Sunday, October 31, 2010


Learn the alchemy true human beings know.
The moment you accept what troubles
you've been given, the door will open.

Welcome difficulty, as a familiar comrade.
Joke with torment brought by the Friend.

Sorrows are the rags of old clothes
and jackets that serve to cover,
and then are taken off.

That undressing,
and the naked body underneath,
is the sweetness that comes after grief.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

He Is a Letter

Someone who goes with half a loaf of bread
to a small place that fits like a nest around him,
someone who wants no more,
who is not himself longed for
by anyone else.

He is a letter to everyone. You open it.
It says, Live.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Judge a Moth by the Beauty of Its Candle

You are the king's son.
Why do you close yourself up?
Become a lover.

Don't aspire to be a general
or a minister of state.

One is a boredom for you,
the other a disgrace.

You have been a picture on a bathhouse wall
long enough. No one recognizes you here, do they?

God's lion disguised as a human being.
I saw that and put down the book
I was studying, Hariri's Maqamat.

There is no early and late for us.
The only way to measure a lover
is by the grandeur of the beloved.

Judge a moth by the beauty of its candle.

Shams is invisible because he is inside sight.
He is the intelligent essence
of what is everywhere at once, seeing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Lord of All the East

Slave, be aware that the Lord
of all the East is here.

A flickering stormcloud
shows his lightnings to you.

Your words are guesswork.
He speaks from experience.
There is a huge difference.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Am Not

I am not the centuries-ago Muhammed.
I listen inside this day
like a fresh-fired Phoenix,
not some pigeon looking for seed.

There is a king for whom other kings
are stable boys. Some sip Hallaj's wine.
I drink his truth by the jar, by the barrel.

Qibla for the soul, kaaba for the heart.
I am the constant sky,
not a Friday mosque's ceiling dome.

Clean mirror, no rust.
I am the burning core of Mount Sinai,
not a mind full of hatred.

I taste a wine not pressed from grapes.
The one everyone calls to
when they are in sudden mortal danger,
I am That.

Gabriel could sit here beside me,
if he became God.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The King's Lead-Camel

There is a boy watching a cornfield,
keeping birds away by beating a small drum.

A king with a huge army camps nearby.
He has a tall and powerful camel
that carries big kettle drums and a drummer
at the front of his columns
constantly throbbing out courage
and determination.

That particular camel wanders
into the boy's cornfield.
The boy runs toward it
beating his toy tom-tom to scare it away.

A wise man advises, Don't bother, my son.
That camel is used to drumsound.
He will not scare.

So a lover completely given to the beloved
has no fear of death and no need of showing off.

It is with me as with the boy,
who stops beating his fear-drum
to watch and follow quietly
behind the king's lead camel
meandering through the corn.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What I See in Your Eyes

Out of myself, but wanting to go beyond that
wanting what I see in your eyes,
not power, but to kiss the ground
with the dawn breeze for company,
wearing white pilgrim cloth.

I have a certain knowing.
Now I want sight.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Out in Empty Sky

If you catch a fragrance of the unseen,
like that, you will not be able
to be contained.
You will be out in empty sky.

Any beauty the world has, any desire,
will easily be yours.

As you live deeper in the heart,
the mirror gets clearer and cleaner.

Shams of Trabriz realized God in himself.
When that happens,
you have no anxieties about losing anyone
or anything. You break the spells
that human difficulties cause.

Interpretations come, hundreds,
from all the religious symbols
and parables and prayers.

You know what they mean,
when the presence lives through you.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Silkworm Moth - Bombyx mori - Just Hatched 
Anna Theodora at flickr, used with permission

The hurt you embrace
becomes joy.

Call it to your arms
where it can change.

A silkworm eating leaves
makes a cocoon.

Each of us weaves a chamber
of leaves and sticks.

Silkworms begin to truly exist
as they disappear inside that room.

Without legs, we fly.
When I stop speaking,

this poem will close, 
and open its silent wings . . .

Friday, October 22, 2010

Underwater in the Fountain

Susanna Sitting by the Fountain
Crispijn van de Passe I, Dutch, 1564 - 1637
Philadelphia Museum of Art

When you die into the soul,
you lift the lid on the cooking pot.

You see the truth
of what you have been doing.

It looks terrible and sad
before the crossover move
that lets nine levels of ascension
turn into ordinary ground.

Into silence, a conversation with Khidr,
as there you are blind and deaf,
underwater in the fountain.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Consider What Choices

Jackson Pollock, unknown title; I call it "Paw"

You wreck my shop and my house
and now my heart, but how can I run
from what gives me life?

I am weary of personal worrying,
in love with the art of madness.

Tear open my shame and show the mystery.
How much longer do I have to fret
with self-restraint and fear?

Friend, this is how it is.
We are fringe sewn inside
the lining of a robe.

Soon we will be loosened,
the binding threads torn out.

The beloved is a lion.
We are the lame deer in his paws.
Consider what choices we have.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

No Flag

I used to want buyers for my words.
Now I wish someone would buy me away from words.

I have made a lot of charmingly profound images,
scenes with Abraham and Abraham's father, Azar,
who was famous for making icons.

I am so tired of what I have been doing.

Then one image without form came,
and I quit.

Look for someone else to tend the shop.
I am out of the image-making business.

Finally I know the freedom
of madness.

A random image arrives. I scream,
Get out! It disintegrates.

Only love.
Only the holder the flag fits into.
No flag.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Looking for the Center

The Friend comes into my body
looking for the center, unable
to find it, draws a blade,
strikes anywhere.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Knots Untie (2)

We have tried the fullness of presence.
Now it's time for desolation.

Love is pulling us out by the ears to school.
Love wants us clean of resentment
and those impulses that misguide our souls.
We are asleep, but Khidr
keeps sprinkling water on our faces.
Love will tell us the rest of what
we need to know soon.

Then we'll be deeply asleep and profoundly awake
simultaneously, like cave companions.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Knots Untie (1)

Fire is whispering a secret in smoke's ear.
This aloeswood loves me
because I help it live out its purpose.

With me it becomes fragrance,
and then disappears altogether.

The knots untie and open into absence,
as you do with me, my friend.

Eaten by flame, and smoked out into the sky.
This is most fortunate.

What's unlucky is not to change and disappear.
This way leads through humiliation and contempt.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Moments You Have Lived

An essence turns to ocean,
the particles glisten.

Watch how in this candleflame instant
blaze all the moments you have lived.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Medicine out of Pain

In this drumbeat moment of red flowers opening
and grapes being crushed,
the soul and luminous clarity sit together.

All desire wants is a taste of you,
two small villages in a mountain valley
where everyone longs for presence.

We start to step up.
A step appears.

You say, I am more compassionate
than your mother and father.

I make medicine out of your pain.
From your chimney smoke I shape new constellations.

I tell everything, but I do not say it,
because, my friend, it is better
your secret be spoken by you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Autumn Rose Elegy

You have gone to the secret world.
Which way is it? You broke the cage and flew.

You heard the drum that calls you home.
You left this humiliating shelf, this disorienting
desert where we are given wrong directions.

What use now a crown?
You have become the sun.

No need for a belt.
You have slipped out of your waist.

I have heard that near the end
you were eyes looking at soul.
No looking now. You live inside the soul.

You are the strange autumn rose
that led the winter wind in by withering.

You are rain soaking everywere
from cloud to ground.

No bother of talking. Flowing silence
and sweet sleep beside the Friend.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I'm Not Saying This Right

You bind me, and I tear away in a rage to open out
into air, a round brightness, a candlepoint,
all reason, all love.

This confusing joy, your doing,
this hangover, your tender thorn.

You turn to look, I turn.
I'm not saying this right.

I am a jailed crazy who ties up spirit-women.
I am Solomon.

What goes come back. Come back.
We never left each other.

A disbeliever hides his disbelief,
but I will say his secret.

More and more awake, getting up at night,
spinning and falling with love for Shams.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's Not Here

I start out on this road,
call it love or emptiness.
I only know what's not here.

Resentment seeds, backscratching greed,
worrying about outcome, fear of people.

When a bird gets free,
it does not go back for remnants
left on the bottom of the cage.

Close by, I'm rain. Far off,
a cloud of fire. I seem restless,
but I am deeply at ease.

Branches tremble. The roots are still.
I am a universe in a handful of dirt,
whole when totally demolished.

Talk about choices does not apply to me.
While intelligence considers options,
I am somewhere lost in the wind.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Love and I Talking

Ball at the Moulin de la Galette, by Auguste Renoir

Love says, You cannot deny me. Try.
I say, Yes, you appear out of nowhere
like the bubbles in wine, here and then not.

Love says, Prisoned in the body-jar,
singing at the banquet. I say, 
This ecstasy is dangerous.

Love says, I sip the delicious day,
until night takes the cup away.
Then I insist night give it back.
The light I see by never changes.

The water of realization is the wine we mean,
where love is the liquid and your body the flagon.
Grace floods in. The wine's power
breaks the jar. It is happening now.

The water of waking becomes the one who pours,
the wine itself, and every presence at the banquet.
No metaphor can hold this truth that knows how
to keep secret and when to show off.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In the Arc of Your Mallet

Le Pont De L'Europe, by Gustave Caillebotte

Don't go anywhere without me.
Let nothing happen in the sky apart from me,
or on the ground, in this world or that world,
without my being in its happening.

Vision, see nothing I don't see.
Language, say nothing.
The way the night knows itself with the moon,
be that with me. Be the rose
nearest to the thorn that I am.

I want to feel myself in you when you taste food,
in the arc of your mallet when you work,
when you visit friends, when you go
up on the roof by yourself at night.

There is nothing worse than to walk out along the street
without you. I don't know where I'm going.
You are the road and the knower of roads,
more than maps, more than love.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Your Eyes

"Senecio" by Paul Klee

I am so small I can barely be seen.
How can this great love be inside me?

Look at your eyes. They are so small,
but they see enormous things.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Blarney, Ireland

Philosophers have said that we love music
because it resembles the sphere-sounds of union.

We have been part of a harmony before,
so these moments of treble and bass
keep our remembering fresh.

Hearing the sound, we gather strength.
Love kindles with melody. Music feeds a lover
composure, and provides form for the imagination.
Music breathes on personal fire and makes it keener.

The waterhole is deep. A thirsty man climbs
a walnut tree growing next to the pool
and drops walnuts in one by one.

He listens carefully to the sound
as they hit and watches the bubbles.

A more rational man gives advice, You will regret
doing this. You are so far from the water
that by the time you get down to gather walnuts,
the water will have carried them away.

He replies, I am not here for walnuts.
I want the music they make when they hit.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Water From Your Spring

Drinking from the Holy River, Mitchell Kanashkevich

What was in that candle's light
that opened and consumed me so quickly?

Come back, my friend. The form of our love
is not a created form.

Nothing can help me but that beauty.
There was a dawn I remember
when my soul heard something from your soul.

I drank water from your spring
and felt the current take me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


By Saladin's shop suddenly
I hear the music of gold
being hammered, gold and God.

As gold thins out,
the presence becomes a sheer
goldleaf light
on this goldbeater's face,
in his eyes as he works.

As the love-secret of Jacob
becomes Joseph's smile,
as lovers leave what keeps them confined,
as Job's patience dissolves to nothing,
you are the Friend
coming toward this touching.

You are the soul.
Be that, and when you hear yourself
in some hypocrisy,
cut free. Quickly, cut.

*This poem records the moment in Konya when Rumi heard an inner music in the goldbeater's hammering coming from his friend Saladin's shop. The legend is that he began spontaneously turning in the street in response to the music of existence.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hoping to Be More Alive

You are an ocean in a drop of dew,
all the universes in a thin sack of blood.

What are these pleasures then,
these joys, these worlds
that you keep reaching for,
hoping they will make you more alive?

Monday, October 4, 2010

This Dove Here

Someone who does not run
toward the allure of love
walks a road where nothing lives.

But this dove here
senses the love-hawk floating above,
and waits, and will not be driven
or scared to safety.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Out Beyond

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, Language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

No Room for Form (2)

And don't look for me in a human shape.
I am inside your looking. No room
for form with love this strong.

Beat the drum and let the poets speak.
This is a day of purification for those
who are already mature and initiated
into what love is.

No need to wait until we die.
There is more to want here than money
and being famous and bites of roasted meat.

Now, what shall we call this new sort of gazing-house
that has opened in our town where people sit
quietly and pour out their glancing
like light, like answering?

Friday, October 1, 2010

No Room for Form (1)

On the night when you cross the street
from your shop and your house to the cemetery,

you will hear me hailing you from inside
the open grave, and you will realize
how we have always been together.

I am the clear consciousness-core
of your being, the same in ecstasy
as in self-hating fatigue.

That night, when you escape the fear of snakebite
and all irritation with the ants,
you will hear my familiar voice,
see the candle being lit,
smell the incense, the surprise meal
fixed by the lover inside all your other lovers.

This heart-tumult is my signal
to you igniting in the tomb.
So don't fuss with the shroud
and the graveyard road dust.

Those get ripped open and washed away
in the music of our finally meeting.