Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday, February 05, 2012


kingdom of limbs
deep of golden sand
respite respite
from the sad errors
of sky and hand

watching the procession
of animals in their golden coats
from the celestial view
of the waterfront bar
all my lives came true

the elusive repository
unmasks its players

a dense poetry
fills the air

good-bye sweet soldier
of the dawn

my fierce love for you will always prosper

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hardcore Zen

Parking Lot Bouquet, Summer, 2010

“The problem with our self-image is that we don’t see it for what it really is: a useful fiction. The idea that our self-image is something permanent and substantial is so basic to us that we would probably never even think to question it.”

“The truth comes when you can see that your self-image is just a convenient reference point and nothing more, and that you as you had imagined yourself do not exist.”

“That one bubble we watched will never appear again.”

“Sort out your misunderstanding of time and all your problems go away. Just like that.”

“We harbor some inexplicable fear that if we start to enjoy everything about life without picking and choosing we might cease to exist.”

“World peace happens when no one fires guns at anyone anymore.”

“You create the cause and you experience the effect.”

“To cause another living being pain isn’t evil – it’s just stupid. Because that being is you.”

“The degree of your delusion determines how long it takes to notice the effects you’ve created.”

“Stop the racist, gay-bashing Nazis from going to war to club baby seals in the burning South American rainforests if you want – but also clean your room.”

“That’s the easiest way to tell the real teachers from the phonies: a phony will take your authority and a real teacher will give it back.”

“It’s a frightening thing to be truly honest with yourself. It means you have no one left to turn to anymore, no one to blame, and no one to look to for salvation. You have to give up any possibility that there will ever be any refuge for you. You have to accept the reality that you are truly and finally on your own. The best thing you can hope for in life is to meet a teacher who will smash all of your dreams, dash all of your hopes, tear your teddy-bear beliefs out of your arms and fling them over a cliff.”

“Believe only in the universe as it is right now. See the world and yourself for what they are. Don’t be deceived by your imagination no matter how beautiful it is.”

“You can transform your life, and it is imperative that you do it. Because only you can do it. No guru can make your life right. No Zen master can show you the way. Only you have the power to make this place you’re living in right now a realm so beautiful even God himself couldn’t dream of anything better. And doing this will transform the universe.”

“And our ordinary, boring, pointless lives are incredibly, amazingly, astoundingly, relentlessly, mercilessly joyful.”

“Your life is yours alone, and to miss your life is the most tragic thing that could happen.”

Quotes from
Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies & the Truth About Reality
By Brad Warner

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Ghost Bridge Series

The Ghost Bridge waits hazy and immersed

At the edge of thought

Sharp rim of travel

Soft bone of jaw

Limned by nerve and muscle

Black skeleton dressed in richest brine

Of salt and gasoline

Washed in mixes of blue lilac orange rose

The cool burn of moon

Dizzying spine leading to the descent

Into flowers

Monday, December 26, 2011

Winter Elegy

beautiful citadel of lights,
how could I have refused you

and your spangled tiaras
foggy distances
antlered arteries
piney whispers

was it your shyness
guiles or guises


the round smiles
lacking in your laughter

enthroned as a last chance
your heart the harp
on which we played
dollars and bones

phantasmagoric you
love is less than some ideal

it is nature roaring into view
and slipping just as ravenously

out of sight

in spooling balls of cool delight

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Longest Night of the Year

Celebrating the Winter Solstice is part of an ancient tradition, a profound acknowledgement of nature's cycles and the importance of the return of the light.

A few years ago, I was fortunate to find an annual celebration at a local Universalist Unitarian church that is an evocative, spiritual, and symbolic gathering. Last year I went with my friend Jill, who was eight months pregnant. This year we went again, this time with her new daughter Aela.

The evening, as before, was filled with poetry, music and quiet drama. The darkened hallways were lined with LCD tea-light candles in paper bags punctured by delicate star formations, creating a quiet tone.

The night began with an hypnotic second century melody called "Hymn to the Sun," followed by "First Winter," a poem by Mark Evan Chimsky.

In the first section of the celebration, called "Knowing the Twilight," the song "Sure on This Shining Night" by Samuel Barber was followed by a hymn: "Dark of Winter" by Shelley Jackson Denman. Then a figure in a sparkling dark cloak, wearing a dark mask, entered and lit an enormous ice chalice in the center of the darkened room. The audience sat in concentric rows with four aisles. One by one, elaborately costumed and masked figures came from each direction, North, South, East and West, carrying candles which they set into the ice chalice. A musical meditation called "Orion" followed. The music was exquisite, featuring singers and live musicians playing piano, shuttle pipes, violins, a singing bowl, flute, and clarinet.

The next section, "Embracing the Dark" opened with a Rilke Poem, "On Darkness."

This translation by David Whyte is, I think, similar to what we heard:

"You darkness from which I come,

I love you more than all the fires
that fence out the world,
for the fire makes a circle
for everyone
so that no one sees you anymore.
But darkness holds it all:
the shape and the flame,
the animal and myself,
how it holds them,
all powers, all sight —

and it is possible: its great strength
is breaking into my body.
I have faith in the night."

A reading ("To Know the Dark" by Wendell Berry) was followed by "Epitaph," by Sarah Williams and Joseph Haydn, sung in voices. A silent meditation plumbed the depths of the communal reverie.

"The Light Returns" started with a reading of "The Spiral Dance" by Starhawk and a chant ("Goddess of Light") followed by "Why I Wake Early" by Mary Oliver:

"Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who made the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and the crotchety –

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever-darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light –

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness."

The most dramatic part of the program was when The Sun, dressed in glittering robes of orange and yellow, bearing a goblet glowing with a candle, and wearing a golden mask, entered and, as the lights came up, danced gracefully through the room before settling on a golden throne.

The final section, "Sharing the Light," contained more readings and the entrance of The Green Man, dressed in a green mask, his arms entwined with green vines.

The gathering sang the hymn "We Are One" and after parting words about the solstice, closed with "The Solstice Carol."

This divine celebration was, once again, a potent acknowledgement of the forces of darkness and light, a sharing of the gifts of spirit and life, a way to share reflections on the past while casting forth renewed energy and hope for the coming year.

To Know The Dark
by Wendell Berry

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.