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Poem: The Wilderness

Sept. 2019

We’re learning emotional survival skills here.

Out in the wilderness,

Your best behavior is useless now.

Your goody-two-shoes, I got this, stiff upper lip, staunch Democrat or Republican, nighty-night, Oh, I’m fine, best behavior bullshit doesn’t fly here.

Incandescent like that flame you’ve been holding, keeping from going out, tending the fire, burning the midnight oil and so tired. Now, it’s out.

Don’t cry.

Because you, you’re on.


Here in the wilderness we speak trees.

We build bonfires out of that flame.

We teleport from one state to the next without protection, without the safety devices in place.

Here, we let it all hang out.

We eat it raw, with the juice dripping, thighs already greasy.

It’s too late for napkins.

Here, we’re way out beyond the perimeter. Way, way out.

The air is rarified like deep space, like pure oxygen. Nothing stains us.

There’s no stopping us now. The gravity cannot hold, the old ways do not apply. No controlling the volume on the dial. No putting a cap on it.

Here, we consider the turbulence fun.

Here, we smoke cigarettes when we pray.

And laughter…is straight up currency.

We touch the mountaintop, but we do not linger for the views.

There are valleys yet to explore, caves, too.

And deep waters where we swim, wrapped in seaweed,

Not caring, nothing to get stuck on.

Here, we touch the depths and the mud sucks…

Everything sucks, but we are long past resisting that discomfort.

We rest in that cosmic kiss, full tongue, full throat, full gullet and stomach, on through.

Digested. Digest it.

Until there is only sensation left. Without meaning, without stories — supplies of energy moving through the pieces of what we once considered self.

Yes, we are wracked. We are had. We are chewed up and spit out over and over again here.

But, there is something like dancing in the writhing. And there is something like ecstasy in the agony. There is something like clarity here where there was once confusion.

And though it may hurt, it’s worth it.

There is no other way.

This training is not for everyone.

You enlisted long ago before there was such a thing as time.

Be glad. Rejoice.


If you ever wanted out, this is the key, the map, and the journey home.

Who else will walk it for you?

Now, that laughter isn’t mine.

And those tears, they could fill a river. Might as well…

What a curiosity! The heaving is the same in either case.

The source, no longer relevant.

Your pain is not so precious as you think. Make an offering of it.

We accept that as currency, too.

Now the emotions are really more like the weather,

And we are no longer touching the mountain top because we are the mountain.

And the water.

Now, we are the sensation even as we are beyond it. That non dual…non dual…beyond it.

Spiral staircase. Mind free. Navigating like a pro now. Without a care in the world. Look, Ma, no hands.

I mean actually no hands. No face. No body.


This is the meeting we’ve been waiting for. This is the meeting of bliss and emptiness. The reunion of what will be with what always was.

Undulating, tumbling.

We are not afraid of the dark here.

When the lights go out, we have other ways of seeing.

It’s not for nothing you took the leap.

You will find that practice pays and your knife skills are now quite good. Nothing tethers.

And nothing severs this connection we have to the essence of experience, the marrow of the old, old bones of life.


And now — as it turns out — we can teach.

At the base of an old oak tree we set up shop.

At the edge of the wilderness we intercept the intrepid.

An apothecary for the wayward.

An altar, an offering.

We sweep the place clean.

And the students, they arrive before we’ve even hung up our shingle.

They come before the grand opening, before the bells are rung.

Turns out they’ve been waiting. All this time.

Waiting for us to show up.

And you shake your head because…

Well, because it’s been a Silk Road kind of adventure for you…a falling off the flat earth, walking into native territory, back from the dead, one giant step for mankind, kind of journey.

Something beyond words and eternally worthwhile.

Oh, and when the students are gone and the work is done we fly.

Feel that lift off?

Feel those feet way off the ground?

Horizontal already.

A new kind of wilderness not of this earth.

A glow like antigravity around the periphery. All of it no longer matter, but light.

And the sounds, sounds that constellate things. Rich and fertile sounds.

The Word.

Here there is only heartbeat and breath. Bass and treble.

The sound of eyes opening and the dark receding.

A whisper comes from your lips, but they don’t move.

A note comes from your eyes as they glimmer.

Your eyes watching me. My eyes watching you.

The seer and the seen…our gaze…


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