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At the door

do not ask death to excuse you, beg it to go around or come another day
for it is always here, knocking at the door
behind memories of what has been, hopes of what may be, 
all that comes, goes and remains, death is...

turn then not away- look, penetrate, let go, tremble
feel each heartbeat, every breath, take in, give out, the life
find the one who breathes through you, moves the heart to dance, cry, sing, scream
the mind fucker driving you crazy
the lover, eyes sparked bright enough to burn the earth crimson each dawn

be abundantly empty, let loose your hold on all things, persons, memories, emotions and truths
stand gentle in the shifting atoms thickening your own blood
know the space that holds the illusion of yourself as solid and soar there, infinitely eternal
we are but an offering of the divine flashing like coals in her relentless fire
therefore, hold everything close and give it all away...

 (hanblecha 2010)

Recognition

what is offered up each moment into these empty hands is perfect
no clinging anywhere
do not allow a single thought to escape unnoticed, but relax your grip!
you are holding on to nothing
just like this, the whole life comes and goes
dissolution into grace...

(winter, 2012)

Recognition

For Hoku

i remember holding you all night in peyote circles- three years old- listening...
big folks drama- tears, fears, laughter, joy, noise- lots of noise
the bright wings of a fire in the center, flying west
ancient songs, prayers in all directions,
up and out the smoke flap of the tipi 
to the silent stars beyond

you didn't wake but i knew you weren't asleep
your tiny fistbeat inside the drum
that rolled like thunder in my hand

all those friends have changed
no one stays up all night anymore
but when you sleep near me i still hear the rattle
shake fibers of light between us in our dreams...

(2000)

Grief

even in this paradise of sun and sea
beaches and tanned tourists
it gnaws away the heart
turns gray hairs white as chalk
saps will like cut limbs off a tree
that bleed and coagulate into gnarled, rootless stumps
hard as stone under the bones
 
children splash and shriek in the salt water
your six year old face tattooed among them in the seaweed
how you loved to gather and throw it high into the sun
and watch it fall down slippery and shiny
like “green fish from the sky,” you’d cry
then dive your way down to get tangled again
 
it seems to me you lived that way forever
tossing up your twenty-five years into the sky
just to see what could fly
even as your body fell asleep
and out that skyscraper window
so high, my son, so high
with no sea to break your fall
or wind to float you back to shore at all
 
and so, here on this desert isle
old, dry and withered as the cacti
too afraid to live, too afraid to die
waiting for the waves to break me down
to something tiny and weightless
a fragment of once sure joy
floated out, lifted up
past the day, beyond the night
into the warm wide arc of your still bright light

(january, 2014)

Mother

mother of my birth 
how short a time we were together inside a broken womb
your eyes under the oxygen tent closed, breath ragged, sleep near death
five months through incubator glass
filipina breasts dried up, my mouth in search

I was alone with you as it was when I was young
before he came home to beat us both
and make our love feel small and shameful

and now a lifetime without you 
i turn to your mother and seek from her 
that i may meet you again in stone and winter leaves
whisper to the stone, i love you 
whisper to the leaves, cover me i will dream you
whisper to the earth, i have found my mother in you 

and i am safe and always have been 

 (Santa Fe, 2000)

The blessing

we give up on the computer-
another three hundred dollars down the drain-
not enough memory for this,
need a different outlet for that-

throw a log on the fire, 
enough flame to warm two rooms-
makes us giddy with cedar smoke
that flares up our nostrils like a narcotic...

we almost pee our pants, father and son,
laughing so hard on the floor, stoned out.
touch toes like baby apes
tickling the soft secret places
under the world...

(for hoku - santa fe, 1999)

Two for love

1.   what is love really? shhh...
come down here and be like sleeping fish with me
vibrating fins on the ocean floor...

2.  if all your bones were candles,
your face would still remain a secret... 
we make love like clams at low tide-
bright shells disappearing 
into sand...

(2005)

earth trilogy: black mesa

I lay down among the lizards under the warm cliffs at noon,
their soft, scraping sound music to half-frozen ears

snowdrifts melt the mesa's edge, shift stones that drop off
hundreds of feet in all directions

up here, you ponder space, draw in breath ‘till it hurts
sit on frozen dirt that vibrates navajo turtle dancers before drums, rattles or songs
spirit shells, tied to wrists and ankles, shake
waves upon the wind, spiraling back to the sea

deerprints mark ten thousand year old trails along the high ridge 
where bright colors hum
turn the brain inside out, the eyes upside down
‘till silence penetrates the whole length of the body
ecstatic...

(new mexico, 1986)  

earth trilogy: hamblecha

today I saw my whole existence played out
on the back of a single ant
as it crawled its way across the shadows
to the hot stone hissing in the south

it is not who we are that matters here...

I am but an empty net thrown out
to catch a glimpse of light
trapped in the wind...

(abiquiu, new mexico, 1994)

earth trilogy: security

if you want to hear the earth's heartbeat
get down close like a snake, belly down in grass
stretch out in her swamps naked
wear mud as clothes for awhile

eat only wild things growing- mushrooms, rice, berries
slow down, embrace dewdrops kissing skin at dawn
walk barefoot- sharp stones, swollen toes, blood stains
wrap up at night by the fire under one blanket                                
sip cold, clear water from the one spring a mile away
and sing thanks for another day safe from the madness of "more."

then perhaps you may feel this one planet spinning in space
know yourself as a single organism dependent on all others
and rest in gratitude whole and holy, simply as this... 

 (denman island, canada, 1977) 

faith

i sit with the last embers of a tough winter's fire...
starlight flicks tiny rainbow crystals through smoke and space 
that crack translucent the hard frosted window pane
outside, wind slaps animal faces blue, dry leaves scatter
a gopher burrows all night under hard ground
to emerge a carcass- frozen stiff, upright
front paws still digging into the sky...
there is little comfort aging here
only a relentless persistence inward
to help a passionate life grow at ease with the void
but upstairs, he, at least, can still sleep and dream
my son, my joy, my boy, young enough not to know
many good things come easy but true love does not
difficult day into repentant night into stunned helplessness 
that yields, finally, to a gritty kind of grace 
for true love needs courage, is courage and perhaps in the end, only courage
enduring-as these tough old stars across a billion miles of darkness
let loose a light that does, always reach, home ground....

(santa fe, 1999)

for donovans (dark warriors)

inside this lonely joy, a fire dancer no one sees
steps lightly through ancestoral ruins
gathers the dry, broken timber there
to torch a wildfire through my blood

i sing of these skeletal remains
that burn all day until the heart gives out
spreads itself like a blanket of coals across the night
'til the masked strangers rush out from the dark like thieves
and steal all the warmth...

(2012)

for hoku

how is it now my brave heart adventurer - out there spinning your magic through the open sky?
from the moment you were born it seems you were always pulling me to fly, to dance, to laugh and yes, to cry- a little higher, a little faster, a little deeper and a lot more wilder while i, in my fearful love, urged you back to ground even as it disappeared under your tiny feet, already sprouting wings
i could never stand above you, so dazzled was i by your light, my knees worn out from chasing you eye to eye even in tiny rooms where you shone like a prince and made the most meager surroundings open like a palace into the wondrous bounty of your mind
we spun a gypsy life others only dream, from the himalayas to rain forests, new mexico deserts to ancient viking villages where girls still mothered babes and men looked and walked, tall as gods
to the feet of masters and circles of shamans who named you and blessed you, always to return to the town you were born, to ground a bit all that adventure into the ordinary life
where you still wove your spell walking barefoot in the snow, rapping brilliance under the rooftop of your van, writing and filming us all into stories only you could imagine, only you could direct
and so, my shooting star, as you go on streaking across this darkest night, i reach out like a beggar to touch again the brightness of that light, gather it in as the sacred sun you will always be, shining through the ruins of this broken heart
in and out, up and down, warming me, warming me, ever so slowly, ever so gently, ever so sweetly, back into your wonder      

 (june, 2013)

for hoku

the lesson

today, i caught your impish grin
from under the branch of an old cedar
looking like ’slash’
your imaginary childhood twin
elfish in size, color the olive green
of the spindly needles
that pricked my mouth open as they fell
and drew blood-
salt red tears upon my tongue

remembered how both of you ran
and shrieked and flew together
chasing down summer
out beyond the desert’s edge
where the bright sunset colors flamed
across the thundering sky into the rain
as if all the fire engines in the world
were racing there

‘did you see him, da?’ you’d say, pointing to
the pinion grove or behind the truck
or around the back porch at home
i’d smile, nod, and look away
’til you realized i didn’t
and you’d cry and try and try again
until finally, one day, i did

look up and suddenly, 'slash' was there
staring down between the tipi poles
a little green you with a leprechaun’s hat
and eyes wild as pan’s
he waved, i blinked, he winked
and was gone

days then weeks then months before
you knew he’d never be back
and you wept for the magic you’d lost
by letting me in on your secret

for some things should not be shared
even with those you love
or magic offered to hands worn
by the grasp of time

delicate, the shifts of wonder
through cracks between the worlds
where angel wings or fairy spells
a dragon’s breath or a knight’s tale
gather to breathe the sleeping child awake

and so, after three years knowing
you’ll never be back
aged the wrinkled white-haired
depths of grief 
to lean again into those cracks

whisper upon the dreaming mist 
that you and slash may hear
i’ve found the secret i must learn to keep
to be close to you within, my son,
before i ever speak
or again you disappear

(for hoku - may 14, 2014)

hambleca

shivering naked all night under a blanket
one gets to know teeth and bones very well
doubled over, knees to chest, mouth a funnel on frozen ground
that shifts just enough to give air

we spend eternity there...
my sister, hinhan the owl, hoots a warning
before her thick wings clip the blanket away
to the holy, first rays of sun

(abiquiu, new mexico  1998)