
yet it always turns out the same.

Many of us don’t even know what we really want.

We feel some sense of desire, then seek to discover
an object or experience that will justify the pursuit.

Maybe a better job, or car, or house, or mate –
perhaps something like that would qualify.

Maybe more money, food, or sex
will do the trick, or perhaps the right guru,
sect, cause or politician will be just what we need.

Some say it’s really just about the journey,
not the destination, but do we ever for a moment
stop to examine why we even started out searching
in the beginning, before we took our first step?

Then again, maybe that sort of questioning
requires too much effort — it’s wearying
to self-inspect our primal motives —
so instead let’s take that nap.


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Fuel for the Fire

After the withering parch and scorch
of another drought-stricken summer,
October has kindly gifted us at last
with the blessings of a drenching rain,
and all of the moistened earth rejoices!

We just got our load of seasoned firewood
stacked and covered with plastic tarps in time —
we’re ready now for the chilly days ahead.

It’s an autumnal ritual here in the mountains,
at least for those of us who still rely on wood
to help heat the house, and maybe cook our food.

I once might have alluded to us all being fuel
for the fire of inquiry, that all of our self-images
are tinder for the flames of liberation, but now
I no longer care for metaphors, they are too facile
and merely add another layer of mental fluff.

When asked by a student,
“Where is that place where there is no hot or cold?”

an old master kindly replied:
“In the summer we sweat, in the winter we shiver.”

That about sums it up.


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