Announcement: Intro

Hey folks. Welcome! I’m a novice poet who created this site just to have a place with permanent links to my writing that I could share. I don’t claim this stuff is any good. I’m learning, and sharing the fruits of my learning, is all. Hope you find something here that you like.

You can browse via the categories or tags to the left. (If you appreciate being made a bit uncomfortable, try the tag askew.) Or, here are a few suggestions:

About people, values, and choices:

About relationships and community:

About childhood and growing up:

About climbing the mountain:

About glimpsing the summit:

About animals:

About wierd sh*t:

Enjoy…or something.

Peace,
Mike

The Best Laid Plans

Pounder McGurrell was a very fine squirrel,
and he hoarded his nuts with a miserly zeal
in the stump by the dump
and the hole near the pole.
He had no fear of missing a meal.

Pounder McGurrell was a very fat squirrel,
and by any squirrel’s measure as rich as a king.
He would crash on his stash,
snooze and snore, dream of more!
And he wasn’t afraid of a thing.

Pounder McGurrell was a satisfied squirrel,
with a pride-swollen heart in his oversized breast,
but he woke with a croak
to sustained, pounding rain.
The typhoon liquidated his rest.

Now Pounder McGurrell is a dog-paddling squirrel,
as he watches his nuts float away.

And that’s all I’m going to say.

concrete and iron

my feet are encased in concrete
massive blocks of my own casting
the left is named “befuddlement”
the right is called “craven fear”
they’re easy to pour but hard to lift

that’s why i don’t move forward
or do anything worth mentioning
to remedy this present situation
to disrupt our shared delusion
of deeply cutting separation

i cherish my cement shoes
they make me rooted and safe
but my harridan heart keeps nagging
to lift them high and bring them down
smashing them to bits as i run

before another perfect shining child
emerges from the womb’s embrace
and holds out her trembling wrists
to receive those rusty iron shackles
forged from scarcity and shame

Prayer of the Trinity

Source of all creation!
Within your love,
within your being,
you bear everything there is to bear.

Every one of us.
Each of our hurts,
each of our joys,
each of our awakenings to you,
each of our violations of one another.

You enfold the whole universe,
and in you the universe is made one.

And could it have been
that your creation took the form
of an undifferentiated reality,
uniform and pristine,
perfect and unmarred by ruin?

Perhaps.
But it is not that.
It is not that kind of creation.

So you became incarnate!
You took individual shape,
formed of solid bone and muscle,
and you became the beloved child.

And your beloved child…
missed you.

But your beloved remembered
where to find you:

at the time of baptism,
and at the table,
and day after day,
in stillness,
and in prayer,

your child encounters your spirit!
And your child discovers wholeness –
finds integration with you.

Source, and child, and spirit:
three in one,
and one in love.

Captivity

By the rivers of Babylon

by the rushing waters of Prosperity,
and the mighty flood of Security

there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

At least, we thought we remembered.
We had this picture in our heads anyway,
clear as day
of a world, a nation, a life
permeated with Shalom.

We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof.
For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song;
and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying,
Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?

But then these punk teenagers stole our harps –
plucked them right off the trees!
(Kids these days have no respect for private property.)
And they started singing a new song.

And it reminded us
(some of us, the more honest among us)
of the songs of Zion.
The tunes were familiar,
yet more generous and varied,
and the beat was more ingenious
and insistent.

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.
If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth;
if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy.

Then a girl with dark brown skin
said to me,
I will teach your right hand a new cunning.
I will show you how to play this song.

Your tongue can learn to sing this melody.
It does not need to remain
cleaved.

Do not be afraid.

Remember, O Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said,
Raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof.
O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed;
happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones
against the stones.

I remember now.
I, child of Edom.
I, daughter of Babylon.
I remember saying “raze it, raze it”.
I did not shout it in the street.
I did not even vote for it.
But I bought in.

“Prosperity, Security.”
I floated along these mighty rivers
untouched by the cries
of the people on the banks.

And now,
as I sit and weep
beside these waters,
I turn to this young girl
and I say,
Teach me.

Three

So far, I’ve lived through three tumultuous seasons
engulfed within the tsunami called conversion.
The first time, that hot and hasty summer of ’99,
I met the Buddha in the form of an exiled monk
who taught me to take refuge in the Triple Gem,
and to confront my anger, ignorance, and fear.
I didn’t know that my ecstasy was fueled by mania;
nonetheless, all of my prostrations were sincere.

The second time, I came home to the Church,
having been astonished by some Arizona Baptists.
When those red Episcopalian doors opened wide,
it felt like coming home. And me? For years I was all in.
I gave myself to God, to the Church, to my church,
until slowly, in the opposite order, they betrayed me,
and I wandered in the wilderness for forty years.
OK – six years staring at my own unkempt backyard.

The third time was long after I had given up, and
it was occasioned by admitting defeat to my friends.
The very moment I told my church I was a nonbeliever,
my atheism was doomed to live no more than a month.
I’m still an atheist – what I’m not is a reliable narrator.
But I’m a queer heathen, given my trinitarian streak.
So yeah, now I call myself a “scientific pantheist”,
and I think we’re all one, and the universe is sacred.

Weird, I know.

The common thread through all of these conversions
is – my God – how I’ve always excessively loved liturgy.
I mean, Tibetan Buddhism is “smells and bells” Dharma,
with incense and chanting, icons and ritual pomp.
And my Anglican church tradition is justly known as
“Catholicism lite”, on account of the litanies and thurifers.
And now? Well, this naturalistic mystic sure does dig
a Eucharistic liturgy or a Vajrasattva purification mantra.

So what’s the unifying thread, making all these motley
pieces of me groove to the funky rhythms of sacrament?
I think it might be emptiness. Because liturgy is poetry,
which is shaped by the space between words, and lines.
To Buddhists, emptiness – shunyata – is the ultimate truth.
To Christian mystics, emptying self reveals God’s fullness.
All this is just crazy philosophy, but in my bones I believe
That the space we perceive between us is actually sinew.

It’s weird,
I know.

It Is Well

It is well
(It is well)
With my soul
(With my soul)
It is well
It is well with my soul

But if this is true
It is true only because
I have paid attention

It is true because I have noticed
That my soul
Is yoked to your soul

And that this yoke
Is not a burden

It is not an evil
For you and me
To be bound together

Though we are different
Though our souls are foreign
And unknown to one another

It is not strange
And it is not a thing
To fear

No
It is the most natural thing
In the universe

Because you and I
We are the universe

We are shaped from the same clay
We are made in God’s image
And we are good
And we are one

And it is well
(It is well)
With my soul
(With my soul)
Only
When it is well
With your soul too

Because my soul
And your soul
Are one
Not the same
But one

And I promise you
My sister
I pledge to you
My brother
That I will act justly
With you
That I will be kind
To you

Because you and I
We are salt
Of the same earth
We are light
In the same sky
We are one
We are indivisible
And I will not give up on you

enmeshment

when he reached the age of twenty-nine
the shakya prince
with golden skin
and raven hair
threw wide the door
of his jeweled cage
and forever left behind
the entrapment of his birth

so began his deep involvement
with the people
for the first time the prince met
the daughters and the grandmothers
and the small muddy boys

he laughed with them
and cried with them
he touched their sores
and their corpses
and for the first time
the prince knew sorrow
and suffered embroilment in grief

he knew he could not go back
to the palace of ignorance
but nor could he bear
entanglement in this life
of anguish

so the prince sought teachers
to set him free a second time
not from unknowing bliss
but from knowledge of pain
and in each of their teachings
of self-abnegation
he found only further ensnarement

when he reached the age of thirty-five
the shakya prince
with golden skin
and raven hair
sat down beneath a tree
and vowed not to rise
until he had overcome
every trap
and snare
and tangle

and the prince sat
with singular focus
until he could see with utter clarity
the delicate mechanisms
of quantum entanglement
and his own perfect enmeshment
with every other being
in the universe

and the buddha rose
with a smile
and began to teach