Poems from Time to Time

 

Lines from different retreats:

 Therefore rejoice

Therefore rejoice
not that your nights will be without
grief clenching your heart,
nor your days without longing and regret.

But your ancient foremothers and sisters,
the witches on the posts,
are calling your name
and the rays of your ever-present dawn
break through the cracks of your darkness.

Look! The mudslides of your winter
have turned into a puddle
newly hatched ducklings call home.

And the tectonic plates of your being,
slow movers, are constantly
reaching for shore.

Isn't it exciting to be alive?

 * * *

Sometimes in meditation
it makes no difference
if the eyes are opened or closed.
Either way
one keeps seeing the beauty
of this aching world.

 * * *

Zoo
I'm a possum
dead to life
under threat
The blocked road is my shield.

I'm a lioness
eager and free
roaming Life's unplowed fields
Blocked roads are my playmates.

Let everything in life love
both possum and lioness!
In the distance I can feel
the approaching deer.

* * *

In The Arms of The Vastness
Lay down your sword
the sharp edges of your heart
Unclench you iron fist
Let the tears flood the gates.
It's dusk
and the shepherd is bringing in
the calves to suckle.
The lonely dusty roads
have brought you here.
Here.
Rest now.
The friend you have been waiting for
Hhas arrived.
Let yourself be cradled
in your arms.

* * *

Overly Watching
Meanwhile, the young pomegranate
is quivering in the morning breeze
its beak turning redder
cheeks puffing up.
Meanwhile the ground
is sizzling to the bare foot
and a back – wide as the Earth
is being met.
Meanwhile an ocean is roaring
somewhere in the world.

Isn't this exactly what we came here for?

* * *

The young pomegranate
Is my friend
We've watched each other grow
Under the changing light.
I
In my womb-like tent
It
On its mother tree
Both
Are gently nudged by Life
To blossom.

* * *

I think of you
and how we sat
in an ecstatic daze
to watch the rising of the sun
in a half-inflated boat,
feet in the cold salty water,
before we realized
it was 2 am
and it's a long dark haul
before it does.

No longer a teenager,
I'm still waiting,
yearning – aeons, life times –
for that rise.

I have known long dark hauls
and ecstatic dazes, and I'm still waiting
under the same cover of stars
for that one magnificent rise.

Did we know then, innocent
and so much in love, everything
there was to know
of friendship and of waiting?

I'm gentler now,
and I wait more patiently:
heedless of time,
not eager to pack and walk away
just for the sweetness of a few kisses,
in the safety of dry shelter,
because the sun lingers.

I'm certain it will rise.
For when my eyes get used to the dark,
they will behold
the turning of the wheel.

* * *

 Love Itself

I have come here not to teach you,
said my old Guru, but to love you.
Love itself will teach you.
I thought, my eyes veiled, drunk
on the potion of the purest of all loves,
that I understood his words.

But now – not so vain: youth gone –
I still search for their meaning.
Long have been the nights of my searching.

O, I've loved plenty,
and more generously been loved,
more than my fair share –
by sudden rain, and white moonlight
and birds that whispered to me
beyond my dreams.
Even by a rock or two
alongside my path.
Still the question remains –
What it means to love
in this world.

I seek not understanding –
for to understand is to limit –
but to soar and dive and plunge,
the way the sun does, every day –
complete surrender
to the vastness, not in humbleness
but in shared greatness – to be resurrected
a thousand times brighter
in tomorrow's dawn.

* * *

 

A moment seen, forever known.
Wendell Berry

A pickup truck drives along the edges of a field
in huge circles and a dog chasing it,

racing and racing, scattering the frightened sheep.
From where I stand I can't see the dog panting

but its immeasurable joy fills my heart.
When I was little, I played like that, really hard,

in the field or on a tree, ignoring the grown-ups
calling. And life was good. I was invincible.

As I watch the dog running as if it could,
and would, run forever, inexplicable kinship –

The dog and I celebrating life.

* * *

 

The Brown Little Beetle

I'd shaken him off my sleeve out the window
but later he was still there – tiny front legs
clasping the ledge of the sill, two stories up,
a tiny speck on gray mossy stone.

He could have been enjoying the scenery
before taking flight – as one would from a balcony
at the top of the world – the way I'd felt on the pick
of the Himalaya mountain, above a perfect sunrise.

But in that moment, brief and wide, I shrank to beetle-size,
up on a high ledge, door slammed shut behind me,
facing the vastness of the world, not sure if my wings
could land me safely on the distant, stony gravel.

Such immense loneliness. The kind of loneliness
you might feel on a clear night in the desert.
Or on an airplane, miles of nothing between you
and the tiny green squares far bellow. Even an atheist

might start praying. If I had bat ears
could I hear him screaming?
The beetle gripped my offered finger,
climbing on it, a helicopter rope after a shipwreck. Down

the two flights, I released him onto the earth
near a poppy in full bloom, grateful for his reminder
of how frightening life can be and it's good
when we, small creatures, stick up for one another.

* * *

Do They Know it's Christmas

On Christmas Eve I went out
for a walk
In the dark hours to watch
the colorful strands of lights
in the neighbors' gardens.
In the distance I heard a night bird calling – it may have been an owl.
Another bird yelled back, and they
carried a conversation for a while.
I wondered if they knew it was a special night,
or if, for them, it was
just another night,
full of mystery and magic
when the unseen worlds meet for a chat
and the forest תמונה יפה מאודspirits hold councils in each other's tree
and the sky dragons flip coins over the moon's attention
and the misty beings playfully make rings with their misty breaths
and humans' joys and tears spread in the
thin cool air in search for
a star or two for comfort.

Yes, I think for the birds
it was just another ordinary night
like all other nights.

* * *

I go out to meet the world
armed with coat and scarf, hat and gloves,
fears and prejudices,
expectations and doubt as my umbrella.
Yet through all this
through all this
my being leaps out innocent and trusting
like a six year old on her birthday,
and the world comes rushing in
with joyous open arms
like that kind-eyed dog moving her body against my hand
to show me where to stroke.

We need not deem our humanity an insult
nor our need for protection – a burden.
Are not the feathers that protect the crow
in the night's coolness
also the feathers that make his wings soar?

For that which gives us shelter
is also that which moves within our souls.

 

* * *

God told me in secret
Her name.
I argued it should be told
to everyone.
She said, "Go ahead, be my guest",
so I shouted fro539264-18m the top of the green hill:
God's name is THIS!
The sheep kept munching the grass
and the low, fast moving clouds
kept moving with the wind.
I suspect they have known this
all along.

* * *

I lie down so I can
reach my tender heart,
so I can touch the tender heart
of everything,
so the lie
of the meditator
can be revealed,
and melt into the timeless and exquisite
pulse of the River.

Free is the heart
touched by pain
and joy, yet
finds gladness in both,
as both are the stroke
of "the tender hand of the
Unseen".

* * *

The mind asked:

Why leak all this ecstatic energy
into the written word?
Why not pour it into mediation?

The heart answered:

When a flame is on fire
and sparks are flying –
what difference does it make
where they land?

* * *

One night I wept to the moon
that I was missing my Mum.

The moon listened silently for a long time
Like my Mum.

Then, though she was very skinny, she made an effort
and hugged me.

I stayed in her arms for a long while,
until slowly

she began to fade, like my Mum,
slowly disappearing.

But, like my Mum, I knew she was there.

  images (4)

 

 

* * *

Eulogy

You cannot want to be
nobody and write poems. For
to write is to make something
of the event, which means to make
something of yourself.

The most unassuming person I have known
was my mother.
She didn't write poems.
She lived in peace
with herself and also
with the terrible parts of her past
for which she had done grieving as
much as she knew how and stay sane.

I see her often in my dreams now – more
often than I saw her when awake.

In her late eighty's she would take
a low stool to the garden and weed.
Once, when she was ninety, we all played Scrabble
She won.
She loved dogs. She loved
us – my brother and me – and
she let us go.

She was wise and quiet and
laughed easily. Which I think are the best

companions one needs
to sail through the storms of this
frightening and awesome
life. Don't you?

* * *

All phenomena is free
The nature of all phenomena is freedom
All phenomena is free to be and free to cease to be
All phenomena sing its freedom
In glorious freedom's voice.
Freedom sings its own freedom.

* * *

Dusk and Twilight 

A thousand bees are buzzing
outside my window on the big tree
right by the foot path.
Path? What Path?
The winds of a wintery Summer
play harp on the high brunches
to the crow's winged gestures of sounds,
against a gray backdrop of a cloudy sunset.

Where meditation ends
life treads with a delicacy of
a rose petal
and an unquenchable heart.

I do not have the answer
to the biggest question of all
nor am I done looking
for that mysterious moment when
the last ray of light folds
into itself, to rest, at last,
and give way;

That elusive moment of passing of the torch
to something yet more mysterious still,
unanswerable and wild,
like a forgotten promise
that has finally arrived to claim
what is rightly hers:

Night relief. And release.

* * *

Much of what we think is real –
is not.
Much of what we think is ours –
is not.
There is no need to say All –
that Much is enough to send us
swirling into space
startled at first
until we realize our union
with the stars.

We were never lost.
Not even when, aching,
we had thought we were.

"Rejoice! Rejoice!"
Said the Awakened One,
"I am here to help!*
I am yourselves as your Island,
I am what is real
and the only thing that is truly yours."

* A quote from sutta SN 22-84

תמונה יפה

 

 Poems from retreats in Tiru, 2010-12

Behold –
The Messiah has come!
She is here
In the grass you step on
And the sky you gaze at.
Go home!
Go home to greet her
In the secrets of your heart
She’s been whispering to you
But you could not hear.
Go home,
Go deeply home
To be lifted to her bosom
And meet yourself
In her eyes.

* * *

Love
Was never meant
To be personal.
The personal reveals the taste
Of what’s possible.

Love
Was never meant
To be impersonal.
The impersonal reveals the taste
Of the Beyond.

How can love be
Personal or impersonal?
Through love
The personal becomes
Impersonal,
And the impersonal –
Very very personal.

 

* * *

The space between the thoughts
Cannot be described
By thoughts,
Therefore is non-existent
To the mind.
So what?
The mind doesn't know
What it's missing.

* * *

When the heart opens
Let it open to all things;
When the heart falls in love
Let it love all beings;
When there is kindness in the heart
Let it flow in all directions;
Let the one be the many
And the many be the one.

* * *

Experience
Comes and goes;
Non-experience
Is the non-promised
Non-holy
Non-land
Beckoning us to arrive.

Bliss
Comes and goes;
Beyond bliss
Pools of pregnant no-thing
Far richer, deeper and alive
Beckoning us to take a dive.

* * *

Inner peace,
Outer peace,
Fare and pale reflections
Of THE peace.

* * *

Stillness
Is always followed by movements.
Silence –
Followed by noise.
Why reject
The natural currents
Of the phenomenal world?
Why not rest
In peace
In the beyond?

* * *

Life is simple
When we don't hold on
To things
As "me" or "mine",
Especially when these things –
People, projects, ideas –
Seem to be ours.

* * *

The mind won't shut up.
It's like
Being at home
Hearing the neighbors
Quarreling upstairs.
Who cares?
You are home,
Why not make yourself
A cup of tea?

* * *

A small yellow lizard
Is chewing a creature
Smaller than himself.
I sit so still
He takes no notice of me.

In due time
I too shall be taken
By a creature greater than myself
And small yellow lizards
May chew the remains
Of my remains.

* * *

On Retreat

We breathe in
Very very gently
And
Very very deep.
We breathe out
Very very gently
And
Very very deep.
We breath in and out
Very very gently
And
Very very deep.
If only we could
Love
This way.

* * *

There is joy
In being with What Is
Not because
It's pleasurable
But because
It is What Is.

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