Monday, December 15, 2014

all fall down





Sit, be still, and listen,
because you’re drunk and we’re at the edge of the roof.



childhood friends


You may have heard, it's the custom
for Kings to let warriors stand on
the left, the side of the heart, and
courage. On the right, they put the
Chancellor, and various secretaries,
because the practice of bookkeeping
and writing usually belongs to the
right hand.

In the center, the Sufis, because in
meditation they become mirrors.
The King can look at their faces
and see his original state.

Give the beautiful ones mirrors,
and let them fall in love with

That way they polish their souls
and kindle remembering in others.

A close childhood friend once came
to visit Joseph. They had shared the
secrets that children tell each other
when they're lying on their pillows
at night before they go to sleep.
These two were completely truthful
with each other.

The friend asked, "What was it like
when you realized your brothers were
jealous and what they planned to do?"

"I felt like a lion with a chain around
its neck. Not degraded by the chain, and
not complaining, but just waiting for my
power to be recognized."

"How about down in the well, and in
prison? How was it then?"

"Like the moon when it's getting
smaller, yet knowing the fullness to
come. Like a seed pearl ground in the
mortar for medicine, that knows it will
now be the light of the human eye.

Like a wheat grain that breaks open in
the ground, then grows, then gets
harvested, then crushed in the mill for
flour, then baked, then crushed again
between teeth to become a person's
deepest understanding.

Lost in Love, like songs the planters
sing the night after they sow the seed."

There is no end to any of this.
Back to something else the good man
and Joseph talked about.

"Ah my friend, what have you brought me?
You know a traveler should not arrive
empty handed at the door of a friend
like me. That's going to the grinding
stone without your wheat. God will ask
at the Resurrection, 'Did you bring Me
a present? Did you forget? Did you think
you wouldn't see Me?'

Joseph kept teasing,
"Lets have it. I want my gift!"

The guest began, "You can't imagine how
I've looked for something for you.
Nothing seemed appropriate. You don't
take gold down into a goldmine, or a
drop of water to the Sea of Oman!

Everything I thought of was like
bringing cumin seed to Kirmanshah where
cumin comes from.

You have all seeds in your barn. You
even have my love and my soul, so I
can't even bring those.

I've brought you a mirror. Look at
yourself, and remember me."

He took the mirror out from his robe
where he was hiding it.

What is the mirror of being?

Always bring a mirror of non-existence
as a gift. Any other present is foolish.

Let the poor man look deep into
generosity. Let the bread see a hungry
man. Let kindling behold a spark from
the flint.

An empty mirror and your worst
destructive habits, when they are held
up to each other,
that's when the real making begins.
That's what art and crafting are.

A tailor needs a torn garment to
practice his expertise. The trunks of
trees must be cut and cut again
so they can be used for fine carpentry.

Your doctor must have a broken leg to
doctor. Your defects are the ways that
glory gets manifested. Whoever sees
clearly what's diseased in himself
begins to gallop on the Way.

There is nothing worse
than thinking you are well enough.
More than anything, self-complacency
blocks the workmanship.

Put your vileness up to a mirror and
weep. Get that self-satisfaction flowing
out of you! Satan thought, "I am better
than Adam," and that 'better than' is
still strongly in us.

Your stream-water may look clean,
but there's unstirred matter on the
bottom. Your Sheikh can dig a side
channel that will drain that waste off.

Trust your wound to a Teacher's surgery.
Flies collect on a wound. They cover it,
those flies of your self-protecting
feelings, your love for what you think
is yours.

Let a teacher wave away the flies
and put a plaster on the wound.

Don't turn your head. Keep looking at
the bandaged place. That's where the
light enters you.

And don't believe for a moment
that you're healing yourself.

Mathnawi, I, 3150-3175, 3192-3227
Coleman Barks version




Stand still.
The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you,
If you leave it you may come back again, saying Here.

No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.

David Waggoner


the keeper of fragile things


Cease trembling and shaking and gasping
and cursing and find again your core which I am. 
Rest from twistedness, distortion, deformations. 

For an hour you will be me; that is, the other
half of yourself. The half you lost. 

What you burnt, broke, and tore is still
in my hands: I am the keeper of fragile things
and I have kept of you what is indissoluble.

–Anaïs Nin


not to worry


Someone put
You on a slave block
And the unreal bought
You. Now I keep coming to your owner
"This one is mine."

You often overhear us talking
And this can make your heart leap
With excitement.

Don't worry,
I will not let sadness
Possess you.

I will gladly borrow all the gold
I need

To get you



Sunday, December 14, 2014

love is love


The lowest trees have tops, the ant her gall,
The fly her spleen, the little spark his heat;
The slender hairs cast shadows, though but small,
And bees have stings, although they be not great;
     Seas have their source, and so have shallow springs;
     And love is love, in beggars and in kings.

 Where waters smoothest run, there deepest are the fords:
 The dial stirs, yet none perceives it move;
 The firmest faith is found in fewest words,
 The turtles do not sing, and yet they love;
     True hearts have ears, and eyes, no tongues to speak:
     They hear, and see, and sign, and then they break.

–Edward Dyer




And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our feet, and learn to be at home.

–Wendell Berry

caribou migrating



Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one.

—Albert Einstein




At the center of your being, you have the answer;
you know who you are and you know what you want.

—Lao Tzu


the net for all things



The mouse-soul is nothing but a nibbler.
To the mouse is given a mind proportionate to its need,
for without need, the Almighty God
doesn't give anything to anyone.

Need, then, is the net for all things that exist:
man has tools in proportion to his need.
So, quickly, increase your need, needy one,
that the sea of abundance may surge up in loving kindness.



Saturday, December 13, 2014




They made love among the hazel shrubs
beneath the suns of dew,
entangling in their hair
a leafy residue.

Heart of the swallow
have mercy on them.

They knelt down by the lake,
combed out the earth and leaves,
and fish swam to the water's edge
shimmering like stars.

Heart of the swallow
have mercy on them.

The reflections of trees were steaming
off the rippling waves.
O swallow let this memory
forever be engraved.

O swallow, thorn of clouds,
anchor of the air,
Icarus improved,
Assumption in formal wear,

O swallow, the calligrapher,
timeless second hand,
early ornithogothic,
a crossed eye in the sky,

O swallow, pointed silence,
mourning full of joy,
halo over lovers,
have mercy on them.

–Wislawa Szymborska


if a mirror ever makes you sad


... if a mirror ever makes
you sad
you should know
that it does
not know



looking closely


Every particle of the world is a mirror,
In each atom lies the blazing light
of a thousand suns.
Cleave the heart of a raindrop
a hundred pure oceans will flow forth.

Look closely at a grain of sand,
The seed of a thousand beings can be seen.
The foot of an ant is larger than an elephant;
In essence, a drop of water 

Is no different than the Nile.

In the heart of a barley-corn
lies the fruit of a hundred harvests;
Within the pulp of a millet seed
an entire universe can be found.

In the wing of a fly, an ocean of wonder;
In the pupil of the eye, an endless heaven.
Though the inner chamber of the heart is small,
the Lord of both worlds

gladly makes his home there.

–Mahmud Shabestari

The Square
Soekmin Ko

behind my eyes


Wait for evening.
Then you’ll be alone.
Wait for the playground to empty.
Then call out those companions from childhood:

The one who closed his eyes
and pretended to be invisible.
The one to whom you told every secret.
The one who made a world of any hiding place.

And don’t forget the one who listened in silence
while you wondered out lout:
Is the universe an empty mirror? A flowering tree?
Is the universe the sleep of a woman?

Wait for the sky’s last blue
(the color of your homesickness).
Then you’ll know the answer.

Wait for the air’s first gold (that color of Amen).
Then you’ll spy the wind’s barefoot steps.
Then you’ll recall that story beginning
with a child who strays in the woods.

The search for him goes on in the growing
shadow of the clock.
And the face behind the clock’s face
is not his father’s face.
And the hands behind the clock’s hands
are not his mother’s hands.

All of Time began when you first answered
to the names your mother and father gave you.
Soon, those names will travel with the leaves.
Then, you can trade places with the wind.

Then you’ll remember your life
as a book of candles,
each page read by the light of its own burning.

–Li-Young Lee


inner light


In the inmost of the smallest of all spaces
runs a mute and constant play of color, inaccessible to eyes.
It is the light shut in that once in the moment of creation
was born inward and abode there, going on, once it had broken
up into the smallest of spectra in keeping with prismatic law at
frequencies that by the sighted would be called colors
if they encountered eyes able to see.

It moved in periods unimaginably small for time and space
but still with time and space enough for the least of the small.
In fact it found it had ample room and time.

It moved in cycles of nanoseconds and microspaces
from white light and the colors of the spectrum and back to white light.
A kind of breathing for light.

The photons breathed and pulsated with one another,
alternating signs and levels.

So the light kept going in spectral balance
from dense light to split and back to dense light and split,
in spectral cycles infinitely repeated.

It was like a play of fans,
in keeping with the same law that holds for rainbows,
but with spread and folded fans alternating with one another
in keeping with the law of light inscribed in them.

It was the light when it dances enclosed
when it is not traveling abroad and seen.

It belongs to the nature of light that it can be shut in and
still not die out in its movement,
that it preserves itself thus in the darkness as thought, intent
and aptitude, that it remembers its changes
and performs its dance, its interplay.

With this art the light keeps together the innumerable
swarms of matter and sings with light's spectral wings the
endless song in honor of the fullness of the world.

–Harry Martinson


Friday, December 12, 2014



I don't mind suffering as long as it's really about something. 

I don't mind great luck, if it's about something. 

If it's the hollow stuff, then there's no gift, one way or the other.

–Li-Young Lee


I have no name


I have no name,
I am as the fresh breeze of the
I have no shelter;
I am as the wandering waters.
I have no sanctuary, like the dark
Nor am I in the shadow of deep
I have no sacred books;
Nor am I well-seasoned in
I am not in the incense
Mounting on the high altars,
Nor in the pomp of ceremonies.
I am neither in the graven image,
Nor in the rich chant of a
melodious voice.
I am not bound by theories,
Nor corrupted by beliefs.
I am not held in the bondage of
Nor in the pious agony of their
I am not entrapped by
Nor held in the power of their
I am neither low nor high,
I am the worshipper and the
I am free.
My song is the song of the river
Calling for the open seas,
Wandering, wandering,
I am Life.
I have no name,
I am as the fresh breeze of the mountains.

J. Krishnamurti




The spirit
likes to dress up like this:
ten fingers,
ten toes,

shoulders, and all the rest
at night
in the black branches,
in the morning

in the blue branches
of the world.
It could float, of course,
but would rather

plumb rough matter.
Airy and shapeless thing,
it needs
the metaphor of the body,

lime and appetite,
the oceanic fluids;
it needs the body's world,

and imagination
and the dark hug of time,
and tangibility,

to be understood,
to be more than pure light
that burns
where no one is --

so it enters us --
in the morning
shines from brute comfort
like a stitch of lightning;

and at night
lights up the deep and wondrous
drownings of the body
like a star.

–Mary Oliver


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Father, Father

Father Father let me love you
Saw you wonderin in my dream last night
Singing wonder wonder what you might do
You can't simply hide a dream in the blue

Don't try to fight, don't let me go
You've gone too far from what I know
I lost my heart in the dark with you
Father father, why you let me go?
Father please don't let me go

Brother brother let me love you
Whisper all your deepest fears, you can trust me
And when it's over we can begin
Finally to make amends, try to save us

Don't try to fight, don't let me go
You've gone too far from what I know
I lost my heart in the dark with you
Father father, why you let me go?
Father please don't let me go

Don't try to fight, don't let me go
You've gone too far from what I know
I lost my heart in the dark with you
Father father, why you let me go?
Father please...
Father please don't let me go
Father father, why you let me go?
Father please don't let me go
Father father, why you let me go?


dear one


In fact, my soul and yours are the same,
You appear in me, I in you,

We hide in each other.



this path to god


Path to God
Made me such an old sweet beggar.

I was starving until one night
My love tricked God Himself
To fall into my bowl.

Now Hafiz is infinitely rich,
But all I ever want to do

Is keep emptying out
My emerald-filled

This tear-stained



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

release, and radiance, and roses


We say release, and radiance, and roses,
and echo upon everything that's known;
and yet, behind the world our names enclose is
the nameless: our true archetype and home.

The sun seems male, and earth is like a woman,
the field is humble, and the forest proud;
but over everything we say, inhuman,
moves the forever-undetermined god.

We grow up; but the world remains a child.
Star and flower, in silence, watch us go.
And sometimes we appear to be the final
exam they must succeed on. And they do.

–Rainer Maria Rilke
Stephen Mitchell translation


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

my heart


My heart, sit only with those
who know and understand you.

Sit only under a tree
that is full of blossoms.

In the bazaar of herbs and potions
don't wander aimlessly,
find the shop with a potion that is sweet.

If you don't have a measure
people will rob you in no time.

You will take counterfeit coins
thinking they are real.

Don't fill your bowl with food from
every boiling pot you see.

Not every joke is humorous, so don't search
for meaning where there isn't one.

Not every eye can see,
not every sea is full of pearls.

My heart, sing the song of longing
like nightingale.

The sound of your voice casts a spell
on every stone, on every thorn.

First, lay down your head,
then one by one
let go of all distractions.

Embrace the light and let it guide you
beyond the winds of desire.

There you will find a spring and
nourished by its sweet waters
like a tree you will bear fruit forever.



i am


Because I am the first and the last
I am the venerated and the despised one
I am the prostitute and the saint.
I am the bride and the virgin.

I am the mother and the daughter,
I am my mother’s arms,
I am the sterile one, yet my children are numerous,
I am the married woman and the unmarried one,
I am She who gives birth and She who has never given birth,
I am the consolation for the pains of childbirth.

I am the bride and the groom,
And it was my man who nurtured my fertility.
I am my father’s Mother,
I am my husband’s sister.
And he is my rejected son.

Respect me always,
As I am the Scandalous and the Magnificent one.

–Gnostic texts
Found in 1947, Nag Hammadi, Egypt
Dated III-IV BC. 

what speaks in the blood


Walking, I can almost hear the redwoods beating. And the oceans are above me here, rolling clouds, heavy and dark. It is winter and there is smoke from the fires. It is a world of elemental attention, of all things working together, listening to what speaks in the blood. Whichever road I follow, I walk in the land of many gods, and they love and eat one another. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.

–Linda Hogan

Monday, December 8, 2014

how it works


One eye sees, the other feels.

–Paul Klee


Sunday, December 7, 2014

blessed ones, whole ones


You who let yourselves feel: enter the breathing
that is more than your own.
Let it brush your cheeks
as it divides and rejoins beside you.
Blessed ones, whole ones,
you where the heart begins:
You are the bow that shoots the arrows
and you are the target.
Fear not the pain. Let its weight fall back
into the earth;
for heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.
The trees you planted in childhood have grown
too heavy. You cannot bring them along.
Give yourselves to the air, to what you cannot hold.

–Rainer Maria Rilke
Sonnets to Orpheus, Part One, IV


Two Tanka


From outside my house,
only the faint distant sound
of gentle breezes
wandering through bamboo leaves
in the long evening silence.

Late evening finally
comes: I unlatch the door
and quietly
await the one
who greets me in my dreams.

–Otomo No Yakamochi

images - Nordin Seruyan,
central Borneo