5. All the Angels Know You

TO ED OKUNO, 10 YEARS GONE TODAY ST PADDY’S

 

You had the good grace and wicked humor to die on St. Paddy’s.

I don’t recall much of your funeral, Daddy,

but I remember when, years before in Fresno at the old family burial ground,

winter thick and drizzly, we stood the cold and said the words,

then found ourselves back at the house with the pictures of our Lord,

and the church ladies had spread a lovely board.

I stood shivering and you were grey as a mouse,

you realized ’twas not a drop of brown in the Bible-loving house.

Even the pious ones, you could see in their eyes,

the need for spirits, of the medicinal kind.  In a word, we were dry.

Finally you said, loud enough for everyone to hear you grumbling,

“Well, all’s I can say, when you put me in the ground

you can have a drink on me.”

 

There is a spark somewhere, some life-loving daemon

taken form in someone else, yes … but you, Daddy,

it’s enough that you live in me, and you live in this poem,

and so too, in this gathering of poets

joined by the loved ones of everyone here standing

because you loved a party and joking and laughing.

 

So here’s a toast to all of us here:

Whether you drink for joy or drink to pound

one day you too will end up in the ground,

and hopefully people will stand up for you in the drivin’ rain,

and words will be spoken, and the shedding of tears, and pain

and afterward, let us hope, at the pious and proper gathering,

where friends and family will talk story and if Irish they’ll sing

catching their spirits in the greater web … someone

will seek relief, some poor devil so taken with grief

will break the sacred rules, and the formal belief,

risking the eyes of the all-suffering church ladies,

risking a passage to his own personal Hades

and to ease the pitiful dry moment of your passing,

will crack open a pint of brown

and have a good cry

and pass it around.

 

3/17/12

 

 

 

POLLINATION

 

Because one part of spirit fled from awareness

the other part felt strongly,

entered by bodily sensations and afflictions,

a doorway back to the original spirit.

The flowers, grasses trees —

all my life they tried

to pollinate me.

 

3/1/12

 

 

 

THE WORLD OF DZA

 

Ram infuses joy.

Dza is the song.  Populating Dza, attracted

to the light, are all beings

of emotion, light and dark.  The dark ones

hunger for the light, the light ones

joyful for a party.

Dza enters the world naked.

The world enters Dza

and sheds its clothes, encountering

other worlds in arms of light of Dza.

 

2/29/12

 

 

 

BEING OF LIGHT

 

The nectar of awareness

     that I am a being of light

enters my body through

     the navel.

By our feet we attach to earth

     that is our body.

By our root we attach to fertility,

     that is the dance of being.

By our navel we attach to mother,

     that is the light of being.

The logger in the forest sees lumber,

     a shaman sees beings.

The being of light returns

     to the forest of my body.

 

2/28/12

 

 

 

 

REQUEST FOR GRACE

 

I am sad to leave the poetry

that drifted down as volcanic dust

after the caldera blew.

You know, I know you know

what I mean by this.

 

Even though we humans love our suffer-

ing, the length of it, the taste,

the very solid home-ness of it,

I’ve been reminded recently we didn’t start

that way.

 

Before the massive displacements

of joy and body there was open horizon vast

before me, and I

filled it with playful action because

that swinging kite in the wind is

 

who I am — before the tufa erupted and shot miles into

the air as far as Missouri on the stream or even

Oz, what matter, might as well be

Iceland … before before …

before that, my poem was a kiss

 

of pure loving energy, and that’s who

I really am.  Alas.  Alas I am a poet, so

forgive me as I forget the requisite convention

of suffering and yearning …

forgive me these lines of happiness.

 

2/24/12

 

 

 

WHERE

 

Where we don’t hold on so tight

to who we thought we were

and what we thought we had,

where colors are as in childhood

and playfulness is natural law,

where transition is not fearful

and the shadow figures evaporate like mist,

where voices become birdsong

and the humming of your heartbeat

is revealed to you

as the universe breathing.

 

 

 

 

BODY OF WIND

 

Once again

the squirrel wind sends

 

prayers

through the flags of five colors

 

to all the

nesting beings, and joy

 

comes in

the squirrel hole, my refuge full

 

of light.

 

1/22/12

 

 

 

 

JOY

 

The joy of

the sun on the winter mountains, when breathed

 

ripens to

the joy of awareness of being.

 

That joy flowers

as my skin. We do not seek the transition.

 

It will arrive

on its own from where I cannot see.

 

In the space before

the horizon arrives lives healing and joy.

 

I cannot separate

those lives from these winter mountains.

 

They fill the

horizon I am granted to see.

 

1/10/12

 

 

 

 

STALKING FEAR

 

Last night

stalked fear lurking beneath nausea,

 

doubt

that I will be okay in light

 

of Refuge and

the shaman’s way. But now

 

I see it,

the Path, the dropping of story, of ignorance,

 

of the human

realm that ferments and makes us sick. Still

 

I fear the leaving

of the nest of all that’s held me, badly,

 

these many

years: comparison, competition, intellect,

 

escape. To find

the thread of freedom I must

 

go back

to childhood and birth,

 

to when

I knew the colors were alive.

 

I can follow the

thread through music as well,

 

when it was pure

expression, I can follow it through any pure

 

expression

till now it blooms in Refuge and the things of

 

the world:

the earth, the sun, the water,

 

the invisible

air. Why do I doubt my connection

 

to the elements

of which I am made? So strong is the habit

 

of history,

so new my nakedness in the light of day,

 

so tender my

skin in the coolness of shadow.

 

1/3/12

 

 

 

 

THE SHADOW GODDESS

 

Mahakali has stood in the Shadow.

Time has come for her to stand in the sun.

 

Out of fear of nakedness we clothe ourselves

in elaboration, in shadow, in poverty.

 

Mahakali is the naked wrathful antidote.

Beauty if it is truly felt leads to joy.

 

Wrathfulness after it strips one’s clothing leads to wisdom.

Compassion arises.

 

1/18/12

 

 

 

ALL THE ANGELS KNOW YOU

 

The world is as you dream it.

The world is as you dream it.

The dream is as you fall through it.

 

As children we fell into this life.

We fell until we caught fear

and tried to stop in midfall.

Now we spend our time

learning to fall.

 

All the angels know you.

All the angels know you.

They know you are learning to fall

even when you are crying

in a tub

of warm water.

 

 

 

 

SALMON EGG

 

I observe the water of a pool,

the riffle moves a certain way

that catches me up. I glide to it.

 

Against the far bank flashes and shadows

moving against the current. My father and I.

There are salmon in the river!

silently shouting.

  

We hunt the pod carving upstream

through meadows and ridges

till we come to the spawn,

and there we stop, only watch them,

                                                         

their dance of flow, of circling,

of darting out in defense till the gravel is pregnant

and then the spawners flow

into the sun.

 

 

 

 

STORY TOLD AT RETREAT BY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PRINCIPAL

 

The boys sent to him

the young ones

new to this harsh tender life

sit terrified

of their transgressions —

peeing in the bushes

or too bold the touching of girls —

you can feel their suffering

so raw it is

at age 5.

Pray the spirit

stepping into the opening

feels

suffering like that.

 

 

 

 

TO CHARLES BUKOWSKI IN HEAVEN

 

Hank you old dog.

You wanted to be Jesus

of the drinking, fucking and playing the horses crowd.

I’m glad you wrote it down.

 

Like seeing Venus fading into dawn

till the sky gets blasted with the sandpaper light of day,

the tortured romantic, cynical, hard and soft,

distilled, etherlike, the gin of street poets.

 

You must be surprised to find yourself in heaven.

Your crazy daemon, if ever it should return to this

green earth, I pray it will listen for the horses

running so very hard in its heart.

 

 

 

 

TO KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW

 

How terrifying, to know what you know,

then experience weightless drifting

in alien dimensions

when the Goddess touches you.

 

The touch comes glowing

when a woman enters.

The touch comes fiery when

she leaves. That’s who I am.

 

To know what you know is to know

the water that runs inside you

the invisible force of air

the green earth under your skin.

 

To know illusion is to know

the gossip, the positioning, the being liked, the sickly

smile.

 

To know what you know is to sing

to the ocean.

To know what you know is to speak softly

to the wild and its creatures.

 

To know what you know is to dance

to the drumming pollen.

 

Fear not that the inner bully has disappeared.

To know what you don’t know

is to expect him to drop by unexpected,

unrepentant.

 

To know what you don’t know

is to be fooled only a while by his sumptuous

garb and repartee.

 

To know what you don’t know is to sit

with him and his pathetic will

to power and hold him squirming

in the Goddess’s loving arms.

 

1/4/12

 

 

 

 

THE SUN IS FIERCE IN MY EYES

 

On a platform covered with a sheet

he pulls the sheet off.

He is laughing. AUM

He blesses each practitioner.

When it’s my turn I see but

silhouette in motion.

The sun is fierce in my eyes.

 

 

 

 

ON THE PRIMORDIAL RIVER

 

Sitting beneath the primordial

sky the green banks flow

upstream while the river

unfurls

witness to deer crossings

and raven sounding

and the grandfather tree reaching skyward

with feathered metal arms.

The bank nettles rattle on.

Everything speaks to me.

I speak back.

I raise a cloud of mayflies.

I am a cloud of mayflies.

 

 

 

 

THE HEALING

 

Few of the poems I’ve written

had any healing effect.

I do it anyway, a form of singing.

Songs are better for healing,

but mostly it’s the sitting.

The light comes from the palms of my hands

and the palms of your

hands till I sit in the coming down light

from primordial blue sky

reflected in the brown

of your eyes,

the riffles in the river,

and the voice of

the grandfather tree,

basso among the trilling nettles.

 

 

 

 

THE WILD BLUE SKY

 

The cloud performed a lesson

deeper than any book

where it started as a human figure

and subtly deformed into a demon

that slowly whipsawed

and evaporated into air

leaving the egg-blue

of sky that is always

the wild

home we come back to.

 

 

 

 

THE RUSHES ON THE FAR BANK ARE SLIDING UPSTREAM

 

Naked awareness is the state where pain body,

As well as pain mind

And pain speech

 

Naturally evaporate after they arise,

Where ego does not have anything to catch on

And build its shadowy structure.

 

It is in a sense to become more animal,

Which for a human is a daunting task,

So clothed are we in ego structure that has its

Source in pain body, speech and mind.

 

Animals live to be, not to accomplish ego tasks.

Can I be a songfish?

What we are discovering is the tender source of

Meaningful creativity.

 

 

 

 

BODY OF LIGHT

 

The body of light has settled

On the far bank reeds

And the purple riffles

As the sun settles on the far

Of the peaks.

Even for the ones that do not rise

There are moments of grace.

 

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