Lantern Burns More Brightly in the Night

LanternTonight, I fill my lantern full of oil
To keep it burning brightly through the night,
Though sometimes sputters in drafty home….
Still the only light within the house.
When war comes, as it always does,
Refuse to hang blackout curtains
Nor blow out lantern after dark.

There may be those lost at sea
Who might see bright light within a storm,
Use lantern’s light to guide them
Toward a safer shore or harbor.

Others find their only shelter
In darkness of the night,
Afraid a light might be a sign,
A threat or harm to life…..
They pass until my little light
Cannot be seen as it disappears
While they drift away— no rudder,
No sails, no anchor against their fear.

Now, standing at the window
I see no silhouette but for the trees,
Standing there against the evening sky.
Calm breathing quiets restless heart.
In silence of the house, I hear better….
Though no one speaks or moves about.

Again tonight, as with every night,
I offer prayer to those who may be lost,
Then hang the lantern from high beam,
Close by three windows in the room.
Thank God my little lantern is not
The only light so brightly burning.

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Blue Shutters Are Open But Windows Are Closed

Blue ShuttersI may not have learned much, but this I know—
All mourning is borne of love.
And if Love does not cut deep into marrow of bone,
Then it is not Love but pretense, mere half-steps
Moving away or toward those who are careless strangers,
Blue shutters open but windows tightly closed.

Only when you’ve lived a long time alone,
Come to know deeply what you own,
Walked empty cobblestone streets—
Vacant windows slammed shut in your face,
Then you learn to listen early in cool mornings
As water runs beneath dry stones under bare feet.

I’ve wandered lost in byzantine worlds
Until I finally found myself,
Simply lying prostate in exile, seeking Home….
Heavy freight in the empty heart
Now shown on lines of brow of my face….
Arms always reaching toward someone I love.

Only as I’ve slowly learned to listen,
Married to what is seldom, if ever spoken in daylight…
Discerned in broad but meager silence
New languages that lover’s speak as they touch—
As if molding each other from wet clay,
Reach out at cry of daybreak after solitary hours of sleep….

Threshold disappears and the path rises along the jawline,
Early light revealing Heaven forever entwined with Earth.
Each of us sings like the stones in the brook, reclining….
Remembering refrains lost so many years ago—
Emerge again as ice melts in early months of spring.

Even though I’ve spent years alone, reflecting,
Searching within, though sometimes estranged from myself,
It took darkness to lose shallow false answers.
At last free, voice soft, eyes smiling, released to be truly myself—
Slowly learned to give up hope or expectation
That sweetness of another’s love would save me from hate.

Only after loving for years, slowly I’ve learned
Nothing within dark worries justifies fear.
Now I feel only pain in service of health,
Pearls falling from eyes as hot tears,
Glory of morning worth the walk on blue shuttered streets.

No Wonder We Pray….

Universe and SoulSometimes visible splendors of the Universe,
Uncounted galaxies spinning within Great Silence
Are almost nothing compared to invisible magnificence,
Forever waiting beyond our sight…
Indiscernible flashes within darkness of mind or
Minute movements hidden within each atom.
 
Individual stars are lit each night as lamps
Blinking in broad reaches of  nighttime sky,
Causes Eye of  Soul to expand and wake in harmony—-
Behold for an instant the ecstasy of Creation.
Who among us grasps what passes
Within unraveling thoughts,
Flies as sparrow across conscious mind,
Departs into depths of forgetting…..
 
No wonder we offer up prayer, fall upon knees,
Marvel at glimpses of  pure Being or Reality or God—
Constant flow of wordless conversation between
Invisible Forces, dark energy, Great Unknown Spaces
Out in depths of the Universe and quietly reverberating
Within equally mysterious depths of the Soul…..

Upon Trembling Awake on a Clear Fall Day

Clear Fall DayDo you remember how old you were
First time you stood on a clear fall day, gazing into distance,
Body trembling, pulse pounding as you realized
Falling leaves were a harbinger of death?
 
Perhaps you laughed or felt chills run down your back,
Palms sweaty as you became aware of the smells of autumn.
You stood there in silent envy of the hawk soaring over the hills….
Leaves blowing from branches in the chill air.
 
In the fading of afternoon light, you fought against morbid thoughts.
Acutely aware of how much you loved life,
You hated the disgrace of the reality of death,
Considered an argument that with you, absolutely never the case.
 
You heard the breaking of glass, or shattering of illusion,
Knew in the inevitable and relentless passage of coming seasons
You would know darkness and grief.
Feeling older by the minute, you suddenly felt unwashed.
 
Perhaps you were five or seven or ten years old.
Maybe you’ve forgotten it all because of the fear, the pain,
The cold shock as you linked the dots roaming before your eyes,
Searched for comforting words to stop the screaming.
 
If you’d been twenty-one, you would have gone to the pub,
Asked for brandy, already wearing wrinkles of loss on your face.
Perhaps you’d want to bed the girl across the bar,
Her wet lips and instant tits a warm coat against approaching winter.
 
Almost no one simply hangs his head and cries,
Though I’m not quite sure I know why not,
As the sour abuse of clarity slowly settles upon the mind….
 A voice says, “Be a man!  Get a grip!”  Shame becomes a buffer to fear.
 
I can only thank God that autumn days are so beautiful,
Until the sun goes down and the chill is felt upon the naked skin.
Perhaps clouds gather as shoulders upon the hills,
Tired eyes half-closed against the short hours remaining of the day.

Welcome Home

Another CountryThere is another country,
Barely visible within faint mist.
I’ve never seen it clearly—
Forever shrouded in mystery,
Yet I’ve sensed its presence….
Waiting, out there among the fields.

I only know its streets are broad as avenues.
And its unnamed corners
Strangely feel familiar,
As though I’ve visited there in dream,
Perhaps in another life or
While waiting to be born.

One day I shall, like a snake,
Shed my skin and go visiting,
Traveling and wandering
To place where roads have no fences,
Across invisible borders,
Gaining entry through a portal,
Always and forever open.

If I depart tomorrow,
Have no further word to say,
Proclaim for me without a lingering hesitation
When I have then no tongue for speech…..
“Death is completely safe!”
Ask yourself:  Where do I come from?  Originally?
Where truly is my home?  Where will I find my rest?
 
I can only testify that this new country
Is no alien land, for here the
Great King rules, and here is where
My father lives, shall welcome me,
As together we sing forgotten songs
Not heard for many years.

Here, all shall sit in peace at banquet,
No longer breathe with restless breath.
Now I pine alone, nose pressed to window,
Waiting for what I cannot see to reappear.
Walking through the rain at night,
Hearing far ahead a distant chant:
Welcome, Welcome, Welcome Home!

Only One Man, Nothing More and Nothing Less

One Man Today, one dear to me
Tried to slip a knife between my ribs,
Wished to cause me grief,
Sever all trust
Borne from anger and pain,
Desire for revenge carried within heavy heart.

Falling to my knees, bleeding,
Salty tears upon my cheeks,
I cried at the betrayal
From one I loved for thirty years and more—
Still love and will love forever.

Within the hour, bleeding stopped,
Tears dried, strong heart still open,
I now pray for all those who
Carry such hurt and hatred
Buried as thorns in their flesh.

I am only one man….
Nothing more and nothing less.
I offer my heart each day in prayer,
Attempt by grace to lightly walk with open heart
Wherever I go upon the Earth.

There is no shame
Refusing to live with anger
Hiding within dark cave where
Shadows keep away the healing light.
Teach me, O Great Spirit, the truth
Deep kindness teaches.

Before Such Beauty

 Beauty Before such beauty, do not mince words.
No need to be alarmed before steep silent truth.
Only within the human heart is there pain in silence,
But as mountain and clouds and soaring eagle
Behold the everlasting light that shines in darkness,
Light spreads upon, reveals Deep Peace
Which overcomes the darkness without destroying it.

For a few minutes, sit in silence.
Can you hear the rustling leaves moved by quiet wind,
Sense the critters stir, huddle down before impending storm?
Throughout the world, Spirit never sleeps but waits
For dark to yield to dawn, pink above ragged stones a herald—
Heaven’s eyes are open, inspires the turning Earth.
God is here, in midst of every sentient life, in stream and stone,
In cloud and storm, in thorn and weed, in bush and highest tree….
Inside spaces where the seed can grow in quiet love.