2. Another Jesus


The roaring in the ear

like a constant rain

hard on the sheet metal roof of me

till one day the sound drifts

toward soft drizzling,

and mixes with another sound

that was always there but too subtle for me to hear.

The taste mingles with tears

you never tasted before,

and finally you know that

this brief life, this fractured

earth, this glimpse of spirit

is more soulful than you imagined.

No righteousness is soulful,

no power, no claim,

nothing in life is soulful in itself –

though the letting go can be –

but how you hold it, the soul of it,

how it resonates

to the song you sometimes barely hear

that was playing when you entered your body

and will continue when you leave.

The interim life has aspects of

unimagined eternity

and breathtaking brevity,

there is a soul purpose to discover and live.






For the downtrodden that don’t believe

or the uplifted who won’t bow,

all the perfect and the weak ones

who won’t get on that train …


please give us … another Jesus —

are we not worthy as unwashed thieves?

though we cannot bend

our knees to pray,


another Jesus whose grace is not so clear-eyed,

but whose mercy is beyond

believing, whose heaven shows us just enough love,

whose compassion-beyond-our-imagining is tempered,

a little is all we need Sweet Jesus!

We are grateful


for the heaven that you made,

though we know we cannot stay long:

here comes the ripening by which we fall

like a rain of hot fruit in midsummer


to another earth, another life

as we take our frail bodies

for another chance, maybe do it

right this time.


Then the veil closes our eyes, and we forget

we are blessed as hummingbirds

hungry for the nectar of

our own hearts.  Golden beings before the cladding

of blood and bones, ego and

cleverness, so we have forgotten,

and if our stay on earth does not

result in full salvation

are we not descended from

the very emanation of compassion?  Please


give us another Jesus,

though we cannot bend our knees to pray,

a Jesus of sufficient grace

a Jesus of greater mercy

a Jesus of tepid power,

whose light shines just warm enough

to raise us once again

to the place we started

where at least our wounds, which we endure

and bear with pride, our downfall,

can finally feel the truly light touch

that will save us








The miracles we don’t realize

are miracles, like the flowers

open to the sky, even on this plane I can feel it.


In the breeze blowing the curtain

I can sense the fields beyond,

What will pass through?

Will I see the sweet random grace


of your smile?

Will I see the sweet random

grace of your smile?


We will swim in the oceanic

love not separate from

the universe of a cold plum

in midsummer.


There comes the great wave,

how much we will miss our warm fingers

making toast and coffee,

playing music,


the scent of pine bark along the trail,

unexpected peacefulness

effortless when time has come

like it has for us.

But what I wanna know

will I see

the sweet random grace


of your smile.

Will I see the sweet random

grace of your smile?







My dad went through his fishing stuff

before he took to the bed of compassion,

held his old bamboo creel

that saw a thousand fish,

“Man, I sure had a lot of fun with this!”

I felt the emotion of clear mountains,

high altitude sun, creek willows,

the stream the freedom the mystery

mostly the freedom the joy the rush … fish too,

for men there must be a prize …


For me there are these guitars I’ve kept 50 years,

not the wood and steel and plastic

but the bandmates and the gigs

the funky dives, the absurd show biz

moments, the transcendent beauty

when hardly anyone else noticed

it GROOVED, just so people could dance,

a thing like dharma

that you have to experience

after much practice, can’t explain it,

how we were

so beautiful in our innocence

and our imperfection.


The recently deceased would understand:

all who elected to enter into life, embracing

physical pain and limitation, now they see clearly

the whole idea is to know the spirit

in the body, in the river, in the groove,

to transcend the physical

through the physical,

to feel the absolute in the relative –

fishing in the mountains,

playing funky gigs,

hearing pine needles hit the roof

and years later on the sky ridge

hearing the dakinis singing.


I look at my old Strat

like my dad looked at his creel.

He had 80 years against long odds.

He knew when he hit a groove

just so he could dance.







The big yellow flowers follow you

as you enter the garden,

and though your gait is shuffling,

they think you are a god

come home

from some exotic odyssey.


I whisper to them you’ve been out

caressing the hips

of wild women seeking


And though they laugh their flower laughter

there’s a feather of doubt that it may be true,

so rakish is your smile.

For you, I know

it was always the goddess,

not the grail.


Of course it’s love, it was always love,

the brightness in your eyes.

Change the world through poetry!

Yeah, the flowers break into wild applause.


I whisper to them you’ve been out

caressing the hips

of wild women seeking



They laugh their flower laughter,

but there’s a feather of doubt that it may be true –

wild women

seeking enlightenment.  For you

it was always the goddess.  It was always

the goddess.







She was chanting Tara Ture,

she was somewhat out of her body,

her eyes were spinning.

She had hauled ass down the road,


caught up with the wildlife guys

who had been called to hunt down a bear.

She was dusty and smeared

from touching the bear that had been shot.  No one got it,

what she was about.


She showed me a picture, scruffy thing in the back of the truck,

juvenile, on its own for a couple of years.

Maybe, she said, maybe he used to be human.

Maybe, she said, maybe he was just … lonely for a touch,

and clumsily ripped a tent, people sleeping inside.

So they had to send him back.


I can help him find his way.

I was walking him over.

I was chanting him

to cross over.


Maybe we need someone to walk us over,

someone like me, who used to walk on fours.

Sometimes we go and bite someone or touch someone too hard …

then they have to send us back to our emerald valley.

I’ve been there, I remember, I know the way.







One day

she sheds her clothes

after the crowds have gone.


No one

to awe or disappoint

no more

gaps in consciousness.


One day

she turns a corner

to the passage

to the hall of light –


unimaginable goddesses

naked with love.


O I have seen love in my day,

I was lovely in my day.

O I have seen love in my day,

I was lovely in my day.


What passes for love

in the heart

is reflected in the eye.


Original light, the great

meeting place.


We are masterpieces singing

in the sun


We are masterpieces singing

in the sun


O I have seen love in my day,

I was lovely in my day.

O I have seen love in my day,

I was lovely in my day.







Haiku for Nisei Farmers


To raise our families

We came to work the rough soil

And put down our roots.


Our legacy lives

In the warm sun, the green grass,

The water, the earth.


Remember our toil,

Our gift for greening the earth.

The land remembers.








A day as golden and egg blue as today

flurrying snowflakes on the high plain

and that certain slant of light

settles on the witness and he is saved.


His response to grace is to make of himself

a shard of light against that shiver of

fear that he stuffs with food and edgy darkness …

in the sudden clear light the monstrous thing exhales,


his tiny voice finds a song,

not singing of his magnificence –

anthems he has sung in full bluster –

but more like a three-year old


singing to herself,

lacking self-consciousness, utterly vulnerable

as she plays alone in her court

while gods thrash the under and physical worlds.









It will take great oratory to restore our tradition,

because it is not enough to simply say the truth,

as in After you defeated the warriors, and the women

and the children, and had no taste for the meat,

why did you slaughter the buffalo?


Yes, I know we all humans did those things,

but the tribes honored the earth as their mother

and the sky as their father, even as they took slaves

and held enmity for generations.  All that time

the buffalo ran free in their hearts and the earthly plain.


The compassion I speak of may come from another set of beings.

I do not see them yet, my oratory is small and

does not move much weight of light.

I imagine them riding star drive from another green system

after we have scorched the earth for millennia.


Perhaps they look like us, having left us for test.

One thing for sure, if they’ve lasted long

they’ve learned to love their enemies,

the ones they carry inside.  Of course we already

were told the sky wisdom by our wise ones, all of them,


that there is only one love, but we think there are many, each one

better and more just than its neighbor.

As I said, it will take great oratory to restore our tradition.








For us to speak compassion so eloquently

we must swim in sacred water

where our souls are free.


The portal is your heart.

Everything else is obstruction.

The sacred river runs free through it.









I breathe-in She-Who-Grants.

Her numinosity goes up into my third eye.

All vision rearranged.

All my darkness changed.


To find the dark goddess is the first step

toward inviting her to the light.

We simply stand together.

We witness each other’s presence.


She stands behind all illusion.

When She steps out of shadow

light floods my emptiness.

My spirit takes breath as newborn.


As illusion She promised grace

if I could win her.

I fought hard in the contest of the world.

But now I dance.







Appears in camellia tree, dark and green and heartless as

death his friend.  His message . . . that I am meant to suffer

till finally I die, so to see for a blinding moment

how I am meant to not suffer.

In the between days she of whom


my blood is made arrives.  This earth may be

my best and last, yet I am unreleased to her.

Only the bits, the tokens, the play of days, the game.

I honor the spheres of appearance,

the muddy roads promising danger and beauty,


offered to such as I, lacking honor of the simple

creature, lacking feathers, though I flutter with spirit

when I sense the call, faintly, the green in the air.

Wrapped in death and spring

the opening finally thaws to mud.






An alternate universe lies

between the inbreath and the out.

You have black hair

and we have a son who holds

a fragrant peach up to us and smiles —

a gap tooth and unseen destiny —

and then the eyelid closes

though the moment is a lifetime.

The story lingers on and on till you can taste it.

You grasp at it as though it was life,

but it is not life.

They splatter us and then draw closed

in the early breaths of spring

when the yellow pollen stripes the paths

and delirious we are thrown off our strideful purpose

and illusions of reality.

You run into an old friend at your altar

and sense after catching up … she reminds you of someone.

Or is there a neighborhood bar on another earth

where a strange woman between breaths

senses after a couple of beers …

a neighborhood poet who loves his wine,

whose every fiber of being senses the greater love

beneath the surface of things,

whose grief of its touch not felt

is expressed in roses and revelry.







Orange paradise

feathers glow against a fence.

Warm flow of being.







The ordinary days are filled with dying —

a painful burning off leaving tender skin

on which my clothes sit lightly.

Why can’t the burning be accompanied

by music that I can wear even lighter

than a garment of spiderweb, the suffering

and pleasure coming off like flame,

the smoke perfuming my small tract

till we vanish altogether in another earth.


Though we have not emptied of pride

yet we do the practices, standing in the presence

till grace allows some kind of manifestation.

My angels oversee the fields where things grow,

where rivers run, where

bodies are burning, of which music

I spend my days listening.  Some days

the music is faint over the roaring, the flames

fed endlessly by fear of standing naked.


I find myself trembling, I realize

with fear and in awe:

we are here briefly to find

our one naked, true self.

I read the obituaries of famous people.

Somewhere they too are standing naked in darkness and light.

I wonder if they saw their lives

in the instant the spirit wandered.

This moment is that instant.






Before there was a word

we only needed to open our eyes.

Primordial views lingered in our cells.

Worship was the natural state.

Moon of a hundred thousand years

all heart, all blood, all sex

knowing the salamander, the stinging nettle, the very fire,

we looked everywhere in your light

and observed with awe the seen and the unseen.

Night after night we survived.

Night after night we survived

the night.

Night after night we survived.









After the stars have had their light year

he discovers an entire marriage living

on the dark side of the moon.  All their actions

painstakingly assembled in reflected light, the loving

endearments, the hair brushed by sea wind,

the constant moving of smooth stones,

the tiny skeletons

of sardines silvered in earth light,

the glowing dust,

the mud-brown water hiding dragons

that porpoise carnivalish.

He hasn’t the heart to whisper to the little family:

Listen, the shadow comes unpinned,

your weightless drift to naked

sun, its flaring mad streaming of light.

The nightmare of clarity that hides

the nightmare of clarity.






At dusk the murmuring floods the air, then quail

roving the dry swell appear.

He becomes aware of astringent beauty,

the high desert, alkaline,

the weathered bare wood of the once-painted

temple to the earth goddess.

Suddenly the florid beauty of poems

written in the blood of the heart,

flooding from distant peaks.

Why now the memory of old longing?

How is it these lives arrive together?


In spring ice-out the chunks gather

downwind on lakes,

a thrown-together pile-up,

stark against the hungry dark water,

the beauty almost blinding.






I’ve sat for hours watching the granite light

play on the massive upwelling

that has stood above Pasadena all my life.

Settlers named it Brown Mountain after the son

of John Brown abolitionist, hanged for righteousness.

He chose this mountain to escape his name

and the bleeding of Kansas, his body buried

at a secret spot below, in view of his lofty acreage.


A hundred times I’ve biked or hiked, scorched or frozen,

to the saddle of the road and beyond.  Now quiet mornings

I only watch, rounding bends of ferocious memory,

tasting the dust, and knowing shadow-like bears

still flicker ghostlike from view.

This is as it should be, the questionable sighting,

a question of mind rather than fur or teeth,

Goethe’s true account, the rarest poetry,


the true account exists elsewhere

than in the granite, or the sage, the fur,

the fire held deep in seeds.

It lives in my own shivering animal

that now I empty of wishes and fears

so that the naked rock, unnamed

and unmanned by abolitionist or hiker,

may finally appear upon the sacred earth.






At 11,000 ft in the Sierra backcountry

my dad and brother brought back goldens –

they were 15 & 17” – huge for the species.

They were the prize and we ate them –

an honorable act for hungry animals.


As I watched their colors fade a quiet voice inside

whispered shock that it was not enough for the fishers

to see the glowing bars on their sides

and hold the wild element for a few seconds

before releasing them to the source, the beautiful


gesture of a life of gestures –

gesture to the wild, to the beautiful things, to the unseen but felt,

to the energies, to the loved ones, to the earth, the air,

the rivers, the fires, to one’s own wild and warrior spaciousness,

held for a moment and released to the ephemeral backcountry.




encountering clouds and primordial sky

no longer weighed down by earth

I pray you are free.

If you come around again

I will say Hi, I know you.

You were a butterfly.

We were caterpillars together.

We prayed and laughed and sang silly songs.

In moments we were free.

9/20/12 for Lynn




Before you drink from a skull

you must first find the right corpse . . .

small wisdoms, aphorisms from the charnal ground,

not about smoky death but a way to live

till the mystery is revealed.

Exercise, keep your body lithe, your joints flexible,

eat right, keep your liver clean but not too clean

till you are strong enough

to drink from the skull,

embrace the forbidden feared by all systems,

emulate the mystical madmen.

There is no victory, only

the moment lived-deep and celebrated now

and let go.

There is no ego, no pride, no false humility, only

blood drunk

deep from the skull.

When the staff has thumped the third time

and the voice says, Come, woe to you

who realize you have not lived

after your memory has been wiped clean

and all your victories have vanished

like mist in the morning sun.

The right corpse?  The skull of a young suicide,

best if the death was violent —

hanging or poison.  Or the virgin girl

innocent, pure —

reflect on her mystery as you pour

blood and semen into your strong body —

you are here,

and yet you gossip about your old wounds

or betray yourself to gain knowledge.

The meaning of the moment

is not knowable

but it is livable.

May your bones be strong till you die

let there be singing and dancing

and coupling and friendship

and a minimum of self-betrayal, only that required

by society

or perhaps the route of madness awaits.

Let your skull, dried and red-painted,

be thrown on the great heap, ornament for the pyre,

not good for drinking —

all its life force

all the moments in the sun

and under darkness and crying

all the drinking drunk

all the singing sung




It’s a good thing we die

lest we fall in love with the easy

words that flow

like rainbow illusion from weakness:  I

conquer . . . how laughable.

You are truly living only

the golden moment . . .

not in your beloved:  eternity.

You stand here in sunlight

holding the meaning of flowers,

whether cut or planted the same – death

is the meaning that keeps us honest, death

keeps us from owning

that which we do not own, death

keeps us from creating that which we did not

create but which

appears dreamlike before us.  The dream

the flower dreams

is you standing in sunlight holding it.  Let that

be enough, let us be

enough.  The rest . . . we think it’s in our precious hand,

it’s not.  It’s a good thing

we die.




This seems as good as any time

to stop

You are 25

I am 64 … how old am I … I  think I’m 64

At one time you were 5 and I was 44

and if the fates give us a chance I’ll be 79 and

you’ll be 40

One thing I can say, I had some idea of what

it meant to be a father, but not really.

I don’t think anybody really does.

Because we don’t control what happens.


The teaching says that

all effect has a cause.

And I guess what that means is we must have done

something right

to deserve a chance to bring up a child

that became you today.


I know the birthday is to honor who you are

and I do, I do

but I also want to honor the doorway

that you represent for me

to touch undiscovered parts of who I am

and to appreciate that in this world of

ego and greed and power

there are still some things that are

inexplicably dreamlike,

unanswered, perhaps spoken but not

fully understood,

perhaps deserved

but in a way that

we will never understand.


Thank you for 25 years that

compare to nothing

I could have imagined.






We love the sweetgrass growing on yonder velvet hill

We watch our young ones playing in the tall grass

What about you Mr Crow, we never see you round

You rather fly to check out shiny objects on the ground


You trust the sweetgrass grows I got to fly to make my rounds

You rabbits raise your ears and run from every sound

I work the asphalt, I watch it far and wide

I trust the road to kill the things that have to die


We envy you Mr Crows you fly so far, so wide

You see it all, you hear the stories and the lies

We cannot dream of flying to see what will become

We only see as far as our precious rabbit run


You trust the sweetgrass grows I got to fly to make my rounds

You rabbits raise your ears and run from every sound

I work the asphalt, I watch it far and wide

I trust the road to kill the things that have to die





Immense 4-trunked water-seeking plane tree

his broad-fingered leaves grow head-large in summer

I asked his/her lovely spirit

could I remove the roots choking my carp stream.

Go ahead, he/she smiled without smiling,

and each day for three

days I wrestled and dug and cut and pried

man-sized mats of root hairs

growing from calf-sized roots, conduits of ground moisture …

at the end of each day, finally, I had

obliterated the

body, all my energy left infused in root-fingered

exhaustion so profound my refuge

glowed, alive with dirt, streaming with water, swirling

with air, afire with sunlight.

I could not feel

my arms or my legs but I


who I was.

I thanked the spirit of the space.

I left my clothes outside,

stood in the shower watching the dirt swirl into the drain,

the hot water speechless and profound.





Playing and singing a challenging song

I rediscovered playfulness

knowing the broad strokes

and having no fear of error — mainly

this is a solitary pursuit with

instrument and voice but I yearn

to try it in the back alleys

of samsara.




The line of cars coming down

the mountain reminds me –

fireflies hovering, Red River Oklahoma

profusely warm in shivering youth, mine.

We have remembered the plain old world

is hungry for our blissful kisses.

The sliver of moon is the clipping of

the great life master’s nail

as joyfully carefully he readies to dance,

painting his face and toenails

after rain has liberated the dust of the banks

of the river of myth.

Water nymphs hatching

carry elemental globes to the glistening surface,

their segmented tails of light scythe into the warm dark,

while continents of ice

on the hidden black water

stretch apart in the spring wind.





I envision a plain of light streaming before me

till it fades into distance

space above and space below,

the things below, some grotesque and demonlike, some

alluring and demonlike, some

unknowable but for all these below things,

there is no positive

manifestation.  These things

are holding in Ram, ripening in compassion or equanimity,

not ripened to effortless manifestation,

not ripened to Dza.





The awareness that the purpose of life is heartfelt compassion

is the meaning of John Coltrane.

This earth is complete as it is

It doesn’t need another building or bridge.





I write a song to break through the unspoken

I come from a long line of warriors unbroken

It wasn’t emotion that made me take armor

but I see in their eyes, they could’ve been warmer

Even the old warrior on his last campaign

stops to smell a flower after sharpening his blade.


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