2010 © Davis Taylor


Dear Baba,

This Incense is my love, these fruits my art
Which to please You I have shaped from my heart.
Accept them as You would a simple flower
That has no use beyond its shining hour.

(from the "Australian Arti" by Francis Brabazon)






Part One



That instant when thought awakened You from sleep
and imagination sparked the starry night;
that instant of stirring, when soul began its leap
from Om to Self evolving toward the light;
that instant, or any, since all are now to You,
You could have seen me up writing, for hours
fussing to make this sonnet shimmer like dew
but failing, my poetic garlands, flowers
of rhetoric wilted from dithering. No Tagore
or Whitman, I'd quit except that something's worrying
me like a bird trapped behind the door
of a wood stove scratching, scurrying.
Oh Baba, You're driving me nuts. Break my heart,
let out Your blessed Word. I'll write. You start.

Part One



"I'll write—You start" has been a trial, not
that I expected sonnets by UFO
or that You'd speak, a genie from a teapot—
You've kept Your silence as deftly as Pierrot—
but still I feel that something's passed between us,
that You, a subtle mime, have flicked the rose
that flares in me, but I've no proof unless,
well, certainly not from videos,
but if a reader can attest to moments
sudden chills have shuddered down the spine
or frissons seized the heart, then I'd have hints,
not proofs, You've sent and I have caught Your sign,
as when I lift a seashell to my ear,
where there's no words, Baba, it's You I hear.

Part One



You are the Ancient One, the Avatar,
I know within my heart and not because
I've sipped on Buddhist water, Hindu nectar,
Christian wine, or shopped around—it was
for years—churches, sanghas, temples, wherever
I imagined tickets sold for heaven,
thus bound to miss You, and might have forever,
if I hadn't happened on a photo when
in Albany of Mani and Mehera that caught
my eye—illumined from within they seemed—
and so I learned of You, read books, and got
the courage up to pray, whereon I dreamed,
no saw, a flash of the infinite and fled,
but You've wound me back, a kite, Your love the thread.

Part One



And did You call my name,
mine—could it be true—
for I am full of shame
from years of fleeing You?
But now at night I go
into a vacant shed
to sit with You and slow
the thoughts within my head.
"Oh Parvardigar,
the Preserver and Protector
of all, You are.... You are...."
I cry and cry, and after
I cannot tell You why,
and then again I cry.

Part One



Baba, it's far more likely that You found me
than I You, but afterwards, why send
me north to Lake Superior? To be
alone, no neighbors near, and learn to listen?
Out in the snow are shivering chickadees,
hammering hairy woodpeckers, skittering mice,
wind, and something's gained by listening to these,
but more it is the silence, the sun on ice,
that brings me tears, Mani would say because
I too am melting, the man I was, important
to others, yielding, but I've a deeper cause
for tears, for when I rise from prayer repentant
and face Your portrait, it breaks my heart in two
to see You long for me as I for You.

Part One



When I was four, I overheard my mother
say to my sister, "Your brother's muttering again
to no one." It's been so long, I can't remember
who was my chattering, invisible Friend,
"imaginary," my mother would have said,
but real to me, though lest my family think
me crazy, sentenced to silence in my head,
but Baba, if You're that Friend, I've found the link
proving that we've been close before, You
more dear to me than the rag doll I took
scampering under my bed when lightning flew,
and now You're back, nattering like a brook,
as real as anyone I could imagine,
more real, now in my heart no longer hidden.

Part One



The hush of evening's come. The sun has set,
and yet there grows in me a restlessness
I cannot shake by scrolling the internet,
paying bills, or organizing my office.
I wonder if it's a cancer swells inside,
a business risk I casually assumed,
or years ago my first wife's suicide
that holds me now terrified and doomed.
I envy the cat, curled-up upon the sofa,
drowsing herself asleep. I cannot find
such peace, am stuck in peevish worry. Baba,
save me from myself and let my mind
be drowned tonight in Yours. My dear, why not?
You are the sea, and I a tossing thought.

Part One



When did You get to me? That photo of Mani
and Mehera, reading Your books, or afterwards,
that time You scared the bejesus out of me
sending Your light, and I scampered backwards
from You to Nisargadatta and nothingness,
or did we meet some lives ago when Buddha
raised a flower, or was it back when Horus
soared to battle, his eyes the moon and Ra?
Sometimes, I feel as though I've known You from
some lost beginning, but even if that's true,
that's no excuse for why, this time You've come,
I've run away, frightened of facing You,
and then it happened. Leafing through a Glow,
I saw through You to God. By chance? No.

Part One



It came to me on waking,
there is no You I love,
no You for Whom I'm aching,
no You below, above.
It came to me as well,
there is no apple tree,
no harbor's chiming bell,
no rocks, no sand, no sea.
It came—I had no warning—
there is no I, no I
who waits for You this morning,
no I who fears to die,
but all's illusion only,
and then You came to me.

Part One



I thought by loving You that I'd love all
more fervently, be buoyed up by bliss.
Instead I feel lackadaisical
about life and politics, letting this
and that go, perhaps because I trust
You now, and do, though worried all the same
that I am drifting, blown by every gust,
while You held firm whatever perils came.
Once, I clearly saw my course: that I
would help the suffering as I've been trained.
"Give it up," I think You're saying, but why?
I'd rather work than feel so weary, constrained
to fade like mist before the warming sun
unless, like this, we shall at last be one.

Part One



Baba, what's going on? I felt last night
an explosion in my chest, no heart attack,
more as if a star had burst with light,
a vial shattered, and down my spine shot cognac
burning, searing, and not just sensation
but in my mind a change from outer to
inner sight, the sun-flecked, rolling ocean
slipping back into an ancient bayou
where the coiling serpent bites its tail,
dismembered Osiris is gathered up by Isis,
Diana swells to full, and through the frail
laurel, Daphne, ever green, arises,
images I'd not connect with You, Baba,
but was it thus You came to open Sara?

Part One



Baba, I'm happy that You let me be
crazy over You, out of my mind
addled, worthless for work, asking of me
nothing but these poems that You've assigned.
You know I've changed. I'm not the man I was
since youth, driven to excel, to rescue
others, live as I thought a Christian does,
preparing for a final interview.
Nope, I'm free of that, thanks to Your mercy,
finding You in everything and one,
becoming a celibate from controversy
and television to garden in the sun.
I never thought I'd be like this, a truant
from life, nothing but Your love important.

Part One



Baba, if You've had Your fill
of sonnets, ghazals, light
and heavy verse, I'll stop,
governed by Your will.
Sure, I like to write,
to wrestle with words, make art,
but I would miss the waiting
more, the gradual drop
from mind and its debating
to find You at my heart.
I love to feel Your presence
before the coming of
the word, to sit in silence
thinking it's You I've heard.

Part One



Last night before I went to bed, I read
about Rwanda, the Tutsi women raped
by Hutus, shunned by their families, and led
to camps with bastard children. I read their taped
responses: "I don't love my son, don't hate
him either....My father says my child is bad....
My son's a tree without branches....Too late
you came to rescue us."* Like many, I had
forgotten Rwanda, but through the night I dreamt
I was in camp with them. The children walked
slowly, famished, afraid. When I'd attempt
to play, they'd turn away. Not one talked
with me. I woke, then saw, despite my sadness,
You are the trunk and all of us Your branches.

*Amnesty International, Spring, 2008.

Part One



Today, I followed Your advice to Kitty,
"let Baba do it." I lounged in bed while You
jumped up, lit the fire, fed the cat,
scooped out the litter box, filled the kettle,
made the tea, then brushed against a vase
that shattered to the floor. Whoops, but You
kept quiet, mopped it up, swept the walk.
Why scold or praise myself? I hadn't done
a thing, but like a marker in Parcheesi,
been scooted round the board. It was easy.
You stepped into my life and did it all.
I scarcely knew myself. The day sped by,
and as I turned again toward bed, I saw
I'd be in heaven if for You I'd die.

Part One



If I were You, if I could see the fall
of every sparrow, know in full the future,
I think I would go mad. Knowing all—
well, it isn't meant for any creature,
and so You said, "Don't try to fathom me,
just love me," but then, out of compassion,
in talks and books, You also let us see
how we are part of You, how everyone
and everything indwells as finite thought
within Your Infinite Intelligence.
Although we seem illusory and caught
in shadows, limited to a world of sense,
in You we're light and love eternally.
The sparrow falls in You, and so do we.

Part One



In Your menagerie were five monkeys,
four dogs, two pigs, piglets, parakeets,
rabbits, goats, a horse, a pair of donkeys,
and they'd rush to welcome You, whether You had treats
or not, each morning as You'd visit. You'd giggle,
tickled by a bunny's fur. At the horse,
neighing as Mehera passed, You'd stop to wiggle
Your nose against its snuffling muzzle. Of course,
pigs pooped, birds screeched, and puppies jumped. You didn't
seem to notice. Smiling, You'd shrug to Mehera:
were all all right? You seldom missed a visit,
the silent center of a brouhaha,
and so the planets spin about the sun,
and so we rush until with You we're one.

Part One



Few know about these poems.
To shout our love from rooftops?
Baba, a shyness trims
my heart. Consider the snowdrops
by the walk, each one
a tri-part bell of white,
an utterance of sun,
a gathering of light.
Wordless, they astonish,
yet people hurry by,
as if from cold they'll perish,
steaming lattés to buy.
If they won't stop for snowdrops,
You think they'll stop for sonnets?

Part One



Fear scampers off from You, is far too chicken
to call You Christ and face idolatry.
Gluttony's unimpressed. You will not win
him over with a diet of milk and tea.
Wrath, chided by You, slams the door.
To Lust, You're naive and inexperienced.
Sloth misses the bus, goes home to sleep some more.
Pride, hearing You say You're God, is impressed,
but will not deign to sit with leper or mast.
Greed thinks You're stingy: a candy, a hug, and that's it
for Your lovers? Envy seethes. "It is unjust,"
he cries, convinced if people judged by merit,
he'd get Your garlands. And so Meher, eight
deadly sins agree You're not so great.

Part One



I got up at four after sleeping fitfully,
determined to get an early start on the day
and be as obedient as one of Your mandali,
those early years, up in the dark to pray,
when, "Go back to bed," I'd swear You said.
"But Baba, how can I be holy while drowsing
in bed?" "Holy? Who turned your head
to being holy?" "Why You and Your rousing
the mandali up for prayers." "Enough, obey,
and go to bed." I did, sensing Your care,
and slept til after eight, and now all day
I've felt You near—a presence by my chair,
a wisp of breeze—and I've been free of worry.
For holiness, I'm not in such a hurry.

Part One



For weeks I'd felt You near, and then today
for just a second You were gone. My heart
seized, as if the floor had dropped away,
then eased, for You were back, but what a start
I'd had—to stumble through a gap, a tear
in the cosmic fabric, and know right off that if
You left, the pain was more than I could bear.
I sensed, as after a major quake, a whiff
of dust, and then I managed on til night
pretending all was just the same. It was,
or so it seemed. I'd merely had a fright,
but once in bed, I could not sleep because
You'd left, or so it seemed. You are my life,
a moment's absence cutting as Kali's knife.

Part One



For a second You were gone.
I knew I should not fear.
It wasn't like a year,
but still I tossed til dawn.
All night, my nerves were drawn,
my stomach upset, queer.
A noise and out I'd peer,
but nothing crossed the lawn.
At last the sun burst through.
I rose from bed to face
Your portrait, remember You,
but worries took Your place,
and though I said Your name,
You'd gone. 'Twas not the same.

Part One



You weren't someone I just dreamt up,
a wish fulfillment, as Freud would say,
a toy or happy, frolicsome pup
to help me through my waning day.
You were the force of life to me
"that through the green fuse drives the flower,"
as wrote a lover of spring and folly,
but You have left, like him, a dower
of grief, absence, what is not.
The finches flock, the herons cross
the sky. I watch but cannot blot
away the darkness of my loss.
Why write? Everything falls wrong.
You were the music to my song.

Part One



I will not dream You up or conjure You
from the depths of longing. Better that You are gone,
better this bitter pain that says I knew
Your presence once, better that I go on
alone than in pretended company,
for there's a truth in absence, a certitude
in the bleak hollowness of my days that we
were once in love. You gave me then the food
of life, and now my hunger points the way
of faithfulness. Not an instant, Baba,
can I leave You. Though You are gone, I stay
beside my gate and childlike count each car
pass down the road to home, and when I hear
the silence through the trees, I think You're near.

Part One



Baba, You're gone, and yet I live as though
nothing's changed. I say Your name at dawn.
I'm watchful for a sign. All day I go
about my work with smiles and not a frown.
A glance at me, perhaps You'd think that I
am holy and like the fabled saints, patient
in my love, but that's not true. I cry
most nights; the days, I scarcely hide my torment.
I know the Hafiz poem, "O be not grieved,"
that says I shouldn't fuss or expostulate
to You about my fate. I have believed,
but Baba, how much longer must I wait?
I've read, "this desert one day shall be a garden,"
but every day without Your love, I harden.

Part One



A gentle emptiness now falls on me.
I'm tired from days of planting apple trees,
tired of longing, of measuring degrees
of absence, presence, so tired that now I see
perhaps You're part of me, the part that's empty
when thoughts are swirled and carried off by the breeze
and there is nothing left but chickadees
swooping back and forth from bush to tree.
No one would think to steal this emptiness
except myself, worrying if You're near,
but I have grown too tired, I must confess,
for worry, as though I'd walked from far Kashmir
to Poona seeking You and then arrive
to find but emptiness, not You alive.

Part One



Some say that You are found in emptiness
and fathomed by yogic discipline, by years
given to watching yearnings, thoughts, and fears,
to patient seeking not for more but less,
to letting go and coming to address
what's been most painful, to accepting bitter tears,
to finding peace in whatever now appears,
and yes, I've found relief in emptiness,
but You are more than that: You are the face
where I've met God, the love duet that won't
stop playing in my mind, the rush of grace
that springs from failure, kindness, a selfless moment,
the Friend Whose name I've whispered through the day,
but since You've left, You are grief's résumé.

Part One



Like every day, I've gotten up
to say Your name. It is my habit,
my discipline. So what if my cup
is empty, I'm up. I will not quit.
Pride, shame, stubbornness
comprise my willful trinity,
propping up my cheerfulness,
my pretense of serenity.
How different it was. Light
would fill the room as You drew near.
I didn't worry, all seemed right.
I'd smile, for it was You I'd hear,
as even now: "Be not dismayed.
Love's secret game is being played."

Part One



You've played and conquered at love's game, and now
You're back, I know You're back, and as for how
I know, I know, and You know I know, Your absence
over, so let me shout my thanks—Ah,
"what's real is given and received in silence"—
so You've said, but I can't be silent, Baba.
Bursting with love, bursting to sing Your praise,
must I stuff my feelings, no hubbub raise?
All right, but this at least I will admit:
I was wrong. You never left. Not pride,
'twas You Who kept me going, wouldn't quit
yearning in me for You—so deep inside
it seemed You'd gone—and yearning too for me,
who's You, my truest Self, a mystery.

Part One



Most people haven't heard of You, Baba,
or if so vaguely as another guru,
Maharaj, or Ji, though not as Allah,
Yahweh, Vishnu, Ezad, God, but You
are God, not a small tributary
to the ocean but beyond the ocean,
the very source from Whom the Cosmic Sea
of stars and planets flows in constant motion.
Formless, hidden in Illusion's train,
You are unknown. Not even paradox
can light the darkness that You are, restrain
the silence of Your voice. You're Buddha's ox
and boy. You're Christ and Peter, Indra's net,
the Love in whom our need to love is set.

Part One


Part Two



Baba, I'm building You a hut,
fifteen feet square, a cherry floor,
a Jøtul stove, Wisconsin cut
cedar for ceiling. Above the door
I'll paint, "Baba's hut," an excuse
to speak of You and say this space
is sacred, Yours, but what the deuce,
I'll add, so's every other place.
I'll put inside Your books and portrait.
When someone comes, we'll sit and wait
for You, dispel the known to let
the unknown enter, while on the grate
the kindling crackles, to ash burning,
ourselves to You, our Self, returning.

Part Two



Read Hafiz. He'll let you know about the planes,
the steps to take to realize you're God.
Search out his tavern, listen as he explains.
He has imbibed the truth, a wine-drunk sod
and Perfect Master too, while I'm a pilgrim
setting out along the way, my staff,
Meher Baba's name, my goal to write a poem
for Him each day, the subject love. Don't laugh.
Baba's told me to trust my yearning heart,
to speak out loud His Word that lies therein,
to labor on, though always at the start,
while gathering stories from the sacred inn.
I've far to go, by love am stupefied.
So what? I'm happy, for Baba is my guide.

Part Two



I must be lost for You to find me,
dark for You to give me light.
I must be free for You to bind me,
and bound to be released in flight.
It's when I'm silent that I hear
the murmur of Your voice inside.
It's as a child I let You steer
my aged bark to reach Your side.
When I'm emotionless, I feel
Your bliss, when I'm completely still,
Your force. When I am thoughtless, You steal
within and take away my will.
When I become for God insane,
You shelter me from sun and rain.

Part Two



I pass the barn, the forest on my left,
the frost crunching, all silent otherwise,
to reach Your hut, its roof between a cleft
of stars, its walls lit by the moonrise.
I go inside as thought into Your mind.
It's March, the lake a frozen sheet, no slide
or slap of waves. I see the hills outlined
against a sky where the Gemini now stride.
The deer-nibbled field is yet snow-patched,
in moonlight, the fence's posts arrayed in line,
but I am scarcely here, a mind-trace snatched
by You, as chills are racing down my spine.
If thus my ego died and I were You,
would all be gone that now I barely view?

Part Two



Out in the woods, I've often sat beside
a stream and flicked small sticks into the flow
and watched for hours, guessing how they'd go,
which ones would be by eddies pulled aside,
which wedged by rocks, which drowned, which spinning slide
downstream and pass from sight, guessing as though
I could control their swirls and stops, but no,
I was but watcher to their casual ride,
and in my life it's often been the same,
that what I thought I chose, in fact, chose me,
and what I thought controlled steered me. As for blame
or praise? I'm undeserving as a stick would be,
fate-flicked, and then it hits me: Fate is You,
watching, nudging, lifting me on through.

Part Two



I've reached a ledge.
There's nothing there.
"Step back," fear says—
I'm at the edge.
My hands are cold.
"Go on," love says—
I don't know where
or if You're there.
"You've wings," God says—
I feel my soul
now take control.
"Be bold," she says—
There is no wall.
I fall and fall.

Part Two



I quote from the masts: "Look, the Lord Krishna
and His gopees have come." "He's God Himself,
and you have tricked me. I am not fit to sit
beside Him." "We have come to the garden of Paradise.
Look at this man's face and forehead, they shine
as if the sun were there, can't you recognize
who he is?" And Chatti Baba to Krishna:
"You want to leave, ... but what's the good of that?
All the world's in Baba's power, so where
will you go to? Serve Him now. He is
the ocean. One day, people will throng to see Him,
and you may miss the chance of meeting Him.
Take it now." God-crazed, out of their mind,
they saw the One all seek but so few find.

The quotations, with minor changes at the end of the last, are from The Wayfarers, Meher Baba with the God-Intoxicated, by William Donkin (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, 1988), pages 151-156. In the order in which they are quoted, the masts are: a mast near Brindaban, Gulab Baba, the mast of the "Place of Seclusion," and lastly Chatti Baba, who was speaking to Krishna, one of the mandali. The last line comes from one of Baba's sayings: "I am the one so many seek and so few find" (Meher Baba Calling, Ahmednagar, 1992, #14).

Part Two



There in the ditch, we think that we can see
the blackbird swaying on a cattail stem
accurately from stimuli entering us,
as if the world out there comes in as is.
Not so. From hints, experience, and memory,
we fabricate four fifths of what we see—
mental constructs, the visible partaking
of the invisible continually,
but once, for me, it was reversed, that day
I saw Your face appear across the sky,
for then invisible reality
grew visible despite my mortal eye.
I wasn't thinking of You. The sky was clear.
I was out walking. No one else was near.

Part Two



Baba, I've had too much to drink
at Woody's, Independence Day,
up here in Herbster, north Wisconsin.
Kids are partying by the bay.
We old have gathered at the bar,
fish fry, a Friday night and noisy.
Did You know, Your name, Baba,
rhymes with bar? The dictionary
says so. It's true. I'm drunk with beer,
with You. A thread of silken floss—
is that the moon above the pier?
I stagger home. O'erhead, the cosmos
bursts with stars and stripes and smoke.
Freedom? To You I am bespoke.

Part Two



"You are without color, without expression,
without form, and without attributes,"
I say each morning as I watch the sun
strike the photo of Your face. Shoots,
Baba, it's pretty strange to say to You,
"no one can see You but with eyes Divine,"
while gazing at Your eyes and sensing, too,
right then that You are gazing into mine,
and yet more strange since I believe each word
I'm saying, that I cannot see "the One,"
yet seeing You, and thus the visible's blurred
into the invisible, my sight undone.
My mind grows quiet as I say Your Prayer,
my body opens dissolving into air.

Part Two



Friends challenge, "Why Baba? You could have stuck with Jesus."
This Easter, I felt a darkness cross the land
and then the sun's return, blazing, joyous,
Your harrowing of hell, Your journey done,
Yours, Baba, Who've been the Christ and are,
although a Christ Who has evolved through time,
from Zoroaster til now, the Avatar,
God embodied and no mere paradigm.
I'd claim You're up-to-date and Jesus passé
but it's truer that You've returned to meet our need,
now, less for teaching than learning to play
silently, intuitively love's reed.
Your message is always, "love God," but this time too,
without speaking, You've tuned our hearts to You.

Part Two



I launch myself into a train of thought.
It lurches and I jump off, too tired to follow.
The tracks vibrate, but now I am too slow
to hop a freight that's shrinking to a dot.
I fall into a reverie, am caught
nodding as sleet patters against the window
and cold winds rattle the house although
already May. Then comes what I forgot.
Last night half sleeping, I had a premonition
of a bomb exploding midst the screams
of children, and all today I bear their dreams
of everlasting, horrid recollection.
Each child we bomb is You, each adult too,
and then we run, Baba, in terror from You.

Part Two



There's this and that to do,
so much that's trivial,
to spiff up, mend, and glue.
I'd like to call on Ariel,
get him to clean the house,
to wash the kitchen floor,
to gather trash, not grouse
of hand prints on the door.
I'd rather now be still,
have time to write this sonnet,
be one with You in will,
not vacuuming the carpet,
but You will come tonight
and now this home's a sight.

Part Two



Way back, I remember us kids in the back seat
on Christmas headed to Aunt Libby's house,
scrunched together, shivering without heat,
and how we'd elbow each other grumbling, "You louse,
move over." "I won't. Can't you see that line.
It's my space." "Stop kicking me.
Daddy, tell Susie to stop." "Children, all's fine.
Now please be cheerful." I'd hunker down in fury.
Life wasn't fine nor I cheerful. Damned
if I'd pretend, so Baba, I had a start
that perfect cheerfulness was Your command,
that You should be my father's counterpart.
You are. His love and Yours have steadied me
til now I love You both more cheerfully.

Part Two



Mehera never spoke of an awakening,
of passing through the gateless gate to emptiness,
of losing self in fana, of flying on angel's wing
to meet her Ka'abic friend, nothing of ecstasies,
but just of getting up at four to make Your tea,
of greeting You with towel, basin, comb in hand,
of how she'd cook all day, grind spices, skim the ghee,
and when You'd leave on trips, of how she'd make a garland
from old saris, an album from Your photos, for You
on Your return, of how she would obey Your will,
live in isolation, read no books, make do
with lack of privacy, walled-up on Meherabad hill.
She didn't complain. Joy and kindness lit her face.
Of hurt, envy, even suffering there was no trace.

Part Two



I say that I'll obey you, but brace
myself when sensing Your command,
afraid You'll say, give up this place,
this house, the farm and planted land.
Do You know that I'm afraid
of love, not of the goddess Venus
but of You, that all I've made
and done will come, has come between us,
including these my poems—O may
You cherish them—but in every line
there's still my ego, my hope someday
they'll ring to Your renown, and mine.
Oh Baba, I'm terrified to be
selfless as dust as You'd have me.

Part Two



I wait convinced that You will come,
my dinner guest, at six tonight,
while finches chitter, bees still hum,
and lilies open to the light.
I know You'll come. What I've to do
is mostly done—just garlic to crush
and curried dal let gently stew—
so when You're here, I'll need not rush.
You'll come, I'm sure, by evening star.
You'll be the first striding quickly,
then Eruch, Pendu, Baidul, Pawar,
all dressed in white spotlessly.
The sun has set. Baba, it's eight.
Come. I fear my heart will break.

Part Two



This lifetime, You left miracles to gurus
and other players at illusion's charms,
seeing little to value in offering rescues
or doing tricks that oft bring lasting harms.
You were instead the purveyor of helplessness
and hopelessness, the master demanding sure
obedience, and the fellow beggar no less
subject to suffering than the poorest poor.
At nineteen, after Babajan's kiss, there came
to You the glory of God, abundant power
to rule the world, but You played a different game,
love's. In poverty, You proved a shower
of grace falls when we get out from under
the self's protective roof to feel God's thunder.

Part Two



This or that, red or blue, visit
or stay at home, I'm dizzied with endless choices.
Whispers flit in the parliament of wit,
but which are hellish, which angelic voices?
How serious they are, for discerning is not
funny, goats to the left, sheep to the right.
Upon the human soul's a hideous blot,
genocide again aiming the spotlight,
but there was no selection with You, Baba.
When pilgrims came, You'd welcome each by saying,
"Baba bows to Baba." The Avatar,
You'd wash their feet, then stand with them praying
to Baba. You gave Yourself to Baba in all
that duality as one in love should fall.

Part Two



You took me back last night to the boarding school
I hated as a child. I wandered about
its spotless grounds—"pick up the trash" the rule—
then passed the dining hall as boys rushed out.
Amidst the crew, I saw one awkward as me,
a knobby-kneed, pixy child, small
as a Hobbit. When I was thirteen, how casually
I was teased, called fairy, kicked til I'd bawl,
but I saw in this child's face he'd not been beaten,
was liked by all. In minutes, You transformed
my school into a paradisial Eton
and me into a boy with others, sun-warmed
on a free afternoon heading for the river.
Erasing dream with dream, You make me shiver.

Part Two



If I could be a Christian in the choir,
a Buddhist monk off on a year's retreat,
a Taoist in the woods warmed by a fire,
a Quaker quiet on his straight-backed seat,
if I could be a someone, hang my hat
upon a peg, be seen as good, if I
could know that I was on my way and that
I'd soon arrive, by effort if I could buy
an hour's peace-oh, I've tried it all
and failed, raised my mind up to a pitch
of ecstasy, crashed like a cannonball
right back to earth, unable to throw the switch
that turns off I, but I pray someday You'll come,
a thief, and snatch me off, a ripened plum.

Part Two



Baba, You're here smiling from the photos
on the wall, and in God Speaks, and in
my heart where daily Your loving presence grows,
but still I long for You, wondering when,
or if I'll ever touch Your face, give You
a hug, massage Your knees, unlace Your sandals
and lay my head upon Your feet. I'll do
what You ask, but I can't stop longing, scandalous
or not. So what if others call me willful,
or worse, a spoiled child imagining
that if I squall, You'll come. Yes, I'm awful,
but, Baba, come. I know I shan't be winning
praise for patience, and perhaps I'll be regressing,
but I long for You far more than for progressing.

Part Two



Sometimes, I want to go back into the world
and do Your work, teach, whatever You'd say,
to leave this frozen North now, be hurled
back into life's bustle, to escape away
from endless yearning and all these games of Yours.
Dreams erasing dreams? Not so last night—
practicing my scales and arpeggios,
I played with brilliance, struck the keys just right,
then felt beneath my fingers hairy mice
that squirmed when struck, racing everywhere
as a tune came from a higher plane—'twas nice—
but still I could not play: no keys were there.
I woke exhausted, but Baba, don't let me go.
Begin the Beguine again that goes so slow.

Part Two



I trudge to meet You in the night.
Dark clouds are packed across the sky,
and in Your hut there is no light,
no sound until I start to cry.
It is Your love that humbles me
and not like any love I've known,
more like the battering of the sea,
a power greater than my own.
"You must be happy in my love."
I am, but why I do not know,
and "happy" misses feelings of
drowning in Your undertow.
The hut is cold, yet here I stay.
I'm powerless to go away.

Part Two



I've changed, or maybe I've not changed at all.
I am no taller; at catching jokes, still slow,
and slow at guessing Your wish, hearing Your call.
Self-annihilated? In bliss? Not so.
I'm still myself, and yet the world seems brighter.
Sometimes I ache and think You've gone away,
but no, the ache is You holding me tighter.
I've grown more sure we'll meet somewhere, someday.
You've said, "Obey me. Hold fast onto my daaman,
say my name, remember me." I do,
thereby discovering that Your discipline
is light because it brings me nearer You.
You promised that if we do what You command,
there'd be less ego, more You. I understand.

Part Two



It's simple, Baba, I love You,
I do,
and simple now to do Your will.
Love will.
So simple I can't understand.
Who can?
As simple as to fall asleep,
no peep,
as simple as to float downstream
in dream,
then simple as to wake with light,
so bright,
and simple then to find, my Dear,
You're here.

Part Two



Tonight, You came to dinner, oh,
not in the body that You had,
but certainly 'twas You, I know,
and deep within my heart was glad.
As for my knowing, what can I say?
We weren't that many, just a few,
but I by love was blown away,
and yes, my Dear, You watched and knew.
At last You'd come to eat with me.
I scarce could bear such happiness,
was like to burst, as You could see
and signing "yummy" put me at ease.
I served to You a simple meal,
and everything 'bout You was real.

Part Two



You've promised everyone sat, chit,
ananda, the experience of being who
we truly are—God Who's infinite
in knowledge, power, and bliss, God Who's You,
but when, Baba, I used to worry, when
will I begin the involution of
the planes, and when, if ever, reach the end
of incarnations, united with You in love.
I'd still be worrying if I didn't know
at last for sure: You are my Lord and Master.
When I was a child, our gardener, Pietro,
drove me to school. I'd squirm, yelling, "Go faster."
He got me there. You'll do the same, Your art
like his, by going slow to temper my heart.

Part Two



"I'll write, You start." That was long ago.
Tonight, You feel as fresh within my heart,
fresher than way back then, and yet I know
it's time to stop, though not from You to part.
Sixty. That will be enough. Should You
want more, my God, I'll start again fretting,
fussing, at times rejoicing when out of the blue
a word appears, thanks to Your abetting.
What a trip it's been, Baba, at least for me,
to feel I've had a reason for my life,
opening to others God's humanity,
proclaiming Your love, the power that cancels strife.
Baba, my faults as poet please forgive.
If mine, these poems will die. If Yours, they'll live.

Part Two



I'm out today to net a butterfly,
but with the autumn winds crashing through,
scarcely a grasshopper appears. The sky
is empty; my butterfly net is empty too.
Baba, I know I've reached the end, but I
will miss writing these sonnets, trying to tell
the truth of our love story, despite how shy
in life I've been. Now to these poems farewell.
Bless this book, Baba, as it sails off
to posterity that it be well received,
and if the critics at such sonnets scoff,
it's no big deal, but I'd be deeply grieved
if these sonnets turn from You anyone.
They've spoken soul to soul, and now they're done.

Part Two


Meher Baba (Merwan Sheriar Irani) was born in Poona, India, February 25, 1894, into a Zoroastrian family that had recently emigrated from Persia. He led a normal childhood, showing no particular inclination toward spiritual matters. Then, at the age of 19, a short contact with the Muslim holy woman Hazrat Babajan triggered a seven year process of spiritual transformation and training, which he completed in 1922 before beginning his public work. The name Meher Baba means "Compassionate Father" and was given to him by his first followers.

From July 10, 1925, to the end of his life, Meher Baba maintained silence and communicated through an alphabet board and later through unique hand gestures. With his mandali ("circle" of disciples), he spent long periods in seclusion, often fasting, but he would intersperse these periods with wide-ranging travels through India to minister particularly to the God-intoxicated, who are called masts (pronounced musts). In the late 1920's, he oversaw a boys boarding school, Meher Ashram, and for much of his life, he maintained a medical clinic and dispensary near his home base at Meherabad, which is just south of Ahmednagar, Maharashtra State. In 1931, he made the first of many trips to the West to gather followers. He dictated several books, carried on a voluminous correspondence, gave public darshan on occasion, and touched many with his love.

Meher Baba made clear that he did not come to establish another religion. He wanted to renew the spiritual fire, the love of God, at the heart of all religions. His lovers (Baba's name for his followers) were Hindu, Muslim, Zoroastrian, Sikh, and Christian. According to Baba, he came not to teach but to awaken. He dictated several prayers, among them The Master's Prayer, which begins, "O Parvardigar, the Protector and Preserver of all," and the Prayer of the Beloved, a request for God's help in loving God more and more and in holding fast to His daaman (the hem of a garment). He also urged his lovers to remember him by saying his name and by surrendering constantly to his will.

In 1954, Meher Baba publically declared that he was the Avatar of the Age. According to Baba, the first known Avatar was Zoroaster, followed by Ram, Krishna, the Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed. After two serious car accidents, Meher Baba spent the last thirteen years of his life in considerable pain, often needing assistance to stand or walk, and yet he continued his outreach to the East and West. He dropped his body, January 31, 1969.

I refer in the sonnets to Baba's sister Mani and to his closest woman follower Mehera, whose name is pronounced with two syllables and rhymes with Sarah. I also refer to the Glow International, a quarterly journal devoted to Meher Baba. In the third sonnet, the Albany is that in California next to Berkeley, where I met Louise Barrie, a committed Baba lover and the founder of Huma Transpersonal Bodywork. Other references are covered in the above biographical note.


To family and friends for encouragement—

To Leah, whose overflowing love for Baba, time and again, has revealed Baba to me—

To Monica, whose poetic sensitivity got me to stop dithering and start sending these poems off while they were still alive—

To Becky, for loving me every day, all day, and putting up with being far less visible in these poems than our cat—

To Meher Baba, who alone exists—

My heartfelt thanks.

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