Go Fishing for Joy, Using Your Soul for Bait

Fishing for Joy

When was the last time
You met someone who changed your life—
After even an hour you could not sense your breath,
Replaced instead by humming in your chest?
If you’re sitting and waiting for a savior,
You may suffer from too ordered behavior.

Even the gods aged, fell asleep and died.
They suffered from desiring safe passage,
A preoccupation of those whose years
Accumulate as weight within the soul.
Be instead as a firefly that glows,
Looking for joy on summer evenings.

Eventually, everyone takes the same breath,
Breathing the same atoms of oxygen
Recycled from lungs that exhaled
Perhaps a continent away,
Caught by unseen winds that circulate.
Why not sing from the songbook that is the world?

Go fall in love. Seek justice without going to war.
Write poetry. Cover the canvas with your own blood.
On the first days of spring,
Don’t wait for birds to come.
Take the Eucharist from my words,
Go fishing for Joy, using your soul for bait.

Myself Not Included?

Myself

How do I know when the day will come
When I’ve worn out my welcome—
Have exhausted all second chances,
Last vestiges of youth depleted?
Has anyone told you?

Damn thing is, I can’t imagine it,
This world without me a part of it.
But if it comes, as I sometimes fear it may,
Then do I truly understand
Death is completely safe?

Should I long for resurrection—
Escape the darkness that atheists embrace,
Or hope to transform, cast off this body,
Move on to other pastures, other worlds,
Begin the game all over again?

Some believe in a heaven,
Streets of gold and huge mansions.
They’ve picked out furniture for
Every room they’ll occupy,
Know who will share adjoining bed.

Others think stardust turns to living flesh,
Back to stardust— universes where
Everything is used and then recycled.
Does that give you deep purpose? Hope?
Can you trust in free will? If not, can I save you?

No one knows the reality of Reality.
The puzzle too big to see full picture.
How many pieces are there?
Are any missing, torn or turned to dust?
Where is belief without doubt and imagination?

Something Sleeps Within

Ocean at nightLast night I dreamed I was swimming,
Woke up sweating—sheets were wet
As though the dream was real—
Memories flooding as waves from sleep
Rolled onto shore of conscious thought.

Thoughts are like lily pads
Floating on top of turbulent unseen seas,
Bobbing and weaving with each swell.
Finally, I returned to source of the Nile—
Calm spine of life giving water
Filled with black scarab beetles of Egypt.

Oh shit. There they go, lost, buried again,
Waiting as all life waits in core of the Earth
Or as souls anticipate embodiment/ birth.
Have you ever caught glimpse
Of something deep within, waiting,
Stirring but not yet awake?

But you sense it’s there resting,
Floating in deep primordial sea….
Though you haven’t a clue what it is,
You sense it there—alive within,
Swimming idly in muddied, mysterious waters
Seeking the shore of conscious life.

Who can say if it harbors intention?
Would it speak? Will it pray?
Might it climb into canoe of a dream,
Paddle toward some morning harbor,
Or bring the plague from distant port?
Such a pity I never learned to read runes.

Some say all water is holy water,
Sustains life, brings barren desert
Back to flower. If so, then dreams
Are true as miracles, hatched unseen in sleep,
Always swimming toward eventual waking,
Carrying us daily downstream.

What Does It Take to Fashion a Pearl?

Pearl in Oyster
Think of the water it takes,
Pulled by the moon and the tides,
To wash through the bowels of an oyster
In order to make a white pearl.

How many drops of water relinquish,
Called back to the clouds by the sun,
Then falls yet again in swells of the ocean,
Transformed by surrender and time?

How many times is it changed into vapor?
How many drops fall down to the sea?
How does it soothe flesh of the oyster—
One grain of sand at the center of pain?

How many times are we broken by nature,
One tear on the cheek as we fade into death?
How many times do we pass into Spirit
Until finally the pearl we become?

What is hidden in pools of your body?
What of the luminous mist in your lungs?
How many tears on the face of the world
Before healing transforms in an ocean of love?

Become the Darkness

Become Darkness
The sun has set for the day.
Here within my core, I sit in darkness
Wondering if the dark is dark enough
For eyes to adjust to world of shadow.
Deep within, under weight of body,
Poetry comes, emerges from what is lost.

Where is the moon tonight?
Where are the stars that seem to hide
Behind a sky of clouds that blocks all light?
Or are the clouds a form of angels’ wings
Protecting me from blinding glare
Where world is too close, too bright?

Is darkness painful for you?
Or do you seek shadows to heal?
Do you miss the silence that sits alone
Inside dark remnants of broken bones?
All fear is merely the prehistoric
Finally emerging from hiding.

Fear works its way up through wet leaves—
Forgive the metaphor where real danger resides,
Have I lost you, drifting from one image to another?
Subtract the retracting and move
Toward a place to sit in spacious darkness.
Become the darkness that waits, pulsing.

We know the Universe is driven toward expansion
By darkness more than galaxies of stars.
Waves of light are shattered
Against unknown complexities of dark.
Perhaps it is enough to trust the night,
All that pretends to obscure what is dull but real.

Cold Despair

cross in snowIn winters such as this,
When ground is frozen….
Small wooden crosses
Fall over in strong wind.

Go speak to the homeless,
Those who live in wilderness
Of indifference and violence,
Weak and hungry in the cold.

They come to the Table exhausted,
Call us angels when we hand them
Hunks of bread and offer prayer.
“The time of salvation is now!”

A woman wails, “Now? Now?
What the hell does that mean, ‘NOW’”?

Speak to those who live in wilderness,
Out in the cold, among wild beasts.

Set your Table in the snow.
Then preach of cutting food stamps.
I want to hear your prayer
When you feel cold despair.

Pulled Awake— Out of an Ordinary State

Pulled AwakeIt was bitterly cold and the wind
At times quiet and then strong.
Above shone the Milky Way—
Silence touched by radiant fathomless darkness.
Extravagant beauty I’d never noticed before.

I was exhausted. So exhausted
I was defenseless against
Overwhelming elation—
Swimming within the body’s core, churning,
Pouring down from the surrounding vastness.

Standing on the rim of the canyon
As the sky began to turn pink,
Perhaps an hour before
Sun’s yellow eye poured across the Earth,
Unblinking in Creation’s sacred space.

If God exists— and I believe She does,
Then my life was changed that morning,
Pulling me awake, out of an ordinary state.
Perhaps I was devoured alive.
Or was it fate that brought me to that place?

Almost forty years ago on the lip of the canyon,
I had an aweful experience that even now
Flows through memory, exploding into consciousness
Each time this memory comes, like fireworks—
Like a river overflowing, that changes the landscape forever.