Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Poems in Progress

Poems in Progress
by Mickey Karger

The Gifts You Bestow

The gifts you bestow, if we could but know
How perfect is each in its timing.
But out heads our so dense, we cannot make sense
Of the perfection of Your rhyming.

I know You’re right there, enfolding with care
Each one in a loving embrace.
But it’s so hard to believe, and so easy to grieve
Because fear ever clouds Your face.

I’ve peeled back the layers with ten-thousand prayers
And when I think I’ve reached the core
Comes grief, distress, and misery
Not the less, but even more.

My particular delusion, my constant confusion
Was believing all pain was past—
Thereby ensuring that every alluring
Hope would soon be dashed.

I hate to admit it, but I must submit it,
My heart always tells me it’s true:
That each wave of suffering has its own buffering
And brought me much closer to You.

The path is well strewn and all but in ruin
With the litter of failed remembrance;
But I know that one day, perhaps far away
Success will be sealed with surrenderance.

The Worry Machine

I wish I could stop the worry machine
But I keep on putting in dimes.
I wish the damn thing would just stay broken
But I’ve fixed it a thousand times.
No wonder all my efforts always seem to fail,
And fail in such a hurry;
Because, you see, I haven’t learned yet
The art of how not to worry!
Maybe today I’ll stop worrying—
No, I’ll do it tomorrow;
Time enough to hold its weary hand,
And its attendant, sorrow.
Worry Weaves Its Tangled Web

Worry weaves its tangled web
Of figments, fears, and lies;
Stronger even than the tensile threads
Spiders weave to catch their flies.

Shall I break this web or worry
And deprive the spider of its meal?
Worry decreases most appetites;
That may be its sole appeal.

How Would It Be?

How would it be if I really left all my worrying to You?
I’d have so little to worry about, I wouldn’t know what to do!
Imagine the days and months I’d save—my time so much better spent
I just might offer it up for sale, or at the very least, charge rent.
I’m a world-class worrier, I really am—I could make it an Olympic game.
But with You up there worrying for me, it just wouldn’t be the same.
I like the thought that whatever comes—You’ll be worrying me through it.
But the one thing I cannot seem to do, is stop worrying long enough to do it!
When Worry’s Wheel Turns Round To Me

When worry’s wheel turns round to me
I see it now more perfectly.
I see its spokes, its nuts and bolts
And feel the throb of its million volts.
Oiled by fear and powered by pain
It starts to turn my way again.
But seeing now so perfectly,
Its twisted technicality
I give it a kick and unhinge its base
And send it spinning with a Name and Face.
I Wish That I Had Worried Less

On that precipice of life and death
Where we each rehearse our final breath,
It was now even harder for him to confess,
“I wish that I had worried less.”

Many were the outcomes of which he was certain,
Though not every one saw the rise of the curtain.
So long had he dwelt in the wilderness,
“That might have borne fruit had I worried less.”

True, his life has been hard—many hopes were deferred,
And that which he feared most had oft’ occurred.
But the memories now which crushed his chest,
“Might now be lighter had I worried less.”

His worries were long arrows of exceeding long range
Which he sent on before him in the hopes he could change
The outcome of that which he could never have guessed,
“Had I the sense to have worried less.”

Though the past was frozen and the future unknown
(The first he’d thaw out, the second he’d own),
He’d discounted the present—real joy to possess!
“Had I but worried just a little bit less!”

“It’s Easy To Say ‘Jai Baba!’”

It’s easy to say “Jai Baba!”
In a voice that’s loud and strong.
But can you also say “Jai Baba!”
When everything you do goes wrong?
I’m therefore reluctant to take His Name
Within another ear’s reach.
Then would I have the right to claim
That I practice what I preach.
Grief’s The Ladder We Climb To Him

Grief’s the ladder we climb to Him;
Pain’s the road we travel.
In sorrow’s sea do we learn to swim
As each hope begins to unravel.
I wish there were an easier path—
I’d take it in a minute.
But then I’d delay by more than half
The prize, and my chance to win it.

In Strong and Bright October

The goodly scent of loam and earth, of corded wood and sap of apples, resin ripe,
a trembling spider's web intersecting the corners of a branch in strong
and bright October.
Diamond-hard sunlight, blue so hard and dry you thought the sky would break
with snow, shines in strong and bright October.
Tang of cider, tug of woodsmoke, dilating my nostrils and my memory,
in strong and bright October.
The further death of fallen leaves under my feet, death was never brighter:
vermilions and scarlets and yellows burnished to fiery perfection in strong
and bright October.
Hollowed pumpkins with candle eyes and jagged leer delight the little girls
who point at them from the safety of the road and send them running home
squealing with delight to their mothers and fathers in strong and bright October.
Hard blue of early evening punctuated by small ejaculations of breath,
bullets of air from shotgun mouths panting up a hill in strong and bright October.
Pad of cat and perk of dog, a ravenless flight of wished for birds, a hunter's dream
in strong and bright October.
Adirondack, Poconos, and Saugerties with their great old hotels wood dreamt
and castle carved, turrets thrusting into leaden snow-filled skies.
And along the lesser roads the sad-hearted motels, dead leaves collect
at the doorsteps of forgotten rooms where the bedding gathers dust and the legs
of cheap furniture make permanent indentations on damp and mildewed
carpeting, rooms stale with cigarette smoke and innuendo, rooms forever darkened
against the daylight, rooms that witnessed the sullen union of divided lives,
rooms that were for some the last stop of a suicide ride taken long ago in strong
and bright October.
In the late afternoon the skies go impossibly gold and gray all at once, and lovers
walk along wooded paths, and as they walk the crunch of leaves and twigs
carries far on the thin and brittle air.
And at night comes the donning of woolen sweaters smoke-threaded with
Pall Malls and Lucky Strikes, damp earth smell on the bottoms of your shoes,
the sleeping half sun of the radio dial lighting up the room, and from a house
clear across the lake, the lonely barking of a dog.
Strong and bright October, burier of spring and summer under a flood of leaves,
each dropped leaf a death and a resurrection.

And we are as leaves that fall to dissolve in earth and in due time rise up again
resplendent with new life and new humanity.
We fall singly, alone, or on the crowded fields of battle.
We are born to die, to nod or sprint through our days, sunstorming.
We fall in and out of our lives, singly and alone, naked and burning as the sun,
and determined as the stars.

He is in the Silences

"Because man has been deaf to the principles
and precepts laid down by God in the past,
in this Avataric Form I observe Silence.
You have asked for and been given enough words --
it is now time to live them."
Avatar Meher Baba

He is in the silences, that is where he can be heard
most clearly.
He is in that moment between systole and diastole,
between the taking of one breath and the exhalation of another,
between grief and the welling tear,
between joy and the sudden smile.
He is in the silences.
He is in that moment when wakefulness surrenders to sleep,
when soul slips from body,
(a moment whose echo reverberates as another life).
He is in the silences,
that moment between hunger and satiety,
between thirst and its quenching,
between pain and its surcease.
Do not listen for His silence amidst the noise of living;
listen for Him in the untrodden places of the heart
where even one second,
divided into ten thousand separate units,
may each hold all the silence there is to hear.

There is a Tragedy Performed Over Lifetimes

There is a tragedy performed over lifetimes,
no one lifetime singled out for glory.
A continuum of days unspent
with good or bad acts,
just one flattened sheet of time
spread out across the years.

Englow the Filaments of Memory

Englow the filaments of memory
with remembered designs.
A smile carefully planned,
a word rehearsed but left unspoken.
Let fly the backward arrow of time
to hit its mark, heart-center.
Engulf the sorrow with remembered
sweetness, the little hours lost to time,
but not to memory.
In the crowded rooms of fancy
desks and drawers are near to bursting.

The Most Constant of Hungers

The most constant of hungers,
the most constant of plagues
is desire.
Once awakened, rubbed into life,
the giant never sleeps again,
only closes its eyes for catnaps.
Desire ensnared in too much thinking,
no place to go except outward,
toward the world of forms.
Finger-laced, breath-entwined
in strangulated joy.
A heated palm against a thudding breast.
Old age only doth deprive that wind
of its force, howling
for another life.

A Brace of Tenderness

A brace of tenderness
in an unexpected hour;
regretful words removed
from memory’s vault
by a kiss—
sudden, wet, redemptifying.

For the Streetcorner Crazies

Armwaves and handsaws,
the semaphore of the lost,
the bewildered and the blind.
Those pathetically comic men and women
gesticulating on every streetcorner of the world,
a thumb-worn Bible or Koran
flung madly out in any season’s air,
the pages damp with terrored sweat
and troubled sleep.
Their minds rock with scripture
prophesying a doom that can always
be measured in hours and days.
God rest ye, muddled gentlemen,
whom everything doth dismay.
God rest you and recline you
in His arms, dear Lord, one day.

The Sinking of the Galilee

The moon’s pale favor linelike falls
Still yet across the sea.
Upon the eddied whitecaps sails
A ship, the Galilee.
Her rudder smashed and mainmast mauled
She is foundering ‘pon a rock;
Her unlashed guns gone overboard
With all provisions and all stock.
Her shrouds are dark with sailors
Bursting hearts to somehow save
The noble ship called Galilee
From the tombstone of a wave.
But all the sinews and all the psalms
Could not save the Galilee.
And so she sank with all aboard,
No witness save the sea.

The Angels Breathe a Different Air

The angels breathe a different air
From that which fills our lungs;
Unrest from lifetimes’ burdens borne
Lies ‘pon our hearts and tongues.
The grief which weighs us down to earth
Is unknown to angels all;
Not one has known the bliss of love
Or the beauty of its fall.

Still, Solid Air of Summer

Still, solid air of summer
and a pale blue sky
dense with remembered clouds,
great continents asleep upon the
still, solid air.
In the trees a clamor of leaves
and a steady rising of fireflies
from the ground,
all in the trembling evening air.
A summer evening in high July,
deep winter a distant, impossible dream.

Upon what Tormented Beds

Upon what tormented beds do the unjust lie,
awash in sorrows sharpened to such heedless points.
Upon what foaming seas do the fearful drown,
with landfall always in full sight.
Upon what shapeless rock do the tenderhearted recline,
trying to build a shelter from twigs and leaves,
and impaled upon their own forgiveness.
Upon what bed to do rich repose,
those restless rich who remain ever homeless in their homes,
the heart-poor who so lavishly spend their poverty.
Upon what grave does remembrance rest,
sprung so lately from life,
springing up so quickly again in layette and crib.
The unfinished dreams of an unfinished life,
waking again, eyes tight shut, and given voice with a slap.

The Night Sky Shattered with Stars

The night sky shattered with stars,
proud day beaming up behind:
the trumpets of dawn.
World wheeling round in drear antiquity,
heave of birth, surrendered sigh of death,
a late, last relent of assiduous life.
That which is full striving to be empty.
That which is empty striving to be full.
Days dawn, nights fall, the living breath of days.
Hands entwine and separate.
Lives grow old and pass away.
Life restruck from life’s last ember.
Time’s wheel turns into break of day,
then a trail of grey across living skies.
The probing finger of the sun,
golden-cheeked day a bright surprise to the living,
and those about to be.

It Was a Firefly Summer that Year

It was a firefly summer that year,
each perfect day perfectly rounded,
complete as a wish.
The promise of heat was in the stars’ surrender
to the day.
Slow summer dawdled on its way,
taking time out for ice cream
that ran in rivers across happy fingers,
the weather of our conversation punctuated
by bursts of laughter, sudden rain.
It was a firefly summer that year
when time took its time
and sadness was the truant of our days.

To Go Out Upon a Name

To go out upon a Name,
as a ship upon homeward seas.
Borne aloft on a two-syllable craft
beyond ear’s extension and vision’s net,
into the waiting Ocean’s arms.
Such is the Test of Love

Such is the test of love
that the thing one fears most
must be loved,
and the thing one loves most
must be surrendered.
A collision of hearts.

The Big Surrender:
A Ballad of the Beloved

It was raining that night, and the neon was bright
At the bar at end of the street.
Though it wasn’t that cold, my bones they were old,
Specially now that it started to sleet.

So I turned up my collar and felt for a dollar
That I hoped had a brother or two,
And finding the fiver I owed to McGiver
Spied the bar and walked on through.

The bar was warm and out of the storm—
I was mighty thankful for that.
My teeth still chattered as I took off my tattered
Old coat and hung up my hat.

The bar was bright with that forgiving light
That says, “Stranger, come on in.
We don’t care who you are, have a seat at the bar;
We won’t even ask where you’ve been.”

“We welcome a pipe or whatever type
Of tobacco you choose to smoke.
Keep your counsel or talk, Old Bill here won’t balk
If you share an off-color joke.”

Resting my feet on an old, empty seat
I saw each bottle arranged
By whiskey or gin, and knew each one had been
In their places, which never had changed.

The patrons were few, the news not so new,
But repeated just the same.
Soon the voices were stilled and then the room filled
With a sense of failure and shame.

As though each one knew the false from the true
Yet clung to the version they’d uttered.
Soon the high-sounding praise of the old glory days
Was scarce spoken or merely muttered.

All the old dreams and unfulfilled schemes
Seemed to hang in the air like a pall.
Though nothing was stated, they seemed long ago fated
To have come to nothing at all.

An old salt in the corner with the face of a mourner
Looked up from his long drought of beer.
With a tear in his eye, he heaved a huge sigh
And said in a voice thick but clear:

“Though we may be knaves, to our passions enslaved,
Some joy did I leave behind.
And though it ain’t much, some hearts did I touch,
When I had the good sense to be kind.”

In his eyes shone tears aged ten-thousand years,
But not a one rolled down his cheek.
They stayed in his eyes, like the jewels of some prize
And not a word more did he speak.

Yet his words had released a rare kind of peace
That each had claimed for his own.
Whether bourbon or rye, not a soul could deny
They were no longer drinking alone.

In suits rumpled and creased, each mourned a deceased
Still alive in their minds and hearts.
Their funerals attended, yet something un-mended
Lay broken in thousands of parts.

Then the silence was broken, the bar doors flew open,
And in walked a curious Man.
His movements so lithe, His steps seemed to glide,
And gave Him a certain élan.

A pink jacket He wore, near reaching the floor
Hung a garment of cotton so white.
Such flimsy stuff, it seemed barely enough
To be wearing on such a cold night.

He spoke not a word (at least none was heard)
As He took a seat at the bar.
The way that He smiled had us all beguiled,
And His gaze twinkled down like a star.

He had long, flowing hair and a smile like a prayer
That His Silence bestowed on us all.
All eyes seemed to meet on His well-sandaled feet
Where the hem of His garment did fall.

His eyes said, Please, you may fall on your knees
Without shame, but with perfect surrender.
And there leave your cares, your unspoken prayers,
Each hurt, and each grief so tender.

I’ll make them my own, each sin you have sown
Will be yours, my dear, no longer.
Entrust them to Me — then let them be,
And your grief-weakened heart shall grow stronger.

There’ll soon come a day, when I’ll wipe clear away
These burdens you’ve long labored under.
Free at last from lifetimes passed—
All terror now torn asunder.

I can do this in Silence; I don’t need the violence
Of words, whose meaning has waned
Down through the ages on numberless pages
Writ when lies and hypocrisy reigned.

A new wine’s been poured, so long it’s been stored
That no vintage could be more rare.
Come drink your fill, even let the drops spill
But let every drinker beware:

If you choose Love, God takes off His glove
And may hold you so hard that it hurts.
That’s when you grab tight with all of your might
Like a child to its dear mother’s skirts.

A hush now fell like some kind of spell,
And remained for a while unbroken.
What was stranger still, and gave all a chill,
Was the fact that no word had been spoken.

His Name was Meher, a sound like a prayer,
“Meher Baba, Compassionate Father.”
Though naught was proclaimed, all knew His Name;
Our search ended, we looked no farther

Than this Man at the door, whose eyes did implore
Each one to love Him solely;
They said, Give Me your hearts, e’en the most secret parts;
In remembrance of Me only.

Hopes long put to rest like a seaman’s old chest
Had quite suddenly been revived.
It was hope without reason, choice fruit out of season;
And new possibilities thrived.

The pall that had fallen now seemed to be crawlin’
Away at a runner’s pace.
The grief and the loss had all but been tossed
Far away from the likes of this place.

You could feel the loads lift, as though some sort of gift
Had been given, unasked for, and free.
Unyoked from condition, paradise or perdition,
It was treasured as real gifts should be.

Though no one had said it, they’d never forget it:
Forgiveness, compassion, and peace.
The sins that each wore had been washed from the shore
Of our hearts and been given release.

Then the Man who’d come far to this forgotten man’s bar
Rose and glided, it seemed, to the door.
In His glance we’d found rest, and knew we’d been blessed
Like none had been blessed before.

He wasn’t gone long, when a sweet old song
Was plunked out on the bar-busted spinet.
Though the keys needed tuning, they were far from ruining
The song or the sentiments in it.

The song had no words, yet each word was heard
As though sung to each one solely.
Then I heard someone yawn with the coming of dawn,
and the streets and the bums,
the parks and the slums,
the most sad sordid ones,
Were now shining, and bright, and holy.

Indelibly Happy Am I

Indelibly happy am I in a certain kind of suffering.
Though my soul shakes and shrinks
when presented with real or imagined tortures
(inflamed fears, wound-up worries),
some small, brave part of myself
stands its ground, firm as any lion,
but frightened as any child.
How hard it is for the patient to submit to the scalpel
when there is no anesthetic save the thin resolve of trust.
Indelibly happy am I in a certain kind of sorrow,
one sweetened with a surrender that has not only
been accepted, but acknowledged with a kiss.
I never knew the Ocean had a mouth with which to kiss.
Yet do I do most of my drowning on land,
in pints of ice cream and pills parsed out for pain.
Indelibly miserable am I when, given the smallest burden
to carry, I refuse to shoulder even this little load,
nor carry it even a few small steps without my knees
buckling underneath me, having not surrendered,
but simply given up.
But imagined bravery is greater than realized cowardice,
and I see myself rising up, proud and fiery fierce as any lion,
ready to spring into weary battle,
slaughtered where I stand, and impaled upon a smile.

Crossing the Border of Sleep

Crossing the border of sleep,
trailing your Name behind,
a thread through dream’s thickness.
Another night swim in original seas.
Shoaling the waters of sleep at a drift-by pace,
slow drift toward the solid shore that lies at the end of sleep.
Craft-weary and tired from trolling sleep’s unsounded depths,
I wake—and tie up the dangling thread of sleep with
your Name.

Beyond the Rim of Dawn

Beyond the rim of dawn the morning wakes,
day lamp of sun turned bright full on,
stars’ purpose completed in a round of time.
Glimmer of summer in the still fragile warm.
Gone are the labors of winter,
summer come to kiss the ice away,
melt the weight of overcoats and galoshes.
Thank you, God, for summer,
for thinking of it in the first place,
for placing just right in the year.
Cloud ships and their fully filled sails
move with clock-like slowness
across the porcelain bowl of the sky.
We are as much seduced by a breeze
as by a slant of sunlight on old brick.
The warmth of summer days lays lighter
at evening’s tide;
small creatures become daring by dark,
until the darkness is effaced by the stars.

Anything Given Away

Anything given away goes not away
but keeps returning with open hands, infinitely.
Anything kept for one's self goes away forever,
flees as a coward's run, or curdles inwardly.
How do I know this?
Because I have kept that which I should have
given away and given away that which I should
have kept.
The locked hand holds itself;
the opened arm embraces everything,
at once
and forever.

Go Forth

Go forth ye, not fully clothed,
but naked as the risen sun.
Dive with both hands into the void stretching forth;
be not afraid to tickle Infinity under the chin.
Let the rains river in your veins
and the lava mountain in your heart.
Let thy footsteps tread the stars as stepstools,
and let the planets be as so much brushed away dust
from thine eyelids.
Swallow the Ocean to quench thy thirst,
and drown in its single drop.

A Kind of Prayer

My Father, please do not let me idle away this little life
Without first and last making the most of it by loving You
As much as possible, by Your Grace.

Do not let me wake in the morning, muddle-headed,
Automatically turning on Turner Classic Movies
Without first tuning into You.

Do not let me dress myself in my mind and room’s
Most flattering mirrors
Without first clothing myself
In your protective Love and Care.

Do not let me sit down to my usual breakfast
Of cinnamon-raisin bagel and Philly Lite
Without first scarfing down a healthy portion
Of Your most delicious Name.

Do not let me wander thickly through my day,
Sorting book titles in my mind—
Which edition of Trollope to buy or which
Rex Stout mystery to read next
Without first making me look closely
Between the covers of your incredible

Do not let me slouch toward my first evening Scotch
Without first remembering to toast You
With a swig of 100 proof Divine Love whiskey.

Do not let me drift into yet another nameless sleep
Without first speaking Your Name in my heart.

And finally, dear Father, at life’s last,
Please do not let me cling pathetically to these too well-loved shores;
Rather give me the courage to caste off boldly—
But not without first and last remembering to remember
The Infinite Ocean that is You.

Into Terrors Arms Do We Sometimes Fling Ourselves

Into terrors arms do we sometimes fling ourselves
to avoid sudden further pain, eager always to turn our
backs against its furies, only to find a sudden
stillness waiting there for us.

Into terrors arms do we sometimes fling ourselves
to be rid of the pain long beforehand, long before we
have the remotest chance to ponder its miseries.

Into terrors arms do we sometimes fling ourselves
wanting to hug the pain to ourselves first, before any
other pain can turn its glance unto us.

Into terrors arms do we sometimes fling ourselves
so that the hurt should be over and done with before
we ourselves can have taken note of it.

Thus into terrors arms do we sometimes fling ourselves
so sure of the sudden and coming pain, and we wonder
at the sudden light that embraces us.
And then we weep. And then we weep.

To God, All Things Matter

Though nations raise and nations fall
And men’s dreams end in tatters,
God sees every little thing
‘Cause to God every little thing matters.

Though kingdoms great and kingdoms small
Make some men mad as hatters,
God knows every little thing
‘Cause to God every little thing matters.

Though wise men dream and fools agree
Their words like rain that patters,
God hears every little word
‘Cause to God every little word matters.

Though men think “God is gone, not here”
Wise men know the latter;
‘Cause wise men know that God’s alive,
And to God, all things matter.

The Suburbs of Love

I have been living in the suburbs of Love
When all this time I thought I had been living in the city.
I had just purchased a round-trip ticket to Your Home,
And, scanning the minutia, noticed the Total Amount.
I was stunned. Who dared raise the price like this?
Whomsoever was responsible, I would send Whomsoever
One very hot letter. That would show them!
But instead of mailing said hot letter, or even writing it,
I put my pen down and thought instead.
Foolish me, thought I after a while.
The cost had not risen;
It was simply the price I had been paying for living so far away.
(And judging by the distance in heart-steps, I was an outlyer, alright.)
What could have brought on this delusion?
What else? but my old nemesis and life-obsession, reading.
It wasn’t the quantity of my reading, but the quality.
I had been reading Your words with my eyes, not my heart.
I had been devouring Your books whole, instead of allowing them to devour me.
Reading madly away, little blips of warmth would suddenly pop up
On the radar screen of my heart, and this it was that fooled me
Into thinking I was living closer to You than I really was.
What I imagined to be the bright lights of Your city
Turned out to be only very distant stars.
To think! (or not to think):
All this time I could have been living at the very heart of Your city,
But it was I myself who chose to live so far away.
Instead of living the words I read, I had made of them little knick-knacks
Which I delighted in displaying just-so on my bookshelf,
Endlessly arranging and re-arranging them, never satisfied;
Doing everything but bringing them to life by true and simple action.
So here I sit, gazing wistfully out of the tiny barred window of my perceptions,
Seeing the bright lights of Your city and wishing with all my heart
That There I may one day reside.
But I shall never live There until I can live each word here.

What Love Makes Possible

What love makes possible,
Only love knows.
What great love makes possible,
Only a great love knows.
What a greater love makes possible
Only a greater love knows, and
What the greatest love makes possible
Only the lover knows, but does not tell.

What Griefs May Come

What griefs may come, unnamed, unnumbered, or what despair ,
long held at bay, may knock at heart's locked door—
only God knows.
But He leaves behind planned mercies of unknown name, unknowable at
the hour of their happening, though men may call it Grace, or Bounty,
or sudden goodwill.
What griefs may come unmeted out, unwished for and unwanted as all
griefs are—only God knows.
But He has ever and always allowed for His Grace to enter in, unexpected
as Grace always is, but always welcomed straightaway into heart's now
unlocked door.
And though men may call it Grace or sudden, unanticipated goodwill, God
knows from whence and wherein His good Grace flows, and is glad in
His own Universal Heart.
What griefs may come, only God knows, but He leaves behind
planned mercies to tend His Self same soul to rest.

In Hospital, Awaiting Surgery, January, 2002

When push finally came to shove
And I had the chance to prove my love
I discovered what kind of lover I really was
And did what the coward always does:
I prayed for my life, that I might not die,
That in an early grave I would not lie.
Now I lay here, breathing still
Unresigned to Your wish and will.
I had the chance to prove my trust;
So close was I to singing dust!

When There’s Nothing Left to Hold On To

When there’s nothing left to hold on to,
Not the glance or the word of a friend
There’s always Meher Baba’s daaman
To help you hold on till the end.

When there’s nothing left to hold on to,
Not that trip to Paris, France
There’s always Meher Baba’s daaman
And His invitation to the dance.

When there’s nothing left to hold on to,
Not the hope of a midnight tryst
There’s always Meher Baba’s daaman
And the chance by Him to be kissed.

I Saw A Woman in India Once

I saw a woman in India once
Whose job was to shovel shit;
A sea of human excrement:
There was no end to it.
Upon her face she wore a mask
To protect her from disease.
The air itself had long been fouled,
Made foetid by any breeze.
I thought, What wrathful, vengeful God
Could build such a hellish place?
The Lord I loved was a forgiving Lord,
A Lord of love and grace.
Then I realized with a heavy heart
How construction always begins.
Such places are not built by God,
But assembled from our sins.

How Deep

How deep the various wells of grief,
How great the general pain.
How slow the well-deserved surcease,
How long the freezing rain.
But one day, perhaps, the well will dry
With just one of His breaths,
And all griefs shall go down with a weary sigh
To each of their watery deaths.
Not a drop shall linger or remain,
Nor a shadow of sadness show,
But t’will drown in the ocean of His name,
And His peace shall forever flow.

The Street Was Lit with Lampposts

The street was lit with lampposts
So softly in the dark.
Their golden crowns were shining bright
That evening in the park.
Though the sky did pulse with a million stars
I was quite content
Just to sit and be with you
And count the blessings that He’d sent.


Imagine if my memories could revive those of every other;
Each man would then be unto me the same as my own brother.

In Night-Heavy Silence

In night-heavy silence only does the truest love grow,
Sans vestments, prayers and any outward show.
With each silent passing hour, love rises to its task,
To give and go on giving, and never once, to ask.
Sometimes the Brightest Summer Days

Sometimes the brightest summer days
Are the hardest of all to handle.
So relentlessly cheerful, so glaringly glad
I’d rather light a candle.


War is God’s will at its loudest.
But it’s harmony that makes Him proudest.

My Courage, it Seems, Simply Came and Went

My courage, it seems, simply came and went,
And folded up its tired tent
And moved to some dark continent
Where none would hear of its strange demise
Or mourn the loss of it in my eyes
No matter how clever the old disguise.
The peeling paint, the tattered shades
Upon the wall strange shapes are made.
Grief-hued light just doesn’t fade.
The twilight grey of cigarette smoke
Resists the sun’s broad hammer stroke;
Now I wear it like a cloak
That’s been expensively custom-made.
I’ve shaped its contours with consummate skill.
It hangs there now and always will.

Like a Master Jai-Lai Player

Like a master Jai-Lai player
Who hits the ball each time with great accuracy and force
So that it goes exactly where he wants it,
I am slowly becoming that ball,
First hurled against the wall of pleasure, then pain, then pleasure,
Until now I am happy simply to drop and fall at his feet,
And lie completely still.

Beloved, Take My Hand

Beloved dear, take my hand, and walk me through this day
Through all the labyrinthine lanes,
For only You know the shortest way.
Honesty and truth, please grasp my hand
And help me not to sham
The world into thinking I’m a better man
Than my poems pretend I am.

To Us, His Followers

Here’s to the misfits of the world, the broken and the wounded,
so self-absorbed we forget others as easily as we remember ourselves,
endlessly eternally dancing in our own light.
We are the bitched and the beleaguered,
the broken, the totally fucked.
We are the ridiculed and the reviled,
the fired, the canned, the sacked.
We fool none with our bleak attempts at compassion.
We are the stammerers and the stutterers,
the ones who get caught opening other people’s drawers.
We are the fleer of fights, the makers of the best excuses.
“I’m sorry, please forgive me” is the coin change
with which we buy the world’s amity.
We are the truth seekers who get caught up in our own lies.
We are forever getting the short end of the stick.
We are the tortured who only now can understand the torture
we have meted out to others for centuries.
We are the twisted and the deformed, the gimps, the crips, the freaks.
We are the deniers of death, until the death of a dear one unhorses us.
We are the great surrenderers of other people’s problems to God.
We are the denouncers of dishonesty who honestly denounce others.
We are the chanters of prayers loud enough so that others may hear them.
We are the more eager chanters of our wants and desires into the crowded ears of God.
We are the deniers of lust who always manage to turn to the dirty parts first.
We are the ones who know too much and are only too happy to talk about it.
We are the palm-joined in public, and the groin-grabbed in private.
We are the ritual renouncers who stand wall-eyed and blank-faced in front
of Your picture, thinking instead of tonight’s dinner.
We are the maya mockers who worry all day about losing our jobs,
making our mortgage payments, etc.
We are the goddamned and the godloved.
We are the infirmed and the injured.
We are the unjustly treated, always the victims.
And it was You Who saw to it that we are made this way,
so that in our plight we might have nowhere else to turn
but to You.


Heart-surrendering our way to You, tender submarines lost at sea without a compass,
we wait to receive that signal that will sound our way Home.

A Poem is Born

A poem is born in a moment of fire
That lives on after the poet expires
And makes it home on pure white pages
That may become brittle with the passing of ages.
Some poems, though, reside in two places
Yet somehow retain their poetic paces.
Look in that book where the pages part
Then close in silence in the human heart.

Beloved Executioner

O dear Lord let the suffering come
Let me even become undone
By Your merciful cruelty.

Be quick with Your cuts, do not delay;
Too many lifetimes have I kept at bay
Your merciful cruelty.

Be gone! Be near! No, stay away
And please put off for another day
Your merciful cruelty.

Damn it to hell! Let me be molded
By Your hands until unfolded
In Your merciful cruelty.

Beloved Executioner, come,
Only give me the courage to be undone
By Your merciful cruelty.

The Seeds of Love

The seeds of love have peen planted, sure
But in loamed soil or in manure?
The answer, of course, is in the living,
The daily dying and forgiving.
How will I know which soil was chosen?
The fruit will tell me which soil it grows in.

Within My Heart

Within my heart lays a core of fear,
A spreading, malignant cancer.
My prayers, entreaties, all my prayers
Have not charmed the smallest answer.

Perhaps the answer lies within Your silence—
If only I had the ears to hear!
Yet I miss just by half that total reliance
That would melt this core of fear.

This fear in my heart, it’s always there,
Undissolved by complaint or prayer.
The only solution isn’t divine retribution
But the remembrance of the name Meher.


The sunlight dies upon the wall
And creeps politely from the hall
Leaving me enwrapped in a kind of thrall
That daylight passed this way at all.

The Day is Halved by a Single Breath

The day is halved by a single breath;
A vast but imperceptible breath
That divides the night from its brother, day,
And blows the dream-stuff clear away.

The right of seasons to pick and choose
Which fruit shall flow and which shall lose
Sweet favor in the mouths of men—
None of this is in your ken.

The rush of morning from star’s bright grasp
Delivers day unto the Doer’s clasp.
The pull of thought teases out the actions
That divide or conquer their separate factions.

The bold grab hold, the rest hang on
To dreams so lately rained upon.
The rest awake to sleep again
And dream of a better now and then.

The week, unwilling, or merely lame
Limp toward night on a broken cane.
They’ll greet the dark like a dear old friend
Who has no need to repair or mend

A careless word or wanton act;
They’ve known discretion, and value tact.
Such friends I’ve had, and I’ve had the best,
Each now’s returned to night’s dear rest.

The Notes Were Ironic

The notes were ironic, but hardly symphonic
As they left the conductor’s hand.
But they formed a tune to which I was immune
Or I’d certainly have had it banned.


How distant you seem to me now;
you in the picture and me on the other side;
in a wink they are gone (or is it that I’ve let you go?).
Sometimes the page disappears, and a congress of sorts occurs.

Wounded by Life

I’ve been wounded by life, seared by its events.
I take Your name solely in the hope it prevents
Some unforeseen sorrow, some unexpected grief
Before another disaster shatters belief.

Each devastation grows greater in strength;
I can’t pull myself up by even one length.
Frozen by fear, quite unable to move,
My needle stuck in the same foolish groove.

Like a cavity deep in a well-rotten tooth
You have excavated my heart in search of Truth.
When will the digging be complete—
When the hole goes down to the soles of my feet?

Please fill it now with the mortar of trust,
That mortar which strangely is the weight of dust.
Why must Your grace always be earned with pain?
Why does each stroke feel so bereft of gain?

This last blow must surely be close to the last,
A final excavation of a too-deep past.
I’m an angry red scab at which you persistently pick.
You don’t mean to be cruel, but the sight makes me sick.

And so I would strike what bargain I could
If I thought it would do even the slightest good.
Yet I know how You work, You untier of knots,
You changer of plans and undoer of plots.

These were the knots I tied life after life;
I’d just wish you’d dull the blade of Your knife.

These Tin-Can Lives

You have kicked these tin-can lives of ours across the boundaries of time and space.
You waited until they’d rolled at Your feet for a glimpse of Your form and face.
Then you kicked these tin-can lives in a direction we could scarcely have dreamed.
And when we awoke, we’d each found out that our lives had been redeemed
By the casual glance of just one of Your eyes across the boundaries of time and space.
And when we awoke on that incomparable day,
We knew it had been by Your grace,
We knew it had been by Your grace.

The Flags I’ve Waved

The flags I waved when I was brave
Have fallen long ago.
Now I wave the flag of surrender
When I’ve the courage to let it show.

The courage I’d known before I’d grown
Afraid of the smallest trial
Was lion-like in its ferocity
And had daring, élan, and style.

But my courage died each time I tried
To stand up to the world and its ways.
I know it’s a shame, but please don’t blame
The wretch who in locked rooms stays.

An old movie is playing, in bed am I laying
Watching Bogart, Bacall, and Gable.
And if I appear to look merry, it’s that old Ben & Jerry
I was too lazy to eat at the table.

Yes, I’m going to ruin in an unwashed room
And a tray that’s lain there for weeks.
I’m just sitting here in my underwear
Passing wind through my fattened cheeks.

It’s what happens to heroes when they’re racking up zeroes
In the game they keep losing called life.
I’ve returned to the womb of a darkened room
Locked and bolted ‘gainst all strife.

Sometimes in the dark you can still see a spark
Of the man who once was so brave.
In the front, not the rear, I mastered each fear
But now remain their slave.

Every Day I Sink Deeper

Every day I sink deeper into the well of myself,
And farther do I grow from Thee, Thine, and Thyself.

Sure I know just what to do: Lose weight, exercise and swim.
Especially on a regular basis, wouldn’t that make me slim and trim?

Yes, it’s easier just to remain unconscious than be pulled by conscience’s tug;
It’s easier to pull up the covers and swallow a designer drug.

I’m going nowhere quickly, and am happy at the speed;
The speedometer still says zero last I troubled to take a read.

It Was a Winter Night

It was a winter night for sleeping warm
So I settled in for the coming storm.
I raised the sash just an inch or two
To let the wayward snowflakes through.
Imagine my surprise when I woke to see
A mound of snow so conformed to me
That I dared not move nor breathe too deep
And disturb this landscape of my sleep.

The Earth Above My Head So Lately Thrown

The earth above my head so lately thrown—
Room enough for a worm’s new home.
And I inside my private box—
I expect no visitors, so why the locks?

Your Wish or Your Will?

Is it Your wish, or is it Your will?
The debate seems endless and always will.
You can parse the differences from now ‘til forever;
The discussions continue, like the stocks and the weather.
But one thing’s sure to always remain true
Is that which feels most true to you.
Whether wish or will, the result’s the same;
Both are consumed in His fiery name.

Your Smile’s A Benediction

Your smile’s a benediction, unlike anyone else’s on earth.
My heart informs me it has something to do with Your miraculous birth.
I’ve tried to measure that measureless smile from one end to the other,
Embracing lover and friend, man and wife, and every father and mother.
In fact it would seem that the whole human race
Is purely a reflection of that singular face.
I’ve yet to travel the length and breadth of that infinite, heavenly smile
Because the distance can’t be measured, you see, by kilometer or mile.
There are wings on each glance or compassionate look
That flies round the world in the moment it took
Each heart to request its presence right then,
For there’s never a question of where or when;
No question of who, or even where:
The beginning and end is always Meher.

Because You Are

Because You are
the Beatles were…
Because You are…
the movie Big is…
Because You are
hot chocolate after ice-skating is…
Because You
are the 60s were…
Because You are
french-kissing is…
Because You are
knock hockey is…
Because You are
there’s that episode of The Twilight Zone where you find out at the end that the aliens’ book To Serve Man is not a manifesto for peace but a cookbook…!
Because You are
Beethoven and Mozart still are…
Because You are
Cracker Jacks are…
Because You are
Hostess Cupcakes and Twinkies are…
Because You are
sunblock no. 31 is, and so is the skin cancer you get if you walk around
like a blooming idiot not wearing anything to protect yourself from the sun…
Because You are
there’s that great feeling you get just after you throw up…
Because You are
that last long chord in the Beatles’ song A Day in the Life is…
Because You are
having sex for the first time with the person you are going to spend
the rest of your life is…
Because You are
Lemon Pledge is…
Because You are
toothpaste now comes in a stand-up container that pushes out the toothpaste
so you never get blamed for squeezing the middle of the tube again…
Because You are
taking a short, unexpected nap on a rainy Sunday afternoon is…
Because You are dental floss is…
Coco-Puffs are…
Because You are
finding a bathroom when you’re outside just when you need it is…
Because You are
the dreambar on your bedside clock radio is…
Because You are
Alfred E. Newman is and always will be…
Because You are
Faukner and Steinbeck and Hemingway were and are, especially Mr. Hemingway…
Because You are
stickless band aids are…
Because You are
Post-It Notes are…
Because You are
morphine is…
Because You are
Zoroaster was and Rama was and Krishna was and Buddha was and Jesus was
and Muhammad was and now Meher Baba is…
Because You are
everything is, was, and ever shall be, amen…
Because You are
nothing is, was, or ever shall be, amen…
Because You are
we can become what You are, by Your grace…
I think that about covers it, Lord, for the moment, anyway…
because You are.

Sunday Evening

There, the old brick building, shellacked with sunlight
in the late breathing air;
there, a shaft of sun through an embrace of trees;
there, a child in a stroller, damp fingers
clutching a dry pretzel, eyes awash with pleasure;
there, on the sidewalk, an afterthought of pigeons
in the late seeming day;
there, at the curb, stately Packards and de Sotos;
there, in the quiet clamor of twilight,
the sound of a band playing a hymn;
there; in the playground, a swing still moving
with the remembered weight of a child;
there, a Good Humor truck, idling for a smile;
there, above the wheeling earth, a tremble of stars
in a cloud-packed sky;
there, and there, the lengthening shadows
and the spreading silence.
And everywhere, in everyone, the unshaped anxieties
so peculiar to Sunday evenings,
the little, unattended funerals of the year.


Poems are really excellent liars;
They give the impression of inner fires
When nothing is really lit.

Yet we keep on writing ‘em
And take such delight in ‘em
‘Cause they show us off a bit.

Lord of Day, Lord of Night

Lord of day, Lord of night
I surrender to You the night in all its dark enfoldments.
I surrender to You the dawn
And the earth’s turning toward yet another bright horizon.
I surrender to You the day
With its promise of pleasure and pain, utter joy and utter defeat.
I surrender to You the minutes
And sing a new song for each one’s passing.
I surrender to You this and every moment,
Celebrating without regret each one’s leap and fall back into Your ocean.
I surrender to You all of passing time,
The million moments’ opportunities gained or lost, each moment passed
Either in a full-throated cry of remembrance,
Or a winter-dry season of forgetfulness.

Lord of day, Lord of night
I surrender to You the deep stairwell of days and the deeper stairwell of nights.
I surrender to You my thick-volumed ledgers of lifetimes,
Those thoughtless thousands of pages torn and tossed away
Without a single backward glance at the sun of Thy smile,
The endless and ongoing days and nights of pricked conscience and unrepaired acts.

O Lord of day, Lord of night
Father of form, Creator of light,
May Your daaman ever be within my sight,
A winding sheet about my days
To bind up action and the price one pays
In dull repentance or ecstatic praise.

Unseen by eyes that only see the norm,
Earthbound angels await human form.
Incorporeal, weightless, unenslaved by desire
They shall soon be enhoused in flesh and fire.
Tongueless and speechless they could not rhyme
The poetry of praise that mountains climb.
Only as earthbound souls can they
Soar sunward to Heaven once more to stay.

Lord of day, Lord of night
You sing the stars into timeless flight.
What more could I surrender
Than this star of me
To burn bright and die
In remembrance of Thee.

What Can I Give You?

What can I give You, today, my Dear?
A wisp of wanting, a dew drop of tear.

What can I give You that isn’t already Yours?
The heat of my desires, and the rain it pours.

What can I give You that would make You glad?
Any thought, word or deed that would make others sad.

What can I give you that would please You most?
The puff of pride and the brazen boast.

What can I show You that You have not yet seen?
A night and day of remembrance, with naught in-between.

What song could I sing that You have not yet heard?
The song of myself set to Your Silent Word.

What dish can I serve You that You’ve never tasted?
That morsel of me that lifetimes have wasted.

What game could I play for Your entertainment and delight?
That end-game whose loss makes even the winner contrite.

What prayer could I utter that You could not possibly ignore?
That prayer that asks nothing but simply seeks to adore.


Your Name is woven from English letters plain;
Out of twenty-six only six remain

To be spoken in silence or whispered soft;
A Name to lift the heart aloft.

Woven of breath and muted sighs,
Hopes unhoped by sadness rise.

Three of these letters are repeated twice.
Once is sweet, but twice is nice.

Nine in all do spell Your Name;
Lit by love, each one’s a flame

That burns our grief and desperate woe
And helps each one Your love to know.

Our alphabet is truly blessed
To select just six and discard the rest.