Beatitudes #01

I continue my spiritual journey at My Seven Storeys with a series of short quatrains inspired by The Beatitudes.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” MT 5.3

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“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” (MT 5.3)

“I am just a poor man,” he said.
“Come into my house, Son, and eat.”
The food was bread and fruit,
Unseasoned, but everything needed.

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Two Martyrs, One Son (1987: AGE 16)

Two Martyrs, One Son
January 23, 1987

The Cardinal
his voice echoed across the land
in the ears of seven million people.
They all turned to their neighbor
–Did you hear the Cardinal?
He sang yesterday. You know I heard
him sing: ‘I have a dream today!
Let freedom ring then we might sing
free at last, thank God almighty,
we are free at last!’
Then I heard him cry
‘Oh God, oh Lord.’–
Seven million people cried yesterday.

The Bluebird
his voice echoed across the land
in the ears of seven million people.
They all turned to their neighbor:
–Did you hear the Bluebird?
He sang yesterday. You know I heard
him sing: ‘I had a dream today.
Rise above the evil in your hearts!
We can soar with the glory of love,
if we let our soul power shine!’
And then I heard him say:
‘Oh God, oh Lord!’–
Seven million people cried yesterday.

The Dove
His voice resonates across all lands
in the hearts of seven billion people.
They all turn to their neighbor
–Listen to the Dove!
He sings! Hear His voice:
‘I have a dream for you, children-
love your neighbor as yourself,
love your enemy as you love your God
for we are one, united.’
With all our hearts, listen!–
‘Father into your hands… I am yours.’
Seven billion people hold hands today.

The last in a series of poems I wrote after watching the movie Gandhi, this one most clearly reflects how I connected the teachings of Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. My interest in nonviolent action was born in these poems as well as a life long conflict with the role of violence in human action. While my life has been given in service to my country, these voices of faith, hope, and love remain loud in my head. When I wrote this poem, I knew the voice inside me that I needed to hear; as I shared it with friends, I knew that voice had a place in the world.

See also, The Kingdom:
https://sailorpoet.com/2018/08/30/the-kingdom-1987-age-17/
Mahatma:
https://sailorpoet.com/2018/09/05/mahatma-1987-age-16/
and A Man:

Over the next few weeks I will be spending time with my 16-17 year old self from 1987. In no particular order, these poems will be presented in the final form I found them on computer discs discovered in an attic many years ago. This will culminate in the next entry of my Into My Own, My Story as a Writer series found here:

https://sailorpoet.com/2018/05/08/into-my-own-my-story-as-a-writer-part-i-how-it-began/

https://sailorpoet.com/2018/06/14/into-my-own-my-story-as-a-writer-part-ii-why-i-wrote-1986/

Whisper My Return (with Spoken Word)

Into my cathedral, no path to follow
Just my will. An alter of dirt and moss
Built by no human hand gives me pause.

I do not believe in God.

God, “I don’t believe in you.”

But when you whisper through leaves
Trees rustle back their peaceful thanks,
“How can your existence be denied?”

One thing that will endure, is beauty.
So while you and I may never break bread,
Interwoven inside each step taken on my path

A presence I can no longer deny.

God, I believe, now, believe in me.

Yesterday, I walked up a stream into a womb
It’s walls covered in soft beds of moss
The trees, eternal, whisper my return.

The Kingdom (1987: Age 17)

January 24, 1987

We will march to the steps,
We will march to the sea,
We will march together
Until we find our home.
We will break the codes,
We will make salt,
We will make wine
Until we reach our home

Are we near?
Are we distant?
I need water,
I want to go home.
Will you take me?
Will you guide me?
It must be near,
I need to go home.

You say,
As we march and create:
“Raise your hands
And hold one another’s
When you do so
You will have found home.”
It must be near,
We need to find our home.

Over the next few weeks I will be spending time with my 16-17 year old self from 1987. In no particular order, these poems will be presented in the final form I found them on computer discs discovered in an attic many years ago. This will culminate in the next entry of my Into My Own, My Story as a Writer series found here:

https://sailorpoet.com/2018/05/08/into-my-own-my-story-as-a-writer-part-i-how-it-began/

https://sailorpoet.com/2018/06/14/into-my-own-my-story-as-a-writer-part-ii-why-i-wrote-1986/

Field Guides

At night I walk to meet my friend the surf
Alone with me and the heron…
Or the egret…
Not sure

(I should get a field guide to shore birds
More practical than the whale guides, but oh!
How I love whales
Magnificent creatures these beasts
The quiet masters of the earth
Meditative and melodious.

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On Seeing the Sunrise, 7/20/18

I do not know God like you do
Or you
Or you
Or, even, you.

As a youth, I thought I’d meet Him
In Church
Speak to Him through Prayer.
We’d all chant together.

This morning, when I finally woke
Something entered me
Not a Man, or a Woman, but Being.
It knit a whole.

I quietly sat and listened
To the words of poets: Rumi, Kinnell, Lawrence
Blake, Kabir and Thoreau
Until their words invited me outside.

Under foot, the sand cooled by the night
Awaited my imprint,
And the sky, wow! the Sky!
Spoke through remnants of storms.

An orange glow pressed through a veil
Spreading its light across the horizon
The edges of clouds painted purple
And the silence of a new day filled me.

Perhaps, like Kabir, who knew nothing shut iron gates
That new love couldn’t open and wake
The beautiful woman asleep beyond the clouds.
“Fantastic!” He says, “Don’t let a chance like this go by!”

So across lines in sand set by human machines
I leapt to stand awake and in awe
At some divine being now inside me
Ready to swim in the bay, as full as the sea.

With thanks to poetry found in The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart, edited by Robert Bly, James Hillman, and Michael Meade. Harper Perennial, New York, 1992.

Juvenilia: Vision of Tomorrow (1986: Age 15)

July 31, 1986

The world is restless under my feet
I haven’t seen the sun in days
Black clouds hover the ground I walk
Yet there is no one to see what I see

The world rots in universal entropy
No light finds the grass I walk
Heaven’s tears flood the pours of my dry skin
Heaven’s roars frighten the tiny children

Here in this isolated town sleeps a naive soul
Blind by youth to the world in his eyes
He knows none see his visions
He knows he speaks false words

Here in this isolated town I sleep
Blind by youth to the mad world in my eyes
I worry of love and other bittersweet passions
I will rise above to see the world

Over the Appalachians and through the pines
I long to have the vision of years
Yet only through time will God grant my wish
I will still dream of mares in the night, and white stallions.

Lightning flashes in my eyes
The princes and slaves, two-faced societies
The land ahead is covered by clouds
I run onward in spite of my blindness

Does she on the blue-green hilltop have sight
Are the stars above hers to gaze in a dreamy awe
Does she lie blind like the naive soul I am
She is one of the merry youth

A naive child searching through the attic
I look for the key to open my sight
Soon I will find it and unlock the door
Open my eyes to the winds eluding me

The key has been stolen
The door opens before my naive eyes
The wind’s howl threatens the lies in my life
Of sweet music and star filled skies

Shut the door- my eyes burn
My ears long for the sweet music
Reality is upon the blue-green hilltop
The stars are ours in a dreamy awe

Is this my sight?
Are these mountains only my visions?
Will you look with me or sit alone?
I, naive child dare to be an adult

There she rests alone on the blue-green hilltop
She has the stars in her gaze of dreamy awe
If only the stars were not behind the clouds
I would trap the stars in her gaze

The world rushes behind the drag of my feet
The light of the sky is hidden for me to find
I write these words never to be understood
Like the scream of a child in a moonless night

Please let me gaze at a starlit sky
One last chance to wish upon my naive falling star
Soon the truth will burn this naiveté
My child will crumble in the heap of an adult

She sits with me on the blue-green hilltop
The stars are ours to gaze in a dreamy awe
The sun will shine upon our new days
The blackness of night will pass

Will the world wait for me?
I gaze my dreamy awe one last time
Run from the hilltop with me, dream and weep
Soon the world will turn in the palm of your warm hand.

Image: Hilltop – Edward Henry Potthast