Where Deer Sleep
My three-year-old son
asked me where deer sleep.
So I took him there. Stepping
into a space that is not meant
for fathers and sons, we found
a ritual that has nothing to do
with us. An original grace. A serenity
that evokes the burden of redemption.
That place where deer sleep, under a
plumbeous sky, the pods of grass bent
towards the centre of the Earth. Otherworldly
crop circles and a feeling of trespassing.
For me, if not for him. A child cannot connect
with the mystery without stepping on it.
Last Cigarette by the Campfire
Stuck inside the improbability
of other minds, under a caramel-
orange darkness, words open like
cannelloni tubes, and the way
of Zen is felt, at last, on the tips of
fingers, as it rises through the limbs,
climbing the neck and cracking into
the throat, thundering like a waterfall
inside a cave of crystals, amid our
gravity-reversed bones, a love-cloaked
touch, a vegetative eternity of moonlight
and the hard silence of embers appearing
by the stars. One last cigarette by the campfire.
Salvation Is Feet Touching the Grass
A bonobo studying its own teeth, or
the way a nine-month-old sleeps headfirst.
Both hear sermons in the stones. Pure
experience with no sounds. Just imaginary
numbers and big, bright bursts of Himalayan
snowfall. The feeling of a phone losing reception.
Knowing that it doesn’t matter. Only the last drag
does. Alive somehow, the feet touching the grass.
The Face I Choose to Wear Most Often
The face I choose to wear the most often
is not a face. It is an intricate network of
crossed-out lines. It will not stop viewing
once you change the channel.
The face I choose to wear most often
is full of single neurons in the brain. It
sinks into the central nervous system like
an evolutionary inheritance of compassion.
The face I choose to wear most often cannot
be the face that consumes the sacraments.
Rising like Asimov‘s balloon, it soars above the
teardrops of saints. Crossing the boundaries
so that I may see what is in balance.
The face I choose to wear most often is an impossibly
small part of the total universe. It is a chipped bone
in the research site of our great-grandchildren’s graves.
Mapped out by a shared cosmic background, it lies naked
in front of a deer-filled field at timberline.
The face I choose to wear most often does not wear hydrating
oil-in-lipstick. But it still enjoys different versions of itself. Like
a spring-fed brook, it is held together by opposite sides. Deeply
cleft and bent by the wind.
The face I choose to wear most often is just beginning to dawn on
me. As the huge claws of time haul across the edges, leaving wrinkles,
a long pause in the conversation begins to form. My smile moving like
a primeval wheel.
I Need My Used Bookstore
I need my used bookstore.
The sensuous aromas of
waxy skin guards and
mahogany shelves, paper
skeletons in an excavated
ashram of information.
I need what it tucks away
behind a Tom Clancy novel
and an old National Geographic.
Eureka! That one book, at some
time misplaced in the mind,
appearing as a symbol of
wilderness, casting a garland-
clothed silhouette, as flannel-
shirted, torn-jeaned, leather-
sandalled regulars excuse themselves
for brushing my shoulder.
Where the Gods Dwell
I could bullshit and write a
poem about where the Gods
dwell. I don’t have a clue. Do you?
I don’t know where the Gods dwell.
Or if they sleep at all. I don’t know
if they care about anything that we do,
or if they are worth caring about.
Where do your Gods dwell?
Are they in your closet? Are they in your face?
Are they speaking to you? Are they telling you
what to do? Are they dwelling in your basement?
Are they not allowing you to sleep at night?
What does a dwelling God do, after all?
image: George Payne