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.
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.
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.
BEING OF LIGHT
The nectar of awareness
that I am a being of light
enters my body through
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.
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
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.
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
the squirrel wind sends
through the flags of five colors
to all the
nesting beings, and joy
the squirrel hole, my refuge full
The joy of
the sun on the winter mountains, when breathed
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.
stalked fear lurking beneath nausea,
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,
years: comparison, competition, intellect,
escape. To find
the thread of freedom I must
to childhood and birth,
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
till now it blooms in Refuge and the things of
the earth, the sun, the water,
air. Why do I doubt my connection
to the elements
of which I am made? So strong is the habit
so new my nakedness in the light of day,
so tender my
skin in the coolness of shadow.
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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
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,
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.
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
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.
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
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
BODY OF LIGHT