A Lineage of Kazoos

comments 17

A skull is a resonating chamber,
a human-shaped bottle for storing echoes.
A Great Mystery holds me up to its ear–
who is listening to Whom?
Awareness merges with such a sound,

A skull is an organic amplifier,
a condenser of ethereal transmissions,
an inwardly-curving bone around a hollow void,
meant to be dipped daily in a field of silence–
held to the ear of a Great Mystery.
Over time, carefully tended,
the silence cools and coalesces.
Its oscillatory register falls
until what was once beating everywhere
and at once with time-shattering speed
has collapsed into a single droplet.
A Knowing.

One drop of Knowing
is a good day’s work.
Such potent distillations
inspire the Bone Maker
into creeping motion:
plates shift tectonically
and skulls drift into new octaves.
Like this, we all move together,
shells drifting into the pattern of a new egg,
a codified, pregnant Pangaea.

A million skulls tuned as One
could topple a wall,
smooth out a world,
collaborate symphonically
into new species, unencumbered eras,
or unprecedented flavors of time.
Dipped into the same pool at dawn,
each hollow horn becomes
an echo of a common spring.
We multiply what we carry,
carry what we know,
know what we are Given.
Over time, as Knowing incubates:
a River.

Our modern reason is a kazoo
surgically embedded
in the side of the skull,
the cyborg’s logical enhancement.
Our skulls have become buzzing factories,
assembly lines of meaningless permutations
expelled through our ears to litter the sky.
Now the rules say what may be so,
instead of the Silence.
The echoes we are Given are missed
in such bristling cacophony,
no longer cooled by our presence,
and remain as vapors.
We can no longer hear one another.
There is no multiplication,
no Power.

A lineage
is a good day’s work
repeated for a thousand years,
one skull after another
dipped in silence each dawn, carefully tended.
We’ve seen vestiges of such possibility.
I saw gourds fly once, in the darkness.
I saw a human, walking across the sea.
In between breaths, my kazoo stuttered,
and I heard a thousand beings, chanting.

I cannot escape the feeling that kazoo time is ending,
that a Great Work has been tended behind the scenes,
that despite ourselves an orchestra has been grown,
a vast field of skulls shaped into trombones and violins.
I cannot escape the feeling that a pure tone will sound,
that we will look up and see an incredible kazoo
in the smiling mouth of a Great Mystery, Who,
with arms raised, a great world-stirring baton at the ready,
stands eager to conduct the first measure of what comes Next.

* * * * *


  1. ‘a hollow void’

    And now you’re sounding like one of those pleonastic Mahayana types darling Michael:

    ‘Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Emptiness is not separate from form, form is not separate from emptiness. Whatever is form is emptiness, whatever is emptiness is form’

    [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prajnaparamita ]

    I offer this comment free, gratis and for nothing.

    Hariod the Pleonast. ❤

    P.S. ‘hallowed void’?


    • My friend Hariod the Pleonast,

      It is becoming clear to me, and perhaps to others, that my allegiance to any one type is tenuous, though of course there could only ever be one type. I have no allegiance to that one either, for what good is allegiance to that which has no opposite?

      The void is certainly and without a doubt, hallowed, holy and sacred. And empty. But giving rise of itself to so very many and numerous seeming things.



      • Michael, I’m deeply ashamed to admit that I’ve never read any of Thomas Merton’s works, and had the idea that you quite possibly may have done. I was thinking of buying The Way of Chuang Tzu, but have you any other recommendations?

        H. ❤


        • Hariod, I must confess that I have not read any of Thomas Merton’s works either, so I cannot be of much assistance here. Your inquiry makes me want to add it to the list, however, if that is of any ancillary value. 🙂

          One thing I notice is that the more time goes by, the longer the list becomes, and the more obvious it is to me that this realm is and has always been teeming with genius and courage, far more than the bandwidth of our modern media (or the duration of our modern attention span) can accommodate. I think sometimes we suffer from a notion we must have been taught, which suggested genius was rare and only faintly attainable, when to the contrary, it is all we really have, and flowering all around…



  2. Another wacky adventure with brother Michael. First he tells me to dive with the whales, now he wants me to make music with the kazoo, followed or preceded by silence. What’s a fellow to do? XD


  3. Standing in the corner smiling, in awe at it all, holding my ukulele.

    (when the voices joined in your share pulsing at first like heartbeats, my head nearly burst open…LOVED IT!)

    Tones and the sounds made by “things” do have such power to impact form. I am sure you know of cymatics…but will link these here as a thread for any interested in contemplating the power of sound (these and the fact that a cat’s purr frequency range sound heals bone FASTER, too!).

    One by one we end our contributions playing in this form and take our seats again. Yes, yes the blessed kazoo linage and those amazing slide whistles as well. 🙂 -x.M


    • Some take their seats. Some stand up. Lineage is like an unbroken awareness strung through the whole performance, something uninterrupted that is transformed and nurtured as it passes from each to the next… I think that is something missing in today’s world, understanding how we might carry in ourselves the torch of something sacred passed on from one to the next.

      Cymatics are indeed awesome. Another one of those peeks into the magic embedded in our world I love to explore…



  4. “One drop of Knowing
    is a good day’s work.”

    I have been really missing seeing your poetry in my Reader lately, and I felt slightly betrayed by the WordPress magi when I came to your site this morning and noticed that I had somehow unfollowed you! How this happened I shall never know! I am glad to be back. 🙂

    You weave so much in this poem, Michael!! “Over time, as Knowing incubates:
    a River.” …so many quotables here! 🙂 I may be taking your line “One drop of Knowing is a good day’s work” as mantra for awhile, it is such a potent line, and I was happy to see you weave back around to it with the idea that this drop of knowing is the proverbial backbone of lineages. “one skull after another, dipped in silence each dawn,” – such beautiful words, and such a beautiful image evoked by them!

    It is no surprise that I drop in to your devotionals at the exact right moment, and, as usual, find just what I need in your work. Yes, the work behind the scenes is something I express daily gratitude for, an endless love for that which I cannot see but feel deep within my bones in every precious moment of synchronicity, silence, and, heightened aliveness.

    Love and thanks!! ❤


    • Thanks, Amanda! Always a genuine treat to have you share here, and I am touched to know you have found something inspiring in these devotional lines.

      You have captured the essence of the behind-the-scenes Love you can really only feel in your bones, as you say. I feel like in many ways like acceptance of that Love’s reality is the turning point in a life, the moment when you declare-accept that the Love at work in the midst of everything is as real as anything you can see or touch or remember or dream.

      It’s a tricky realization, or at least it was for me. The palace guard of fear can make approaching the gate a tad awkward… And when I found myself lying on my back after the first few approaches, seeing stars, it was confusing. Then I found a street lamp a few blocks over and thought I’d hang out there for a little while, you know, in the light… I never know what to do with my hands though, while standing in plain view like that and thinking people are seeing straight through me.

      Then Rumi came by, tapped me on the shoulder, said, “What the hell are you doing out here???”

      “What are you talking about?”

      “You called, didn’t you? Wanted to find a way in? What are you doin’ down here, then? You can’t sneak in standing around under this streetlamp like a nervous fool! The guards’ll all see you coming like a jittery horse from a mile away…”

      “What do we do then?”

      “Just walk straight in like we own the place, and smile. Big and wide. What else?”

      “Really? That works?”

      “Yeah. Because we DO own the place. You just have to show the guards YOU know you know that, then they won’t get freaked out. They’re pretty good guys, actually. Just a little jittery.”


      Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Michael,
    Love this especially:

    “We multiply what we carry,
    carry what we know,
    know what we are Given.
    Over time, as Knowing incubates:
    a River.”

    As for the kazoo? It could always be worse; it could be an accordion. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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