There is no plan of study,
no readiness assessment,
no work at tilling fertile soil
in preparation for it;
enlightenment just happens,
like a sudden strike of lightning.
There’s no way to see it coming,
nor a warning bell that sounds.
There is no path toward it,
no life of worthy action,
no certain way of being
more conducive to its coming;
enlightenment is sudden,
almost random, never plotted.
There’s no one way or another
that it finds you in the end.
It’s not warm and fuzzy lighting,
nor in any way a comfort.
No one’s happy struck by lightning,
all at once, you’re caught on fire.
When enlightenment arrives,
your life is totally disrupted;
once it happens (for an instant)
your whole everything is changed.
22 AUG 2017
I always felt he sang with such authority,
as if his way was how the song should be,
and let the writer of it know, in no uncertain terms,
that they could use it too, once in a while.
Like John the Baptist, unlike Isaac’s Moses,
I always heard him from the wilderness,
imagining he dined on honeyed locusts
and came in from the desert with his song.
He could employ a rumble or a whisper,
cacaphony or simple silent prayer
in service to a song’s deep, inner meaning;
he sang no song that did not have it there.
At Woodstock, he seemed like a great prophet;
I wonder, just how many lives were changed.
He taught that music could indeed work wonders,
and heal wounds better than it could destroy.
23 APR 2013
for Richard Pierce “Richie” Havens (1941-2013)
The loudest sound does not echo the longest;
the brightest star seems quite dull from afar.
No one can judge true beauty from a distance,
nor hear a nuance from a mile or two.
The greatest deeds are not always the grandest;
the most humble of thanks are never heard.
No one can see much more than they are able,
nor comprehend what lies beyond their reach.
The biggest fool is not the biggest loser;
the smartest mind may lack all common sense.
No one can say for sure which is the wiser,
nor say the one has what the other lacks.
The loudest sound may be a quiet whisper;
the brightest light, the flicker of a spark.
No one can know how truth will come upon us,
nor which of us will lead us from the dark.
20 APR 2013
“As any fool could plainly see,
and you can see it plainly,”
were words my father spoke to me
in jest, sometimes, but mainly
to illustrate a simple point:
that often, a solution
is right in front of us, and needs
from us no contribution.
Perhaps he oversimplified,
attempting to be witty;
but nonetheless, some grain of truth
can be found in this ditty.
We know the truth, what’s right and wrong;
there’s no need of a teacher.
To find the essence of this life
requires no saint or preacher.
The wise men all say look within;
and still, we focus outward.
Is it because we’re deaf, or stupid?
Maybe we’re just cowards.
02 MAY 2011
This is the oyster; why seek for the pearl?
There’s no escape plan for leaving this world
in my religion: no hereafter gold,
no burning embers, no cold of Sheol.
This is the medicine; why seek a pill
to flee reality, thinking you will
by any action change the universe,
except, perhaps, to make it a bit worse
with senseless struggle against so-called fate,
hedging your bets hoping it’s not too late.
This is the path you’re on; why second guess?
No point in leaving this life in a mess,
hoping salvation will come undeserved,
praying the universe doesn’t throw curves.
There is just oyster; that one grain of sand
turned to a pearl in the palm of your hand
is just some excrement to soothe the pain
of the endless ocean. Time and again
it waits at the shoreline to carry us out,
waits while we ponder, apostize and doubt.
This is the world that is; why seek one more?
Who knows what waits beyond the tide’s great roar?
This is your heaven, or this is your hell.
It too will pass away, after a spell.
24 APR 2006
For forty years I’ve sought some kind of truth
and come up empty-handed, more or less.
What dreams I held like treasures in my youth
have lost their gleam; my hands, their tenderness.
The journey has not gone as I had planned,
nor have the self-prescribed instructions been much good.
The waters beyond my small plot of land
remain uncharted depths, and what sparse food
I gleaned from these great oceans has become
like horded manna, fit for only flies;
my touch has turned rare jewels to lumps of coal.
My tongue once loose with song has been struck dumb,
anesthetized by years of speaking lies.
Now, even my illusions cannot hold.
Along the rocky shore, I peer in vain
out in the mist that crowds the twilight shore
with eyes now worn and weak, their muscle strained
from nights in candlelight. There is no more
soft music in the wind that brings delight,
nor quiet silence where I find some peace.
Each moment brings no end, just fruitless fight;
and sleep, once fitful, brings me no release.
At midnight, when the world is calm and still
and secrets are exchanged between the veils,
I stand offstage, behind the curtain’s wall
and where the footlight shadows barely spill,
just listening to others’ wondrous tales,
and realize I’ve found nothing at all.
27 JAN 2005