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  Selected Poems

Psalms for the Broken-Hearted

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from PSALMS FOR THE BROKENHEARTED

Written in 2003
Published 2006 by The Ecstatic Exchange

The White Deer

• A Thousand Armies

• All the Dead Children

• Seismic Tremors

 

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THE WHITE DEER

It’s even closer than our fingertips
what we’re longing for
and travel for in search of
closer than our jugular

Shangri La lies languorously
always out of reach
its silver trays heaped high with
succulence its windows basking in
perennial sunlight

Darkness wraps the dearness of the
depth we fathom but not distance
and the rhythm of it singing in our
eardrums brings it even closer to us

Can’t call it can’t name it
loss is often the way toward it
less is often more in its regard
as we face the chalk snow always
falling across it

And make the face that was ours before birth
come alive in our eyes then our
nose and mouth and the rest
as if clouds were evaporating away from it
leaving it clear

See the white deer standing so close
on the shore bending to drink then
standing still head held high
before leaping away
its reflection in the water writing in
silvery light our most secret name His
answer to our deepest call?

A moon lightens the picture
and where it was a moment ago
fills with light
I can’t explain why the journey takes us
to the place it does
only to find it’s taken us to our
starting place

A ball of concentrated matter
tightens itself to a point
that speeds through space so fast
it goes nowhere is nowhere then is
all and we liken our destiny to its
fall but it doesn’t fall

I can’t explain why that tiny point soon
covers us over all or
why as we age we haven’t gone
anywhere at all

The white deer bounds through the end of space
faster than light can follow her
and comes up in front of us again to drink
our blood’s clear nectar

Sweet as a vapor trail
flicking its deer’s tail
as we also disappear to be more
tangible to ourselves after all

Closer in a mysterious visibility
to our initial caul

1/28

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A THOUSAND ARMIES

And the hapless Soldier’s sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls
                  -- William Blake

A thousand armies sat on a wall and
everyone of them was dead

eating sandwiches out of little tin boxes
yellow broken teeth and considerable chewing

But their eyes were not that interested in seeing
their eyes didn’t follow anything moving in front of them
or look as they pulled the waxed paper away from their bread
or broke open their bottles of water or sat with their friends

There was a constant murmuring like a stomach churning its juices
a constant scratching like animals caught between walls

They sat on a wall overlooking an orchard and
each one of them was dead
but they watched the seasons come to life on the
vine in the vineyards and down the long
crop rows though their eyes barely took it in
and when the crops were harvested and the
snows came they barely blinked they barely noticed

Thousands of armies dangling their legs bootless in heaven
eating sandwiches out of little silver boxes
their eyes transformed from burning buildings and people
running into the streets to
green fields full of lions and lambs and other wingéd animals
lying together

though their eyes were always elsewhere

and their hearts were as round as the world

3/23

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ALL THE DEAD CHILDREN

Angels are learning new tricks to entertain all the
dead children
just bringing them to a quiet place used to be enough
blue panels sonorous as cool winds rising to
infinite heights and
luminous rivers tasting of fresh milk and
passionflower honey

But now they are more restless and want something
lively such as fabulous displays and real
stellar extravaganzas to shut out the memories

All the wingéd horses have been brought in
and every banner from every battle ever waged
transformed into aurora borealis brightness is
planted on either side of the great arena which is
actually nowhere you can put your finger on and may be as
big as a sparkle or light years across

The angels begin conventionally enough and since they’re
anti-gravitational they are capable of some
pretty amazing feats their specialty being a
spinning array of a few billion shimmering their wings and
turning slowly at first in a
cone that goes up through so many dimensions the
children have to stop counting with
each dimension demarcated by another
color no one on earth’s spectrum has
ever seen before

Then the cone begins
turning faster and faster and shoots higher and higher
finally sweeping their astonished souls wide-eyed into a
vortex so swift they barely notice that they’re
arcing across fields of unearthly green and seas of
unoceanic turquoise

Each shroud has been made into a tent filled with
fabulous fruits and unidentifiable edibles of
uttermost succulence

Each soul has been given the ultimate glimpse
and the accurate portrayal
the perfect sustenance and the infinite intensity

Each time they clap their hands a new
universe appears
more fabulous than the last

And when they tire of such delights
William Blake reads to them from his new work
and Mozart comes in and plays them a tune
on a million pianos

4/11

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SEISMIC TREMORS

Seismographs all over town are registering
heavy tremors

Birds as far away as Caracas are dropping
food from their beaks in wonder

Beetles on leaves in the Amazon suddenly
change back from bright yellow with blue spots to
black with red zigzags

L. Washington Hoop the third tuba on the right of the town’s
marching band almost swallows his mouthpiece

As Luck Would Have It and The Luck of the Draw to say
nothing of Lady Luck and even Lucky Luciano who was
ultimately rather unlucky
cash in their chips in favor of something more certain

Alaska opens its eyes and its mouth a little under that
promontory of a nose there on the map and
whales swim in a wider sea

The sky folds back some of its foil to reveal
a hand-tinted panorama of heavenly frolics so
ecstatic nothing below can hold back for an
instant and lets out an unhesitant yell on
behalf of creation

Shrill whistles become choirs of angels and
loud sonorous bells become
a child’s voice singing in the wilderness

Bridges everywhere in the world grip both sides of their
extremities and stretch a little after such
longtime service but no one even notices but one or two
old salts who blame it on rum

Why has all this taken place? Why are

robins giving their worms an extra flick in the
air before cramming them down their baby’s throats?

Why has the acrobat lost it for a second and thrown everything she
has into the air including a bicycle with its
rider and an astonished observer and yet manages to keep them all
safely aloft for a full minute while singing
at the top of her voice sweet arias from Puccini?

God lets the world see His Face for an instant even though some
might not
say it exactly like this

He in His Compassionate Wisdom lets a
ray of His Countenance fall into the universe between a
herd of sheep in the rain and a jeweler’s display of
diamonds on black velvet

And boats backtrack for about a minute through their own
wakes and people with no courage to be themselves let down their
well-fortified defenses and say “I love you madly and truly”
to just about anyone

And one old lady says it to a man three years her elder who has been
courting her for over a decade

And a squid stops being so inky and glides
forward undersea in gorgeous curtains of filtered aqua light

And for a moment no one on earth feels afraid of
anything including death both gentle and violent

And a light appears around the edges of everything which some see as
all the colors of the rainbow and others as
messages of comfort from departed family members

And when the earth again enters its zone of
material darkness which isn’t in fact what it does at
all His Face His Most Beneficent Face is actually always
exposed once our hearts are exposed

all the creatures continue their course with
surer footing and all song hits
newer registers and all the
eyes of every mortal fill for a moment with
refreshing tears with just the right amount of
salt and just the right amount of
gratitude and through their liquid draperies

see a world bathed throughout shake itself like a
dog just emerged from the sea
its ears flapping and water beads flying in
every direction at once seeking
fine places to land on with all their
individual jewels and sacred places to
disintegrate one water bead at a time back
into the Invisible again

in which we can all see ourselves coming to meet us at last with a
genuine smile on our lips and true
words of wisdom and encouragement

true moments of silence

and seismic tremors both great and small
of true love

4/13

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