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  Selected Poems

Salt Prayers


from SOME

Written in 1998-99

Some Minor Miracles

• Some Mysterious Transformations

• Some Last Wishes


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He took a green rose and dipped it in silver
    until it became red.
He rode a giant white horse through the night
until it became a house
with seven stories and enough room for a
family of bears, a family of ruthless Mongols,
a family of Swedish immigrants intent on
    farming the New World
and one blind alchemist whose hands alone,
passing over nondescript objects, could change
hard hearts to gold.

He walked across a bridge until it became
a city of quadrilateral buildings and
    trapezoidal lights.
The dazzle was almost beyond what his
human eyes could bear.
He turned to the identical twins, one of fire and
    the other of lead, and
asked them three questions: One: "What are the
other two?"
Two: "What is the third?" And
Three: "Why are we here?"

The sky's mouth opened and stars poured out
into the palm of his hand.
He counted them slowly onto the usurer's table.
Each coin became a tiny stallion
    galloping off in a different direction,
mane of ice mane of lavender mane of sharp blades
carving the night into a free-standing sculpture
of each of us naked under a full moon representing
our actions and their inner motivations
before the bloody tribunal.
I've seen their expressions, and
    hoped the angels of their better natures
would triumph when it came
time to pass judgment on our indiscretions.

He stood in the same place for many miles.

He said the same sentences in the same silence.
He thought aloud what others had only
    thoughtlessly said to themselves.

He moved his legs as if they belonged to
       someone else.

He wore the antlers of indifference until they
wouldn't fit between trees.

He ran with wolves over a
    moonlit landscape frozen over in a
single chord of music.
Their cries, one after another, crowded the night
with their plaintive sound, woke
the chemical elements from their sleep, so that
at last the formation of a structure whose
sacred dimension was perceptible to all
could take place on earth, and
crowds gathered for all those who
survived the flood, and Noah too,
and his smile, when at last the green
    rose became red,
lit up the world.


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This could be the end, or it could be the
    beginning. A
rooster in a barnyard suddenly decided he was
worthy of something greater, so he grew
arms and a human head and spoke
slow enraptured sentences that people for
miles around came to listen to.
Not a bad trick for a rooster. Easy for
    God. Though there is some

controversy among scholars regarding the
radical breaking of norms. Yet

the mountain that wanted to be
closer to heaven became a
    sputtering volcano, and the
light that wanted to be perceived by men
broke into rainbow bands visible as
the color spectrum to the naked eye. Now
flowers are red and orange, fields are green and
yellow, clouds are silvery blue and
the depths of the lake are deep purple going into
black. A face so

beautiful it becomes ethereal
floats for a moment like a
bubble above this blank sheet of paper.
Opens its mouth and dictates this poem.

It could be the end or it could be the beginning

but it’s always somewhere in the middle,
middle of a song, middle of a sentence,
middle of a life. Both ends like
slowly beating wings, until we

rise up off the ground and tilt
horizontally toward the Light.


The camel that drank water from a trough and
    became convinced it was a prime minister,
the cup that touched the lips of a prime minister
and became convinced it was the Holy Grail,
the Holy Grail that lived in mystery and obscurity
convinced no one would find it, until a
    stable boy came upon it
        shining in a woodshed window,
his heart purified by sorrow and his
vision by intense faith. He
    drank from the chalice and became
saintly and unafraid, flew across the city in the
night as luminous as the moon,
and walked from village to village protecting
mistreated animals and
humans without hope. No one ever
    knew his name.

The world revolved like a toy marble at his
fingertips. The world
slipped into his heartbeats unnoticed
and out again as an idle thought.
The world was a reflection on the surface of a
jug of water.
The jug of water was poured into a trough.
A camel drank the water from the
trough and became
convinced he was someone
     very important.
He became convinced he was the prime minister
of a country of luminous beings.
These luminous beings might be ourselves.
It would take another
    luminous being to discover it.
The love of two luminous beings
      lights up the world.
God bestows luminosity
      on whom He will.


Sing a song of breath and let the rest go.
Sing a song of light and let the dark go.
Sing a song of windows in a blank wall.
Sing a song of doors where you would want to go.
The garden sings all by itself to passing birds.
Birds carry the garden’s song to a solitary singer.
A horn in the night sings the song and then falls silent.
Was it a truck in the distance, or
    Israfil’s horn of the Resurrection?
Listen with an ear that enlightens the love that
pervades the air.
Everywhere song is sung suddenly out of nowhere.
We carry the voice of the cosmos within us
light as a feather.
Tickle the throat into song
before we are gone.
The song is sung at the end and beginning of
    each song.
The song I sing of never ends. It is
pure song.


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When I die, hammer my sliver back into the
     main wood,
paint my blue into the back of the blue chair,
file my rough down into the basic smooth
    (though I should have done that
          while alive),

I shall chart these waters no longer, go up these
     dead end tributaries for no one but
my own self’s living wonderment, as if

anything we do has buttons and special snaps on it
for anyone but ultimately ourselves, though that
should encompass moon and stars, the
echo long after speech heard later by all the
gentle woodland creatures, all the
violent Darwinian beasts battling it out by that
same moonlight, antler to antler and
horn to horn, the crack of collision heard throughout the
terrible valleys, resounding among the
    horrible hills –

when I die let these sky-gazing eyes float
freely back into the sky in which they were born
and let their gaze never avert from anyone but You,
    heart and soul
fringed by eyelashes, watching the
    frail boats of my final heartbeats
set sail in their pure black waters,

both clear and perfectly still.

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