How long it took to know, however hard we wished
There was no return, no starting over for us –
With an ocean between I recall a day in California
The fire of summer inside
Cool blessing of water nearby
Our spirits falling to the clarity of desire and later
Waist-deep in mountain brook I lifted from the current
A king snake without fear:
Nothing could harm me then, doubt had no hold –
How a thing so good twists into something we kill
I cannot say, but if I doubt now
I doubt you like I do God
Who I cannot see, but remember from somewhere.
Perhaps there is no other reason for love
Than images wrecked by time
Memories richer than blood, miraculous ways
That lead to who we are: each of us a wilderness
A wildflower trail, and things without name that linger:
The mysterious scent of the golden violet … California.
snapping from all sides
they ate me alive
I sang a tune
they fell asleep
except for one
hatched in my head.
I’ll tame it at home– but
where is my staff
where is the map
I had in my sack– lost.
I like Of Monsters & Men. Dirty Paws
Sometime before the land turned away from light
The wind in the wild mustard slowed
The sun, being where is always is, the moon too
Twilight and moonrise were in me.
Something small and quick sprang and ran.
The long grass bent as I watched the urge to chase
Corner and kill rise and fall inside me.
A hawk tucked wings, stooped from a great height
Was high in the air again, a ground squirrel in its claws–
The life of a large snake touched me, I watched
From grass to rock, sand on the road to sage
I heard the dry hiss where a lizard whipped out.
The serpent, licking the air with a pronged tongue
Coiled under a cactus tree, sang a warning–
This was no tree of knowledge, the rattler
Untouched by good or evil, is pure, perfectly pure.
I closed my eyes, sound and light opened the third eye
I saw a human face, half gleaming reptilian green
Half clear compassionate blue– There were no words,
No thought, I moved forward and became that face.
If you find yourself in a Buddhist temple
You are not in a Buddhist temple.
Though you pray and chant for yourself
Night and day, you remain in Hell.
Living and dying, are the two not one
Happening at the same time?
A cobra lifts its head in your path.
Teach it to hiss, not bite. It is you.
Poem first appeared in “The Fires of Spring” by Rayn Roberts
The Monk & The Cobra Parable