What Is This Strange Forgetting?
This Silent Undertow
April 04, 2013
The Only Crime Here
April 02, 2013
Walking Down a Country Road
March 20, 2013
Give Everything You Have
This is the first in a series of collaborations with readers of this blog. The painting is by Annie Lawrason. The words are excerpted from Full Moon at Sunrise. This image will appear in the soon-to-be completed slide show version of the book. If you are an artist, photographer, or illustrator and want to contribute one or more of your creations for inclusion in the slide show (to be sold on the WOPG.org eStore), let me know.
Close, But No Cigar
January 28, 2013
The Falcon and the Falconer
January 24, 2013
Food for No Thought
January 21, 2013
Give Everything You Have
January 16, 2013
Rumi, Kabir, and the Huffington Post
Here is your next indication
that either the Apocalypse
is fast approaching
or fantastic doors
are opening everywhere.
The Huffington Post has just published
one of my quirkiest poems --
my warped imagination of a night
in the lives of Rumi and Kabir
if they were alive today
January 07, 2013
Every Breath Is a Prayer
December 26, 2012
Full Moon at Sunrise December 25, 2012
Tell Me, Oh Digger of the Well
December 23, 2012
This Longing, This Ache Stories of Your Beauty December 20, 2012
The Holiest of Prayers
December 19, 2012
Beyond the Mask of Words
been about --
the mask of words
and holding you
just long enough
Excerpted from Full Moon at SunriseDecember 17, 2012
The Renewed Sense of Longing for the Beloved During the Holiday Season
It is not uncommon for deep feelings of longing to surface during the holiday season. As we unplug from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, something else takes over -- the recognition of what it is we have always been longing for. Sometimes we interpret this as "sadness" and make ourselves wrong for what we are feeling. No need for that. There is a divine kind of sadness that needs to be celebrated -- the ancient quest within us all for the Beloved -- no matter what we call it.December 16, 2012
I Pray at the Altar of Your Lips
December 15, 2012
Diving Deeper Down
Give Everything You Have
Excerpted from Full Moon at Sunrise
Click here to order
I Used to Write Love Poems
PS: The book is poetry only. No graphics.The Season of Perpetual Birth
December 11, 2012
When You Walk Into the Room
Why Groucho Raised His Eyebrows
Some Might Call It Dancing
December 10, 2012
The Perfect Holiday Gift Is Here
Looking for a different kind of holiday gift? Look no further! Full Moon at Sunrise, my new book of poetry, will delight, inspire, and surprise. It's 91 pages of love and also makes a very good doorstop or paperweight.
Because the book won't be available to ship until 1/11, I am providing you with a gift certificate.
All you need to do is download the gift certificate, print it out, and give it to a friend to let them know the book is coming soon.November 22, 2012
Off the Coast of Love
November 13, 2012
There Is an Infinite Amount of Poetry
November 10, 2012
Photo: Evelyne Pouget
The One For Whom You Create
Photography: Evelyne Pouget
Poetry: Mitch Ditkoff
Full Moon at Sunrise Coming Soon!
October 01, 2012
We Are All in This Together!
The following invocation is in honor of the wonderfully inspired One Voice for Laos project -- born in Woodstock, NY, and being nurtured by inspired teens, parents, and local citizens who have come to realize that life is for going beyond ourselves and being of service to those less fortunate than us.
I speak today with One Voice,
here in this town known around the world for peace,
a place that is metaphor
for the highest aspirations of the human soul --
What I have to say existed
long before speech,
long before teachers
and those who thought
they needed to be taught.
I speak of the time before time,
before "us" and "them",
before otherness, separation,
or the need to make amends.
Pure presence there was back then,
Isness. First light. Love.
What the wise ones among us now call
by many names according to their faith,
but it has no name,
this impulse to be,
this pulsation of life,
this truth --
what poets feel before they pick up their pens,
why dancers, quivering in their own skin,
look around the room for space in which to move.
Back then, before the yes and no, the good and bad,
the black and white, the East and West,
before our addiction to naming and thinking
and the curious claim most people make
that God is on their side and their side only,
there was only one thing,
one infinite expanse of grandeur,
The human voice was silenced with awe before it.
I speak of presence and wonder
and the state of divine recognition,
I speak of being at home with ourselves
and with each other,
what children feel before they sleep, alone in their bed,
knowing their parents are awake in the next room --
the place where no fear of death abides
and even more importantly,
no fear of life.
In this beginning,
breath by breath,
the only path there is
is the one we make by walking on it --
the path Buddha walked, and Mohammed,
the path Jesus walked, and Krishna,
Moses, Rumi, Kabir, Lao Tzu, the Ba'al Shem Tov,
Masters known and unknown,
your neighbors, your friends,
each on fire with the possibility
of living life as it was meant to be,
each ignited by the very same power some call God,
the God whose name, lovers, no matter what their path,
invoke at the height of their passion,
the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Abdul,
the God of wizards,
the God of fools,
why the earth turns,
and the Sufis
and the seasons.
It is this unreasonable force, this power of love,
that joins us here together today.
The question, my friends, is not what to die for,
but what to live for.
What is your calling?
What is your responsibility?
The choice, as always, is yours.
The messenger abides within you,
comes to your threshold,
sneaks past the guards you've posted at love's gate
"The cave you seek is the cave of the heart.
The air you patrol is your breath.
Walk whatever path you choose,
but know that each step is also an arrival.
Slow down. Breathe deep. Trust.
Give roses to people you barely know.
Make someone tea.
Embrace humanity all you want,
but don't forget to embrace each other.
Let your weapon of choice be cupid's bow.
See God in everyone.
Have fun. Wake up! Be real!
Live as if this was the first day of your life,
or the last.
Men, be men. Women, be women.
Win the war inside you --
the battle between darkness and the light.
Rejoice in the undeniable fact that you are alive.
Find your voice,
and when you do, use it wisely.
Radiant Being of Light
September 24, 2012
Radiant being of light, vortex of love, alchemist supreme, magnifier of prayer, the one I dream about and the one who wakes me from the dream, why the dervish spins and the earth, teacher, teaching, and the taught, first breath, last breath, what lovers look for in each other, but rarely find, center around which everything revolves, endless night of love and the ecstatic aching of a moon-howling heart that does not want the morning to come.
The Perfect Surgery
He has performed the perfect surgery and removed me. I have no idea who is writing this or how the operation was performed with no visible instruments, just stories and laughter. Everything unnecessary is gone now. Only the core of pure being remains. I am so glad there is a ground I can collapse onto, and I do, arms outstretched, looking up at the clear blue sky.September 07, 2012
When You Walk Into The Room
When you walk into the room,
all the poets
feel a sudden urge to praise,
all the dancers want to move,
to raise their voices high
for all those times
they foolishly chose silence instead.
This impulse to express,
this surging forward into form,
is absolutely involuntary, tidal,
The poet's fingers twitch,
the singer clears her throat,
the dancer moves inside her shoes,
already receiving roses
from the grateful choreographer of her heart.
Off the Coast of Love
May 20, 2012
Some Might Call It Dancing
Some might call it dancing.
I call it stumbling closer to God,
the unrehearsed falling forward
as if the world was tipped.
Operatic in my cells, amazed,
I am taken to the place
where dancing is infinitely less
than being moved --
for when the world is tipped
and we, drunk to our eyes in
love's ballet, are willing,
there is nothing not dance,
no one not dancer,
no place not stage,
not a standing ovation before God.
(From the soon-to-be published FULL MOON AT SUNRISE)May 15, 2012
The Seed Once Sown, the Rune
I talk too much, too loud, too soon,
like one who pulls a sword from stone
before the King has had his turn.
My words are ghosts of moments gone,
the poetry you want to hear '
is not my own,
but yours, the sacred sound
long buried in your bones --
the seed once sown,
something born within you to be told.
This is what you want to hear,
the perfect eloquence of one
upon the throne,
whose prayer, these words, are heard
before a single word is said.
Live there! Breathe deep! Fly!
Free the priests and, if the angels die,
know you'll be dancing in the air.
That's the poetry you want to hear!
What you really want is this:
The lyrical flood of fullness within,
the drowning in bliss,
the letting down, like mother's milk,
of all there ever is --
the place where all the poets you have ever loved
are riding homeward on a train, alone,
looking out a window on a perfect summer day.
What they see is only their reflection
and, just beyond, golden fields of hay.
Somewhere, in between them both, their breathing slows,
they close their eyes and pause,
clear they never have to write again or think.
This is the poetry you long to hear,
when all the poets turn for home
and all their blood has turned to ink.
HAFIZ: What Happens
What happens when your soul
begins to awaken your eyes
and your heart
and the cells of your body
to the great Journey of Love?
First there is wonderful laughter
and probably precious tears
and a hundred sweet promises
and those heroic vows
no one can ever keep.
But still God is delighted
and amused you once tried to be a saint.
What happens when your soul begins to awake in this world
to our deep need to love and serve the Friend?
Oh, the Beloved will send you
one of his wonderful, wild companions --
Like Hafiz.May 04, 2012
There Is a Fabulous Underground Club Not Far From You
There is a fabulous underground club
not far from you
where all the ecstatic musicians,
since the beginning of time,
are playing -- eyes on fire.
They speak a thousand different languages,
but understand each other completely,
having endured long winters,
several times a day,
with no one near enough to listen
or bring them tea.
None of this matters now.
Here in this cave of pure delight,
calling on muses
spinning in great circles around them,
they are free,
holding a high note,
in perfect harmony,
like the hand of God.
A Six Pack of Kabir
Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive. Jump into experience while you are alive! Think... and think... while you are alive. What you call "salvation" belongs to the time before death.
If you don't break your rope while you are alive, do you think ghosts will do it after?
The idea that the soul will join with the ecstatic just because the body is rotten -- that is all fantasy. What is found now is found then. If you find nothing now, you will simply end up with an apartment in the City of Death. If you make love with the Divine now, in the next life you will have the face of satisfied desire.
So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is, believe in the Great Sound!
Kabir says this: When the Guest is being searched for, it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that does all the work. Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.
(Translated by Robert Bly, from Kabir, Ecstatic Poems)
There is an aching deep within my heart
that cannot be explained.
It wakes me in the middle of the night
and write these lines,
a kind of fishing in a great sea
I cannot find by day.
is not the search for something new,
it is not the need to find.
More it is the being pulled
by an unseen moon,
how small birds, when days get cold,
make their way across dark skies,
how a feather falls to earth
and a child, finding it, looks up,
why dogs pace back and forth
before a door
as their master turns for home.
Ah, this restlessness,
this silent undertow inside
that takes me back
to the hidden spring
where lions come to drink
why birds sing when they are all alone,
and the long ride home on an empty train
often feels like an arrival.
Reading Between the Lines
I just read my entire book of poetry
and was amazed to discover
that what I wanted to say
actually never made it to the page.
I thought I had written it down.
I even have memories of it,
me late at night in my room,
with only the moon
and a few wolves howling inside me.
But I couldn't it find it anywhere.
Oh sure, there were lines,
but they were
more like the ones you find in a bank,
lines that barely moved,
filled with fidgeting people
waiting to get something.
I think someone must have stolen it
when I was out to lunch.
The good lines were missing.
They were definitely gone,
though I did find a few
interesting spaces between the lines,
really good spaces,
spaces that seemed as if
they were just about to be filled
with what I really wanted to say.
You know, the good stuff --
like the moment when your child,
thrilled you have just returned home,
runs headlong into your arms.
Can You Hear It Being Played?
I have something to say to you
and it is this:
This gathering of souls,
Nothing else ever happens.
There is nowhere else to go.
Every flower, child,
breeze and breath
is saying the same thing:
This! Wake up! Sing!
There is no other possibility
or hope, my friends.
What you call future is a dream,
your well-intentioned scheme
to more thoroughly enjoy
what can only ever happen now.
There is nothing else to do,
nowhere else to go,
no one to come home to,
or if you are, shall we say,
no one to chant OM to.
You see (and you do!) this... is... it!
a chance like a leaf on a high branch,
to come undone, flutter down, land,
and there, at the root, find rest.
Let it fall to the place it can fall no further from!
And when, as you might, finally decide to speak,
announce your discovery of pure and perfect presence,
you will be struck dumb,
stunned like a child just before tears,
mute, like someone upon whose shoulder a butterfly has come.
Moved, but unmoving.
Proof, but unable to offer any.
The perfect fool.
It is into this space that music enters.
It is into this space that hearts become drums
and we hear -- do not listen to -- but hear... music!
Can you hear the molecules and the atoms within,
the sound which ties us to God,
that like an identical twin
knows exactly what we want to say?
It is into this space that music is made.
Can you hear it being played?
April 09, 2012
Joe and Eddie
Playing for Change
The One For Whom It All Makes Sense
I have written a thousand poems for you
that have never left my room.
They fill the pages of notebooks
stacked high on a shelf
no one can reach.
Orphans they are, beggars
afraid they are not
noble enough for the King,
would never make it
past the guards.
I make a vain attempt
to dress them up,
disguise their ridiculous origins,
but still they smell bad.
Even so, there are times, late at night,
when the world has shut down and they think I'm asleep,
I can almost hear them talking to each other,
conjuring ways to make it to your court.
Oh, the arguments they have!
The lunatic moments of staking their ground.
Some of them actually believe
that all they need is a shower and a shave.
Others, unsure of who they are
or might have been,
insist on practicing, all night long,
their perfect way of greeting you.
Of course, there is much to be said
for these backroom bards,
these arm wrestling vagrants from another world.
Indeed, if I was dead,
my slightly deaf biographer, after paying his respects
to my dear, sweet wife,
would borrow them just long enough
to search for pearls,
find the perfect turn of phrase,
the sudden storm of brilliance
even my harshest critics would have to praise.
He'd think of clever little titles for the tome,
describing, in his mournfully halting way,
the "man who left his muse too soon"
or some such thing
that might make you wonder
why I never gave these poems to you --
the one for whom it all makes sense
even when it doesn't.
I Used to Write Love Poems
I used to write love poems,
now I collect them --
like small shells on a beach
only the locals know about.
There is nothing inside them.
They are empty.
But when you put your ear
to their opening
and really listen,
you can hear the ocean.
I printed out
all of my poetry,
put it in a plastic bag,
and crawled out my bedroom window
to the roof.
There I stood beneath the full moon,
grabbed everything I could,
and flung 40 years of words to the sky.
Many white pages,
like plucked wings of a mythical bird,
flapped and fluttered to the ground,
the first complaint,
of the man who comes
tomorrow morning to mow the lawn.
More (click and scroll)April 06, 2012
The Holiest of Prayers
Standing on the edge
of this moment's infinity,
aware of only the the naked fact
that I have yet to learn
a single thing about love,
I give up once again
and turn my self in to the invisible
police of men gone missing,
no one quite sure
if I have been kidnapped
There Is a Poem I Will Write One Day
Maybe this is why
I bring you tea tonight, in silence,
the holiest of prayers no one will ever hear.
There is a poem
I will write one day
(but this isn't it)
that will describe,
without a wasted word,
what my heart
the moment I first met you.
Like a still pond
on a clear day,
you will be able to see
your face in it
and, if you are thirsty,
What you will see there
will delight you, astound, amaze.
So much so, you may end up
removing all the mirrors from your house
or singing all night long.
Yes, I know I am writing about a poem that is not yet written
but so what?
Don't people speak of a God they've never seen?
The poem I speak of is coming soon,
Or, if not soon,
or if not later,
I guess this poem will have to do.
What Is This Strange Forgetting?
What is this strange forgetting
that has taken hold of me lately --
this being unable to remember
that everything is
sacred, holy, and alive?
The absence of you, my Friend,
surely has something to do with it.
Your being gone has opened
a small hole in me,
the kind blood brothers make,
but you are nowhere in sight.
Where are you?
Something is leaving me slowly,
there's a leak I cannot see.
A day's worth amounts to nothing,
a week's would barely fill a thimble,
but it's been months now without you
and I am starting to notice,
lurking like a stranger in my own shadow
and sleeping just a little too long.
Hey! I've got an idea!
Why don't you cross the universe today,
take a left at Alpha Centuri
and show up unannounced at my door.
That would be very cool,
I can't wait to see
the looks on the faces of my friends
who have been so diligently reminding me,
these past few days,
that you are already here.
This Longing, This Ache
This longing, this ache,
of the deepest
part of who you are
is the reason why you're here.
Do not confuse it with desire.
Desire is wanting
what you don't have.
Longing is wanting
what you do.
May I Stay Here Forever
May I stay here forever in this perfect place of peace with you -- the sacred space between in breath and out, timeless moment before the need for anything has risen, Buddha enjoying his late afternoon nap with no one around to extract any meaning from it. First, there is a breath. Then, there is a second. This is how I begin my long walk with you by the water's edge, cool white sand beneath both our feet.March 17, 2012
Beyond the Mask of Words
March 12, 2012
This is what
the mask of words
and holding you
just long enough
for every poem
Rumi and Kabir Bowling
Last year, as I understand it, Rumi was the best selling poet in the United States -- 800+ years after he was alive. Kabir, too, is still being widely read -- as is Hafiz, Gibran, and a host of other ecstatic poets from times gone by. Many people assume these guys must have been praying, meditating, and going on pilgrimages 24/7. I don't think so.
This next piece is an homage to Rumi and Kabir -- my fantasy of how the two of them might have spent an evening, in a bowling alley, knocking back some brewskis, if they were alive today.
By the way, if you are willing, this piece is best read aloud.
RUMI AND KABIR BOWLING
I have been to the place where Rumi and Kabir are bowling all... night... long. They are rolling perfectly round balls down a perfectly polished alley, laughing at the sound of the pins falling down again and again and again.
Every time they bowl a strike even when they miss which is often, their aim wandering in fabulously random ways around this grand interior space.
Rumi orders a shot of Red Eye,Kabir, a Bud Lite, their clinking of glasses some kind of esoteric temple bell ritual neither of them understand.
They keep drinking and laughing and drinking again, knocking back the elixir of their late night bowling life and muttering under their barely moving breath about the strangers outside returning home from yet another night shift.
Rumi opens his mouth to speak, but nothing comes out -- Kabir, long beard flecked with foam, orders a second round and then a third as if the world was on fire.
Suddenly Rumi glances over his left shoulder. More pins fall, this time leaving a perfect 7-10 split, Kabir, knowing he never has to write another poem to prove himself whole, leaps from his chair and hurls himself down the perfectly polished alley, arms outstretched, moving at the speed of lite beer.
Both pins fall,like... cedars in Lebanon,like...Adam from Grace, like... trees in a forest with no one close enough to hear whether anything has actually happened or not. No one except Red Eye Rumi swiveling in his chair and pointing to the door.
A small man, in a starched white uniform, enters, many keys hanging from his belt.
"Hey, you two! What are you doing here? This place is closed!"
Rumi smiles, tilts his head back and talks into his empty glass now megaphone for the moment.
"I beg to differ, my good man, this place is not closed. It is open! If it were closed we would not be here. Open it is, I say! Wide open! Like the Red Sea, like a window on a summer night, like the eyes of a young man upon seeing the most beautiful woman in the world walk across the room, her body the perfect mix of spirit and flesh. Open, I say, like a book, like the sky, like the heart of one not yet disappointed in the ways of human love. Go about your business, friend, and leave us here, two happy hieroglyphs of love."
"We have a perfect game on Lane 23," intones a disembodied voice over the PA system "A perfect game!"
"Good friend, come closer, come drink with us. Come now! The night is still young."February 22, 2012
There Is An Infinite Amount of Poetry
There is an infinite
amount of poetry
in every drop of water,
book of psalms
in each and every breath.
There is milk and honey everywhere,
milkmaids, magic, and gypsies
who steal your heart,
then give it back
ten thousand times infused
with secrets that will take
far more than a full moon
and a lifetime to decipher.
Cruising with Rumi
On a bone cold February afternoon,
23 miles from home,
in a car I leased three months ago,
sky outside turning the color
of old men's teeth,
I listen to Rumi, 800 years gone
from praising everything that breathed,
my heart racing with him
through towns with no name,
everyone love drunk and laughing.
Lights are flashing everywhere,
especially behind me,
like those that lit up Rumi's eyes,
no, more like red,
the kind that signal stop
and maybe I should slow down and pull over.
Rumi, on the 5 CD changer,
his monologue of love making perfect
sense, as I,
poised, tribal, and whole,
anticipate a large man of the law approaching,
and reach for my license,
not the poetic kind I prefer,
but the other one,
the one with the photo
no one will ever show their mother,
even as the uniformed man
standing tall by my door
beckons me slowly to roll down my window
and announces, like a small town accountant
wishing he was home for lunch with his wife,
which was 20 over the limit,
Rumi still holding forth
beneath an ancient Persian moon.
He had kind eyes, my sudden companion
in his well-pressed uniform,
kind eyes and a smile that spoke of long winters
keeping roads safe for travelers like me
who, somehow, must have missed the sign
about a mile back,
veiled, as it was, by that old willow tree
and the last few rays of light
finding their way past the steepest hill in town,
the one where all the kids go sledding,
eyes on fire,
kids, as far as I can tell,
who have never heard of Rumi,
the officer of the law,
(This poem, by the way, cost me $150).January 28, 2012
The Beautiful Sadness of Longing
There is a beautiful kind of sadness -- one most people think they shouldn't feel -- that needs to be celebrated. Or, if not celebrated, then at least welcomed like the evening's last beggar at your door.
This sadness is divine, the experience of what most people consider to be an absence, but in reality is the presence of the primal longing for the Beloved.
It would be easy to conclude that this feeling is a disconnection from joy, an unfortunate amnesia that would make an easy target for well-meaning givers of advice to quote from their favorite scripture.
But I am not talking about this garden variety form of sadness.
I am talking about another kind -- a holy melancholy that sculpts, deepens, and refines from within.
Like the dusk that follows day, it is not devoid of light, but only a another shade of light.
Yes, it is darker. But so what? Isn't it the darkness that allows the stars to shine?
When a human being is in the presence of their Beloved, it is easy to feel joy. Like leaving home in the middle of a storm, it is easy to get wet there.
But when the Beloved departs (ah, the paradox, the late night debates -- does the Beloved ever depart?), an uncomfortable feeling arises.
The moon is full, but you are empty -- thirsty for something to fill you again, but the only thing left to drink is a bucket of tears and you cannot find the handle.
Off in the distance you hear the sound of cello. Is it sad or beautiful?
Drawn by the music, you follow, feeling your way, singing silent songs of praise and wondering if what you hear is the sound of your own voice or your name being called.
You know, and have always known, that the Beloved has left the world behind as a gift. But you do not want the gift. You want the Giver.November 29, 2011
The One for Whom You Create
Poets, lose your pens,
Painters, toss your brushes
in the sea,
Musicians, give your instruments
away, then go for a long walk.
When you're done, keep walking,
notice the beauty all around you.
Don't try to remember
a single thing, breathe.
This holy moment is your poetry,
your art, your song.
Do not concern yourself with giving it form.
The One for whom you create
what you just didn't do.
There Is a Poem
Photo: Evelyne Pouget
Hudson Valley Fall
Photo: Evelyne Pouget
Photo: Evelyne Pouget
Li Po Speaks
why I make my home
in the mountain forest,
and I smile,
and am silent,
and even my soul
it lives in the other world
which no one owns.
The peach trees blossom,
The water flows."
-- Li PoSeptember 09, 2011
If you, or anyone you know, is getting married, here's a poem I wrote that might be good to include in the ceremony.
There is a kind of dancing
not taught on Earth,
a moving together like tides,
a spinning in space, a turning,
ecstatic whirling through the place only lovers,
unconditionally loving each other, find.
This bodily prayer is the essence
of the marriage vow;
why flowers bloom, why children bow,
why man and woman grow infinitely
closer to each other
and eventually let go.
It cannot be learned -- only remembered,
the distant memory returning at moments
when hearts are light
is the only thing that matters.
HAFIZ: Tripping Over Joy
"What is the difference
between your experience of existence
and that of a saint?
The saint knows
that the spiritual path
is a sublime chess game with God
and that the Beloved
has just made such a fantastic move
that the saint is now continually
tripping over joy
and bursting out in laughter
and saying, "I surrender!"
Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
you have a thousand serious moves."
HAFIZ: Becoming Human
"Once a man came to me and spoke for hours about 'His great visions of God,' he felt he was having.
He asked me for confirmation, saying 'Are these wondrous dreams true?'
I replied, 'How many goats do you have?'
He looked surprised and said, 'I am speaking of sublime visions and you ask about goats?'
And I spoke again, saying, 'Yes brother -- how many do you have?'
'Well, Hafiz, I have sixty two.'
'And how many wives?'
Again he looked surprised, then said, 'Four.'
'How many rose bushes in your garden? How many children? Are your parents still alive? Do you feed the birds in winter?'
And to all he answered.
Then I said, 'You asked me if I thought your visions were true. I would say that they were if they made you become more human, more kind to every creature and plant that you know.'"
This man has helped me become more human.August 26, 2011
The Table of Contentment
Ta da! I am in the process of publishing my third book of (love/devotional/longing) poetry and want you to know.
Below is the table of contents -- a kind of poem in itself.
If you already are committed to buying a copy, please leave me a comment. I'm trying to get a sense of what the interest is out there. And if you are willing to help me spread the word, let me know that, too. Thanks!
1. This Thirst
2. Sometimes Late at Night
3. The Falcon and the Falconer
4. The Great Mystery
6. Some Might Call It Dancing
7. Give Everything You Have
8. I Share My Poetry Too Soon
9. Rumi and Kabir Bowling
10. The Paradox Supreme
11. My Poems Are Like a Persian Rug
12. Prisoner of Love
13. When You Walk Into the Room
14. The Seed Once Sown, the Rune
16. What Moves Us All to Dream
17. Day Job
18. I Want to Tell You About My Master
20. The Real Drowning
21. This Nothingness
23. Golden Nomad of Ecstasy
24. Where I Live
26. How to Listen to the Master
27. I Used to Write Love Poems
28. Moon Volcanic Leaper
29. May I Stay Here Forever
30. What We Really Want
31. How Many Poems Live Inside Me?
32. A Thousand Rivers of Love
33. Does Anyone Really Understand the Work of a Master?
34. There Is a Poem I Will One Day Write
35. The Impact of a Great Master
36. The Beautiful Sadness of Longing
37. How Can This Be?
38. I Was Walking Down a Country Road Today
39. I Pray at the Altar of Your Lips
40. There Is a Poem Within This Poem
41. Every Breath Is a Prayer
42. The One for Whom You Create
43. There Is an Infinite Amount of Poetry
44. What Is This Strange Forgetting?
45. The Wheel Turns
46. Water to Wine
47. The Beautiful Diamond
48. There Is a Fabulous Underground Club
49. Here's What You Did
50. Why Am I Always Waiting?
51. Dashboard Light
52. You Tune Me Like a Violin
I'm hoping that the WOPG store will carry it.August 13, 2011
How Can This Be?
How can this be?
There are decades of my life
I can barely remember, but moments with you
that remain indelibly impressed on my heart
like some kind of rock 'n roll rosetta stone
no one can decipher.
I Was Walking Down a Country Road
I was walking down a country road today,
absolutely sure you were just about to
appear around the bend,
moving like summer wheat towards me in a breeze
both of us could feel.
You would be smiling,
eyes on fire,
carrying the ancient message as you were
as if I already understood.
This wasn't a dream I had. No.
It was more real than the ground beneath my feet,
who I am when all thoughts cease
and the only thing left
is the kind of spaciousness grand enough
for all beings to move in perfect orbit
around the sun you are.
Off the Coast of Love
My wife tells me I should pay more attention to details -- the house, the car, the lawn -- there's a thousand things, by sunset, that need to be done.
She's right, of course. It's true.
If only I wasn't floating three feet off the ground today, caught in the updraft of a single gaze from you, spinning like a thousand cyclones off the coast of love.July 08, 2011
Golden Nomad of Ecstasy
Alone beneath a full moon once again, I gather together all I can give: milkweed, tears, and the awful silence between too many promises.
Everything else is a dream, a glove dropped and awaiting your warm hand. Won't you break this bubble of unknowing? Won't you end this masquerade?
If you don't come and claim me from this fantasy of loving you what in the world will happen to me? Will I wander forever in this unwritten scripture like some parable of faithfulness, seeing you in others' eyes, but never in your own?
Should I ride the undertow inside me back to the shell of our first meeting?
My heart was a desert then, my body a stone. But you, golden nomad of ecstasy, you burned the world away in a glance, spoke to me like thunder and turned my beggarless wandering into pure dance.
Today, slightly confused and needing a mother, I find myself leaping -- leaping from earth to sun and back again, not in search of you. No. Because of you.June 24, 2011
I Pray at the Altar of Your Lips
May 29, 2011
at the altar
of your lips
from your breath,
of your hair,
the evening air
There Is a Poem Within This Poem
There is a poem
within this poem
and I want you to find it.
If you say YES, you will.
If you say NO, you won't.
That's how simple
the whole thing is.
But if you look,
you will not see it.
If you listen, you will hear
only the sound of a cello in the distance.
Think of this poem, if you like,
as what remains after everyone is gone,
the perfume of your first lover,
remembering you, with a slow smile.
The Curtain Breathes
The curtain breathes and billows high like the skirt of a woman turning away, scorned (she would say) for my being seized by nothing more than air. Released by a breeze even leaves do not bend to, I cannot speak. I have become, unmoving, the breath of my child asleep at the feet of the Lord.
Every Breath Is a Prayer
Here's a little secret:
Every breath you take
is a prayer.
22,000 times a day
it rises, unannounced,
to who knows where.
The God of everyone,
listens and laughs.
You do not need to kneel,
You do not need to speak,
And the only pilgrimage necessary,
Is the one from head to heart --
the one all people seek.
The Real Speed of Life
March 02, 2011
I wrote the following upon returning home from one of Maharaji's events, in Australia, a few years ago.
People ask me what it was like being with Maharaji five days in a row.
Here's what I tell them:
It was like spinning around in a monsoon, cup in hand, trying to catch the rain. Every time I noticed that my cup was full, I opened my mouth to sing, but my mouth filled up with water. I gulped, I drank, I bailed my boat of joy.
Somehow, in between the tidal waves of love and my odd little habit of trying to understand what in the world was going on, I heard what he said:
"Get wet! Get wet!"December 02, 2010
Radiant Being of Light
Radiant being of light,
vortex of love,
magnifier of prayer,
the one I dream about
and the one who
wakes me from the dream,
why the dervish spins
and the earth,
teacher, teaching, and the taught,
first breath, last breath,
what lovers look for in each other,
but rarely find,
center around which everything revolves,
endless night of love
and the ecstatic aching
of a moon-howling heart
that does not want the morning to come.
The Wheel Spins
The wheel spins, but the hub goes nowhere. In the middle of the hub is another hub and inside that, another yet. It too, spins, but too slowly for anyone to notice.
I'll meet you there after the world shuts down.
Sometime later in that silence, tea brewing, cat curled up in the corner of forever, one of us will speak the poetry God longs to hear. Everything will stop. A moment later neither of us will remember a single word of what was said nor will we need to.November 22, 2010
Water to Wine
Pour each glass of water
like a glass of wine.
more like cabernet than tap.
before raising your glass.
toast to all that is
on your lips.
The Beautiful Diamond
There is a beautiful diamond
For years it was covered
with dust and dirt
and my own wild thoughts
about what the diamond was.
Then the Master entered my life.
He blew the dust and dirt away.
He invited me
to polish the gem
and watch it shine,
Now I am
the richest person in the world
and so are you.
September 07, 2010
The breath is
all of us
to a source
Where I Live
Many times over the past 16 years, well-meaning people have asked me where I lived.
Depending on my mood and how much I thought they really wanted to know, I would tell them any of the following:
"Two hours north of Manhattan" ... "Ulster County" ... "65 miles south of Albany" ... or the "oh so famous Woodstock, New York."
Now, many years after receiving Knowledge and having relocated to my breath, I simply say:
The State of Gratitude.July 24, 2010
Here's What You Did
Here's what you did:
You flew me on your
high above my life,
I felt all the breezes of love
there ever were
blowing through my hair.
That's when the carpet
you dismissed it,
me needing nothing more than breath
to take me home.
The World Is My Day Job
The world is my day job,
but it's the night
that is my calling,
when everyone is gone
and Adam's done
when there's nowhere
left to go
and nothing else to do,
just staring at the moon
and thinking about you.
Beneath the Tree
Lots of people think that if you have a Master all your love goes there -- leaving not much left for the other people in your life.
This is not true.
The love a Master awakens in a human being is overflowing. There's plenty for everyone.
The old routine of focusing only on the "Divine Beloved" (and treating the other people around you as if they were second class citizens) is a sure sign you haven't understood a single thing.
Anyway, in the spirit of continuing to shake things up on this little blog, here's a poem I wrote to Evelyne, my unbelievably awesome wife and mother of our two insanely great kids.
PS: It's best read aloud...
This is a piece of paper.
It used to be a tree.
Birds lived in its branches and sang.
In the winter it stood naked
just like you and me.
If I had known you then before we both had lives,
I would have kissed you more than once
beneath its cool September shade,
I would have read you poetry, the songs of saints
who longed for God and nights
when darkness was the sword they carried by their side.
Small deer would come and stare at you,
wondering in their strange and silent way
how you became so much like them,
living in the city as you did.
You would turn to me and smile,
half here and somewhere else,
heart about to open like the mouth of one whose mother's breast was near.
I'd suckle you, but don't know how,
feed you berries cooled in snow,
wipe the sadness from your brow,
and just when you were thinking it was time to go,
take your hand and hold it --
proof again that even if we had to die
the time we loved was all we ever had to know.
(the place no man had ever been,
the prayer you are, your Master's twin)
would fly and I would meet you there
beneath the tree,
drunk with love and majesty,
knowing you were sent to me
by the only one who loved us both.
Unsure of who I was or what you were about to feel,
you'd pull your knees against your chest,
lean further back against the trunk,
moving as you always were towards roots
and the endless possibility that called to you
beyond the man now child at your breast.
I'd want to tell you everything, the ache, the need,
the quaking God within my bones
that like a sudden thunderstorm from Mars
releases me at once from all my loneliness and pain.
What shall I do with my hands here?
Pluck something from the sky
that you might recognize the feeling
most men hide from you in fear they'd never love again?
Could you take it -- my looking at you -- the adoration
that moved me to hold you in the first place?
Would you look the other way or wish I'd leave
so neither you or I were left to interrupt eternity,
the refuge of a perfect life beneath a perfect tree?
I'd do my best to take my cue and see beyond your eyes,
but seeing nowhere in this world to rest my gaze,
I'd circle round and round until I met you once again
beneath the shade of my eternal longing.
a pilgrimage away from you,
the one in human form who called me here
and wasn't sure and isn't clear and doesn't know
and cannot say what both our hearts have understood.
Was there a nest above our heads, a cloud, the moon?
Was the light reflected in that lover's sphere
once stolen from the sun?
I take your hand,
I kiss your lips,
I hold you and am gone.
A small deer speaks, the Master grins,
the dance of love begins again.
Excerpted from Thirst Quench ThirstApril 15, 2010
I'm High Up in My Poetry Today and Won't Come Down
For those of you
beneath all our feet.
of them are mine
(hey, it's my blog!),
but you'll also find
some goodies from
Rumi, Kabir, Hafiz, and Lao Tzu,
those four wild kings
of the timeless land
then scroll on down.
I Share My Poetry Too Soon
March 03, 2010
my poetry too soon,
before it is done,
a small man
beneath a half moon
gossiping about the sun.
Too soon told secret,
it ruins what will come,
of a human heart,
the Holy One.
The sun is setting. There is precious little light to write my song of praise to you -- only the glow from the dashboard of a 1983 Toyota taking me deeper into the sudden mountains of Mexico.
Victor, the driver, sees what I'm doing and turns on the overhead light, but I prefer the glow of the dashboard.
It's softer on the eyes and my heart rejoices in the romance of needing to write in order to see.February 23, 2010
The Great Mystery
Here is the great mystery:
My thirst is quenched
as much by my longing
to have it quenched
as it is by the waters that come.
Tell me, oh digger of the well,
which do I drink first?
February 16, 2010
He Tunes Me Like a Violin
He tunes me
like a violin,
in his movements,
silent as music
still to be played.
Alone in my room,
fingers twitching slightly,
for a bow
and a sign
from the maestro
when to begin.
February 03, 2010
Why am I
to greet me
as if I had
gotten off a plane
your beautiful soul
as if nothing else
in the world
There's too much
January 10, 2010
Making Room for Rumi
The first time I heard Coleman Barks read Rumi I was baffled. Somehow, a Southern accent and Rumi's timeless poetry didn't seem to go together. But they do. Barks has done wonders to get Rumi's souful wisdom into the world marketplace. His reading has grit, gravitas, and good vibes. Enjoy!December 21, 2009
HO! HO! HO! Give Everything You Have
Give everything you have, and after you have given, give what's left. After you give what's left, give what remains. After giving that, give the feeling of having given. After giving the feeling of having given, give what you get for having given. Then give again, never stopping, always giving. And should it come to pass that you forget, forgive yourself immediately. Then begin again, giving everything you have, and after you have given, give what's left.December 18, 2009
Lao Tzu On the Ancient Masters
"The ancient masters were subtle,
mysterious, profound, responsive.
The depth of their knowledge
Because it is unfathomable,
All we can do is describe their appearance.
like men crossing a winter stream.
Alert, like men aware of danger.
Courteous, like visiting guests.
Yielding, like ice just about to melt.
like uncarved blocks of wood.
Hollow, like caves,
Opaque like muddy pools.
Who can wait quietly while the mud settles?
Who can remain still until the moment of action?
Observers of the Tao do not seek fulfillment.
Not seeking fulfillment, they are not swayed by desire for change.
There Is No Door
I could tell you that my Master
is the one who opened the door,
but that would be a lie.
There never was a door.
I was never on the other side.
We were always in this together,
he and I.
If you call the realization of this Oneness, the opening of a door,
so be it,
but since I'm in a good mood today,
I'll save you the trouble of
hacking your way
through a love drunk's
excess of metaphors.
There is no door!
Never was, never will be.
The knocking you hear
is only the sound of your own heart beating.
The One for whom it beats has always been with you,
so what's all this monkey business about a door?
RUMI: Move Into Your House of Joy
If you knew yourself for even one moment,
if you could just glimpse
your most beautiful face,
maybe you wouldn't slumber so deeply
in that house of clay.
Why not move into your house of joy
and shine into every crevice!
For you are the secret
and always have been.
Didn't you know?
-- RumiOctober 07, 2009
Just This Crazy Laughter
Now that you have shown me who I am with my own eyes, what do you want me to do? Sing your praises? No can do, I'm mute. Write love songs? Ha! My hands are shaking and so is the ground.
Oh my Friend, an ocean of feeling I have become, a fool, a lunatic walking on moonlight -- singing, singing.
This is not at all what I imagined when first we met.
Even if my story could be told, no one would believe me. I have no proof, not a single shred of evidence, just this crazy laughter and the kind of late night sighing that comes when there is nothing left to say.July 24, 2009
Kabir, Duke Ellington, and the Swing
Between the conscious and the unconscious, the mind has put up a swing; all earth creatures, even the supernovas, sway between these two trees, and it never winds down.
Angels, animals, humans, insects by the millions, also the wheeling sun and moon; ages go by, and it goes on.
Everything is swinging; heaven, earth, water, fire, and the secret one slowly growing a body.
Kabir saw that for 15 seconds, and it made him a servant for life.
Five minutes after posting this poem, I turned on the radio. Guess what was playing? Duke Ellington's It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing. I kid you, not.July 23, 2009
HAFIZ: My Sweet, Crushed Angel
"You have not danced so badly, my dear, trying to hold hands with the Beautiful One. You have waltzed with great style, my sweet, crushed angel, to have ever neared God's Heart at all.
Our Partner is notoriously difficult to follow, and even his best musicians are not always easy to hear.
So what if the music has stopped for a while. So what if the price of admission to the Divine is out of our reach tonight. So what, my dear, if you do not have the ante to gamble for Real Love.
The mind and the body are famous for holding the heart ransom, but Hafiz knows the Beloved's eternal habits.
Have patience, for he will not be able to resist your longing for long.
You have not danced so badly, my dear, trying to kiss the Beautiful One. You have actually waltzed with tremendous style, Oh my sweet, Oh my sweet, crushed angel."
I Heard God Laughing, by Daniel Ladinsky. Illustration: Diane CobbJuly 16, 2009
RUMI: Inside This New Love
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 color.
Do it now.
Thanks to Janet Wallace for forwarding the poem.
Photo by Joyful Revery
The Paradox Supreme
Here is the paradox supreme:
What you want you have
and what you have you want.
What you call the path
is merely the way to this understanding.
Do not worry about the next step.
You have already taken it.
April 09, 2009
Today I wrote the most beautiful poem in the world,
something so pure I wouldn't mind dying --
the perfect song of praise
hewn from the dark forest of my secret heart.
Not a wasted word it was,
rhythmic, elegant, and holy,
poetry for the ages,
why sages dance,
timeless in its pauses,
with a long white beard and a thousand Santa Clauses
ringing their bells for love.
Yes, I wrote this poem today
or rather, it wrote me,
flooding through my body
onto a singular white page,
which I, amazed at having said it all
and having signed my name,
left, for a moment, on my favorite chair
beneath the willow tree,
then turned inside again and took my leave
to celebrate this unexpected visitation of my muse
by listening, with great respect,
to Mozart in the living room.
I did not hear the rain.
Not a single drop.
It was only later, after dinner, I discovered
the many ways ink drips down a white page
in a sudden, summer shower.
I could see, I think, small patches of blue,
a cloud, a flower, a silhouette,
perhaps a word or two,
my perfect poem now watercolor --
the many colors of my love for you.
Stories of your beauty
drift down to me like ash
from a fire
I have not yet been warmed by.
Your absence only singes me,
and though I flame
at the mere mention of you,
still I remain unconsumed.
Don't you understand?
Just the wind of your walking
would be enough to release me,
enough to wake me from my dream.
Prisoner of Love
I am a prisoner of love, completely captive, bird whose wings wish only to fan the face of his Beloved. What need have I to fly? Where in this world can I go? Bound with the invisible thread of devotion, I pace my inner courtyard, rave silently beneath a local moon and wait for his return. To call this a jail is a lie when all I want to do is crawl further in, dig my tunnel deeper to the one forever guarding me.
A prisoner of love, yes, that's what I am!
Howling at the half moon, screaming for the full, I turn my self in, keep turning myself in and in and in to the only one worth being in love and alone with. Why dream of other times and places when the one who has the key is knocking at your door?March 14, 2009
March 11, 2009
It's not what I say,
it's what I don't say.
But every time I say nothing,
what I don't say
leaves so much to be said,
I am speechless.
Maybe that's why Groucho
raised his eyebrows
and Jesus raised the dead.
Off the Coast of Love
My wife tells me I should pay more attention to details --
the house, the car, the lawn --
there's a thousand things,
that need to be done.
She's right, of course, it's true.
If only I wasn't floating
three feet off the ground today,
caught in the updraft
of a single gaze from you,
like a thousand cyclones
off the coast of love.
(Excerpted from Thirst Quench Thirst)February 20, 2009
HAFIZ: Where Dolphins Dance
Again, the work starts as soon as you open your eyes in the morning.
Hopefully you got some good rest last night. Why go into the city or the fields without first kissing the Friend who always stands at your door? It takes only a second.
Habits are human nature. Why not create some that will mint gold? Your arms are violin bows always moving. I have become very conscious upon whom we all play.
Thus my eyes have filled with warm soft oceans of divine music where jeweled dolphins dance, then leap into this world.
Excerpted from The Subject Tonight Is Love by Daniel Ladinsky.
Photo by Kalandrakas. Thanks to Larry Lustbader for forwarding this poem...February 14, 2009
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!
May I stay here forever
in this perfect place of peace with you --
the sacred space
between in breath and out,
the final coming home,
timeless moment before the need
for anything has risen,
Buddha enjoying his late afternoon nap
with no one around
to extract any meaning from it.
First, there is a breath,
then there is a second.
This is how I begin my
long walk with you by the water's edge,
cool white sand beneath both our feet.
Two By Rumi
"To the eye is sometimes given a glimpse of vast beauties, a taste of perfection, but only enough to leave the heart impossibly lonely."
October 30, 2008
"Dragons flying into starlight. This is how true human beings cut the rope and come to me."
RUMI: Telling It Like It Is
Keep walking, there's no place to get to.
Don't try to see through the distances,
That's not for human beings. Move within,
but don't move the way fear makes you move.
One day, you will take me completely out of my self,
I'll do what the angels cannot do,
Your eyelash will write on my cheek
the poem that hasn't been thought of.
Since I've been away from you,
I only know how to weep.
Like a candle melting is who I am.
Like a harp, any sound I make is music.
Happy, not from anything that happens.
Warm, not from fire or a hot bath,
Light, I register zero on a scale.
(Who remains to write the last line of this poem?)
Thirst Quench Thirst
Hello... You can hear nothing but the sound of my voice.
You are lovingly placing your cursor over the hotlinked phrase below, clicking once and buying at least one copy of my new book of poetry, Thirst Quench Thirst.
Do not concern yourself about whether or not you actually like poetry, read poetry, or have ever heard of me. Those concerns, while certainly understandable, are beside the point. Sometimes you just need to trust your instincts. Like now, for instance.
Some of the poems in this blog are excerpted from the book, so if you're still not sure, simply scroll around and read.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention, the book is only $15.00. At 72 pages, that's only $20.8 cents a page (1/18th the cost of a Starbuck's Frappucino). Such a deal!
Still need proof it's worth the money? Click below and check out the reviews:
Thirst, Quench Thirst evokes a memory of the deepest longings of the soul. Reading Mitch's poetry reminds me of what I already know, but often forget." -- Joan Apter
"This poetry has touched the deepest recesses of my heart." -- Dermott Philpott
"Mitch's poetry touches a universal human longing; the ache for internal connection to the divine. He speaks in a personal, simple, accessible way about things that are ancient and deep." -- Erika Andersen
"Most great love poetry baffles the mind, but delights the heart. And great love poetry cannot be written without great love. Mitch Ditkoff's poems are intoxicating." -- John Adorney
"This is the kind of nourishment that penetrates to the core of Divine Love, and if deeply imbibed, its sweet nectar can be savored for a lifetime." -- Jamie Delay
"Mitch mixed the most profound -- almost indescribable -- with the kind of simplicity that somehow manages to capture a feeling. Lovely stuff!" -- Candice Wilmore
"This book of poetry, delightful and charming, takes me right to the heart of the matter gently, often with wonderful humor! I read and re-read these poems just to take the ride." -- Kim Greene
"Not bad, but buy this book anyway so I can get a higher allowance." -- Jesse Pouget DitkoffSeptember 29, 2008
What Moves Us All to Dream
What moves us all to dream,
to think, to love, to act,
to give it up for some great cause
or double back to pause before our plans
of having more or getting there
or going to the country fair
is the same for everyone --
the sage, the fool, the king,
the self-appointed ministers of fun.
Einstein said it best, I think,
or maybe it was Rumi,
both of whom were missing links
from this to that, from here to there,
mystics of the unseen arts,
demystifying what it is that moves the air
and the human heart.
Still I wonder what it is I thirst for in my bones,
what will be enough to feel.
Is it what I see with these two eyes
or what I know beyond them both
is always just a bit concealed --
that which seizes me from deep within,
the mirror of my soul, my other half, my perfect twin,
the one who knows, but doesn't tell
or if he does, it's just enough
to dig my tunnel deeper to the well
where all the seekers that I am have come to drink,
long before the first parable was told.
KABIR: I Talk to My Inner Lover
I talk to my inner lover
and I say, why such rush?
We sense that there is
some sort of spirt that
loves birds and animals and the ants --
perhaps the same one who gave
a radiance to you
in your mother's womb.
Is it logical you would be
walking around entirely orphaned now?
The truth is you turned away yourself,
and decided to go into the dark alone.
Now you are tangled up in others,
and have forgotten
what you once knew,
and that's why everything you do
has some weird failure in it.
Kabir: Ecstatic Poems, Robert BlySeptember 10, 2008
Plenty of Rumi for Everyone
I was dead, then alive,
weeping, then laughing.
The power of love came into me,
and I became fierce like a lion,
then tender like the evening star.
He said, "You're not mad enough.
You don't belong in this house."
I went wild and had to be tied up.
He said, "You're still not wild enough
to stay with us!"
I broke through another layer
He said, "It's not enough."
He said, "You are a clever little man,
full of fantasy and doubting."
I plucked out my feathers and became a fool.
He said, "Now you are the candle
for this assembly."
But I'm no candle. Look!
I'm scattered smoke.
He said, "You are the sage, the guide."
But I'm not a teacher. I have no power.
He said, "You already have wings.
I cannot give you wings."
But I wanted his wings.
I felt like some flightless chicken.
Then something said to me,
"Don't move. A sublime generosity is
coming towards you."
An old love said, "Stay with me."
I said, "I will."
You are the fountain of the sun's light.
I am a willow shadow on the ground.
You make my raggedness silky.
The soul at dawn is like darkened water
that slowly begins to say "Thank you, Thank you."
Then at sunset, again, Venus gradually
changes into the moon and then the whole night sky.
This comes of smiling back
at your smile.
The chess master says nothing,
other than moving the silent chess piece.
That I am part of the ploys
of this game makes me
Rumi and Kabir Bowling
Last year, as I understand it, Rumi was the best selling poet in the United States -- 800+ years after he was alive. Amazing, eh? Clearly, there is something timeless and universal in his words. Kabir, too, is still being widely read -- as is Hafiz, Gibran, and a host of other ecstatic poets from times gone by.
Many people assume these guys must have been praying, meditating, and going on pilgrimages all the time. I don't think so. All you have to do is read their poetry to see how down to earth they were, how irreverant, and how funny.
Anyway... this next piece is an homage to Rumi and Kabir -- my little fantasy of how the two of them might have spent an evening -- in a bowling alley -- if they were still alive today.
Read it aloud, with some drama in your voice, for maximum value.
I have been to the place where Rumi and Kabir
are bowling all... night... long.
They are rolling perfectly round balls
down a perfectly polished alley,
laughing at the sound of the pins falling down
again and again and again.
Every time they bowl a strike even when they miss
which is often, their aim wandering in fabulously random ways
around this grand interior space.
Rumi orders a shot of Red Eye,
Kabir, a Bud Lite,
their clinking of glasses
some kind of esoteric temple bell ritual
neither of them understand.
They keep drinking and laughing and drinking again,
knocking back the elixir of their late night bowling life
and muttering under their barely moving breath
about the strangers outside returning home from yet another night shift.
Rumi opens his mouth to speak, but nothing comes out --
Kabir, long beard flecked with foam, orders a second round
and then a third as if the world was on fire.
Suddenly Rumi glances over his left shoulder.
More pins fall, this time leaving a perfect 7-10 split,
Kabir, knowing he never has to write another poem
to prove himself whole, leaps from his chair and hurls himself
down the perfectly polished alley, arms outstretched,
moving at the speed
Both pins fall,
like... cedars in Lebanon,
like... Adam from Grace,
like... trees in a forest with no one close enough to hear whether anything
has actually happened or not.
No one except Red Eye Rumi swiveling in his chair
and pointing to the door.
A small man, in a starched white uniform, enters,
many keys hanging from his belt.
"Hey, you two! What are you doing here? This place is closed!"
Rumi smiles, tilts his head back and talks into his empty glass
now megaphone for the moment.
"I beg to differ, my good man,
this place is not closed.
It is open!
If it were closed we would not be here.
Open it is, I say! Wide open!
Like the Red Sea,
like a window on a summer night,
like the eyes of a young man upon seeing
the most beautiful woman in the world walk across the room,
her body the perfect mix of spirit and flesh.
Open, I say, like a book, like the sky,
like the heart of one not yet disappointed
in the ways of human love.
Go about your business, friend, and leave us here,
two happy hieroglyphs of love."
"We have a perfect game on Lane 23,"
intones a disembodied voice over the PA system
"A perfect game!"
"Good friend, come closer, come drink with us.
The night is still young."
The gift I bought for you today
is not inside the box.
It's in the opening.
August 09, 2008
HAFIZ: Tired of Speaking Sweetly
Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and
could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room by your hair,
ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
that bring you no joy.
Love sometimes gets tired of speaking sweetly
and wants to rip to shreds
all your erroneous notions of truth
that make you fight within yourself, dear one,
and with others,
cause the world to weep
on too many fine days.
God wants to manhandle us,
lock us inside a tiny room with Himself
and practice His dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants
to do us a great favor:
Hold us upside down
and shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is in such a "playful drunken mood,"
most everyone I know
quickly packs their bags and hightails it
out of town.
(THE GIFT, Poems by Hafiz, translation by Daniel Ladinsky)
The Falcon and the Falconer
NOTE: This song of praise to Maharaji is best read aloud...
I am the falcon, you are the falconer. Always I am coming back to you, my soaring skyward just a strategy to gather speed for my ultimate return.
How you have trained me is a mystery -- the way you've tamed my restless heart. It is not with fear. I do not fear you. It is not with food. There is prey enough for me everywhere I fly. It is more the way you offer me your arm, a place to land, a second skin scented with the wild musk of one who waits for me, what I would be if I would be a man.
It is a wonderful game the two of us play -- this coming and going, this circular ballet. Each time you loose the loops around my legs and signal me to fly, I remember what it is to rise for the first time. It is here I find my rest, my home. Untethered, still I do not move, needing only to be close to you, my falconer.
It is this that beats my wings, releases me to sky, rides the unseen currents of the air, and though I notice other things: the tops of trees, a cloud, a nimble rabbit on the ground, all I see is you, holding out your arm to me, even as a thousand other falcons overhead, each within your view, circle closer, spiral down, descend.
Still I know that I am next and this is the perfect moment of my return.June 15, 2008
Alone in my room
at the end of the day,
I open my window and
release my breath like a dove
that it may find its way
to you, oh precious one.
It leaves the shell of my body,
carried by an unseen wind,
small wings beating
against a very big sky.
How to Listen to the Master
First of all,
give up everything you know
about listening --
it has nothing to do with your ears.
That kind of listening
will only take you so far.
If you really want to hear,
you will need to leave your ears at the door
and while you're at it,
Then, take a seat,
and become, if you can,
a flower opening to the sun.
The Falcon and the Falconer
I am the falcon,
you are the falconer.
Always I am coming back to you,
my soaring skyward just a strategy
to gather speed for my ultimate return.
How you have trained me is a mystery --
the way you've tamed my restless heart.
It is not with fear. I do not fear you.
It is not with food.
There is prey enough for me
everywhere I fly.
It is more the way you offer me your arm,
a place to land, a second skin,
scented with the wild musk of one who waits for me,
what I would be if I would be a man.
It is a wonderful game the two of us play --
this coming and going,
this circular ballet.
Each time you loose the loops around my legs
and signal me to fly, I remember
what it is to rise for the first time.
It is here I find my rest, my home.
Untethered, still I do not move,
needing only to be close to you, my Falconer.
It is this that beats my wings, releases me to sky,
rides the unseen currents of the air
and though I notice other things:
the tops of trees, a cloud, a nimble rabbit on the ground,
all I see is you, holding out your arm to me,
even as a thousand other falcons overhead,
each within your view,
circle closer, spiral down, descend,
yet still I know that I am next
is the perfect moment
of my return.
April 11, 2008
Just This Crazy Laughter
Now that you have ruined what I thought was my life,
what do you want me to do?
Sing your praises?
No can do, I'm mute.
Shout something timeless from the rooftops?
Sorry, I cannot move.
Write poetry? Impossible,
my hands are shaking and so is the ground.
it's clear my life is very different now
than what I thought it would be when first we met.
An ocean of unexpected tears I have become,
a lunatic walking on moonlight,
singing, singing, singing.
This is not at all what I thought it would be
the first time I saw you.
It's a billion times better than that.
Even if my story could be told no one would believe me.
I have no proof,
not a single shred of evidence,
just this crazy laughter
and the kind of late night sighing that comes
when there is nothing left to say.
The path is simple,
but not always easy,
kind of like a teenage boy
on his first date
who discovers he has a pimple
right before he goes to kiss
the girl of his dreams, who,
as it turns out,
is in love with someone else --
a nice enough fellow, or so I'm told,
but with a wicked temper
and a red '63 Corvette.
A star exploded deep within you years ago
and still the light has not yet reached your eyes,
not yet turned the night to day for birds to leave their nests
or monks their caves to play.
Blind to your own infusion, you insist there is nothing to see,
nothing to celebrate your reasonless being for,
and yet you feel it, you quake,
you quiver to begin.
An unseen trembling turns your head,
the way you stand, the wind,
the ground beneath your feet.
You think the shock of this bodily remembrance is fear
and do not sing,
do not burst into song,
do not wring the beauty of the sound
long buried in your bones.
You stop and throw a stone,
half hoping it will come back to you,
as if there was time,
like a beggar ashamed to ask for a bowl to beg with.
How can this be?
The sky is bluer than the eyes of your own mother
on the day she first beheld you
and still you cast your gaze down.
Don't you remember?
You were made in the image of God!
The one who creates
river, eagle, ladybug, leaf.
If anyone else gave you the moon you'd call him a thief
or worse, refuse to look.
Give up the notion of stealing from God.
The only crime here is to hoard.
Only bored of chilly nights
with no flame to write his poetry by.