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The River Inside

Copyright 2004 Matthew Blevins All rights reserved St. Louis, Missouri

BOOK I

EARTH DOWN

Reader: I have loved you from the very beginning I cried when you were born; indescribably happy I sat with you when your body died, holding your head gently Nowlet us talk of everything in between.

Love is the greatest attribute of the soul. To love unconditionally and understand the suffering of the world; to fight hatred with love these actions are divine. Drop your possessions, burn your house, give your riches to the state. Gather up love, plucking it like vibrant flowers speckling the lush hillsides of the earth. Give those away too. You will perish, but your bouquets will bloom forever.

I hunt and harrow the human soul. Oh, how I sing to it rapturously, carry it in my arms, and drape it softly on the doorstep of myself. Bring yourself to me vaunted carriers of spirits! I am the amorous sphinx keeping safe all public highways and deep worn ruts of the world! I confound cynics by seeking beauty in a workingmans hands and defy lords with my unfailing confidence in the powerless. Reader; stand up now and let me break the manacles that bind you. I give you yourself in a braver, more heroic capacity. I charge you to awaken a new self a self that loves completely; that treads wondrous shores lightly with a careless buoyant heart. Let us set out onto the open road together. There are so many miles to walk and people yet to meet. Do not fear what fate we may someday meet. For all tragedies, deaths and failures are brittle boughs soon to parish in my flame! Better to kiss me now than leave life with a regret! Better to dance with me now than wonder what a passionate moment feels like! Better to blind your eyes with truth than be ever watchful with a soul that cannot see!

The day I died I brushed my hand across the cosmos. Am I still a boy in the park beneath the Milky Way, or am I nothing now? Lower my coffin into the stars and throw eternities upon its silence. I command the face of the corpse to remember there is still laughter

everywhere, and I exhume all the love which is buried alive (there is too much buried, reader.) What is love but deaths coffin? Where does death hide in the morning when the inky blackness fades? And I know my poems are larger and better than I. For they love easily, like an apostle working miracles for free, and I fear the hands laid upon my blind eyes. I do not disbelieve, but I have beautiful doubts. I know the road is long and there are many travelers upon it. There is so much to see and people to become (always more selves to drink.) There are no continents, only paths; no lifetimes, only journeys. Only outstretched fingers of God on her wedding day. You know I express myself better with howls of glee around the campfire than with a pen and paper. I explain to the sick what it means to be endless and surrounded by nothing. I give encouragement to those who have yet to fall in love I gently remind them nothing is loveless forever. I am certain love and hope cannot be slain (what is a lifetime but love and hope in perfect repose already?) Gather me up, friend. I am plentiful and easily gotten. I will not hide from you or greet you as a stranger. Take me to your bed and be still a while next to me. I will awaken. Even now my silence has beautiful stories to tell. Sing to me as if the hymnal has already been opened and the trumpet blown. I am the eldest of the old, yet today your bed is my cradle. Bring in the doctor and the priest, if you must. Let them announce my illness terminal. (I know nothing can be terminal life cannot be denied for long.) In the deepness of me rages an undefeatable thing. In the wideness of me soars an uncatchable thing. My soul is like a shaft of light traveling between stars. But I know it is also a broken leaf fallen to the earth collecting rain. So send home the curious; the blood-letters can do no more! My terminus is not a changing of sheets, a wet cheek, a reading around an open grave. (Reader I once made love to Derya and hiked the Appalachian Trail in the springtime. There is no death unless I make it so.) Stare at the starlight and drink from the leaf. Fear not the wildness I have become or the distance I have left between us. You have only to hope and love and I will awaken.

Do not be afraid to travel your own journey; to arrive and set-out again. Your safe passage is assured; a champion walks beside you,

ever-watchful, ready. All roads rise from you eternally and run to you eternally. You shall pass on. You shall return. Hear this, my friend you are more beautiful than you will ever know. Now go forth atop the deck of this world with your new love-song and indomitable human spirit.

Camp with me at the height of the waterfall. Nestle close under my rough chin and silently count the fireflies as they soar around us. Fall deeply asleep and worry not. I will stay awake all night and search for falling stars in the distant reaches. I am standing forever over you, keeping you safe, offering my life freely. (I have stood guard over all cribs and gravestones for countless epochs now.) I will tell you tomorrow if another blessed earth plummets from our sky. There are no half-truths here, reader there is no falsity. I could never speak to my true love in well rehearsed lies. I promise you the end is beautiful and the darkness different than you think! Long ago a little girl grew a new universe inside her and became the protector of all beauty everywhere. Reader - that new creation was you. I collapse in heaps and shatter into thousands of loosed souls everywhere! I return to the elements and the endless! I loosen my hold on life and set free the lovers and sonnets I contain. I explode in bright sentiments and release my love in amorous geysers that drown the stars. I live only to exhaust you and learn your riddles. I dream only to replenish you again eternally. I am crazed and extreme and unapologetic about life! I believe and remain faithful to you until the end. I do not doubt my sufficiency or search for a more perfect destiny than mine own. What better soil for the grass to someday grow atop but me? In me, life has met its great ally and trusted camarado. No hand is held or soul saved but that I witness it and love it dearly. No skeleton lies still that I do not cheer and encourage and remind of happier times. No despairing person cries that I do not wrap my strong arm around and prepare to do battle with their demons. No fellowship of children romps that I do not envy and drink deeply from their sea of joy.

Awaken your spirit. See only beauty; experience only truth. The mountain lake reflects the whiteness of the morning clouds. Cry. Can you imagine anything more beautiful or inspiring? How exciting to set to the task of life. The adventure awaits you, the hero, taking arms against immeasurable odds. Can you see the long roads of gold, winding into the distance? Never return. Fall in love and be gone. Pound your breast and scream lustily into the night. You will never again live life as deliberately or as deeply as you are now.

Let this be your maxim: Always Search for the truth Strive for spiritual perfection Surround yourself with beauty

Lend a helping hand to someone in need, inspire a dream, and give hope. Reach down and lift with humility. If you cannot conceive, adopt. If you cannot have certainty, have faith. If you cannot remember, relive. Offer yourself up as a living sacrifice to everything you loved when you were a child. Stay fascinated at fireworks, thunderstorms, and bugs. Live your life as a great experiment, living it so dearly. Laugh easily. Make love.

Anons to you life with your flowers blooming wild in the garden. Days like petals and nights like nectard stamen to my soul. Beautiful moments like down feathers falling all around me. Lace your fancy daisies about my neck! O Supple neck of my dark-haired youth! Caress this soft skin and pray that we never wake up. I bleed excess life in great rivers. My lakes are all oceans. My paths, orbits around something colossal and misunderstood. My love, evidence that even the lonely have worthwhile dreams. Caretaker of my soul! Long have I unraveled your plan in the artwork of the evening sky. I know there is no wisdom lost and wandering alone. I see everything and enough in the low light as my friends gather around the bonfire. (I smile and wonder who has sent them to me.) Grand

continents and souls that fall into my loving embrace! I will never scatter you, or drop you, or ask you to return home without a kiss. There is no anger or regret in this giant heart! (You cannot know anger when you see life naked and gorgeous; when you sit with me on the beach and hear me recite Thoreau.) Life! I turn my body, this turtles shell, over to you to destroy. I empty my pockets, set my shirt on the sand, and race into the foamy swells. Dissolve me slowly and reckon the sweetness and simplicity of me. I will leave easily and without complaint, like I came. I can still remember the girl in the coffee shop with the sad eyes. She said that the flowers in the park where yellow and matched her hair in the summertime. I replied with a poem written years later and finally given to her in a wish

Reader: Together we lay; our bodies warm, soft, surrounded by deep pillows. I kiss you tenderly and whisper my favorite secret to you. My lips rest on your lithe neck. Your body falls, passionate and trembling, into my embrace. How long have I loved you and dreamed you would be mine? How beautiful was the moment I saw you across the room and asked your name? Let me pull the covers around you and smooth out your hair across the bed. Let me draw out your breath and your essence in quite throbs that warms my cheek.

You doubt my intentions and believe I must be something separate and apart from you. I swear we are part and parcel of the other. Where do you end, and I begin? We are fruit of the same vine, tied to the same soul, stretching toward the same light in eternity. Now, let us lose our suspicions and forget our differences. There is no time for them when the morning light comes. That I loved a million times before will never brook my desire to swoon and seduce you.

Be at once a poem and an epitaph. Is not a poem the final powerful blow dealt to death by the living? Is not a single beautiful thought the internment of all the graveyards of the universe? But I tell you

also that death is a deepening poem unto itself that cannot be fully written by the living. And death remains a thing I know is lovelier than we think. Perhaps life and death are lovers whose kisses are newborn babes and voices soft funeral hymns. I also know that life and death are pleasant words poets use when they can find no better way to explain this festival of existence. Why should I die for a different reason than I lived? Am I more complete in the end than in the beginning? Reader what fanfare around my deathbed could begin to outshine one moment of my manhood spent in love with you! I say you should not fear the gentle sleepfulness of death and the dreams that may come after. The distance spanning life and death is small when seen from a far away vantage. So the sun witnesses no pain and the galaxies are haunted not by an ending. Death! I cast you away; but you are not a net thrown over life! I realize no strong bond can bind the mighty hands of the living. And death casts me away and laments why I have returned to taunt and defy it. But I am not here to enslave what cannot be mastered or write poems that cannot be read. Life is a miracle worked by death in its will to preserver. Death is a dove sent to deliver life into new hands forever. Yesterday I dug my own grave deep and sat upon its lip celebrating. It is a great mistake to think dirt can hold me; for long ago I gave my soul to the children playing down the street. Know that in another place, in another time, a new mother will bear me up - like fields of lilies opening their flowers forever. Know that my body may die, but I do not go down with it. As my eyes burn out the better part of me takes flight over ranges of forever and plays in vast fields of heavens stars. Know that I search beautiful places always and await patiently my moment of return.

You are a poet, saint, philosopher and redeemer. Summon up the vast powers at your disposal. Ignite the molten fires at the core of your being; they have waited lifetimes for your triumphant return. You are man in his most uncommon hour. There are many enemies to face; thank goodness you are here! The time is now. Be courageous and bold; it is expected. Be strong, humble, loving, kind, wise, just, and selfless. Become a being more divine. Yes, I have witnessed you bathed in the brilliant light. I believe in you. Now, gird up your loins and go.

Are you a disbeliever? HmmI was too before I met you. There is more truth in you than you know. Give me your hand, I will show you the drifting boundaries of forever, where all things someday go. I will take you to the field hospital wracked with moans; to terrible places where despair melts slowly. But I will also take you to places where laughter is a sound gathering like a thunder, where life brims in mighty fountains I cannot begin to describe. Look through and beyond them. All things are beautiful in proportion to the way they explain the inexpressible. You too are beautiful in many ways that you do not yet understand.

I remember the time I kissed her on the front porch and felt the goosebumps rise on her stomach . I remember the time in the Smoky Mountains I watched those bear cubs play and I began to understand Gods plan. I remember what the sunlight felt like on my chest as I ran the long trails of Patapsco State Park. I remember the first time I held my nephew Christopher and realized I too was a small wheel in the machine of everything. I remember the fantastic warm nights of Panama City, screaming under the moon, dreaming, knowing it would never end. I remember law school and the great people who endeavored to live an uncommon life. I remember sipping wine, listening to the symphony in the park, watching children play beneath the trees. I remember what I saw when I looked up at the midnight sky in the Georgia woods. I remember the beginning and end of everything; how I felt when the doctors told me the time was near. I remember the endless sunshine, the white sand beaches, the boundless mountain vistas, the warmth of her touch in the darkness, the laughter that never died, the overwhelming sense that life was something larger than I comprehended, that time was meaningless and true death had already been vanquished.

I dream only of origins and first principles. I think the growing soul of a child is the foundation of the cosmos and all tiny saplings are planks supporting the deck of the world. What is a unified theory of everything compared to the enlightened mind of a single person? I

have been told the One Soul bleeds rivers of beings forever. But what does your small human spirit bleed into the watershed of life? I have heard you are the mythological boatman over rivers of souls winding their way back home. So perhaps your part in this beautiful romance (this legend of everything) is more important than you know. And the origin of me is everywhere and complete. And the origin of you is vast and indomitable. And what differences we have are easily forgotten when I run my fingers through your hair and rest your head on my pillow. I tell you all differences are dust and shadow. All similarities are truth and ecstasy.

Reader: Lay beside me. Let me tell you all this with my hands and eyes.

Look people in the face. Be gentle with them. They may yet have something beautiful to say. Listen to their dreams and desires with an open mind. Do not be judgmental. Who are you to criticize the skys hue or the winds direction? Do not rush off or be brusque. You may be their only friend. Think about what they are saying. They want to be accepted and understood. This is a powerful truth of the human condition. Treat them as if you are standing beside them at the altar. (I remember the day we exchanged our vows, reader) Never assume an enemy. Be humble, for they surely know more than you about many things. Compliment them. Admire them. Invite them. Be genuine.

There are many miles above your mortal head, and in your own few feet of space, there are infinities upon infinities. You are a depthless container dipped into life that pours forth life forever. And God whispers gently into the fullness of you and cries mightily into the empty spaces of your being. You are a heaven into yourself, but you are not an angel. And you are a demon into yourself, but you are not a sinner (I have never met a sinner). The soul in you is not a thing of right or wrong. It is simply that which hopes and loves forever. Reader, hope and love are also in the fullness and emptiness of you. Hope is the liquid filling up your depthless expanses and

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love is the light dispelling your mysteries. Let your mouth always pour forth a new undying song. Let it be taken in great rivers by the cosmic stream and dropped tenderly into the ears of simple men and women everywhere. Let your eyes be opened to the planets and stars that halo your head. Why do you walk on the ground when so much of you dances in paradise?

Ask yourself if you will live forever. You know the answer. There are more undiscovered places in the universe then there will ever be days to find them, yet you sit idle in your house, worrying about some triviality. Give up your empire of dirt; let your soul be your crown and castle. Sit in the park on Sundays. Smell your wifes scented hair in the springtime. Explore the world. Take only what you can carry. The rest will happily be born by your mind, that faithful mighty servant. Set sail for your own exotic inner harbors. Let the crew parish in the gale it does not matter. On the deck you will remain.

Reader: Spin me into your smooth tanned arms. Clap. I will dance with you through the dawn; as long as the last star remains. I step higher in the crescendo, swinging my arms toward the sky. Our laughter plunges into shadow beyond the moonlight. Lets take the beach back to our suiteherehold my hand as we go!

Learn to discipline yourself, faithfully dedicating your mind to a task. Run, sing, write, or grow flowers. Spend an hour each day narrowing your thoughts, distilling the essence of the art, and refining your perceptions. Do not move quickly. True mastery comes from constant reflection. Remember where you began and imagine where you will someday be. Study. Do not be narrow-minded or shortsighted. As in building a house, you must assimilate many diverse things over time. Master the physical, the mental, and the emotional perspectives. Never love or despise your art. Either will destroy you in the end. Keep to the path. Persevere. When you have creat-

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ed something, appraise it with truthfulness and objectiveness. Most importantly, teach others what you have learned.

Many wise men have failed to answer the question, What am I to do with my life? Do not trouble yourself with it. Philosophies materialize and dissolve like the morning mists. Society and governments try to dictate how you should live, and why you should die. Always there are those who preach, desperate to change your ways. Look away. Let them criticize forever, filling your funeral procession to the end of the earth if they must. Love is a philosophy unto itself. You hold the astrolabe and the compass; the skies have cleared. All history, foresight, and destiny are within you already. You do not need a guide through the deep waters of your own harbor! You are well armed and prepared. You are necessary and sufficient. That is enough.

Love is not a selfish thing one man can posses. Nothing in this world or the next can lay claim to the totality of Love. Can the ocean be divided by striking it with a hammer? Can a tree be convinced to turn its canopy against its roots? If the earth were a womb your neighbor would be your brother (what is the earth if it is not a womb?). Love is not kept in your heart. You are kept in the heart of Love. Beauty is not a lesser or greater thing because another can hold it. The truth is that every being is an open outstretched hand. Imagine the strength and beauty of the people carrying the Cosmos!

Your conscience, your guilt, your happiness, your intuition; these are all instruments of the One Soul. The One is in you and in me and we cannot divide them, even at the cemetery.

It is shocking that the earths soul has chosen my fleeting voice to carry its love poem aloft. Today I am the living wind that bears high the seed and the song. Tomorrow I am the smooth gravestone surface good for contemplation. Grow, men and women - I beg you.

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Grow strong roots from the hardest ground if you must. Now your water can be drawn from a purer fount and your earth can be opened with the plough of a bold new philosophy.

Look how much further the horizon extends when your pockets are light. Our souls are meant to roam and play. If you must be rich, do not forget those dreams you had when you were poor. They will remind you of who you really are, even in the parlor room. You have gone mad trying to buy this and that. Why? You can never buy what you really need. If given the choice, would you trade your gilded house for a clean conscience? You are so eager sell the fresh air for a full stomach that you never notice you are starving in far worse ways.

Whitmans answer: The grass on graves are orphaned children of the Central Mind. The plush cover of our wedding night. The outstretched fingers of beautiful brides. The braided hair of the girl I. The smooth green hips of Father Nature. The luscious thrust tongues of Messiah.

There are many roads yet untaken, many places of unspeakable beauty that you have yet to reach. Take the longest way home. Explore the rugged rutted trails of your own mind. Do not be so eager to see your doorstep; you know what lies beyond it. You were meant for the highest ground, but you will not find it in the neighborhood. Wind and wander in your life, your love, and in your quest for understanding. Know that not everyone who wanders is lost; I am proof of that. Through Zaire, Calcutta, Cuba, and Corregidor; walk until you understand the way of the road, until your soul walks the road forever

I dream an immense dream of creation of all beauty ever produced, ever lost.

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Look! Penumbra of a thousand curious souls, approaching; sweet valved orators, returning, reclaiming the pulpit preaching the story of the coming and the going, of the maggots on the abattoir floor, of the white fluffed dandelions atop all graves, of the widowed mother wrapped carefully about her babe. Yes; there were others under the jagged liquid starlight half light drawn thin from white vitreous embers conjuring astral shades, reckoning eternity, revealing; they had come to witness the conclusory remarks of this ruddy, earthy terminus; this denouement that is I; A heavy, long, conversation of eyes; I stand unafraid knowing each of their names, knowing that I had been loved, and had loved in return, knowing I was rough, unshorn, exquisite, plenary, knowing the kiss given me in my manly prime is given delicately elsewhere, knowing the Day of Judgment is merely ornamental that I had been adjudged beautiful before the womb, knowing the bedighted skies wash over me that the deluge will continue when I am gone, knowing that bustling within me is more than blood and basal stuff it is all romantic stares, all careful trysts, all never-forgotten goodbyes, it is all merry friends gathering up kindling for the bonfires, all pious stacked forms lining the token churches, all brittled white bones in dark spaces, still arranged pleasantly, all excellent scholars who debate well the selfish biographies, all handsome men who fish ruggedly the mighty streams, all fresh-pressed dancing girls who brandish, and torment, and tame. All awaiting my passing, awaiting far greater my return; robust, wild, freshly emerged from molten furnaced forges before Eden, from all distant systems, known and unknown birthed beyond the beyonds, and further yet expunged, naked, squirming, from tight passages recast assuredly in affirmation of the cycle

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the cycle runs, the cycle flows, I swear. Brocade of darkness, heavy hands sculpting me freshly; mortal ripeness achieved, beginning the metamorphosis.

I watch life expectantly, but not from a safe vantage. I am not another smooth-cheeked estimator of reality. I envelope the harshness of all, I assume the great tragedies and chart the disappointments. No storm rages without me dancing beneath it. No bitter soul dies without me kneeling beside with a swift kiss. There is no life but that I wish to live deeply and desperately. I deliberately challenge failure with my best embrace. I am no prince among paupers; I am no priest of the blessed. I draw life into me like an inlet and spill life out in mighty rivers and swells. (I drench the parched uplands.) Always entering and leaving again; like the child at the door before she turned and disappeared forever. Saviors speak to me of gifts for the poor and the proper method of forgiveness. They tell me the poplar tree will not tower over me in heaven still. But I do not linger on the expectation of gods. I know there are men and women everywhere who are weightless in the hand of love; who are good because they are themselves and impenitent.

Practice indiscriminate giving. What do you own that would not be better served in anothers hands? Why do you insist on carrying so much and for so long? There is a child in your town that has no food or clothes remember that. Give your money away as easily as you gained it. If you cannot, you have already perished. Know that you have lost nothing, even as you hand over your house keys. In fact, you cannot begin to comprehend how much you gained. Volunteer. Stand up. Collect your money and belongings and go to the shelter. The memory of offering your favorite possession to one penniless child will carry you through many dark nights. Does your messiah dine in a throne room? No. Nor does mine.

I combust in a mighty conflagration of souls, ignite this existence, and illuminate the universe. I sear your flesh with my fiery brand

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and claim you as my wandering minstrel. There is no dawn and dusk within this spirit! I am the sunshine forever and the happiness it brings forth forever. I commit myself to nothing and enfold this naked preamble into the greater work. This long novel sighs its last word and surrenders quietly into self-imposed oblivion. I am Matthew today. But tomorrow I am scattered seeds germinating on the fertile forest floor. I am unseen in many ways, for not all beautiful things grow only in the light. What vague outline of a man do you see standing before you? What ghost rises over this body that still draws breath? I assault life with wide smiles and unlimited laughter. I haul children onto my strong shoulders and dance beneath the sycamore tree. What plans I have made for the cosmos! What excellent maps I have drawn to hope and love! Come before me and stare into these apparitional eyes. Let loose your gold-leafed lips atop this rough cheek. I will slowly run my gaze along the soft, sensitive places within your soul.

Open your eyes, traveler. Look! Why do you sleep as the rhododendron blossom?

Reader: I have missed you from the moment you left. I plant a thousand silent kisses on your portrait, but still I sleep alone. My body aches for your embrace. Where are you? Come kiss me, drink from my eyes, and remind me of a dauntless thing called Us.

As you wander the road, go out of your way to meet strangers. For if you fear your neighbor, a part of you becomes a stranger within yourself. Eat with them in their homes. Sit with them beside the fireplace, laugh with them, and explain what it is like where you come from. Let them know that love is an incense you would bring them forever if they were not already a radiance and a fragrance unto themselves. If you see an act of kindness, strengthen it with your own hand. If you see evil, strike it down like an avenging angel. If you see sickness, sacrifice yourself to ensure life is not consumed by

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its own lengthening shadow. If you should perish in your quest, do not despair; there are processions of others following your heroic footsteps.

Live life up to your nose, and as you sink into its churning waters, be confident you need only to put a foot down. Celebrate when the time is right. There is nothing wrong with holding a bottle of wine in each hand if you have just killed the despot. You will certainly slay many of them before you set yourself free.

Love is the merging of materiel and spiritual, bearing final witness to the carcass lying amid the flowers. Love translates and explains the deepening meaning of this world, turning its folds out to glimmer in the noon-day sun. It exchanges beauty for certainty, law for nature, and method for truth. Reaching deep into the minds of men, it is the ambassador of unknown magnificent places, heralding the approach of something we cannot comprehend. Love is the worship of infinitys subtle imposition into the soul. It is the handmaiden of creation, sacrifice, and compassion. It holds you to your celestial roots, reminding you that everywhere about you are apocryphal notions of the sublime. It is the reflection of unexplored planes, each throwing a brilliant facet toward the Central Fire. It is the unending easel of the Creator Mind, offering token glimpses of the passage. Love is the redistribution of God.

Let your worries dissolve like night held before the rising sun. From worry, nothing can be gained; except discontent. Nothing can assail you that is worth a single wrinkle in your brow. Your Herculean sweat will not rebuild Babylon, any more than your fear will make you a philosopher. What is to be will come to pass, regardless of your best objections. But this is good. Time was meant to pass, recording the creative meanderings of the river of life. You are the culmination of all events in history, and your existence stands unopposed at its brink. Believe in yourself!

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Somewhere in the highlands a man collects firewood. His beingness is inseparably bound to yours. He is your soulmate, lover, and friend. He completes you like a the gulf stream completes the beach, misses you like the dry earth misses the dew, longs for you like a prisoner longs for freedom. He will never disappoint you, and in his arms the kisses never cease. Together, you were meant to dance and laugh forever, though around you friends pass away, mountains crumple, and the planets dissolve into dust.

There is only one perfect person in the world for you. You may never meet him or her, though you spend a thousand sleepless nights in search. Does this disappoint you? Reflect on it. At this moment, there is an amazing soul walking somewhere outside your door. Perhaps my wife speaks Hindi and washes her clothes in a river ten thousand miles away. I will not cry. Some souls were never meant to be discovered. They are more beautiful because they exist but cannot be touched. The power of any ideal is the power of hope, and it is a precious fount.

Go search. Never give up.

Have faith in the power of your mind - to be sure, it has great faith in you. Nothing has effect unless you make it so. Thought is born to drive action. On the strong shoulders of your mind, knowledge evolves, empires rise, and the collective fate of humanity strides toward its polestar. Let your mind swell and break the levy, let it wash clean the high peaks of your existence, and deposit your soul atop its fertile delta. Mind is the perfect apparatus of dreaming, faithfully endeavoring to make every man into something worthwhile, no matter the cost.

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Reader: My heart shudders and blows in the gale. The thought of love gained and lost becomes drums in the night. I have taken poison and set out for the hillside to die. That two souls should wander the earth alone is tragic; there are so many festivals yet to enjoy. Where has your wonderful voice gone, and why can I still hear it in the distance? Why? Why? Keep searching for me through the wilderness of starry nights. I lie awake somewhere, waiting for you

All silently passing away. All drinking and cheering as they run from the frothing bulls. All secretly plotting the demise of the other. Holding a string in the wind, your soul soaring like a kite. Paving roads for the machine of the universe. Carrying rocks that were once the Acropolis, certain of their ancient piety. Talking to her as the night becomes morning, smelling her perfume. Watching the horizon for the first sight of land. Remembering the day you walked back into town, the journey complete. All the handsome men who die face down in the mud. All the gorgeous girls jumping horses in the springtime show. To sweat days and dream light-years, even as you carry the casket.

Know that somewhere a girl is being kissed for the first time. That in a hospital room a young man is watching the sunrise through the window; that he knows it means something more. That the bodies atop Mt. Everest still clutch their wedding rings. That a house is being built in the ghetto. That somewhere a wife has just been given the news. That all that ever was is no more; that the seconds pass ceaselessly. That right now someone much like yourself feels the same way. That there are never endings, only beginnings. That a million dead people would give anything for what you have right now. That I am watching your every action with limitless expectation and excitement. That your life is a powerful epic and a beautiful poem; that you are its fabled author.

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When you wake up, think of everything you have. When you go to bed, think of everything you have. You are richest man in the town if you count the last five seconds. Think about these things and put them in the proper place: health, age, money, family, lovers, friends, two feet, freedom, education, work, belonging, reason.

Long ago I raised anchor and set sail for the distant isles. Have you heard the stories of my voyage? Have you thought long about the greater meaning of my disappearance? What is a mans voyage but a defiant cry cast into the face of certain destruction? What is a lifetime but a flute harmony played to tame that tempest inside Gods soul? The stories of my death and awakening are true. There are many deaths and awakenings along any untrod path, along any dangerous way.

There is much beauty to see if you are prepared to open your eyes. Begin by changing your world-view. Nothing can blind you if you understand its position along the time-line of eternity and its purpose in the ritual of renewal. Your life is a flourishing garden; are you content to waste it while the weeds overtake the blossoms? Sadness and despondence are not for you. The fireworks have begun. The drinks are being poured. The night is never dark for long. Go out and tell seven billion people that you love them with bloodshot eyes.

Cultivate a deep respect for Love as an ideal. Forget you were wronged, disliked, or sinned against. Live out your life like an artist before the easel; grasping forgiveness from the earths outstretched hand. Witness beauty - paint truth.

Reader: Your kiss is like morning dew - wet and soft upon my lips. Let me dance behind you and press your hips gently against mine. I do not know from where this love has been gathered. Perhaps

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all love is a note I sent to myself a thousand years ago to someday open. How many love letters then have I sent toward today? How many beautiful men and women read my signature now with bated breath?

Have you estimated the age of the earth? Or calculated the miles from yourself to the farthest satellite? How long did it take to judge the value of a sparrow? Of a dying child? Of eternity? Did you reckon the distance from your eye to your soul as easily as your hand to your stomach? Have you forgotten the sound of the growing leaf? Question how the finite becomes the infinite. Search for how you too can take the path. It is said that the song of the universes birth may be heard everywhere listen for it.

When you are angry think of all the better ways you could be using your time. When you are tired consider how lucky you are to be able to work hard (there are many who do not have the strength to walk). When you are jealous think of what we take with us to the cemetery. When you are happy think of me. When you are in love think of what that is and how it came to be. You will find that love is the final human victory. When you are ready to give up think of what was accomplished by those who did not give up (the earth has not given up on you). When you are scared look in the mirror (there is something powerful there). When you are alone know there is no such thing as loneliness. You have never been alone. A powerful vanguard surrounds you always, its members extending to the farthest horizon.

Cut the ropes, break the bonds, and escape unhindered into the light. Nothing can stop you but the fear you make for yourself. There has never been a crowd that can subdue you or a barrier strong enough to keep you at bay. You are high water rushing over the dam. You cannot be contained or measured by this world or the next. Forget everything except this you are. Why fear? The sun rises and sets, the lovers die, the ruins of mankind fade into antiquity you will remain.

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Children in the back yard. Mothers and fathers clapping proudly, expressing with smiles the depth of their mysterious union. Summer light pouring over the dogwood, its flowers ablaze in the afternoon breeze. It was there I felt the hand on my shoulder. Holding me like a rescued friend, asking my name. And the seasons pass and the children grow-up. Their beautiful parents fall asleep, never to return. The dogwood blooms for the last time, its tired branches in exquisite denouement. The hand slips from my shoulder - our work complete. I too pass on.

Why are you always masquerading, and so poorly? Do the people who love you know who you really are? If you do nothing else, plumb the depths of the souls that surround you. Treat them as the nobility they are and accept them as unique extensions of the One Soul. Keep their hopes and dreams as close, or closer, than your own - it will help you explore even farther down your own road. In the other room is the future of the race. Think what a few compliments could do for the friend in the next room. You are so certain that all the kind words were meant for you. Go quickly! every soul is on stage today reading its lines. Listen. What is being admitted is ennobling and inspiring.

Lift with your mind. Wonder with your heart. Dream with your feet.

The job remains incomplete. There is more to be done. Yes; the grass is cut, the papers are filed, and the house is arranged. But you are still in disarray, as you have always been. Throw down your worries and return to the womb. This time, direct your efforts to more meaningful things. You are not beyond help yet. There is nothing more important a man can do than gather up his own pieces. Like an engineer building a bridge. Two footings one in this world, one in the next. A mighty span to withstand wind, rain, and

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time. An angle of gentle repose, arching toward its centerpoint. So a man assembles himself with his own labor. No coin is paid, and no crowd comes to admire. But the masterpiece at last is completed, and the continents are united forever.

Reader: Again the other day, I dreamed I lay restless beside you, choking up deep ponderous love through cloudy breathes, gasping, drying my eyes with your scented hair. I dreamed you pressed your firm, excruciatingly real, body atop mine, disturbingly slowlyoh Godhiding selfishly the sound of your pony-tail cascading into pieces.

In the end, it is for you alone to understand your place in the Cycle to wonder why the apple tree buds - why you yourself are a bud. To know the shimmering fragrant leaves as people, and lovers, and planets. The rumors of the system are true. Its colossal hand holds the galaxy like a pebble in a stream. And every person is a tributary to the ever-flowing stream; their cool waters pour into the ocean of life; their essence becomes a drop on some distant shore.

I have more faith, you more religion. Pit your own divinity against the churchs cornerstone; struggle with clenched teeth to break it free, collapsing the entire idea. There is no wiser holy book than the one recently discovered inside your head. Truth has many conceptions and presentations in the world of man. Measure its rough pitted edges with the patience of a Lama, endeavoring to get the whole of it, regardless of the season. A Man knows that many beaten paths stretch to the horizon; that all the dogma in heaven cannot pave one step of his own journey. Go to the cities and hills preaching the New Word that love is unconditional, universal, and free; that to love completely is to become divine. Convert the masses, even as they shut the furnace door. Institutions will crumble under the weight of ages, but truth is born with every dawn.

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I sometimes dream of a new house; one where the cool breeze rushes in through cracks in the walls, where starlight falls across the dirt floor, painting it with ancient truer colors. A spacious house that gives shelter without having to shut the door or sweep out the rafters. Where tales of adventure spark like cedar in the fireplace, and the sweet spices of a thousand distant ports mingle with the familiar scent of pipe weed. Where men and women gather to rest and converse, travelers from every continent, stepping in from the gathering storm. I welcome them, take their staves, and bring them soup from the kettle.

Do not forget that I once held the cooler and helped pulled the canoe onto dry land; that I lit the ceremonial torch and gave a good speech about life around the fire-circle; that I sat with you on the couch while the sun rose and watched breathless as you displayed your Olympic medals; that I once cried in the night because my one true love had left forever that I knew the end had come and I could not be repaired; that the summer nights in Ellicott City had at last become legendary and complete in my mind (Reader do you have one amazing memory where you can remain endless and perfect?); that the time I spent running after my nephew with a water gun was so well spent it became eternal; that I will someday return and fall in love for the first and last time and it will be beautiful and very simple, like a soft rain after a long drought. I will dissipate and erode like dust in a deluge! I am not sad about this final sentence! I am not a cavern or midnight without light! Long have I courted this hopeless yet extraordinary notion of love! What sunsets I wish for my wife! What bottles of champagne and starlit nights I conjure for the one who will someday find me!

Be gentle with the hearts of others. Think about what you are about to do or say. It may be that the stranger next to you is faced with many great obstacles. A friend and confidant has entrusted you with invaluable things. Your mother and father see a spark in you. I see a many sparks in you.

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Reader: I hug you tightly, pulling your body into the air, spinning you under the sycamore. I am so glad you have returned. Let me see your picturesWait! I forgot to tell you how beautiful you still are. To be without you, without your reassuring laugh, was for a day to seem like eternity. Come inside, you must be tired; I have your favorite dinner set out for you.

To be a child To be assimilated into the One Mind; to bejewel its crown with vitality. To drown all great tragedies in the deep waters of total acceptance; assured by its aura of peace. Measuring your age by the height of the seedling, believing it will grow forever. Trusting the questions more than the answers; knowing that the answers are really unimportant. Holding the dead mouse softly between tiny fingers, stroking it with uncertain expectation. Giving hugs and kisses with wild abandon, offering them purely and without regret. Opening eyes for the first time; having no preconceptions of what lies ahead or behind; seeing no reflections or shadows; never squinting in the light. Never doubting what nature has organized; being newly aware that our lives are very small in the Cycle. Capturing butterflies and setting them free; knowing that each of us has been held and set free. Knowing nothing worthwhile can be kept forever; that to cherish and let go is beautiful and just.

Three ways to look at life: As a prison sentence. As a long toil broken briefly by pleasure or pain. As a never-ending celebration of merging and oneness.

And the darkening form of the sun sank And the purple shroud fell and deepened there As if the dream world came and went, the new lovers appeared And romped and frolicked at the trunk of the tree of stars As so produced were we, precious stones of a New rift in the seam of things

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Vast, undaunted, beautiful like children in the riffles The cloth cut, the dream taken and kept

Marvel at rejuvenation everywhere. Rains washing away the dirt of the day. Revolutions washing away governments; giving the power once again to the people. Organs flushing waste from the body. Supernovas, crushed under their own weight, casting off their excess. Snakes shedding fragile skin. Man shedding his old, uneducated ways. Trees shaking off their summer leaves. Ancient empires now hidden in ivy. A newborn baby, wrapped in her mothers arms. A fallen warrior; his brave heart returning only to dust. (He too is wrapped in someones arms). Waterfall to stream, stream to river, river to ocean, ocean to sky, and over and over again forever.

You sit once again at the dinner table, hoping to be fed. The fish is cooked and the bread is broken; the meal has been blessed. But nothing natural can sustain you. When you pack your bags, provision them with sweeter, lighter manna. Eat from the festival board of the world. Spread your cover over the continents, picnicking grandly amidst the heavens. Forage fruit from every forest and field; tasting the nectars from Maine to Madagascar. There is a richer, more fulfilling food that man has yet to eat. It cannot be hunted atop the Himalayas or gathered at the waterfalls base. It flourishes all around us, its vines, like an umbilical cord, nourishing us with the sweeter ether of life.

I stand at the edge of the universe. I witness its cold void expanding into the dark, its arms outstretched to unknown places. I travel inward, needing to see more. The solar system spreads out before me. Nine planets and a star in fragile friendship and symmetry. Closer in, the earth appears green, and blue, and bustling; continents and seas, raging storms and dim city lights. Curious, I descend to its warm surface atop a green hill in a park overlooking a lake surrounded by people. Smiling, I wonder if they know who I am. I fall into the springtime grass; threading myself through tender, moist sheaves, sitting on soft petals; my head amongst the clover. Now a

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new forest, no less grand than the one above, shades my face. Unconvinced, I journey deeper still, intent to drink at the truth from its source. Resting, I crouch beneath a grain of sand; day-old grasses rise like towers in the sky and a ray of sunlight becomes the vast firmament. Further and further I travel - the world about me always large, complex, and unimpressable by my alien feet. I watch atoms twist and morph, their forms altering to the melody of some unheard cord. I become a visitor to dimensions and spaces anciently founded; mother to the laws of nature, and in turn, the universe herself. But still my journey continues - until at last, the small and the large, the near and the far, the end and the beginning are seen for what they really are one.

Reader: I lay your body softly in the grave, remembering everything you said about life. There are no good words for what has happened here. I smooth the cool dirt over your body. It tumbles easily over your lips; your arms, crossed pleasantly, disappear. And here you will remain, until, in a thousand millennia, the grasses will part, the earth will be washed away, and the sunlight will once again dance across your face. This is why I have set you here on the hill, in the sun, where the lilacs and persimmon trees grow. Here you may bless the earth, and it may serenade you forever. Because I am certain that what is hidden from sight is not dead; just as deep inside the ancient poplar tree are stored up a hundred years of heartwood. Do you remember the day we were married? Do you remember what I promised you at the altar? But God is a better companion for your new journey, as he has always been, though we often forget. I will make your bed and water the plants; dont worry about the children. I love you so very muchandbefore I gotake this note. Today, I promise, I will stand . forever by your side. I promise I will love you, cherish and confide all the hopes and thoughts and fleeting cares that in our lives we dream or dare. Today, I promise, in your eyes will shine my moonlit memories of the sweetest times the endless days Id dream awake

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that all the moments of my life youd take. To grant me your peace, and free my soul to raise divine, and love bestow. Atop the highest mountain peaks where summer sunshine and August meet to forests green in far off places, and a thousand oceans warm embraces. Ill go to tell the world my story, that in my life my only glory is you my friend my single joy, my hope to come, my way to find my life to live in happiness, the only one that I have missed. I love you more each day you see, so listen closely and believe and walk my way if you will be the only one to carry me and hold me close and marry me ..and well never be apart again.

Now is the time to see people in courageous, bold ways. Be a person of great class who sees no class. Hold yourself to a higher standard than you require of others.

Every man is a rock beneath some loftier structure; his own lifetime written as a preface to the Tome of Great Souls. A newer, better, and more noble breed of men will one day come. Courtiers of the earth, truth-seekers, walkers of long roads, sent to fulfill the ancient prophecies; demanding the return of lost loves, an opening of graves, an accounting of journeys taken and untaken. They come to liberate and equate; positing their colossal souls against the unopposed order. Warriors of a celestial army, holding the streets of a new enlightened state; surrounded by its cheering populace. Against every injustice a champion will rise; shield poised, sword ready. And the battle will rage across the nations, until the kings privileges are repaid, the palace finery is torn down, and the riches of the earth are returned to its people.

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Be careful with your aspirations and the places you take them. Imagine yourself as the apostle of the possible; a warrior of selfactualization. Not despair determination. Not sorrow strength. No one has ever been more capable than you are now. There is no better time than now and no better person than you. There is so much goodness remaining for you to accomplish. Begin by making your way to the farthest reaches of the mines within your soul. Throw yourself in. You are the raw materials of a future greatness you are only beginning to comprehend.

The first chapter is now complete, reader, and in it I have told you much about yourself. Now let me tell you more about me, more about the places I have searched in my ever deepening desire to know you. I give you my story in the first-person, as all great stories must be. It is the story of an unbound mind that lives by a higher authority. It is the saga of a life lived and loved to its supreme conclusion. You will see that I celebrate at all graduations and funerals. And I sob at all weddings and christenings. And I cast myself happily into the darkest waters and hope I will bring good luck to fisherman. I think my existence is only kindling for the watch fires that will one day awaken the love of the world. My smile and easy acceptance of strangers is a wonderful pretext to set a dinner table for all people everywhere. I have wandered all white seashores laced with lovers and secretly wished I were warm inside your arms. I have purchased love until I was destitute, but could think of no better way to buy my freedom. Their can be no providence except what the human heart creates. There is no right or wrong but what the strong will of love enjoys.

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BOOK II

FARTHEST REACHES

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Nothing is that is not beautiful; as no leaf grows that is not determined by some greater fate.

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Reader: There is so much that remains to be said. I have not told you why the oak and the elm refuse to grow in each others light. I have not commented on the distance a man must travel before he finds his own portrait in the locket of God. I have yet to confide to you that the missing fragments of Lifes shattered heart have never really been lost (you are proof of that). But this rough voice was crafted for more beautiful revelations. Let me confess to you the truth of the sacred fire that consumes and the growing presence that creates. Give me time to explain the wide arms that plentifully hug the continents and solar systems. Let me knead you lovingly with my hands and press you with my feet. From your body I will bake good bread and draw good wine. But from your soul I will distill a far sweeter sustenance.

I have not forgotten that evening we spent together, making love in the firetower atop Mount Cammerer. I have returned to pick you out and dance until the evermore fades and the last awe-struck spectator retires. I go onto the public highways of the world, mad, in lusty passion with tonight. Myself, a beggar and a king. My love, a seedling and a galaxy. Gather round, my midnight friends, I have seen the best of times; now I offer them to you. I will carry your soul into the hills, so you too may see the city lights. And the gorgeous people huddled round the bar; and the drinks were poured; the mystery of the song related to all. What fabulous girl did you meet tonight? What remarkable secrets did she have to tell? Is the story of the young man true? Was he killed while struggling with the demons that surrounded you; raising his torch in the night; his torch-soul himself, swallowing his last breath freely? I will dispel the rumors; yes it was my laughter coming from your bedroom last night. Keep searching for me at the festival. On the topmost balcony; screaming at the sky; mad to be, like everyone who has ever thrown beads or passed by topless in the parade. The creek flows, the morning comes; the great people raise their beautiful heads from the pillow. Nothing is that is not beautiful; as no leaf grows that is not determined by some greater fate. I am the

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end of the end, and the beginning of the beginning. I become what can be. I become what has faded from grace. I justify the night, and its starlight justifies the illumination inside me. Precious beach, precious ocean, precious people gone inside the waters, I have never doubted you. I have, in the final hours, believed in you, as the night believes in day, as assuredly the Great Souls will come, as all fear, sadness, and weakness will be forgotten, as the boy in the cancer ward will one day stand and disappear, as the father, forgotten by his child, will find solace in a penitent voice. And everything that ever was and will be has found a friend in me. I will never be the driving rain on the road, holding back travelers. I cannot fathom a tomorrow without the adventuresome souls, without the sound of feet against pavement. I see a million amazing minds; burning, burning like prophets laughing in the furnace. In the distance I see it growing; the conflagration that will end the earth. But one man comes; the warrior of the dawn. Dousing flame with flame, his soul set against the blaze. My love; kiss me. Hold me as the tree clenches the fertile ground. Incredible you are, as the trillion gemstones above my nighttime head. I am so small in the arrangement of the world. I go. I come. Transient; wandering; free. I should be angry at my poverty; I should denounce the politicians; I should watch the time; but instead, I cry at the sight of dew on the tender petal of the posy; I fall, powerless, at the thought of choruses signing anthems in the park. I have seen the immense light around you. I have thought about it every day since I was born. What does the light whisper? What does it mean? Sit beside me. I love you. I will never doubt, or second-guess, or fail you. I will stay with you through the longest painful death. I am yours forever. My life take it now; there will never be a finer moment to clutch my neck and plant a final kiss. But even the greatest memories are only early scenes in the passion play of the earth. Amazing people everywhere falling in love, being noble, lifting spirits, catching and riding the wave, hoping it will never end; all of it. From early in the morning, when the yoke of nature bursts; to late in the day, when the sun passes beneath its zenith I will sing to the flowers; and dance in the rain; I will chart unknown lands like the day they were raised up from the sea; I will clap at your dancing feet and stare at your beauty. For indeed, the best souls have yet to come; but even now, I faintly hear their foot-

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steps on the wandering paths, and in the awakening breeze. Never has someone so amazing been born. My gorgeous love; you are truly incredible. What you will someday do is beyond the greatest words. My hope is renewed, my faith restored; the day has yet to dawn on this land. I have sat on the highest hill and wondered about you; have thought about your name. Reader there was once an old man who saw the northern lights; who thought they were the premonition of some coming messiah. He has been told of the simple men and women that sit beside the river, drinking beer and remarking on the way of things. Why me, if you? I would gladly cut down myself to give you a chance to thrive in the light. I am the shadow of the eclipse; you are the fireworks above the childrens heads. And yet I have explained nothing with these poor, hollow words of mine. I wish to tell you of my experiment; to give you some slight hint of what the endless holds in its palm. I have lived and died. I have wrote and thought. I have loved deeply and immensely, taking the hand of the ugly, and the rebuked; his or her soul cast back into the waters. Give up everything you have so courageously gained, I will turn the spoils over to the young girl in the cemetery; today she has lost her parents. There has never been a boy or girl I have not applauded with unfettered excitement. Now take up my journal and my pack; what miles they have seen will inspire you. And you think all the poets are gone. You believe you will save the earth. But everything you have heard is false, only the unknown, tragic souls have any effect. And you think you are the most beautiful; the most blest; the bravest. But even now, there are a few who drink at the fountain of truth from its ever-flowing source. A few who have journeyed from this dawn till that to find where it comes trickling from the headwaters of God. Let me be in that company, making congress with the whisperers. There has never been a man who sees truly and purely. The only Men were killed in the war between life and death; their souls smelted spectacularly in the crucible of fallen heroes; their flesh reformed. You are the storied warrior of an oppressed people; I have been told of your coming. I will hold your breastplate, and fit your scabbard. The hoard is gathering outside the castle gates; there is no more time for prayers! Let loose the doors! I will charge to my death to defend you! Let my story be written in the halls of the ancients, and

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painted on the ceilings of the lovers chapels. All blood eventually flows to the grass, and all grass is in turn fashioned into tears, and men, and planets. My last stand will become the stories told to your children beside the firelight. I will become the hailed hero and the pitied corpse. And I do this all for you.

Remove yourself from the cacophony. The screaming bigots, the raging dissenters, the hateful. All you have to do is believe in the power of your own unrelenting self. Walk without fear. Venture into the feted marshes, cross the frozen ranges, and return by unmapped passages in your mind. Nothing can bend a man who has made the hardest journey treading through dangerous places within himself.

Why do you forget who you are and question how long you will live? What is a thousand years of tomorrow compared to one second of today? You are the greatest culmination of the chapters of man, yet you are still a hollow approximation of what you could be. The earth has flourished only for you; the vines have grown and the mountains peaked, the rivers swelled, and the fruits ripened. And how have you repaid them?

Reader: I told you everything about me in the early morning, when our friends had gone and the silence seemed right. You said the world is a bedroom and all touches everywhere are proof of God. I admitted that I love and love and love until I am consumed by it. Perhaps my lips on yours will convert a few new believers. I said that eternity was designed to give people time to meet and collapse atop the wide wings of fate. But I think you had already fallen asleep and forgotten about my crazy unthinkable dreams

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To accept what has come to pass. To know your only job is to navigate nature with courage. To not be embarrassed by yesterday or afraid of tomorrow. To meet the next moment handsomely with a knotted brow and a firm-set jaw. To know that a thousand other people, faced with the same challenge, would not have been so courageous.

I tell you there is no eternity but that you dwell there and no petal white enough to honor itself better. And I reckon no longer what beauty means or disbelieve that a portrait of God still exists. Your hair is a shroud mystifying undreamt relics. Your eyes are dangerous nights pebbly with stars. You laugh easily but cannot explain why you smile. And you love easily but dare not follow it down. The beginning and end are inside you, but you want them not. The answer is obvious, but it never troubled you. You think all handsome men are only boys who are careless with innocent hearts. There is no fate large enough to plot your direction or soul swift enough to track your course. But when the others leave, you will remain with your uncommon perfections. And when the troubled waters part you will be standing on the opposite shore.

Everywhere I look I see people in their fetal state. A hand, an ear, an eye but never a person. Some just beginning to mature, and others, sadly, yet to be conceived. But lo! There is more evolution to come! When the proper time arrives, the shell will be cracked, a first breath will be taken, and a new and more stunning creature, never before seen, will soar across this land.

Attend to your life like a watchmaker. Perfect your own tiny gear. Watch it carefully contribute to the mighty clockwork of the universe.

Your life will change when you see every person as a companion rather than a stranger; when old age appears warm and welcome,

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when tomorrow becomes a beautiful rebirth. Dispatch with anger, jealousy, hate, and pride. These emotions are unfit for you. Think differently; reinvent yourself; summit the mountain, and set foot in sacred unexplored shrines. Practice seeing people as amazing extensions of the One Soul. Float atop the currents, plunge into the swells, and circle the eddies of life. Become an immense lidless eye, unencumbered, a vessel for all of things, absorbing the vast array of wonderful things about you.

Reader: I hasten toward your bedroom, in search. There you lie, twisted and spent; nearly lost. But no. My kiss is fast coming. My arms, rough, strong, embrace you; pluck you from widening places, dark and noiseless, from solitary travels, bleak crossings, denying Charon. You shall not go hence tonight! My men have their positions behind braced arms, shuttered windows, vigilant eyes. The One is being questioned at the door. We shall resist together!

See nothing but the best in people. Their weaknesses and failures beauty. Their resentment and treachery beauty. How great their love and simplicity then appears. What is beyond our vision is darkness to us. Beauty alone can perceive beauty, for the nature inside all divine things communes with a tongue we cannot speak.

Carpet of my endless sonnet. Soft white sheets of my total solitude. Sitting beside the woodsmen, discussing Homer, questioning the new fictions. On the final day, will you display your sadness to the earth; dropping tears, like jewels, from glistening cheeks? Hearing the whisper of pleasant coffins covered in mums. Drinking the uncharted seas beneath a billion feet. Lying with my wife on the luscious cover of ancient kings, kissing her as the moonrise paints it with figures. The grass that was once lovers and poets. The grass that was once me.

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Think about the world around you. The tall gleaming buildings, vaulting mankind into the clouds. The dim, tree-choked marshlands in the evening, filled with the croaking of frogs. The shelves of the inner-city library, imbuing beautiful young minds with hope. The thatched huts, lined against the wind, the naked hunters returning with the kill. Every sad moment when something was born dead, where life had once been kept, but escaped. (Do not worry, it will return.) The captain rallying the heroic crew, the storm raging, the ship nearly lost. The moment the first breeze spreads across the island, muffling the sound of the banana tree dropping its fruit. The weeping woman on the park bench, her body crumpled; a nameless figure amidst pigeons. The crimson stones of the desert, sacred ground, where the four ancient winds go to die. The rice thrown, the bride and groom running in close precession, planting kisses with their eyes. All of it right in front of you; your world; where your mother and father and their mother and father were raised and died. A tiny speck in the eye of God. A never-known corner in the least of the rooms of the universe. But it is all you have and it is good. Dwell in the glory.

Right now. This moment. Begin dealing with yourself like a newfound friend. Help yourself learn; taking account of what is known, and what has yet to be discovered. Dig down to the deepest, richest part of your being and place a seed. Walk hand-in-hand with yourself in the morning, beneath the bluebird and the white oak. Wake up and look at yourself with awe, amazed at what has risen from its slumber. Keep yourself close and defend yourself when you must, there are many who would steal away such beauty. And when you pass from this earth, do not be alarmed or saddened; there are many friends that will remain.

Let me be, but if I cannot be, let me be passionate in the attempt.

The street crowded with beggars and mothers and businessmen The loath exile setting forth from the tribe forever

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Young ladies in the bakery, reciting their orders The fans roaring unexpectedly inside the tavern Cigar smoke curled and exposed to the winter sky The pretty cast taking their proper places Theaters of people on the stages of the Earth Beaches of lovers taken back out to sea You are all like me, whether or not you admit it And I inform you that what you are looking for is not experience But understanding Not the taste of the fruit, but the age of the tree Yes; I know you far better than you are comfortable with I love to hear the complicated poets express the birth of the grass The throes of the pavement I sink to the earth and decay and grow lovelier still I still hear the voices shout all around me, above me Trying to unravel me

Nothing has been given to me that I did not already possess. The wildflowers having earlier been offered by a lover, the waterfall sent as a gift, and the vista, reaching to the horizon, devised to me by a wealthy, venerable friend. All mine. To cherish from many angles, to love well and completely, as anything worthwhile must be. But never to hold. To catch and release, until at length, a younger, better, and more perfect soul pulls it proudly forth from the cold spring waters of tomorrow.

Taking only what is good; leaving the rest. I saw the disabled girl smile; saw how she tipped her head as she crossed the finish line. And so I will take it with me. Like a talisman held against the night, like a strong anchor cast in the tempest. Me; the richest possessor of all beautiful thoughts, of all bold events, of all triumphs of the weak over the strong. I would liberate the dandelions if I could, spreading the beginnings of something more glorious into the breeze. When I make passage, no one will be left behind; not a single brave soul screaming in the distance; waving frantically from behind the mists (you know of the mists I speak). I will search out the

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unloved, the sick, and the rejected; will pack their luggage with the best times; will ask them to leave all else behind.

You. Creature of flesh and water. Ash animated. The avatar of mulch and sunlight. Your forefathers rock, fire, earth, beast. But also something more something bigger, something I have yet to understand. I saw how you helped the old man who had fallen, saw how you smiled and handed him his cane. Yes. Much more to understand.

Doing what with my time here? Applauding the leaves drifting around walking feet. Singing songs to the gathered creatures, offering my love in a melody they can better understand. Climbing the ancient oak, examining the setting sun, questioning where the path leads and where it began. Filling my most lonely days with the sounds of the playground, with the voices of the recently arrived, the first-gasped breath of the Creator. Walking up the stairs of the gallows, overjoyed, watching as you are set free. Rolling rocks into the creek, trying to damn up the water; realizing that, like ourselves, the flow can never be subdued. Standing in a noisy room, remembering the dying tree on the hill, all lit up with morning light; deaf to the hum of other, lesser, conversations. Sitting on the edge of the bed, contemplating what has yet to come, and what has passed; wondering what it was carefully designed to mean. Sitting beside you as you read this book, waiting patiently, guessing where you had traveled, and by what path you had returned.

Try harder. Do, because through doing, you develop yourself. Push the outer limits of your lifetime, working to make every day a victory for the human race. Fight for the reason you exist. Fight for the privilege of occupation, of making things happen with your tiny, mortal hands. Make every job a sacrifice for someone else. Strike with your life like a pickaxe against stone, seeking a firmer, surer footing for the climbers below. Even the greatest accomplishments are not immediately seen for what they are; so expect no thanks. Instead, draw your pay from the households of the world, from the

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men and women that will someday stand upon your tired shoulders. Rejoice; for the completion of every task, no matter how trivial, assures nobler employment for us all.

There is a community behind every one of us. There we make our roots, and there we make our sky. I was born on a city block filled with hope, a school, and an American dream. Give back what you have taken, sacrificing yourself to perpetuate the children down the block. They will someday become you; do not forget that. Volunteer. Go to your neighbors door and recommend yourself for the job.

My elegant friend under the rotunda, posing in the evening. I cannot believe Im standing here, appraising the jewelry in your eyes. Do not worry; I will be very careful with your porcelain cheeks and gentle with your fragile lashes. Do you know how easy it would be to pour another drink and listen to you talk forever? But even then, I would know nothing of the wilderness that is you. I could happily drink your tongue, gasp, and be drowned by your liquid soul. It would not be the end of me, I swear. Did I tell you how fascinated I am with you; with everything you will one day become? Did I happen to say I would marry you today if you asked?

Wake up and begin living with abandon. Let your hubris shine like a spectacular meteor above the speechless doubting masses. Every bad moment or tragedy has already been repaid with unimaginable kindness. For this hastily planned journey of life you have been equipped with a new body and an ancient soul. They are all the luck you need. Every person met, every word traded amazing. All the days lost in the wilderness that surrounds you, counting the planets before they disappear, knowing you are their rightful owner. I cannot forget that we shared a single day on the river; that the fish were well-grown and the shores lush.

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Reader: I married you because of the way you resemble Tiffany in the evening light. I love you for the battles you fought and won, for the struggles you lost but easily laughed away. I wrote all this to explain the way I daydream of you and draw pictures of you in the sand. Let me explain my appetite and my thirst. Let me lightly describe the distance from your lips to mine and express in sweet words the completeness of your beauty.

No. It is no lie. I have waited lifetimes for your coming. Now I offer up everything to you. Having heard your laugh, I will happily diminish forever. I cannot in words explain your new role in this fascinating thing called Life. All I know is your return has been rumored for an eon; that the people round the evening fire have already told your legends. Thank you so much for your gentle words and easy smile. I was unsure of divinity before you came. Now I must go and find the child that will one day take your place.

My unforgettable lover, hair flowing wild in the sundown breeze. I was about to ask you to marry my soul. But even marriage is unfit for what we have between us. Have you ever laughed as the floor burned or got chills at the thought of the thunderstorm around midnight? Thats how I feel when we kiss, when I taste champagne on your lips and wonder what you are thinking. Lets get a cover and drive into the country. I will hold you under the night sky, letting down your ponytails, pointing out planets and constellations. Because everything beautiful is yours anyway. I will show you that there are also starry nights inside you; that the clearest, crispest, most gorgeous skies are just opening over you.

Leaving everything behind. Leaving life no differently than the front door. Knowing the cemetery is only a Gibraltar to bigger places. Always listening for the sound of the Archangels horn, for church bells, for taps playing in the autumn evening. Unfound but never lost. Pulling back vines to see the ruins of a finer race. Knowing there are vines choking your best years too. Keeping track

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of who cannot be trusted; of those who have never wrapped a torch, thrown beads, or slung a canteen.

Who forgot that my fascination with you will never end, can never end as long as I draw breath? Who wonders why I cannot sit still while the world teems and trembles, while the strip is lit up and bursting with people?

My best friends, my trusted allies, my wonderful escorts into the open air. Freeing me with your tireless capacity to burn, burn, burn; like the sun shining through the nursery the day I was born. I am the one that brought you flowers, who offered up his best compliment, who ran up to hug you at the station. I would write more if I werent so busy remembering how good you looked last night. Come, walk with me. I will tell you how much I enjoy loving you

Yesterday you saw me carefully arranging leaves on the sidewalk, but you did not begin to understand my plan. Blowing. Blowing. Us. Them. Me. You. Forever. Each a misunderstood shard lost in the currents of time.

Reader: You are nearly gone. The cancer has found and consumed you. Your voice is drifting far away now. Why do you laugh when I say life is not a fire quenchable by its own hand? Why do you doubt when I say we will kiss again soon in a fairer land? Sit beside me; place your head on my lap. I will gently remind you of the best times. Tell me again about the first moment we met about our first kiss. Yesit was your gorgeous brown eyes that drove me mad.

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I will describe to you what I saw. From far away there was a light around you, as if divinity had taken eternity and forged it into something hotter, purer, and more beautiful. I stood straight and proud as you bowed beneath the sword; I saluted as your heroic deeds were pronounced to the crowd. I saw you handing out meals to the poor; offering up a smile and a laugh like they were something free. But nothing can compare to the sight of you dancing in the evening, giving away what cannot yet be comprehended. I know that you will never believe me. But to believe is not a prerequisite for what I am about to say. I witnessed you in the fiery Absalon that is this world. I never imagined how overwhelmed I would feel when I was first exposed to your colossal soul. But the light burns even brighter than you thought. The light around you I mean. The light in every second that is you, scorching, a premonition of the spectacular shower that will one day be known as the awakening and the rage. I have sat for a thousand lifetimes considering how I would say this You are more beautiful than you think. My amazing friend that bejewels this life; question, seek, and wander. Never take time to worry about me; I will be fine I swear. For long ago I died and was reborn. Yes. I was the first man to trust in the story of the Cycle. I alone shuddered when it was told. I was laughing on the white sand beaches before your parents began. They spoke to me about the moment you were conceived; confided that you were something very necessary in the plan of things. And even now, the plan has just begun to take effect. Now go. I will tell the others about what I have seen here. I will place our last picture on the wall and kiss it daily in my heavens chambers. I will search for another You always.

No. I did not feel a single moment of despair. Impossible you say, but it is not so irreverent for me to show this machismo. I waited until your heart stopped before I finally left the hospital. I did not look back. You had whispered something before you passed away; but I thought it sounded only like riffles on the passing river, like an unfurled sail in a fleeting wind. I will mourn for the people who never fall madly in love; the ones who wait patiently beside your bed but leave just as you awaken.

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Love by expecting nothing in return. Love by remembering why it is you are here. Love by looking up at the sky and questioning its importance in a scheme you cannot understand. Love by kneeling before the powerless. Love by showing you are made of undiscovered elemental forces. Love by proving the most beautiful stories true. Love by destroying injustices and righting wrongs. Love by night. Love by day. Love by understanding the way of the Cycle. Love by your dreams and your innocence. Love by the final seconds of your astonishing life. Love by giving everything to the baby that will someday be born. Love by the incense on the kitchen table, surrounded by friends. Love by extremes. Love by courageous principles. Love by a fundamental intuition of the eternal nature of all things. Love by the river-side fire circles and the freshly broken camps. Love by the gravesites. Love by the long untaken paths. Love by exponential powers. Love by the singular effort of your amazing mind. Love by the unfathomable reaches of your uncelebrated soul. Love by the way you look at them. Love by the children, and fathers, and mothers. Love by holding a ceremony for the rejected and forgotten. Love by not forgetting a single name. Love by kissing the bodies piled high on the pyre. Love by kissing your child and helping her write a poem. Love by leaving no note of explanation in your empty room. Love by writing a guidebook for the souls who will one day come. Love by living passionately and never forgetting the reason it all burns and flows. Love by showing unknown courage in the face of certain death. Love by becoming a mighty enforcer of the unwritten laws. Love by necessity. Love by sheer desire to become something greater. Love because it is beautiful to exist.

Returning from the fields, a man knelt down and healed you, showed you how to see things freshly with your incomplete eyes. He said your soul was a tender sprout, that he was a gardener, that he had walked from distant places to see you. Forgotten heroes, young mothers overjoyed, laborers under the portending suns of this lonely earth I will kneel beside you too. I will also try to perform miracles with these tired broken hands. I appear today brilliant before you all; that you may run to the streets shouting signs of a new hope. Exciting prophesies have been rumored again, like tablets from an ark anciently buried. I arrive garbed not in red or purple, but surrounded by the rugged songs of the woodsman and the

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rain, swaddled in the stars and scattered brine of the waxing universe, crowned by all history, bravery, and laughter. I bring under my left arm a mothers love and a fathers courage, under my right arm the scroll of a colossal poem that will grow throughout eternity. I know I am nothing more than the hair on the backs of paupers necks and the batted feathers on the wings of ravens. But I am also a strand in the fabric of the unseen and the unknowable. I am nothing if I am not you and the rest. I drink from the swelled streams and sup with the plentiful earth. I kiss the celestial forms as they travel ever onward. I am never hungry while they exist.

I am limitless cacophony and resounding noise. I take my place at the helm of the band, their wild plums and crashing symbols bode poorly for the disbelievers. I open a place for you in the swelling ranks. There is great rejoicing, for your fellowship has been expected for eras beyond this earth. With a drum and pipe song I lead onward to the distant horizon. Listen, you citizens of a better fate! The sounds of sorrow and death are drowned out by the raging clap of marching feet, by the melodies of a million mad souls rising to crescendo! The moans of the sick are dispelled, and their strength is buoyed. The swarming flies are swept off the bodies, their flesh is remade; the guardians are reawakened. And I stand as witness to a procession undreamt, to endless columns of souls walking to a deepening rhythm

I am certain there are many more lives to be grown. They are grapes hanging anxiously from the vine of eternity. Lifetimes heaped up and torn down, swept away, the roaring performances of fishermen and ploughmen and poets. I am not the end; no more so than I am the beginning. There can be no terminus unless I make it so. I saw your face as the dust powdered your hands; I wondered what you were thinking. I hasten to inform you the dust is men and woman in a new form, elemental, compact, free. Grand thinkers, I give you a new redemptive theory of everything. I speak no longer of the old, worn ways of men and their things. The riddles will give way to the inalienable truth. What I am about to say can only be heard by those who never yawn. The kisses lustily

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planted were not emblematic of this failing murdered world. They were the first opened windows of forever, displaying the permanent design. A virgin glimpse has been given to the martyrs, as tongues of flame consumed their hearts. Now I have gathered flowers to give to the newborn earth. I have filled my coffin with daffodils and tigerlillies and sent a terse word to gravediggers. Taps will no longer be played beneath the setting sun and her parting ramparts. Forever onward speak of me in free verse.

I cannot tell you how at peace I am with Death and God. (Reader, what are you at peace with? Have you seen what will come to pass?) Death! Whom are your greedy ever-watchful eyes haunting? What business have you in my house tonight? Have you bled the courage from the weak and now turn your talons upon my might? Oh beautiful men and women who are shield bearers of souls; I command you to rise and sunder this friendless thing!

The structure of the universe confirms the eternity at the core of my being. Wherever or whatever I may be, I shall be, as I am now, a power in the universal system of powers, a being in inconceivable harmony of some world of God.

Now wait a while here, reader. Pour yourself another drink and explain everything slowly to me. Breathe lighter, relax, and confess to me the longing inside your soul. I can sit here forever absorbing the bareness and brilliance of you. Tell me again how the sun looks as it falls softly into the ocean at dusk. Describe what it felt like to seduce me on that orange-red beach. (Do you remember when we made our promise and floated our love poem into the sea?) I have gathered together all moments where two people kissed; where something beautiful flowered; where life spilled forth in torrents that could not be contained. Reader; express with your eyes the exotic and simple inside you. I know you have wonderful things pent up within that essence! I know the romantic half-light cannot hide your most gorgeous reckless dreams! I am in love with every time you felt overcome and exhausted by joy; when you appeared beautiful

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under a stormy sky. I fade and dissipate but I never forget. There is no somber end or sad farewell to me! On my deathbed I will clutch all great events and relive them until the end. Someday I will cut loose this anchor and drift into my tide of perfect moments. Give me your wild laughter and your goose-bumps in the night! Here I spill forth the perfect and regretless of a giant existence! Here I hand back this body and display to you the vast collection of memories I have gained. Drink from this depthless soul forever! Take what you want from this immense plan! I search across all eternities, all universes, all lovely and desolate places, for the few seconds where life outdoes itself; where I can dance late into the night and bring you bouquets until the end.

I have witnessed the high tide of the soul; seen one man elope romantically with a notion he can never really understand, never really consummate with the flesh and madness given him at the beginning. The love-making purple moonlit nights did not wash over a corpse. I have taken them like good medicine, made them part of the supernova that is me. When the nighttime ends and the sunlight comes, I will be found in the gutter, alone, my shirt off, my mouth agape, my heart still spewing the beautiful stuff of lifetimes. Then, perhaps, the hesitant promenaders and spectators will finally understand. I will keep believing that I have come and gone before and will not deny that this existence is the droppings of many better lifetimes and wondrous journeys.

Wayne D. Johnson, 59, Kansas City, MO, passed away July 17, 2003, at St. Joseph Health Center. Mass of Christian Burial will be 10 a.m. Tuesday, July 22, 2003, at Christ the King Church, 8510 Wornall Rd., Kansas City, MO 64114 Friends may call from 6-8 p.m. Monday, July 21, 2003, at the church, where a rosary will be said at 6:30 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made to Boy Scout Troop #30, c/o Christ the King Church. Wayne was born November 23, 1943, in Kansas City, MO. He married Linda C. Reams on August 10, 1974. He was a machine operator for Sioux Chief Manufacturing until his retirement due to an illness. He was a member of Christ the King Church, Knights of Columbus, an active member of Boy Scout Troop #30 and the Tribe of Mic-O-Say. He was a veteran of

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the U.S. Army in the Vietnam War, a lifetime member of V.F.W. and the D.A.V. He was preceded in death by his father, Dewey L. Johnson, mother and stepfather, Alberta M. and Clyde Talley and sister, Linda LaRose. Survivors include his wife, Linda C. Johnson of the home; a son, Eric W. Johnson, Kansas City, MO; sister-inlaw, Barbara Bergman and husband, Bill; brother-in-law, Michael Reams and wife, Sandra; six nieces and two nephews. (Reader, if I should never meet you in this lifelet me feel the lack.)

May I be remembered as the only person to have died pleasantly a thousand times before. The sounds of the rasping shovel and coffin lid are more than I can bear, but I am not afraid for I contain many things which cannot ever be put to rest. (Yes - I am more than wedding rings, mardi gras beads and float trips in the summer. I am that which dreams and ponders eternally.) My memories are like a thousand ornaments strung fancifully over a fireplace, and my soul is fiery brand pulled from the hottest embers. This book is the best mistletoe I can stand under. Give my last regards to the lovers who plunge daggers and die beneath the kissing-trees. I also know how it feels to be the holder of something too wonderful to contain with a simple human heart.

I will not rush to witness the sunrise. Nor will I hasten to find meaning in the rain. I trust all that I see, and I am certain what is hidden is merely beyond the paths which my mind travels. What once cowered has been given courage, what weakened has been restored, what furled has been opened anew this is all I need to see.

Here I will stay put, my feet planted firmly. Here I will dream bigger spaces. I will close my eyes and become wanderer to the uncharted frontiers of the Cosmos. The seconds of eternity will one day become dust beneath my feet, and the eulogies of the gods will do little to better narrate my journey. But my story does not end here. My attributes are vast and innumerable. I contain multitudes of infini-

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ties. My lifeline spans the ages effortlessly, tying anchor to mores beyond the most fantastic and beautiful places.

You will never know how much goodness dwells inside you. I have spoken to all the finest men and women, and none can compare to you. I know you will grow and blossom and become a tremendous champion of the truth. I have never doubted that. The truth, you will find in time, is the foundation of all things good. The dawn you have brought with you is only an early sign of the light I have seen for these many years. You are part of a larger movement that cannot be contained or predicted. You are so amazing, so kind in the warm faces you make to the homeless. I knew I was in love when I first saw the signs of a meandering river inside you. All the poets have tried to describe the way you resemble sunlight pouring through the morning leaves, but their words have failed. Only I can paint you in the proper colors and words. If I go tonight, please know that I am so proud of you and the fascinating forces that have worked to create you. You will never believe the tremendous love I harbor for you. I have saved love up, like a long kiss given at a weddings end. When I was very young I remember dreaming the most beautiful things. I remember the first time I recognized you and everyone else. The most dejected people whose friends have faltered and died. The mute child who cannot speak, who loves with a smile and courage unknown to the rest. The father aching and sweating beneath the worst summer sun, hoping his family will have something more. My best moments were spent telling the world how hopelessly infatuated I am with it. But my words are meaningless without an audience of great men and women to hear them. I assure you. I go with the largest smile that ever was. I am the trumpeter of a message far greater than I can know. I am a pebble beneath the cool waters of everything; I place myself carefully in the roaring streams of time. I cannot tell you how happy I am to have one second to lie beside the creek with you and your son. I cannot begin to explain how my mind conjures wild flowers from nothing, why every night I shutter at the thought of a world that knows what I know. Sweetest grass I have eaten many meals upon. Tender nieces and nephews who justify my passing. Cherished roads that befriend souls atop long stretches of the universe. I love you all. I am you. I believe in

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a dream bigger than this petty persona and body. It is my job to dream about the most beautiful moments, to contemplate the origin of all things wonderful and real.

Reader: Here stretch out across my lap. Let me rest my hand on your tanned stomach and stroke your auburn hair. The heart beneath your breast is mine but that is not all I want. I fell in love with you the first fifteen minutes I knew you. I think you said the right things, and I understood. I want you to know all this because it is necessary and beautiful, because I have not said all that should be said and the morning approaches

I wish you could have seen the time I swung out over the river, the time I let loose the rope and fell feet-first, laughing, into the crystal stream. I can tell you the best campfire stories first-hand. I have glorified this life in simple ways. By paddling slowly on the left, weaving artfully through the rapids. By hugging my mother and father, overpowered with reverence for the beginning and end of things. By waiting eagerly outside the chapel before the sun rose, waiting for you to arrive in your white gown and vail. By entering the darkest places unafraid, knowing I had lived, that living was more than enough.

If I fail you, do not worry. My heart is pure, believe in me. I will return again and again, until the last prisoner is set free. Do not think for a moment you are alone or forgotten. I cannot rest until the amazing things are sung and venerated. I cannot go peacefully until every man and woman has been deeply thanked and given a long farewell.

I America, Europe, Asia, Africa, world! Teeming city streets paving places where new lovers grow. Raging buildings cutting my gray heaven asunder. Never a thought of failure or ending, never a mo-

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ment of human doubt. Wide Dakota grass hanging loosely amidst blue sky stretching. Native grandmothers weaving designs into the fantastic cosmic shawl. The victories and defeats, the dreams of the few. My friends gone and returned, my beloved dead skeletons of the factory workers raised. Everyone shattered and gathered anew; like many faint chords becoming anthem.

I search for a quite place to entertain thoughts of your giant existence. A silent place where I can peacefully set my hat, light my pipe, and gaze into your brooding eyes. Are you the favorite pupil of this cosmos? Are you the most beautiful savior yet to be conceived? I have no other desire than to drive you out of yourself; to hunt the rocky bottoms and wispy heights of you. What will I find lost in those murky spaces? What precious secret does that reservoir hide in its sunless depths? Are there whole worlds trapped up behind that half-smile and those pale cheeks! Might there be wide expanses of country yet undiscovered in that bosom! Tell me will I find a soft forest floor of pine needles loosely laid beneath that mind! And what great beast do you stand upon so proudly? How was it so easily vanquished? Reader, I know not the unbounded and chaotic of you. I pull back your covers and slip quietly in your bed. I place my hand on your heart and feel the patternless throb of your soul. What is lying asleep perfectly with its siren beauty but troubled dreams? Is it the last mighty sentinel to secretly guard the Earth? Is it an un-watered seed waiting to behold the sun? Is it a more perfect me?

Immovable force of the greatest gods! Slayer of the invincible lords! Mountainous leviathan of the tempestuous seas! Omnipotent progenitor of the limitless creator! Mightiest champion of the warmarching armies! I stand here against you, unafraid. I will defend the weak and the powerless with my words. I will defeat you with my endless love and undying transcendental beliefs.

My life is a tale of trade winds and faintly-worn roads. My greatest memory must be the time I sat mesmerized, listening to the ebb of

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the ocean between your valved voice and trembling lips. I can only surmise the amazing times that we have yet to live. I can only imagine how many souls have yet to fall in love and complete each other under the orange evening sunset. You cannot believe the swirl and romance of the beach bar around midnight. You cannot begin to comprehend how the sunshine feels on the flesh of a poet.

Mind; I have grown you from the beginning. Easy friend that kindles inside my head. Courageous historian of battles large and small. Fertile ground from which all thoughts come, from were all great things muster and pass away.

My son who has yet to be born. My last love. My friends remaining with me from the beginning. My someday wife who can never disappoint. My endless questions driving me to search for what is true and right. Simple days that have become a long journey collecting samples of the evermore. My gasping soul that runs riot on the mountain trails and roughshod over the hills and valleys of myself.

Trouble stay away from me. I am not the one you want. There is no place for you amidst the shower of light and hope that surrounds me. My power is beyond your recognition, beyond your ability to destroy and consume. I am supported by forces far greater than you can know; buoyed by the steady arms of an elemental Being. I am free to come and go as I please, dancing far from your reach and affect. Nothing bad can befall this mortal husk. I have read the entire book of happiness, drank deep from the chalice of beauty, sung loud hymns with children beneath the sycamore tree. The places from where I have returned have made me a passionate believer in the truth; made me a seeker and knower of answers in the story of all things.

Gather up! men and women everywhere round this wistful wandering heart of man

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I offer new, more lustrous adventures and places sweet affairs, like diamond morning dew-drops suspended tremendously, plummeting into a million rough-stretched lips. I exchange the dazzled beatific American embrace for a soiled, well-reckoned map of Pangaea; calling forth the slumberers of the continents whispering trilled sweet assurances of the road. I announce from the harvest-moon villages the aching cities, recruiting all; the brothers and the sisters, the lily-topped mothers who suckled them up, the men perched on stools, spinning the waitress with stiff liquord tongues, the boy chided cripple because he shuffles oddly on two forgotten feet, two crutches (he knows not yet the beauty in store for him). Calling each lover of me, myself loving them, more than they can imagine preparing their things, opening drawers, bundling-up, wondering if a note should be left (no need I think, it is well known where we have gone) arranging first a joyous egress from the silent windowless rooms.

I cannot conceive of the woods or city in a better state, or dream a greater dream than waking up and living each day to the fullest. Happiness. Sounds. People walking and talking. A quick glimpse of the light. What generous soul has set me here to thrive? What great lover is sending me flowers, even in the rain?

Today is the dawn of mankind. I claim this as the best day imaginable. (As if it were the day we spent together, watching the waves take the shells out to sea.) Who has opened the sealed door beyond the graveyard? Who has freed the secret of God? Great earth rent

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open, spilling ichor of men and women I have never met. (I wish I had met them the day they drew their children close, when they kept them warm by the hearthside.)

Reader: Come. I have lit the fire and pulled back the covers for you. The bed is warm and inviting, the candles are sweet smelling. You can never deny that our flesh is close, that I stand here naked and ready before you.

I still want simple things to herald a new era of thinking to pull down all the stars in the sky and kiss them individually to rage and reconcile to court everyone with a honeyed voice and inviting smile.

I am arrogant because of the unique way I feel about you. I am not at all ashamed of it. I will not hide the bright strands I have spun into the tapestry of life. Everything beautiful must be sung, and who better to sing than the poet of sand and stars, than the dreamer of wide swaths of the known and unknown? I step up to the task. I extend the spyglass and swing the rudder. Let me sail us toward exotic archipelagoes within ourselves.

Remember everywhere you go there will be those who deserve your compassion and grace; those who enter daily a storm you could never weather. There will always be someone small and seemingly insignificant who deserves to be turned toward the fantastic light. Nothing can be tiny or useless in your presence, for your sight is cast only on sun-lit realms within the human spirit. I tell you all this because I am certain of your tremendous power; your ability to lead souls to safety like a lighthouse. Spread your great joy to the forgotten. Practice your penetrating gaze. And marvel at the auras you will create.

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I question our common ancestry in the family tree of the universe, and ponder our relation to the ever-growing One Soul. My thoughts of you orbit like a leaf in an eddy, swirling around ideas I confront, but cannot escape. Who has made the smile and bright features on your pretty face? Who has caused the tears to well up in your haunted eyes? I damn all the pleasant days I have lived without you. It seems a strange curse for a man to fall in love with every human being. But my lust is limitless. The continents will never bear enough souls to satiate my want. Bring me the living and the dead, the dreamers and followers, the pitiful and the mighty. I will write their names into my book and clear a place for them around my table. Together we will talk of the best and worst moments of every lifetime that ever was. Together we will envision bigger, more heroic, and more perfect lifetimes yet to come.

You are Gods famous stage-top soliloquy. You are the first-born child sacrificed horribly on the mountain-top. (Do not be afraid, we are all a gift to something greater) You are the moonlight reflected off her almond colored hair. You are the redemption at the end for the brave fire-walker. I am the old man who willed everything to the orphanage. I am the shaken stalk, committing its only fruit to the wind. I am the arcane untranslatable symbols on the temple door. I am the compassion and the tender touch of the battle-field nurse. We are friends working together for the good of the world. We are long lost lovers running up to consecrate a homecoming kiss.

I was always the first person to strip off my shirt and run howling in the summer sunlight. I was the one who endeared himself to rough men in overalls while they debated the tragic perfection of things.

I was told you are the last grand mariner of the seven deep seas of me. Well met, friend and adventurer. But I cannot let you shove off so easily. I cannot bear to watch the horizon consume your sail

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and soul in its evening flame. I will tempt you like a siren on the rocks, selfishly summoning you from your mission. With the titanic echo of my sweetest love song, I will crumple the fjord walls and bury your passage. I will frenzy the native tribes until you have no safe port but mine. Come to me strong young men and women of the earth. Explore only me.

I died on April 28th, 1975 in America. From then on my travels in the afterlife have been wide and vastly underestimated.

I celebrate the fallen; those who have stolen the best days for themselves and left life in its loneliness. From my horn I blow an awesome sound for the dead! I summon my courage from the overcome and grab up their tattered flag. I rally the broken troops and tell them there is a time to live and there is a time to die. I know the charge will be terrible and the ending miserable. But it is better to gain a beautiful place to sleep than to be wide-eyed in desperation for eternity. The forgotten are not forgotten by me. I stand on the silent battlefield and say to young men lying everywhere Love on! Love on! But I walk somberly collecting flowers that grow on corpses. (I will give their bouquets to another maiden yet.) I celebrate victory and defeat together and sound a triumphant drum beat for everyman. Nothing betrays my eyes, for I see with my endless soul. Nothing expires before me or appears to be half-living in its cradle. Loud I am about simple folk! Powerfully do I praise the farmer and the woodcutter! I write a new declaration for the dying that goes something like this - Reader, I have loved you from the very beginning. And I trust the universe to harvest new life where good and evil have passed away. (All new life is a thing purer and higher yet.) I sound a thunderous applause for all failed people and their shipwrecked dreams! I watch as the Captain sinks beneath the waters atop his vessel. I see he is pleasant about what is going to happen; he sheds a smile for the icy clamp on his chest. And the poorest man I seek out and commend as happier and better then I. I know

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there can be no despair while a rainbow stretches. There can be no suffering while a child still exists.

Where are the complex, roaring, tempted, real people the ones who are rogues and scholars at once more soul than can be explained the ones who let the bonfires burn out of control who see bonfires all around them? Who is left to worship the road with naked feet and dive headlong into the raging oceans? Who remains to dare and dream? Have they all gone, or have they been transformed into a different state? The young man fallen while collecting flowers his body broken at the bottom of the cliff. The slave tramping his endless field. The pretty woman who introduced herself only as Poetry. The infant who died quietly and alone (complex and roaring like a river hidden far beneath the earth). Well grown men and those who will never be called beautiful.

I question what it is to be alive, what it means to be the offspring of some deeper source. I am an old surveyor of days; I am a ready scholar of the history of all great moments. Nothing has been lost in my translation I assure you. I shoulder the load of the fallen and carry their burden with delight. Alone I have won smoke championed dirt. I am nothing by myself. All mothers have a right over this fledgling soul and finite shell. My bones are made of stardust; my breath, mountain air. I am a construct of time; an experiment in the laboratory of the universe.

Reader: I cannot believe you are gone and I am alone now. You said I loved you too little but perhaps you loved me too much. Perhaps this tired cracked heart can no longer be trusted with the love you deserve. I think of you walking beside me on the trail, holding your son with that big smile you saved for the best times, tossing your freshly curled hair for me to compliment. But I am sure now it is better to have loved and lost you. Better to have touched the face of the meteor and been consumed by its flame.

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It is a comfort to know I am only an infinitesimal synoptic space between some gorgeous racing thought of God.

If I had advice to give, it would be this: It cannot be good or bad unless you make it so. Nothing can bring you closer to life than living it wildly and uncommonly. Admit to someone your most guarded secrets. Take your family and explore the world there is more to learn than the living room can teach. Savor the worst bone-chilling winter nights and know that you had truly lived. Never trade a walk-on role in a drama for a lead role in a cage. To some people your wanderlust is absolute foolishness, but to others it is the most heroic thing imaginable. Never worry about what they are thinking rest assured that God is working in them too. Contribute to charity. Always crawl a mile before you walk a step. Salute when you pass every funeral procession (who knows what goodness he or she has done). Never stop questioning why you are here and what that really means. Become so wise that you no longer need wealth or power to be happy.

Launch your assault from the breach between times dawn and dusk. Set yourself beneath the flag of this broken empire of forever and rally to the cause of the universe.

I have a beautiful predilection for non-linear motion. For perpetual motion. For cycles that turn back onto themselves endlessly. I am a smithy of bulwark souls. I place them in the furnace of time, hammer out a link, and lengthen the smoldering chain of eternity.

Let your handful of humble human days be added to the life of the Cosmos. Divide yourself into seven billion pieces and set them loose with first and last names.

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Have I been the only man tricked into love? Am I the laughing stock of the solar system? Who was the woman who crept up and slept with me last night? Is she lust? Is she redemption and virtue? I think she can only be another passing friend in this labyrinth of tears and laughter called life. But the roads of the world are teeming I have told you that already. So too your heart is a highway to a place where chaos becomes harmony, where discord bends full circle to create a fragile equilibrium of universal peace.

The world immutable. Form and nature and substance. Nothing really dying or being born only altering its function, changing its momentary design. I gently pick from the air atoms of good Caesars and salesman. You know the game of which I speak. Expecting to die, you are born again. Hopeful of life, you are reminded of the matter from which you spring. Be courageous in life and unlife. Practice today what you did for an eternity before you were born before the laws of nature had a bold new plan for you. It is only transition never growth or decay when seen from a higher level. An ecosystem of the universe. But there is something in you that lies outside the system. Not of earth or water. Not a strand in this tapestry of relationships rumored to be life. An inner power that feeds upon beautiful moments and grows larger still. A force apart and independent of the Cycle. Specific. Unrelated. Complete.

No longer need I stand here quietly, equivocating myself Today I am wide canopies of oak trees and the completeness of midnight I express myself in stars and oceans and tiny things also Those who know me will see my newness and understand me not, This reclamation, this dissolution, this redemption But I reckon your soul is a leaf of mine And I consider your name to be mine, but more so Reader there is no anticlimax to our meeting day Now open up your arms and prepare to hold me tight!

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Pour your sweet essence into me and buoy my strength! Call me loudly; hide not while I boldly approach I carry large worlds and small worlds with equal grace What worlds I exhume from your mind! What tiny universes I discover inside those marrowd rooms Atlas I am, but dust too The beginning and end I am, but mostly what comes between Once I was a dark-haired boy who walked alone in the forest Now I am a dark-haired boy who walks with septillions of souls Endure me! Endure my suffering for truth! Endure my wanderings and my treasure maps strewn everywhere! Now I am naked, but I am not worried The tree is not worried, nor is the fish in the sea The suns and the suns I cannot see are not worried It is good to be yourself and fearless before the rumor of death I cloth myself in my friends, I put the hat of continents on my head Souls, like jewels, I drape across my neck I flaunt my cosmic features Shine your plural mirrors and singe this heart in my chest! Light my essence like a tinder in this bellowd furnace! Pull out your iron from my coals and behold white-hot constellations! I burn great fires for all people everywhere (What scent, like incense, does a beautiful life emit?) I light watch fires along high peaks and shout loudly my poems Always do those echoes return to me, seeking out their creator What occupations and moments I am the center of! What jobs I have held to pay for this feast of the heart! Perhaps I will construct an effigy of you, and give it no name Or scale the chapel walls to paint a better ceiling Are all the chapels gone that once held lovers? Are all the bridesmaids and groomsman gone? Then let me sunder myself and construct a new place of worship Let me pull down the vistas and the heavens above them Let me raise the ancient dead and give them there final work Express yourself to me through teary eyes and long kisses Is there a soul trapped, chained, flayed to a pulp, in some hidden dungeon?

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Are there millions of beautiful moments yet alive? Let loose the time you first saw the mad sunset! Let loose the moment you fell catastrophically in love! Let loose the perfect memories and terrible obsessions! Open the tent, pull back the covers! Rise! Find me outside, rugged, in the cool nighttime Stand close to me; crane your neck to the stars I see endless places above us, within us, beyond us Round the hub of the earth are souls waiting to arrive Forces waiting to be understood Lovers drifting weightlessly in the amorous ether..

From now on you will never be the same again. You can never return to who you were before. I have poured my sugared words into your ear and enticed you with thoughts of my bold new philosophy. The things you have gained and lost have sculpted you into something new; something I cannot explain; you must feel it for yourself. As you read further, old unwanted ways will disappear, your past will become fiction (as it has always been), and larger, more universal laws will take shape around you.

Shall we take our rest again here, reader, and pull out our wine flask for the other? May I offer you my final confession? May I make you the last promise I am certain to keep? All existence is prefatory. All revelations we have had on our journey are incomplete. Yesterday I had a long talk with a man who died while rescuing his daughter. Afterwards I sat on the boat deck in the night, beneath the charcoal heavens. I quietly sobbed while the fireworks exploded above us. Do you think there is a larger meaning to anything? Do you approximate your redemption by the proportion of yourself which dares to dream? I have written much about the beginning and end of things, yet I do not know what binds them together, what draws them to a single source. And I cannot explain to you anything more about yourself, for I do not have the lungs to dive so deep and scour those shrouded depths. But perhaps there is something about Me that will cast a reflection on the limitless and unknown of you. Perhaps all goodness is a sort of seeing-stone, a mir-

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ror, or a placid lake. So I write one last time if only to see a little clearer and further than before. I give you the both of us at once, unabashed and unapologetic. I will overcome the trifling division between our souls, laugh, and make you mine at last. Now sit back and place your feet on my lap. Rest a bit. I have one last thing to say

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BEYOND THE BEYONDS

BOOK III

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I am not afraid, for I contain many more souls that have yet to be ascertained or comprehended.

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I am the first architect to raise scaffolding around the colossus of love. I am the deathbed promise made to you on that fateful day. I am every person born on a planet watched by God. I am the last day of childhood forever. I am the luminescent beach surrounded by newlyweds. I am the priest who dropped his holy symbol and walked away guiltlessly. I am handsome clumps of grass and pretty tree frogs. I am the first resurrected spirit to see his own body lying in the grave. I am the seductress of cripples and demons who still have beautiful stories to tell. I am the first love-song dedicated to both of you on your anniversary. I am the king of all amazing memories and undeniable dreams. I am the pauper of a vast empire of nothing. I am the slave sold cheaply and soon hung from the oak tree. (I am the fool who planned the tragic escape.) I am living dogma handed down from the grandmaster of mad vulnerable poets. I am the immense terrifying noise of the universe crushing itself in some distant future. I am the most beautiful woman who never fell in love. I am the loneliest man who married the girl of his dreams. I am everything that cannot be comprehended through the usual means. I am a few simple thoughts scribed on the pages of the Book of Life. I am an eternal confession of being without having to endure the embarrassment of death. I am life and unlife and all the regenerative cycles that work tirelessly in between.

I effuse myself to you and invite you to sing with me a new chorus of life. Long have I been a ripple spreading forth on the perfect headwaters of eternity. Long have I awaited this existence and desired the beautiful people it would produce. I am nothing if you do not make me so, for love has no power but to ennoble its believers. Long have I gathered worlds in my arms and knew no loneliness. Long have I experimented with the remarkable properties of a thing called Life. Long have I been heartened by the fate of this universe and the universes yet to be conceived. Long have lilies grown where I once died. (But what grows where I once lived?) Long will the sages contemplate what I have written. Long have I lived deeply and immensely and spread my identity with a continental kiss. Long have I dreamt of your coming, reader. I cannot begin to explain my excitement right now. I grow happier by the passing moment. My happiness is daring and audacious.

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And this book is my stone tablet for the eons to debate. And this book is my poem that springs forth from a new passion forever. I haul man up from the brink of nothingness and whisper something beautiful to him and he does the same for me. In this love, I know I have discovered a mystery forgotten, a power underestimated. But my song is not that of privilege or wealth. It is that of the grass bent beneath the breeze. It is the song of sojourners redeemed by taking the lonelier way. The song of lovers who cannot turn their gaze from the others eyes. The song of the cycle of life and the cycles that comprise its countless eternities.

I see nothing except through the orbs of my love-drenched soul. I am here to create marriages with my words and question old traditions with my passions. Am I not a world unto myself with no islands or borders? Is not the after-life a Pangaea flush with my progeny? There are no adversaries or forgetters of me. There can be no great enemies of me when the end is nigh. Who remains to celebrate the living and lay wreathes about the neck of life? What was the name of the woman who placed garland on the handsome head of God? Who came up with the grand idea of hope? (I think it was the child I saw kneeling in the cemetery.) What oracle would freely tell you the truth about the grass? I applaud life and give a standing ovation for its mysteries. I smile and wonder what life is being grown elsewhere that I do not comprehend. And the beginning of me was a whimper; and the end of me was a hush. I am a taunt line drawn between two points in eternity. What then could life be but a melody strummed from my being?

You readers who have never really lived, who have yet to cast off the black hood of the man behind the scaffold, exposing him for what he is. I exhaust myself to reclaim your fallen soul. I stand beneath you, so that you may crumple upon my ready shoulders. For I am a powerful rescuer of precious souls. I will sever the noose that stands before you and break the manacles that bind you. I will fearlessly plunder the treasure horde of yourself.

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I celebrate life and court it with a daring reckless style. I explode with life and pound my cymbals ever more lustily for its champions. I do not apologize for myself, nor do apologize in the least for you. I loaf on the street curb, shirtless, tanned, sipping rum, watching as the tourists pass. Here I lavish myself upon the promenaders and tell them it is glorious to make love on the public street. Here I am limitless and made of universal stuff. I am the assumer of all; I take no sides but rest satisfied in the space between. I remove myself from the din of need. No more do I grapple with want (I need only rawness and the rough ready moment). No longer must I behave like a respectable semblance of a gentleman called Matthew. I dream under the sun the raging circle I worship. I am happy to believe in its warmth. I am happy to be young and free. I sit beside you, beneath the vast red orb and draw you to me. I loosen my tongue to yours and feel your breath quicken. I think this street is the best that has ever been. I know its travelers are unhurried and trusting. Here is the unprivileged street lovely with ordinary people - and me, with my indomitable profound wonder; with my thick chest and scruff of swarthy cheeks.

I walk beneath the evening sky and sing to life. I know there is no beauty but to meet it and pass it and thence become it. If I have taken an unpopular path perhaps it is because I think a temple is hidden somewhere, and by my sweat it will someday be found. And I travel but a mile on this earth, but in my boundless soul I tread great journeys always great journeys, for all souls are free men and adventurers. I take rest upon my road and esteem myself the prophet of pine trees and mighty vistas alike. I whisper quietly to passing travelers, letting them know I with them, waving my arm across the expanse they should fearlessly go. I am weary, but I do not curse my dreams as a burden or a weight. I am nearly home, but I do not search the horizon to find a familiar steeple.

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I once saw a longshoreman crush the head of a viper with his heel. I once saw a good man drown beneath the waves as the onlookers stared. So what can I say of the universe? What strange force of compensation blesses us today and buries us tomorrow? But I need say little about this or that. You already know. The murderous fists of the angry mob. The stone overturned the tadpole escapes. The candlelight flickering across the corpses face. All confirming what I have said now for a million years. There are no laws but the ones we sense and palpate from inside the womb of life. Who admits they have been suckled fat from the tit of heaven? Who disdains the day and the night as mere manic-depressive episodes of God? All the creeds and saints are less reliable than one strong river-man or barge-hand. Is not the Lord herself interested in hauling great souls for more lucrative travels downstream?

I dream of a gorgeous young mother baking bread and awaiting my homecoming. Alas! Perhaps I have been in her arms for years beyond reckoning. Perhaps we have sired the earth together, and the earths that have yet to be contemplated. Perhaps the continents and seas are filled with children I have made. Let them come to me and ask me to tell them the whole story. How I camped with the hunter and his son on the first morning trek. Listen! The sound of the thicket rustling is beautiful to me. How I nestled down on the sidewalk with the homeless mother and her babe. I could not help but take off my coat and offer it to slake the cold. How on the playground I let out the largest laugh that ever will be. But perhaps I never had that beautiful large family, that beautiful lover. Assuredly though I created something called Me. That is enough.

The grand legend of eternity has just begun to unfold. And the drops of time that comprise it are offered to us shortly and only for safekeeping. Will you dance with it and kiss it all over deeply and lustily? Will you drown it foolishly beneath the sinking wreckage of yourself? I hope my words have helped you understand the meaning of the stalk and the scythe helped you believe in the predestined harvest of all things. You have been given life now you know what comes after. But this legend is really irrelevant to what I have to say. The lovers grope each other wantonly. But do they

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know how beautiful the ice can be when it bunches beneath the fruit tree? Do they know that the true form and function of a fly can confound the greatest scientists? Everything is well made and complete. Not everything misshapen is without merit. I welcome the battered and the ugly. I come about with great tables of plenty and flagons of wine for the friendless and the misunderstood.

I take in large draughts of air, and with it I swallow lifetimes and worlds and empires. In my mouth you taste good and pure; you dissolve and nourish my soul. You are cut from the same rough stuff as I. The same eyes and hair and wild expectations delight us and explain our common family. I caress you and make you mine. My lovers come and leave easily, but you you I hold near and admire selfishly under a brighter light. Loosen your stopped throat and sing me a love song; break your chastity for me alone; pluck my swelled heart from this chest and make it yours.

Behold! I will challenge the sunlight itself with better illumination meant for the surface world and those inside coffins. I will pull down star after star until I have unraveled the intricate beatitude of God. There is no dusk within my soul! I am the sunshine forever and the happiness it brings forth forever. No shadow envelopes me that I do not sunder and disperse with love. No night falls while my fiery star still reigns in the sky.

I dispatch with notions of privilege and finery and return my spirit to rough-worn places and thick-callused hands. And to you empty chair I offer only my applause. And to you people who are generous and brave, I steady myself and throw a salute. And to you endlessly expanding system of systems I drop a tear and set out to explore your reaches.

Always exists the revolving circuit of time. I have heard there are millions of clocks telling time for millions of vast places. But the

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expanse between my hat and boots remains eternal. I am the grayhaired grandfather of the autumn and spring. I laugh and wave to you from ages beyond reckoning, tipping my bearded tanned face toward suns that have yet to ignite or be extinguished. (These suns are merely placeholders for you and I, but I will tell more of this another day.)

I am the fiercest enemy of the end. I am a systematic dreamer and believer. The desertion of lovers and gods means nothing to me. I love the opened humming wings of ladybugs and the smoke rising off your breath. I pluck young souls who have much to be taught and much to find out for themselves. I take the painful blow and collapse to the earth I love. There is nothing I have not completed, no reason I have to be sad about death. The trek I have taken has led me to unknown shores. Unknown shores are the only place I can ever be free. So to you death, I laugh and find greater adversaries! And to you life, I stagger and confound myself with your immense lidless presence! And to you ancient laws of the universe, I doubt you have ever mastered my domain! What can compare to the sight of me wading out to the minnow-trap with my father? How can you explain the man simplified, the man untouched by need and longing? I camp beside the forward battalion. I light my torch and venture to the bloodied front. Even here life is good and sweet to me. I place my strong hand over the wound to staunch its flow. I kiss the fallen warrior and move on.

My only hope is that I have diminished your fears and magnified your powers. I kneel before you and take you by the hand. I explain the simple truth of it all. Tell me everything about you and more and more I smile and know it is good and perfect. The reckless faith of religion is meaningless to me. I desire only your best attempt and effort. Redeem yourself before the grass; venerate the single mother and her large dreams. I could pluck newborn fur trees from the earth and grasshoppers from the low hanging limbs. But my own taxonomy is cheaper fair and is more easily sold to workingmen.

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I lie beside you and point out places in the afternoon sky where the stars shine through. I know you cannot see them hidden in their distant cradle, but I can see them. I see many things in cradles and yet unborn or obvious. My chin rests on your breast; my legs saddle up to meet yours. What does the breath of a dead man feel like? What touch of Artemis or Eve can compare to mine? What romantic prince of the four winds can come and steal back your heart from me? I have forgotten philosophy and the talk of the ancient scholars. I repudiate all religion but know well the origin of things large and small. I merge spirit and nature and gracefully demonstrate their perfect working order. I am pleased to be categorized with vagrants and scoundrels (I love them too, more than dandies engaged in pleasantries). My eulogy will contain ample criticism about the days I spent writing pages and the nights I spent tearing them out. The doctor warns that my lust for life is highly contagious and terminal. I wonder is it a sexually transmitted disease? Is it the rogue genetic mutation that Darwin prophesied? I think my lust is beautiful and contemporary. I think I am the first man to be afflicted with it. I will become promiscuous and spare no virgin. I will spread my beloved seed across the planets and the solar systems they inhabit.

I am the last great idolater of the human mind. I am the head master of my own school of thought. It convenes for Me and Me alone. There is nothing I do not wish to know, nothing that can slake my insatiable thirst for knowledge. I question if I have exhausted the capabilities of this world, if this world has outlived its purpose in the biblical experiment. And I have larger questions still but I will not discuss them here. We have ample time in the afterlife to discuss them.

What pictures I have taken! What people stand beside me in them! What histories I have written and chronicles produced! What peaceful simple days I have spent watching my children play tag beneath the apple tree! (But I have no children. I wonder where these strange thoughts come from.) Oh! the day of reckoning will have much trouble with me, I promise. I will idle up to the bench and take my judgment with a rebellious smile. I am not afraid, for I con-

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tain many more souls that have yet to be ascertained or comprehended. My actions have been neither good nor evil - I have never claimed them to be. I have not promised that my heart pumps gorgeous, powerful, expensive stuff. When I fought to save the girl about to be raped I saw my own blood spill to the earth. I knew then that mine was only the poor and powerless blood of a pauper. I knew that it could not flow back from whence it came. But let them judge me as the writer of a few good thoughts. Let them cast me back to the earth to resolve my deeds in the karmic cycle. I am summoned when I like. I leave when I like. I save the town and disappear before the festival. I take to the hills I love. I make camp at the base of ancient statues of kings. (How funny I think to me a spear of grass is the greatest monument ever erected.)

I sojourn and find endless pleasure in my own company. I know of few others I would rather spend so much time with but myself. My feet find hard ground and soft ground alike. I loosen my knapsack and sleep cautiously in deep brambles. I set my knife at the ready and light no breakfast fire. Carefully I slip through the enemy line, carefully, carefully. To the capital city I tread. I ascend to the throne and begin my reign by naming continents after my lovers (perhaps I will name one after you). I settle towns and stake my claim to the progeny of the world. I raise my flag and plant good crops for rugged settlers. And always does my story continue, always does it grow and become bolder and more epic. Always do I blaze a beaten path for new souls.

I denounce everything that is not Me. I only want what I can tuck inside my funeral urn. Private acreage and mansion estates are more than I can stand. I have walked barefoot on your lawn and felt the dewdrops hanging on the grass. I have opened wide your curtains, blew out your scented candles, and stared at the sun. I can posses without possessing. I can drink from the same cup forever. I willingly barter my vast fortune for a remote cliff dwelling and dry kindling wood. Long ago I passed Mohammed on the road and gave him my staff. I draped my shredded robe over the body of a good man atop Golgotha. I think all that I once had has gone on to bet-

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ter and more useful lives with others. (Perhaps this old soul will be useful to another yet.)

I see festivals everywhere. I walk behind large crowds of children carrying heavy bags full of candy (some I eat in secrecy). I sit between my flickering jack-o-lanterns and celebrate mightily. I lay myself atop the throbbing pulse of the party and measure its growing life. I cast hearty yowls from the hotel roof. I dash from door to door frantic to find a new neighbor. I scale gate and fence to catch sight of you on the beach. Yes! I can hear the approaching thrum and beat of the music! I can see the frenzied forms of beautiful strangers dancing on the sand! I join the celebration but first pour myself a stiff drink. Can you see the lights on the bay and in the sky and reflected on the water? Can you see the spark in me? Do you know how sweet the ocean brine tastes on my flesh? I throw great clods of sand to the sea and watch them disappear. I throw myself to the oceans arms and feel cool vitreous fingers expose and dilute me. I realize it is not yet time to go. I approach a young man in the darkening shadows. I ask him if he knows who I am. I tell him I am Nothing Nothing.

I cannot even begin to tell you how in love I am with life. The choirs are still singing to me, even as the light fades, as my blood stretches across the alley floor. I never wanted anything but what a deep kiss or friendly conversation could give me. If I were not so alone here, I would have whispered stories of this beautiful secret long ago, but such stories are only rumors to the wrong ears. And what of you autumn leaves who have died before me? And you creatures who play games beneath the awakened breeze? You are no better or worse than the intrepid gods that dance inside me. I will never forget you. I can never carry a sad message about my stay here. In this human life, my brain was a tiny kernel, a dimension of undreamt space waiting to unfold. Now I have planted it and left, hopefully, never to return. From it will sprout all the love I have gathered. From it will rise, in time, the leaves of a plant that will cure the world. In my rotting corpse will survive a faint marrow of growing light a reflection of the immense aura you saw around me the first moment we met. If the grass grows strong where I now

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die, do not despair; it is a good sign. Kiss me in your dreams. Take my hand one last time on the beach and assure me the nighttime celebrations will never end. My breath is drawing nearhold me nowpromise me one last thing.

Have you ever witnessed a heart dissolve into liquid? Have you recently melted a few souls in the crucible of forever?

I am an expert artillerist firing spiritual salvos across the bow of the world. By day and by night I launch my incendiary ideas into unconverted country. Inside my canteen I mix a single tear the universe cried the moment it died. Inside my pack I place my book and my pen. Inside my shoes I place an untamed, robust, wandering, wild thing.

The world has thrown its rose petals and rolled out its plush carpet for me. Vast have been the preparations for my admittance to the womb. Extreme have my forefathers labored to make my entrance sure and safe. I come without alarm or circumstance. In my mothers arms I am very quite and well behaved. Faces I have not met surround my crib. But I soon recognize them easily as passing travelers I ate and camped with long ago. (Imagine all the people who have dropped their souls like trinkets in my pocket.) I know there have been conversations on every shore about what I would look like; about what I would have to say. So I shall not disappoint my believers or appease my critics. I have a very detailed plan for this world (this tiny outpost in space) and all the later worlds I will soon approach. I am the salesman of great heroic souls, pleasant sunny days, and indulgences of God (every leaf and stone is a free indulgence). I hawk my wares in marketplaces and cemeteries alike. I hand out flyers on the street to those who pass. They explain the meaning of the multiverse and advertise specials at the local pawnshop. My hand waves frantically to the couple on the corner. They seem to notice me but mistake me for a bum or gigolo. I admit; I am an unabashed dharma bum and a mistress of sleek cosmopolitan poets.

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Walk beside me so I can snake my arm athwart your waist. I will not harm you or cause you to reconsider. You have read my words and know that I am something different. You need not be afraid of my flowing beard, callused hands, and quick smile. Sweet lover, I tap my glass against yours and watch your hair shift colors beneath the evening light. I press you for another story of your childhood while laying my hand softly atop yours. I stare fascinated as you delicately describe the sound of your favorite opera at midnight. I wish I had known about you a thousand years ago. I wish I had set aside this lifetime to court you and make you mine. I would swoon you with my kind words and my irresistible empathy. No. When I was young I was never an athlete or a heartthrob. I was never a good catch or a trophy date. I was the last one you would seek and the last one you would want to be found with. But by the end I was the courtier of everyone. I danced beautifully and met their gaze (it does not matter who they were or what they looked like). I have become the lover of all times, of everyman. I have undraped from myself the rough loincloth of earth and now seduce heavens cherubim and seraphim. Now I take to the public street of the universe with a new haughtiness and swagger.

Let me rouse the vanguard of celestial forces and whisper to the poets a sweet alarm. Crowd around me men and women of the earth! Come to me endless ranks of heaven and hell! Here I state my cause and make argument for the fate of the world I love. I pound my chest and strike my shield. I raise my trilled voice to the mountaintops and thrust open the ruffled curtains of Elysium. Listen to me carefully, for I say this only once In the beginning.

But I digress.

The camp is nearly made. The rush of the summer wind drowns out the hum of cicada in the evening air. Kneeling down, I set

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stones tightly in a circle, strike a match and light the fire. I think the weather will be good tonight. Our tent looks large and inviting in the flickering half-light of dusk. The moon is almost full and beneath its blue light the trail meanders into the forest. How much water have you carried from the creek? How much of yourself have you brought to me tonight?

Friend. I open my door for you and invite you in. Long have I stood at this battered threshold awaiting your arrival. Do not take off your shoes or wash your hands! I want you exactly as you are. I have never found the grime of the road or well-scuffed boots repulsive. Good traveler, I think you are the perfect companion of me. I think you ornament my house and beautify my milieu in incomparable ways. Yes. I am an old philosopher, but do not let the neighbors know. It is not couth to associate oneself with spirits anymore. I watch you ladle soup from the kettle and wonder if you have ever seen the star light above the Serengeti, if you have ridden, like me, fiery meteors to the distant edge of the galaxy (I think not you do not have the same far-away eyes). I turn my chair around and straddle it. You seem young no older than me perhaps. Or perhaps I have mistaken you for the all pretty flesh and fabric that surround you. I dare not recite my favorite poem for you or comment on your elegant resemblances to Brenna. For I would not want you to fall in love with me and lose even a single day in your journey. Stay as long as you like. I will keep a safe distance. I have left my book on the kitchen table for you.

I cannot promise I will not love again on the road. There are many miles to walk and many great souls yet to meet. (Perhaps there are more great souls than miles - I do not know.) I cannot promise these rough whiskers will never brush against another milky cheek.

Think of me and laugh. A strong young body grown from the grass. Wild youthful thoughts of romance and unfailing love. A deep commitment to the sameness of all things. Simple son of hard working good American parents. Knower of beautiful things; like

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the true sound of a hawk circling the camp at midnight, or the image of gorgeous honeymooners kissing around the firelight. Opened container of eternity I am. Poet of cold mountains. Lover of new things growing well beneath a faint shaft of light. Bard I am of lonely places and roaring tables of friends alike. Gorgeous courtier of the average person. Simple monk who has taken stance against an unimaginable evil. Honored soul who was first to the field; who was first to compliment you as he died atop the weeds. A passionate friend that wants nothing but your unbroken heart. Peasant warrior and strong partisan. Believer in coming and going without complaint; in doing great things while you are here. Sire of ancient grandfathers and newborn babes alike. Proud guardian of profound unborn souls.

Be crazy to be, just be, like me down there beside the firelight. I have lived a million years and still dream like a child. When the tidal wave comes to carry me away, I will be at the top, screaming into the clouds. There was never a better moment for you to ask my name. I just noticed how beautiful you are. You are the wonderful stories I will tell my grandchildren. How we sat by the fire, my hand on your thigh, believing the most unbelievable things. To believe is to be heroic. To be heroic is necessary. I am drunk and I love you. I am god and I love you. I am the universe and the sea, the dying girl and the rain. I am the greatest fan of what was and will ever be. Take my bouquet of daffodils; I gather them only for you.

I think I am the fallen avatar of God. Or, better yet, I am the colossal mistake of the tax collector. (He never levied a tax for my soul). Quite obviously I am an agent of the grasses retribution. I remind the living of the death sprouting beneath their feet. But I am also a good carnival freak, displaying my affliction with pride. (My affliction grows deeper and more necessary by the day.) Certainly I am the knife of the old hunter. I feel blood ooze and sinew stretch before me. It is no different than being born. I am sure that death is merely another entrance into the womb, another seedtime of the never-ending reunion of all things. I must be the organ of thought for this new brood of well-published athletes. Can it be that I am the murderer of popular untrue philosophies? Perhaps I have been

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condemned for a crime I am innocent of. But I doubt it. Assuredly I am the enraged priest calling down brimstone from the pulpit. But it is not the lusts of the congregation which anger me it is their lack of them. I am probably an unassuming drone in societys vast hive-mind. But I am sometimes Matthew who sweats days and dreams light-years.

Cosmology of the mind! Astronomy of your eyes and the distances beyond them! Reader you are truth. You justify me! You alone can revive my soul. I cannot tell you how important your own identity is to me. But hear this you must lose yourself to find me. You must throw the ballast of yourself overboard before our ship can set sail. Go ahead. Light your pipe and question my bravado. I will set my astrolabe to the stars and help you understand that hubris has nothing to do with it. It is the busy mind of the Creator and Destroyer that moves things to their proper place. How can the Destroyer ply his trade while I exist? Assuredly he must have conceived a thousand ready ways to dispatch my soul, a thousand ways to punish my self-proclaimed magnificence. I have heard that the truth is this there is no destruction, evil, death, life, goodness, time, law, right, wrong, knowledge, order, distance, age, form or rapture. So it seems I have wasted much time proclaiming my new philosophy of love. And the gods have had a good laugh at my expense. But the simple truth is also this (I swear) there is so much love in the universe that no words are powerful enough to describe it. I am a simple poet. How can I explain even the life of a worm or a leaf of grass with this catastrophically limited human heart? Question endlessly it is the only pure thing a person can do. What is the origin of love? What is the purpose of my creation?

You ask that I speak of the meaning of your life and larger things. But you must seek the answers to all things yourself. Would you ask your servant to tell you the color of the walls of your own home? (Perhaps you have dwelled there too long to distinguish such subtle beauty) No one man can possess the truth. The truth, by its very nature, is omnipresent and touches all edges; completes all designs. Only the vast arms of the Creator can weave the blanket of our greater understanding. You think I am wise because I walk with

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spirits and wander the misty mountaintops. Have you heard rumors that I spend my time searching the long roads of the universe hunting perfect souls across ancient sacred lands? I admit. My paths are narrow and faintly worn. I plunge my essence deeper and deeper into the unknown ether of independence and uniqueness. I walk not wastes of society but lush fertile deltas of myself. And I am satisfied to make camp in the pine barrens when I am welcome in many festive homes. (The fresh air speaks to me and bolsters my theory.) I have nothing to give but smiles to your children and a strong back to help harvest your crop. I have no sagacity to offer but can be found in this lit lantern and tread-worn way.

You are free to come and go and buy all you will ever need to ready your journey. But do you also have freedom in your wild heart? Your body is young and strong, and in its time, old and seasoned. But what of the fruition of your soul in its cradle of forever? You keep great throngs of friends and lovers to fill your house. But can you contemplate quietly in the vast halls of your own mind and whisper truthfully with yourself? You venerate the mighty courthouse and applaud the gilded palace. But did you notice the tiny sprig of grass bent beneath your feet? Did you wonder what it sings as it worships the earth? Long have you suffered and much pain you have carried in your will to persevere. But how long have you spent afoot and lighthearted on the open road of life? Grand have become your ambitions and your dreams of progress. But have you realized that ambition is not what raises the sun or makes the flower open its petals? You are so proud of your children and what they have become. This is good. But have you considered the true needs of a growing soul in the arboretum of the universe? Have you taught your children how to sing the song of nature and read from the book of love?

Carry on, my soul, my soul. You and I have spent many afternoons lounging on the patio, our glasses sparkling in the sun. But there is always an end to the finest hour; always a farewell, even to the greatest friends.

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My life. My unbelievable soliloquy that could make Adam and Eve blush perfectly. Even now, I still cannot help but question the motives of the springtime. I have an unquenchable thirst for a new vision that will replace the old ceremony of birth and death. When I go, imagine me as a ball of liquid flame; as a ring of pure burning happiness strung together frantically like a drum circle. Or remember me as the early morning sky rent by the hawk, or the endless echo of the gorge and the fury.

Lover of you I am, reader. Inspirer of faculties lost; powers long forgotten. Explain yourself to me; let me feel your dreams from the inside out. Give yourself to me so that I may consume the handsome and the gorgeous of you; the timeless and the formless of you. Reader who are you? With loose eyes dropping moist jewels of pain, always going away, never coming home, embittered grasping hand that lusts and is never sated. What are you seeking inside yourself? What church or throne would make you complete? Reader, sit with me and let me whisper in your ear. Hang your shield and lay down your bedroll my house has many warm places for tired travelers such as you. All of mine is yours you have only to ask. Do you want the unsounded deep of me? Would you pull me up and have me serve you perhaps become your lover? Do you seek my spirit wealth, my bioluminescent soul, my eyes that see only perfect moments. (I have told you too much of these qualities, I think.) But before you leave, dry my cheek and give me a lock of your scented hair. Do not forget that I am here forever mending souls that have been dropped and met no soft bottom. Return someday when you have become the savior I prophesied, when you are incomprehensible by ordinary terms, when you are greater then the old laws of the universe, the old gods, the petty kingdoms of men. I will still be here, smiling, patiently awaiting your return

I exist, defiant, mad, myself Before the teeming mansions of the world, I cry out, and you listen, ill-content, knowing it is I knowing the front door rests ajar knowing the beloved have been kissed

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knowing the evening hearth-fires smolder knowing I have left to explore, love, live. Come, arms akimbo in mine we will walk together as friends What? You say you are too poor, too weak, too distrusting, alone, forgotten I give you me, only one mighty pulsing heart-star that burns, burns away old distinctions, trusts anew All the untold desperate masses of men unite! Fall into rank with us, chins tipped indignantly toward all that is not Life We will march upon the rooftops of the world! Pounding, battering, sounding our conviction wide! That we will not become weary gears in Americas machines We will not draw a map to the cemetery or sit silently by the gallows. I am the irrefutable voice of the independent, fearless, un-alienated human spirit! I will not betray you to any master! You have been championed. the keeper is forgotten! The institution usurped! Let us talk now, two souls, unrepentant And speak of hot summer days on the gravel bar eating sandwiches with my family, dreaming I know you were there. I spoke to you, heard youloved you You have been with me since the genesis Yes! You never knew it but you were all beside me at the fountain-head Since I was born squirming, unripe, and boundless Pleasant companion, we have never been apart. I remain immersed and delighted in all that is you I cried at your wedding kiss, laughed with you around the kitchen table, battled beside you in the solitary recesses of your mind I have loved your daughters beneath Orions stars I have spent a lifetime pondering (pondering what?) I have watched the warm eyes of friends

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flash and burn out on white hospital sheets I have seen the nurses face, the carried casket, the summer-time grave (how useless, how petty). I am not afraid, I am not alone, I am everywhere All of nature writhes expectantly within me Exploding, painting me in vibrant universal hues Lifetimes! Laughter! Oh how brightly they shine Their royal pomp, my salvation! Dance inside me now, dissolve me. Your essence my only contour, your mind my boundless waters Do not live roughly indifferent, resigned; You are more beautiful than you think! You are Infinite!You are Truth! You are rogue performers of unspeakable good! Take one deliberate desperate brisk drink of my eyes Ask my name! My name is Matthew, the name is insignificant The light is not like a star claimed by many empires Damn all the days I never knew you! Here! Now! This is our spectacular drama! You are its comedians, and tragics, and mimes! Let Shakespeare blush and sulk beneath our vigor! The best plays have yet to be written We need no paper, no pen, no muses, or pantheons We shall thrust our love torn daggers, poison our noble philosophers And take our wide curtain bows without regret. I am no passing thought of God Time has not forgotten me, it cannot! I am times functionary Dimensioned by higher laws, forever reinterpreted My insignificant timeline does not contain me does not dare compass my direction Heap all your burning lifetimes atop me! Those hot embers! I will tend them now I will chronicle the greatest epics and walk the longest roads I will raise all anchors, chart all passages and sail into the molten core of the world.

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Tell me your beautiful loves, yes how you loved him so much beneath the streetlight how you had his two fine children Tell me all your tomorrowd dreams Those faint throbs, I will listen; I collect them all, broker them to the heavens They are warm and good to me They are youthey become divine A man once said nothing good ever dies; you decide. Sadly friend, we must part, the day spent; Now must come the choked goodbyes; The ancient cottonwood purveys quietly (I remember when we hugged, three around our fingers touching, exalted; the circle complete) Behold! The empty cradle, the excellent manhood, the peaceful letting go I have dreamed listener, you know it! I have lived! Do not cry! I have believed the beautiful uncertainties questioned the honored truths, taken the unknown jeweled highways; I have believed in you! Now. Go out from this empty funeral. I am not here! Atop the grassy banks you will find me watching the minnow trap with my father applauding the neighborhood games running with the August sunshine; I live with you now! I am happy. I have sung. Thank you for the outstretched hand Kiss me once more! I will not forget you!

And so it seems I have said much about life and a thing called love. I have painted broad colorful swaths atop the canvas of your mind and unfurled ageless maps on your table. It seems my book of eve-

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rything is at last complete. But there are greater things yet to teach, endlessly beautiful places and people yet to admire. Thank you for holding my hand during my experiment. After I have gone, speak only of my soul that sailed into the stars and my undying love for the Cycle. I have touched the glassy waters and left my ripple on the river of today. But I know the waters pass ceaselessly, as all things must.

Do not shut the door, close the curtains or straighten my room. I am not sad about this end or frightened by this gathering of friends around my bed. My death is not the death of life or the final kiss I will give. All death is a window, an easel, a hidden pool covered with lilies. I leave, but I do not disappear. In a far-away wood I walk long eternities counting the winter seedlings and pruning the spring blossoms. In another home I sing sweetly to life and cry tears of joy for all newborn things. In a distant future I gather children in my arms and tell them the best tales from your life; about your beautiful smile and huge dreams. Fade! Fade! Fade oh light I have loved like a friend! The darkness has no power over this pleasant memory! The closing of my casket cannot muffle the growing lust of life or the sound of beautiful people dancing above me!

Now venture forth great souls I have loved all these lifetimes! Take me or leave me as I am; I am not a singular temporary thing. Nothing is linear. Nothing is temporal. Nothing exists but that love has planted in our soul. Explore the cosmos with a never-ending curiosity and practice diligently my new philosophy. When you encounter death, laugh and recall that millions of deaths have not swallowed life (death is a powerless fiction). When you see happiness, know that it is only one star in the endless firmament of a thing called Life. All things are part of the Cycle, and inside each of us a new more perfect creation is just beginning to awaken. Reader, grow your beautiful self as a seed dropped within the fertile enigmatic mind of God. Do not fear, for life cannot be undone and love cannot suffer an unknown fate. Live your life as lovers holding hands in the immense gardens of forever. Your gardens are just beginning to bloom and no words I have can describe their beauty.

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