KNOW ME



    BREAD OF LIFE

 

When I tell you

     because you ask

     or because I think I can't contain

                        my secret

Then my tale

     is a poisoned bait

     sure to catch at least one

        if not the two of us

     in a web of death

 

But when I show my heart

    because you are willing to see

and because I am wanting to share

 

    Then our meeting is a precious food

                     the bread,

                         I think,

                              of life

 

************

 

 

        READER BEWARE

 

If you read my poems

   and listen with your heart...

 

   You will see me naked

    --as I would thee--

 

    but if nudity offends

              or embarrasses you

        or invites more intimacy

          than you care to risk

 

    then laugh at my warts

         close your eyes

      or run and hide

 

      because I fully intend

           to keep my soul

          on the sleeve

          of my words

 

      and to throw my poems

               before you

 

************

 

 

 

    KNOW ME

 

If you would know me

     don't ask my name

I might flee in the cloaks

      of my ancestors

                and

You might be tempted

               to follow

             forgetting to look

                   in my eyes

                   or listen

                  to my silent voice

                    and know me

 

************

 

 

Anyone is welcome....

 

      to go through my purse

                  to know me,

 

      but not to gather evidence.

 

    I've not enough energy

              to devote to defense

                       or time

              to serve a conviction

 

         There's just enough left,

                          I think,

                   to be myself

              and if I'm lucky,

                   to sometimes

                       be known

 

************

 

         LIMITS ON SHARING

 

I love the truthfulness

     of opening my head

                and heart

                and history

     when I can be responded to honestly

        inviting the same from another

 

But I will close

     like a clam

  when I smell

    a detective

       judge

        parent

    or curiosity seeker

         voyeuring after my soul

 

I want to share myself

             my certainties and doubts

        the facts of who I am

    but I never again intend

         to play show and tell

                 hide and seek

         or volunteer for anyone's cross

 

    Jesus, I'm told,

          did enough of that

                   for us all

 

************

 

 

I write

    probably

   for the same reasons

         a painter paints or

         a dancer dances

 

    to give form and expression

         to the unspeakable

               joys and anguish

               pains and paradoxes

               questions and dilemmas

 

           to the gracious gifts

              and harsh inevitabilities

              of our common humanity

 

         We do it, don't we,

                       to heal ourselves

 

               to enable our fuller becoming

                             and being

 

              to sing life's songs

                     both sweet and

                     bittersweet

 

         Otherwise

               we would weep alone

 

************

 

 

         FLUENCY

 

Best I speak the language

              of mind

    Then

       when safe

       I voice the words

                 of body

 

    Sometimes

         yet dumbly

         I mumble the sounds

                  of spirit

 

All speaking I like

       but mostly

          I love

             the

     songs of heart

 

************

 

 

 

  ANALYSIS

 

 

    TO MY PSYCHIATRIST

 

     who let me think

      he was more

         omnipotent

        than I

 

     until I discovered

           that neither

          of us are

 

************

 

 

I met a wise man

      who would not tell me

 

Thank God

 

************

 

 

he came empty handed

      bringing only

              my already present

                self

 

************

 

 

he laughed at me

   for being "creative"

 

     back then

         when I thought

              I was

    I didn't

         get the joke

 

************

 

 

he had the mysterious power

      to remind me of

         who I am

 

   and then lead me

              to forget 

 

************

    

MESSAGE TO A PRIEST:

 

If you do,

       ok,

It's a bonus

     but understanding's

            not expected

    only

       please

           hear me out

    while

       I forgive

         myself

 

************

 

 

As was done for me

I sometimes play god for you

         so that sometimes

                 perhaps

          we can both quit

             and be human

                together

 

************

 

 

 DEATH OF GOD

 

GOD IS DEAD

 

Tonight god died.

 

    He died and left me alone

                     alone in the awful blackness

                           of my own nothingness.

 

    Only a vague dull star gave a glimmer of light

                   to the enshrouded noises of night.

 

  Suddenly they too faded into the emptiness of my own despond

                     as I stood unconscious in the horror

                     of the naked reality of my aloneness.

 

    The cold winds whipped by in the blackness

                 but left no impression

                        on my dead senses.

 

    Unseeing eyes gazed into the heavens

                  and unfeeling fingers groped

                          for non-existent support.

 

         It is a dreadful horror to stand along--and know it.

 

                                            I knew it.

 

He had been my greatest solace.

He has sheltered me with the wings of his protection

                   after I "lay me down to sleep."

 

He had been my companion as I trembled

                     in the blackness of night

         my guide as I stumbled lost

                     in an unfriendly world.

His comfort had upheld me at the graveside

             as I quivered in the face

                        of the great unknown

He had been my all.

 

              But tonight god died.

 

    The gentle breeze of night suddenly became

                           a piercing wind

                  without changing its speed.

    It no longer caressed my skin he had given me.

    It cut through to shake my aloneness.

 

    The faint star flickered into the ebony folds of space

                                              and vanished.

 

 

    A canine howl from miles away reflected my own despair.

                        Symbolically I bowed my weary head

                         and shook to the core of my being

                                  in the heights

                                      and depths

                                       and lengths

                                        and breadths

                                            of complete

                                              aloneness.

 

                   My god was dead.

 

**************

 

But suddenly the wind stopped

             the canine ceased his cry

                 my quivering heart paused in wonder

                    as a mysterious sense of allness

                         drifted into the vacant fields

                             of my nothingness.

 

Almost in disbelief

        I know that faith had not vanished

                       but had just been born!

              that belief had not perished

                           but just come into existence!

              that only my god had died!

 

There was no surprise

        in the complete awe I felt

        as I lifted my eyes and found

             that the glimmering stars

                 had slipped back into the heavens

             that the breath of fear

                 was transformed into the realness of hope.

The images of world things

             the sharpness of pine needles

              the smell of growing grass

               the dampness of dew

                 and the cry of the world in need,

    these realities molded themselves

                           into a ball of existence

                   and touched my senses

                               for the first time.

 

The pangs of want from the voice of the world

          pierced my impenetrable hate

             and found a concern there.

 

 

                     This was not the end

                             not death

                                but birth!

 

         Not God

             but the gods

                     support

                       protection

                        reward

              these had died

                   and from their death

                       God was birthed.

 

He was there in the voice of the night birds

                             the invisible winds

                               the smell of the rose

                                the falling dew

                                the boundless universe

                                 the yearning heart, unseen

                                  the bursting life

He was there

       not to be leaned on

           but to stand with

       not to be sought after

                but joyed in.

He was no longer my god.

 

                   He was God.

 

Tonight god died.

 

************

 

 

DISTANT PRELUDES

        close by

 

God is dead!

 

       the thunder of terror's drums

          announcing the demise

                 of the Father

                 of the Sky

 

    is a prelude

           to

       the quiet organ of the parlor

               preceding the burial

                     of the Father

                     of the Earth

 

    which is a prelude

                to

        the growing awareness

               of the death

               of the Son

        and that lonely

               Friday night

           that dark Saturday

    

    before

        dawning Sunday

               and the resurrection

                      of every Man

 

************

 

 

 

a hard thing

 

     there are lots of hard things

                

                stone

                 concrete

                  glass

                   diamonds

 

      but what's as hard

               as giving up 

                      a god?

 

      the really hard thing

                   about it

                        is

         there's nothing left

 

      except

           being human

 

but then

    what's more

         than that?

 

************

 

 

 

 

 SEA SCAPES

 

              

SEAS & SEMINARIES

       Thank you, God

                for both

But mostly for Seas;

    they taught me most

 

************

 

 

SEA SCHOOL

 

A wave

  huge breaking

     roared its awesome power

                     before

     dancing to foam

            at my feet

  teaching me again

         that true being

          is for itself

                 alone

 

              ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

 

A drift of wood

  with the weathering

    of countless storms

  written gracefully

        across his face

  taught me too

          that life goes on

 

              ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

 

"How far?" and "How long?,"

     those sometimes rulers

               of my life,

     I banished

     somewhere along the way

               to no where

 

              ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

 

Three rusting coins--

    nickel, dime, & penny,

  precariously perched

    on three altars of sand

    in a blowing flat land

  reminded me of the finitude

            of all our treasures

     before Her infinite face

 

              ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

 


 

There I was on that deserted shore

    turning over a plank

    with an upturned protruding nail

  when suddenly it dawned

                on me:

    My God,

       who must I think

              I am

       trying to save the world?

 

              ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

 

While sitting on a sand bank

           shut-eyed and swaying

             to Her endless song

     a particularly adventurous

                  undercutting wave

       taught me,

             wet bottomed now,

          to also look while I listen

  (Why is that hovering gull laughing?)

 

              ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

 

A fish-hungry bird

    too intent on his stomach

           to mind the waves

    shook himself dry

          before returning

               to his hunt

  reminding me that

          an occasional dunking

            may sharpen the soul

 

 

              ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

 

A sand crab

     whom I heartlessly drove

           from his present home

     patiently built anew

              then turned to wink at me

              before disappearing again

       leaving his message behind:

   any hearted place

                     is home

 

 

              ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

 

 

With practice

     I learned again to overlook

      the protruding Miller bottles

                    plastic cups

                    abandoned shoes

          man-things

              interrupting the flowing

                  faces of Her beauty

    We too,

       I hope,

         will sometimes learn to belong;

    Would that I should live

                   so long.

 

              ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

 

Till hoarse once

     I sang at the top

         of my lungs

     defying Her song

          with my own

    but alas

        I was no match

 

        Q Quiet now

         and more humble

     I hear Her continuing

               refrain

     content again

         to hum along

 

              ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

 

On a dune I sat

     frustrated by the realization

     that I could not go all the way

                    before dark

     wondering why it mattered...

 

         In time this answer came:

 

     Dictation by the end

         obscures my finitude

         in a cloud of success

     Stopping by choice

         means that I am man.

 

  So what else is new?

 

              ♣♣♣♣♣♣♣♣

 

And on

    beyond the man-tracks

    I was driven to deserted sands

         tracked by gulls alone

      hoping to find I knew not what

  Until, miles later,

       after these and other lessons

                         learned

       I sat exhausted

            staring at the endless shore

         when who should appear

             but the hidden teacher

         who popped up from under

            a rusty Pabst Blue Ribbon

                         bottle top

        So naturally

           I named Her God

            sang the doxology

                and headed home

What else can you so

        when school is out?

 

************

 

 

       MORTALITY

 

She told me once:

    Pass lightly by

      be a mark

    instead of making one

 

  If ought of thee

    must be left

    let it be thy tracks alone

 

  Seek not to immortalize thyself

      or you will be lost in history

 

  Instead embrace mortality

    and eternity will be yours

 

************

 

 

 

 

 

        GIFT OF SOUL

 

Alone tonight

        and lonely

    I walked her endless shore

      jealously hoping to claim Her

                    for my own

     Till Ursa Major was emptied

         I skirted her darkened sands

           while She kissed my feet

                   with Her foam

          and sang Her ancient song of love

 

    Only the stars saw Her seduce me

    Only the winds knew when She claimed me

                             for Her own

 

The night now is still as am I

              still alone

               yet lonely no more

          for She took me

                   but

           She gave me back

                   my soul

 

************

 

 

        JANUARY SEA

 

When I came to her bleak shore today

     in search once more

            of my soul

      gray clouds

           hung low on her bosom

        as though they too

                needed rebirth

 

    Silently

          we shared her womb

             until I, at least,

               was born again

 

************

 

 

I wonder how

       She knows my name

 

I often stray

         so far away

    that I get lost

    from who I am

 

But lucky for me

    this lady, Sea,

    can call me back

        to who I be

 

************

 

 

Somewhere along her shore,

        engrossed in shells and sand,

    I felt the winds of fear behind me,

      glanced, and found

                my name was gone.

 

    Cold, I shuddered,

            before turning sunward again,

    Amazed to find, once more,

           that only nameless

                   do I come to myself.

 

************

 

 

This deserted shore

     when I wasn't looking

Donned cap and gown

     and taught me

Before I could find someone

     to talk to

That I love solitude

       more then I ever knew

 

************

 

 

Both the sound of the Sea

 and the sight of a She

       awaken a primal

                    song within me

     which long I denied

     and publicly decried

     while hoping for bliss

         on some other side.

 

But now I'm re-formed,

    my love's unadorned

    by the morals of this land;

Whenever I can I go to the Seas.

When propriety allows

     I look at all Shes

And His kingdom

        I've found

             is at hand.

 

(But then, He already said that.)

 

************

 

 

A part of the mystery of the Sea

                      to me

Is that She, like every woman,

                  is mysterious,

Yet allows me more safely to walk

Near, with lessened fear.

 

************

 

The Sea

    I now see

To me

   is a She

Evoking the reptilian

        brain that's in me

 

The She

    I also see

is to me

    like the Sea

Igniting my new mammalian

            brain to be.

 

From Phallus

  to Logos

The creatures we see

    must have swam

for eons in many a sea.

 

But now the time

    which it takes is short

Believe it or not

        for the fire in my loins

To make my tongue hot.

 

(The pen may not be mightier than the sword,

     but often it is a practical substitute.)

 

************

 

 

MESSAGE TO THE SEA:

 

Reluctantly I go.

 

    I would not

      except that you once

            taught me

      that all things

          have their time

      

Including goodbye

 

************

 

 

 

ALONG THE WAY

 

My fear

    of you catching me

       with my pants down

                     or

       tears in my eyes

                   or

       saying what I think

 

    is often but

       my use of you

    to avoid the risks

       of being myself

 

************

 

 

 

MATTERING

 

When I am pious

     with concern for

         everything

 

     Small things

         lose their meaning

 

Only when nothing matters

     am I able to see

     that everything does

 

************

 

 

 

Sometimes

    I use bodily embarrassment

      to escape the responsibility

                for the power

               of being embodied

 

************

 

 

        ETHICS

 

When I am

     self-conscious about

          my prick

         my prick has

              no conscience

 

Only when

     we are one

     am I moral

 

************

 

 

Thought, sometimes

     is a time-bomb

          of my heart

     which often

           I seek to de-fuse

           by telling someone

             what I think

 

************

 

    VANITY

 

My shunning vanity

       is often but

        a proud escape

  from the deeper fear

       of becoming

         who I am

 

************

 

 

It took me four years

           I think

   to learn that farting

              is bad

   and forty-four more

     to learn that I was right

              in the first place

 

************

 

 

CHANGE

 

When I live

     I am committed

     to inconsistency

     I am surprised to find

         anything the same

 

Otherwise

    change offends me

          rousing me

              in my coffin

 

************

 

 

When I have

     something to say

     I often try to hide

 

     I speak most openly

when I have

     nothing to say

 

************

                   

 

When I come

     prepared

     I am least

        ready

 

     I am fullest

          when

     I bring myself

              empty

 

************

 

 

My acting sexy

     is often

   but an easy out

 

From being sensual

 

************

 

 

When I say

     I am afraid

Sometimes I mean

        I am afraid

    of being afraid

    and use the

  false confession

    to shield me

  from the threat

      of being forgiven

       for being human

 

************

 

 

    PENNY ANTE POKER

 

Actually

     the fun is in the gamble

 

              I know that

 

    but often I forget

         when the stakes

             are not high

 

************

 

 

    LISTENING

 

I'm not fit to be heard

      when I can't as easily

                  be quiet

 

Nor can you hear me

      through my words

    when you can't as easily

            listen to my silence

 

************

 

 

'TAIN'T FAIR

 

Honesty --

    which is easy,

  they taught me

    diligently

 

Cheating --

    which is a challenge

  they failed to

    mention

 

************

 

 

Understanding

          is

         embracing the mystery

 

      you may

          or

          you may not

 

           I hope you do

 

      but whether you do

              or you don't

                   by damn

                   I am

 

************

 

 

        ANYWAY

 

I cannot be impatient

    that is an escape

         from the faith required

           to accept forgiveness

                 for the sin

                     of omnipotence

 

   Which is to say

          to be

 

But often I try

         anyway

 

************

 

 

    NAMING THE GHOST

 

A Hah!

    Mr. Ghost

    I've named you:

 

You are the "Unknown"

 

    Temporary relief

 

Now comes the grander challenge:

    to see if I can meet you

                 head on

    without being tricked

        into Omniscience

        (the living death)

 

             by my label

 

************

 

 

    REAL SHOULDS

 

Of 100's of SHOULDS

    I've known and lived with

Only one, I think, is real,

    the rest illusions;

One I've never heard

    but happened onto:

 

I really SHOULD, I believe,

    BE REAL

 

************

 

 

Don't ask the time . . .

     when I know it

          I cannot tell

      and when I tell it

              I do not know

 

************

 

 

When I think I UNDERSTAND

     I don't

 

    Only when I know

             I don't

 

             I do

 

************

 

 

 

When I am present

     I am answer

 

When I am absent

     I am full

     of questions

 

************

 

Sometimes I forget

        & speed my pace

    until I wear out

        & remember

There is no place to go

 

************

 

 

PREGNANT KNOWLEDGE

 

I'm glad

    when I know

       I'm dying

 

No other knowledge

   is so full

    of incentive

         to live

 

************

 

 

IGNORANCE

      is where its at

 

    Not ignore-ance

     or stupidity

     or their bed-fellows

             all-knowledge

                     and

             certainty

 

    But the wondrous awareness

     of the boundaries of knowing

 

           with the awe

 

That's where its at

 

************

 

 

The only things

         I have

are those

         I've left behind

 

************

 

 

 

 

 

You can hear me

           best

           when

I have nothing

        to say

 

************

 

 

I can be angry

  but not for long

 

 Anger, it seems,

        is a temporary state

 Which I can only maintain

          by escaping myself

 

************

 

 

I lie a lot

     when I fear

          to tell the truth

 

     especially

             to myself

 

************

 

 

THE ONLY REAL REASON

                      is

Because I want to

 

    Others are

      RATIONALIZATIONS

 

************

 

 

sometimes

 

      I go alone

 

         so that

 

sometimes

 

      I can go

           with

 

sometimes

 

************

 

 

When I come

     prepared

     I am

     least ready

 

I am fullest

      when

 

I bring myself

       empty

 

************

 

 

    DOUBLE VISION

 

She wanted me to see them

    as Saint and Sinner:

Her as faithful/Him as untrue

 

Knowing the rules

    I saw, of course,

Her legality/His crime

 

Unfortunately

    I also saw

Her possessiveness/His struggle for freedom

 

So how could I ignore

    their cloaked

Sin and Virtue also?

 

************

 

 

I tried to take

      its picture

 

  vainly...

 

Its beauty

     was in the air

 

************

 

    COMING TO ONE

 

Many

  is fine

    for a crowd

 

They don't know

    the difference

    and I forget

 

  But alone

    is only without

           loneliness

    when I am one

      which I am coming to

                    now

 

************

 

 

If I bust my britches....

     So what?

 

  I've earned the right

            to fail also

  Even if I didn't know

        I was born with it

 

************

 

 

THE SUN

     burned my head

 

     cool water

        caressed my feet

 

and I was suspended

 

        a creature of water

                and earth

 

     yet also of the sun

 

         not quite animal

         not quite god

 

              yet both

 

     a delicate balance

 

              suspended

 

                     by grace

 

                   to be saved

 

************

 

 

The will I knew

    that seat of all control

Our friendship birthed of cradle seeds

              bonded in youth

                sealed and unquestioned

 

Then came the time of heart

     wild fire, night songs

     hovering mists, forever days

     dreams unconquerable

     eternities instantaneous

     the unquestioned forgotten

 

The to be were being born

 

Now in the sun

    is the time of hand

     the welding of will and heart

                      into might

 

Division is vanishing

       in being with power

 

************

 

 

SHAKING GHOSTS

 

Often for me

    this clear NOW

         is clouded

    with ghosts of THEN

 

  Some beautiful

     in their own rights

     yet obscuring the beauty

                  of HERE

 

So when I dare

      I shake them

 

************

 

 

            MEANING

 

Gee, out of paper!

     That must mean it's time to go

                   or something

     since in my old books

         everything must mean

                  something.

 

But not in my new ones.

 

    The only meaning which matters

                           now

    is that which remains

          after all mine are gone.

 

************

 

 

Often

    being lost

I fail to hear

        the silent song

     of mushrooms

        on a wooded hill

 

     mystery cloaked

          in a spider's web

        does not engage my mind

 

     moth-wing beauty

            escapes unnoticed

 

     a leaf falls

          with no tear

            in my heart

 

But not today

       when God

       held my hand

 

************

 

 

 

HARD LEARNINGS

 

I know you're not supposed to

  spit into the wind

  take the mask off

     the old lone ranger

                   or

  tug on Superman's cape

 

But sometimes I can't resist

            one little yank:

 

    like forcing arrival

 

Now ain't that

    an omnipotent kick?

 

************

 

 

            MYSTERY

 

In regard to doing

          being

             is not knowing

    what I will do next

    while remaining open to see

 

Strangely

    instead of willy-nilly wandering

              hither and yon

      moving openly

      into the void of not-knowing

    turns out to be

      the most carefully routed path

              to who I will become

 

************

 

 

        ANCIENT PSYCHOLOGY

 

To have an ego

      is to be had by a Frankenstein

           of one's own creation

         -- or an id, soul, self, or super-ego --

 

    Freedom lies only

             in being who I am being

 

         Moses was right:

              All I can say is

                  I Am has sent me

 

         Past that

                  I slip into bondage.

 

************

 

 

        FEAR OF BEING

 

I'm afraid of you

    not for what you might do,

                 of course,

      for no one touches me so gently

    nor for what you might say

      for no one speaks more softly

                          to me

    nor for what you might think

      for no one accepts me

                   so completely

    nor for what you are

      for no flower graces the earth

                     so delicately

 

But for what I may become

                 with you

 

                        myself

 

************

 


ETERNAL TRUTHS

     I sometimes remember:

 

Seeing is better than

              getting a picture

Going is more fun than

              getting there

Being me is healthier than

                  pleasing you

Loving means more than

              making love

Touching is grander than

                being touched

Caring is more fulfilling than

                     being cared for

Hearing goes further than

                 being heard

Thinking brings more security than

                         having the answers

 

    But today when,

             without my camera,

          I saw a grand hawk

                     up close

        I forgot again

 

************

 

 

ESSENTIAL TRUTHS

    I nearly always forget

      and pay for with eternal life:

 

There really is no hurry

    since heaven is here and now

There is no place I have to go

    or time I must arrive

 

Security, not responsibility,

    is the opposite of freedom

 

Planning ahead is to enhance the fun

    but falling into a plan

         is an enemy of freedom

    which kills both it and fun

 

************

 

 

 

FUTILE EFFORTS

    I often make:

 

Trying to:

         Be consistent

          Believe without doubting

           Love platonically

            Impress others and remain myself

             Worship God while ashamed of

                        my own ass hole

 

But always

    unsuccessfully

 

************

 

 

ERRORS

which I keep on making

always with great cost:

 

Confusing honesty with telling the truth,

          women with my own femininity,

          faith with beliefs,

        right with righteousness,

        maleness with being a man,

        making love with loving.

 

But which I intend

to keep on stopping

             making.

 

************

 

 

EVERPRESENT CHALLENGES

  I'm often not up to:

 

Doing rightly

    in the jungle beyond right

Being truthful

    in the land past the truth

Answering

    in the unknown place beyond answers

Faithing

    in the mystery after faith

Praying

    after the funeral of God

Understanding

    in the void beyond knowledge

Discerning

    in the kingdom past judging

Trusting

    in the company of the untrustworthy

Being friendly

    after freeing my friends

Helping

    in the times of my helplessness

Being timely

    in clockless eternity

Going deliberately

    on the path to No-Place-To-Go

Living lustily

    in the face of permanent death

Loving anyway

    after the death of love

 

    But not when I'm saved

 

************

 

CLIFF HANGERS or

PARADOXES I LIVE WITH

 

-Praying when the sky is empty

-Caring when nothing matters

-Loving without having love

-Helping without trying to help

-Being religious without a religion

-Believing without beliefs

-Hoping after hope is gone

-Going diligently with no place to go

-Faithing without a faith

-Being confident without certainties

 

When I have the nerve

(which obviously is not all the time,

     except when I go to heaven)

 

************

 

 

IMPORTANCE OF THINGS

 

Sometimes I

    polish a stone

     baptize a baby

      write a book

       take a piss

 

Is one more important

       than another?

 

Not inherently;

    only as each is an honest expression

       of who I am just then,

    as distinguished from an act

                    of an entity.

 

Only as each is the being of Being

     as distinguished from a deed

                   of a being

     does it become important

 

But when so

    each is ultimately significant

 

************

 

 

LEARNING TIME AGAIN

 

I've written it in books

     which is easier than letting it soak in

 I've preached it in sermons

    which is easier than practicing it

 

     Time now to learn it, again,

                   for myself:

 

-Omniscience comes at cost of humanity-

 

    Knowing-what's-right-for-sure

                 is impossible in Eden

 

    Brains we have

          and the ability to discern

                             reason

                              & decide

          but all this without the luxury

                          of certainty

 

    Still, in certain moments

           I'd almost trade my soul

              for two grains of Absolute Truth

 

         Yet I know better-

             the quasi-heaven of self-rightness

                is but a thin veneer over

             the real-hell of false-godhood

 

         So on I go

            pursuing the Kingdom

 

                     Not knowing for sure

                           yet with heart

 

************

 

 

 

PARADOXES

 

 

PARADOXES

       I often hate

           but know

       I cannot live

          honestly without:

 

Only

     when I die to myself

Do I begin to live

 

Only

    when I am free from you

Can I be responsive to you

 

Only

    when my God

         is dead

  do I discover him

            in life

 

Only

    when I stop trying

         to let go

      am I sometimes freed

 

Only

    when I am free to lie

           am I able

          to be truthful

 

Only

    when I quit trying

    so I sometimes succeed

 

Only

    when I am totally responsible

    am I completely free

 

Only

    when I stop looking

            for myself

    do I find out

         where I am

 

Only

    when I am spiritually divorced

          am I able to be

    truly married

 

Only

    when I have no clock

      do I know

           what time it is

 

Only

    when I stop trying to be friendly

    am I able to befriend anyone

 

Only

    when nothing matters

    am I able to see

         that everything does

 

Only

    when I embrace

           my option for suicide

    do I gain the choice

                 to live

 

Only

    when I love myself

      do I begin

          to care for you

 

Only

    when I stop trying

      to get somewhere

      do I occasionally

          arrive where I am

 

Only

    when I forget myself

      do I find out

          who I am

 

Only

    when I am aware

          of dying

    does living

         really matter

 

Only

    in the midst

    of the profane

       do I sometimes

       glimpse the sacred

 

Only

    when I have nothing

               to say

        am I fit

            to be heard

 

Only

    within my fences

        am I sometimes

                free

 

Only

    when I have

            no place to go

      do I sometimes arrive

               where I am

 

Only

    when I have nothing to do

      do I sometimes

          accomplish things

 

Only

    when I am alone

     can I be with you

 

Only

    when I stop

           trying to find God

      do I sometimes

           meet Him

 

Only

    when I am naked

           with my clothes on

      am I fully dressed

 

      otherwise

         I am only half-dressed

      clothed

         in dishonesty

 

Only

    when I have no purpose

     can I move purposefully

 

Only

    when I forget

           my name

        do I know

           who I am

 

Only

    when I stop

           trying to help you

       can I be

           of any real service

 

Only

    when I stop keeping score

     can I play a good game

 

Only

    when I know

          I'm nobody

     can I safely appear

           as somebody

 

Only

    when I have nothing

      do I own everything

 

Only

    when I am flexible

      am I able

           to stand firmly

 

Only

    when I don't have to do

                 anything

       can I do something

            with heart

 

The only people

          I have

    are those

          I've freed

 

Only

    when I forget to look

      do I sometimes see

 

Only

    when I have no answers

      am I able to answer you

 

Only

    when I don't give a damn

      am I freed to care

 

Only when nothing matters

      am I able to see

      that everything does

 

Only when I stop judging myself

       am I a good judge of anything

 

Only when I am a pupil

                  can I teach well

 

Only

    when I have no religion

      do I begin to be religious

 

Only

    when I love being alone

      is my company worth having

 

Only when I embrace

         my option

            for suicide

       do I gain

       the choice

          to live

 

Only when I'm aware

            of dying

does living really matter

 

Only when I stop

     seeking God

       do I find Him freely

 

Only when my God

        is dead

       do I discover Him

              in life

 

************

 

 

 

MINISTRY

 

I don't preach about

    things I don't know about

 

    but often my messages

        aimed at you

                are

                for me

 

************

 

 

        MINISTERIAL AUDACITY

 

Knowing full well

      that I too may be crazy

     as many of my brothers of the cloth

                    seem to me to be

I choose

    to affirm my own experience

  and dare

    to commend it to others

 

************

 

 

        A PRIEST'S CALLING

 

A fractured ego

    may be the prime prerequisite

  for the theological task.

 

What better basis

         could there be

     for the prodigious project

        of seeking

            proclaiming and

              establishing external unity?

 

Aren't those at war within

     always more concerned with peace

                         out there?

 

And so what?

      God has never been too proud

           to use a broken vessel.

 

************

 

 

THINGS I DON'T KNOW FOR SURE:

 

-If what I tell is the truth

    or the justification of craziness

-If I preach the gospel

    or excuses for my own sin

-When I'm reasoning

    or rationalizing

-The difference between how it is

    and how I think it is

 

of if anyone else does

 

(all this, of course,

     when I've fallen into grace;

              otherwise I'm sure)

 

************

 

 

QUESTIONS I LIVE WITH

    When I dare to be alive:

 

-Am I poison?

    Is my love a flowing river

       tempting but fatal?

-Am I crazy?

    Is my theology an artful scheme,

       logical but wrong?

-Am I blind?

    Is my vision of God

       a lovely mirage, or

       only an inviting illusion?

-Am I deaf?

    Is the music I hear so clearly

                 a celestial song,

       or a melody made up in my mind?

-Am I dumb?

    Do I speak the words of truth

       or voice the babblings of Babel?

 

Otherwise,

     the answers are obvious.

 

************

 

 

ME AND JOHN DOE

 

We look at something,

   like sex and sin:

 

He sees one thing

    I see two

   

  or self and salvation

                and

He sees two things

   while I see one

 

John Doe has a world of kinfolks

     with blood thicker than water

     who say he's right

 

Me, an orphan,

I'm lucky to get an occasional nod

                   from a friend.

 

So sometimes I wonder

    quite naturally, I guess,

         if I'm crazy

 

    till I open my eyes

            blink in the sun

             still see two

              still see one

     and decide once more,

         by faith, I suppose,

     that we're different

         and that's okay

 

Sometimes, then,

     I love John Doe

 

************

 

        PERFECTION

 

Trying to make things better

  says at least two things

             about me:

1. I judge His handiwork lacking.

2. I think I can do better.

 

    Both highly questionable

              conclusions

    When I've got my head

             on straight

 

************

 

 

    SELFISHNESS

 

My fear of selfishness

         must be

The lack of sufficient faith

       to be selfish

 

Because

    to be selfish

         is also

    to be selfless

Since

    when I am myself

           I have no self

 

************

 

NOTHING

 

I am nothing

     no-thing, that is

I spring from

       Being

       which is the essence

               of no-thing

 

Being creates from nothing

 

When I am willing

     to be no-thing

Being creates through me

 

    Then I marvel

      at the mystery

            revealed:

 

         Something

              out

               of

               nothing

 

************

 

 

    ANSWERS

 

I've had the answers

          and

I've been without them

               but

      for sheer living

  give me the freedom

     of the latter...

 

 when I have faith,

         that is.

 

************

 

 

God numbers hairs

       I'm told

But that doesn't do me

           any good

              until

    I stop counting

          my own

 

************

 

 

UNKNOWN. . . .

 is the way it is.

 

I may cloak mystery

    with presumptions of knowledge

  but I do not remove mystery,

      only myself from it

 

Salvation, I have discovered,

    requires the faith

          to remove my cloak

    and stand continually in awe,

              not knowing

          yet responsible for

              being fully here

                        anyway

 

 

It's heaven too

 

************

 

 

              IMMORTALITY

 

Mostly not

 

     but sometimes

         some very precious times

 

              I am immortal

 

         sometimes

             when the moon is corn-yellow

                             low-hung

             when butterflies and bluejays

                           and sandburrs are one

             when eyes meet, dare linger

                          searching gently

             when coffee, sugar, and cream mix

                         with the moment's mood

             when fingertips touch, sense, know

                          more than fingers can

             when I see, hear, feel, love

 

          always

            when I am

 

                I am immortal

 

************

 

 

 

        THE DUMB ONE

 

"Wisely" I sat around

    pointing out the emptiness

             of all prizes

Until I recognized the challenge

    of running without one.

 

Now, whenever I am smarter,

    I run more myself,

    hand out prizes,

    and occasionally point toward death,

    our common end,

And the best incentive of all.

 

************

 

 

When I love you,

     I act omnipotent with you

                   when you

     act like you're godless

         so that eventually

                   perhaps

    you may be able to stand

                   seeing

      that I'm no god either

              and then maybe

 

        we can both be human

         and love each other

 

But when I don't

       I just go ahead and

          act godless too

 

************

 

 

Easily I shunt revelation

     into "A Truth"

            to be told or taught

Bypassing the more challenging path

         toward becoming truthful

 

    I translate insight

                  into

              outsight

       before I see

         what I have seen

                    and

       become excited

 

Then I try to sell pearls,

         or give them away,

Before they are mine to sell,

             or give away.

 

************

 

 

         WONDER

 

Small wonder

      I failed:

 

      In a market

           for answers,

      I peddled questions.

 

  They came

        for directions,

     I offered freedom.

 

           To seekers

              of security

           I invited excitement

 

Perhaps I might

           have succeeded

If I had listened to myself,

         practiced what I preached

   

                   told less

                         and

                   loved more

 

Maybe I shall yet.

      I wonder!

 

************

 

 

Back before I knew

              the questions

     I learned that

             Jesus is the answer.

 

Now that I know

         some of the questions

    I can't figure out

         which one he is the answer to.

 

************

 

 

ERROR:

Sometimes I throw too much light on mystery

               disrespecting the wonder

                           of darkness

                           & wondering.

 

Not that mystery can't bear all the light

       I have to bring

 or that I shouldn't cast my fullest beam;

but that I shouldn't fall for insisting on

                        the error

    that light is better than dark

 or the illusion

    that one or the other

                can ever prevail.

 

************

 

 

        COMMUNITY

 

I dreamed of Community

        in which ones might find

                   themselves

 

  And for twenty four plus years

          sought to build such

                  and failed

 

I did not know then

            that only ones found

        could exist

               in such Community

 

I do now.

 

************

 

 

HOPE

   being necessary yet fragile

     seeks symbols.

We preachers,

    being soft-hearted,

    sometimes forget the dangers

          of idolatry

    and make the symbols sound

                     so real

 

************

 

 

To traffic in truisms,

         profitably,

One must paint them prettily

       perfume them profusely

       sugar coat them sweetly

Or seriously search

       for one who already knows

And is willing to admit it.

 

But then what's the point of the trip?

 

Better to grin together, knowing.

 

************

 

 

HEAVEN IS . . . .

    beyond having to:

     -get somewhere

     -dress up or comb your hair

     -have a purpose or meaning

                   out there

     -know the reason cause,

           or outcome of it all

     -keep a reputation, build,

           or maintain an image

     -be loved or

         have a god

 

SOMETIMES,

    not having to . . . .

        at the time

      I glimpse

          the pearly gates

              in a dew drop

         and have eternal life

                   just then

 

************

 

 

 

        EVENT

 

Understanding is partial

    perhaps all wet

  in either case, incidental

 

    Yet the event

         I dare not deny

    lest God think

         I must prefer another world

    and cast me out

         of this Eden I know

            whenever my faith allows

 

************

 

 

 

              GNOSTICISM

 

I am an orthodox gnostic

 I believe in bodily resurrection,

   as do both orthodox Christians and gnostics.

But unlike Christians I believe in resurrection now.

    Unlike the Gnostics who were Hellenistic,

 I do not perceive spirit in obscure form

      separated from body.

I believe that we all can literally encounter truth

    first hand, that is, meed Christ, be in him--

    literally, become Christ, even as Jesus did.

 

************

 

 

Some transcendent times

 

     I escape the half-truths

                   of each

                      and

       bridge the chasm

                between

       predestination and free will

 

************

 

 

 

 

TRANSLATION OF ROMANS 1:17

 

Talking about it's fine

    I do it for a living

But the main thing is doing it

 

When I have the nerve

     I do that too

 

************

 

 

 

            DANGER

 

Roadmaps of heaven

     are useful in finding the homes

                   of the saints

 

     But take care

             if you find one

       lest you be deceived into thinking

                 that you then

                        know the way

 

************

 

 

 

FAITH

     I often fail to muster

Always with temporal relief

      and eternal loss:

 

    To move when Spirit does

            and to stop

           when She doesn't

 

************

 

 

TRUSTING,

    the kind which counts,

Is not my confidence

       in your predictability

         but in my ability

       to enjoy the mystery

     of your unpredictability

 (well, at least to stand it)

 

************

 

 

I voice intuitive knowledge;

 I say things which everybody knows

                    deep down.

Often it is not what we've been taught,

    or what is popular,

    or even what we'd like to believe;

It is, however, common knowledge.

The revelation given to me is,

                  I think,

          shared by us all.

 

************

 

 

FAUX PAS

    Errors

         Blunders

              Mistakes

I've made my share

        of each

 

But this

    I think

      was my greatest:

 

    On the way down

       from the sacred mountain

    I talked about

             what I had seen

 

************

 

 

the script was already written

 

            the end was there

                    in the beginning

 

               one wiser

                   would have seen

 

              yet not I

 

         I who still thought

                   that greatness

                        grew out

                             of leastness

 

         I who knew not

                     that greatness

                     only is inherent

                         in leastness

                            embraced

 

                     and that

                        to choose the beginning

                         is also to choose the end

 

    so I was not prepared

                       to die

 

************

 

 

        MEANING

 

So long

    I wanted it

            to have meaning

    apart from me

 

   Thus, faithless,

     I could be saved

              by it

 

Then, disillusioned,

     I turned to myself

       looking for meaning

                  within

 

     In the purposeless world

         I would place my faith

                        in me

 

Now I know better:

    It is neither out there

                nor in here

 

Only when I have the faith

      to lose my in-here self

               out-there

      does the meaning

               which I never found

                        in either

      become inherent in both

 

The meaning of it

         and me

            is

            Us

 

************

 

 

When I love you,

   I act omnipotent with you

                when you

     act like you're godless

          so that eventually

                 perhaps

    you may be able to stand

                  seeing

      that I'm no god either

              and then maybe

        we can both be human

         and love each other.

 

But when I don't,

         I just go ahead and

             act godless too.

 

************

 

 

 

                     WOMEN AND LOVE

 

I CANNOT

 

  rather your blows

    or your tears

       than the hollow smile

       that separates us

         as surely as a stone wall

           leaving me alone

                  isolated

         in the fearful walls

         of my own non-existence

 

  would that I were whole

         so I could be content

         to accept the smile

                    knowing

             that your own needs

                      just now

             prevent your coming out

                        to meet me

 

but now

     I cannot . . .

 

************

 

 

WANTING

her to want me

--beyond the slightest bit of pragmatism--

is but a thin cloak

for my fear of how much

I want her

 

and not nearly enough cover

for the cold nights

of our distant dreams

 

************

 

 

A TRAGIC MISTAKE

 

I idolized her

  in the name of love

     believing she could save me

 

     Unfortunately,

         slavery was the result

 

I tried to free myself,

         stop my idolatry

      and learn to love her

 

      Unsuccessfully.

 

Was idolatry what she wanted

               after all?

 Or have I never learned to love her?

  Or do I miss the whole picture?

 

I stand bewildered

        in a void

               of understanding

 

************

 

 

I want,

    I know,

  what cannot be given,

 

      particularly

         from the one

         from whom

              I want it the most:

 

                   the blessing.

 

I also know

    that only God can bless me

         and only then

    when I am willing

         to risk grace.

 

                   God help me.

 

************

 

 

STAND-IN

 

I need you

     often

    to stand-in for God

           in times

    of my absence

 

************

 

 

    REMINDER

 

I know that

    no swinging tits

    or swaying butt

 or understanding

    can save me

 

 but sometimes

     when I am lost

        I forget

 

************

 

 

I wish

  my search

  for the womb

was always the quest

         for rebirth

 

often however

    I only want to hide

 

************

 

Being For Me

 

When I fear my pleasure

     I want you to be pleased

When I fear my excitement

     I want you to be excited

When I fear my sensuality

     I want you to be sexy

When I fear wanting you

     I want you to want me

When I fear looking good

     I want you to like my looks

When I fear loving you

     I want you to love me

 

In other words

 

When I'm afraid to be myself

     I want you to be for me

 

Otherwise,

          I enjoy

          "Just Being"

             with you

 

************

 

 

 

 

        SLOW LEARNER

 

Back then

     when she showed me

        I took it personally

     not knowing it was just

                her way

              of being right

 

Now that I know better

       I sometimes

         still do

 

************

 

 

REGRETTABLE PARADOX:

 

Fiercely I drove home

           my tenderness

       insisting that she receive it.

Tenderly she offered

            her fierceness

         allowing me to deny it.

 

Regrettably we missed.

 

************

 

 

Your shortcomings

     are much easier to see

            than are

My expectations

     on which they are based

 

     But far less useful

           to focus on

 

************

 

My efforts to please you

           reveal my sin

         as surely as do yours

                 to avoid

                    pleasing me

 

************

 

"You're beautiful"

     is a personal confession

     of how I'm responding

                to you

 

    not a comparative analysis

       of physical attributes

     (that is, when I'm honest).

 

    The invitation,

        if there is one,

     is to your greater revelation

                   not your pride

 

************

 

 

ONCE UPON A TIME

    To would do

 

Later

    Let was fine

 

Then for a spell

    For was swell

 

But now

    With is the only way

            I care to go

 

Otherwise

    my own company

    is good enough for me

 

************

 

 

I wanted you

        to believe in me

 

    Tears later

            now

 

I'm glad you didn't

        and don't

 

        You would be dumb

                 to do so

        and it wouldn't work

                   anyway

No one's belief

       could suffice for long

       for my lack of believing

 

************

 

Sometimes I wish

        I didn't know

    that all things

       have their time

 

    including goodbye

 

Like now

 

************

 

 

LEAVING

    scares me

    or rather reveals the fear

              I've always had

    of facing the unknown

 

Especially

    of coming to myself

 

************

 

 

Alone again

  I've gone

As so often

     I must

Awaiting the return

            of Thou

So I can walk once more

           with Thee

 

************

 

I cannot meet you

       when

I cannot walk away

 

************

 

 

I'm tempted

    I know

  to merely

     change the players

 

I'm determined

        though

 

  to also

     change the game

 

************

 

 

        HIDDEN AGENDA

 

Unaware of my hidden agenda

    I went lovingly

           looking for a lover.

 

Attracted by my loving,

     also unaware of my hidden agenda,

  she came to me lovingly

              looking like a lover

 

For a time we loved.

 

Now, whenever my hidden agenda emerges,

     I find myself unloving

       as is she at the time

     available only for being loved

 

    My challenge is to become

              a loving lover

        with no hidden agenda

 

************

 

 

    PROFUNDITY

 

Accomplishing stuff

     is tough enough

Acting nice

      is hard as ice

 

Running around

      can wear you down

Sitting still

        is a bitter pill

 

But for sheer profundity

       just being present

                honestly

       takes the cake

 

             especially

                  with you

 

************

 

 

    OMNIPOTENCE

 

Sometimes I fancy

          omnipotence:

    Being Myself Alone

 

    But then my heart

           cries out

    and again I know,

         thank God,

    I am most myself

           in relation

               to you

 

************

 

 

                            MOVING ON

 

LEARNING FROM MOSES:

 

For too long I've tried to find company

           for climbing the mountain

 

Time now for coming down

     with the commandments I have found,

           compressed to bite size;

           about 10, I'd say.

 

************

 

The pace of the system

          and my own

     are so different

         that phasing myself

              harmoniously

     is an immense challenge

          I am seldom up to

 

Except when I am here

 

************

 

 

    HOMEWORK

 

I knew I wasn't through

   but I didn't know

     I had this much

          left to do

 

So now I know

 

    So what else is new?

 

************

 

 

 

Still to Learn

         More often:

 

To savor the seeing

   as much as capturing the scene

         in a photograph

To silently enjoy an event

   as much as recalling it

         to a friend

To love letting go

   as much as hanging on

To cherish the return

   as much as going forth

         and the ending

         as the beginning

 

************

 

 

 

 

        WRESTLING ANGELS

 

Leaves

    fine teachers that they are

         hang fiercely on

         through every summer storm

    but then let go

         in some autumn breeze

 

Would that we Jacobs

    could be so wise

 

************

 

 

EULOGY

    To an old dream:

 

    You died hard

           I know

I struggled so long

          to keep you alive

      often without knowing it

 

I thought you were me

          and that

         your death would be

                   mine also

     And, God knows,

        I didn't want to die

                    again

 

Still, dear dream,

     you had the nerve

            to pass on

         in spite of my grasping

 

                    my grasping

          did not impress you.

                   bless you!

 

So now, kind heart,

        old fart,

         in your land of nod

                   or bliss

                   or where or when

                   or that or this

 

         Accept my kiss

                   if ere you pass

                   if not, old dream,

               then kiss my ass.

 

************

 

 

        MY NAME

 

Once

   I did not like my name

   I cringed whenever it was called

   Embarrassed

   I stammered when I had to speak it

 

But thank God

     He did not cease to call

     until that magic night

          when under Eli's prod

         I dared to answer:

                  Here I am

 

In time

    His night calls

      moved beyond the rising sun

      as I learned to listen also

                   in the light

 

    Today He called me

        in the sunrise

        a dew drop 

        a butterfly wing

        and a mushroom

 

His kingdom comes

         whenever I can answer:

                   Here I am

 

************

 

 

        GODOT

 

I waited for Godot

      in all His wondrous forms

 

  until I discovered

      He is already here

 

             Now I wait

                   for no one

 

I meet Him

     where I am

 

************

 

 

I came weak

  carrying a stick

      and sermon

Now

  stronger

  I am open handed

      and silent

 

************

 

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