OUR AFFINITIES: POETIC VISIONS & VEXATIONS OF A VETERINARIAN
By Dr. Michael W. Fox
FOR DEANNA AND ALL WE EMBRACE
If Fish Could Scream
They Came Down from the Trees
I Knew a Child
God Right, God Wrong
New Year Reflections
Going to Sioux Falls, S. Dakota
Flying Not Away
Healing the Rain
The Beast Within
A Prayer for my Species
An Ode to Christmas Trees
The Green People
For the Love of Wolves
Advice to Brother Wolf
Hunters of the North
Lamentation of the Larks
Man Eating Dog
Dogs to Me
My Dog Batman
Consuming Innocence and Animals
What We Care to Eat
For Deanna/Dena: an Ode to Stones
The Way of Reverence
Nature’s Hidden Truths
For William Blake
The Falling Towers
The Way to Peace
Every Healer Knows
For Ever Healed
End Time and End of Days
The End of the Race
Evolve or Perish
One Pilgrim’s Way
To My Mother In Memoriam
If Fish Could Scream
I had a dream
That fish could scream. So there were no fishermen For none could bear to hear The screams of netted fish Or tolerate the painful cries Of those impaled on spear and hook. Did God give silence to the fish That we might never hear nor feel Their fear and pain, Just so we can eat them With no twinge of shame Or fellow-feeling? We might ask what kind Of God makes all fish mute Who in their silence, Suffer suffocation in our trawler nets, Pain and terror on our hooks? Perhaps that we might learn To feel through silence For the mute, the weak, the dumb, Of our kind and fish kind And all kind great and small. Aug 1986 Published in The Animals Agenda magazine
Just before my thirteenth birthday I joined the spirit of a captive panther As she paced and rubbed herself red raw Against a polished tree stump with every turn Making tracks and patinas of blood Around her iron and concrete universe. As I stood beside a potted palm In the glass domed conservatory At the Paris zoo–Le Jardin des Plantes, I saw the bars through her eyes Spinning to the cadence of her measured minuet As she slowly ground herself into the final freedom Of death and liberation with graceful deliberation. Perhaps the spinning took away her pain. Through her mesmerized, hypnotic gaze I saw through the haze of my tears Grey shadow people passing oblivious, While she writhed like a black serpent In the slow suicide of her repetitive motion Under the compulsion of wildness for freedom To end all of her spirit’s longing and soul’s desire. Then I saw the bars were also around the people Who never stopped to look and see and care. I felt closer to my panther and her pain and fate Than to my own kind so blind to her tragic plight.
When I left the panther to her chosen end, In broken French I asked a keeper to take me To the director of the zoo menagerie In the urban heart of gay Paris in 1950. The keeper led me to the official’s office Through a maze of glass cases Filled with stuffed and pickled creatures From every continent and sea. Up several flights of marble stairs I met the man in charge Who waved his hands and said, “What can we do? That is how she is.”
Half a century later I read Rilke’s poem About a panther in the same plight and place. I wonder how many lived and died that way In the century between our visits And for why. Was it ten, twenty or more Who were tortured in that corner cage? Suffering the severance of living souls From all wildness, being, purpose, I find such zoos, like the animal circus Make me alien to my species, and ashamed.
I remember that sweet vision Of cows quietly grazing When I was deep thinking In the time of my youth Of what I should do with my life. When the cows began glowing In my searching mind’s eye As the bus sped me by, I knew what to do; what I’m doing Right now to recall The cows in the meadow and the god in all.
Sad the trusting cow Torn of her calf And calling all the night. Let us pray.
Lost the innocent calf In his narrow crate And fattening for the plate. Let us pray.
Goaded the weary ox Bearing our loads And ploughing all the day. Let us pray.
Bloody the noble bull Dying in the ring And bellowing heaven’s rage. Let us pray.
Feb 1987. First published in In Newer Veins: An Anthology of Poetry Written by Veterinary Surgeons. A.R.Mitchell & E. Boden, (eds), 1998.
THEY CAME DOWN FROM THE TREES
Complete in themselves, Safe and secure, the monkeys Kept to the trees, wanting no more.
Their needy cousins came down Learned to make fire, Turned stones into iron For ploughs and for war.
So different they were From those in the trees, Calling themselves human
So clever indeed, Playing god with atoms and genes Laying waste to the old world To make way for the new.
I KNEW A CHILD
I knew a child who looked Into the eyes of animals, And saw the self in others:
A child who learned the language Of the trees and spoke to rocks; Could fly on clouds and dream.
Born to know through feeling, Children flourish or perish: So too the animals.
What world we make for ours And theirs, can blind in pain Or bind in light to love.
I knew a child who saw the light And felt all pain but shone With joy in love for all.
Uncorrupted like eternal spring The child within moves on, Secure in a universe embraced.
In grace and wonder,
Innocent and selflessness, This child is parent to us all.
GOD RIGHT, GOD WRONG
Have you found the God of little things? Felt divinity around, within The awe inspiring miracle of life In the Dream that is dreaming us?
Have you the right God, and I the wrong? Better, then, for all to have none. In what God’s name have many killed, Been killed, tortured and oppressed; Converted and perverted? In what God’s name have many loved, Been healed, made whole; Redeemed and reconciled?
Some say the way to God Is the way of peace and renunciation. Renounce all gods of our own making, Created in our own vain image, Along with hatred, greed and fear— But not the God of little things.
Separated from belief and disbelief We discover divinity within each other. The truth that sets us free to serve. To heal and to make whole Through our sense of the sacred, In the sacraments of silent oaks And standing stones.
When love, suffering, service Are one, there is grace within; Arrogance and fear are gone.
When fear and hatred are one With arrogance and power, There is peace and joy for none.
Human spirit, Earth are one. The worlds we make Reflect and shape the soul.
Unspoken dread, living With the dead forgotten, Blinds us to the sacred deep
Where soul-mates meet In sanctuary to sanctify Life and death in trust and love.
Compassionate service is all Amidst inhuman-kind’s demise And the great awakening to Care.
In a world of suffering What pleasure can there be Except to serve, help heal?
No time to wonder if you are loved Or are unlovable, or if your wants Are childhood longings unfulfilled.
A broken heart, a broken world, Call for every able soul To see and feel and know
The end of suffering from ignorance, Arrogance, hatred, fear, Is in simple acts of loving kindness
To all beings great and small Whom we embrace in reverence And suffer all to come to us.
COMING TO SOIUX FALLS, S. DAKOTA
Prairie, plains, all torn; The blight of cattle, corn. Poisoned streams. Suicidal dreams. Dead bitch in ditch, Car-flat ‘possums, ‘coons Cardboard cat cut-outs Pave my highway. Soft feet of Sioux, Buffalo echo silence. All the taker’s money gained Will never be sustained. Not worth a tinker’s cuss. Renunciation a distant call To hallow all, So glad coyotes sing.
Reaching out now, this soft summer eve, as tree frogs and crickets symphonize to call up storms, or peace, in the voice of many in the heart of One, I find the root connections of my being. I become their tree; their song and night, and they, my doorway, senses, guides to show us all the way: The way of seers and prophets, Shamans’ journeys into ancestral realms primordial, protean thoughts, as well the boundless source of all wisdom that inspires our art, informs our science: And illumes all life.
FLYING NOT AWAY
Oozing out into unintelligible realms where the mind is jangled into mush, the wandering soul is set adrift, severed from all broken hearts. The endless journey starts when there is no home, no returning. Only the outward flow, an expanding universe, gathering its past, all riches, cherished memories and pain. All remorse and regret remain forever buried under glaciers of time. With no hope there is no future: Only an eternity of heaven in hell.
Flying not away, but towards the destination of an open heart, following the song lines of air churned wings and more ancient souls into tomorrow, another season, to find the place of all abiding grace and peace: A consummation devoutly wished, ordained by wild spirits, Earth bound, yet free. Free to serve without servitude, the Snow geese sing antiphonal anthems as they pass above me in this vibrant night into some new day where I am waiting beyond the curve of light to welcome them in silent gratitude.
HEALING THE RAIN
Everywhere the rain burns into soft skins of self and soil and tender leaves and wings, poisoning all once nurtured and sustained. Nothing is immune, or can be cleansed and healed by waters once so pure, without the tears of angels and wisdom’s loving care.
Who in human or other mortal form suffers for the rain, must bear the pain of all. All suffering is one. All beings strive and rise toward the Light they cherish, nurture and sustain. Each becomes, as grass or elephant, tree or man, the mother, midwife, giver to a living Earth.
Through them the All is manifest: Immanent and omnipresent, until blind hearts evolve to poison the rain, not feeling the good in all and all in good; not treating water as their mother, sister lover, brother—the Sacred Other in the rain. Only what they see is real; feelings are unreal.
The rains will continue to anoint us with our sins until we wash away the veil of separation. For are we not all water beings? When we harm the skies we harm ourselves. Our finer feelings, like the wind, we must trust to inform and guide our own emergence into the Light of wisdom, beauty and gratitude.
THE BEAST WITHIN
Thinly veiled as civilized The beast within remains contained. Outsiders think it tame.
Well trained, the child becomes the man, Respected citizen, father of two: Two more beasts to be contained.
Well trained for circus life, They act upon command Or crack their whips and smiles.
Knowing not what freedom is, The beast is tamed, and life goes on. Some break out; such calamity.
From one insanity into another More primal, urgent, cruel, For the beast within was never held
Nor loved. So it grew, deformed, Contained within, beneath the carapace Of saving face and civic pride.
No place to hide from naked truth The beast within consumes itself And men are broken, empty shells.
In wildness we find the sum of all our fears and longing Where feral hearts beat Earth drums into ecstatic revelation Through dance and song, and trance of Light On shimmering leaves, rippling streams, eyes of wolves And our shadow-souls, vibrant, trembling at the openings Of cave and consciousness. Some scream, rant and rave, So intense the Light of truth, dismembering lies; Then retreat into the security of the known.
In wildness is the Light we fear, revere and sanctify. Dream-makers and earth-shakers make war Because they share no feeling ,vision, understanding. One destroys while the other nurtures and sustains. One species of two minds cuts a whole world into two.
Now wildness is defiled, domesticated, civilized, commercialized By mammonists deluded by self- righteousness and entitlement. But with the authority of empathic wisdom we could make A world where beauty and justice are incorruptible twins, For the plight and suffering of one is felt and shared by all.
An eagle’s first flight is into freedom from fear Where resistance and supplication resonate Like lovers elemental, ancient and wise In the sacred union of wings and air. As her feathers sing she soars and cries, Circling the mountain’s echoes of affirmation Of the miracle and ecstasy of being.
Who would tear the eagle from the sky With gun and arrow or poisoned bait? No one can possess such beauty Or annihilate such power To rob the Earth Of yet another child And impoverish our souls and world.
The eagles of the skies teach us How to take the leap and fly Empowered by our love of life Beyond blind trust, hope and faith, Not pinioned by fear and self-doubt, To become the wind, the rain, a tree, a wolf. In the sanctity all these beings of our becoming We rediscover our humanity and sanity.
A PRAYER FOR MY SPECIES
Where there is discord, let there be concord. Where there is chaos and insanity, let there be equanimity. Where there is hatred and rage, let there be reason. Where there is betrayal, let there be restitution. Where there is nothing to live for, let there be something to die for. Where there is passion, let there be self-restraint. Where there is love, let there be selflessness. Where there is power, let there be service for the greater good. Where there is wealth, let there be generosity. Where there is harm, let there be repentance. Where there is lying, let there be the courage of confession. Where there is deception, let there be worthy intention. Where there is justice, let there be impartiality. Where there is law, let there be equal justice. Where there is morality, let there be ethical sensibility. Where there is wrath, let there be lawful constraint. Where there is war, let there be the constraint of sanity. Where there is victory, let there be mercy. Where there is ignorance, let there be empathic instruction. Where there is procreation, let there be moderation and self-sacrifice. Where there is death and decay, let there be life renewed. Where there is suffering, let there be sympathy and relief. Where there is sickness let there be understanding. Where there is disease, let there be prevention. Where there is greed, let there be philanthropy and security. Where there is lust, let there be tender restraint and release. Where there is gluttony, let there be consuming acts of loving service. Where there is slothfulness, let there be passion for life and living. Where there is depravity, let there be the gravity of good conscience. Where there is despair, let there be the hope of light. Where there is sorrow, let there be the light of hope. Where there is fear, let there be courage. Where there is certainty, let there be caution. Where there is urgency, let there be foresight. Where there is ambition, let there be right heart and right mind. Where there is autonomy, let there be responsibility. Where there is duty to serve, let there be self-discipline and dignity. Where there is arrogance, let there be humility and mutual respect. Where there is prejudice, let there be tolerance and trust. Where there is vanity, let there be modesty and self-effacement. Where there is selfishness, let there be feeling for others. Where there is intolerance, let there be patience and forbearance. Where there is trust, let there be wide-eyed caution. Where there is corruption, let there be accountability. Where there is injustice, let there be full recompense. Where there is faith, let there be reason and truth. Where there is religion, let there be tolerance and harmlessness. Where there is obedience, let there be honor and trust. Where there is cruelty, let there be compassionate intervention. Where there is neglect, let there be admonishment and instruction. Where there is non-human life, let there be reverential respect. Where there is beauty, let there be contemplation and celebration. Where there is sentience, let there be communion.
AN ODE TO CHRISTMAS TREES Who mourns with me the little Evergreens By the millions severed From their roots, so soon to die? This sacrificial tree mass Of mindless Christmas commerce Dispirited, dismembering: Few remembering pagan times Of solstice celebration, ritual hallowing The Tree of Life left whole, Holy and enduring age to age. “When the trees are gone the sky will fall” The Hopi Indians prophesy. Make Christmas X-mass for these trees With rituals to restore an ever greener world. To save or plant one little tree Is a better ritual for an enlightened age Revering all that lives on Earth. Jan. 2012
Before you go fishing or eat a fish Take a swim in their schools and shoals. As their shimmering sides and colors Suffuse your being you may find The one mind in many and in the many Become one. Then go deeper To join the more solitary ones Where the pressing silence Births past and future, ancient forms You recognize in dreams and in your bones. If you retain these memories Returning to your terrestrial domain You may refrain from eating your relations From the deep and weep for them Then celebrate your contribution To securing their abiding presence. Beneath the surfaces of water, earth, Skin, scale, shell, feather and fur The Power of the World dwells and spells The words and beauty of Earth’s creation. In the beginning was The Word. Only we can mute the world Or let every glimmering being sing. May 2014
THE GREEN PEOPLE
Our blood is red from the air we share
Thanks to all things green—
The grasses, trees and those unseen,
In a world where stones become our bones
And the rains all life sustains
And courses through our veins.
But blood we spill and few dare care.
Green people and their wolves may soon be gone
So who then to remember all were one?
FOR THE LOVE OF WOLVES
For some the wolf is brother, Sacred other, she-wolf dear, Perfect mother, wolf song Kindling the wild in human hearts. Teacher, totem, kindred spirit To the First People, a mirror clear Reflecting self-in-other From another nation In life’s circle shared by all.
For others more removed, Word and song of wolf bring fear. The big bad wolf is near! Childhood’s innocence, empathy, Openness of heart and mind To wildness, mystery, Are disturbed, confused By nursery rhymes, folklore, fable— The big bad wolf is here!
Child souls severed from the whole Where all held sacred is secure, Grow willing to conform, To not believe the heart, Trust the wisdom of the wild, Respect and honor the sanctity Of wolves and other nations. Manhood comes into the broken circle With no rites of passage, initiation, Except to dominate, persecute and kill.
Wolves mourn when pack mates die, Sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, In the pleasure-quest of trophy hunters, Trappers seeking the perfect pelt to sell Imbued with suffering no wearer felt. In such wanton slaughter of the wolf We sacrifice compassion, dignity, humility, In ignorance of how the love Of wolves once made us human.
Language is perception, revealing Whatever truths we live by. Seeing the wolf in splintered ways The Second people with no unified sensibility Call the wolf a savage beast, livestock killer, Carnivorous predator, biological specimen, Renewable resource, harvested furbearer, Hunter’s trophy, trapper’s challenge, Icon of wilderness, endangered species. But for the First people, the Anishinaabe, Ma’iingan, the wolf is of the heart And spirit shared before all words, One Soul, one Earth, one Truth revered.
Advice to Brother Wolf
In fear and frenzy You try to bite the stars; My brother, bite away Your toes instead, And leave no more than claws For trapper’s jaws. You hunger, brother And the bait seems sweet. Look close and see coyote Bloated in the bushes, And smell the fear That dying bobcat left. It was for you my brother— Go away from here And in your dreams eat out The sadness in my heart.
Soft grey wolf dawn Glides over the hill, In silence spills Into the glade And tenses; A warm, dappled shadow Never senses The stalking form Quiet as morning coming That hides and shifts From bush to bush: The sudden rush Like daybreak is not felt As the fawn falls softly Into sunlight Where wolf eats and rests.
Hunters of the North
We are always on the move Loping easily From space to space Across a timeless snowfield. We are the shadow hunters Of the Arctic night Who sleep in drifting snow And dance upon the ice. We are the voice of summer That lasts no longer Than the melting of our echoes In the soft green flush of tundra life. This is the time when hunters rest, When cubs are born and fawns Of deer, and moose and caribou Thrive on sun-spawned greenery. Soon they will be digging in the snow And ranging out for miles For what now lies Rich and lush around them. They eat for us. If only all of us could rest together Feast on sunlight, There would be no need to kill, To always be moving into winter.
LAMENTATION OF THE LARKS
Where have all the meadow larks gone? They filled my childhood’s soul When they spiraled and trilled above me In the rapture of a living world As I lay concealed in dancing grass.
Gone too the swifts, swallows, moonbeam bats Some insects flourish, immune to pesticides, spread disease While cancer stalks the land, spread by human hand Invading every home and womb.
Now silent fields in all their greenness Belie the treason of my kind against creation Without reason, mere expedience and greed. Now genetically engineered seed For livestock feed and virtual foods Blight once hallowed land Under corporate banners of progress, need For which there is no redress. Bodies, minds and spirits harmed Spawn profitable drugs and services As the Earth dissolves and humanity devolves.
MAN EATING DOG
One must be very hungry, Or really like the taste To kill and eat a dog. It might be out of dire necessity, Cultural norm or sacred ritual. But any way it brutalizes Both the killer and the killed. Feb. 2006
DOGS TO ME As an infant, I found every dog A source of wonder and delight; Responsive presence, a joy To touch and eye to eye engage. As a boy they were my best of friends, More trustworthy than my peers, Incapable of betrayal: More caring, playful and aware. To this dog-grown man, every dog Is an open book to an open mind; An open mind to an open heart; A kindred spirit in canine form.
MY DOG BATMAN
You were my clock and pacemaker Giving canine cadence to my every day. For fifteen years you got me up and out. You knew the times to eat and sleep. You were my compass needling me Away from introspection to receive Your unwavering affection so I in turn Might give you undivided attention. You shared my den and solitude, My dreams and meditations.
I remember your wild cries of greeting, Yowling yapping anguish and relief From separation even brief: The nuzzle of your cold nose against my palm And pushes with your muzzle To deftly place my hand upon your head For me to touch and bless: The earthy musk of your oval paws, Flowery aromas in your perfumed cheeks, And sweet hay scent where you had sat: Your fastidious morning ritual Of licking flanks, legs and paws Then after face-washing like a cat, Luxurious stretching on soft clean sheets: Your trembling drooling jaws Accepting treats so delicately But anything new you always spat To first inspect; instinctual wisdom Of your scavenger lineage from poisoned streets.
Vivid still in memory your clear displays To other dogs, of dominance, acceptance, Playful intent. Shelties you adored, Strange persons you would never trust. You were never cowed or incautious, Stepping everywhere with care, Hidden springs in stocky limbs, Your back-bouncing tail a gallant curl. You always made me laugh With your wiggle- dance and big grin You flashed my way Just after you had pooped!
With age came the gray on muzzle and chin, Your shiny lithe form more swayed, toes splayed, Eyes grown clouded, hearing impaired. Then more and more throughout the day You slept; walks were shorter with no play, Proud tail drooping with uncertainty, Pointed ears flattening with pain and fear. Slowly disengaging, fewer tail wags And pushes with your nose as you strove To close the distance for a moment Until the gaze in your sad eyes returned. It went through me and beyond To tell me your time to leave was close. When your appetite for food and life Began to fail, and veterinary care Was no avail, the time was right For euthanasia’s liberation because You would rather stay and suffer Than leave the ones you loved.
Now that you are here no more Perhaps on some new, unfolding path In different form, dimension, The unbearable emptiness that you leave Makes life around seem so unreal; All feeling numbed by grief. You will return in memory and dream To kindle and affirm what we had shared—- Love so strong I could let you go.
Little black dog Batman, Rescued pariah from an indifferent India, With the advent of your death I feel The mystery and wonder of your caste. You were the enlightened one For you have left your light In my grieving soul to heal and hallow, Illuming my way without you Once always in my shadow, Now one breath away until I take my last.
In memory of Batman who left this life on July 19th, 2011. Aug. 2011
Time to disengage To let go of all That the heart cannot Sustain, contain. Word-weary, no repose Time to close out this world Having seen and loved and tried To kindle and save the light. May it burn forever bright For all creation and inspiration While I decompose Singing the sweet refrain Of gratitude beyond all rage, Sadness in wisdom’s pain And silent celebration Without regret but shame For most of human kind Whose limitations are also mine. June 2013
In the racial memory of elephants Long before the dawn of human consciousness, Perhaps they, like us much later, Recognized and revered a Buddha Or a Krishna in their midst:
Appearing in their own image Once in every millennium To guide, inform, inspire, Awakening them to the nature of divinity, The divinity in their nature, And the power of loving kindness.
If this is true for us, Then their truth we share To celebrate the sacred presence That illumes our mortal lives.
Perhaps elephants are more enlightened, Buddha-natured, Krishna conscious Than we, a younger species Beginning to evolve, recognize and revere To save them from extinction And all that makes us human, Giving loving kindness to them all And every creature great and small. July, 2011
(Poem published in the book Giant Hearts: Travels in the World of Elephants, J.-P. Puryavaud & P. Davidar, 2015.) Inspired by Heathcote William’s book, Sacred Elephant.
CONSUMING INNOCENSE & ANIMALS
Our collective taste for animals, For their flesh and roasted fat, Decorative skins and furs, Prized hunting trophies, Even potions medical and libidinal, Casts a long shadow Beyond their suffering and waste Around the world, illuming The hypocrisy of any claim To love and care for fellow creatures: Of being humane, even human, Treating fellow beings as kindred spirits, Not commodities and consumables. Those who take the radical leap of empathy Growing ever alien to their own kind, The taste of flesh and roasted fat Becoming the tang of pain and shame, A revulsion that is not a sacrifice But a renunciation before communion And the healing of all our relations. July 2013
WHAT WE CARE TO EAT
Where are the meadow larks, The dancing hares? Gone the way of wolves and bears, And wild lands and wilderness To grow the crops to fatten Pigs and chickens in factory sheds, And feedlot-cattle, sheep, horses: Country sides industrialized By appetites of indifferent greed, By ignorance, not economy And ecology defined.
Our appetite and our health Are one, not gold and wealth. Our appetites can change: Restore the range, coyote sings. Renew the countryside, larks wing Above a recovering humanity No longer squandering, consuming Dreams of bears and children wild.
The call of wolf, hawk, whale Is part of our communion, Our spirits’ food. No more ‘the cattle of the rich Steal the bread of the poor.’ Our sustenance is a gentler fare.
Eating is a sacrament Of Thanksgiving, gratitude. The taste for goodness, wholeness, Is a sense too few possess. To adulterate or denature food Is no less a sacrilege, a profanity, Than to waste, allow to spoil, Or horde for later profit.
We are what we care to eat. Our forks are our fates. Kitchen anarchists, caring farmers unite! Our plates reflect the power of place, With local foods, organic, whole To mirror, nurture our humanity. Oct. 2009 Quotation from the Mahatma, Gandhi .
FOR DEANNA—AN ODE TO STONES
I had forgotten the songs of stones Until you stilled my mind And opened my heart’s ear To rock music in the rain And their softer echoes under snow.
How different are their tones In summer sun and winter ice. How clear their choruses In rolling river beds, In mountain streams, And their soft melodies To mosses, flowers, trees, Rooting in their essence.
What symphonies they sound With different winds That sculpt them smooth With licking snails Making perfect shells And wind bells for gales. Their crystal presence in my bones Give me the power Of an ancestry profound. Thank you Deanna, for connecting me, And with Thou in all. Oct. 2009
THE WAY OF REVERENCE
There are many ways of looking. Those who look in reverence See in a sacred way. To see in a sacred way Is love’s gift to a world made profane.
There are many ways of feeling. Those who feel reverence for all life Know in a sacred way. To know in a sacred way Is love’s gift to a world of pain.
There are many ways of living. Those who live in reverence Live in a sacred way. To live in a sacred way Is love’s gift to a world made sane. Oct. 2006
NATURE’S HIDDEN TRUTHS
Victim, victor, opposing wills, Predator, prey, survival of the fittest, Nature raw, ‘red in tooth and claw’, Men at war, compete, defeat. Torn ‘twixt discord, concord, Might makes right for Disconnected discontents While lovers take the leap Into unfathomed depths of otherness.
In every living presence, We find a part of us abides- The Inua of the Inuit Eskimos; The reflected image of some part Of oneself in the eye, bark or pelt Of every living other: So when we care for others, We are caring for ourselves, As when we harm another, We also harm ourselves.
Through all the strife and discord Strings and chords of harmony Spring from the wild heart core Of the infinite, illimitable realm Of all beginnings and ends. They connect our souls and minds With the unseen between And within the seen. The Peace ‘Which passes all understanding’ Then comes to Earth through us.
Weather, like our emotions, Ranges and changes, nurturing, Harming, annihilating, recreating Beyond all love, hate, hope, despair, Arising from the is-ness and it-ness, Such-ness and otherness which abide In the oneness of an eternal present; An omniscient omnipresence We feel in the first breath of spring, Monsoon raindrops in the jungle breeze Abuzz with wild honey bees Before the hiss of distant galaxies Sets the night air a-tingle to tiger ears Beyond the clamour of our insanity And Buddhist monks steaming snow From their soul-ignited backs.
It is this miracle we live and breathe Though joy and pain, forever blessed: For ever healing, making whole, Our hallowed Earth and home, Sun swallowed, bright and beautiful Until the next earthquake or tornado As Shiva dances this cosmic cycle And Pan still plays his pipes. Oct. 2009
FOR WILLIAM BLAKE
(Who raged against my homeland England’s ‘satanic mills.’)
‘William Blake was no flake or fake. He journeyed into the minds of men Long, deep and very far, Where some may weep, or rage, or sleep, Or leap with joy and sing their star!’
Many rage with poet Dylan Thomas Against the dying of the light, But so it always must before the coming Of the dawn, and each new age of man.
The age of Peace is our release From fear and hatred, vengeance, lust, For all have trust and know the truth That we are part of one stupendous whole, Not man nor tree nor beast apart. But no peace can ever be Until every creature we set free.
Oh mystery! Oh majesty! The awe igniting, reverence inciting Wonder of the mind that senses, Feels, and knows the wordless hymns Of ancient trees and Monarch butterflies! Sept. 2009
THE FALLING TOWERS
I have seen how your towers Of glass and steel, Ephemeral, unreal, so transient, Erected by unnatural, alien powers, Scrape and pierce the sky, Obliterate horizon’s light And blind the stars at night.
By day they hum for mammon As I feel the earth tremble, drained, Your elevated state sustained. Your shadow stain spreads pain and blight Across the land you rent and rent, Sucking the marrow out of life Emptying souls’ imagination To accommodate profane creation, Commerce, vital information, Imperatives of global trade, control.
Towers of glass and steel, Monuments to desire, inspire A domineering state of mind That sees a ravaged, vanquished Earth As human progress; evolution: Ingress to a world made new, The promised land deserved and won By a chosen few who claim their god Made them in His own image As they have remade the world Into their own image, blind, Unfeeling as their god, To injustice, desecration.
Food from petrochemical-soaked fields Courses through fetal brains without distinction. Offspring of the rich play nihilistic computer games With no countryside to run and find the wild, Learn the names of things that feel and heal Now obliterated by factory farms, Silos for storing grain, nuclear weapons underground. Acid rains kill ocean life, forests sickening, Heralding the quickening of extinction. The Hopis call this the Purification Of Koyaanasquatsi, life out of balance, For those living in the absence of the sacred Who even spread and profit from disease, Deny their role in climate change And feel no pang across the range Where buffalo and wolves once roamed Amid the lush of prairie grass and singing larks.
I have seen the consequences of such dominion For which there is no solution Beyond my disbelief and outrage Of this illusion of civilization. Indigenous species, peoples disenfranchised, Put in the zoo and reservation In the name of feel-good conservation To endure the poverty of spirit Multiplying now in urban slums.
Every revolution in the name Of Freedom, Justice and Equality Fails the test of evolution When most within the towers And those without— The ever multiplying minions Of poor, oppressed, homeless, landless, Whose leaders, political and religious, Sanctify ever more violence and war— Feel, think, strive only for themselves. Unmindful of the trees, The oceans, and the least of these Creatures from other realms, nations Who express, embody and sustain The life and beauty of the first world, The original, the aboriginal.
The towers of glass and steel Will all soon reel and fall, Heralding their End of Days As Nature’s Powers defy, Purify, restore and reify The womb of life on planet Earth, The First Creation, Some future consciousness may cherish, Hold as holy, sanctify. The final solution lies in living mindfully Of the countless ways we act In the absence of the sacred, To recover our humanity and sanity Through reverence for all life, Seeking peaceful co-existence With all creatures great and small. To walk in the grace of devotion For all the beloved we cherish, A consummation devoutly to be wished. Dec 2012.
THE WAY TO PEACE
We speak in many tongues, but from what heart? Hearts of love bring joy and peace; Hearts of fear more hatred, war.
In Freedom’s name, some self-immolate, take eye for eye and blind the world. Suicide-bombers, kami kazis, martyrs, victims, victors, tyrants, liberators speak their truth from age to age in many tongues. Now cyber-babble’s heartless language fills the world while terrorists and religions intertwine.
Towers of babble come tumbling down. Where are those who knew the language of the trees and sang with whales and wolves? They who know can show the way to peace:
Obedient always to the Golden Rule, They live in grace on hallowed land beyond the end of inhumanity and births of empty souls.
Beyond the paradox of life in death, Life gives to life, as we can chose. Then peace will come And all our slaughtering end. July 2007
EVERY HEALER KNOWS
Every healer knows the Medicine Wheel Is the Sacred Hoop the Hopis dance. The drum-beat heart of Earth Is in their feet, and eagles’ wings, As well the air we share.
Every healer, dancer, knows The Hoop is broken now But not beyond repair If our will is in harmony With the Power that moves us all To care for the last of the wild And the unborn of every kind.
Every healer knows to do no harm, And in our healing of Nature Is the healing of self. The drum-beat heart of Earth Is in our feet, and eagles’ wings, As well the air we share. March 2010
FOR EVER HEALED
Come join the Sun dance,
Call up the ancestors-
Beloveds gone, mothers—
Children, warriors, elders—
-Good dogs, horses, crows
Flying in on dream clouds
To dance around the Truth
With all of us, every love
And wound and wrong
Remembered, shared, atoned
Inside the circle around the Tree;
The scent of day, the Mother drums
To Fathers’ feet in falling rain. Kinship affirmed, All relations* honored. The covenant is sealed, And all are healed, Affinities sublime, illimitable.
Praying now, what lights In many forms may come To show and guide us We thank and celebrate. * With tree, and Thou, and thee and thy, and all on land, in sea and sky who crawl or swim, or fly or skim, or walk and talk, or pray and stay the sacred way. Dedicated to my Wailaki Indian friend, Ben Coyote. Jan 2007
THE HOLARCHY ( Where holarchists unite!)
The ethos of the natural world, The law of Nature, creation’s code, Is evolution or extinction; adapt or die.
Through the prism of culture, time and place, Darwin saw in Nature some primal hierarchy Of competition and survival of the fittest. Others used his vision as scientific proof Of human superiority, and to justify the hegemony Of industrialism and colonial imperialism As natural human evolutionary progression Biologically predetermined, if not God-ordained.
Kropotkin saw creative anarchy and mutual aid That others warped into self-serving anarchism, Paternalism, patriarchy, and mass-control.
Black Elk saw the Medicine Wheel, —The holists’ vision of the holy, Wherein all is sacred, co-dependent— As the web of life we each must hallow, heal. He led his people to live in harmony ‘With the Power of the world as it lives and moves and does its work’.
Now under the chauvinistic monarchy Of human domination, Nature, animals Are simply resources to exploit Consume, abuse, transform. The monoculture of the technocratic mind Mirrors wastelands emptied of the wild, Making inscapes of every child Devoid of images Nature made. No imagination in an Earth un-souled, Hominized, homogenized By ignorant oligarchies of greed.
Evolve or perish, adapt or die, The credo of creation long ignored; Devolution unforeseen, progress mere illusion; Virtual realities of Homo technos Bereft of virtue, spirit, mystery.
No solution but dissolution Without the Rx for evolution— Revolution in our ways of seeing And of human being and becoming In the holarchy of communion With all sentient beings And worlds within worlds.
Uncounted realms, spheres, orbits Of existence, mind, action, Spark our senses in the gravity Of the draw of space illimitable. The loneliness of our knowing Consumes our lives unshared Until we face the Mystery And embrace each other In the certainties of death and night To unveil the immortal nature Of boundless love’s unfettered souls. Then alone like stars we shine apart In radiance born to all unite With constellations of harmony and peace In nascent galaxies near and far. July, 2009 Dedicated to the late Thomas Berry who saw that “The universe is not a collection of objects but a communion of subjects.”
THE END OF THE RACE
Be of good cheer; The end of the race is near; The end of the human race. I see only three riders left In this mad human race— Ignorance, Indifference and Fear.
Power and Arrogance, along with Righteousness and Retribution, Began this biocidal surge. Cleverness and Cunning Could not keep up, And neither Honesty and Trust, Nor Morality, Law and Order.
Certitude and Science Helped lose the race As the Age of Plenty, After the Age of Reason, Became the Age of Treason Against Nature, Sanity and Grace.
It will soon be over, Nature will purge the race, And in its place Humility and Compassion, Devotion’s sacred powers, Will find their way Into every human soul, Imbuing all to heal, Nurture, cherish and inspire.
How else to live Within the cataclysms Of cosmic wombs And before the catechisms Of sentient life Throughout the universe As undiscovered as the laws Of Nature’s Wisdom, And the Power of Love Inherent in us all. Oct 2009
EVOLVE OR PERISH: A PARADIGM SHIFT
‘Physician, first heal thyself, And do no harm’, Hippocrates advised; Let your medicine be your food And your food be your medicine. From himsa, harmfulness, To ahimsa, non-harming Is a paradigm shift: A conscious evolutionary step For Homo not-so-sapient man: —Biologically, a survival imperative. Evolve or perish. Shift— From anti-bios, to probios; From antibiotics to probiotics: From dysbiosis to eubiosis; From warring against To working together, From humiliating to humility, Making peace, not war With weeds and bugs Treating Earth as Mother Soil her living flesh. From humus comes humility, And through our metanoia, Empathy, and the humor Of becoming one with the dance, The Dreamer of life, And songs of stars and whales. Feb. 2010
One Pilgrim’s Way
Going to the ponds to explore their inner lives Contained within their steep and muddy banks The child found conscious life in a myriad forms Within a world within a world of miracles The wonder and mysteries of all Seeding wisdom, awe and reverence in his heart.
The boy collected with avidity and risk, Pond “specimens” for closer study, even retention In his biological collection. This natural science revealed Creation’s art, Nature’s laws and poetry of life Celebrated in Blackbird’s evensong And the teeming wombs of ponds.
Other boys stole Blackbirds’ eggs, Left blown up frogs around the ponds. Adults drowned kittens in sacks Threw in in their refuse Then the ponds were land-filled To build more homes, Spreading suburban blight. Nature out of mind and gone from sight.
Adolescent tensions between The civilized and the wild, The contrived and the authentic Nascent in the natural child, Tore him into two and for a while He lost himself in others of the world But not in it; aliens eating lambs, Shooting wolves, making animals suffer To find profitable cures for their own dis-ease. Then the animals in his world Whom he rescued, knew and loved, Brought him to his senses And the two became one.
The man raised and studied wolves Finding the best and worst of human nature shared But wolves more loyal to family and clan, Superior stewards of the Earth Living in accord with Nature’s laws. He played with wolves who sang to his flutes Making music in their bond of harmony: Communion with the wild, vision quest of child Completed, Self-realized and affirmed In the feral otherness and baptism In Nature’s realm that blesses, nurtures all Outside of temple, church and synagogue.
With a veterinary education the man Sought to heal the broken bonds Between his kind and other animals As well the living Earth they shared: One World, One Health, The medicine of the wolf.
He held his children high To see the sky and stars, Read the clouds and winds Feel the rain upon their faces To become what they were shown. They too learned the love of wolves And all the other animals who shared Their lives and crossed their paths.
Drawn in his sunset years To the essences of healing plants He felt eternal gratitude for the gifts of life. Before redeeming death’s release From suffering and mourning Earth, Broken wings and falling trees. He gave his last breath To pray for his fallen race To be restored to grace Recovering compassion from extinction By hallowing every living place And all who dwell therein. April 2015
FOR MY MOTHER-In Memoriam
(Minnie Elizabeth Wilson Fox)
In my attentive father’s shadow I remember how you helped me Stand, walk, speak and spell; Dispel childhood fears and fevers, And explore the wondrous world My senses sought to fill my soul.
Your delight in me reflected My delight in every living thing: Radiant crocus heralding spring; Dancing butterflies, the labouring ant; Blackbirds singing in the dell.
You preened my wings’ imagination To go beyond the speed of thought Into what Nature wrought and taught A child becoming father of the man Who sought to comprehend and care For every creature of Her creation.
As I was cherished, So I came to cherish all. Mother of every hue, Inspired, enthused, embraced The life around me and within, I thank you for the gift of you.
You taught me courage and frugality In the time of war with father gone. Only me to care for you with open heart.
The light of life you lived And shared with all Especially in your Yoga classes You gave till ninety-five. Then close to ninety-nine Your freedom came, But the gifts of you remain In all our hearts and souls. Sept., 2009