A glowing vector shot across the sky,
the last, illumined fragment of a shattered world,
screaming in octaves
of fire and dissolution.
I peered into the majesty left behind,
into that gathering field of stars
and distances beyond measure,
of potency and shimmering songs,
feeling its Invitation draw the life within me
to the surface
the way the moon pulls the water
up through stone beneath the land,
the way tears rise to the surface
when a holy One is near,
and I said, “Yes…”
I said, “Yes…”
and uncorked a bottle full of ghosts
who fled my chest and careened
across fields of vision and dreams,
parsing my history into colors, heat and beasts.
A battalion of bearded soldiers, bereft of purpose,
marched lockstep towards the world’s stark edge.
An elephant charged at the sun
before a jury of on-looking hyenas–
a line of swollen tongues, chuckling fur and haunches.
In the distance, grass was trampled underfoot,
while here, a leopard stepped out from the trees
and came for me like a gliding death,
stalking, angry and fluid,
a fury without edges or corners,
a raw power aware of nothing
but hunger, nothing
but being haunted, nothing
but the need to tear me open and
spring through the wound, into the space beyond–
to free us both of this torment.
One by one the rows of men spilled over the cliff,
A pair of macaws shrieked and shook the trees,
and she sprang, rasping,
her warmth and weight crashing into me,
her claws a volley of hot, curled stakes
that dug through my ribs
and clutched, like fists of needles, my heart.
I gasped, withering in her grip,
sensing the last remnant
of a history I had once occupied
release, and slip beneath the surface of a mighty river.
Pierced and bleeding,
I staggered into her gaze,
into the starless void of her waiting eyes.
I stumbled along that hollow passageway
for a century, lost to thought,
bearing my pain like a lamp in the darkness,
pouring out from my wound–
out into emptiness…
The final act of annihilation
is the realization that the end
I once craved will never come,
that an ending had never been a valid destiny,
that I have been unmasked
and baptized in the river of all Being.
I emerge to find myself standing by the sea.
Mary stands behind me
with her hand on my back, just behind my heart.
She is presenting me to the rising sun.
In the distance, a line of small wooden boats
are spilling over the world’s edge,
the men inside them transforming
into great winged birds that dot the sky,
one after another,
in an uninterrupted convoy
towards the heavens.
but what is saying,
with its own voice,
the Meaning that fills all beings to over-flowing.
Wow Michael. This touched my heart with it’s poignant language and clever story twists.
Thanks, Brad. Very often my writing ends up being a description of inner states, rather than a tale of outer events. It is fun to try and create images and scenes that capture the feelings within, but it is kind of like tip-toeing through the dark hoping to bump into the right word. It takes a little while. And then, by the time it’s over, I’ve read and reread it so many times it starts to sound like a cereal commercial, so I can never be sure how it sounds to others. The feedback is much appreciated!
How can every line of every post contain such beautiful destruction? Thank you so much for burning so clearly, Michael, that you can give glimpses not only into the white hot fire but also out the other side.
Sounds like I should focus on creation somewhere down the line, here! 🙂 Over the past year, it has been interesting to see how my written expression has evolved. It has become a sort of creative, inner practice for me. I feel the truest, the most in touch with myself of late, when I’m “burning clearly” these words into the electronic sea. It never ceases to amaze and inspire me when I discover others can relate to them somehow. The act of writing is always a reminder my thoughts can come from someplace within/beyond me, if I would but let them, but the dialogue of recognition that follows is a beautiful reminder that we all share in that empty space we enter to be creative. In a way, we are all reaching up to pluck the fruit of the same tree, a very interesting tree, a tree that never produces the same fruit twice! A tree that nourishes all of us…
This is just crazy brilliant out of the box mystical destruction adventure, whew, all in one. The mind is entertained while the soul witnesses the adventure, and the heart bursts with the pain and joy of it all. I love the visuals here, I could just… really FEEL it all. Love!!
Thank you for taking in the words and feeling what lives inside them, Andrea, which requires a willingness to really encounter them. I am touched. You’ve given me an idea for a side business as well. I see a real gap in brochure copy writers for inner adventure companies that take people on “mystical destruction adventures.” That sounds like a whole new thing, and about as far as you can push the desk job without going over… 🙂
Absolutely beautiful Michael. You have a wonderful imagination and a gift in writing. Really moving images.
Thanks, Theresa. I’ve been thinking some about the imagination, and how I have come to enjoy creatively going for a swim in its waters. I think about it sometimes in the context of prayer- how we might let ourselves go, into a feeling of Love, and receive some bit of knowing or support that is just what we need, but not perhaps expected in quite that way. Like the receipt of an unexpected package. I have come to trust that if I sit down to say something, my imagination will throw out some images and scenes to go with it. It won’t leave me hanging. I think I’d like to learn even more about living that way, to trust that if I set about to live something, that that Loving state that seems to be most at home in the imagination, will throw out some scenes and circumstances to go with it…
Like the appearance of new friends here at this little portal… 🙂
You have inspired me as well Michael! I feel I have lost touch with my imagination decades ago and want to start cultivating it again.
Awesome! There is nothing quite like getting inspired and staying inspired by responding to the inspiration that comes. I know because of how often I wander away from that simple way of being. The contrast always invites a speedy return to the simplicity within…
The images are profound with such imaginative beauty. You have a wonderful way with words. Thank you.
Thank you, Don. I love your sketches, BTW. It is amazing that “images” can be built of words, or lines of ink and splashes of color, and ultimately, they all lead to that heart-tickling experience, a pulse of silence within that says, “I know you…”
pulls you in, keeps you going, right to the very end – A Sunday morning ride
Thanks, John! I much enjoyed reading your description of writing poetry and what it means to you. There is indeed a joy in getting your feelings out as only you can. And I loved the picture “waiting for the parade” on your site.
Thanks again Michael for giving us another breathless piece of writing. Everything pointing towards a sense of breaking through and into to a vast space and emptiness. What remains is the enigma of ‘the Meaning that fills all beings to over-flowing’. I see a parallel with the Buddhist emptiness ‘sunyata’ where everything including language is transformed and nothing beyond that can be said about ‘the Meaning’ – a different state of consciousness.
A question about an earlier part, can you tell us a bit more about the ‘invitation’, and the line that’s repeated: ‘and I said, “Yes…”’?
Thank you… You are definitely catching my drift around the enigmatic ‘Meaning’ at the end. I have read some about the Buddhist concept of ‘sunyata’, and it makes sense to me to use that synonymously. At the end of all the words, I guess beyond the words to where I enjoy pointing, we are left with a feeling at the center of our being. When we first observe this spaciousness, it is only in fits and spurts, and at least for me, I was quick to discount my early encounters as being at all relevant or meaningful. Surely, it could not be this… But with practice and attentiveness, this spaciousness has expanded, and now I must confess, if this is not what is described by mystics of every race and creed and inclination, I probably have to go back to the drawing board and start with a new life. It is all I have left… Besides the figurine conceptual selves I still trade in from time to time… 🙂
The “Yes…” relates to my previous post, where I was exploring the concept of accepting Love as the reality of my being, (of our being), despite any imperfections and inadequacies or residual fear and resistance I might be inclined to see in myself. So, this piece begins with saying “Yes…” to the invitation to see oneself and the world with the vision of Christ. That term… “vision of Christ” is for me another one, like the way “Meaning” is used at the end here, that defies language, and is universal in my opinion, though couched in different terms and colors where it lives in our various philosophies perhaps. I think of it as being similar to “right seeing, right acting, right thinking, etc.” Or as a state of emptiness wherein all that we see and interact with is an extension of one Reality in which all things share.
Yes there are the ‘figurine conceptual selves’ that we become and unbecome, and maybe they fall away more and more from the importance they had in earlier days as the parallel conviction grows that what we are experiencing is indeed what mystics describe all the way through history in every race, creed etc. There’s a sense of unexplored territory here and the symbol of ‘the fool’, the slightly mad person you’ve given reference to in other pieces. Funny, hilarious even, though quite real. Necessary to be absolutely sure of your direction as everything you’re holding on to falls away.
I’m interested in the ‘concept of accepting Love as the reality of my being’ – and I have to say ‘interested’ because that doesn’t come easily to me – childhood experiences etc. It’s something I have yet to revisit. Buddhism fills in the gaps for me and word ‘sila’ (virtue) is the anchor point when the concept of acceptance arises – found in Right seeing, Right action… as you say here. The problem I have with the word ‘Jesus’ is the same as other Western Buddhists I’ve spoken with, there’s a general lack of trust in ‘Chuchianity’. This is an obstacle for me, I find these childhood conditions: guilt, sin, punishment are embedded, and working a way around that. I’m inspired by the ease you have in embracing ‘the invitation to see oneself and the world with the vision of Christ’ and how that applies in my situation. So thanks again, it goes on. I’ll be looking out for more about this.
Thanks for the thoughts and sharing… “Necessary to be absolutely sure of your direction as everything you’re holding on to falls away.” I like that description a lot. Though it seems difficult to achieve, I think this is the role of grace… to usher us through paradox.
I completely understand your stated obstacles. I think and write about Jesus as I have encountered him within, and largely from my experiences with him in A Course in Miracles and later A Course of Love, but I would cringe almost to call myself a Christian per se. It probably sounds strange. It probably is. I don’t need or want the label, and I’ve had many experiences with those who use the label to restrict, ensnare, limit or divide. I see how the loving reality of Christ embraces all paths, all ways, all suffering, all people, and that is where the heart of it is for me.
I do think that the unity found within Christ beautiful, and that the dogma and rules and regulations and judgments that have sprung up around the reality of it all are simply unnecessary.
My 5 year-old teaches me much about imagination..I felt the way she is able to absorb herself into it here. I went back to “and uncorked a bottle full of ghosts” a couple times.
Thanks, Laurie. What a glorious time! The contagious worldview of the five year old. Unconstrained and unbottled… Sometimes after a full day of sparring with my inner phantoms, it is nice to return to that innocent and freely-imagining and creating state. 🙂