Coattails of the Saint $17

A collection of poems which chase after the coattails of sanctity, in this world with its “meanings set up as images” (a Sufi definition of what we see around us as reality), and those souls living among us right now and forever who have had bestowed upon them that dimension of sanctity which sets them apart while making them at the same time true human beings. Imagination has given these poems a “saintly” thread, with no particular saint in any traditional pantheon meant, but rather that essence of simple sainthood of which we are all (God willing) capable.coattails

Poem Selection from Coattails of the Saint

As of a Giant Cloud

A sweet-faced saint like a giant cloud
floats past the cliff edge where we

stand in wait for such saintly visitation
and he doesn’t disappoint with his fond

nod in our direction and a sidelong glance that
actually lays a stripe of sunlight along the

grassy fields down below as the day rises

We’ve waited here since birth for his passing
and he has in his interior dimension all

previous saintly persons male and
female and even some of the most monumental from

the animal kingdom lions of supreme majesty and
kingfishers of spiritual acumen as well as

compassionate dogs and a white deer
standing forever by a black pool about to

drink into herself all human conflict and
mortal ambiguity

The great cloud moves slowly hair streaming and
barely separate from the atmosphere until we

see only a faint outline of his form in the
air but deep within somewhere in his

middle a rolling sea of coral-colored flame and
flashes of conch-pink light over turquoise waves

into a sunrise unfolding across the world
in everyone’s hearts at once

There is no place that does not see him
and that he doesn’t see

No flotilla nor flatland nor Fortune Five Hundred
that isn’t absorbed into his passing cloud

on his way with our faintest aspirations
toward such singular glory

5/8/2006 (from Coattails of the Saint)


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The Prophet Muhammad Arose One Morning

(sallahu alayhi wa salaam)

The Prophet Muhammad arose one morning
and by evening it was obvious he was no
ordinary mortal

He was a heart that spoke to a mouth that
spoke to the ears of multitudes

And it was our hearts that heard him
through the dust and blood of time and its
wrenchings its smooth valleys and its

sudden explosions its

disappearance and its appearance again as
faces at a window asking to be let in

to Allah’s portico facing the radiant light of the
central breath

I’m aloft in the air with these thoughts
in the thrill of a fuselage heading east

confounded by the possibility of it as we
float forward without entirely

evaporating in space as buoyant as a bubble
propelled by a superior force

He came down from the cave changed utterly
all the years of the world suddenly folded into him
literally speaking of those to come through
those who’d gone before from first to last in the
perfect order of grammatical tones and
spectacular intonations

The light of his face goes before this
airplane in the dark

The light of his star goes before this
planet as its anchoring beam

The light of his heart in our hearts is what
makes us sane

4/29/2005 (en route to the Grand Mawlid at Wembley, London)
(from The Coattails of the Saint)

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