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Love is a Letter Burning in a High Wind

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Written in 2003
Published 2006 by The Ecstatic Exchange

On the Road to Konya

• Off Rumi’s Tomb

• Shams

• Little Tiny Drops of Water


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Sometimes I get tired of all this talk about God
and I just want to go and sit under a tree

but then the tree starts talking to me about God
and we find ourselves in another conversation

No two people and no two things talk about God
in quite the same way

A wheel running down a hill all by itself talks about God
while its hub remains stationary and its spokes rotate

An ant has another way of approaching the subject
that has about it a certain collective resonance

Inanimate objects on the other hand often comment on their surroundings
and the pleasant or unpleasant sets of circumstances
that landed them there

Stars have the softest voices and you have to listen more attentively
but their take on the theme is always illuminating
and sheds light in many unexpected and even faraway places

A lover often speaks about God in incomplete sentences
with clouds of various colors and densities
moving slowly or quickly around their
faces and most unselfconscious gestures as they speak in
intimate whispers

And then I’m brought back again to the sweet syrups of this endless
talk about God that goes on every instant
even when no one seems to know what they’re talking about
or why they began conversing in the first place

The serpent winks the sunflower opens its concentric mathematical mandala
flat and desolate wastes yawn and the air shivers

I stick out my tongue and God’s breath flows all around it
whether we speak or remain silent as we sail through the
divine events of the sky and earth’s decisive
theological arguments with all their perfect proofs and occasional
long and melancholy refutations

9/21 (on the road to Konya)

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Here in the tea hall off the tomb of Mevlana in Konya
there are many different faces but only one beating heart

As we sip brown Turkish tea whose sugar cubes have dissolved
we taste the sweetness of the Unseen in the physical sweetness of the tea

If a flame appeared in the middle of the room with laughing serpent heads at its
power of consumption of our fragile selves would that
one heart of ours rejoice at last at its union with God?

Our teacher speaks in Turkish with his fingers articulating thought
and great white herons fly from his palm into a dazzling blue sky

At our feet a well of purest water appears and little
golden fish sing in unison about their ardent love of swimming
even if just round and round

They move through the water the way Truth swims through our spirits
parting them invisibly and letting them come together again with no scar
for water and spirit are of a nobler essence than flesh
and one of the great gifts of fluid perfection and purification

The walls are beginning to dance and the floor and ceiling
are already slowly turning as the giant flame shows its holy face

The air is burning but with that flame of God’s love that
knows no obstacles and moves as relentlessly as
water toward itself its very intoxicated majestic self
Light upon Light and Face within every face

from the tiny spark of its starting point to the
Paradise-sized flash of its penultimate and ultimate goal


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A fiery bear with flashing eyes walks into a parlor
and eats the curtains

A giant chainsaw comes down out of heaven and saws a
house into two perfect halves

A hurricane out of nowhere appears in a crowd
and makes everyone love it to the utmost of passion

Shams appears to the mountaintop of Mevlana
and splits rock to its foundations in Adam’s
original earth

Abdal-Hayy’s a fraud but hold onto your fraudulence

Abdal-Hayy’s empty but hold onto your emptiness

Abdal-Hayy’s a worthless cheat but hold onto your

Is there anything more?

Have you anything to defend yourself with?

A tiny shield no bigger than an eyeball?

A shelf of notebooks filled with words?

Good names and reputations are paper sphinxes in
the Egypt of the heart

Shams is executioner but when we push back his
hood it’s a full-blooming rosebush full of butterflies

The blood Shams gets on the tip of his sword
is a small price to pay for the alchemical transformation of the
corpse from silver to gold and from
gold to the glory of the Divine Name alone

The threat of death shocks our heartbeats into
higher registers

At the edge of a cliff even a toehold becomes

In the market of souls Shams slams down a
coin and buys the store

Instead of fleeing merchants bring out their best
wares to add to the pile

At the end of the day he sets fire to it all
and the giant conflagration shouts



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Little tiny drops of water contain the world

I can’t see them but I know they’re there

A billion angels not only dance on the head of a

pin they carry it through the heavens on the
shoulders of a billion more angels also dancing on
heads of pins carried on a billion more angel

shoulders ad infinitum all to an uncanny but
also unreproducible music that may be

Allah’s actual breath or the bells and flutes played by
hosts of other angels ranged in orchestras of Light

which I also cannot see but which I
also know are there

along with gardens of Paradise winding through
valleys of a beauty so dazzling one quick tiny blink of squinted
look of our earthly eyes through our
interlaced fingers maybe even behind dark
glasses would make us
swoon a hundred years or more just one

digital flick of our ocular apprehension actually witnessing such a
place for itself might make our hearts burst
out of our chests with its unutterable gorgeousness

so all these things which I can’t see all these
whispers of truths and expenditures of credulity

all these things we talk about or avoid
talking about beginning with God’s reality or
unreality and going even to our little baby finger
and wondering how it came about to being so
perfect just as it is and especially when either

wiggling freely in the air almost by itself or
able to reach a place in our eyelid to

dislodge an eyelash while we

watch it in a mirror

I mean just look all around and inside us if
you want proofs of these things

one glimpse there also with their

fantastic rainbow bridges arcing across chasms of
scintillating light or canyons of glass with herds of

grazing fabulous animals in them chewing bright

grasses while looking with their deep black innocent eyes

making tiny vapor drops of breath around their
nostrils each one of which contains

a world


Oh it’s really not a question of belief or

disbelief cricket children a grandfatherly figure
bending over nearly double with flowing
white beard and hands on a cane and a
voice of benign sweetness might say one

gentle afternoon by the side of a gurgling river say
or even next to a car dealership in downtown
Istanbul or Philadelphia

It’s not really a question of faith or lack of
faith at all because it

all goes on whether or not we

recognize it it spirals into heavens unexpected and un-
presumed it dives down into sea-depths unfathomed

It’s so powerfully vast and goes on so
oblivious to our recognizing it or not that all our

arguing and fretting over God’s grandeur is really rather
beside the point after all

and especially after death in particular

when we rub our weary eyes weary of so much
lidded sleep and find ourselves there once and
for all and everything we either denied or agreed to
displays itself with the same objective aplomb
the so-called real world did while we
lived in it half or more than half oblivious to

all the miracles that were going on inside and

around us even then with our sharp senses and
razor-sharp intellects doing their best to

keep up with it all when really the best

attack on the whole affair was and is always to just
raise that little pinky finger above that tiny little

drop of water on the linoleum tabletop for once and

see for ourselves the whole situation of how it

happened to get there in the first place and

how our little finger happened to dip in it by

mistake while we were talking or not

talking just that moment with a friend either with or without

long white beard or tears in his eyes recounting the

story of the noble and handsome young son of Prophet Abraham refusing to be
bound for his oncoming sacrifice lest God

think him afraid of his father’s knife

that day when belief and disbelief were

tested beyond human endurance

and those dancing angels stopped dancing for a moment to bring down a

live sheep through the seven heavens to replace his son with

and the knife became a blade of water unable to

cut and that water dear children that
fierce blade of separation became the flowing

river of unity connecting us once and for
all with all these wiggling tributaries of human

delving and consequence over the

centuries and millennia when we’ve all

faced the same old wonderings over and over from the

very dawn of time to its inevitable

sunset and we’ll all be faced with it

over and over in our lives ad infinitum with each

heartbeat and lung-breath of us

gazing thoughtfully out from one of those

little tiny drops of water out

one of its windows in a drizzly afternoon

contemplating all these consequentially gorgeous and irrefutable



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