I shrink back from my lack of direction. I blink once and come to months later, in the same exact location. Either I admit my honest terror in the face of barren obscurity, or I lock my soul in a windowless cell, and call it job security. Help me keep the faith I’ve never had. Help me feed the hope I’ve tried to kill. Hold me when I sweat through every pore, releasing the toxins that block me from breathing in your perfect air. Without you I become my song of lonely longing in the Texas night. If I must gnaw this bone without you, then send me deeper into the valley of separateness. Help me remember my thirst, whenever I pull from the well. Remember my hunger, whenever you ring the bell. Remember my poverty, whenever I cling to time. Remember my nakedness, whenever you house my mind. Remember my homelessness, whenever I find my home.
Let me not deplete my strength attacking the thick vines behind which my head, bed-ridden with the sickness of words, hides from the living world. Instead of seeking peace by means of increasing violence, let me breathe deeply into the heart’s vaulted silence. Let the work be accomplished in this private canyon, which the clean red rivers in my veins continually carve. Let the refined Will find me upright and still: quiet enough to hear the cries of a crumbling spirit for guidance and clarity; honest enough to number myself among the hungry, the fearful, and the helpless; humble enough to fling myself at the feet of my Lord and beg, Please, let me sing.
Lost in the silence, oppressed by want before the sun rises, I haunt the borders of my heart, sucking my hitchhiker’s thumb, greedy for milk from a substitute mother, hungry to be held. I struggle with ancient luggage, too heavy to carry alone. Strum on the strings of my heart, reassure me of your presence. Wait for my voice in the morning, and I’ll wait for yours at night. Let me speak as if you are with me, sitting poised across the table, able to respond in kind. In the heat of time I blind myself to your mercy. I fold with a full house, go all-in with a ten-four. I drift in a cloud that holds nothing else. Drop me into the ark again. Send me down to my place when somehow I end up at the helm, awakening to the shouts of deckhands, Captain, sir, it’s high time we get moving. You know I don’t know what the hell I am doing. I never learned to read the currents. I need so much help to reach the calm seas and clear skies. I entrust your law to guide this ship through flood and fog. I stand in position on the leeward deck. Now take complete control, and steer this hull to the distant shores of my soul.
You sow my stony ground with winnowed grain. You answer my wordless prayers without a word. When the riptides of loneliness drag me back into the storm, you guide my shrinking form from sea to shore. And still I wrap my ripped skin in thin strips of gauze. Grant me the courage to strip off my masks and inhabit your silence in nakedness and need, embracing completely whatever brings you near, whatever dissolves the walls of fear and waters the grass in the prison yard. Melt the iron rod, and spread my body on the bread of Life. Without you, I go hungry in America, land of plenty, land of empty promises of liberty. Liberate me from the way I cling to everything I’d kill to keep. Bring back my soul to your tree like a leaf in spring. Gather the seeds my grasping hands have scattered, and plant in the depths of my pain the pearl of your measureless grain.
I want to staunchly defend my right to life. Abort this mission of lifelong constriction with the guileless admission that my aliveness has been in remission, as if living were the disease.
Freedom is a motivating force, the source and the end of hope. I want to bend to its flexible iron, become pliable, liable to lift off the ground, finding flight and descent both viable options, adopting a position of delightful collision with silence, a momentous joining with the moment.
There is too much goodness to bear. Still, bear with it. Allow it to unfold. The gold is hidden under piles of sludge, mounds of dung, lost and found among the ashes of the stung self. Enter that sting with instruments of healing. Follow the bee that has stung you, bumble and stumble after his humming flight until he leads you to sweet honey. Be stunned by the inner sweetness you’ve shunned.
I’m hungry, alert, on the lookout for food. I want to stay hungry, not to lunge at every passing squirrel or deer, but to wait for the big game, the sleepy-eyed moose that can wake in an instant.
The Bible on my left, the Bhagavad-Gita on my right, and my hands, poised, on the keys in between. I want to hold the west and the east within me, hold the tension of my divided being: both the one who prays for help, and the one who resists all help. There is no help for that one. There is no shelf large enough to fit the living and breathing book of the living. Open your arms, embrace this book, and begin it again.
Already there is this hole
Where hopelessness hides
From the sunrise on the hill. Already
There is this heart that tightens
As lovers my own age pass me,
Hand in hand, walking up
The hill as I walk down it. Already
There are these eyes that narrow
In the time it takes to drive
Down the hill to town. And always
There is this hunger for some sustenance
Not known, not offered, not here. Always
This hunger that does nothing but grow.
I am told awareness is the cure,
That to be aware of it is to grow out of it,
But all that grows out of my awareness
Is the hunger itself, of which I am
More than aware. It growls in me as I pedal
Up the hill that separates where I live
From where I do not feel alive.
It moans in me when, alone,
I still feel apart from myself.
It sings in me as I dance it out,
And I wait as, bit by bit, it
Again begins to gnaw at me
After the music has ended
And I sit here, writing with and through it,
All through this blood moon night.
There are nights when you can’t sleep until you’ve made efforts to awaken,
nights you feel fully the futility of all your efforts,
your eternal failure to wake up in time.
These are the nights when the knowledge that you are spirit is simply that,
for these nights you feel spiritless,
and the feeling in you masters the knowledge.
These are the nights you pick up book after book, putting each one down
after a few sentences. You turn off the light to go stand on the porch,
and you hunger for the moon to give you one true word.
These are the nights when you know the dawn
will not revitalize or exorcise, will only terrorize you as only it can,
nights you wish would last longer so you could remain hidden in darkness.
These are the nights you spend weighing your options,
oscillating between extremes, unable to balance unstable dreams
of who you might have been with the unmovable weight of who you are.
I no longer need you, but
I do still need
to feel the hunger
I used to feel for you,
I no longer need to be alone, but
I do still need
to feel the hunger
I can’t help but feel
I no longer need to drink, but
I do still need
to feel the thirst I couldn’t help
but feel when I couldn’t drink.
I need to create
out of that endless hunger.
to love you.
I did anyways; I couldn’t help it.
I loved you then
the way you need him now;
the way you talk to him;
it’s the same way my poems never sounded
when you read them back to me.
Well, here goes:
I hungered for you to hunger for me;
when you hungered for me,
I was glutted with you
and hungered for her,
I’m afraid my hunger will devour me,
that it cannot be satisfied,
I’m afraid I hunger only
for what keeps me hungry.
If we are afraid together,
will we be half as afraid?
if we are alone together,
will we be twice as alone?
And, of course, this:
if we are hungry together,
will you take care of the bill?
When the storm rages
will you let me sit,
surrounded by it,
to meet with stillness?
why some days can I sit for hours,
patient like the mountain laurel,
while other days I am a child who waits
for a roller coaster, a child who hates
roller coasters, yet in strange ways
hungers for what he hates.
If I say
I cannot receive love
I cannot receive enough love
I hunger for what keeps me hungry,
will you understand?