Speak, O my heart


True voice of my deep heart,
without which I lose touch with joy, 
existing without substance, without 
meaning, do not leave me forlorn, 
wandering the desert in mute resignation, 
aching within and without,
nowhere at home.

Speak to me, O voice of my heart.
Speak in your wordless wholeness,
in your broken language,
and I’ll record in words 
what I hear in silence.
Speak, O my heart,
and I’ll write my way home. 

My heart’s happiness is trapped in my chest

My heart’s happiness is trapped in my chest like a red-breasted bird whose vocal cords are shot. His dumb fate blocks him from singing out the songs of lament locked inside his throat, while numbing memories of the unrepeatable songs of praise he once sang as a chirping little one mock him mercilessly. The bird’s fixed idea of how impossibly filled with grace he used to be imprisons him in the silver cages of yearning. His magnetized mind takes flight from the muted now to the musical back then, and he feels no desire to come down. He feels the fire and the magic have forsaken him, and he aches to hear aloud the latent notes Time has pushed down to some hidden crevice of his being. He has gone deaf to the ever-present, everlasting Silence, which asks without force to inhabit him from the inside. Lord of bird and beast, let there be purpose and will to this creature’s suffering. Let him still rise and glide through the skies; let him still dive-bomb the earth; let him still play the role of high-flying bird, tied down though he is to the flights of his powerful reveries, left pining and unheard in his severed world of silence.

The Place Between Before and After

Who brought me to this vale
where I travel or travail?
Who said be, and a valley
appeared below to tempt me?

Lover, I notice you are weeping
as if through a heavy veil.
Why not take off your dark shawl
and reveal the real beauty of tears,
of joy seduced by sorrow?

Did you expect me to repress my joy
because you’ve expressed your sorrow?
Take me in your arms,
and together we can unite joy and sorrow.

Who fought me when I was still
and praised me as I began to struggle?
Who said do, when I could not be,
and do more, when I had no more left?

Lover, I notice you are laughing
as if through a light veil.
Why not take off your bright shawl
and reveal the real beauty of laughter,
of sorrow seduced by joy?

Did you expect me to repress my sorrow
because you’ve expressed your joy?
Take me in your arms,
and together we can unite joy and sorrow.

Who sought me when I was soft
and left me as I began to harden?
Who said die, when I could not hear,
and live, when I began to pay attention.

Lover, I notice you are,
but I have no words for what you are.
For what you are, I can only yearn.
I yearn to live with your love
in this unknown place
that has come between
before and after.

“Like A Widowed Man Am I”

Like a recently widowed man
Remembering nights of unbearable passion,
Fighting the impulse to end it, unable to mend
The widening hole in his soul, so he goes out,
And the sight of couples in hand is a knife wound
The doctors can neither see nor heal,
For the doctors can heal only visible and outward wounds,
And thus the widowed man’s inward grief continues
On its gruesome path of self-destruction,
And as the fear takes told of him he takes a lover,
And as this new and unfaithful lover takes hold of her lover,
Her other lover, he shows up at her house,
Walks into her room, and sees her making love
With another man, and the pain of it commands him,
“Do something!” but he stands frozen
In the clutches of her infidelity, clutching
The carpeting floor and then gripping his own hair,
Ripping it out of his scalp, his suffering resistless,
His lover’s body and his dead wife’s body together consuming
His mind, in a fire to match his heart’s desperate fire
That will not die, and in agony he cries,
“Strike me down! Destroy me!” If only to go down
And out in tragic if futile glory, caught in the grip
Of forceful sorrow, imposing itself upon him
And tearing his fragile heart open
Like a lion tears open a gazelle—
Like a recently widowed man am I,
Though I am young and never married, and
There is no outward reason for me to feel such grief.
Like a widowed man am I.

“The Day The Music Ends”

I dance to move into the stillness,
To lose the thing that must be lost,
To choose to live, to thrust my self
To where trust counts for more than cost.

I caught something, I catch it each time
I dance in time to music that never ends.
Yet why when silence returns, do I fall apart?
Why when the body stops moving, does the heart
Fill with sorrow and grief, with the tragic jewels
That adorn the dances of sages and magic fools?

The heart fills with what always returns,
And until I am empty, will I always yearn?
In the silence of this movement, lend me a moment,
Turn to me, Lady of rhythmic serenity,
Lend me the key to see into your heart,
The gift that shatters what it later mends,
The soul still dancing when the music ends.

I dance to admit the gift, and to give it,
To give the thing that gripped is lost,
To live at last, be stripped of self,
Throw off that whip at any cost.

I held something, I hold it each time
I loosen my hold on what holds me under,
On thunder road I forget myself and stagger,
I trip over my feet, and a man with a dagger
Wakes me at sunrise on solsbury hill;
I look into his eyes as he goes in for the kill.

I have no things, and I have no home,
And until I find her, I will always roam
In this movement of silence, through the noise with the word:
I will write, and I will dance; my voice will be heard.
I will search for the key to see into her heart,
The gift that shatters what it later mends,
The soul still dancing when the music ends.

I dance to turn my sorrows inside out,
To earn the thing that has always been lost,
To learn how to move within my doubt,
Spin closer to the thing that has no cost.

I felt something, I feel it each time
The music takes my feet away from me.
I cannot say what it is that keeps touching me,
Or why I move like some demon is clutching me,
Or why when I return to the silence of my room,
I hurt like a man dragged by his hair into her tomb.

I will die someday, and who knows if these words will endure?
They may stay unread, unsung and obscure,
But the unsung can still sing, can still dance in their way,
So when the last hour strikes, on the day before decay,
I pray I have found the key to see into her heart,
I pray the gift that had shattered has healed, and transcends
And that the soul still dances the day the music ends.

“The Sorrow”

The sorrow is always closer to the surface than it appears. The need not to show it is part of it, and so is the need to dramatize it. The need to be part of it—whatever it is, wherever it is—that’s part of it too. A bar filled with young people on a Saturday night, sweat-drenched individuals with bodies so close together, yet each so separate from every other, and all of them trying to drink through it—that’s all part of it. It’s all a part of it, especially when it seems apart from it. We’re all trying to get out of the valley, where we were all told we should go, and we’re running out of gas. The mountains are always too far away. Even if we get there we aren’t there. The sorrow, unlike the mountains, is never too far away. Maybe you head off to work and realize just as you’re about to arrive that you forgot your lunch, and you feel a frustration out of all proportion to the forgetting. Forgetting your lunch feels like it felt to be forgotten by your friends one night as an uncertain thirteen-year-old girl. It feels like remembering that you’ve always been alone and feeling that you always will be, and not being okay with that, wanting it to be otherwise. The sorrow is so close because you are so far from any sort of source, yet it is too far to admit, to grasp fully. Writing about it is part of it. Even writing about it well does not make it less. Writing about it, and writing about it well, only brings it closer. The one who writes can feel himself becoming a part of it, writing himself into it, finding it even on a late afternoon in the crisp high desert air as he sits with his eyes closed on a cabin porch, with nothing that needs to be done, enjoying the November sun that warms his naked torso. The one who writes can feel himself becoming a part of it when he no longer feels himself coming to be or believe, when his grasp on what is true and what is false loosens, and is lost.

I Was Never

I was never less understood than when she said, “Tell me how I should understand you best.”

I was never in greater sorrow than when she asked, “How can I make you happy?”

I was never in more intense passion than when she said, “I never see you show emotion. Sometimes I think you’re a cold person.”

I was never more inward than when she said, “You don’t have to be afraid. You can open up to me.”

I was never more helpless and alone than when she said, “Let me help you feel less alone.”