I let the flies bite me when I meditate

because I am a blood abundance
and it is said that when you yield an amplitude
it is right to give
of the surplus
and who among us would not bring forth
a teardrop of hemoglobin
if it would feed a starving beggar
and who among us could not afford 
to spare a raindrop in the flash flood

O I saith unto thee, 
it is this abundance 
which hath bowed our backs
this bounty—

like a price 
on our heads,
which hang—

but here have come
mine guardian angels
to alight upon me
and banquet,

to sit at meat
and to make my burden

light

Related Poems

Austerity

If it were only that simple, as sound,

but the first cut always leaves

some unwanted,

unworked. What language

fills greed’s bottomless gut,

the flesh that sells flesh,

cut away from the bone of debt? The language

of cutting is a subtle lexicon, always

sounds kinder, gentler, than the trill blade

under the tongue of our economy’s math.  Soft, sayings

like human scale, like rightsizing,

like achieving efficiencies

hide the blade, hide the murder

that pen and protocol make, masked.

My Beast Made of Gold Is My Vocation

My beast made of gold is my vocation; it walks with me
and makes a peaceable sound. It has no wings and it has no clay.
I never touch it, if I can help it—though sometimes, knocked
roughly, I brush it by accident. That is when the pain comes
and the great poems cover their famished faces. Which is the true
prison: the church, the garden, the body, or the mind?
My beast doesn’t answer, but I detect a slight modulation
in its earthy hum. I cannot leave it and it, evidently, will
not leave me. I wish I had a cord with which to bind it up. Bless
the rain, which washes the eye clear and remembers nothing
but what we have discarded in the skies. It wraps my golden beast
in its wet hands. I want to return the earth’s broad phylacteries,
which it left in my care. This is the furthest I will get from love
and love’s children, adrift in the blue-eyed grass. My beast
prepares a place for me. It is not the place I wanted, but
I recognize myself in its contagious mysteries. Oh beast surrender
I call into the night’s tight coin. It remains beside me, unblinking.
It is a beast, and I am a man. Together we make our worship.

On Giving

Then said a rich man, Speak to us of Giving.
     And he answered:
     You give but little when you give of your possessions.
     It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
     For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
     And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
     And what is fear of need by need itself?
     Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?

     There are those who give little of the much which they have—and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
     And there are those who have little and give it all.
     These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
     There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
     And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
     And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
     They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
     Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes. He smiles upon the earth.

     It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
     And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
     And is there aught you would withhold?
     All you have shall some day be given;
     Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.

     You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
     The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
     They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
     Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
     And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
     And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, or receiving?
     And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
     See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
     For in truth it is life that gives unto life—while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
     
     And you receivers—and you are all receivers—assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
     Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
     For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother, and God for father.