Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Doctor Who Comes

In his dream an old man appeared.
Good king, I have news.

Tomorrow a stranger will come. I have sent him.
He is a physician you can trust.
Listen to him.

As dawn rose, the king was sitting
in the belvedere on his roof.
He saw someone coming, a person like the dawn.
He ran to meet this guest. Like swimmers
who love the water, their souls knit together
without being sewn, no seam.

The king opened his arms
and held the saintly doctor to him.
He led him to the head table.

At last I have found what patience can bring.
This one whose face answers any question,
who simply by looking can loosen
the knot of intellectual discussion.

Now Husam touches my arm.
He wants me to say more about Shams.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Great Rose Tree

This is the day and the year of the rose.
The whole garden is opening with laughter.
Iris whispering to cypress.

The rose is the joy of meeting someone.
The rose is a world imagination
cannot imagine, a messenger
from the orchard where the soul lives.

A small seed that points
to the great rose tree.

Hold its hand and walk like a child.
A rose is what grows from the work
the prophets do, full moon, new moon.

Accept the invitation spring extends,
four birds flying toward a master.

A rose is all these and the silence
that closes and sits in the shade, a bud.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Bright Core of Failure

Sometimes you enter the heart.
Sometimes you are born from the soul.
Sometimes you weep a song of separation.
It is all the same glory.

You live in beautiful forms,
and you are the energy that breaks form.
All light, neither this nor that.

Human beings go places on foot.
Angels, with wings.

Even if they find nothing but ruins
and failure, you are the bright core of that.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

An Invisible Bee

Look how desire has changed in you,
how light and colorless it is,
with the world growing new marvels
because of your changing.

Your soul has become an invisible bee.
We don't see it working,
but there's the full honeycomb.

Your body's height, six feet or so,
but your soul rises through nine levels of sky.

A barrel corked with earth
and a raw wooden spile
keeps the oldest vineyard's wine inside.

When I see you,
it is not so much your physical form,
but the company of two riders,
your pure-fire devotion and your love
for the one who teaches you.

Then the sun and moon on foot behind those.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Self We Share

Look fish, you are already in the ocean.
Just swimming there makes you friends with glory.

What are these grudges about?
You are Benjamin.
Joseph has put a gold cup in your grain sack
and accused you of being a thief.

Now he draws you aside and says,
You are my brother. I am a prayer. You are the Amen.

We move in eternal regions,
yet we worry about property here.

Let this be the prayer of each:

You are the source of my life.
You bring rivers from the mountain springs.
You brighten my eyes.

The wine you offer takes me out of myself
into the self we share.

Doing that is religion.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Miracle-Signs

Here are the miracle-signs you want,
that you cry through the night
and get up at dawn asking,

that in the absence of what you ask for,
your day gets dark, your neck thin
as a spindle, that what you give away
is all you own, that you sacrifice belongings,
sleep, health, your head,

that you often sit down in a fire like aloeswood
and often go out to meet a blade
like a battered helmet.

When acts of helplessness become habitual,
those are the signs.

Excuse my wandering.
How can one be orderly with this?

It is like counting leaves in a garden,
along with the song-notes of partridges
and crows. Sometimes organization
and computation become absurd.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Inside This River

Inside this river there is a moon
which is not a reflection.

From the river bottom the moon speaks.
I travel in continuous conversation
with the river as it goes.

Whatever is above
and seemingly outside this river
is actually in it.

Merge with it, in here or out there,
as you please.

This is the river of rivers
and the beautiful silence of endless talking.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Verge of Tears

You make our souls tasty like rose marmalade.
You cause us to fall flat on the ground
like the shadow of a cypress still growing at its tip.

Rainwater through a mountain forest,
we run after you in different ways.
We live like the verge of tears
inside your eyes. Don't cry.

You trick some people with gold ropes.
You tie them up and leave them.
Others you pull near at dawn.
You are the one within every attraction.

All silence. You are not alone, never that.
But you must at times become distracted,
because look, you have taken the food
that you were going to give to Jesus,
you have taken that out to the stable
and put it down in front of the donkey.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Behind Each Eye

Spring overall. But inside us
there is another unity.

Behind each eye
one glowing weather.

Every forest branch moves differently
in the breeze, but as they sway
they connect at the roots.

Monday, June 21, 2010

What the Friend Wants Done

One who does what the Friend wants done
will never need a Friend.

There is a bankruptcy that is pure gain.
The moon stays bright
when it does not avoid the night.

A rose's rarest essence
lives in the thorn.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dhu'l-Nun's Instructive Madness

 Some friends of Dhu'l-Nun, the Egyptian,
go to see him. They have heard
that he has gone spectacularly insane,
that he is a wildfire no one can contain,
this man who has been such a source of wisdom.
They arrive at his house. He yells out,
Hey, you had better watch out,
coming here. Who are you?

Don't you remember us? We are your friends.
What secret are you hiding with this madness?

Dhu'l-nun begins to rave a mixture of filthy language
and gibberish. He rushes out and grabs up stones
and throws them at the group. They run.

See, he calls. You are not friends.
A friend does not run from pain
inflicted by a friend.

There is a joy within suffering
that is the kernel of friendship.
A friend is pure gold singing
inside the refining fire. He thrives on fights
and misunderstandings and even madness.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Messengers from the Mystery

balloon flowers - one opened, one as yet unopened

Love is the way
messengers from the mystery
tell us things.

Love is the mother,
We are her children.

She shines inside us,
visible-invisible as we trust
or lose trust,
or feel it start to grow again.

Friday, June 18, 2010


When the soul first put on the body's shirt,
the ocean lifted up all its gifts.

When love first tasted the lips
of being human, it started singing.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The King Inside

There are people with their eyes open
whose hearts are shut. What do they see? Matter.

But someone whose love is alert,
even if the eyes go to sleep,
he or she will be waking up thousands of others.

If you are not one of those light-filled lovers,
restrain your desire-body's intensity.
Put limits on how much you eat
and how long you lie down.

But if you are awake here in the chest,
sleep long and soundly.
Your spirit will be out roaming and working,
even on the seventh level.
Muhammed says, I close my eyes and rest in sleep,
but my love never needs to rest.

The guard at the gate drowses.
The king stays awake. You have a king inside
who listens for what delights the soul.

That king's wakefulness
cannot be described in a poem.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cuisine and Sex

You risk your life to feed desires,
yet you give your soul only short grazing spans,
and those grudgingly.

You borrow ten and repay fourteen.
Most of your decisions can be traced back
to cuisine and sex.

The fuel basket goes from one stokehole
to the next. Six friends hoist
your handsomeness and carry it
to the cemetery.

Food changes going from table to latrine.
You live between deaths,
thinking this is right enough.

Close these eyes to open the other.
Let the center brighten your sight.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Wide Plain of Death

I placed one foot on the wide plain
of death, and some grand immensity
sounded on the emptiness.

I have felt nothing ever
like the wild wonder of that moment.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beyond Love Stories (2)

Love flows down. The ground
submits to the sky and suffers what comes.

Is the ground worse for giving in like that?
Do not put blankets over the drum.
Open completely.

Let your spirit ear listen
to the green dome's passionate murmur.

Let the cords of your robe be untied.
Shiver in this new love
beyond all above and below.
The sun rises,
but which way does the night go?

I have no more words.
Let the soul speak
with the silent articulation of a face.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Beyond Love Stories I

Love comes with a knife,
not some shy question,
and not with fears for its reputation.

I say these things disinterestedly.
Accept them in kind.

Love is a madman,
working his wild schemes,
tearing off his clothes,
drinking poison, and now quietly
choosing annihilation.

A tiny spider tries to wrap
an enormous wasp. Think of the spiderweb
woven across the cave where Muhammed slept.

There are love stories,
and there is obliteration into love.

You have been walking the ocean's edge,
holding up your robes to keep them dry.

You must dive deeper under,
a thousand times deeper.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lamp after Lamp

You that prefer, as crows do,
winter's chill and the empty limbs,
notice now this that fills
with new leaves and roses opening
and the nightbird's song,

Let your love dissolve also
into this season's moment,
or when it's over you will buy
lamp after lamp to find it.

Painting "Succulent Eggplants" by Beatriz Milhazez here

Friday, June 11, 2010

Morning Wind

The morning wind spreads its fresh smell.
We must get up to take that in,
that wind that lets us live.
Breathe, before it's gone.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stranded Somewhere

If you are the body, that one is the soul
of the universe. If you are the soul,
that one is the soul within all souls.

Wherever you go, whatever you are, listen for the voice
that asks. Who will be sacrificed tonight?

Jump up then and volunteer. Accept
the cup that is offered every second.

If you are bored and contemptuous,
love is a walk in a meadow.
If you are stranded somewhere,
love is an Arabian horse.

The ocean feeds itself to its fish.
If you are an ocean fish, why bother
with bread the ground grows?

These jars of grief and trouble
that we call bodies, throw stones and break them.

My cage is this longing for Shams.
Be my worst enemy. Shatter it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Inner Workings

The inner working of a human being
is a jungle. Sometimes wolves
dominate. Sometimes wild hogs.

Be wary when you breathe.
At one moment gentle, generous qualities,
like Joseph's, pass from one nature
to another. The next moment
vicious qualities move in hidden ways.

In every instant a new species rises
in the chest--now a demon, now an angel,
now a wild animal, now a human friend.

There are also those in this amazing jungle
who can absorb you into their own surrender.

If you have to stalk and steal something,
steal from them.

Thank you to Lorenzo for such a fine finger pointing toward RUMI DAYS.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Father Reason

The universe is a form of divine law,
your reasonable father.

When you feel ungrateful to him,
the shapes of the world seem mean and ugly.

Make peace with that father, the elegant patterning,
and every experience will fill with immediacy.

Because I love this, I am never bored.
Beauty constantly wells up like the noise of springwater
in my ear. Tree limbs rise and fall like ecstatic arms.
Leaf sounds talk together like poets
making fresh metaphors.

The green felt cover slips;
we get a flash of the mirror underneath.

The conventional opinion of this poetry
is that it shows great optimism for the future.
But Father Reasons says, No need to announce the future.

This now is it. Your deepest need and desire
is satisfied by this moment's energy
here in your hand.

Monday, June 7, 2010


 Again, the sharp new moon blade.
Again we walk a garden
with the lily's clever talking around us.

Green satin no tailor sews,
trees putting on their hats.

A drumming begins, and we play along
on the drums of our stomachs.

The lake that was ice and iron
now is ridged in the wind like David's chainmail.

A voice says to the herbs, Rise up.
The mystic crane returns.
The humiliated ones dress and show
their heads in windows again.

There is a public concert on the tomb of January.
The willow shakes its head.

Those we thought were lost are back.
How the sun is with plants
is evidence enough.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

No Need to Ask

The one who brings wine pours again,
no need to ask.

Do you ask the moon to rise
and give its light?

When ranks of soldiers dissolve,
dismissed for a holiday,

when a lost hand reaches
to touch the rescuing hand,

when a candle next to a mirrored
sconce gets lit,

your presence enters my soul.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Up to the Neck

I sat long enough in fire.
Now I am up to my neck
in the water of union.

You say, Up to the neck
is not enough.

Make your head your foot
and descend into love.
There is no up-to-the-neck union.

I say, But for the sake of your garden
I sat up to my neck in blood.

You say, Yes, you escaped
the alluring world, but not yourself.

You are the magician
caught in his own trickery.

Cut the breath of self and be silent.
Language cannot come from your throat
as you choke and go under.

Friday, June 4, 2010

As a Wick Does

There is nourishment like bread
that feeds one part of your life,
nourishment like light for another.

There are many rules about restraint
with the former, but only one rule
for the latter. Never be satisfied.

Eat and drink the soul substance
as a wick does with the oil it soaks in.
Give light to the company.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Great Wagon

When I see your face, the stones start spinning.
You appear. All studying wanders.
I lose my place.

Water turns pearly.
Fire dies down and does not consume.

In your presence I do not want
what I thought I wanted,
those three little hanging lamps.

Inside your face the ancient manuscripts
seem like rusty mirrors.
You breathe, and new shapes appear.

The music of a desire as widespread as spring
begins to move like a great wagon.

Drive slowly.
Some of us walking alongside are lame.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Inside a Country Dialect

A human being is like the rod
Moses held or the words
that Jesus said.

The outer is just a piece of wood,
or mouth-sounds of a country dialect,
whose inner parts can divide
the green ocean and make the dead
sit up and smile.

You see the far-off tents
of an encampment. You go closer.

There is a dust-shape, someone walking near.
Inside that, a man, bright eyes
and the strength of his presence.

When Moses returns from the wilderness
where he has gone alone,
Mount Sinai begins to dance.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Flower's Eye

Find me near the flower's eye
that takes in provocation
and begins to grow.

Love is a baby that struggles
and fights, stops nursing, then runs out
through the door, escaping as a fire
jumping to the next burn.