Integral Poems & Koans


"Now is the time for the emergence of new voices." -Jack Micheline

“The intention of a koan is to make people who are bright in an ordinary way, or ordinary people who are bright in an odd way, work harder and go further into themselves. The language presents an opportunity to perceive a metaphor that calls one not to “thought” but to work. Work is performance. Performance is embodiment, and not subject to ordinary rational analysis—it must spring forth freely and spontaneously, as does life for most working people, who are always dealing with the immediate. That’s one kind of koan. So in a way we’re not talking about “language,” we’re talking about the theater of life.” -Gary Snyder



Self in the Water

If you should die a thousand deaths before evening
What can oppose you?
Not even you!



King of the Knives, Solar Mind, Blade of the Kosmic Sun–
when He squared and quartered the wandering wind, was it not
She who drew it near him, who magnetized, who charmed it?

Of countless rays, this Head of Light–who hurled his flint across
the horizones, carving a world-order out of dilemma, and was it not
She who powered the sling, and swelled as His glory and His wonder?

Did He, Crest-Diamond, not hear, did He, Jewel of Flame, neither feel
nor sense Her–when his steel, sharp and honed to precision, etched
a view and a will on each window, gave them each name and number?

And when His toil of kreation rested, did not She, Void Wise of Fire,
lend him her breast as pillow, did She not say here, here is my cup
runneth over, offering Him the cool of moonbeams and violets?

(Playing with Upanishadic style, Integral motifs, and masculine-feminine energies
at work in any act of creation.)


We learn all this knowledge yet we don’t
have the wisdom to use it…
We learn how to transplant hearts yet we
struggle how to Love from them…
Why is the one thing we yearn for from the
time we are born to the day we die…
Love…so hard to contain, sustain and remain.
This is our great contemplation to
become our koan. If we solve this question can
We solve all the worlds problems?



At the root, a thousand hungers–

Fingers rake, tear and claw
at the earth, at bloody carcass
at the musky body of other

There is bliss

in the wild, don’t you forget it,
the fleeting glut, the satiated need
yours mine, inseparable, immediate

There is only now

on the face of the old sun, in the eyes
of the frenzied a glint of moon–

"Eat! Eat! Chaw da bone

Clan of Vagaries,

Breed and breed–"

pass to me pulse lusty in the gut,
fierce sinew in the loins

Hand me down

the long-wandering nerve, the prowl
in search of fill, let me feed
let me feed

Bequeath to me

the vital root, mouth of the many hungers,
senses sharp in stark interior, I bow
to you Clan, I bow

All ravening

a nod to both the grave and the cradle
I’ll be your survival, your tomorrow
safe-keeping the perseverating marrow

Is this greed? Is this greed? Is this greed?


Tribal Magic

The story is in the river
Long Man, god
on whose banks Selu
the Corn Goddess makes of
her seasonal lifestream an offering

The story is the river, shape-shifting
flow of life into and out of other
now giving, now receiving

The story is ancestral

human invention, originating
contrivances; prototypal
device for finding self
in spear, in fish, in water,
in kernel and pollen
Making of blurry scheme

a product of meaning: everything
is alive and everything is related
in the spell of time, in cyclic time,
in time beguiled, time enchanted

The story runs now in the river blue-red
in the veins of the Beloved Woman,
her cupped hand a ritual vessel at-one
with seed. It is herself

she drops into the earth,

singing the solar songs, calling
the lengths of rain, praying fertile fluid
into fertile land. Reconvening
Long Man the god and the goddess Selu

she ever invents the field afresh,
ever creates the stalk anew.

(The god Long Man, the goddess Selu, and Beloved Woman are important figures in Cherokee mythology and traditional medicine ways. Long Man is the consciousness of rivers; Selu is ‘corn,’ or ‘corn woman.’ Exemplifying the mystical sense of fertility associated with the magical stage of development, Cherokee legends hold that corn grew wherever drops of Selu’s blood fell. Portrayed as lovers, Long Man and Selu (who also had a husband, Kanati the hunter) are “supernaturals,” spirit-beings of the elemental powers of water and earth, respectively. Beloved Woman (“Ghigau”), on the other hand, is an actual role, said to be the most highly regarded role to which females can aspire. It is a tribal title denoting sage/wisewoman/guide.)


Our Love Story

At what point did evolution move from its slow processing

to an accelerated process? Perhaps it’s that

moment when consciousness itself became so aware

our evolution is within us humans as it is also

within the biological natural world. Humanity became

alive within its own awakening and its aware

consciousness of itself to become its own now directed

driver in co-creation with our powerful, loving

evolutionary force. Our One alive God living and breathing

through nature and through all humanity.

A great realization emerged of a great and grand vision

that us many varieties of our One Mystery

now can help our greater, loving creator take a giant leap

into a new future creating the greatest planetary

Love Story where We all in our many varieties of genius

work together side by side to harvest a Truth,

Beauty and Goodness that we all may live and prosper in

a synthesis of science, religion, politics and all

manner of business and health care. Is this possible? Can

two seeds create life…can energy be harnessed?

We know the answer is YES. Using the Power of Love as the

highest and most beautiful harnessed resource

given to us as this awakened and aware consciousness We

can use this power with guidance from our greater,

loving creator source of evolution within and without to now

plant these Love seeds within everyone and everything.

The blooms of Love in all manner of life can and must become

our new world. A world where God through all of us

and all the beautiful creations now smiles and says “Well Done.”


What is real cannot be threatened. What is unreal does not exist. Herein lies the peace of God.


Big Ego Too Big

How can I love thee, Big Ego Big?
Colorful and pumped up but not
as fun as a helium balloon, you rise
at any opportune occasion, always
amusing, Big Head on a string
lording over the party,
always celebrating

You think yourself immortal
and fantastic, but for all your
buffoonery, you are you know,
essentially a pipsqueak,
an empty piece of plastic?

Bloated with hot air
and blind to your own script,
if anything should prick you,
you spurt, sputter, and squeal,
twist and rage in the wind.
You contort and distort, wrinkle, fold
and double-down, fattening yourself
to fight, preparing for battle–

but alas, you always crash–
your view and your voice so lilliputian.
Weightless, your fate is to plummet,
to collapse into flaccid heap
on humble ground

Crumpled and fallen, deflated
and defeated, looking so in need
of comfort, so in need of healing,
I can love you then, recall for you
That truly with no beginning,
That truly without end–
even as I scoop you up
and toss you in the trash bin.



The flag behind him frayed, the cross rigid,
Preacher held court at the altar, booming
voice exploding through the whipping-stick
of his pointing finger

On the benches (stern pews
forbidding any unmoved mover move)
the Sisters and the Brothers:

row of reminiscing old men, eyes smoky
and aglow like the kerosene lamps
that lit the back-country timbers
during the snake cult’s occult doings

the row of bent and smiling old women
hissing, tsk-tsking the newcomer’s jewel-toned
lips and cheeks and nails, her bare arms

The scattered misfits staring straight ahead,
God bless them, stiff-necked, shame-faced,
blood in the eyes (the manly drunk trespassing
less than the vain woman)

the proper families, motherfatheroffspring,
in their proper places, up front and upright,
a grove of salvation in a forest of ‘forgive them’

the row of stray and will-stray children,
the little girl next to the little boy, her nice
and his bad clasping hands as a little shadow
pure and sweet passed between them

The girl knew the rules and (mostly) obeyed them

sat quietly when Sister Pearl spoke loudly,
shrieked oddly, holy tongues escaping
through the clapboard walls

sat still when Sister Opal danced wildly
in the aisles, spirited heels ravishing
the wood-planked floor

never blinked when forced to peer
at sleeping bodies in pretty boxes,
stiff, waxy, and not sleeping at all
but dead, very very dead–

Church was family was church and while
the Outsider said it was belief in the Father
that held them together, held them in place,
the Insider understood

belief was redeemed in the coil and the drape
on an old man’s reaching arm, in the ecstasies
of the semi-precious women

And the little girl’s future whispered yes
that’s all well and good, and don’t forget
the whipping-stick, the walls, the boxes,
don’t forget the woods–

cedar-lined churchyard of Christmas trees
and Easter baskets, summer picnics in the thick
of gray sinking gravestones, ashes to ashes,
dust to dust–

“don’t flinch, see clearly, think of heaven”–

little toy ants playing
above the fires of hell,
feeding atop the rot
of lying caskets.



Do you remember your first time of imagining

something absent? A longing or sensation

so your mind begins to image this as missing.

Like it’s somewhere else and imaging

gives life to it. Is the mind creating to help bring

it into existence? What an incredible

imagination our great Mystery, Presence, had in

creating our beautiful earth. Was there a

felt longing of form absent, perhaps, giving rise

to this powerful imagination creating the

most extraordinary planet of mystical lands, water,

air, mountains to then emerge life to inhabit

the earth garden. This mysterious mind also imaging

to emerge minds, bodies with internal systems

wired to walk, talk, and become conscious. How often

do you think about this? Shouldn’t we?

Are we becoming too robotic moving through life like

ants building our colonies, using our minds to

image even war and hate? Why do this when these gifts

given could do so much more to increase the

beauty, increase the goodness, increase peace and, most

important, increase the Love. When’s the last time

you sat next to a stream or tree or climbed the hill or high

mountain to just let yourself image beauty?

What if We all fell into wonder, awe and even curiosity of

what is here and that We, possibly, are part

of making it continue through our grand gift of imagination

with our Divine, loving Mystery within and without?

What if We choose to enter into moments with our Divine

Mystery imagining a world filled with Divine Love

and peace for everyone and not just a select few? What a

gift back We can all give as gratitude to what has

been given to us all. What a beautiful Imagination for life.



Recipe from the Italiano “Scherzo Festivo”
(“Festive Jesting” in Englishiano)

Pre-heat the Western nation to the nth degree
of utilitarianism is all we need,
then line cupcake tins with foiled plans

In a large crucible, mix together:

2 prides (male-roaring: optional) of autonomous ego
2 rations of reasonably white rationality (value-free: optional)
So many ??? of science
An industrial-sized helping of technology
And a wheel of progress

In a smaller crucible, break open
and beat lightly 1 large heart
Stir in equal parts coconutty oily competition
and materialism milked for all it’s worth
Flavor liberally with extracts
of care-and-concern for us all,
then theoretically, whisk

Add liquidity ingredients to the wry and dry
and just try to blend into an unheavenly mix
without using a devilsfood pitchfork
Fold a parade of ticker tape
into the pretty battered batter

Using a gravy spoon, fill tin cups half-full;
leave empty tins wanting

Bake for 1 line of sliced-and-diced
fractured and fragmented time,
until tops of cupcakes turn orange
and a tree inserted into the center
comes out stripped of leaves and bark

Cool on conventional black and white racks

Ice Ice, Baby, Icing!

Measure, measure, and measure again
and simmer the following:

A few shrugs of detachment
An uneventful abstraction

Intensify flavors through reductionism,
stirring occasionally with the right
while ignoring the left hand

Let cool, then screw in a lightbulb joke
and whip and groan until fluffy

Taste Test: If frosting seems bitter,
try sweetening with a little messy
touchy-feely sensation

Swirl frosting onto cooled cupcakes
Sprinkle with plenty of logic and data

Garnish futuristically with 1 dotcom
of optimism dipped in alienation

Yield: Enough cupcakes to serve about
30% of the world’s population
(Don’t be cruel–serve the herd mentality

Eccoti! (“here it is!” and “there you are!”)
Hte bigne di confetti di modernita!

(The Integral Chef’s Kwiki Kritique:
A bum-yummy, a yummy bummer,
pretty good, kinda bad. All in all,
an evolution in just desserts, a pinnacle
in the progression of confections sure
to constellate epidemics of pre and post
indigestion. Alkaid, Alioth, and Mizar–
3 :stars::stars::stars: in the Big Dipper’s head.)

Confetti is from the Italian plural of “confetto” meaning “sweetmeat.” Its use in Italy dates to Medieval times. According to Etymology Online, by modernity (1815), confetti consisted of “small pellets of lime or soft plaster used during carnival by the revelers for pelting one another in the streets.”


Two Evergreens


Voice of compassion
rustling near breastbone
delicate as baby breath

Warm-murmuring truth-chord
mighty and pristine
as a slow-falling snowstorm

A tree of life kindly,
a welcoming refuge,
sheltering tree of peace

A mothertongue universally
answering pain and suffering
and need

Eloquence branching
in the heartspace, language
budding with feeling and sense

Love singing
through the stardust
of which we’re born


Adjudicating voice,
far from its polestar
in realm of sleet-heavy cloud

Hard-hammering end-note
sharp and condemning,
icy arrows coming down

Tree of points, counterpoints
recounting offenses,
bristling tree of needles

Court of hubris and frosty nails
splintering wit and justice
and truth

Beaks carp and pillage
on frail limb where mercy sits
in biting windgale

Scolds roosting
in the mean boughs
of vainglory


These practices are the shell of the seed

Your yearning is the potential that lies inside

To sprout, you must let go of everything you thought you were

Reach, without reaching, for the Sun

Sitting back into the quiet witness of your own unfolding

A small holon of the greater Unfolding

Just here

Just present

Without boundaries

Something timeless



Traces in a Stream

Not floating, not drifting like a leaf,

flowing, at home in the flowing flow

bendable in the bends,

  at the curve in the current

an elegant stretch

of being becoming

a supple bow

to the mirror
to the fluidity of mirrors
to shade and sun in the mirror

to the clearest of mirrors,

mirror within and beyond, the I-I


pauses stops risings fallings

steps on maturity’s ladder

embedded in the log in the stream

log chop-chopped into parts

observe the bark, study the pulp

analyze the rings, growth, rungs;

bole split, severed from branches
and stump

yet reflect on the tree in one piece

living wholeness

untangling roots underlying
surface ripples

mining sediments for crusted relics
of self

trial by trowel after trowel

excavating, cleaning, owning

scoop after scoop, discovering

lost traces of humanness

in the ruins of humanness

artifacts weightless and glimmering

light, more lightness, more light

in a world in tilt, in change,
choking on flat air low-lying

will it topple, transform, breathe

uncertainty circling the heart
of the matter

           life goes on

beyond no, yes, wait and see

one with no time, all time
no time to waste, all time to lose

we go on, knowing no matter

how strange or lone the feeling

here now, there is a sea

where all flows belong, just are

not a/part, One Self, just beauty

this too is home

know this as home.


The Goddess Kali

Blue midnight, the blush of her skin,
She is the Hidden within the hidden,
the inside of the dark moon
swallowed by darker heavens

Traverse her necklace of skulls,
if you dare, enter her body
via the throat, upper gateway
to liberation

Offered nectar she smiles, slightly.
If poison is your language, pure
whiplash-lick of the Mother’s tongue
is curative

Some say the fiercely passionate winds
are her eternal breath, the warm
whisper on your neck, sweet prelude
to her deep vanity-bruising kiss

Entangling the sum in its wild stream,
the length of centuries, her hair;
a revelatory maze for the resolute,
dreaded snare for the timid or reckless

She is the Key to the Locks of Time
and the Slayer of Time;
the Force between that and that,
She opens the crux of Now

Bangles on her ankles and wrists–
can you hear the shiny sounds
in the cacophony
of her roars and moans?

She is echoed in the people’s streets,
in the clamor of indelicate revolution
She does not fight for right or justice,
She is Justice.

She dances ecstatically in forests,
half-naked in the fires,
her skirt of arms flaring, knee bent,
pointed foot lifted, mid-air

She is and is not of the earth
that quakes, sinks, erupts, erodes
food fleeing with the fly-away lands
She is and is not elementally punitive

She does and does not stir the skies,
strike and thunder, damn the ground,
wound city and town, blood-red
the nail paint on her big toe

Glacial in its emanation, her heat
melts frosty feelings, the rime of reason,
frozen will, yet is wholly innocent
towards the globe’s icy crown and soles–

She holds sword and a severed head
in eastern hands, western hands gesturing
fear not, this is a gift. “How brutal!”
some exclaim, others, “What charity!”

She is Transcendent, hard to embrace
She is Immanent, ruthlessly Divine
Truth-filled her eyes, opening your own
She is the Dark One in the darkness

The Destroyer among destroyers–
She has cut out her own heart,
tossed it like a bone, boon to the world
She does not love, She is Love.

The Potency of Nothingness
The Emptiness of Cause
The Blue-Black Luminosity
Jaya Jaya Kali Ma!
The Transformative Kali Ma.

I first encountered Kali in my psyche and in my meditations during a time of life in which I was suppressing quite a bit of anger. She fixed that. She has come and gone over the years, showing up at pivotal points in one or another of her various aspects–as warrior, as ego-diminisher, as sexuality, as elemental force in nature, as disrupter of the status quo, as remover of obstacles to truth and speaking truth, etc. One night, as I lay down to sleep with a very tender heart, having assisted over the course of a few weeks two people through the dying process and death, I became aware of a Presence in my room. Soon it was right at my cheek and I recognized it as Kali. The mother-love that enveloped me was almost more than I could bear. I have “known” Kali as this incredible love ever since.


Black Day

Tree of Unborn Souls, Cradle Tree
Self-Tree, Tree of Romance, Family Tree

Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Learning Tree, Healing Tree, Tree of Light
Christmas Tree, Totem Tree, Bodhi Tree

Peace Tree, Tree of Life, World Tree

WingedFurrySlither Tree, Shade Tree
Climbing Tree, Treehouse, Fairy Tree

Tree of Breath, Lung Tree, Tree of Airs

Tree of Flutes, Drum Tree
Tree of Bells, Rattle Tree

Click Sticks and Whistle Tree

Animal Claw and Feather Tree
Canoe and Bow-and-Arrow Tree

Tree of Foods, Medicine Tree

Guardian Tree, River Tree
Jungle Tree, Vision Tree

Tree of Freedom, Spirit Tree

Bone Tree, Coffin Tree, Weeping Tree
Memorial Tree, Ancestral Tree

Tree in an Ash Urn, Tree Burial

Community Tree, Promise Tree
Ceremonial Tree, Blessing Tree

Simply Tree. Forever Tree.

(High Hopes Ant and Rubber Tree
Victory Fronds and Walking Palm Tree
Ungurahui Juice and Ice Cream Tree
and 16,000 other species)

Can’t see the forest
for the trees

(As probably many others did, I felt very connected to the fires in Brazil and the Amazon that got so much attention in August; there were so many synchronicities it was hard not to feel connected. For one thing, I had been scribbling about trees (which eventually morphed into the above). And then the Amazon fires started and about the same time, a lightning-caused forest fire started about 25-30 miles from where I live. On the “Black Day” (sunlight in Sao Paulo blocked by smoke), I opened my front door to see a giant bank of gray, white, charcoal, and ugly yellow-colored smoke covering the sun, which was bright cherry-red, something I’d never seen before. Then there was this little ominous thing: the personalized license plate of the car in front of me on the road reading BYFIRE. On the top of the plate frame, it read “Not by water this time” and on the bottom, “by fire.” And off to the left on the plate, in tiny lettering, squeezed in, “In God We Trust.” With the fires seeming like some kind of Armageddon, I appreciated the little reminder…and I hope we value actual trees at least as much as we do their symbolism.)


Sunday Night Blues on the Radio

Sunday night blues on the radio,
me and Bessie Smith down on
ladybug luck, I know
a lover is not going to save me.
But even reasonable beings sweat
like it sometimes rains spiders,
and we forget that tests come.

A man named Seed in Friday’s
coffehouse sang Yellow is the color…
and now
even though my hair is brown,
pleasure has fled the sweet nature
of mango juice,
pampering summertime heat
with baby powder,
or even munching celery–
I long for yellow and Wednesday
and other midpoints–center me
in safety–these moods pass
and can’t be trusted.

Tiny spiders, distract me with your
crawl, up and down
that frenzied string of web–

Too many ties

Lovers go to Hawaii, bring me back
an apron
and a beautiful shell marked
‘made in Taiwan’
Seed like a trickster would probably bloom,
steal the mermaid and the gun
from my heart, make my guts
rattle and squeam, scream
in their crazy strength–no no no

Sing! Clarence Gatemouth Brown
Daddy Daddy Daddy
I done changed the lock
on my door…I’m afraid of finding
what I’m not searching for.
I would have to give up
a way of life and these steamy
stained-glass windows in my eyes.

(A blast from the past…)


Breakfast with Raven

Against the backdrop
of wildly yellow tree
shaking in mid-autumn wind,
Raven sits on the edge
of the neighbor’s roof

from the rain gutter
nesting material, or is it breakfast–

my morning tea
has never tasted
so milk-and-honeyed

I watch through glass doors
snow clouds rolling in
pearly-soft and changing
halo-ing the tree

scattered patches of blue
tunneling invitations, Huichol nierika,
portals to the unknown

Beak full of stash
Raven takes short flight
to the apex of the A-frame–this too

my affinity, the higher view
starting the day with long vision
open to space

eyebright with the rawness of mystery

feathers glistening, lustrous
in muted light

the bird flies
I wonder
how far, how near
is away
life, the in-between
we all disappear

following the flurry into the distance
the dark shape growing smaller
and smaller, barely there
the speck
facing the white glare of a rising sun

then poof!
save for a subtle sheen

as sure as a warm snowflake
becomes naked
becomes nothing but all
crystalline vapor–that too

a breath released,
vanishing into the empty
way of things

all absorbed in the end
by some wildly grand
natural wonder.