In The East

In the east
tourists release caged birds,
they open the wicker door,
the finch steps bravely forward,
pfff, wings flutter, up in the air,
gone, little bird gone.

The kestrel strikes
in seconds

as it makes it rounds
above the marketplace.
This quaint custom
is a symbol of the soul’s liberation
from the endless rounds of death and rebirth.
The tourists don’t see the kestrel
they miss the next logical step.
When they free the yellow finch
they are feeding the kestrel and its young.
They think they have practiced virtue,
they pay a few rupees and move on,
unconscious
that the joyous flutter of wings
is not a yellow finch
restored to its free wild life
but a kestrel feeding its young
on our ignorance.

Breath

Your breath has a shape
unique
like a fingerprint
no two alike
in all the world.
Everything about you
is found in your breath
all your lives
and deaths,
all your thoughts.
Think of your body
as gone,
only breath remains
it has an in stop
and an out stop
and contains so much more
than air.
If we could know one another
by our breaths
if we could see the human crowd
as a throng of breaths,
nothing else,
hello jagged anxious breath
how are you
hello smooth relaxed breath
nice to see you
the human race is
a breath collective
today some will arrive
today some will depart
lungs are merely homes
like hands fill gloves
everything sacred, every dark secret
lives in the breath
and when it leaves your body
it is a system of information
like a letter full of you,
air mail, breath mail.
I would tell you more of this
if I knew any more
but this is as far as I’ve got
in learning the nature of breath.

A Conversation With God

Lord, my whole life has been a conversation with you. It has been a pleading, praying, thanking, questioning, frustrating conversation. Though I am not answered in words, you answer me in every experience that occurs. There is no issue about my faith, about whether or not I accept your existence. It is not conditioned by what happens to me in my life. I don’t need good things and miracles to have faith. All I need do is look around at the world and I see an abundance of evidence. Without you and the great wind of your love, there would be, simply, Nothing. Instead, we have a great passionate world, a universe full of drama and strife, of burning stars, of miracles and mysteries. One thing I can see, Lord, is that you have made a universe that is not boring.
I thirst for truth, but truth is not an easy thing to grasp. I don’t want to be this way, the way I am: addicted, afflicted, incomplete, emptied out, wounded and afraid. I don’t want to be this way. But I am. These conditions go along with being human. Being alive and made of this material stuff is to be lost in a jungle, where spirit hides behind things and yet is out in the open for those with clear sight. My sight is not clear. It is obscured by my needs for so many things. I need comfort and enjoyment and every desire leads to a battleground, a wrestling with a thousand demons. I need truth, but I fear truth. I hold it at arm’s length lest it turn out to be monster with sharp teeth, about to rip my personality to shreds and throw me down into madness. I am afraid that I can’t handle things the way they are.

I am like a fairy tale creature following a trail of crumbs through the forest. Somewhere in this darkness there is a home in a clearing, a warm place to feed and rest and abide. I wait for the appearance of that abiding place, though it may not appear until after I die. If that is what is decreed, that I wander through the years of my life in a constant search for truth that is never satisfied, so be it.
My faith does not diminish. Nor does my fear. Faith and fear seem strange bedfellows. Both seem constant to my condition. Both conceal the same transcendant animal, hidden amid the trees and vines. Both counsel me to leave hope at the entrance to the forest, and proceed in spite of the hopelessness of the cause.

Such is a true conversation with you, God.