Some deaths are like assuming a crown,
the dead more intensely alive in the heart,
death like a crowning work of art,
light simply returning to the source of light.
Relatives and friends dance and laugh
and celebrate, rendering
superfluous the epitaph.
Grasses, bee-stirred, have the last luminous word
in light of all that had occurred.
But where the withered body and receding white
and sagging skin have no compensating
wisdom and insight,
the spirit no savored wine
in the wake of the body’s decline,
or where the man worked and worked, toiling away,
alien to his expanses, breathing to grind
away, never understanding his own mind –
where, in the end, there’s no wisdom to give,
what a waste. Cemetery grasses seem to weep
because one had never begun to live.
Out of loneliness
to images of the past
I say I’d rather forget.
Out of loneliness
the future, children of hope.
I cling to what I’ve learned,
sometimes widen the scope
of knowledge, my expansiveness
the veil covering
Out of loneliness
by pleasure I am led,
I would possess
power, the “my”, the “mine”,
my possessions, my spouse, my country –
of loneliness, the sign.
All throughout the sway and play
of seasons tinkering with their kaleidoscope,
as friends and lovers passed or went their way,
as the pleasant dream walked arm-in-arm with hope,
as the Gained was played like the part of Sustained,
it was loneliness that remained.
Something in me doesn’t want to see.
Something says: “Well that was interesting.
A pleasure. So what’s the next thing?”
This something may hold in its hand
a flower whose petals are every land,
America, India, England, Spain,
or be a conductor to the wind and rain,
with stacks of degrees stuffing fifty drawers,
with more devoted beautiful women
than the notes of twenty musical scores,
and still this something would look far away,
hills and mists stretching far away.
For each problem attended, dissolved away
it conceives and nourishes many more.
It will plan and calculate and strive,
be miserable, if only to feel alive.
Something else in me, though, has no need,
this needlessness the wings that bear me along,
my breathing, no, being a sufficient song –
as once this needlessness glowed on an autumn night,
my pillow, my bed, tapping blinds, breeze
all glowing too, angels in their own right.
While you wandered and found doors locked,
wandered for miles, struggled, knocked and knocked,
good fortune teasing, keeping you away,
the dream girl, the dream job, the dream country,
the dream-what-not as if holding you at bay,
I saw you every step of the way,
looking through the open door of gray stone
as flower, winking at you as stream,
looking at you through your bedroom blinds
just as you swung from dream to dream.
I called to you as a baby’s cry
in the store, along the vegetable aisle.
I was plainspoken dew on your potted plant,
the neighbor you greeted with a lukewarm smile.
Emphatic, ice cracking in your crystal glass,
direct, succinct, your window’s ice,
I was there – yet it didn’t suffice
for excitement, restlessness held you in her spell.
You needed complex projects, expanses,
travel and dreams and stories to tell
ripening you for the sort of flight
in which distance takes no delight.
From immersion in silence
right action flows.
From dodging silence
of pleasures, desires,
the rattling cans of hollow thinking,
the heart buried in sand,
no compass or wisdom on hand
when the visitor comes,
that one visitor one can’t turn away,
in whose mirror is shown
all that we chose to deny or delay.
What potential, what treasures
did silence hold, long denied.
What fear now silence wears,
what fear, deep and wide.
as a twenty-something impulsive boy
who struggled to capture her affection,
as a twenty-something raised quite well
to raise activity above introspection,
I did all I could to win her over,
I was happy and called her “The One”.
She immersed herself in being my lover,
for a while she wore the dress of summer’s dawn,
and wore shadows, what I depended on.
And, yes, she turned out to be the one –
the one who reflected all my fears,
the one who played with them as we fought,
the one who brought out pleasure as much as tears.
It was an echo of myself I sought
to hear, some reinforcement of what
I held dear – which became my lot.
Yet thanks to her, that much closer I came
to You, to all the implications of You,
to the recognition shedding my immature youth,
that if lovers meet truly, they first
must blossom from the ground of Your truth.
I have shone long and long
in outer space,
but I had no mind, no heart back then
to see the grace.
I have found
my consummation and my crown
in this human body walking around,
in this body whose crown
is the light of learning.
I delight to see myself diversified,
wearing colors, patterns I hadn’t known
such as those that strangely appear
when some intimacy, love has grown.
My light is growing subtler still
as it pours through a lover’s eyes;
the light’s deepening, as this body’s
the universe coming to recognize
itself at a point in time and space,
the universe wearing a human face.