If you were a stray dog, I’d be your home.
But you have a home.
So I can only feed you from time-to-time
with my affection.
You seem to be hungry.
But you’re well kept, clearly unneutered,
and smell really quite wonderful.
But where is your collar? Where are your tags?
You come to me with leash in mouth,
not tethered to neck.
We play together with the abandon
of two souls dangling from the moon
not caring if we are in web or pond-
and each time, I swear I discover a new star,
a new height to reach to.
And yet you return time and time again
to the same yard you wandered from,
to the same pole untethered.
I don’t know what’s over there
and don’t ask.
I get concerned when you return to me
different from how you left.
Ruffled, bewildered, a little lost.
But soon you settle in,
tail again wagging.
To me, you always find your way.
It seems you know my gate is open,
and this is true.
I may even install a doggy door
no doorbell required, just for you.
But is it my hand you prefer?
Is it my food? My bed?
You trot alongside me, my long lost pal,
as if we’ve been walking together forever.
I already know the games you like
because they are the same games I play.
I cherish the grandiosity of your dreams
because I too dream big.
I know you like to lie by my bedside
and lick my feet-
I like this too.
But I don’t know, dear companion-
I have to tell you, I really don’t want to own you.
Do you want me to hold your leash?
Cuz I’d rather walk side-by-side.
You in front and me behind,
then you behind and me in front.
I already want to go where you want to go.
You needn’t seek my approval.
It’s the unspoken truth in our meetings
week after week, month after month.
But I love how you howl at the moonlight-
finally someone to be unhinged with!
I find your fur to be so beautiful,
the many tones,
a reflection of you.
Which is why I caress you all over.
It’s really not because I want to please you
and ensnare you back for more.
I want to rub my face in your hair
because its bristles make me lovesick.
Your tail wags and I giggle;
and you allow it to brush my feet,
knowing how it makes my heart jump!
I’ve never had a friend like you,
who is simply finding me in time and space
to find a way to play together.
I see now what they mean:
“puppy dog eyes” don’t ask for a thing,
just a little patience, and always adoring.
You know, I’d like for you to come live with me,
be my prime interloper, my de facto companion.
But is it ownership you require?
(Is that what I am lacking?)
Or is it love?
I can offer only one of the two.
And I already love you.
But what if we decide to play together always?
Would I require something from you?
Even though my testament says that we are strictly free,
I don’t know, you’ve kind of got me wondering
what it might be like.
It’s okay, you need not decide now.
Even though you seem to be mine already,
really I am a little scared.
I am a little shy to ask.
I can’t offer you my home because you already have one.
And I want you to know that you are free.
All I’ve got is our cherished moments,
the precious days when I find you seeking my love.
And although these days become closer and closer together,
the in-betweens sometimes garner doubt
from my faithful heart.
When my thinking bud opens,
I can’t help but wonder
what will happen
if I start to need you.
I never wanted a dog before,
but things change.
Sitting by the Hudson at dusk,
on the cusp of summer thunder.
A deep OM sets in over river sky,
as the Jersey shore exhales and swells
deep into my gaze.
Nature knows I am sundered by her.
She is not being watched
and so opens wide
to expose the beautiful entrails
of her surrendered celestial bodies.
As I slip inside her innermost secret,
the leaden stillness of truth draws me in
to an expanding desire for nothing.
This prurient desire to feel more
of this moment
merges with sky.
My heart cries out:
“This is all freedom is!”
Suddenly my breath is freer.
So, this is what it means to breathe…
And I realize,
I’d rather have this.
I’d rather have this
than a river of my own
and be unable to merge with it.
I’d rather have a dilapidated boat,
and mad curiosity to sail,
than anything a stationary home
and stationary mind could offer.
I’d rather be indigent
with the freedom to walk the river
than lack the impulse to wander.
I’d rather have a jail cell-
with a window,
than physical freedom
and psychological bondage.
I’d rather give up the world
than hold onto a life that wasn’t meant for me.
Rather have the freedom
to dance ecstatically,
than give up my wildness
for a contract of fifty Broadway shows.
I’d rather let you really see me,
than define anything about myself.
I’d rather wander the world alone with nothing
but a smile
than never again have the opportunity
to light joy in a stranger’s heart.
I’d rather have my divine lover
once, just once more,
than forsake my wisdom
with an earthly contract.
I’d rather have a mystical void
than avoid the mystical.
Rather feel everyone is my child
than need to birth sweet children of my own.
I’d rather communicate
than have a cell phone.
I’d rather you feel I am learning from you
than know that I am your teacher.
I’d rather be unknown
than give up my joy in the unknown
I’d rather leave this life now,
with not a fear as to what comes next
than be diverted from the path
of truth and love.
Rather love everyone
than love anyone in particular.
I’d rather the ability to control my breath
than control over anyone.
I’d rather stay here
and participate in collective liberation
than transcend anything.
I’d rather give up my illusions
than be happy.
Rather take leave from this life
than have nothing left to give.
Rather free you sexually
than ever have another orgasm myself.
Rather painfully burn,
than painlessly freeze.
I’d rather experience surrender
in every cell of my being
than have the world surrender to me.
I’d rather never sleep again,
than fall back to sleep.
I’d rather be alone for the rest of my life
than give up the chance to love you.
It is true; I have heard the love songs
of formless longing for form,
of essence longing for breath
and life longing for birth.
My own life has been an echo of cosmic union.
I’ve danced the subtlest melody of courtship with ever deepening self
and a wordless longing for no more than divine unfolding
cradled always by the intimate peal of the sutras.
I have been Shiva, I have been Shakti. And both I can never not be.
The map written for me is the same etched on the face of every soul.
I have met you here before, on the singular path of infinite celestial polynomes.
with eternal mind galloping through our every manifestation and choice.
We were once of the same constellation, gazing at each other from across the galaxy
upholding a seemingly singular Universe. Until a new one unfolded.
You became the zenith to my valley, and then I the fog hugging your foothills.
I was the plum you once ate. And the mother of your cubs.
I have known of the eternal realm of love,
it has even lulled me awake at night whispering secrets into the ears of the unborn,
kept scraps of my soul hanging on through the darkest of days
and mortared my poetic vision to a muse I had not yet met.
Even on my deathbed, I kept long-beaded mantras of faith wrapped about my neck
tightening karmic strands one by one into flesh of cosmic confusion, desire, and despair
blindly endowing my own fitful engagement to the legibility of future seekers
whose minds today eagerly read the last notes from my skin.
It is true that I may be possessed by the madness
of unremittingly falling in love with the transience of the moment, any moment
of instinctually despooling the farces of trend and order
and knowing ecstasy to be the brightest umbrage echoing inside each breath.
Yet I certainly did not know the flesh of eternity
until I tasted your face.
Until I unraveled my tightly held expressions of affection
into new forms of poetry.
It is not an easy truth to settle into,
as the bliss of true aloneness has been good to me.
As with all rites of passage, the recognition has destabilized me.
The more vast heart becomes, the faster mind unreels.
And the sooner sanity becomes the last measure of bondage.
We can move into anything with our eyes closed
but choosing love over loss frees even the sleepiest nightingale
from her silent burden.
Now that the cage door to my soul has been torn off,
I cannot look away from your face. It could be that I do not dare. But I do.
Every day I dare look at the simmering fragility of the world as is
and find the ocean of my sight pours relentlessly through your love.
Photograph by Tom Clark