Friday, December 31, 2010

Say Who I Am (2)

The musical air coming through a flute,
a spark off a stone, a flickering in metal.

Both candle,
and the moth crazy around it.

Rose, and the nightingale
lost in the fragrance.

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,
the evolutionary intelligence,

the lift and the falling away.
What is and what isn't.

You who know Jelaluddin,
you the one in all,

say who I am.
Say I am you.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Say Who I Am (1)

I am dust particles in sunlight.
I am the round sun.

To the bits of dust I say, Stay.
To the sun, Keep moving.

I am morning mist,
and the breathing of evening.

I am wind in the top of a grove,
and surf on the cliff.

Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,
I am also the coral reef they founder on.

I am a tree with a trained parrot in its branches.
Silence, thought, and voice.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

God in the Stew

Is there a human mouth
that does not give out soul-sound?

Is there love, a drawing-together
of any kind, that is not sacred?

Every natural dog
sniffs God in the stew.

Look inside your mind.
Do you hear the crowd gathering?
Help coming, every second.
Still you cover your eyes with mud.

Wash your face.
Anyone who steps into an orchard,
walks inside the orchard keeper.

Millions of love-tents bloom on the plain.
A star in your chest says,
None of this is outside you.

Close your lips and let the maker of mouths
talk, the one who says, things.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One Transparent Sky

Lovers think they are looking for each other,
but there is only one search.

Wandering this world is wandering that,
both inside one transparent sky.
In here there is no dogma and no heresy.

The miracle of Jesus is himself,
not what he said or did about the future.
Forget the future. I would worship someone
who could do that.

On the way you may want to look back, or not,
but if you can say, There is nothing ahead,
there will be nothing there.

Stretch your arms and take hold
the cloth of your clothes with both hands.
The cure for pain is in the pain.

Good and bad are mixed. If you don't have both,
you do not belong with us.

When someone gets lost, is not here,
he must be inside us. There is no place like that
anywhere in the world.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Subtle Truth

If you want money more than anything,
you will be bought and sold.

If you have a greed for food,
you will become a loaf of bread.

This is a subtle truth.
Whatever you love, you are.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Your True Life

 As you start to walk out on the way,
the way appears.

As you cease to be,
true life begins.

As you grow smaller,
this world cannot contain you.

You will be shown a being
that has no you in it.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Population of the World

Mark Rothko, Untitled

Christ is the population of the world,
and every object as well. There is no room
for hypocrisy. Why use bitter soup for healing,
when sweet water is everywhere?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Soul, Heart, and Body One Morning

There is a morning where presence
comes over you, and you sing
like a rooster in your earth-colored shape.

Your heart hears and, no longer frantic,
begins to dance. At that moment
soul reaches total emptiness.

Your heart becomes Mary, miraculously pregnant,
and body, like a two-day-old Jesus,
says wisdom words.

Now the heart turns to light,
and the body picks up the tempo.

Where Shams Tabriz walks, the footprints
are musical notes, and holes
you fall through into space.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cry Easily

Keep your intelligence white-hot
and your grief glistening,
so your life will stay fresh.
Cry easily like a little child.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What Jesus Runs From

The son of Mary, Jesus, hurries up a slope
as though a wild animal were chasing him.
Someone following him asks, Where are you going?
No one is after you. Are you the one
who says words over a dead person, so that
he wakes up? I am. Who then could possibly
cause you to run like this? Jesus explains.

I say the Great Name over the deaf and the blind,
they are healed. Over a stony mountainside
and it tears its mantle down to the navel.
But when I speak lovingly for hours with those
who take human warmth and mock it, when I say the Name
to them, nothing happens. They remain rock,
or turn to sand. Other diseases are ways for mercy
to enter, but this nonresponding breeds violence
and coldness toward God. I am fleeing from that. As
little by little air steals water, so praise
dries up and evaporates with foolish people who refuse to
change. Like cold stone you sit on, a cynic steals
body heat. He does not feel the sun. Jesus was not running
from anything. He was teaching in a new way.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Star with No Name

When a baby is taken from the wet nurse,
it easily forgets her and starts eating solid food.

Seeds feed awhile on the ground,
then lift up into the sun.
So you should taste filtered light
and work toward that which has no personal covering.

That's how you came here, like a star with no name.
Move in the night sky with those anonymous lights.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tattooing in Qazwin (2)

LeBron James with chest tattoo of a lion;
was he wailing from tattoo pain?
Photo found here.

The ear.
Doc, let's do a lion with no ears this time.

The barber shakes his head and once more
the needle and once more, the wailing.
Where are you now?
The belly.
I like a lion without a belly.

The master lion-maker stands for a long time
with his fingers in his mouth.
Finally, he throws the needle down.
No one has ever asked me to do such a thing.
To create a lion without a tail or a head or a stomach.
God himself could not do it.

Brother, stand the pain. Escape the poison
of your impulses. The sky will bow to your beauty
if you do. Learn to light the candle. Rise
with the sun. That way a thorn expands to a rose.
A particular glows with the universal.

What is it to praise? Make yourself particles.
What is it to know something of God?
Burn inside that presence. Burn up.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Tattooing in Qazwin (1)

In Qazwin they have a custom of tattooing themselves
for good luck, with a blue ink,
on the back of the hand, the shoulder, whatever.

A certain man there goes to his barber
and asks to be given a powerful, heroic blue lion
on his shoulder blade.

And do it with flair. I have Leo Ascending.
I want plenty of blue.

But as soon as the needle starts pricking,
he howls, What are you doing?

The lion.

Which part did you start with?

I began with the tail.

Leave out the tail. That lion's rump
is in a bad place for me. It cuts off my wind.

The barber continues and immediately
the man yells out, Ooooooooooooo, which part now?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What is Love? Gratitude

Don't unstring your bow.
I am your four-feathered arrow
that has not been used yet.

I am a strong knifeblade word,
not some if or maybe, dissolving in air.
I am sunlight slicing the dark.

Who made this night?
A forge deep in the earth-mud.

What is the body?

What is love?

What is hidden in our chests?

What else?

Don't ask what love can make or do.
Look at the colors of the world.
The riverwater moving in all rivers at once.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Mouse and a Frog (2)

Illustration for an Aesop's fable found here

But one day the mouse complains, There are times
when I want sohbet, and you're out in the water,
jumping around where you can't hear me.

We meet at this appointed time,
but the text says, Lovers pray constantly.

Once a day, once a week, five times an hour,
is not enough. Fish like we are
need the ocean around us.

Do camel bells say, Let's meet back here Thursday night?
Ridiculous. They jingle
together continuously,
talking while the camel walks.

Do you pay regular visits to yourself?
Don't argue or answer rationally.

Let us die,
   and dying, reply.

*This is the night Rumi died, in 1273.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Mouse and a Frog (1)

Photo of frog rescuing a mouse found here
it was shot in the flood waters of a 2006 Indian moonsoon

A mouse and a frog meet every morning on the riverbank.
They sit in a nook of the ground and talk.

Each morning, the second they see each other,
they open easily, telling stories and dreams and secrets,
empty of any fear or suspicious holding-back.

To watch and listen to those two
is to understand how, as it is written,
sometimes when two beings come together,
Christ becomes visible.

The mouse starts laughing out a story he hasn't thought of
in five years, and the telling might take five years.

There is no blocking the speechflow-river-running-
all-carrying momentum that true intimacy is.

Bitterness doesn't have a chance with those two.
The God-messenger Khidr touches a roasted fish.
It leaps off the grill back into the water.

Friend sits by Friend, and the tablets appear.
They read the mysteries off each other's foreheads.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wean Yourself

Little by little, wean yourself.
This is the gist of what I have to say.

From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in blood,
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,
to a searcher after wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.

Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo.
You might say, The world outside is vast and intricate.
There are wheatfields and mountain passes
and orchards in bloom.

At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight
the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding.

You ask the embryo why he or she stays cooped up
in the dark with its eyes closed.

Listen to the answer.

There is no "other world."
I only know what I have experienced.
You must be hallucinating.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Nightwatchman (2)

Night Shadows, by Edward Hopper
The nightwatchman knows the way
from body to soul, how soul moves
in stomach bile, in blood and semen, in saliva.

Soul works inside those fluids
to keep the body fresh and full of energy.

So the stars and the planets and this world
are moving to bring grace here
through the cold night-clarity.

Events like battle arrows crisscross
from every direction. There is only one archer.

The skill of the sheepdog comes from the shepherd.
A city has a collective intelligence,
and each person there has a unique knowing.

Sometimes random bits pretend
to be a caravan, but it was a good messenger
who brought us the order out on the road
to Come back, Come back.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Nightwatchman (1)

Nighthawks, by Edward Hopper
I sit by the side of one who watches
like the stars at night without sleeping watch.

My friend sits on the roof at night.
I attend that watching.

During the day I help with the gardening.
He is both a tender of flowers
and flowering trees.

It is no shame to be in this friendship,
or if it is, it is.

I was on my way elsewhere
when I saw the nightwatchman
sitting on the sky's roof like a guard.

Like a king, like a gardener in his garden,
rainwet stones, like the body's hand-me-down.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Dying Dog

A Woman Bathing, Rembrandt van Rijn

A dog is dying on the road.
A man is weeping beside him. A beggar comes by.

Why the tears? This dog hunted game for me.
He kept watch at night.
Many times he drove away thieves.

What's wrong? Hunger has weakened him.
What's in the bag? Your food sack looks full.

Those are leftovers from last night.
I'll eat them later.
Give a little to the dog.

I give him these tears instead.
They are easier to come by.
Food on the road costs hard-earned money.

The beggar curses the man and leaves.
The beggar is right. The man's values are reversed.
Tears are worth more than money.
Tears are blood distilled into water.

Pay attention to those who want to change
so badly that they cry and dissolve
into lovingkindness and freedom.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

One Swaying Being

Love is not condescending, never that,
nor books, nor any marking on paper,
nor what people say of each other.

Love is a tree
with branches reaching into eternity
and roots set deep in eternity,
and no trunk.

Have you seen it? The mind cannot.
Your desiring cannot.

The longing you feel for this love
comes from inside you.

When you become the Friend,
your longing will be as the man in the ocean
who holds to a piece of wood.

Eventually, wood, man, and ocean
become one swaying being,
Shams Tabriz, the secret of God.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Majesty and Helplessness

Torn wall covering, found here

Always check your inner state
with the lord of your heart.

Copper does not know it's copper,
until it is changing into gold.

Your loving does not know its majesty,
until it knows its helplessness.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Descend into the Pith

Would you like to have revealed to you
the truth of the Friend?

Leave the rind,
and descend into the pith.

Fold within fold, the beloved
drowns in his own being. This world
is drenched with that drowning.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Voice through the Door

Sometimes you hear a voice through the door
calling you, as fish out of water
hear the waves, or a hunting falcon
hears the drum's Come back. Come back.

This turning toward what you deeply love
saves you. Read the book of your life,
which has been given you.

A voice comes to your soul saying,
Lift your foot. Cross over.

Move into emptiness
of question and answer and question.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Listening (2)

Lisa Trehot, by Auguste Renoir

Listen, and feel the beauty of your separation,
the unsayable absence.

There is a moon inside every human being.
Learn to be companions with it.

Give more of your life to this listening.

As brightness is to time,
so you are to the one who talks
to the deep ear in your chest.

I should sell my tongue and buy a thousand ears
when that one steps near and begins to speak.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Listening (1)

What is the deep listening?
Sama is a greeting from the secret ones
inside the heart, a letter.

The branches of your intelligence
grow new leaves in the wind of this listening.

The body reaches a peace.
Rooster sound comes,
reminding you of your love for dawn.

The reed flute and the singer's lips.
The knack of how spirit breathes into us
becomes as simple and ordinary
as eating and drinking.

The dead rise with the pleasure of listening.
If someone cannot hear a trumpet melody,
sprinkle dirt on him and declare him dead.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Your Face

You may be planning departure,
as a human soul leaves the world
taking almost all its sweetness with it.

You saddle your horse. You must be going.
Remember that you have friends here
as faithful as the grass and the sky.

Have I failed you? Possibly you are angry.
But remember our nights of conversation,
the well work, yellow roses by the ocean,

the longing, the archangel Gabriel
saying, So be it.

Shams Tabriz, your face
is what every religion tries to remember.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jars of Springwater

Jars of springwater are not enough anymore.
Take us down to the river.

The face of peace, the sun itself.
No more the slippery, cloudlike moon.

Give us one clear morning after another,
and the one whose work remains unfinished,

who is our work as we diminish,
idle, though occupied, empty, and open.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A General Introductory Lecture

A nightingale flies nearer the roses.
A girl blushes. Pomegranates ripen.

Hallaj will be executed.
A man walks a mountain path, solitary
and full of prayer.

Narcissus at the edge, creekwater washing
tree roots. God is giving
a general introductory lecture.
We hear and read it everywhere,
in the field, through the branches.
We will never finish studying.

Neither of us has a penny,
yet we are walking the jeweler's bazaar
seriously considering making a purchase.

Or shall I say this with other metaphors?
A barn crowded with souls.
Quietness served around a table.

Two people talk along a road
that's paved with words.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Sweet Taste of Grief

I saw grief drinking a cup of sorrow
and called out, 
It tastes sweet, does it not?

You have caught me, grief answered,
and you have ruined my business.

How can I sell sorrow, 
when you know it's a blessing?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Awkward Comparisons

This physical world has no two things alike.
Every comparison is awkwardly rough.

You can put a lion next to a man,
but the placing is hazardous to both.

Say the body is like this lamp.
It has to have a wick and oil, sleep and food.
If it doesn't get those, it will die,
and it is always burning those up, trying to die.

But where is the sun in this comparison?
It rises, and the lamp's light
mixes with the day.

Oneness, which is the true reality,
cannot be understood with lamp and sun images,
and the blurring of a plural into a unity is wrong.

No image can describe
what of our fathers and mothers,
our grandfathers and grandmothers, remains.

Language does not touch
the one who lives in both of us.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Don't listen to anything I say.
I must enter the center of the fire.

Fire is my child, but I must be consumed
and become fire.

Why is there crackling and smoke?
Because the firewood and the flames
are talking to each other.

You are too dense. Go away.

You are too wavering.
I have solid form.

In the darkness those friends keep arguing.
Like a wanderer with no face.

Like the most powerful bird in existence
sitting on its perch, refusing to move.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mary's Hiding

Before these possessions you love
slip away, say what Mary said
when she was surprised by Gabriel.

I'll hide inside God.

Naked in her room
she saw a form of beauty
that could give her new life.

Like the sun coming up,
or a rose as it opens,
she leaped, as her habit was,
out of herself into the presence.

There was fire in the channel of her breath.
Light and majesty came.

I am smoke from that fire
and proof of its existence,
more than any external form.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Only Breath (2)

Friends, when I taste love's wine,
the two worlds combine,

and I have no purpose
but this play of presences.

If I spend one moment outside you,
I repent, and when I have

a moment of closer rapport,
I dance to rubble the ruins

of both. Shams Tabriz,
this friendship is all I say.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Only Breath (1)

Ah, true believers, what can I say?
I no longer know who I am.

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim.
Not Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen.
I am not from the East or the West,
not out of ocean or up from the ground.
Not natural or ethereal, not composed
of elements at all. I do not exist.

I am not from China or India, not
from the town of Bulghar on the Volga
nor remote Arabian Saqsin. Not 
from either Iraq, between the rivers,
or in western Persia. Not an entity
in this world or the next. I did not
descend from Adam and Eve or any origin
story. My place is the placeless,
a trace of the traceless, neither
body or soul, I belong to the beloved,
have seen the two worlds as one
and that one call to and know,
first, last, outer, inner, only
that breath breathing human being.

Friday, November 26, 2010


Margate Harbour, Joseph Mallord William Turner

When you are with everyone but me,
you are with no one.

When you are with no one but me,
you are with everyone.

Instead of being so bound up with everyone,
be everyone.

When you become that many,
you are nothing. Empty.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

When You Feel Your Lips

When you feel your lips becoming infinite
and sweet, like the moon in a sky,
when you feel that spaciousness inside,
Shams of Tabriz will be there too.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bonfire at Midnight

A shout comes out of my room
where I've been cooped up.
After all my lust and dead living
I can still live with you.
You want me to.
You fix and bring me food.
You forget the way I've been.

The ocean moves and surges in the heat
of the middle of the day,
in the heat of this thought I'm having.
Why aren't all human resistances
burning up with this thought?

It is a drum and arms waving.
It is a bonfire at midnight on the top edge of a hill,
this meeting again with you.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Music

For sixty years I have been forgetful,
every minute, but not for a second
has this flowing toward me stopped or slowed.
I deserve nothing. Today I recognize
that I am the guest the mystics talk about.
I play this living music for my host.
Everything today is for the host.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all.
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for what comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

This Recklessness

War Path, by Alfred Jacob Miller

I have no vocation but this,
and no need to touch every rose and thornpoint.

You are seeing through my eyes
and tasting with my tongue.

Why sell bitterness? Why do anything?
When you breakfast at the king's table,
there is no appetite for lunch.

I do not complain or brag about ascetic practices.
I would explain, but words will not help,
how there is nothing to grieve.

If you have no trace of this recklessness,
tell me your state.

I have forgotten how to say how I am.
The sun has already shone today.

Why should I describe the moon
coming up over sleeping quarters?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Grainy Taste

Without a net, I catch a falcon
and release it to the sky,
hunting God.

This wine I drink today
was never held in a clay jar.

I love this world,
even as I hear the great wind
of leaving it rising,

for there is a grainy taste I prefer
to every idea of heaven:
human friendship.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I See My Beauty in You

I see my beauty in you,
I become a mirror
that cannot close its eyes to your longing.

My eyes wet with yours in the early light.
My mind every moment giving birth,
always conceiving, always in the ninth month,
always the come-point.

How do I stand this?
We become these words we say,
a wailing sound moving out into the air.

These thousands of worlds that rise from nowhere,
how does your face contain them?

I am a fly in your honey, then closer,
a moth caught in the flame's allure,
then empty sky stretched out in homage.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

An Elephant in the Dark

Some Hindus have an elephant to show.
No one here has ever seen an elephant.
They bring it at night to a dark room.

One by one, we go in the dark and come out
saying how we experience the animal.
One of us happens to touch the trunk.
A water-pipe kind of creature.

Another, the ear. A very strong, always moving
back and forth, fan-animal. Another, the leg.
I find it still, like a column on a temple.

Another touches the curved back.
A leathery throne. Another the cleverest,
feels the tusk. A rounded sword made of porcelain.
He is proud of his description.

Each of us touches one place
and understands the whole that way.
The palm and the fingers feeling in the dark
are how the senses explore the reality of the elephant.

If each of us held a candle there,
and if we went in together, we could see it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How Minds Most Want to Be

You are the living marrow. The rest is hay.
Dead grass does not nourish a human being.
When you are not here, this desire we feel
has no traveling companion.

When the sun is gone, the soul's clarity fades.
There is nothing but idiocy and mistakes.
We are half-dead, inanimate, exhausted.

The way minds most want to be
is an ocean with a soul swimming in it.
No one can describe that.

My soul, you are a master, a Moses, a Jesus.
Why do I stay blind in your presence?
You are Joseph at the bottom of his well.
Constantly working, but you do not get paid,
because what you do seems trivial, like play.

Now silence. Unless these words fill
with nourishment from the unseen, they will stay empty.

Why would I serve my friends bowls
with no food in them?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Whatever Circles

Walk to the well.
Turn as the earth and the moon turn,
circling what they love.

Whatever circles come from the center.

Monday, November 15, 2010

An Edge of Foam

A dervish lover was told to turn
toward his own face,
and he did, saying, Lord, lord, for years
with no answer, no message back,
yet he was always there turning in silence,

with no music supporting him,
no tambourine rhythm.

A pigeon knows which roof to haunt.
Even if you drive it off,
it will circle and stay near.

This is the critical moment
when a swell of ocean turns
its edge to foam.

Every dervish has two mouths,
a crafted reed opening
and the lips of the flute player.

Lord, don't speak from there.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Held Like This

Mother and Child, by Henry Moore

Held like this, to draw in milk,
no will, tasting clouds of milk,
never so content.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Inside the Rose (2)

But there are those in bodies
who are pure soul. It can happen.

These messengers invite us to walk with them.
They say, You may feel happy enough where you are,
but we cannot do without you any longer. Please.

So we walk along inside the rose,
being pulled like the creeks and rivers are,
out from the town onto the plain.

My guide, my soul, your only sadness
is when I am not walking with you.

In deep silence, and with some exertion
to stay in your company,
I could save you a lot of trouble.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Inside the Rose (1)

That camel there with its calf running behind it,
Sutur and Koshek, we are like them,
mothered and nursed
by where and whom we are from,
following our fates where they lead,

until we hear a drum begin,
grace entering our lives, a prayer of gratitude.

We feel the call of presence,
and the journey changes.

A dry field of stones turns soft and moist
as cheese. The mountain feels level under us.

Love becomes agile and quick,
and suddenly we are there.

This traveling is not done with the body.
God's secret takes form in our loving.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Taste of Morning

Time's knife slides from the sheath,
as a fish from where it swims.

Being closer and closer is the desire
of the body. Don't wish for union.

There is a closeness beyond that.
Why would God want a second God?

Fall in love in such a way
that it frees you from any connecting.

Love is the soul's light, the taste of morning,
no me, no we, no claim of being.

These words are the smoke the fire gives off
as it absolves its defects,
as eyes in silence, tears, face.

Love cannot be said.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This Piece of Food

This piece of food cannot be eaten,
nor this bit of wisdom found by looking.

There is a secret core in everyone
not even Gabriel can know by trying to know.