I keep calling
I keep falling
On your shoulder
I am weeping
Are you sleeping?
Who is keeping
My broken heart?
Light of compassion
In my darkness
Your touch to my heart
Makes me well.
I am pouring, gently
Into your ear
All my love.
At last you hear!
FROM LITHE TO BLITHE
In her youth she was very lithe —
somersaulting down the lawn.
Now her mind does cartwheels and
swings on the carousel —
A simple movement from lithe to blithe,
But at some price. Such as being nice
When the occasion called for something worse.
So many (Mani) letters she did devise
To offer advice with love, with care unstinting,
Overriding fatigue and solitude dreaming,
While sitting at God-brother's chair
Revising all woe and wear to light and care.
Like Alice in the Rabbit's den, she saw
the Cheshire Cat smile and disappear
Save for the smile that lingers still
in hearts full of love —
Her eyes alight with a remembrance so constant
It fills her postcards so that
Crickets, magpies, and seahorses play flute, drum and fife
bugling a song to life,
Followed by jays, turtles and frogs,
And a rabbit whose uniform magnifies the sun.
Even a postcard announces a world
chock-full, and brimming over with love for the Ancient One.
... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
I sent this last poem to Mani in 1986, and she replied with a postcard that was a poem.
A'nagar, 28 July 86
From "Lithe" to "Leet"
a big heart's greet—ing!
I'm smiling still from your poem-treat...
It's only too true — my desk is a zoo
of frogs, crickets & turtles
(ready for any post-hurtles)
who are clamouring to send
their JAI BABA! to you Ben
'cuz they loved your poem too!
Our love to you and to Berkeley friends;
Your new place to gather is in His Hands
(and I'm sure He'll give it soon —
in His time, which always rhymes)...
AVATAR MEHEER BABA ki JAI!!!
with a small drawing of a stick figure with hands and arms raised high.
The strangest part of the exchange is that it almost did not happen.
I had seconds thoughts about sending the first poem. I wrote my poem in 1986,
finished typing it, put it into an envelope, and walked to the mail-drop box
at the bottom of the hill at the intersection of Park Boulevard in Oakland.
Then I decided not to mail it, "Mani is too busy to be bothered," I concluded.
So I walked farther to the local convenience store and bought something like a
pack of gum and returned to my apartment. I arrived back at the stoplight where
the mail-drop was and waited for the light to change.
Up the hill a car swung down and stopped right before me. The man, a mailman,
rolled down his window, stuck his hand towards me and said, "Give me the
letter." I did. He drove off. That's how Mani got the poem. I took it as an
example of Meher Baba's rare sense of humor. Sometime later I sent Mani the
next poem, and Jack Small kindly wrote back saying that she enjoyed it.
We cannot describe it.
Like stars cascading through the night,
Like water dripping off an oar into clear lake water,
Dropping, gliding, pooling, cascading —
Measures of simplicity,
waves of beauty, waves of silence,
Yet in stillness
Floating, the latticed shadow-play of
sunlight filtered through waving trees
dances on mute ground —
It's but one prismed ray of a
child's laugh and smile, creating
And recreating a human heart in me.
A smile, gentle and pure
In aliveness, a receptacle for joy and wonder.
Purely excitable — your love is this play.
Before I met you my heart's movements
were slow and deft,
overly laden like a mule,
ponderous and pachyderm,
nudging ahead by strikes from behind.
Upon viewing your love, my heart's become like
a butterfly in beauty and lightness,
floating and bobbing, and majestically
alighting, and what it touches
moves without moving.
And itself is so transformed that it shows
no outward reshaping.
And some, I'm told, completely transformed by Your Glow,
meet your river and flow.
Characterised by thought and care,
They are blown about by a mysterious wind,
soon enlarging themselves beyond thought
they disappear like the wind that moves them,
like the moon behind clouds,
like a reflection in water,
leaving only love traces
on autumnal memories —
Yet you never go. Your love remains.
At rare times God seems all pervasive,
Each thing appears as one of His faces,
In my heart I would see him most dearly,
Yet He seems to appear in morning mists and
evening's unfallen stars,
In loving hearts who knit themselves together,
He is the knitting and the webbing,
the hearts and their setting.
Sometimes as lovely love songs, sometimes as a dog's howl,
in the bee's dance, or the moth's frantic flagging,
Both in the flower's blooming, and its petals' falling,
Both in sudden knowledge, and memory's calling.
Through long travails, his love at last prevails,
In parting smiles, and in welcoming kisses —
He proclaims that He is, He is!!
though the world is His garment
and it is seamless,
We can see Him in a face that is beautiful
dreamless, beyond dreaming —
Your love, Baba, all-embracing
Is a gold that gathers all light,
It is a child's smile that recreates
all withered hearts,
As a hope it banishes hopelessness, and as a blossom
it slowly unfolds in the hearts of those who observe you.
It is a blooming rose, it is a cause for legitimate madness.
It is the greatest gift, continually given.
To stone, to sparrow, to mast, to hearts of unprecedented
openness, to singing dust.
Your love is the running thread through
each one's life
(through all our lives)
It is the unfailing guide.
Avatar Meher Baba, Ki Jai !!!!!
Fixing a leaky rubber washer on the faucet,
Brewing a cup of tea,
Watching the ceiling fan whirl,
I pause, I stop the nonsense and noise.
I note the solicitous kindliness of your face,
expressing humor and expectancy.
I breathe deeply, and hold it,
I feel my body and its discomforts,
I observe quietly and acknowledge your presence.
I start to take note, I observe the speed limits,
I stop the news,
I listen to hums and noises,
I watch the dust motes glimmer as they float.
I look for roses or gasoline spills on wet pavement
that crest their exotic iridescence never before
observed, mixing the sun with the rain's puddles.
I find my old dead habits tiresome.
I watch clouds mix in humored shades of gray.
I collect shells on the beach,
I ponder death and its secret,
I wonder on Bayazid and his baqa and fana
in Arabia a dozen centuries ago,
I imagine that supernatural 'wine of vision'
whose power changes the leper's wounds
to wondrous beauty.
The dull can be transformed with effort.
The dull does not escape the universe but changes.
Reading a novel I watch the detective Nero Wolfe
sit in his chair.
The song I play on the piano sings itself. Oh, it sings.
Rowing on the lake, I peer through rolling fog piling in from the beach
at the branches of a wildly asymmetrical winter tree.
I wait for a perfect photo, the boat drifts off.
Five minutes pass.
The concussions cease, the dullness eases,
My receptivity brightens.
I find your humanity and the possibility of my own.
I listen to the song lovingly sung to the caged bird.
The bird listens to the love.
I wait outside at the barn to hear your stillness.
You greet me in photos not of you.
The war in myself calms, I expand into humanness.
My appreciation to you.
O Baba most serious
O Baba most playful
O Baba most strong
O Baba most weak
O Baba most compassionate
You are what I most need.
How can I call to you, I wonder,
How dare I trust my feelings,
fickle and feeble reaching
out towards You —
I relate joys frequently to you,
Yet fears and moods
sweep over short-lived joys.
I feel weak and timid.
I dwell in the spectrum of feelings
in one faint hue
on the edge of visible.
When I think I hear you in a poet-friend
I take heart, and cling to the hope of his words.
Yet if I choose, I can recall
Death and mortality oh too clearly, great disappointment,
friends who have died "before their time" —
the winds of my experience are a just a vacant gust.
How effectively dismal and cheerless I can be, are some memories.
In these forlorn moments
I look at a photo of You resting,
Your feet on a pad — the soles
Your soles touched the earth,
They walked, stood, and traveled.
You did not have to come.
You could have avoided aching feet
and burning soles.
As my spirit yearns for wings,
Yours would take feet.
To change the subject, what about this ego business?
Is it true my ego this writer correspondent inquirer is
Just a strawberry desire, topped in the morning with
alluring whipped cream,
A delicious satisfaction, just for me?
The dream of wandering lascivious appetites? All mine?
To whom I bravely daily sacrifice myself to them/myself/them/myself,
annihilating and multiplying, feeding and consuming
the fish and loaves, these wandering
wastrels, pitiful and starving, over-powering
Soon, me, Oh my my self, and I, my-o-my ego, o my o my gone —
poof! out, gone, sacrificed, nothing left,
simultaneously satiated, consumed
O Baba most playful, O Baba most serious
O Baba most strong, O Baba most weak,
What endearing qualities and all-rounded perfection you have.
You say you rest when love is shared
among your lovers.
We would share love, simply, by your grace.
What incredible flowers are the garden of your followers.
ALL THINGS CHANGE AND EVOLVE
While the wheel of our hopes spins on.
New dimensions arise through the old patterns,
Curiously resonate and pour forth
New life through careworn shapes.
One day we imagine ourselves perplexed
And tired. The next we are aware, confident.
Both ways, we ever offer
Both to You, the One.
Would I say Enough!
Of this lost, off-the-scented-trail dreaming?
Yours is the dream, the song, the singing.
We awake with You in Your sunrise.
Sarosh was quite ill when he said
"Baba is dreaming that I'm ill."
Sarosh was not dreaming,
Your love in him was Awake.
When You play the tug-a-war
With a human hair connecting,
You counsel us all to simply give in.
One slender singing thought
Reverberates as a tuned string
When played by the bow of life,
Pouring forth melodies and harmonies
You are the Ocean of Silence
who takes this clamor
and makes it music.
ONE WHO FOLLOWS
from a story told by Bili Eaton
"Ours is the most intimate of relationships,
not even a shadow should come between us."
So he told one of his followers,
and leaned his ear closer so that
she could whisper into it.
She wanted to kiss it.
So intimate a gesture. Here was God,
busy with the universe and creation,
cocking his ear close to her lips so that
she could whisper a small disclosure
about an earlier answer that was not accurate.
Her clarification was not necessary,
and almost evaporated at his tender reception.
Another time while sitting alone in the boathouse
at night, thinking about a man who was always pleasing Baba,
watching the beauty of the lake under moonlight's spell —
who should walk in, alone, but Baba.
They sat quietly for a while,
till she mentioned her thought, and he agreed,
she not knowing which shone brighter,
the moon or his eyes.
And three or four other times alone with Baba.
In a hotel corridor, where she said, "I guess
I must have some good karma, I always find myself
alone with you." Once at Meher Mount while he
tried on an assortment of hats. And at the Holiday Lodge
where, out of perplexion, she asked if He were her
master, or if she was "on loan from another master?"
Eruch entered in time to translate as Baba
stood up, looked majestic before her, and said.,
"I am not only your master, I am your God."
What do we make of such stories?
Are they simply true, or fathomless or what?
What good luck she had.
Yet he says to every one:
"Ours is the most intimate of relationships,
not even a shadow should come between us."
POEMS TO AVATAR MEHER BABA, p. 43
ed. Ben Leet & Steve Klein
Copyright 1985 Manifestation, Inc.
A FOUND POEM
In a life of purity,
to be most natural
is to reflect Godliness
from a letter dictated by Meher Baba
(see Letters from the Mandali, page 67)
Pendu spoke to me today
while I was driving
down Shepherd Canyon Road.
His audible voice said:
"Too slow, brother, too slow!"
My foot came off the brake.
I think he was referring to my running,
not my driving.
Last time he said that to me,
twelve years ago,
he meant to say,
"You're off the team, there's only room for six runners.
Too slow, brother, you're too slow."
After I'd run about a mile
and worn myself out.
I remember his large expressive eyes,
and his look of caring regret.
Once he had said to me, "It's a big ocean."
I had just said, "The flight across the Pacific
takes ten to twelve hours, It's
a big ocean!"
He repeated my words back to me
with another meaning in his arched brows.
I no longer was taking him seriously,
he'd just said, "Kill first, find a name later."
He was talking about a dog-food business he had in mind,
using human flesh of poor Indians
to feed to rich American dogs.
"But Pendu, what shall we call the business?"
"Who cares. Kill first, then find a name."
He was talking to a doctor,
"You're not a doctor, you're a killer.
Every now and then you make a mistake and save someone!"
It's been twelve years,
I can hardly remember any details.
He let me run with the torch anyway,
along with the other guy who came in last,
who told many very bad Elvis jokes.
"Too slow, brother, too slow."
We arrived at Meherazad at 4:30 in the morning
before the Amartithi celebration.
What an atmosphere!
He and Bal Natu tried to force us to eat lots
of those sugary Indian biscuits.
Someone lit the torch in Baba's room —
not a good idea I thought,
and then we all, 8 of us, ran with the torch.
I was faster in the cool morning air.
When we arrived at Meherabad, Mehera and Mani were
standing on the stone platform where the dhuni
is located. I remember well Mehera's agile feet
walking off the platform after lighting the dhuni flame.
Now I'm typing for myself,
you finish the poem.
THERE WERE SPLOTCHES
of clouds raced across the planks
rubbed and flattened,
a scrawl of minds united on a single board,
one enormous hewn tree fallen from the sky as a revelation,
a collapsed poem of generations by the same mind ratiocinating,
lying prone on the table, but what was its message?
as if an anthropological excavation had unearthed a scroll
half writ, in mid sentence, caught between squirms
while the one mind lucubrated in torture.
That was my puzzlement, my reprieve as I took a break from reading
and my eyes fell on the oak table and its indecipherable tome.
my eyes were tired, everything fatigued,
the kids were there
it was so ordinary, the old folks
finding a magazine,
and housewives locating a new mystery,
I was bushed, put down the Times —
a great article
about a Cuban baseball pitcher in the World Series
while his older brother, though better,
had to watch from the sidelines
if you can call being in internal Cuban exile the sidelines!
And another about Japanese "valley girls"
whose argot is beri dangerudu
it is cho beri gu
but don't have a busharu on the floor!
But I was cho beri bu
as in bu hu "blue"
I felt uneasy, tired, hungry,
and of course lonely, exhausted mentally and physically,
in the late afternoon, almost evening, after a day of getting no closer.
I started reading the grain lines on the oak table, and trouble began.
I was brought me back to now,
I was localized in a wonder,
a set of hieroglyphics.
There were hand-crafted marks speaking in my language
on that old oak table
executed by minds like mine, identical,
rebelling against something unnameable
but universally known.
They were recreating their frustrating flight of mind
with the unconscious movement of forearms.
As though I was reading tea leaves' tracings,
following their meaning into
an ancient curse on humanity.
I've just drunk my tea
the napkins put away,
printed a Christmas red
but with a tropical floral design,
balancing myself in the chair
and another time, a number of other times,
not only mine but so many others too,
a tourney of times, all times uniting in one time
a dent in time,
a jarring reality that leaves more than a scratch,
not just reading,
but sensing a storm of reality
creasing the trajectories of lives,
re-writing the palm lines on everyone's hands.
Am I here? And what is this? Who did this? Is it me?
A dent in time, there is a dent, bringing a now that continues
worn and fragile with a gentle yearning,
redolent, radiant, meaningful.
An unfound word if such a word exists,
etched on all hearts
with a sharp instrument held in the hand of a master craftsman.
I was reading hearts, just now, maybe you are too
still the leaves fall, the wind blows, and rain beats.
O RADIANT MORNING
O Radiant Morning of our hearts' longing,
You sow dawn's promise into this Delft-blue world,
And our hopes rise wearily and bow before your luxuriant rays,
an obeisance as ancient as the first algae
gratefully imbibing light on the earth's primeval seas.
Great Summoner of ancient days and these,
You push the rock of Ages from the cliff's edge
and start the cavalcade of events,
You make the egg that made the chicken that makes the egg make the chicken ...
You transform dream into form and then form into dream, infinitely.
You spin the world as a toy ball in perpetual orbit,
Such a small ball in such a large universe,
such a long spinning and a distant arcing,
You sling earth like a rock in David's sling,
whirling round like a stone of light into each one's Goliath brain,
You dispel shades of slumber and vibrate all sensations.
You trespass into our dreams and
Stir a golden rod in the pool of reveries.
Your effulgence quietly raises the sea level of every dreamer,
and then, like Noah in his ark, the solid ground of solipsic
reverie slips away to launch the ship
on your bright ocean, glorious with life.
— Fire breather — earth spinner — dream slayer —
— rock whirler and thrower — light maker —
You blister every shell of life.
Your light imparts dimension in an unworld,
dark, and utterly empty without you.
Black and white skunks eating spotted newts beside the pre-dawn lagoon,
crepuscular, are aflame with your light,
Are bursting and bristling just as fireflies blazing as suns
in their dark, leafy realms.
Your fire burns the imaginative wicks of at least a million dreaming mathematicians,
nail beauticians, weather statisticians, electricians,
carpenters, long-haul truck drivers, hod-carriers,
sailors, whalers, harpooners, mutineers,
and strollers, mothers with strollers, and
Your light roils all life
At mid-morning an army of sweepers commandeer
every bridge spanning every river;
whisking the debris of toiling nature
with a gale force of a thousand hand brooms.
Untouchables exacting the most important work,
while the useless raise dust storms of pure confusion,
compete with braying titanic bugles,
monarchs of every strain of vanity
aloft on pearled palanquins,
obfuscating in self-delicious importance,
as if to occlude the sun.
You float above all, viewing our childish and our earnest play
for eons upon eons upon eons upon eons . . . .
. . . . eons . . . tirelessly
Telescoping geologic time into epochs and ages,
Constructing a long-running awareness beyond imagination,
Etching a paleo-logic that inscribes itself onto tenacious living neurons.
We are living fossils of memory embedded strata by strata into lost time,
Everyone a Grand Canyon with legs to walk on.
While You continue breathing into us tirelessly.
Ascending to zenith you embrace your children,
the ants, grasses, trees,
mites, lobsters, and fleas,
spiders, hippopatami, giraffes, microbes and potato molds —
the byzantium of biology,
All helpless in the one loving embrace of their father/mother
Who strikes the noon bell — Noon —
And brazenly swallows all our shadows.
You reveal our true selves to us in your perfect radiance,
your majesty — Lord of Earth.
Burning in deep night,
We would be the moths of your candle.
Day strokes wonder, strikes awe each day:
We are. At your mercy, we are. The impossible is.
And are not the mere phantoms of night.
We are shining rivulets of consciousness trickling slowly to
one blinding ocean of light.
Can we deny the sun? Even in the night, can we?
If we cannot see You, do you yet exist?
As the noon note falls into oblivion
you reset a million clocks and disappear obliquely
slip-skittering rays across the sky
too fast for catching.
Like tidal anemones who enlarge to engulf their food,
we open our wide caws
to imbibe light and
our dramas undulate and unfold.
If players could perfect their roles before the actual drama
would we then defer our roles, neglect to perform?
Would we storm off the stage, as Hamlet throws up his arms,
before seeing his father's ghost?
Would Ophelia find balance, marriage, and pronounce,
"To hell with you all!"
Would Lady Macbeth spoil the play by
washing her hands before they got so soiled?
Are we so clever to know the end before we play the part?
This part of a lifetime!
Should Genghis Khan dither in uncertainty?
Did Confucius' wisdom fall as ideograms on rice paper
before he fell many times?
A corsage fades by the bed of a scholar's daughter
emitting a fragrance and promising a new generation.
Do lips that have kissed lose the impression?
Who invented the kiss, why?
The night's song lingers in the day.
On time's coiled and beaded necklace wild turns prove nothing,
nothing is new under the sun.
One generation passes and another one comes.
One wave of beauty,
the sole wave of beauty,
unfurls through the night.
Nothing is new but the present intoxicating lyricism
of the fragile now seeking itself.
Now preens itself resembling a lake at dawn awaiting the swans
that will soon fly over it.
Wings toward the glaciers of Kailas.
Or will a succession of mallards fly over, or
wandering larval hatches that mysteriously
nudge themselves towards an unknown destination
or a cloud of excoriating locusts
that mass in appetite?
One generation passes, another one comes,
each day flies
enlarging a lengthy genealogy of human may-flies
alive at seven and dead by day fall,
having stood and fallen in a midge of time,
a wing-stroke of evolutionary flight
across a cadaverous night.
The Earth swallows its granitic crust
and in mid ocean throws up a new palisade in a day.
An iridescence flints from a butterfly's wing
and twinkles to a distant nebula,
a stolen glance from behind Sherazad's veil,
a minute's rapture ... The universe divides
in two, and collapses into one.
There is nothing new under the sun, says the sun,
One generation passes and another one comes
and comes and comes and comes,
the key word is and and and and and and
another one comes.
A man's awareness of the sun often constricts, becomes less than a pinprick
of forgetfulness in the afternoon's enduring.
Whether a fierce battle or gentle caracole through post-noons reading long poems,
people forget. Idly some stand by,
entranced by juggernauts that lurch, totter, and — crash.
Some ponder old, splintered trojan horses of legendary fame.
Some dance to melodious turnstiles of money changers
and the calliopes of whistling crises.
Some camp by carny pitchmen hawking freaks and a-crisis-a-minute.
Some layer words thickly over no-meaning.
words layered over chaos
without end, amen.
And a few giants of courage carve meaning forcefully for all to witness.
Poetry for them is one silent word.
Bubbles crackle, then explode, with them our hearts,
empty and desiccated like a jellyfish
washed up on a lost, sun-drenched beach,
Bereft and without sense. Yet most of us can buy a beer
or a cup of tea and exchange the sun
for a buttercup to spread over crackers.
Unknowing that all the while the shining, wheeling drum
revolves the seasons and resolves the reasons, unravels the
best-laid, dys-laid, mis-laid, made in the shade and waylaid
plans of mice and men, apologetic or not.
(Each heart-warm creature, man or woman,
a discrete sound-print, finger-print, imprint of spirit
a talisman of itself
a familiar scent,
self-registers on the night log at the police precinct,
every name indelibly and meaningfully on the log.)
And for what? is the cry. Nature itself cries.
With a murmur and a soft heart-beat stroking, day ends,
Unbuttoned, unraveled, unglued, un-shoed, toes wiggling,
at last arrived at the end of the tune,
We pause to look up to discover the sun setting again,
its triumphant beauty is a mask spilling love
with pity upwards,
cascading solace over our inverted hopes,
Reversing the mania of the day with a dusky saturation.
Every optimistic foot-fall
drums a silted harmony into an ancient canyon wall.
While pastel ribbons weave through the
flying mane of twilight's mare,
and arrows race to the edge of time to plunge
to the depths of souls.
Clocks reverse in a back flush of time, as time's wings fly upward.
Truth adjusts to our helplessness and prayers of mercy fill the sky,
The planet careens in reverse.
A pleasant adjustment to truth occurs,
it bends to the brittleness of our nature.
O Salvador Dali, dolly mine, what have you dolly done to our clocks?
Our clocks have turned to sugar taffy in our dark mouths,
Shadows gloom and darken while time-keepers weep on a satin stage,
actors swirl, whirl and regale to a wine-spilt music,
Pilgrims at pilgrimage's end flare torches on the jet black night
to dispel the vastness of empty space.
The translucent and erogenous night bequeaths a harmony of sym pathos as
the symphony ends the coda in a hush.