Poems

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TO THE THRESHOLD OF LOVE

~~~~~Songs and Poems~~~~~

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The Witness

Above is the blue of the flag of the sky,
a deep peace complete for a lone passerby.
Below is the verdant swell of the moor,
for souls needing healing: balm and a cure.

So very little here to deface Nature’s blush –
some barns, some walls…the bare bones of us.
Now the heart stirs like the dervish who whirls,
aflame, a living poem – one of Rumi’s pearls.

Fluttering in the breeze this rag we call “I”,
a Christian, a Muslim, some other passerby,
become now a witness to Mercy, to Grace,
blowing in the grasses of the moor’s green face.

Bearishness

This life has led me
deep into the high heart
of a wilderness.
Is there a coward’s bus back again?
I packed my rucksack
with things I thought
would ease the pain.
They haven’t,
and, oh, the rain –
I fling my offering
of an anorak
to the rain!
For a strange courage
is on me yet,
and I wish to be a bear
and run deeper
and higher into the wild trees
(dumb brute and blessed!),
emerging years later,
wizened and half-slain,
and moaning,
paws shaking,
of a brush
with Bearishness.

Bear Mountain

In sohbets such as these
we sit in a landscape
of mountain mists and streams,

like some beautiful Chinese painting
where Truth blushes
behind cloudy eyes.

‘I see it now!’
somebody’s heart cries.

For salmon: no escaping.

Kingdoms

You, Sovereign
Ruler of my world without,
my heart within,
nothing happens without You.
In this, Your heart,
help me to bow
listening, intent,
to my nothingness
within Your vastness.

When greed and desire
banish me from my kingdom
and my own subjects
usurp my throne,
what can I do
but come in supplication to Yours?

From the tip of Your fractal majesty
I saw the mighty lion leap.
That leap says, ‘Beware!’
yet also,
‘Become aware!’

I come now
aware of my frittered birthright,
my crying need.

Banish me to Reality,
O Creator of rivers and trees.

To their kingdoms,
carry your leafy ones
on water and air.

Morning Mist

My life does not belong to me,
my life belongs to You.
My thoughts do not begin with me
and all return to You.
I am like the morning mist:
I’m here and then I’m gone.
Yet never leave eternity
with You, Beloved One.

There is a rose that’s just for you,
so in My garden come.
Be dew upon its petals, love,
before the fiery sun.
For you are like the morning mist:
you rise and then you’re gone.
Yet never leave eternity
with Me, beloved one.

The robin’s breast is full of You
within the crimson dawn.
The nightingale’s besotted too
and so a song is born.
And I am like the morning mist:
I’m here and then I’m gone.
Yet never leave eternity
with You, Beloved One.

Your life does not belong to you;
your life belongs to Me.
Your thoughts do not begin with you
and all return to Me.
You are like the morning mist:
you rise and then you’re gone.
Yet never leave eternity
with Me, beloved one.

The Crow

Old crow,
grim one
from on high,
squawk
when I laugh,
be always
in the corner
of my eye.

The Heron

It would have been so easy to miss,
but I was blessed
to witness it:

a statue
of fell intent
above the reeds.

I had a thought:
how wonderful to see it plunge
and rear up again
a shower of diamonds
and a fish.

But the heron wouldn’t do this.
It was a statue
and stiller than the reeds.

I had to go,
but water full of sky
trembled so
complicitly.

Ya Sabur!
O Patient One!

Patience
struck at me.

Who knows what love will make of me?

Each time I look into the mirror I’m getting uglier.
But it’s not me who has to kiss me.
Who knows what love will make of me?

I’ve a wild suit and a tired bunch of flowers.
My song – a cacophony.
Who knows what love will make of me?

The other night I sent a great dervish to sleep with words.
I’m no hypnotist.
Who knows what love will make of me?

I want to be seen moping in misty places.
I’ve not properly considered this.
Who knows what love will make of me?

Having spent my whole life in the ego’s broom cupboard,
I stagger in the heart’s spaciousness.
Who knows what love will make of me?

Rumi’s words on Love – I’ve skim read bits
and have the whiff of graciousness.
Who knows what love will make of me?

Though I’m circling love’s shrine, I’m too weak to enter.
Inside they move boulders.
Who knows what love will make of me?

Daniel, if you ever look in the mirror and your head is gone –
just shoulders –
say: ‘Hu knows what love has made of me.’

Heart of Fire

Tell me do you have a heart of fire?
Does all that you are burn on a pyre?
Tell me have you seen the Sweet One’s face
and fallen into ruin, shame and disgrace?

Tell me if you have – friend, draw near.
The fire grows stronger when two burn here.

Tell me have you heard a silence grow,
happy as an awkward, ugly old crow?
Tell me have you found your heart can sing
sweet as the nightingale of a king?

Tell me if you have – friend, draw near.
The fire grows stronger when two burn here.

Tell me have you heard all your ego’s moans,
and smiled at his cunning, his sticks and stones?
Tell me have you let your shadow know
you’re happy he follow wherever you go?

Tell me if you have – friend, draw near.
The fire grows stronger when two burn here.

Tell me have you heard Mevlana’s call
to the beat of your heart, its rise and fall?
Tell me have you caught a glimpse of the sun,
Shams-i Tabriz, that shimmering one?

Tell me if you have – friend, draw near.
The fire grows stronger when two burn here.

The Good Gray Poet

Inside myself I do not find another
but a countlesssness.
Armies writhe on a frontier
cluttered with blood.
The self – ‘Where?’
a thousand voices cry –
is too frail an invalid to stand,
or else, being all,
too wild a terror to form.
And so I haunt the slaughter
tending to those who cannot stand,
hoping Chaos cry, ‘Peace!’
or the invalid squeeze my hand.

Rose of Remembrance

I’ve never known such friends as these,
no riches rank with them.
Humble as the dust they blow
and shiver on the stem

of the rose of their remembrance,
each a scented tear,
nodding at the bitter thorn,
‘Why bitter, brother, here?’

Friend, I am nodding now,
you’ve glistened so at me
that even I, a stubborn thorn,
might melt now with thee

on the rose of our remembrance,
each a scented tear,
nodding to the sun above,
‘No bitter thorns are here!’

Blizzard Love

I have not loved You
as I should.
My Love, I love You,
let me love.

Nor have I known You
as I could,
my known Unknown,
my Life, my Blood.

Oh, say that I
might catch my drift,
this blizzard love
I’m turning with.

Oh, say that I
may one day know
this secret self
who loves You so.

I have not loved You
as I should.
But, oh, my Love,
my Love, my Love!

My Prophet and the Snow

I wonder did my Prophet
ever see the snow,
flakes fresh from heaven
dancing here below?
Perhaps in the caravans –
whither did they go?
I wonder did my Prophet
ever see the snow.

I think that my Prophet
would have smiled at the snow;
light upon light
that the heart longs to know;
spotless as the desert
where feet fear to go.
I think that my Prophet
would have smiled at the snow.

I almost hear my Prophet say,
Huuu! to the snow.
Earth, water, air:
all in white they now go;
and don as one a veil,
the naked truth to show.
I almost hear my Prophet say,
Huuu! to the snow.

Gypsy Blood Singing

My gypsy blood singing,
I wish a deeper grief:
ripe midnight berries,
proud food for us to eat.

Play guitars and castanets,
pluck keening violins,
drawing from the very soil
tear-laden hymns;

a song that is boundless,
simple as a stone;
the wounded joy of knowing
Heaven is our home!

This Court that I have come to

This court that I have come to
is without resplendent wealth.
She ranks highest
who serves most;
he’s entrusted
who deserts his post,
vanishing
himself.

This King that I have come to
doesn’t wear a crown.
He holds my hand
to his lips,
takes my burden,
makes it his;
wears blame–
no gown.

This Queen I have come to –
no vain gems at all.
The first to rise,
she sweeps the floor;
for each courtier
holds the door;
and poverty’s
her shawl.

This table I have come to
is one big begging bowl.
Each thinks her
(or him) not me;
mixed with wine
herb courtesy;
and no name’s
on the roll.

This garden I have come to
grows nothing that’s not Love’s.
Unlikely seeds
take their place,
watered here
with tender grace–
Mevlana’s
little buds.

Mirror Dede

Oh, Mirror,
what ugliness I see
staring back at me.

Is this the cruel lightning of the Friend?

Rather I’d be blind
than to have to feel such pain.

Yet come, Daniel. Come.

Tuck your lame feet beneath you
and sit your heap of bones
before the Mirror.

On your side, too,
laughing thunder rolls.

Wish Me Well

I copy those whose longing’s real,
for I’ve not yet reached the state to feel
half the heartache that I tell.
Yet, fellow traveller, wish me well.

It’s not that I wish to deceive;
words of mine shan’t make you grieve.
All is borrowed that I sell.
Yet wish me honest, wish me well.

Oh, to feel as those who feel,
whom Love has set with her red seal!
Could the heartache that I tell
be, smiling traveller, yours as well?

Come, let’s pick on the tavern step
dervish pockets – love-change get.
If you’re not one, one might say,
‘Poor pilferers, come this Way!’

I copy those whose longing’s real,
for I’ve not yet reached the state to feel
half the heartache that I tell.
Yet, mystery traveller, wish me well.

September Hu

September, love, with fresher winds
all that summer promised brings:
A harvest full of bounteous gifts –
whom shall we praise for this?

‘Who but Hu?’ September sighs.
‘Who is Hu?’ the heart replies,
while in the dappled, turning woods
angels wink from russet hoods.

‘Who is Hu?’ they laugh and sigh,
in wind and leaf their forms disguised.
‘Die, sweet soul, before you die,’
the message from each almond eye.

So we read from Nature’s book
and walk the rustling path of love;
glimpse Mevlana’s graceful whirl,
gown of yellow leaves-a-twirl.

The Theatre

It is a theatre you have set us in;
quaint and staged.

I expect the flimsy scenery to collapse in a breeze,
but who can see the wings?

You have taken the earth
and puffed venom into it;

into the ocean’s you have sewn teeth.

It is too real!

The Maid’s Song

Wintertime’s settled, and nothing now blossoms.
They said He was coming, but I knew that He wasn’t.
Oh, my soul sing.
Oh, my soul sing.

Frost grips the heart, and the wells here are freezing.
The Friend sent a word, but I knew He was leaving.
Oh, my soul sing.
Oh, my soul sing.

Sing of the jasmine in the curls of His hair.
Sing of His stride and the beauty of His stare.
Oh, my soul sing.
Oh, my soul sing.

Oh, how I burn in the night when I’m lonely
and listen to the sigh of the bare silver birch tree.
Oh, my soul sing.
Oh, my soul sing.

Unless that He leave me, how else shall I know Him?
Unless that He burn me, what mark can I show Him?
Oh, my soul sing.
Oh, my soul sing.

Footprints in the snow – is that my Love returning?
Maid think again–are you so slow at learning?
Oh, my soul sing.
Oh, my soul sing.

Sing of the heart that will quicken with His footstep.
Sing of the rapture that I haven’t felt yet.
Oh, my soul sing.
Oh, my soul sing.

Ishmael’s Sea Dream

Ishmael:    Ahab chased the tender whale
through seas of calm and through the gale.

Ahab:        My bitter foe I shall impale!

Chorus:        Ahab, Ahab, burn thy sail!

Ishmael:    Jonah, too, heard whale’s song,
and in the maw dove he headlong.

Jonah:        Rescue me – forgive my wrong!

Chorus:        Jonah’s, Jonah’s wait was long.

Ishmael:    A hesitation ours should be
to scold or pity souls at sea.

Allah:        Say, who shall hook the whale but Me?

Chorus:        Allah’s, Allah’s puppets we!

Ishmael:    Who else has knocked upon this door
and sunk like this to ocean floor?

Whale:        A coffin floats – this one is yours.

Chorus:        Ishmael, Ishmael, mind the maw!

Ishmael:    Ahab chased the tender whale
through seas of calm and through the gale.

Ahab:        My bitter foe did not impale!

Chorus:        Ahab, Ahab, lashed to tail!

Ishmael:    Jonah, too, heard whale’s song,
and in the maw dove he headlong.

Jonah:        A thousand years I called and long!

Chorus:        But Jonah, Jonah, what a song!

Ishmael:    A hesitation ours should be
to scold or pity souls at sea.

Allah:        Say, who shall hook the whale but Me?

Chorus:        Allah’s, Allah’s puppets we!

Not Hungry Yet?

Hardly in the moment
before I sail into the next,
I barely brush the surface of reality.

How long have you watched my pleasure-boating?
Is your leviathan, Love,
not hungry yet?

In the Deep

To communicate is a sorrowful thing.
Who can hear me and whom can I hear?

Words and laughter,
sobs and cries,
all are strangers to this self
that is an inhuman eye.

The world it sees is faraway mouthing,
and thoughts swim an abyss between.

Weird fish from the deep –
they can’t believe me real!

Mevlana, Mevlana

Mevlana, Mevlana,
teach me to turn.
I would be like the moth –
in the flame I would burn.
I’m mocked by the clever,
but the clever never learn.
Mevlana, Mevlana,
teach me to turn.

Tell me Love’s secret,
Shams-i Tabriz.
I have begged of the moon,
I have begged of the trees.
I’m mocked by the proud
for begging on my knees.
Tell me Love’s secret,
Shams-i Tabriz.

Mevlana, Mevlana,
teach me to whirl,
my arms outstretched
and my heart unfurled.
The worldly all mock
but I’m giving up the world.
Mevlana, Mevlana,
teach me to whirl.

The Boat of You and Me

Rowing from the island with our booty in the hull,
you were struck by the mountain, by the shrieking of a gull.
Could there be cold powers who are jealous of the tree,
these little seeds of His in the boat of you and me?

But the tree carries blessings that the mountain understands,
and we lap along the waves in the ocean of His palms.
The gull is but a speck now and gentle the sea;
and wrapped in the twilight the boat of you and me.

What is this talk of a boat and a tree?
a vision, or a dream, or a bubble on the sea?
Our love for each other is the sap for the tree,
and we carry seeds of His in the boat of you and me.

Shadow of a Great Tree

Nameless mouse, come into the shadow of a great tree.
It’s a desert out there
but trees exist.

Search for skyward arms along the harsh horizon.
Don’t die, scorched one,
persist.

There is a tree for you with leaves as large as clouds.
Lie down above this shaikh’s roots –
like this.

Then watch mirages come and go, come and go.
When the Source calls
none resist.

Yet one of those shimmering ones will keep coming
till he is over you
in a silver mist.

With pure water for your parched tongue and lips,
recall your name then;
Muhammad his.

The Cherry Blossom

The cherry blossom’s time was brief,
and so our pain, and so our grief;
but still remains the trunk and leaf,
the spreading roots secure beneath.

So scornful of all outward show,
deeply down our way may go;
flower or wither, yes or no,
sweetly sweet the undertow

that draws us like a corpse to dirt,
underground to hug our hurt;
let beetles’ claws unpick the shirt,
touch the root, with maggots flirt.

For here there lies the source of things;
unseen, eternal springs;
beyond the root the Root that brings
our frail, our surface blossomings.

The cherry blossom’s time was brief,
and so our pain, and so our grief;
but yet remains the trunk and leaf,
the spreading roots to our relief.

For L. Cohen

Because transcendence is a grubby thing,
and golden voice
takes leaden wing,
I love to hear
L. Cohen
sing.

Because he’s bitter as soothing oil,
distilled from roses
with hint of soil,
I love the fruit
of Cohen’s
toil.

Because he introduced me to
Mevlana, Shams,
Muhammad too,
(in Recent Songs)
L. Cohen –
Huuuu!

Bafflement

Oh, Allah,
if I could understand the Truth
would it be worth a bean?
Oh, Baffler – Unseen!

From My Dusty Alley

From my dusty alley
I dream of the Garden:

‘Oh, Rose,’ I say,
‘your petals are a lion’s den.’

‘Yes, indeed,’ she says.
‘Are you the Daniel
to enter them?’

Abashed, I turn to the Moon.

‘Oh, Moon,’ I say,
‘how many dreams have you conceived with men?’

‘Many,’ she says.
‘Are you the Daniel
to interpret them?’

I turn to the desert over the wall.

‘Oh, Desert,’ I say,
‘your grains of sand are fiery nothingness.’

‘Naturally,’ she says.
‘Will you, Daniel,
set foot on them?’

The Gardener is laughing now.

‘Come again,’ he says,

‘Next time don’t bring anyone!’

To a Sick Friend

To a dervish
kind words are a comfort,
yet more so silence
reverberating
heart-to-heart.

These crumbs are small,
but please take the silence
they crumbled from.

I remember it now
those times sat with you.

We were of the garden then
and the fruit
ripening.

Life in Death

‘I feel so frail and small,’
said I to life so tall.
‘Then come to death in me,’
with tender smile said She.

‘I thought I spoke with life!’
said I as I turned white.
‘Indeed you do,’ said She.
‘No falsehood here with Me.’

Spring Comes Riding (JINGLE, JINGLE, JINGLE!)

With spells to wake our fondest dead
Spring comes riding into the wooded mystery of the head

stirrups all-a-jingle.

She points at stems who once did grieve,
clipperty-clop, she says, ‘Conceive!

All sappy life must mingle.’

So waters round the body go:
clug-clug-clug – mind the gap – depth charge below!

Hidden parts now tingle.

Yet she’s no sinner, she’s not crude.
Her heart’s fine-strung (like ours) and huge.

And besides she’s always single.

It’s not that she can’t get a man –
she has us all: women…daffodils – understand?

Her hair-toss is a rainbow.

Her heart rests quiet in God’s own palm,
but she sends some men mad who raise alarm

with JINGLE, JINGLE, JINGLE!

The Woman I Love

You are a ray from the sun up above,
the sweet on my tongue, the blossom of love.
I am a man of earth and of stone.
Under your feet I have found I am home.

And how like a flower in the bower you’ve grown.
And how sweet the fruit on the bough I have known.
For you are a ray from the sun up above,
the sweet on my tongue, the woman I love.

Josephness

I came not in the sty to roll,
but at the smithy to forge a soul.
So how my pride quakes with shame
to be at the turnip trough again.

My pearly tears stain the mud
even as I guzzle crud.
I barely hear their muffled cry,
‘Joseph, Joseph, look inside!’

‘Who’s this Joseph?’ says the pig.
‘I have a hunger – make it quick!’
So very soft my tears reply,
‘The one who shed us from your eye.’

More and more they lace the mud,
yet more and more my pig must grub.
Something breaks and so they cry,
‘Joseph, Joseph, look inside!’

‘Who’s this Joseph?’ says my pig.
‘Something’s broken – make it quick!’
With faint smiles my tears remark,
‘The one behind your welling heart!’

What is One

Politics will make me sleep;
financial vehicles –
pray keep.
I have enough with what is One:
bewildered silence,
wine-song.

Your physics, sure, is brash and new.
You say I benefit
from it too.
But I’ve enough with what is One;
split my atom,
my peace – gone!

Post-modernism is two words,
and bitter stuff
clearly heard.
I have enough with what is One.
Deconstruct
but One is One.

Your neuroscience can map my brain,
say I and it
are quite the same.
But I’ve enough with what is One;
add my parts
your sum is wrong.

Come, I’ll make a pact with you:
I’ll keep my One,
you keep your two.
For I’ve enough with what is One,
with what remains
when two is gone.

The Couple

I feel such joy
and despair in one.
Which lies upon the other?

Do they mingle?

They are a fertile couple,
and she
(which one is she?)
ever in labour.

It is too much. I am tired,
would rather sleep
and be done with consciousness.

Why did You break
from nothing,
Looker and Looked-Upon?

Why break the shell
of zero
into two?

Yet I know
you can’t break an egg
into one piece –

pain:
a necessity!

‘Yes’, ‘No,’
and, ‘Let us rest!’
I’m always saying,

only to midwife
another birth.

My Shaikh is One

My shaikh is one
I can’t understand,
who takes a mystery
by the hand.
Yet vaguely now
I comprehend
that mystery’s me
in the end.

My shaikh is one
whilst I am two,
or three or four,
to name a few.
Yet dimly now
I can foresee
there isn’t shaikh,
isn’t me.

Zhikr

‘Forget’, says the body,
‘and please only me.’
‘Remember’, says the heart,
‘all rivers meet the sea.’

‘Remember’, says the world,
‘your worries weighing here.’
‘Yet One’, says the heart,
‘is cause and cure of fear.’

‘Forget,’ says the time,
‘There’s not enough of me.’
‘Remember’, says the heart,
‘in a second you are free.’

‘Remember’, says the mind,
‘our list is very long.’
‘Yet One’, says the heart,
‘plus infinity is One.’

Envy

Envy charts its subtle course,
flits behind my conscious thought.
Oh, trusting friend, could it be
your precious gifts rankle me?

It’s not so much I want what’s yours.
That you’re denied I tend to more.
Oh, what a wreck of both our woe –
envy doesn’t self-love know

but in a Joseph pit of shame
casts us both (yet mine the pain!).
Oh, would that I might better you
by loving more, not wishing to.

Embracing the Shadow

Reviled shadow, exile,
I come to love you now.
You’re the sum of all I fear to be –
embrace me now somehow!

Our Master builds a house of love
and needs a cornerstone.
So I venture to the utter depths
of darkness you call home.

How have you suffered here?
What agonies you’ve borne!
What meagre rag of life
in terror here was torn?

Oh, cursing and accursed one,
I’m haunted by this line:
‘The sun must love its shadows
or why does it shine?’

Reviled shadow, exile,
I come to love you now.
You’re the base of all I hope to be –
embrace me now somehow!

The Agitators

As sparrows diving at the gate
on men’s hearts the angels wait.
‘Open, open, it’s getting late!’
they chirrup, chirp,
agitate.

They accost us with their urgent call,
but have no hands to push withal.
Not that they’re pathetic, small;
they appear this way
to us is all.

But you have hands so push the gate
into your heart – why hesitate?
Be thankful for their little shape,
who in full form
prophets shake.

As sparrows diving at the gate
the angels signal happy fate.
‘For Her dear ones She cannot wait!’
they chirrup, chirp,
agitate.

The Passing Away

I am learning to let go:
the slipping and the passing away.
I am not ready to pass away.
Pain is laughing here;
Death can still loosen
my belt and bowels.
What do I want?
To turn on darkness –
to invite all things to speech!
I smell words
that can’t be entered.
I’ll circle them, sniffing.
I’ll bark at their gate
with my ears.

Muslim, You and I?

There’s no true path but Islam,
I’ve often heard from you,
yet Islam means ‘surrender’
and, Brother, others do.
The hell you say kafirs’ll pay
is burning in your eye.
I wonder do we comprehend
who’s Muslim, you and I?

You want to go with face unseen,
and so you wear the veil.
Yet such severe forbidding here,
Sister, cannot fail
to draw the gaze of half the land
towards your kohl’d eye.
I wonder do we comprehend
what’s modest, you and I?

Your God is one of hellfire,
rigid in his wish,
Imam, that you see the shirk
in this and this and this.
He only loves appearances,
the ego’s winking eye.
I wonder have we ever bowed
in prayer, you and I?

The Hadith are your guide you say,
the Qur’an is your book.
Yet, Scholar, His horizons too
beckon us to look.
Though ayats that you love to quote
will bless the humble eye,
I wonder have we ever read
the heart, you and I?

You say that I must do the Hajj
and heed a blessed call.
Pilgrim, is this to the Source
or to a shopping mall?
How proudly Mecca towers now
and casts its single eye.
I wonder is the true Kaaba
in you and I?

If I have over-stepped the mark
forgiveness now I plead,
but both our Book and our souls
require a subtle read.
I’ve pointed at ‘a shy bride’
who barely meets my eye.
I wonder do we comprehend
our Islam, you and I?

Half Past Life

I speak from sadness
and from joy:
these two have made
a strange alloy;
and everywhere
I seem to go,
each in each
their faces show

in my heart
and on the sky,
in wing beats
of birds that fly.
What budding angst
have I grown,
half past life
and heading home?

Yet paradoxes
seem quite right,
even if
they’re pat and trite:
I seem to laugh
when I cry;
and wishing life,
wish to die!

Guest

I felt something wander
through my hair:
Have I a guest?
Should I care?
I let it wander,
stop and stare,
anxious of
my underwear.

Whatever it was
(a gnat? an ant?),
on me freely
did a dance;
then saw my ear
and saw his chance
to offer this
his pert advance:

‘So the foibles
others hatch,
let them wander
just like that.
But if ever yours
others scratch:
those ones
invite dispatch.’

Despair

Now there is only despair.
Despair
that I am so weak
as to feel despair;
despair that I should whine about it.

If I had reason to feel it
how much better that would be.

I wish misfortune on me!

‘Embrace me,’ says Despair,
‘and I will take you deeper.’

But you have no bottom!
Like God – you have no bottom!

Empty Cup and Broken

Empty cup and broken,
how sadly you sit there,
Gathering dust upon the shelf –
are you beyond repair?

I don’t know which is best for you –
who will make it clear?–
to be mended by the Potter’s hand
or fall and shatter here.

Empty cup and broken,
how sadly you sit there,
gathering dust upon the shelf
in comical despair!

What is it that you possess
that you must hold so tight?
Your bottom has a hole in it –
both ends let in the light!

Empty cup and broken,
how sadly you sit there,
gathering dust upon the shelf–
who’ll knock you down from there?

There is a sea of life and love,
beyond all fear and care.
I wonder at your little brim –
what sea could fit in there?

Nativity

Some new grace is being born
in our blood-red rag of dawn.
Grip and hold her hand so tight –
the Virgin travelled far this night.

Emerging now amid our souls,
Jesus’ head of womb-scent glows.
Grip and hold her hand so tight –
Virgin heart gives birth to light!

The Hoopoe

Shocking as a friend of God,
his plumage in the air,
the hoopoe heralds mystery
inviting us to share.
A drunk one, sober one,
causing us to stare.
‘Huu-huu-huu –
follow if you dare!’

Pink as the rose of
Farid ud-Din’s delight;
an interplay of opposites,
stripes of black and white;
a drunk one, sober one,
such a shocking sight;
yet hiding in the ditches
this one’s delight.

Two feet on the ground,
so he bows to the earth,
eating up the grubs
in the filth and the dirt.
From sober ones, drunk ones
who has not heard:
‘It is from the lowly
the heavenly is birthed’?

In the stubbled field
on our knees we may find
that he has taken off
on a wing at a sign.
A drunk one, sober one,
he zigzags as he climbs;
for sometimes ‘the straight path’
takes a crooked line.

Shocking as a friend of God,
his plumage in the air,
the hoopoe heralds history,
a lineage to share;
A drunk one, sober one,
one beyond compare.
‘Huu-huu-huu –
follow if you dare!’

The Doves

The cooing of the doves
is ushered from the dark,
the puffing in and out
of emptiness of heart.

So when I’m sat at home
in a world grown drear,
it soothes my own
hearing their hearts near.

The cooing of the doves
ushers in the dark,
the puffing in and out
of fullness of heart.

Throbbing through the walls,
beyond blood and stone:
each of us calling
to the Alone.

The Ladder

Woman,
you seem to me to be
the mystery of God.
Am I a mystery
to you, my love?
You have me cooing
like a flapping turtle dove.
Am I a mystery
to you, my love?

Woman,
you seem to me to be
a ladder to God.
I place my foot
upon you, my love.
Then lend my hand
to raise you above.
I’m a ladder, too,
I hope, my love.

Highs and Lows

I’ve risen lower –
Allah be praised!–
in the muddle
of the grave.

I’ve sunk higher –
to Allah thanks!
Washed to heaven
on hell’s banks.

The Chickpea Song

Don’t let us interfere with what you are doing.
If we complain – we need more stewing.
We came to the kitchen tasteless and raw,
smelt a sweet smell and knocked on the door.

Drawn to the fire, we were reckless as moths,
none of us knowing how much it would cost.
We could be in the field or scraps on the floor.
Instead we are cooking – boil us some more!

We entered the pot with too much of ourselves,
an eye love’s spices decked on the shelves.
If we leap from the pot faint-hearted in a swoon,
hit us on the head with the edge of your spoon.

Round and round and round we go.
Stir us, whirl us, let love flow!
We could be in the field or scraps on the floor.
Instead we are cooking – boil us some more!

Too many cooks will spoil the broth.
Soon we won’t care if you scold us or not.
We came to the kitchen tasteless and raw;
smelt a sweet smell and knocked on the door.

Colne Valley

Mary haunts these vales and locks,
Satan’s mills, the buttercups.
where progress laid a hand so rough
our Lady threads a flowering love.

Canals and rails where once we sped –
we’ve quicker means to now meet death;
so these of old in fortune left
to tender cowslip, her largesse.

The Word of God is in her arms;
from factory windows – dandelions!
Seedless things find nettled charms;
in death’s valley blossom psalms.

Me

Science closes one eye squinting at Me.
Philosophy closes both fists grasping Me.
Religion closes a thousand ears hearing Me.
I am an icy raindrop in a shivering ocean.

The Limits

I know I must love the limits
God has set for me;
know failure as success and
tender clemency.
The line that’s drawn about my feet’s
the line that sets me free.
I’m learning to love my limits
to a limited degree.

I’ve made a friend of a limit
God fashioned fittingly.
I’m pushing at his boundaries;
he’s pushing back at me.
I know that God is watching our
struggle patiently.
I’m learning He loves my limits
to a limitless degree.

Marriage Blessing

May this marriage be
a gift of love
crafted by
our Lord above.
To each other
may they be
garments given
tenderly.

One window in
the wall of night,
emitting there
a tender light.
As the moon
does sun above,
blesséd pair,
reflect His love.

Hunting the Hart

I hunt for footprints in the downing of the hart,
deep in the dawning in a world of light and dark;
and stalking through the elm trees clinging to the night,
I finally see her tender sides glooming in the light.

Down on one knee now I level up the bow;
two hearts beating in the darkness now I know.
I kiss once the arrow tip, let fly and hit my mark!
Now spreading on my chest is a bloodstain in the dark.

I nibble on the berries in the downing in the bark,
deep in the dawning in a world of light and dark;
and stalking through the elm trees clinging to the night,
I finally see his arrow tip glooming in the light!

Down on one knee now he levels up the bow;
two hearts beating in the darkness now I know.
I kiss once the arrow shaft that quivers on its mark!
Now one heart rises from the world of light and dark.

Silence

My words are all a-jumble,
unconscious of their mark,
but Yours an arrow honed
on every matter’s heart.

I feel Your eyes upon me,
the bending of Your bow.
If I could enter silence
would You let it go?

The Silence and the Song

In the heart of Tabriz
the married ones
are heading for the tavern,
golden fruit at their lips.

Is your silence one of theirs?

Meanwhile in Konya,
the neys
keen of constancy
to the reedbed.

Is your song one of those?

Don’t give up the silence

or the song.

Marry them

and listen.

Soul’s Riposte

If ever I made
your belly ache
it was because you never thought
to digest me.

If ever I robbed you of your sleep –
you
robbed us
of our dreams.

If I have plunged
you
in darkness –
well…

here I am!’

The Prison

I see myself as
a collection of blindspots,
or rather
a blindspot where
some chinks of light might
occasionally appear.

In this prison
(looking like
the back of the head)
these chinks are rare
I suppose
they are knowledge
and holy awareness.

Yet wishing away
these walls,
I confront the fact
I wish away myself.
And should I then
rise to bolster them,
they shudder
only with laughter.

Read and Return

I read and return
this self to his Lord.
Alif, lam, mim:
in Self I am poured.

Dead on a hill,
I wake to His Word.
Alif, lam, mim –
fly, little bird!

Fool of Spring

I discovered I am the fool of spring this morning:
my melancholy dismissed by a wave of the sun.

The weather shows I have no constant I.

More and more I discover my helpless incapacity,

sitting, laughing with shadows.

The Loathly Lady’s Challenge

The kiss that others loath –
the sweetest you can give.
Not those you waste on damsel’s
fair and tender lip.
But do not wince in giving it –
no, I would notice this!
Gawain, my beloved,
your heart must be in it.

You struggle in a sleep
for a bubble’s pretty sheen
and reach for mere fancy’s
superficial gleam.
Your beauties disappoint
not being what they seem.
Gawain, my beloved,
how pitiful a dream!

The kiss that others loath –
the sweetest you can give.
Now can you look beyond the veil,
beyond my crooked lip?
But do not wince in kissing me –
in error you may slip.
Gawain, my beloved,
true beauty’s hid in it!

The Green Knight’s Challenge

I heard there was a fine knight
who bears the name Gawain,
yoked to the table round
and shackled to its fame.
I wield now an axe –
come now, for shame!
Does any walk the Path
in this court of the lame?

I’ve wandered all the wild ways;
the Saracens I know.
Here I am the Green Man,
as Khidr there I go.
I wield now an axe –
come, brethren, show
whose head is but a burden
he would proffer to the foe?

I heard there was a fine knight
weary of his name,
his seat at this table,
the trappings of the vain.
I wield now an axe –
come now, for shame!
Who has the heart to give
up his head –Sir Gawain?

Fihi Ma Fihi

In It
What Is
In It

Inscrutable koan
of Mevlana
that puts its finger
on truth.

Divan-i Shams-i Tabrizi

A Book of
Somebody Else’s
Poems

in which we all
might disappear.

Mathnawi

Rhyming Couplets
headless
and without
name.

All names
Namelessness
contains.

Redwood

My friend has a redwood
she is growing in her home:
green flake of life,
meagre little bone.

Tending to the light
in an iron-bound pot;
a one day immense
extension of a dot.

My friend has a redwood
she is growing in her home:
tower of potential
no higher than a stone.

Iron will not keep it
and the windows of the sky
will shatter too in time –
Heaven then espy!

Gentle Rebuff

Few there are
whose God is harsh as yours.

God presents
the face we give Him.

Give, then,
a gentler one –

know His sweet forgiving!

There That Love

Come to the station
I couldn’t help stare
at an old stranger
emphatically there.

‘What is this station
where you are sat?’
‘One that is passing
into one that is That.’

‘Where have you come from?’
‘I came from above.’
‘Where are you going?’
‘To the threshold of love.’

The Bewildered Companion

Who or what is Gabriel?
Muhammad say a word.
Who shakes you with the beauty
of these verses we have heard?
No other man could bear perhaps
the message he conveys.
You tremble and you veil yourself,
dear Khadijah says.
Oh, who or what is Gabriel
who binds the bosom tight
of you, the best of all Quraysh,
commanding you, ‘Recite!’?

Yet who are you, Muhammad,
should I not rather say?
Before you were our emblem
but how much more today?
That wise one, Waraqah,
that Christian steeped in lore,
claims you are the Shiloh
the earth has thirsted for.
Oh, who are you, Muhammad,
Mount Hira hid away,
descending as a torrent now,
the Prophet of our day?

Before you give me answer
I stop to ponder more,
my heart overflowing
with the thing it’s thirsting for!
I wonder at this Gabriel
and you, Muhammad, too,
but who is this One
overshadows both of you?
But wait with your answer –
with your answer I must die…
Muhammad, who is Allah?
Prophet, who am I?

Modigliana’s Nude

No pupils casting
fishing hooks,
her whole body
holy looks

from limbs so black
they’re milky white
galaxies
of Layla-light.

The Battle

This battle keeps knocking at my door:
the seen and the Unseen.

If I could stop taking sides
I’d just enjoy participating!

The purpose of this war?

Death itself.

Come in! Come in!

Which side are we charging at now?

On the tip of whose sabre
shall I laugh, growing giddy?

The Rendezvous

My prayer mat is
of midnight blue,
like Mary’s veil,
like mercy’s hue.
Upon it stars,
a ladder true
to clamber to
our rendezvous.

And as I climb
these woven stars,
my soul reflecting
counterparts,
I wonder deeply
at Your dark
midnight pouring
in my heart!

Oh, what a scent
of wonder this
of nights they bowed
and bent to kiss:
those friends of God
in ocean’s bliss,
outstretched hands
of ambergris.

And of that night
my Prophet flew
on Buraq to
his rendezvous,
beyond the stars
and even through –
bow’s breadth
away from You!

The Ever-Turning One

You are a glimpsed beauty ever turning.
Abide with me! Abide!

You subside into an eclipse, a leaf,
and the earth giggles like a schoolgirl.

And so the leaves fall and the worlds turn,
and You are laughing gently too.

And sometimes let me hear it.

The Relationship

We Mevlevis of Rumi-Shams,
ours is a path
of two in one.
We are mirrors for each other,
not being other
than Other-Than-Other,
our you’s and I’s all gone.

Between our lips
we clasp our hands
to make a darling
whose cheeks we kiss:
that Sourcey One
beyond being,
being sweet
Relationship.

Taste

I haven’t tasted –
no, not yet.
The merest scent
all I could get.

But see a smile
upon my lip –
I almost taste
the lack of it!

Death and Oranges (Coppola Took Note)

If I were to paint a scene
it would be called
Death and Oranges:
noon sun slashing
a bowl of oranges
on a checked cloth.

If I were to stage a play
it would be called
Death and Oranges:
the audience sat
in a cemetery;
some with oranges,
some not.

If I were to write a novel
it would be called
Death and Oranges:
one character dying
holding an orange –
its round heft.

If I were to write a poem
it would be called
Death and Oranges:
the final image
the solemn cheek
of a woman’s breast.

They’re full of death and oranges.

The Lesson

What’s the lesson I’m meant to learn?
All I do is seem to burn.
It’s been so long and flames so hot
devour everything I’ve got.

Oh, Ibrahim stood in the flames.
Ibrahim was naming Names:
Names of Beauty, Names of Power –
first a drizzle, then a shower!

What’s the lesson I’m meant to learn?
I nearly drown or else I burn.
It’s been so long and waves so high
devour the land and nudge the sky.

Oh, Noah, too, a deluge knew
and gathered up a beastly crew;
held them to his bosom tight:
Names of Beauty, Names of Might!

What’s the lesson I’m meant to learn?
I lose my balance at every turn.
I tried to spin just like the earth,
crashed and fell and I was hurt.

Mevlana, too, stood on this ground,
heard the goldsmith’s tapping sound.
Through the heat and through the pain,
the One with many Names was named.

The Hillside

My heart feinted
on the hill of love.
‘Have you surrendered yet?’
said a sword-tip – Ali’s.

My heart quivered, melting;
the hillside red
as a sea of poppies.

Thank You

I thank You for the night
as it falls on me.
I thank You for the day
as it leaves.
I thank You for the veil
through which I cannot see.
I thank You
for the soul that breathes.

And for the light that cracks my heart
and whispers to the trees.

I thank You for the night
as it falls on me.
I thank You
for my bending knees.

I thank You for the clouds
as they brush my sky.
I thank You for my joy
as it leaves.
I thank You for the pain
as it clears my eye.
I thank You
for the soul that breathes.

And for the dark that holds my heart
and gently plants its seeds.

I thank You for the clouds
as they brush my sky.
I thank You
for my bending knees.

O Great Heart

O great heart,
as great as the sea.
O great heart,
take pity on me.
You are my star
and you are my way.
O Mevlana,
guide me today.

O great heart,
as light as a song.
O great heart,
you mirror the sun.
You are my star
and you are my way.
Speak to me of Shams-i
Tabriz today.

I long to be – O, just to be!
I hear you call from love’s inner mystery.

O great heart
whose shadow is gone.
O great heart
at one with the One.
You are my star
and you are my way.
Guide me to the moon
of Muhammad today.

O great heart,
unlocker of my pain.
O great heart,
I smile at your name.
You are my star
and you are my way.
Show me into Allah’s
Peace today.

I long to be – O, just to be!
I hear you call from love’s inner mystery.

The Harpist

“O dear harpist,” said the girl by the well.
“Play a song for me that will cast a sweet spell
over my heart that’s weary as can be.
For I am alone now and no-one comforts me.”

“Grandma passed away in the middle of the night.
I prayed for her soul and I held her hand tight.
I know she’s in heaven, mother at her side,
but, oh, the empty place now by my fireside!”

Softly he played to ease the girl’s heart,
plucking at the strings of his beautiful harp.
As they both sang the people gathered round,
there at the well – what a beautiful sound!

They sang seven songs then the harpist said,
“I have a little halvah and I have a little bread.
If I gave you some money could you fetch us some tea?
For, oh, what a thirst has come over me!”

The teaboy’s heart never stood a chance;
it melted right away at the girl’s first glance.
He heard her tale as he carried her tea,
said, “I’ll look after you – will you look after me?”

One day by the well when she was full grown,
and married to the teaboy with children of her own,
the girl, now a woman, saw a very old man
with a beautiful harp in his frail old hands.

“Are you the harpist?” she said to the man.
“Certainly,” he said, “fair lady, I am.
And are you the girl I knew long ago?
We sang by the well, now isn’t that so?”

“Yes,” said the girl, her heart full of joy,
“And how happy I’ve been with my teaboy.
But how have you fared, Sir? Where have you been?
What concerts given, what marvels seen?”

“I’ve played for a sultan, I’ve played for a king.
I’ve played in the places where the greatest sing.
But better than money and the clapping of hands
was playing to the Friend on the desert sands.”

They sang another song for the people there
as the moon unveiled in the mild night air.
And when they were done he whispered in her ear,
“A blanket please–tonight I sleep here.”

The morning found that his soul was now free.
He’d passed in peace the woman could see.
The desert of his heart was open to the wind.
Allah it was who was plucking at the strings.

© Daniel Dyer

 

 

 

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