WHO SAYS WORDS WITH MY MOUTH?
All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.
This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back to that place,
I’ll be completely sober. Meanwhile
I’m like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
But who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn’t come here of my own accord, and I can’t leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.
This poetry. I never know what I’m going to say.
I don’t plan it.
When I’m outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.
A COMMUNITY OF THE SPIRIT
There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.
Drink all your passion,
and be a disgrace
Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.
Open your hands,
if you want to be held.
Sit down in this circle.
Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd’s love filling you.
At night, your beloved wanders.
Don’t accept consolations.
Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.
You moan, “She left me.” “He left me.”
Twenty more will come.
Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!
Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?
Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence
Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.
Last year, I admired wines. This,
I’m wandering inside the red world.
Last year, I gazed at the fire.
This year I’m burnt kabob.
Thirst drove me down to the water
where I drank the moon’s reflection.
Now I am a lion staring up totally
lost in love with the thing itself.
Don’t ask questions about longing.
Look in my face.
Soul drunk, body ruined, these two
sit helpless in a wrecked wagon.
Neither knows how to fix it.
And my heart, I’d say it was more
like a donkey sunk in a muddle,
struggling and miring deeper.
But listen to me: for one moment,
quit being sad. Hear blessings
dropping their blossoms
around you. God.
BE MELTING SNOW
Totally conscious, and apropos of nothing, you come to see me.
Is someone here? I ask.
The moon. The full moon is inside your house.
My friends and I go running out into the street.
I’m in here, comes a voice from the house, but we aren’t listening.
We’re looking up at the sky.
My pet nightingale sobs like a drunk in the garden.
Ringdoves scatter with small cries, Where, Where.
It’s midnight. The whole neighbourhood is up and out
in the street thinking, The cat burglar has come back.
The actual thief is there too, saying out loud,
Yes, the cat burglar is somewhere in this crowd
No one pays attention.
Lo, I am with you always means when you look for God,
God is in the look of your eyes,
in the thought of looking, nearer to you than your self,
or things that have happened to you
There’s no need to go outside.
Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.
A white flower grows in the quietness.
Let your tongue become that flower.
Inside this new love, die.
Your way begins on the other side.
Become the sky.
Take an axe to the prison wall.
Walk out like someone suddenly born into colour.
Do it now.
You’re covered with thick cloud.
Slide out the side. Die,
and be quiet. Quietness is the surest sign
that you’ve died.
Your old life was a frantic running
The speechless full moon
comes out now.
A JUST FINISHING CANDLE
A candle is made to become entirely flame.
In that annihilating moment,
it has no shadow.
It is nothing but a tongue of light
describing a refuge.
Look at this
just-finishing candle stub
as someone who is finally safe
from virtue and vice,
the pride and shame
we claim from those.
TODAY, LIKE EVERY OTHER DAY
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.
THERE IS A FIELD
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and righting,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.
THE BLOCKED ROAD
I wish I knew what you wanted.
You block the road and won’t give me rest.
You pull my lead-rope one way, then the other.
You act cold, my darling!
Do you hear what I say?
Will this night of talking ever end?
Why am I still embarrassed and timid about you?
You are thousands. You are one.
Quiet, but most articulate.
Your name is Spring
Your name is wine.
Your name is the nausea
that comes from wine!
You are my doubting
and the lightpoints
in my eyes.
You are every image, and yet
I’m homesick for you.
Can I get there?
Where the deer pounces on the lion,
where the one I’m after’s
This drum and these words keep pounding!
Let them both smash through their coverings
YOU SWEEP THE FLOOR
The lord of beauty enters the soul
as a man walks into an orchard
Come into me
that way again!
Light the lamp
in the eye of Joseph. Cure Jacob’s
sadness. Though you never left,
come and sit down here and ask,
“Why are you so confused?”
Life a fresh idea in an artist’s mind,
you fashion things before they come into being.
You sweep the floor like the man
who keeps the doorway.
When you brush
a form clean, it becomes
what it truly is.
You guard your silence perfectly
like a waterbed that doesn’t leak.
You live where Shams lives,
because your heart-donkey was strong enough
to take you there.
THE SEED MARKET
Can you find another market like this?
with your one rose
you can buy hundreds of rose gardens?
for one seed
you get a whole wilderness?
For one weak breath,
the divine wind?
You’ve been fearful
of being absorbed into the ground,
or drawn up by the air.
Now, your waterbed lets go
and drops into the ocean,
where it came from.
It no longer has the form it had,
but it’s still water.
The essence is the same.
This giving up is not a repenting.
It’s a deep honouring of yourself.
When the ocean comes to you as a lover,
marry, at once, quickly,
for God’s sake!
Don’t postpone it!
Existence has no better gift.
No amount of searching
will find this
A perfect falcon, for no reason,
has landed on your shoulder
and become yours.
One night a man was crying
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
“So! I have heard you
calling out, but have you ever
gotten any response?”
The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.
He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.
“Why did you stop praising?”
“Because I’ve never heard anything back.”
you express is the return message.”
The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.
Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.
Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.
There are love dogs
no one knows the names of.
Give your life
to be one of them.