Orpheus Wore That Look

Orpheu-Εsurydice

Orpheus wore that look of astonishment for the
rest of his life

How could he have been so
thoughtless as to turn around?

And so near the top?

Wasn’t hearing her behind him on the
steep gravel enough?

It was all dark anyway and he couldn’t
have made out those features that

so swung him around

In the end Majnun even says he doesn’t want to
actually be with Laila

He has Laila inside him

If we’re given a command and its
conditions knowing full well breaking it

entails disaster

what crazy mechanism inside us
whispers its shaytanic hiss to

flagrant disobedience?

Adam and Eve! Back to the original
in the leafiest loveliness known

plucking fruits at our pleasure
and being held accountable for our

wrong move so deeply inspired
a split second of

colossal miscalculation we
pay for for the rest of our lives

The two beloveds almost floating up the
steep incline from the Underworld

They could feel the upper air’s fresh
breezes on their eyelids and cheeks

Orpheus could have evermore sung his joy

Is this an explanation for the
rough time we have here?

We can’t control ourselves to do what’s
right?

Is lament the real song we sing
each time we sing?

Even as we dress it up as “Orpheus:
The Musical”?

Do we own any of this?
Is our own phantom lurking around in the

shadows to curse us?

Can’t our clear face face God and
win the day?

Can’t the Prophet’s mere gorgeousness in every
act of his control us?

God’s Peace seal us in His embrace?________________________________________________
4/19/14 (from The Sweet Enigma of it All, in preparation, insha’Allah)

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Saintly Places

SMOOTH ROCKS

We need to stand in saintly places
the way our body needs food to not topple over

We need to go there and find nearness there
even just a rude rock-strewn place where something

saintly took place or is taking place
tombs in giant sepulchers or a rude

rock-strewn place you can feel under your
feet or at the base of the heart the

non-physical saintliness of a real person in whom
God was by that person’s pleasing Him pleased

and stand there in its crystal waters rushing
past our ears and bathing our limbs the way

careful mothers of all creatures bathe their young
in the same way really we need to

find and stand in saintly places in this world
or stand with saintly ones and

stand with them for a time or for all time
and once found not ever leave their sainted precincts

in time or out of time
but stand with them

in their saintly places or those
who have gone before whose places are still

palpably alive the way even other live places
are not but these places are refuges and

refueling places not known anywhere
else on earth or with any other practitioners

and to stand in the bounty of a saintly place is
indescribable but evident if not then

then now in its great effect and the continuous affect
it has on us to

stand just once or have stood for even a small time
in space

in saintly places
___________________________________
8/10/2005 (from Stories Too Fiery to Sing Too Watery to Whisper, in preparation)

Posted in ABDAL-HAYY'S POETRY, amazement, fana fillah, gratitude, ISLAM/SUFISM, Kaaba, Light, Love of God, Muslim Poetry, POEMS, POETRY, saints, Sufi Poetry, The Path, The Soul, waking up | Leave a comment

A LITTLE RAMSHACKLE SHACK

DIVINE NAMES

A LITTLE RAMSHACKLE SHACK

PART 1

A little ramshackle shack on a hill
blown apart by the wind
door roof and walls lofted aloft and sent flying
no weightier than paper upon which is casually written
a name
twists in the air almost signals goodbye then
suddenly is gone only
bare hillside left behind
a goat now stands upon
two goats a small herd after the wind’s died down
straggle along distractedly
chewing

Madame X is led out to the guillotine where a
head once encircled by ermine on a tall neck once
encircled by strings of pearls and glittering diamonds
rolls like a dark pearl into a basket its
eyes rolled heavenward its body relaxed
backward like a flung necklace onto a
marble tabletop in an
empty room after the
ball is over

2

Imagine the precise and daunting gears and
levers of the decree that led to all those innocent
people meeting death at the World Trade Center in
New York September 11, 2001
all the little accumulating gestures and maneuvers that
put them at their desks on schedule in time to die
the horrific fireball of the angel of death who may have
appeared to them all at the last as
cool refreshing waterfalls of light or open
delightful corridors leading to emerald green
gardens so bright with joy they forgot completely
how they got there

We all wonder how we’ll die
hoping for a soft bed in a warmly lit room surrounded by
loved ones after a short and not too uncomfortable
illness a kind of light cough or a
stitch in the side and that’s all
never imagining falling to the ground from 110 stories in the air
or twisted in molten steel like a tyrant’s cage
in suffocating smoke

Unthinkable

The high school diplomas the happy
vacation moments in Cancun across a turquoise pool
the epiphanies while reading Moby Dick
the birthday banquets with long-lost relatives
the recent wedding or long-awaited love letter received

It’s a lone figure in a woolen hat on a sheer white hillside
whose coat trails the ground and whose
footprints evaporate once the meeting’s taken place

It’s unfathomable and beyond any human
words devised to describe it
and for all those souls lost in the New York disaster
whose accidental but destined martyrdom is absolutely assured
(except ironically to the fanatically deluded
hell-bound perpetrators of the unthinkable
disaster itself)

there are coats of eiderdown so soft and pearls so ethereally gorgeous
so filled with subatomic music that pours out of
every gap in their weave to envelop the air in
ecstatic choir

And the divine shadow of Truth moves aside to let pour
a radiance so pure every moment set in motion in time
one step after another year after year that led to their
being there in the right place at the
supreme right time
suddenly becomes a series of perfect stepping stones like floating
lily pads over deep black water to a Paradise even our
most ornate imaginations cannot adequately imagine

3

People are very involved with having
faces and eyes and thoughts of their own and
smells in the odorous parts of their
bodies where the human anatomy dictates

They move with a certain self-consciousness which is sometimes
nonchalant and at other times unnatural
they can feel their spines hunched or vertically straight
and how their rib-cages make room for their
breathing

People are curious capsules of atmospheres and internal weathers
and at complete ease are either blessed with expansive
horizons or cursed with tics and foibles that
intensely constrain them
a consciousness that may include the Serengeti for example with
all its wild flora and fauna or the
bleached out and tattered prospect of simply
four walls a ceiling and a floor

Young ones often betray a jumpy and eager quality
old ones a sleepy and generally exhausted quality though they
may achieve beneficence from time to time as their
bones creak and their nerves ache

But each one is categorically a cosmos and has vivid
cosmological thinking and a deep appreciation of its consequences
and each one experiences the end of the
world when death appears like a
yawning sea to drown them in its
perpetuity

drawing back within it the
essence of their beauty

4

This is the music space
where music is most difficult
this place of joy and horror
sound of fuselage entering steel as if
slicing through butter

This is the silence out of which
all the thrilling chords emerge

This is the space of the silence of souls
at their moment of release

This is the air over a dewy wheat field
crackling like cellophane in the morning light

This is the music space
voices in a room of those
visible and those who are invisible

I think the music of the spheres
can be heard in this space

It’s the sound of life
which takes place without echo
or is nothing but echo

And the original sound is the
sound of God alone audible to Himself
and we are the humming elements of that sound

This is the music space
we hear it this very moment

It’s the sound of hooves
and nothing at all like the sound of hooves

It’s the endlessly heaving ocean-sound
which turns out to be our blood beating
and the deep tidal push of our own heartbeats

Each whisper of love and fear and grief
rises in this music space

And one single note is enough to fill it

And silence itself is part of it

And the silence or the sound that follows it
is also part of it
_______________________________________________________
9/15-16 (from The Music Space, Ecstatic Exchange, 2007)

(NOTE: I first read this poem in its entirety in public at an event produced by the New York ASMA Society in Grace Cathedral, January 19, 2002, Reflections at a Time of Transformation.)

Posted in ABDAL-HAYY'S POETRY, Angel of Deathj, Death, ETERNITY, ISLAM/SUFISM, Music, Music of the Spheres, Muslim Poetry, Muslim Prayer, NINE ELEVEN, POEMS, POETRY, signs of allah, Silence, Sufi Poetry, World Trade Center Tragedy | 1 Comment

World Split Apart

HANDS IN PRAYER

 

The façade of a building falls away and
reveals a man praying

A bakery loses its show-window showing a
hundred weddings who’ll have to
wait in the next world for their cakes

An Orthodox cathedral split in two
revealing a solemn baptism that’s now become
more like a drowning

A synagogue smashed like the tablets of Moses
the dust of the Torah continuing to
rise for years through the lunar cycles

A medieval mosque’s minaret struck into rubble
and the muezzin’s call going out bodiless
a hundred times louder

The road rutted with machinegun fire
and ghost cows dancing with their dazzled cowherds

New houses and old houses collapsing like cards
and the surprised furniture giving up their
inhabitants like birds released from their cages

Windows of government buildings falling into streets
revealing some making secret deals and others
receiving holy light for works of self-sacrifice
anonymously accomplished

A firehouse going up in flames and no
nozzle quenching it

A police department getting flattened and no
police whistles piping through the roar of falling plaster

Trees just coming into bud turning as black as
pokers their fruit both present and future
now gracing the fresh tables of the dead

Hillsides turning as black as ash
revealing lairs of tiny mammals
tremblingly shielding their young

This earth sliced apart like a unripe melon
revealing both incandescent fury
and radiant secrets of redemption
incomprehensibly intertwined

No one returning with a happy face at the
end of the day or followed by children like the
Pied Piper to safety beyond the rocks

The soul of man split asunder at the
first crack of unjust death and unjust retaliation

revealing a person naked drenched in
original water coming toward us surrounded by
anticipatory angels anxious for an

outcome already known to Him
who benignly created us

and Whose Voice rises inaudibly
above all other voices

saying over and over
the single word:

Peace
______________
8/2/2006
(from In the Realm of Neither, Ecstatic Exchange, 2009)

Posted in ABDAL-HAYY'S POETRY, Angel of Deathj, dead children, ISLAM/SUFISM, Muslim Poetry, POEMS, POETRY | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Extend Your Shadow

AH DOORWAY

 

If you haven’t been parted from
what you truly love

then foot cannot follow foot
nor heart follow heart

Beasts born in the wild have the
wild to bring them to

their higher education

How can we see what
will wire us to bring us

to the deep circuitry of
God’s illumination?

None but Ahmad the Radiant One
peace be upon him

casts no shadow

Shall we cut away our shadows to
stride from them in the Prophet’s

shadowless dominion?

Or embrace our luscious darknesses
to both tame and extend their

shapely union?

The sun in each galaxy
is the central teacher

across this edgeless universe
of myriad circumferences

each sun the single pivot who
binds each orbit to its

divinely turning dances

and the tilt of its orbs
is each one’s consequences

Though the Prophet had the moon’s face
his Light was that of the sun

Oh Shams of all time to come!

In our own hearts galactic wheels
are turning

and the sound of melodic sighing
fills our ears with its burning

and its song of separation
fills our yearning

For everyone God’s departure has
never taken place —

Extend your shadow to become
the incandescence of His Face.
______________________________
18 Ramadan

Posted in ABDAL-HAYY'S POETRY, fasting, fasting poems, ISLAM/SUFISM, POEMS, POETRY, Ramadan Poetry, shadow, signs of allah, Sufi Poetry | 2 Comments

Poem: All the Dead Children

LIGHTBURST


Angels are learning new tricks to entertain all the
dead children
just bringing them to a quiet place used to be enough
blue panels sonorous as cool winds rising to
infinite heights and
luminous rivers tasting of fresh milk and
passionflower honey

But now they are more restless and want something
lively such as fabulous displays and real
stellar extravaganzas to shut out the memories

All the wingéd horses have been brought in
and every banner from every battle ever waged
transformed into aurora borealis brightness is
planted on either side of the great arena which is
actually nowhere you can put your finger on and may be as
big as a sparkle or light years across

The angels begin conventionally enough and since they’re
anti-gravitational they are capable of some
pretty amazing feats their specialty being a
spinning array of a few billion shimmering their wings and

turning slowly at first in a
cone that goes up through so many dimensions the
children have to stop counting with
each dimension demarcated by another
color no one on earth’s spectrum has
ever seen before

Then the cone begins
turning faster and faster and shoots higher and higher
finally sweeping their astonished souls wide-eyed into a
vortex so swift they barely notice that they’re
arcing across fields of unearthly green and seas of
unoceanic turquoise

Each shroud has been made into a tent filled with
fabulous fruits and unidentifiable edibles of
uttermost succulence

Each soul has been given the Ultimate Glimpse
and the Accurate Portrayal
the Perfect Sustenance and the Infinite Intensity

Each time they clap their hands a new
universe appears
more fabulous than the last

And when they tire of such delights
William Blake reads to them from his new work
and Mozart comes in and plays them a tune
on a million pianos
_____________________________________________________________________
4/11/2003 (from Psalms for the Brokenhearted, Ecstatic Exchange, 2005)

Posted in ABDAL-HAYY'S POETRY, ISLAM/SUFISM, Muslim Poetry, Paradise for martyrs, POEMS, POETRY, Prayer | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Poem: Splendid Excitement of the Coming Day

THROUGH ROSE COVER SOCKO1

 

Splendid excitement of the coming day!

Palaces might await us filled with
the tangiest grapes

down esplanades of golden cypresses
behind walls we can

barely see over at dawn for the
height of their occasional distractions

But melodious lute music from a
hidden courtyard exudes

fragrant strums that
invite our hungry hearts to float past

their rough material stones

OK it’s a day of fasting whose
treasures remain unseen

but we can almost feel the
spatial pressure to let them burst and

unload over us as the day progresses

and though their
gold may be nontransferable on the

common market

already the gurgle of flashing rivers of love’s coins
delights our ears

and their deeper wealth entices us

Oh that sumptuous dazzling palace before us!
Wild festivities jingle-jangle there!

Endless dancing of heavenly bodies!

No breath taken that isn’t
Allah’s Name in a taste of

majestic succulence!
_______________________
8 Ramadan (from Ramadan is Burnished Sunlight, Ecstatic Exchange)

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