Svadhyaya

A compilation of poems written in 2012
svad

ahimsa
she makes her bed
beside me now
in the crook of my arm
and length of my chest
we’ve slept this way
for years–
my father thinks
of everything
in terms of death,
and asks me what i will do,
i think:
i will make a bed
for my broken heart
in the crook of my arm
and length of my chest,
i will be the tender guardian
of its running dreams
and hold it close,
as it softly cries.

satya
we sat
beneath a tree on white
painted antique iron chairs
in early august
swatting mosquitoes
and me,
trying not to stare
at you,
trying to hold your head up

you said you’ d like
to go
at least once a year–
we’ll start with mexico,
i said it’s lovely there.

the mosquito swarms
in new england
are relentless
and they come fearless of death–
the hand
that hovers in wait
of the first pierce,
the initial attachment

when we were young
you taught us
to be patient–
let them land
and bring the palm down
flexed and fast
in deliverance
of the fatal blow

as i held you
in my arms
i held my elbows
hand for hand,

i marvel
at the space
between them
now,
the memories pile
and spill over–
there’s no accounting
for the things
we never expected.

asteya
i wake up every morning
with the dogs
and we take turns
hugging

thunderous footfall
as we head
for the kitchen,
and the stomping
of feet
as i fill up the kettle,
they flank me
in escort
as i gather the food bowls;

recently, scientists
published their findings on the
correlation
between dogs and the human ability
to love–

i imagine them:
faces to microscopes,
faces to computer screens,
conjuring algorithms
and adjusting
their glasses

i imagine them:
unlocking their front doors
and the thunderous footfall
of happiness
rushing to greet them

i imagine them:
lowering onto their floors
and learning all of the subtle intricacies
of what it really means
to be loved.

brahmacharya
flood plains submerged in
dam’s hold of pent up release
calm born to fury

fury born to calm
rivers of ease and river’s
mighty rage carving

channels in the land
worlds hang precarious
on such rivers’ banks

my mind crests upon
the ghost of the river
of my city and i

paddle out among
the skeletons and the murk
the fury and calm

and mourn the broken
bodies of primordial
effluent flotsam

we are effulgent
we are rivers, flowing
and dry, dust and bones

aparigraha
when the light
hits her eyes
just so
the lenses float
like murky film on a still pond

like oil
on a puddle

there are things
that simply no longer exist;
the years, effervescent
have sloughed

leaving lines
and blindening eyes
memories like dandelion tufts
that catch air
and home out
in all directions

(i want for nothing)

sauca
years ago
we were kept up all night
as she taught herself
to bark,
the enormity of her
trying to become small
a constriction of air
thrust quick and sharp

it was a haunting sound

and i thought then
how it’s not just her, maybe
we all long to be
what’s most true–
beneath the din
clamoring for dominance
insisting that we duck
and cover
is a softness

a singular, flickering
flame.

santosha
my yard is full
of little birds,
they use the fur
i brush from the dogs
to build their nests,
and they call out
sweetly
to one another;

i think life
is easy on no one,
least of all
the little things

but for the greater part
of the day
their songs fill
the air,
and not for any
whimsy or frill
that i can think of,

not for anything other
than to be at home
in the world.

tapas
as a child
i was taught to count
after the flash
of lightning, and stop
at the roaring clap
to gauge the distance
of the eye–
i was enamored of the eye
how the air itself
seemed green
how the wind would stop–
i would tear out of
the house
almost flying as i ran
to the willow
counting as i crouched
on the bank of the pond
imagining the eye
hovering,
watching me–
my mother once told me
the story
of my first thunder storm,
how my eyes
grew large
as our little beach house
trembled,
how she clapped her hands and cheered,
how i laughed;
i suppose it follows, then,
my desire
to run madly
in to the flashing lights
howling cheers
and laughter at the thunder
counting for the eye,
marveling at the collision
of systems
marveling at all of it, really,
tiny
teeming
fueled by the fires of fire

hurling through space.

isvara-pranidhana
he’d heard
of a japanese man
living on a mountain top
who grew orange trees
and kept koi

we came down
from ancient volcanic heights
to the semi-tropics
of glacial rivers
and iridescent blue
butterflies

blood pooled
in boots slipping
on slick stones interspersed
with cool mud
and foreign fern

it’s his enormous fingers
i remember,
his enormous back
hunched over
the drawing table
tracing routes
on yellowed maps
from japan to bolivia

we made camp
among the orange trees
between the ponds
as night fell
and sleep came

the morning sun
shone bright
on a world of emerald peaks
suspended
in a sea of clouds

one by one
we gathered
fingers seeking hands
clutching shoulders
and drawing close

the world bade
me listen then
and sweetly asked
that i remember.

asana
loam rich and dank
gives to the coming night
remnants of early rains
rise yielding breeze
gently rustling tendrils
of the cascading birch
listen:
the whispered chorus
of the freeway at sundown,
the dog’s calling cacophony
of dusk–
the heart’s cartographer
and the four direction’s
legendary tales spun
of you at the center;
so small, becoming
loam, becoming
birch and night wind
flung fast and sung
one becoming many,
many becoming one.

pranayama
the sources of life
are earth water air and fire
we do what we can

*

to align that which
is not in balance we must
balance first the air

*

let fly the line fast
retract for to fly again
and fooled fish surface

*

movement in spirals
funneling down like cyclones
rising up like smoke

*
water incoming
rolling waves inlets channels
chambers like harbors

pratyahara
there is a wildness
in the looseness
of feet rolling on
and off the ground,
in the sumptuous strides,
the native gait;
following tracks
of spilled blood
spotting the forest floor’s
blanket of fallen
dried leaves i yearned
to find her,
heart pounding
i climbed the hunter’s lookout–
flashes of tan and dun
made for the wetlands
behind the skeletal forest
readying
for winter,
i took the ladder
silent and slow,
closing my eyes
as my arms became legs
shuddering to lope,
shuddering to nothing,

not even a body.

dharana
tidal bodies
we have rivers between us
within us bones we
cleave to and are cleaved
in two
riparian ribs the
slender river reeds
that skim the surface
floating–
remember the arrow lilies?
the weeping willow,
how it would pour itself entire
and we would watch
the fish make wakes upon it?
once that was the world
and flying dreams
found purchase on the juncture
of roots and trunk

dhyana
i flip through albums
when i am home,
you were so handsome

thinly squinted blue eyes
like my own
and your face funny
for the girl behind the camera

i flip through albums
when i am home,
while you’re sleeping
enfeebled by the little things

we walk in the woods
when you wake
you shake your head
as the dogs run off
and pick up strands
of Robert Frost

when i was young
it was cummings
buffalo bills defunct
over coffee in the mornings

i flip through albums
when i am home,
i look most like you,
i think
if i squint my blue eyes
and jut my chin.

samadhi
the bumblebee gives its furry feet
to the sidewalk
as though curled
in flightless rest or
some great contemplation
of man’s terroir–
i steer the dogs
and give the body berth,
their instincts, keen
to the immediacy
of life living,
guide their wet snouts
to the teeming ground cover
and flowering rosemary
and i alone tend
its tiny corpse–
holding fast their leads
i am awed:
fibrous pile reflects
the beating summer sun
perfectly unto itself,
incandescent
and neglecting nothing

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