The Heart Opens Into the Tongue

comments 16

The way
a cloud breaks,
after wicking water from the sky
for several days of a moon’s turn inward,
and a droplet of water taps a leaf
on its way to the ground, and says,
I have heard you,
is the way that we are blessed:
with premonitions
of what has already been given.

My heart is Bell’s Inequality.
On one side there is meaning
and on the other side there is only its absence.
But the pulse in the middle confirms:
this land is uneven,
the magpie speaks,
there are no hidden variables to my existence.
I have always been broken open.
I have always known this sky could weep.

In Chaco Canyon they smoke for the rain.
The elders. Their faces drawn by the sun.
Their innards hollowed.
Their memories not their own.

If the pipes are not smoked it is only the weather.

But if hearts touch the sky,
and say, without you, I would not be,
then what rains down is a reply,
a landscape of voices in an organ of starlight.

The plants have their instructions in any case.
The weather they can endure. For a while.
But they flower when the circle is closed.
When the Truth is our only ambition.
And ambition is empty.

Reality is only a ruse when
we turn our back on it
and count to ten.
The Truth, then, like shoe leather,
tires our teeth. We cannot swallow.
We are caught with full mouths.
Once it was a game,
and now it is tragic.

If one ounce of water is random, then they all are.
And if one is the voice of my heart,
and one leaf is wakened by this pattering high five,
then they all are.
There is nothing to be desecrated but us,
because it is all just one thing or the other.
And the other is thingless.

There can’t be some things we know and some that we don’t.
There can’t be some things sacred and some that aren’t.
There can’t be one heart awake, and others still dreaming.
But we can always pretend.

We can call it the weather.

A mind apart from the heart is an experiment,
a poorly worded question,
and look what it has gotten us.
Let’s have all the papers by Friday, shall we?
Before the lights go out and the sky shakes
and the reeds bend low to the ground
and the snakes shelter under the stones
and the bluebirds cloister close to the trunk.

There is an antidote, of course,
an antidote to us,
but it can only be sung.
Try to sing, and you discover your pieces.
My mind knows only words.
My heart only music.
My teeth are tired,
and my tongue is caught in the middle.
The most delicate muscle in my body,
they say it is where the heart opens,
and I am holding it out to the sky
like a leaf.

Like all of us, I am waiting,
for what we know is to come.


  1. smiling to your heart-song, Michael.
    this bittersweet touching
    of what ancestor’s passed down,
    even without knowing quantum physics.
    their instinct manifest songs of being
    connected, interconnected to all.
    this piece wonderfully expresses such a knowing.
    i feel the sad, superficial incompleteness of heart
    disconnected from mind & mind disconnected from nature.
    from Hopi ceremonies i witnessed humble sacrament in action,
    and the thunderous response of sky, with rain & lightening.
    i’m inspired to go out right now on my bike and touch
    the autumn shapes & colors being offered.
    perhaps city folks would benefit from having a country dog
    which has real intelligence, keen senses & survival instincts. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, David. The heart feelings of your reply shine through and feel kindred to me. I can imagine from my own experiences in other ceremonies, that powerful and humble sacrament you describe. There’s nothing quite like bathing in our spiritual wholeness, expressed in every mote and speck and fiber of life around us, and clapping the whole sky at once with its intensity. I hope you had that bike ride, and touched the heart of nature. It’s beautiful to be in tune with the changing seasons, the changing scapes of being…



  2. Exquisite, and exquisitely moving. The Truth of the heart revealed in a single drop of rain. Thank you Michael for this soft interlude pattering into awareness.
    Much love

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Alison! I caught a snippet of a public television special on Native Americans that just came out, and it whispered something that moved me to the page. It seems obvious to recognize that there are simple and powerful ways of knowing and being that have dimmed in our time. So many things are intentionally insulated from the rawness of natural wonder and being, and we don’t really understand what we’ve lost I think!

      Love to you also,

      Liked by 1 person

  3. J.D. Riso says

    Your poetry always shifts something inside me. A beautiful little earthquake. You have a way of assembling the words of the heart. Thank you for sharing yours, Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Julie. The aftershocks of your sharing make for a lovely Sunday afternoon! Nice to be heard and known so truly. Thank you for reading with an open heart.



  4. I adore adore adore – so many configurations of words leading to images that pop and delight! If the papers come in by Friday, I will have a weekend of grading – but now it is apparent that each leaf is passing the mark, in a larger sense! Wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, M! I hope you didn’t drown in papers. I’ve drowned somewhat in leaves this weekend, actually. The trees are very nearly bare now–just a few stragglers remain. Yes to each leaf passing that holy mark. It can be no other way. Even in jumbled and misshapen words, the light shines through the leaf and casts such a golden glow!



    • Thank you, Ka, for picking up on that! On what is to come. Something holy I think. And I don’t know what Zang Fu theory is but I saw when I wrote this that the line the heart opens into the tongue was related to it. I can’t remember what exactly led me there. A mix of writing, reading, searching the web, listening. I thought of you when I wrote this, though. 🙂

      Blessings to you and yours!

      Liked by 1 person

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