The Heart of the Matter
September 05, 2008
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
of lite

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!"

Rumi and Kabir pull over another chair, pour another drink
and beckon to the man in the starched white uniform,
many keys dangling from his belt.

"Good friend, come closer, come drink with us.
Come now!
The night is still young."

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at September 5, 2008 07:39 AM

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