Best Poems From
(04/23/52 - xxxx)
from 'Ragas For Krishna' Part 2
from 'Ragas For Krishna' Part 2
I have been encouraging Krishna (which is a funny thing to say, Krishna being a bold, blue God) to find a language coach to help him with his accent, to tone it down while keeping the wonderful music/lilt of it...he complains of tilting his head as he talks 'as all Indians do' but I insist he merely speak and let his head and hands speak, too, in their own way. If he does more public events he will need to be understood clearly when he speaks while preparing his magnificent dishes from his country, his rich feasts of stories of the chilies from his mother's garden entwined by morning glories, the morning cock already at quarrel with the world just beyond the tin reaching in to take some spices too enticing to refuse...
I always feel as if he is, or will soon be, bored with me and my humble 'ministrations' but he sweeps into my little room like a Raj, a young prince beaming, brimming full of stories to tell me, usually some food spicy hot he has prepared for me offered with a grin. Then he strips instantly down, lays upon the down pallet in easy, unabashed nakedness - it catches my breath, I do want to see! I hurriedly 'hide' my Ganesha, the prominent statue of the god I have in front of my useless fireplace; this hiding I half understand...but still, naked, he has a fresh and beautifully made tattoo of Ganesha on his shoulder, he wears a Ganesha necklace, a Ganesha bracelet, and a Ganesha waist scapular, the image of which is just below his navel. So why, I ask only myself and Ganesha, never Krishna, why must I hide my large wooden Ganesha statue? But I do hide Him in deference to Krishna's wishes and meanwhile have intercourse with the god-in-miniature, scraping a necklace trunk with an ear, a tongue, receive a scapular kiss of the image upon my forehead as I trace those wonderful hairlines of the male body on my way to other deities.
Ah! give me all the cabbages in the world in all my poverty! Am I not, too, a Raj of floors and scented pillows, this beaming god beneath me thrusting utterly to reveal his secrets, his desires, his pleasures to me who am not, when all is done, a god?
Life, dear Valdosta, over all, is good, yes? I wish it no ill. But, agreeing with the cock, I will quarrel, even fight, with life when young men still leap too soon from bridges because I have learned (and relearn it hard lesson by hard lesson at a time) visionary company insists its tracings in many forms, man to man being but one holy expression, those sons, burning mother's hands upon them demanding, insisting to life that each her sons is a rajah, a Sleepy Bee.
So please the intemperate humanity, in the face of patient deities the burning ones are leaping still and I am ill with grief, with prayer, their dead bodies gone, their now emptier hands.
And he leaves me.
I return to my poems.
The room is filled with Krishna, aromas of rose oil in his hair, pungent spices in his sweat and upon his hands and skin, and sex.
I retrieve Lord Ganesha out from his little sanctuary of hiding (it seems I am always retrieving deities) and we both laugh richly. I remember to sprinkle some cologne upon Him, to pour out some milk into His votive bowl, to rub His belly, to light another candle (the other extinguished, panting, while we were busy bees exchanging knees and sighs, diffusing male spices into bracing air, fingers upon oily chilies thickening in always morning hunger) .
I light more incense and thank Lord Ganesha in all his forms, appearing both large and small, His adornment of Secrets, though one cannot easily hide an Elephant, man-love, and more in such a small universe whose toes I seek to tickle then gather for a shoe as tides shrink and swell, grow and diminish depending upon the worshipers, those who will do so in spite of those who would kill delicate or manly infidels whose worship, forever babies breath, is all the more meaningful.
Be damned the trellises. The petals shall reach, shall extend outward.
The violin's throat is cut.
'Do not ask me to see it! '
From the Encampment Of Heart Strife, A Warrior's Journal - Fragments From an 11th Century Japanese Scroll
'like unto like'
but do not say it
my forbidden simile
one is not immune
to jealous couriers
who would come
Rice paper is thin
Tender words never
tear though ink
Wild tears fade
sure words to guesses
murmurers with desire
feels the better
for ink yearn
their brush strokes
strolls a realm
just on the other
side of light
thrills at motion so
slight framed in
in love with
is seen where
hides the wind
of return and
so I will when the
counts its embers
measured in hands
there are treaties
no milk for her
child the nipple
droops a sad
thing while dogs
run wildly about
only war which
makes him great
in one thing
what the horizon
safe keeps behind
of love, yes
your top knot my hand
your long hair my
wildness of laps
a clutch of stamens
I dream again
that work of
In this dream
I know the pattern well
so near to hand
let the dead bury
sleeps upon my
I do not breathe
do not wish to disturb
trace in circles
but a sigh interrupted
In your dream
boat slowly rising
the gentler subsiding
Never again will I go to war
the men are heavily gathering
new arrows hot for flesh
only for yours I am
From childhood our song
'Hurry awake sleepy bee
Softly sings the breeze
To sweetness we are called...'
When the sun
behind the barred door wait
a lock of wound hair
silk pouch of my gated heart
it will be a hard arrow to pierce it
to take a quiet supper
to hear the dipper spilling
the deep well
knowing a hand of dew
brings such sweetness wet, cool
Give This Looking Back A Rest
I note now from yesterday the grace of
animals who held me in their long gaze:
I watch the playful dog Oakley chase the none too
amused peacock Stanley who chases back the quiet
dusk and the dog;
piercing shrieks, high shrill barks,
echo back from the close woods.
Llama looks up from her evening feed of field greens.
Sees me. I wave (silly enchanted human) making loud
smooch sounds, a call for her to come to me which she
does walking slowly,
blinks through a mist by long
eyelashes purled rising silently while I read my book
foolishly head down in the midst of springing slow
gratuitous is this veiled field, wet,
soft, an unexpected llama looking long at me,
taking me in.
Raiment mist stops at the hem of the darkening woods,
requisite red barn, old, leans against the ribbon
of ground fog hovering, a wire fence almost invisible;
gray wire in white cloud, between me and that cloud
and that great llama attracted (I like to think this)
by my kissing sounds, her ope't eyes,
bestowing near me now, suddenly
the small head always tilts one side to the other,
little mouth a posed curiosity chewing like a child,
the long graceful neck, shagged soft fur thickly flowing,
disappears into tall grass
and I am victim of my own infatuation for all
my lip smacks and cooing and waving of hands,
one more fool for love fooled yet again.
I note here for the record that I have actually lost
the desire to chase, at least outwardly; rather, my
chase is inner (as always) .
I open my zen poetry book**attempting to come
to enlightenment by proximity, and why not?
who's to say, rubbing elbows, it can't be done
or is cheating? Enlightenment IS cheating, how
dare any being escape the itch, the play and
pain, the desire in chase and surcease craving
release as does the field let go a fine white
mist into space which
any trace of
THIEF! I scream,
The animals (not Stanley come)
come running sweetly to me.
I think, Well, of course.
Open my book, read first thing meets zenny eye:
Where's my bear suit?
I recall a zen monk in Hawaii on an Oahu mountainside,
the '80's? He quietly works ink and brushes upon handmade
paper at the zendo made. The chasing crowd I am a self-
conscious reluctant part of stands awkwardly yet awed
at a safe distance (will he go nova) cultivating boredom
stroke by stroke, the silence broken by a temple bell's
deep resonant tone close by.
The monk is the zen master (I did not know this at the
time) looking up as if noticing for the first time that we
gawker-graspers are there though he does know, intense,
says, making eye contact with (why?) me,
One must be after enlightenment like a large boulder
rolling down a mountainside. Don't care what or who is
in the way. This way all obstacles can be removed. Then?
The gong chimes again as if rehearsed and on cue.
I sweat like a pig. Blame it on tropical humidity.
A Jungian analyst years after this, after recounting
this story to her, having a good knowing laugh at me,
me nervously laughing with, says,
A most appropriate response when
confronted personally by a Buddha.
Pay attention to sweat.
Ursa Major. Great Bear. Rises.
Soon Minor will follow.
Now days, tired of being a disturbance in most of my
corner of the universe, the Milky Way looks good to me
from where I currently stand.
Once there, who knows.
I think that stars are cold in their enviable far
light, unattainable bottles lined up, glinting totems
on altar shelves, pretty behind a dark and mysterious
Bar that is open all night. I need their remote stellar
indifference, their inhuman capacity to be undisturbed
by anything other than gravity, and something-somewhere
light years close-enough going nova. Then are they affected.
Recall what I recently wrote on a job application
asking what my career goals are for the future
(I'm 61 years of age) :
I'm going to go nova one day.
Feels good to admit that to someone else,
a distant star for all I know. For now I remain,
rather, a simile then a metaphor then, really,
a black star - energy trapped, still I must be
smart and good-looking enough in yesterday's
Autumn field and this memory all aroma and
chirp to attract such unexpected and
unreasoned animal grace.
I read now a yellowed manuscript, an old chase,
an itch returned red, inflamed, my own words
writ 30 years ago sitting on a cold stone wall
by a frozen river, West 142nd Street, hearing
cars and humans shouting up the street behind me,
Setcho poems***in my pocket, this my earnest
response to him from icy fingers, a shaking pen
What's will when
the window slams shut?
Just old cake thrown on the street
Why try be happy/sad?
don't affect it
disinfect your mind
Who's somebody's darlin'?
Setcho, zen master & poet, writes:
After so very many years, it's pointless to
look back on it.
Give this looking back a rest!
A clear breeze the world over
- what limit could it have?
for Low, and Oliver the cat
** Philip Whalen, Overtime, Selected Poems.
*** Setcho Juken, Zen monk from Japan who compiled The Blue Cliff Record, a collection of 100 koans with appreciatory verses.
Giving Darkness In Giverny
Monet might have seen,
giving darkness in Giverny,
defiant to the last optics fired out inevitably,
nerve light made the more dipped,
smeared on clutched pallet bent to his gaping will
struggling to 'ope' eyes,
Was failing him the light.
Closing-in world reduced to all horizon.
Tints, brushes, memory
frames these final pieces
canvased, inwardly conformed,
recalled light more light than all raw day.