Alfred K. LaMotte – Five Poems
You have a secret work within your work,
the stillness of the heart.
The energy for the task is gratitude,
the sensation morning glories feel
just after dawn.
Learn to glow through mist as they do.
Though their blossoms do not speak,
their Being is a kind of song
that requires a deeper listening
to the ordinary.
You too could sing like that,
seeded by stray breezes, tangled
on a broken fence beyond an empty barn
where pigeons startle and flash
in dusty sunbeams stuttered through chinks
of warped cedar.
Passion in the fragrance of their shadows
is what matters.
Let useless beauty fall in streams
of not pretending.
Bend where you need, feigning no
Trellised on the post and rail of silent ruin,
bow under graces of weightless sky.
Entwine your heart with weeds
of sudden unexpected revelation.
Flower without trying.
True listeners live in the heart.
They love the gossip of raindrops,
the breaking news of Spring peepers.
Say less than you mean.
Grace is the gift of subtraction.
The trembling crystal of a chickadee
proclaims the whole Godspell.
Tell as little as a willow by a pond
where the heron glides away
on the first breath of twilight.
And if you must speak, leave
a rippled stillness between yours words,
the kind of mirror where
that long-beaked huntress might pause
on one leg all the golden afternoon.
Be more like the moon between clouds,
until your silences say everything.
One Who Loved You
The one who loved you madly into being
has become your breath.
If you empty your chest, she fills
your darkness with moonlight.
Your first duty is inhalation,
your last is merely to breathe out.
This is how you polish the earth
like a sparkling emerald.
What you do between birth and death
is not so important.
Just hug the whole entanglement
without untying any knots.
Through your magisterial refusal,
a laughing hellebore teared with dewdrops
answers every question; a dandelion
embodies the Maker of all things.
Self-awareness is the pulse
of a twin-chambered heart.
The one who sees is the one who is seen.
Yet between them is distance so vast
it contains the night, and so alive
it churns out stars. Matter is a mist
in your eye, but the soul is solid
as a diamond. Already you Are
the boundless space into whom
you ever expand: this is the paradox
deep in the green of your iris, defining
ananda, the bliss of bewilderment.
All you need is the hunger of silence
to understand that the cry of an owl
at midnight is sacred and means
precisely nothing. Yet in this nothing
your ancestors gather, singing
your name by the glow of a golden fire
that was never lit. At dawn, you’ll see
the truth: all through the darkest hours
some Word-less mothering secret force
was weaving galaxies into the shape
of a nest: She is the one who sings
the whole sky in a robin’s egg.
Ejaculate the stars.
Then visit the liminal wilderness
between zero and one
where the Word arises,
not as creation
but the chaos of astonishment.
Grok the luminous ambiguity
of non-conceptual mind
to get there.
If a thought speaks
the heart is betrayed.
But if a song does not begin
somewhere in your belly
the cosmos is a stillborn seahorse
floating in milk.
Rest in this riddle
without solving it.
Let you spine be a supple
blue question mark
in a moonlit tidal pool
birthing an agony of pearls.
The brushstroke of chance
daubed this world-stain
on a silk mirage.
Meet your voice
in the wellspring
Don’t listen for a voice from heaven.
Crack and break open like a nurse log
pocked by edible mushrooms
here on the brown earth.
Be the old broke wood-bone hosting
a new spruce shoot.
Listen for the Wintry howl of
wounded seeds in thermal furrows.
Turn your clocks back, watch
the last gold glance of daylight die
on a mossless stone.
(igneous mindful atomic quartz entangled
larvae dreaming thick in crevices between
earth water wood and air all matter quivering
on fractal blades of the witnessing Self
who pulses beyond sleep too silent to bear
the presence or remember where we lay so
patient in our protons for two billion years.)
to the sound of
falling stars in your body.
Author’s Statement on Beauty
Beauty unfolds in the silence between thoughts. The dark loam of thought-free awareness is where Words of creation spring up and cry, “Let there be light.”
Creation is neither a tale of the past nor a vision of the future, but a history of this moment. That is why, for me, meditation is the mother of poetry.
This world is so beautiful when we see it through the crystal lens of silence, without super-imposing our ideas, our stories, our past. Then a new creation shines with every breath. One atom of this body encircles the entire sky. One tear of compassion contains all the fire of our outrage. It is very important to find this tear, and weep.
Fear resists. Resistance thickens. But when we let the veils thin out, Beauty glows through the entangled opposites of this world. In Beauty, there is vast sorrow as well as joy, the angst of multitudes in the street, and the gentility of a falling leaf in the ancient forest. Gold and burgundy, sunlight and rain, commingle in the wine of Beauty.
The artist does not untie the knot. She is simply the servant of wonder, recording the annals of Presence.
Alfred K. LaMotte is the author of Wounded Bud (Saint Julian Press, 2013) and Savor Eternity One Moment At A Time (Saint Julian Press, 2015). An interfaith chaplain and college instructor in World Religions, he lives near Seattle WA.