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Coattails of the Saint

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Written 2005/2006
Published 2006 by The Ecstatic Exchange

A Saintly Wind Tunnel

Where the Saint and the Leopard

And Saint John of the Cross Before Dawn Prayer

The Prophet Muhammad Arose One Morning


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Our small and cramped spaces on earth are as
full of flowering orchids in full conflagration

as are those magnetic fields around planets vast enough
for whole fleets of spaceships to be lost in for
light years on their static way to


This is meant as a sober treatise on our
glorious mortality as it sits within us just getting
comfy in our big easy chair when it suddenly has to leave

to go on to the cold outer ports and warm inner sanctums
of as yet unexperienced expectations

But how shall we get there unless joy take us in its
nets and subterfuges its ramps and volatile elevators its
sips from the secret glass that sits on God’s windowsill?

The place we’ve never left even for a moment
try as we might deny it as we try
the silken esplanade freeway to it given us at birth
without fail no matter how we scowl and carry on
if we have breath and heartbeat

and notice the shifting changes of temperature
against our sculpted surfaces within and without

though even that’s not necessary in the incessant
wind tunnel of divine light


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A lark stopped in mid-flight to notice what
arc it was in

A ship at sea suspended its motors to
contemplate its shadow

Buried deep underground a corpse saw its
skeleton and moaned

Removed from seeing on his own
the saint looked and saw only Allah
no second face!

And everywhere his eyes landed
he saw only Allah

And the leopard at the zoo
in looking at him through the bars
saw only Allah too

And for both the bars disappeared
without endangering the little boy in
green shorts with pink cotton candy standing
too close

For the bars between us exist only in

Whereas this seeing is both before and
after phenomena and somehow even
deep within it

The leopard gets out and stretches for the
first time in ten years

The saint cups his hand over his neck to
make him docile

They travel side by side through the stars
visiting each planetary population

Though not a lick of cotton candy
has been lost

It should make you happy

No animals were harmed in the
making of this poem

And when the saint turned to go
the leopard gnashed his teeth
and lunged at the bars

“I’ll come back tomorrow” the saint said
and the entire zoo dissolved

as well as all who beheld it

The lark in its arc as well as the
ship its shadow
and the skeleton underground

“I’ll see you tomorrow” said the saint
and the zoo reappeared again

Only the Face forever aware
of its awareness

Allah’s eyes see only Allah


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Black cat jumps on bed at 5:30 A.M. to
start a poetry composition session

Death sits on a big black horse outside the
window chewing on a hickory stem

Doing that thing of shifting it from one
side of his mouth to the other over and over

Horse nostril breath filters across the floor in a
fine bluish mist that covers my toes

The house at this hour is St. John of the Cross silent
with various creaks and miracle adjustments

I could only hope to go out into the dark
and up a stairs all knowledge transcending

toda ciencia trascendiendo
toda ciencia trascendianedo

It sounds like lute or guitar music to say it
formula for union with the Beloved

Whose horse out the other window is riderless
the color of one valley of wildflowers giving way to another

vista past vista all the way to the sea
rising out of itself with perfect ease into the sky

The Beloved’s horse’s nostril breath infusing the air we breathe
seeping in through the windows and doors

leaving us speechless or in St. John’s words
un no se que que queda balbuciendo

An I don’t know WHAT that’s left me stuttering
in bewildering inarticulate bafflement before Him

true union that loses all knowing or saying
but what do I know?

toda ciencia trascendiendo
toda ciencia trascendiendo

It’s just now time for the morning prayer
having contemplated my way to it minute by minute

God’s two horses either side of the room
quietly munching

the dark of night slowly giving way
to the sweet light of day


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The Prophet Muhammad arose one morning
and by evening it was obvious he was no
ordinary mortal

He was a heart that spoke to a mouth that
spoke to the ears of multitudes

And it was our hearts that heard him
through the dust and blood of time and its
wrenchings its smooth valleys and its

sudden explosions its

disappearance and its appearance again as
faces at a window asking to be let in

to Allah’s portico facing the radiant light of the
central breath

I’m aloft in the air with these thoughts
in the thrill of a fuselage heading east

confounded by the possibility of it as we
float forward without entirely
evaporating in space as buoyant as a bubble
propelled by a superior force

He came down from the cave changed utterly
all the years of the world suddenly folded into him
literally speaking of those to come through
those who’d gone before from first to last in the
perfect order of grammatical tones and
spectacular intonations

The light of his face goes before this
airplane in the dark

The light of his star goes before this
planet as its anchoring beam

The light of his heart in our hearts is what
makes us sane

(en route to the Grand Mawlid at Wembley, London)

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