All Those Things the Wise Men Say

Water Spirits - The Moving Sky - At 23.5 Degrees - Gospel & Universe - The Garden of Paradise


Water Spirits




Islam may literally mean Submission

but they all require it

from the water in the beginning 

to the garden of obedience

from the floodplain of the drowned

to the wafer and the wine

all the children of Abraham must

in one way or another submit

to moral rules and litigation

to love, repentance, and the ideology of mercy

and to The Book

whatever the lineage

or whatever geographers, historians

common sense or Watson and Crick might say

there is only one God



What does it matter what the old books say

gibberish cuneiform and painted idols

when the universe is one

and there is one God to rule them all?



What does it matter what the Old Book said

about Laws and broken promises

as long as we suspend our reason

and accept what we hope to be true

we will be saved

as long as we accept the New Book

as well as the Old Book

and as long as we accept

that there are inferior laws of physics

according to which electrons fire into dendrites  

and there are superior laws of physics

according to which water turns into wine




In the matter of smashing icons 

and cups of wine

Islam has no peer

for not even Art dare frame that fearful Symmetry

or draw in sky the mouth that spoke

that iconic iconoclastic text

that told us in no uncertain terms

about graven images

a black stone devoid of figures

and water but not wine




Drunk on love

his basalt leg is wrapped 

around the smooth stone torso of Parvati

while his tangled locks stream down

from Kailash in the clouds

the OM on his forehead unravels

and they become one

with Ganga Ma

and a million other deities

until our minds are so numb with counting

that we come back to One




His mind consumes the One

and peoples Zero

with a stream of consciousness

that flows from where he is

over distant oceans

to where he is

always Now

no longer stuck in karma

caste, samsara, or time

but in eternal movement

from this shore to the farthest shore

past holy books and continents

past Ice Ages, planets, the Milky Way, galaxies and universes 

until he becomes that point in distant space

that disappears




That pied-noir was like the Buddha

minus the meaning

a Heraclitus of Algiers

whose being flowed like water

between his fingers 

like the charge of an electron 

from the opposite side of the world

to your optic nerve

and your finger tapping a key

and out you go again

from this continent to the next 

in a split second




Or was it a collection of poets that wrote those obscure words

about how water works by nourishing the roots

and not pretending to Pinot Noir or Cabernet?



The Moving Sky


Moses lifted his eyes from the ground

and saw that everything moved:

the winds twisted and the sky wheeled,

with its piercing yellow ball from one end of the horizon to the next.

But the ground stood absolutely still.


The sand dunes of time drifted this way and that

but the ground beneath them didn't shift.

More constant than the great sun-god Ra,

the deep stone edifice of Earth

was deeper than oceans, more solid than the god-filled sky.


Moses lowered his eyes to the ground

And saw that it didn't move.



At 23.5 Degrees


To the mystic the world vibrates like the universe itself.

 To the high priest it doesn't move at all.

Or at least it shouldn't.

In any case, it will dissolve at the End of Time

after which the gardens of Heaven will become fixed

hanging in the Ether of the New Jerusalem

no longer harrowed by the eyeless rockets of Gaza

but forever calm, Palestinian-less

because in the eyes of the high priest

it doesn't move at all and never has. 

To those who walk on the ground it whirls around.



Gospel and Universe


In the entirety of space (91 billion light-years and counting)

and in the entirety of time (13.8 billion years or so)

God decided to have only one Son,

2 thousand years ago in a town called Bethlehem.

And the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them

until it stopped over the place where the child was (Matthew 2:9).

23.7 million light years away

in the Canes Venatici galaxy

they failed to get the Good News.



The Garden of Paradise


Wherever I am

in an afterlife of green leaves or barren plain

I'll stretch out my hand to my sister

and together we'll talk and laugh

wandering through a 7-acre orchard

with a dozen types of apple tree

or make our way

past scorching empty stretches

to wadi and Bedouin song


I'm certain that if there's an afterlife

I'll stretch out my hand

yet if her doctrine’s true

she won't be allowed to do the same


I imagine her turning her face away

from the clanging iron gate

and hiding her tears in the effulgent Light