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                         COMPASSIONS BECOMING

                         (THE POEMS ARE BORN)

 

                         Poetry starting April 1992

 

 

                         A.....

                         ABOUT BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIPS

                         ABOUT MORAL BOUNDARIES

                         ALL LIFE IS SENSUOUS AND SPIRITUAL

                         AN ECLIPSE OF THE SUN, GOOD FRIDAY, AD 30

                         ANOTHER POEM ABOUT BECOMING

                         ANOTHER WORD TO GOD'S CHURCH

                         A SONG FOR SECOND GRADERS AND ALL SERAPHIM

                         A SONG TO MY FAMILIAR WORM

 

                         C...

                         COME NOW AND MEDITATE

                         COMMENTS ON THE POETIC PROCESS

 

                         D....

                         DEATH I.

                         DEATH II.

                         DEATH III.

                         DEATH IV.

                         DEATH V.

 

                         G....

                         GOD IS HERE                        

                         GOD'S VOICE

 

                         H...

                         HOW CAN WE OFFER THE FEAST

 

                         I...

                         I WANT

 

                         J....

                         JESUS IS THE SOURCE OF BEAUTY

 

                         L....

                         LET THE SINGING BIRDS FLY OUT

                         LOVE LIKE LIGHT AND QUICKER THAN THOUGHT

 

                         M....

                         MASK WEARERS

                         MY CUP OVERFLOWETH

                         MY YOUTH

 

                         O....

                         ONE DAY, WHILE THE WOODS BURNT DOWN

                         ON PONDERING WHAT LIES

                                    UNDER THESE REVERSALS OF FORTUNE

                         ON PSALM 145

                         ON SOUL

                         ON THE NATURE OF PRAYER

 

                         P....

                         POETRY AND THE SOUL

                         POETRY IS A SUBTERRANIAN FLYING THING

                         POETRY IS THE COMMUNION

 

                         R...

                         RECOVER THE CAPTIVE NO THING

 

                         S...

                         SERENADING GORDON IN THE CANCER WARD

                            St. Charles Hospital, Bend, Oregon

                            May 14th 1992

                        

                         SIN AND TRAGEDY

                         SINGING TO A VICTIM

                            OF A RECENT, TRAGIC AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT

                            St. Charles Hospital, Bend, Oregon

                            May 14th 1992                         

                         SOME PEOPLE ARE MASTERS AT MISSING THE POINT

 

                         T....

                         THE GROUND OF OUR HEARTS

                         THE MYSTERY OF LIFE

                         THE REAL ARISTOCRATS

                         THE WHOLE IS GREATER THAN THE SUM OF THE PARTS

                         TO THOSE WHO WALK AT NIGHT

                        

 

                         U...

                         UPON MY VOICE

                         UPON OUR LACK

                         UPON SAINT JOHN, CHAPTER 12

                         UPON THE BOY SCOUT OATH

                         UPON THE TASK OF THE SOUL

 

 

                         W....

                         WE ARE ONLY BEGINNING TO BE CREATED

                         WE ARE THE CRUCIFIERS, WE THE CRUCIFIED

                         WE NEED ONLY TO DIE TO THE DARK

                                   TO ENTER THE FEAST OF THE LIGHT!

                         WHEN ANGELS FALL INTO THE POOLS OF THE WORLD

                         WHEN THE FULL MOON OF A SOUL

                         WISE VIRGIN'S WAYS

 

                         56 poems

                         Last Poem in file: HOW CAN WE OFFER THE FEAST

                        

                        

 


THE POETRY

 

                         SOME PEOPLE ARE MASTERS AT MISSING THE POINT

 

                         Some chattering bird

                         chirped a silly thing

                         about its Buddha self,

                         then flit its wing

                         and flung bird shit

                         all around

                         the least amusing

                         parts of town.

 

 


 

                   ON PONDERING WHAT LIES UNDER THESE

                   REVERSALS OF FORTUNE

 

                   Turning aside from the fragrant road

                   where those who carry candles

                   walk singing in the night,

                   a lion often meets me in daylight

                   and tears open my body to drink blood

                   in God's name.

                    

 

 


                   TO THOSE WHO WALK AT NIGHT

 

                   Always know

                   that the heavy, purple night

                   is waiting to burst forth

                   with the piercing sweetness of starlight.

                               *

                   As you hunger long for the dawn,

                   Watchman, turn your face upon the night!

 

 

 

 

                         MASK WEARERS

 

                         Mask wearers

                         wear themselves dry to the bone

                         to keep up the facade.

                         Ah! come,

                         let us unleash our truest hearts

                         and fruitify all living things

                         with the innocent light

                         beneath our empty eyes.

 

 

 

 

                         AN ECLIPSE OF THE SUN, GOOD FRIDAY, AD 30

 

                         Simply, brutally, the deed was done

                         as the black moon covered the yellow sun.

                         Then dim stars shown through ebony space

                         as fears shadowed the human face.

                         God Himself hung upon a tree

                         embracing sin with dignity.

                         Like a lamb to the slaughter, they drove him on

                         through the crumbling doors of their own Kingdom.

                         The temple veil was split in two...

                         A golden beauty shimmered through.

 

 

 

 

 

          THE GROUND OF OUR HEARTS

 

          The ground of our hearts is an opened window.

          No! A wind that blows through that window.

          No! A motionless breath that only seems to move like wind

          because we move.

          No! A golden voice that speaks with that motionless breath.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         GOD IS HERE                        

                        

                         God is wholly here

                         and God is spirit.

                         Why don't we know it

                         taste it, hear it?

                         Perhaps we think that, like Seraphim,

                         —whose eyes are made of fire—

                         we children, born of need and desire,

                         should SEE Him;

                         that He who is moved

                         by no need but that of love

                         should be so solidly apparent.

                         Yet the trick on us is this:

                         God is here! but He's transparent.

 

 

 

 

 

         

         

         

                         POETRY AND THE SOUL

 

                         Making poems

                         is the weaving of soul tapestry.

                         It is mid-wivery.

                         Clear spirit

                         blows in the back door,

                         the opened windows;

                         and its free freshness sings,

                         "Birth me!"

                         The dark body lights up!

                         while night creatures stir,

                         fearing illumination.

                         Snakes coil and uncoil

                         in the basement of the mind

                         as the spirit joys and sings,

                         "Miraculous house of pain and fear,

                         you are my own Mother!

                         Birth me a soul."

                         And so the body sets to work:

                         hunting, house cleaning,

                         killing old slithering beasts with light;

                         then setting up a bright, little inner studio,

                         splashing it with color,

                         making it a warm, flesh home around a loom.

                         At last, throwing open all windows,

                         all doors,

                         body welcomes the images of God's heart in

                         which joyously come

                         to be woven upon that loom

                         into a work of art

                         called soul.

 

 

 

 

                         ON SOUL

 

                         Our souls are not to be

                         hidden, private things

                         protected in our heads,

                         but poured out compassionate unfoldments,

                         endowments of a public-blessing life:

                         warm and vulnerable, spirit enriched,

                         diverse and profuse;

                         strong in clarity and ordered.

                         Come let our souls be:

                         dancing, sparkling, singing, shining!

                         Let us be healers who are being healed,

                         infusing heart and head and body

                         with One Holy Spirit

                         overflowing from body into body

                         amidst celebrations which unite our hearts.

 

 

 

 

 

                         MY CUP OVERFLOWETH

 

                         As opening soul drinks Life and grows

                         it comes to overflow the body;

                         and soul is no longer

                         pent up, dry and alone...

                         but body is found moving

                         in the wet and wild texture

                         of its own Christ-soaked soul

                         until overflowing soul

                         floods into overflowing soul

                         and all bodies move,

                         like fish move together,

                         in the warm sea

                         of God's soul.

                         

 

 

 

                         UPON THE BOY SCOUT OATH

                         (Another song for Miss Jean)

 

                         Love to love

                         in order to live in love.

                         Why more?

                         What more?

                         To impress?

                         The stuff of ego is too small

                         a thing in which to dress.

                         And yet, we do!

                         Wounded,

                         tripped up by our fly-born

                         need.

                         We who were created

                         for God

                         in order to birth the Wisdom

                         into the world

                         that made the world!

                         Yet, we haven’t even come to where

                         we can help a sweet old lady along

                         out of Love alone

                         for the joy of loving

                         because she is worthy

                         of a little kindness...

                         and of love.

                         Love beautifies

                         that which it loves.

                         And she, the old saint, is beautiful

                         with God.

                         All her wrinkles are beautiful.

                         There are wind-carved desert stones

                         in her face. All her ricketiness

                         is a passing beauty on her journey,

                         to the stars....

                         Soon she shall jump up

                         out of her skin

                         all young again

                         and sprightly in a blaze!

                         Isn't it joy enough

                         to do just a bit of kindness

                         to honor her

                         whom God loves

                         for Love,

                         just to live in it,

                         to loose soul into the free working

                         of the Great Love

                         that longs to reach out

                         through human hands

                         and steady her wavering, slow, long, walk

                         towards the light.

 

 

 

 

                    UPON OUR LACK

 

                    We have all the talents we need.

                    What we lack is simplicity, clarity

                    and a pure intent of love.

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

                         POETRY IS THE COMMUNION

 

                         Poetry is a communion

                         between the dark, struggling

                         roots of a tree

                         and the wild singing bird

                         in its branches.

 

 

                        

 

 

                         POETRY IS A SUBTERRANEAN FLYING THING

                         

                         Sometimes poetry is a wild singing bird

                         plunging down into the thick earth

                         —smashing its wings upon stones—

                         fluttering and floundering down

                         black wet crevasses

                         towards dark, scalding waters,

                         the steaming subterranean blood-veins

                         of the world...

                         then lying there, flame-lit,

                         it sips

                         until it gains strength

                         to struggle back up,

                         bearing the heat of an earth-song

                         upon its battered wings,

                         emerging up into clear light,

                         into the tender cool of the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

                         ON THE NATURE OF PRAYER

 

                         A seed speaks to the soil,

                         "Give me your longings

                         and let me turn them

                         into a singing tree!"

                         The soil cannot utter in reply.

                         Its dreams are too deep,

                         beneath the dark,

                         down amidst the fire

                         at the core of the world.

                         Yet, silently it yields to seed persistence

                         and life slowly forms:

                         the first tender leaf opens;

                         then the searching, sucking roots;

                         and the trunk thickens

                         as it lifts

                         an interweaving profusion of twigs

                         which thrusts out glitters of leaves

                         thirsting for light.

                         Wind makes the tree ecstatically shiver

                         in the midst of howling days and nights.

                         Then, quick-footed, singing birds come...

 

 

 

 

                         GOD'S VOICE

 

                         God's voice comes tumbling down

                         rumbling down, ringing

                         from a long way off

                         into the percolating spiritual house

                         of this world

                         to make the deer calve

                         their young, and give

                         the wolf its food.

                         And God speaks a lace of snow

                         —I know because I believe—

                         and God speaks whirlwinds, darkness,

                         and lightning chains over continents,

                         and God speaks these flowers up

                         which ecstatically contemplate

                         sunlight and the feet of bees.

                         The Bible says such things

                         —but most have forgotten it—

                         still living alone in austere mind structures

                         built nearly three hundred years ago

                         by the pride of man.

                         Those towers which Descarte, John Lock

                         and Newton built

                         and in which we stand: investigative,

                         and aloof.

                         But the voice of the Lord

                         sounds like a great clear bell

                         chiming in ocean waters,

                         and little silver bells

                         tinkling in shining streams.

                         And the trees watch us,

                         and mountains watch us,

                         and stone silence watches us,

                         waiting for us to awaken

                         to speak within our singing

                         the rare and ringing voice

                         of the Lord!

 

 

 

                    A SONG FOR SECOND GRADERS AND ALL SERAPHIM

 

                    Singing haroo, haray, hariminy too;

                    Singing haroo, haree, rattle the arm bones.

 

 

 

                     LET THE SINGING BIRDS FLY OUT

 

                     Let the singing birds fly out

                     to surround and serenade

                     the lamp-lit virgins coming in.

 

 

 

 

 

                     WISE VIRGIN'S WAYS

 

                     Hoping to some day be worthy of the bridegroom's gift,

                     some women refuse the gift

                     still trying to mask their willfulness and shame.

                     A few weep with joy and light up His pure oils

                     with the fiery sparks of their thankful love.

                         

 

 

 

                         THE MYSTERY OF LIFE

 

                         The mystery of life

                         would you know from me?

                         One plus one

                         equals three!

                         And this simple equation

                         runs through all essential things,

                         and when it's free

                         creation sings!

 

 

 

                         JESUS IS THE SOURCE OF BEAUTY

 

                         Jesus is the source of beauty,

                         Jesus is the way of pain,

                         Jesus is the deepest soul-work

                         and riches we can gain

                         from living into holy love,

                         from being freed from every fear,

                         opening to His passionate presence

                         which is merciful, and here.

 

 

 

 

                         UPON SAINT JOHN, CHAPTER 12

 

                         He is the light of the world;

                         His word shall judge us all.

                         The light of God

                         shines throughout the entire world.

                         If we fully loved God,

                         if we fully loved God's earth

                         we would know this!

                         He is the light of the world.

                         His light shines

                         in the eye of a mouse.

                         His light is flowing water

                         and his flowing water is light.

                         We swim in the flood tides of life

                         and die of thirst.

                         We walk in shimmering light

                         and go on stumbling in the dark.

                         He is the light of the world:

                         His light shines in the wolf's green eyes,

                         in the black, solemn eye of the Kodiak bear.

                         If we loved God, and loved God's creatures

                         we would know truth, and we would shine...

                         but our hearts are crooked, our minds bent,

                         and so we twist the straight ways of the Lord.

                         All the foundations of the earth

                         are out of course.

                         Yet, His light shines in the eye of an innocent;

                         in the loving eyes of a wise woman.

                         He is the light of the world

                         and He spoke, "Believe in the light

                         while you have the light

                         that you may become... drenched in light.

                         He illuminates us all,

                         and His word shall judge the unfinished us

                         with purest mercy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         SIN AND TRAGEDY

 

                         God spills us out into the world

                         and sings,

                         "Dance beautiful child, jubilate!

                         Grow through joy.

                         Grow through pain.

                         Let me trust you—

                         I give you everything.

                                *

                         We die and slouch around,

                         looking for something to do.

 

 

                              

 

                         WE ARE ONLY BEGINNING TO BE CREATED

 

                         We are only beginning to be created.

                         A thousand nights of prayer

                         merely confirm the way:

                         Death upon death within life.

                         The seed cracks;

                         the white seed flows

                         and flowers out it's sun.

                         God sparkles in the white seed, singing,

                         "I am a child

                         and you are a child.

                         Let us trust each other!"

                         And so the human spirit wakes up

                         and shouts, "I shall sing my way

                         into my soul that might be!"

                         And the laughing soul starts swelling

                         with sweet spirit,

                         then suddenly, solemnly exclaims,

                         "I shall weep my way back into the dark of my body!"

                         And the body cries,

                         "Pain," and "Holy!"

                         — the body has always cried, "Holy!"

                         And the body — now brewing light —

                         labors to nestle back

                         into the moist, dark womb of the earth

                         until the earth, sensing life,

                         tears open her sensual bosom and cries,

                         "I am your mother

                         and you are my mother,

                         let us birth each other!"

                         And as the human body hovers over the earth,

                         making love to the earth,

                         God flies by

                         amidst a colorful flock of birds

                         and sings,

                         "Grow, grow, grow!"

 

   

 

 

                         DEATH I.

 

                         We are only beginning to be created

                         (the joy comes, the pain comes),

                         and we must journey on

                         through death upon death,

                         birth upon birth,

                         until the fiery doors open

                         and beauty swallows us up.

 


 

                         DEATH II.

 

                         When the voice of all our friends says,

                         "Welcome."

 

                         

                         DEATH III.

 

                         Put on your beautiful garments

                         O bridal soul of peace.

 

 

                         DEATH IV.

 

                         I can almost see

                         the spires of my heritage.

 

 

                         DEATH V.

 

                         "Look child," the angel cried,

                         "Every one here is a Lilly!"

 

 

 

 

                         ABOUT MORAL BOUNDARIES

 

                         The first cry of a selfish boy

                         is for freedom.

                         The second cry of a selfish boy

                         is despair.

                         But do not trouble

                         a selfish boy about love

                         and moral meaning.

                         He is too busy swinging on flag poles

                         and enjoying the feel of the wind

                         to know which way the wind is blowing

                         or why, or where.

 

 

 

 

                         WHEN ANGELS FALL INTO THE POOLS OF THE WORLD

 

                         When angels

                         carrying small stars

                         fall into the pools of the world,

                         and naked human beings

                         — their warm red blood, their white bones —

                         walk singing to meet them,

                         then countless careening birds burst up

                         from clear waters

                         into blue air;

                         and children come splashing

                         out of the pools,

                         twirling and stretching their arms

                         up eagerly for the birds

                         until they fall back,

                         exhausted upon the grasses

                         and laugh until they are sore.

                         Then, pregnant women,

                         each one huge and hard in her belly,

                         crawl out of the waters,

                         to sensuously caress

                         the muddy banks,

                         — the muscles of their bellies

                         painfully convoluting —

                         until suddenly swelling

                         these women burst open

                         and white angels spurt

                         out of their thighs.

                        

 

 

 

                         WHEN THE FULL MOON OF A SOUL

 

                         When the full moon of a soul

                         meets the full moon of a soul

                         and each reflects light into light,

                         out of the deep night between moons

                         a clear pool appears

                         in which is reflected

                         the shifting images

                         of all things divinely human.

 

 

 

 

 

                         ABOUT BEAUTIFUL RELATIONSHIPS

 

                         To go forth to fully encounter

                         and respond to

                         the unique

                         known and unknown person

                         in the unique

                         known and unknown moment

                         while bearing the priceless

                         pearl of Christ

                         in the divine/human realities

                         of the deep heart is love.

                         To know who to thus encounter

                         and who not to is wisdom.

                                            

 

 

 

                         I WANT

 

                         I want every soul

                         to join me on this journey

                         to become green and holy:

                         every soul royalty;

                         every soul a bride of Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         ANOTHER POEM ABOUT BECOMING

 

                         Every poem written,

                         every picture painted

                         from the core of the heart

                         clearly challenges

                         its listening, laboring maker

                         to transcend art

                         and become

                         some living art

                         molded by the masterly hands

                         of the supreme Maker.

 

 

 

 

                         WE ARE THE CRUCIFIERS, WE THE CRUCIFIED

 

                         Why do we keep giving God away?

                         He who is our strength and beauty!

                         Why do we keep on bartering away

                         our God?

                         He who is our freedom

                         and our green and growing glory...

                         Need! Sin-black need, born

                         of that first betrayal

                         of our innocence!

                         It is need that with greedy, grasping hands

                         drags us away from that quiet,

                         brimming well                

                         of flowing, flaming love

                         which heals us.

                          

 

 

 

                        

                         THE REAL ARISTOCRATS

 

                         To bare within us

                         the sign and seal

                         of the gift given:

                         the creative freedom which flows

                         from being passionately loved and cherished;

                         to have heard our name spoken

                         by the Living Voice

                         of incomprehensible glory.

                                   *

                         The beggar bears within his rags

                         the unspeakable treasure of the pearl!

 

 

 

 

                         LOVE LIKE LIGHT AND QUICKER THAN THOUGHT

 

                         Deep inside,

                         the dust of my star-born body

                         remembers the light

                         and yields to light's love

                         (like all lovers do)

                         by shining.

 

 

 

 

                         MY YOUTH

 

                         Wild and alone

                         I went naked into the night

                         and put handcuffs upon my self.

                         Then I peered into other peoples lives

                         from a million miles away.

                         And they were all so perfect.

                         And I was the most despised.

                         And so I thought I must violate them

                         and plunder their perfection.

                         But God stopped me

                         because He was shedding tears upon me

                         as I hung naked in the trees.

 

 

 

 

 

                         ALL LIFE IS SENSUOUS AND SPIRITUAL

 

                         Touching, being touched.

                         Caressing the earth's soft hair,

                         loving her fragrant flanks,

                         we humans, we divine animals

                         ascend and descend together

                         the sacred pinnacles of God.

                         Our language is suddenly that of a mime

                         or a holy animal:

                         a look, an inflection,

                         a gesture, a melody of movement

                         in a rhythmic dance.

                         As our language becomes the language of love

                         and of the light

                         the animals remember us,

                         that we are their lovers and brothers again.

                         No longer compelled to show us our darkness

                         they forget their ancient feuds:

                         the aristocratic lion and the scruffy hyena

                         lick each other's ears;

                         the seditious weasel lies down

                         with the fatuous, fussy barnyard hen;

                         the penurious pig shares its meal

                         with the Machiavelian coyote;

                         the sinuous snake warms bird's eggs.

                                     *

                         All the green and golden web

                         of life pulsates sensuously around us

                         until a swelling membrane breaks!

                         and a billion angles

                         burst out upon us in a flood!

                        

 

 

 

                         ONE DAY, WHILE THE WOODS BURNT DOWN

 

                         We sat on a stone

                         — the Kissing Stone —

                         in a wild forest

                         as the forest burnt down.

                         It was a river stone

                         — the Kissing Stone —

                         a stream stone,

                         a round, sensual, wet stone.

                         God knows, fire is a fearsome thing!

                         Love made us laugh

                         in the face of fire

                         that leapt up looming above us

                         to eat the forest up.

                         Most animals fear fire!

                         But we, like laughing pirates,

                         plundered life before death's hot face

                         until the heat howled,

                         "Melt or flee!"

                         She bounded out ahead of me,

                         like a sprightly deer,

                         into a clearing.

                         I emerged slowly,

                         groaning and grunting

                         through suffocating smoke,

                         carrying the Kissing Stone.

              

 


 

                         THE WHOLE IS GREATER THAN THE SUM OF THE PARTS

 

                         And how shall we descend

                         Into the root radiance

                         Of life?

                         The whole is greater

                         Than the sum of the parts.

                         Our Lord Christ:

                         This person is a shelter

                         and the harmony —

                         a beautiful burning being

                         of the triune in a body.

                         "Little Children," he cries,

                         "All is forgiven.

                         Now grow beautiful relationships!"

 

 

 

 

 

                         UPON MY VOICE

                        

                         Is my voice melodious and melancholy

                         like a bird's;

                         rough and sonorous

                         like a bear's?.

                         Does it dip and spin,

                         soar and plod?

                         Then perhaps,

                         just perhaps,

                         my voice is becoming somewhat akin

                         to the raucous and riotous voice

                         of God.

                        

 

 

 

                         A SONG TO MY FAMILIAR WORM

 

                         Worm...

                         I have tried to starve you to death.

                         You grew lean,

                         then ravenously fell upon me

                         and ripped my flesh

                         to gnaw into my bones.

                         I have tried to ignore you.

                         In stealth, you went about

                         your sick work

                         spinning webs of illusions

                         over the bright face of God.

                         I have tried obeying your compulsions

                         and hated the little

                         hungry, swollen creature

                         you made of me.

                         There is one thing I have not tried,

                         worm...

                         and that is to love you

                         right out of existence.

                         Perhaps being loved

                         is the death

                         of the warping,

                         fearful essence of you.

                         So my poor, wounded worm,

                         I shall now love you!

                         Come worm,

                         my most miserable friend,

                         and die into the bright

                         full trust

                         of this love.

 

 

                        

 

 

                         COME NOW AND MEDITATE

 

                         Meditate upon the bright majesty

                         of the full beauty

                         and power

                         of the tenderhearted God.

                         He who is so misrepresented

                         by the bent souls of humanity.

                         "If you are God,

                         liberate yourself from our tyranny,"

                         we cry, shaking our fist

                         in His tear streaked face.

                         "If you are God

                         come down from the cross

                         we have hung you on

                         and save us from our wounded, spiteful selves."

                         We spit the words out

                         upon His suffering form.

                                  *

                         Meditate upon the mercies

                         of the One God who is

                         and the opening way of His love and wonder.

                         And we shall overflow with good themes:

                         speaking of the intricate wisdom

                         and beauty of Her works,

                         and the ancient power that ever

                         floods out through

                         the pearl-gates

                         of Their transcendent and immanent Kingdom.

 

 

 

                         ON PSALM 145

 

                         I can choose

                         to be a magnifying glass

                         hovering under the bright light of God;

                         hovering over the miraculous wonders

                         of His sublime works.

 

 

 

 

                      ANOTHER WORD TO GOD'S CHURCH

 

                      Let us be a feast of radiant words

                      singing in this festival of light.

 

                                  

 

 

                    COMMENTS ON THE POETIC PROCESS

 

                    How to make a groan grow

                    into a song?

                    Stay with that groan,

                    stay with it long:

                    until your heart has heard

                    the unfolding motion of its word.

                               *

                    Breathe as slowly as a stone,

                    remain with impulse,

                    apart, alone.

                    Symbols come and symbols go —

                    the exact, right word comes often slow.

                    Sort, arrange and rearrange;

                    try on the new, toy with the strange.

                    If the groan is true enough

                    it will wade through all that stuff,

                    until it takes a body clear

                    and rings upon your inward ear.





 

                         SINGING TO A VICTIM

                         OF A RECENT, TRAGIC AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT

                         St. Charles Hospital, Bend, Oregon

                         May 14th 1992                         

 

                         I quietly entered her room of pain,

                         a guitar of love in my hands.

                         Her hands trembled.

                         "Music", she said, "Music,

                         my second love."

                         I was unaware and spoke in haste,

                         "And what is your first love,

                         if I may ask?"

                         She twisted upon her hospital bed,

                         shook her head a little and did not speak.

                         Her softening eyes filled with her terrible secret.

                                      *

                         It was a love song I sang her,

                         written by a young woman

                         who had wrestled with life and death

                         until death got her body

                         and life took the rest of her.

                         It was a real love song,

                         and so, spirit-born,

                         it flowed into spirit.

                         The woman drank it

                         and broke into tears.

                         She held my hand when I was done

                         and her love and pain was so great

                         it took me by surprise!

                         I left her room, shaken!

                         and was informed by a passing,

                         compassionate nurse

                         that the woman's husband

                                                      had just died.           

 

 

 

 

 

                         SERENADING GORDON IN THE CANCER WARD

                         St. Charles Hospital, Bend, Oregon

                         May 14th 1992

                        

                         He was an old man,

                         pale and rickety, with one eye.

                         He was already mostly gone.

                         Seemed to be barely hanging on.

                         I sang him a love song

                         and he showed little emotion

                         on his diminutive face.

                         When the song was done

                         he looked quietly upon me

                         and spoke, "I devoted...

                         Is that how you say it?" he asked,

                         searching for a word.

                         "I devoted that song you sang

                         to my brother-in-law."

                         I spoke to him the word, dedicated.

                         "Yes," he answered, "I dedicated that song

                         to my brother-in-law.

                         He just died today, right here..."

                         He pointed out of his room

                         and down the empty hall.

                         I held his frail hand

                         and squeezed it,

                         hoping I didn't cause him pain,

                         for his hand bones were like bird's bones;

                         they felt honeycombed

                         and light as feathers.

                         "Do you sing to people here for money,"

                         he asked, "Or so you can be with God?"

                         What a perfect theology

                         this little man held.

                         Had he always known it,

                         or had a passing angel just whispered it

                         upon his inner ears?

                         "To be with God," I answered,

                         and walked out of the hospital

                         into the warm night air

                         to gaze up at the full moon

                         shining in a mist.

                         "The moon is like a soul to me," I thought.

                         "Tonight it is full and beautiful,

                         reflecting a delicate light."

                                     *

                         It would have been a good night

                         for Gordon to open up his hand bones

                         like bird bones and feathers,    

                         and rise up out of his rickety old body

                         to fly...

                         The sky seemed right for it.

 

                        

                                                 

 

 

                              RECOVER THE CAPTIVE NO THING

 

                              The worm was hanging

                              on a tree

                              with a small wooden box

                              called poetry

                              in its mouth.

                              I cried,

                              "Worm, drop that thing

                              in Christ's name!"

                              The box fell

                              and burst open.

                              Its six sides

                              were made of sky.

                              The box expanded outward

                              into the universe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                         HOW CAN WE OFFER THE FEAST

 

                         How can we offer the feast

                         to the greatest and the least?

                         Nothing comes from the shell!

                         The wind blows through

                         and sings well.

                         All is a gift,

                         down in the substance.

                         Though many in the shell now live:

                         what do they give?

                                      *

                         Here's a word coming off the wall,

                         to give in the gift

                         you must yield all.

                         To love, to love, to love

                         is to live

                         in the giving, giving, gift.

                         You must care transcendently

                         about a soul

                         to love it whole.

                         See beyond what you can see,

                         let the hidden child be free

                         —the deep and tender inner part—

                         and, nurture, nurture, nurture

                         every heart.

 

 


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