Bahiya at the Pond

Skip a smooth stone through the clouds
reflected on still water. When it sinks,
the pond mirror re-assembles the sky
as if nothing has happened, perfectly.

The stone drops straight to the bottom,
settling in soft silt. A small cloud forms,
slowly dissolving back to the pond floor
as if nothing has happened, perfectly.

From your place on the bank, you were
a boy or girl, but now you know nothing
about that. Your free gaze lifts skyward,
you become a drifting cloud, perfectly.

Wherever your attention wanders, you are
that, that awareness, nor is any sensation
other than you, Bahiya — sight, taste, smell,
sound, touch, thought, memory — perfectly.

Wherever you travel, we go there with you.
Everything that is, has ever been, or will be
is here within you, just as you are within us.
All That Is, is not other than you, perfectly.

“This is perfect, that is perfect.
From the perfect comes the perfect.
Take the perfect from the perfect,
and only the perfect remains.”

 

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Party in Reverse

Sometimes a thought can be an opening door.

Without hesitation I enter. As I pass through,
the shell of the thought falls away like armor
no longer needed because the war is over.

A pulsing emptiness beckons, ripe with possibility.
The past unwinds, like a movie played in reverse.
I won’t look back at the dream swiftly fading.

Some keep old calendars neatly stored away,
like killers do with trophies of their victims —
little mementos still vibrant with imagination.

I am the vibrating essence within the shell,
the fool for love who keeps passing through
door after door, even though there are no walls.

There was no war to fight, no victim to remember.
The armor was like the costume a child might wear
to a party, a party that only happens in reverse.

At the end he is just opening the invitation. It is a door
pulsing with the promise of emptiness, a film screen
where he can fashion story after story, a thought.

Child and Mother

There comes the time the living light is shattered
into countless pieces and cast into the dark sea.
The sea is above us, like the night, it swirls
around us, sometimes it may pour down,
wash over us, sweep us away, away.

We all love the sea like a mother, we want
to return but we cannot yet, the cord
has been severed, we have to bear
the light on our own, we must.

The sea is dark, it swirls below us.
We drift along on soft threads of air
breathed out by the sea god as clouds,
like drifting clouds in a dream of clouds
above the sparkling sea, all filled with stars,
all filled with the starry stuff of dreams we are.

There is something we have taken from the sea.
It is a kind of melancholy we sometimes feel
at night when we close our eyes and softly
slide into the drifting clouds of dreams,
a child in search of their mother.

Each piece of shattered light is like a beacon
in the night, illuminating our journey through
the trackless dark, the infinite unknown of our
own dark sea, home eternal, womb of emptiness.

Each shattered shard becomes its own living light,
its own supreme godhood which sacrifices itself
into countless lit pieces, swirling out deeper
into the dark sea, filling it with radiance
and even melancholy, until all light
is drawn at last back into itself
and child and mother embrace.

 

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Photo by Yasuaki Segawa

While the City Sleeps

1.

While the city sleeps, it composes an extended fantasy poem in three stanzas. I am embedded within it, but I am also here with you watching as it dreamily fashions itself into words and phrases which seem old but also new. Truly, anyone can be anywhere, can reach out and touch the electric sky with a single finger, feel the surge flow all the way through them, tilt their head back and gasp in pure amazement! This is how I leave the soft embrace of my warm shell and fly above the street lights like a magic brujo with impeccable intent. They wink off and on again as I soar by. Look, I am a slow-motion bullet aimed at the heart of space! I pierce right through the gossamer fabric of identity. Everyone is here, but in their invisible form. Discreetly populating the great expanse, they chant the silent mantra for the sake of all sleeping cities. That ineffable music may be why the good dogs remain with their eyes closed and tails curled, while cats slink about in the shadows cast by street lamps. Some might look up wistfully as I sail over them, quiet as a flying cat, or a sleeping one. The first stanza writes itself between my inhalation and exhalation, though I am already in the middle part.

2.

This is the story that can’t be spoken in rhymes. Rhyming was for the old world, the childhood storybook world which grew up and devoured itself in a sad poem that wanted to be more, wanted more stanzas than it had words for, and this is why the new world is a quiet one which doesn’t adhere to artificial containment. Here on the other side of itself all the pets are happy and carefree, as it should be. Those who have made it this far can relax and let go. There is no reason for the old fear, it spoiled the poem, like a drop of hot bile in a glass of spring water. We are leaving our shoes behind to walk barefoot through the soft moist green fields, and we can barely hold back our mounting euphoria. Someone throws a ball, and we are off and running. Our tail is wagging, each heartbeat an ecstatic poem, each breath full and deep. We forget about the ball, we forget about the past or future, we don’t know what we are, what anything is! God is great! It doesn’t matter that the city sleeps. It doesn’t matter what became of the old thoughts, let them perish like fish bait left out on the pier on a hot summer day, they mingle with the fragrance of creosote and salt water — that indelible perfume — and then the seagulls swoop down to feed, but quietly. If there is going to be any name for this astonishment, this wonder, it must respectfully be designated the middle stanza.

3.

Beloved, although the city sleeps, our eternal conversation continues — a blissful inquiry into the fullness of emptiness, like an anonymous leaf taken by the breeze with no place to land, no end to this falling. We have blended so deeply into each other now that only a flash of radiance persists, our original form before we fell asleep. We’ve cast off the stupor of knowing’s burden with a grateful sigh — all past stories rendered obsolete, the impartial gears of this compassionate totality softly crushing into languorous sync with an impersonal wink from the gracious gods who have borne us through the fire. We’re blessed and sublimed in a destiny duet played out on pink-pillowed dawn, while in the near distance, twin peacocks’ sudden thrilling cries of “Victory!” echo throughout this palace of ashes we’ve made of ourselves in our exquisite incineration. Ashes won’t return to tinder, nor we go back to sleep. The rippling notes from the peacocks’ throats waken heaven and earth with pure joy. This may be the last stanza, though it came before the first. We offer this humble rock medicine to the future ancestors, our tears have washed them clean.

Ready To Go

He emerged from his reverie just as his automobile crashed loudly through the metal side guard on the high mountain road. He had inadvertently left the solidity of earth, and was now floating freely through space. Everything seemed to slow down, time barely moved at all. The slow-motion effect gave him time to light a cigarette, take a few drags, and reminisce about good times gone by.

He knew that this was it, he was about to die, but somehow that recognition didn’t have the effect he imagined it would. He was hardly interested at all in his imminent fate. It was almost as if it was happening to someone else, someone he barely knew at all. From his current vantage point, he could see the blue planet below. It was beautiful, truly a jewel drifting through the eternal dark, but now it was fast receding in his rear view mirror.

It no longer mattered what day this was, or what he had planned to do today. Somehow the car had dropped away, like in a film of a rocket jettisoning its fuel tanks as it leaves the earth’s atmosphere. Now even his body had vanished, and yet he was still being propelled forward at an increasingly accelerated pace — the immeasurable speed of thought. There was a mounting sense of exhilaration, as if his whole life had been an arrow targeted for this very moment.

He noticed now that there were various forms of beings on the periphery accompanying him, though he couldn’t make out who or what they were, just indistinct but strangely comforting luminous apparitions that seemed to surround him on his way to the center of the galaxy itself.

In the far distance there was a gleaming speck of white light which grew more captivating, brilliant, and dazzling in its power as he approached it, or it approached him. In an instant, it seemed that he was standing right before the stunning light, then he was swallowed up by it for a timeless moment — an eternity of indescribable love — and now he had passed through it.

Oddly, he could hear the sound of birds chirping nearby, and as he opened his eyes, he realized that morning had dawned. He checked the clock, then rolled out of bed, yawned, and reached for his clothes. He had a vague but swiftly fleeting recollection of strange night dreams, but now he needed to get ready for the long drive ahead, one which would take him over the high mountain pass. What he really wanted was a good strong cup of coffee. Then he was ready to go.

Little Things

We all have little things that annoy us. For some, it might be those extra few pounds that stubbornly won’t drop off. For others, it could be commuter traffic, or that noisy barking dog in the apartment next door. For me, it’s the psychopaths in suits who are engineering the Sixth Extinction. When I contemplate what they are up to, I get more and more disturbed, but then I hear the morning birds singing in the courtyard. I am not sure to which species they belong, and yet it doesn’t matter. Their songs are perfect as they are, and soon I am on a train leaving the station. Paradoxically, I am on the platform watching the train depart. One of us is trying to make sense of this, while the other doesn’t mind the apparent enigma. How can this world be so full of sorrow, and yet be perfect just as it is? Don’t try to figure out such little things with the intellect. That train will never arrive. It is traveling through dimensions that have no literal substance. What we take to be the objective world is not what it seems. The more you try to touch it, the more elusive it becomes, like some gauzy swath of fabric moving in a light night breeze. You reach out, but as you do you slip into the other world. The air here is filled with strangely wonderful colors, it is singing. Everything is singing — the world, the birds, the beautiful beings you had once considered criminals. All are waiting to welcome you home. This is nothing like you could have imagined, and yet it is exactly that. You are a god, surveying your creation. The one who brought you here is standing in your shoes.

The Message

Out walking before dawn —
the hunched houses on the street
are all lined up like pensive runners
on their marks, waiting for the break
of day to sprint in place, watching me
as I walk past, I can feel them breathing.

In the distance, a train sound —
not a whistle, more like a bellow,
or an extended groan of complaint
for having to move at all — everyone
had better stay well out of its way today.

In the city, the day workers are still asleep,
their faces beginning to tense in anticipation
of the alarm clock noise which will usher them
from their horizontal dream into a vertical one.

Enough’s been said about legal servitude —
society organizes itself to create the maximum
degree of discontent so the workers will expend
all of their meager earnings to offset their misery,
and who profits? Those who makes the alarm clocks.

What if everyone actually awakened, rather than
merely moving from one bad dream to another
in an endless succession of nightmarish scenarios
which we ironically call “this waking life”?

If we still require some reason to be alarmed,
there is no shortage — we can start with the mirror
and move outward until we can hear the sorry cries
of this whole sad world, each one like a train sound
piercing the early morning darkness with an urgent
message from emptiness: “I am, I am, I am!”

 

train