WHEN THE TYRANT APPEARS

When the most insistently religious
Completely die to their Christian faith.

When fiery conservative political warriors
Reject all their previous ideological convictions.

When our country has lost all memory
Of its once hopeful-desperate founding.

That’s when a tyrant, sneakily, blusterly, appears –
Fortunately, pretty inept – for now.

When regular people start dressing in white satin robes and bright red hats
Wildly cheering errant nonsense.

When a once great political party
Transforms into a lick-bottom.

When noble visions are no longer retrievable
Because, now, a large minority of Americans “just don’t give a damn.”

That’s when the terrible tyrant will unveil himself
Decked out in his loudest bronze dog-meat face.

FACES

When is a face not a face?
— When it’s frozen in place.

When is a face invisible?
— While looking inward.

When is a face the same as all other faces?
— In crowds.

When can one’s face expect to be replaced by God’s face?
— Only through grace.

When will you fall in love with another face?
— Once in a lifetime.

How remember what your face really looks like?
— By refusing to look into mirrors.

What does your face look like in a dream?
— Nothing, you can’t see your own face, you can only see other faces.

What does the wisest face that ever lived look like?
— Certainly not a clay-fired Buddha.

Does your face ever laugh?
— Only when tripping over itself.

What sex or gender is your face?
— Either or Both –

In other words, a face that’s just been born
— Which looks a lot like God’s pre-religion “Face.”

MY NAME IS SURPRISE

One problem with religion is its construction
Of sandcastles in the desert –
Waiting for successors to knock them all down.

Another trouble with religion is its professionalization –
Because only amateurs are authorized
To take off their clothes in public.

Then, with religions, there are “splits”
Where the fiercest enemy is a sizable portion of its former self –
Flying arrows – hearts turning black.

The final trouble with religion is the killing off of founders
Because founders, like Jesus, the Buddha, and Mohammed,
Are still too alive to be turned into museum sculptures –
So alive, that everyone runs away screaming:
“They’re alive – watch out – better yet – run!”

Of course, running out into the lonely night,
Eventually, you have to stop, turn around, and start to relax –
But it’s really not so bad without post-founder institutions to believe in –
After all, that feeling of freedom is wonderful!

My heart starts doing jumping jacks
In my chest
Out my mouth.

My name is “Surprise” –
Just don’t try sneaking up on me!

BLAZING BEAUTY

How is it possible to grow more beautiful while aging,
Especially given all the recent dimming
Of eyes, ears, teeth, feet – even balance?

Is it only our memories that are getting somewhat sweeter,
Especially the recent ones?

Those recent memories – the brand-new ones –
Having just been born –
Are certainly the easiest to grasp.

Primarily, it’s increasing gentleness that I have recently begun to accept –
Especially a gratitude for small gifts –
The unexpected ones, that aging’s been providing me with.

I think a certain kind of beauty does arrive with age – but mostly from the outside –
A beauty we might never have noticed before
That we can carefully turn and store inside ourselves.

It goes without saying that this kind of beauty constituted the original name of God.

So, as we get older, it’s our ability to accept God,
Along with God’s primary attributes – love, truth, justice, beauty and freedom –
That’s the source of any and all blazing beauty in our lives.

DROWNING IN GOD

Each year, a few more people attend my blog
So that, suddenly, it starts filling up
And looks like I’m getting noticed.

Then, one day, everyone goes away –
Was it something I said?
This blog is whittling away my natural optimism –
Coming and going – chips flying.

My wife usually remembers to support me –
But one day I made a mistake in repeating an earlier blog –
How could she not notice?
Yet no one has that kind of memory.

I don’t sign the blog with my individual name
Because that’s unimportant –
Instead, I’m writing little notes to God
Who, I hope, appreciates the effort.

Writing, for me, is like being underwater
Then, suddenly surfacing –
Waiting for a bit, and then going back down,
Hoping to reach ecstasy before drowning –
Hoping it might be the same thing –
Drowning in God while dying in me.

FREEDOM IS A BLANK SHEET

To lose everything might provide total freedom
But it doesn’t usually happen that way
Since a person can only lose one piece of themselves at a time.

Writing is freedom on a blank sheet
Without even a dot –
This sheet appears as empty as God
Who’s been busily filling everything in.

Love is like leaving a window open
So that, suddenly, if a bird flies in –
It’s the symbol of your heart returning home.

I keep tearing off pieces of myself
And tossing them out into the dark –
Pretty soon the night will be all lit up with me –
How embarrassing!

After a certain age, sex and gender start floating off –
What’s left is much greater freedom –
It’s what you’ll see when you get close enough to look directly at God
While, later in life, you start filling up with so much love
That you can’t hold onto anything else.

God is a surprise
Because you never see God coming –
Just don’t piss in your panties
When it happens.

CLAP HANDS

I want to clap hands
And with each clap initiate a separate universe.

I want to rain down beauty
So everyone can get “heart” wet.

I want to migrate with the birds
So I’ll be able to find my way back home.

I want to light a small fire in the hearth of my heart
And substitute a “pearl” for my everyday mind.

In Roman times, pearls were even rarer than diamonds
Because ancient mining industries moved mountains to produce them –
But it’s only when holding your breath while diving
That you’ll be able to discover the iridescent beauty hidden in those deep water shells.

The sun provides infinite life over almost infinite time –
But, someday, it will go out –
Truly, it’s only the green life that matters –
Everything else dross.

I’m dying to say one new word –
One that can never be forgotten –
God, why don’t you slide it across that green baize table
So that, when I turn it over, I can look surprised!

GONE TO THE GODS

Death comes sneaking up like a cat
But I escape it by leaping into the air, twirling three times –
I play better than any death-cat.

Some days, I hope Death forgets to come –
But then I remember that Death never forgets –
Death always licks its plate clean.

Since I’ve recently been granted a new grandson in the world –
Will Death now consent to “punch my ticket” –
Scheduling me for a fast ride into oblivion.

As I approach closer to Death
I’m open to accepting its help in loosening my ties to the world –
Shedding old habits like flowers flung back into fields
Or bright coins – thrown out for strangers to be surprised by.

The last things to go will be my beloved books –
Every room in my house wears them with emotional warmth
But, one day, those shelves will all be emptied
And no one will know I ever lived here.

I hope I’m long gone before Death arrives
Who’ll be quite surprised at missing me –
Death thought I would be a tasty snack
But its teeth hit only air –
Because I’ve gone ahead to the gods –
And my own pregnant invisibility.

DISTANT TRAINS

Distant trains whistle low and away
While crows in the treetops are insisting upon their far greater importance.

Jesus says: “You’ve forgotten everything essential about me
Asserting I have the power to ‘save’ you –
When, actually, I don’t.”

Distant trains whistle low and away
Taking people to camps
The same people whose grandchildren have also created camps.

Crows in the treetops are insisting upon their importance
Like politicians who create unreality shows
Designed to lead fools by their noses
Down broad entertainment ramps to political slaughter.

It’s a show mindlessly conducted for a mindless audience
Performed with flourishes of rage and spit –
A show waged against conscious reality
So that God can never be seen.

These lives without beauty are tragic –
But they don’t seem to care
Since, to them, truth is just a commodity for rent
And love’s a word useful for marketing cars.

Yes, love is a word no one dares say anymore
Because it could be taken as a commitment –
And, if so, how could we get away –
Escape unreality –
Escape everything the charlatans have wanted us to accept?

WELCOME TO THE KINGDOM!

When you’re a baby, you’re the entire universe –
And there’s nothing else that matters but you.

You’re given a beautiful mother
Who takes care of all your needs –
So you never forget her face.

Then, slowly, surely, everything starts coming into focus
Until the day you’re finally able to see yourself –
Along with all your limitations.

The surprising pain associated with becoming aware of those limitations
Leads to constructing a fantasy “self”
That you can almost believe in –
A splendid “ego” useful for dressing up your more primitive, negligible self –
Someone capable of surviving and succeeding in this world.

Eventually, you become a “real” puppet – like Pinocchio –
Who can “pass” –
Manipulating the world from behind a curtain –
While it’s only in bad dreams you realize the rest of the world
Is the same as you –

Puppets!

You exist through an unreal “person” or “persona” –
Unaware of having an alternative, even if asked.

Entire religions are built around the existence of a few chosen people
Courageous enough or insane enough to become their “true selves.”

But established religions never explain it that way –
Instead, they say such people are “gods” or “super-beings” –
And that if you’re willing to turn yourself over to them, they’ll protect you –
Most especially, after you die –
And then you’ll be able to “live forever” – whatever that means.

Gurus and other hotshot spiritual hustlers
Ask who “you” are –
Knowing you’ll have no answer –
And that you’d have to “die” to obtain one – and there’s no chance of that ever happening!

Actually, it’s quite simple –
There are no religions or spiritual “masters” available to help you –
There’s only you.

To discover your “true self” you’ll need to give up everything
You are, have, and want to be –
And be willing to be your naked self – and then look at that!
Then drop that, and keep dropping all the that’s which subsequently appear –
Until there’s nothing left
Nothing, at all –

When you discover the magic of being “born again,” as Jesus recommended –
Even then, you’ll need to be very careful not to let this new state of being
Develop into a more advanced kind of Ego.

This is why humbleness comes first –
True humility –
Someone used to being overlooked.

Then, when you finally start breathing freely again –
When you can “see” actual reality,
Including, most importantly, the reality of “yourself.”

That’s when God will suddenly appear and say:
“Good job, little one,”
“Welcome to the Kingdom!”