Read Poem: DUST, by Frederick Bauman

Paisleys floating in sunlight
Dead human skin cells settling in carpet
Dust storms hundred feet tall
Subsuming Phoenix neighborhoods then
Passing on leaving a coating of desert dust
On every exterior sucked into interior
Settling in lungs as a marker

Dust mites devouring our skin
Excreting allergens joining desert dust
Harmonizing in our lungs wheezing to expel
Intruders causing gasping hallucinations
Of death sucking us into expiration
We try to rise above shrinking flesh
Floating light descends through us

And we welcome death as an opening
Into our wheezing chests into our hearts
Dust never settling always dancing
Becoming fertile soil and
Sneeze stimulants all at once
Arising from carpets as we walk across
Descending on and launching from our skulls

Each mote an individual intelligence
Each mote a microcosm of God
Each mote the resurgence of death into life
Each mote a galaxy revolving
Each mote dying back into life
Each mote the planet on which we live

Our lives slowly disappearing into habit
Until one dense habit observed by back brain
An illumination transforming dead actions
Dead thought dead emotions into fresh insight
As an eagle descending to snatch up trout
Ripping gulping flesh feeding young
Who then launch themselves into air

Shedding dust eagles men and dander baring beings
Subsume and create dust with each motion
Inhaling exhaling with each breath
Abandoning permanence for floating vision
Of our desires and prevarications floating through us
Insisting on impermanence on impending death
Lurking in each bardo encountered moment by moment

Yet this impermanence swirling through us
Enlivens muscle bone flesh mind emotion
With a joyful uncertainty transforming
Ignorance into inexpressible understanding
Blowing dust off dormant book
Opening to the page we’ve never understood
Sparking of new life enters into us

Joshua understanding the power of seven
Conquering and destroying Jericho with
Seven priests blowing seven rams horns
Shocking Jericho’s massive walls to dust
Dust from crumbling walls and from windblown dust
From all living exhalations from stars
Dust burying all even the slaughtered

Century after century Troy Mohenjo Daro
Unnamed villages Babylon mound builders
Gilgamesh Abraham Buddha all lost to dust
Caesar Constantine Alexander Asoka Jesus Christ
Dust continually descending and being stirred up
Dust settling on bottles in beer store on TV screen
Dust on lamp shades kindling chair legs knickknacks

Dormancy always covered in dust
Stillness somehow immune to settling dust
Receiving all that descends through stillness
To guts wrenching lower levels within us
Bringing an opening: there is no death
Flowing from bardo to bardo we arrive
In a dustless world of continuous resolution

Gonna surf city where it’s two ta one gonna surf city havin’ lots a fun
Waves throwing up dust’s rejectamenta licking up new descent
What rises up from us as we walk across sand contemplating death
What settles within us as we fail to find explanations
What is this continuous ebb and flow within us releasing new life
We arrive at last at a state of continual motion

Shedding dust and advancing through a deeper unknown

A permanence continually changing as we
Advance and retreat bearing witness to ourselves
As motes of dust glistening in sunlight
Alighting on fence railing blown by breezes
Coaxed into joining grasses soil devoured by worms
Re-emerging somehow as human being treading water
Receiving impressions not knowing what’s next

But finally able to live with what’s here
Leaving a marker we need to sense as
What animates us to respond to calls
We refuse to recognize but still obey
Disparity between dreams and actions
Taught to be delusional through spinning thought

Yet at each moment a certain calm is available
Explaining nothing forcing us to face our fears
Our contradictions our ghostly floating thoughts
Divorced from body feeling floating thoughts
Like pidgins perching on electrical lines
Awaiting the appearance of food or sex
We now receive freedom descending

All our beliefs are delusional
We do our best to say the right things at the funeral
Cremation or burial emotional dust tries to settle
But needs to swirling through us defying settlement
Not closure but openness to our suffering
To microcosms dancing within us as we are
Microcosms choreographed by forces of a larger world

As this complexity of exchanges leads to
A simplicity of experience of life pulsing through us
Suffering yielding to sensations yielding to suffering
Culminating briefly in joy as a new cycle
Becomes what we are – a brief awakening
Til the sleep of automatic thought explains it all to death
As we accompany the coffin to the crematorium

Some are weeping some are lost in thought or daydreams
Counting the unbearable minutes until it’s over
As if it could ever be over – just cycles and cycles
Until the cycles are accepted into us and our breath
Pulses within us consciously accepting dust as
One moment in endless cycles receiving and expelling
Capturing a tiny spark of immortality

A can of ashes all that’s left of Father
Who floats among us for a few weeks
Wishing to be embraced by us wishing for
What eludes us all in life – simple presence
Of life itself expanding and contracting through us
Yet unable to let go of fears and desires
Clutching him even now in death

And so ashes released into the wind
Becoming mere dust settling on Hudson River waters
Floating then sinking joining river bottom mud
Eventually compressing into rock eventually lifted up
Into mountains to once again be eroded
As we are built up and worn down
Only our egos can possibly die

But what – if anything – of the rest of us
Body destined to decay away to dust
Thoughts scattering to the wind then settling
As mirages – less even than breath or even dust
Facing death now what in us can survive
What – through life struggles and intentional efforts –
Is left of decades of wandering the earth

In the distance rising from a mesa a column of smoke
Short and long puffs announcing the death of our own being
We quickly calculate the minutes until delusional dust
Settles what’s left of us and something else arises
Not this person who has oat meal for breakfast each morning
But a lighter finer being suckled by our suffering
Pronouncing I AM before dust settles in our brains

Flakes of rust dissolving into finer and finer
Granules coloring toilet water brown filtered
From drinking water eventually evaporating
Into dust lifted up by gentle breezes rustling
Our hair deflating our dreams of being men able
To create meaning from consciousness insight
From examinations of cadavers on tables

Twelve inches above the incision I seem to recognize
That smile as my own – no leap of faith enabling
Relaxation just recognition of myself in dreams
Where awakening comes only from a shock
Penetrating delusions of understanding to reveal
Whiteness expanding through me giving birth to
Global sensations of internal connectedness

Rust giving color to rich soil of
Eastern Pennsylvania tractored into crops
Red dust hoed up from farmland settling
On Amish black clothing turning solemn
Hat bands into celebrations of cycles revealed
Life rising up from fresh dug graves filled
With dead flesh decaying into life

As you find yourself now arising from
Your dusty grave of habitual understanding
Confronting you in the mirror of disbelief
In any explained truth – only unexplained
Experience of subtle sensations in chest and legs
In so called mind and feeling only actual
Experience freed from words awakens

Gun barrels trigger mechanisms proffering
Delusions of freedom as we polish them to preserve
The sense that we can perpetuate ourselves
That we can defeat our haunting fears of death
That what we have mistaken for our existence
Is self-perpetuating is a birth unearned
Dreaming as we slog through the big muddy

Dust ascending and descending in gyres of
Perpetuity no longer hearing the falcon of our life
A new falcon beats its wings in our chests calling
From Mohenjo Daro along the ancient waters
Flowing through our blood vessels our brain cells
Releasing new insight dispelling constant chatter
Words settling like ancient dust into quiescence

As this apparent silence settles down through us
We hear a new calling elevating awareness in us
A voice speaking not through our ears informs us
That we are now alive on a finer level within us
Spreading through our bodies cell by cell awakening us

In a new way to a new consciousness centered in us
Attuned to this we now move forward through pathways opening up in us

Now we stir in our beds blinking toward awakening
Observing dust having settled on the dresser overnight
Dust rustles up into air as we make the bed
Nothing at all has been settled except dust motes
Temporarily relaxing on furniture in bedding
But easily stirred to participation in breath
In winds invisibly carrying us forward

Like Argonauts on a quest for essence
We leave our crumbling homes as walls fall
And dust rises up in clouds to descend
On grasses and tree leaves bear backs and
Every being within meters caught
Between forces of gravity and levity sleep
And awakening to our small part in this exchange

Mohenjo Daro – having circulated for thousands of years
Just now settling in our newly planted gardens
Already containing meteor dust from Caribbean
Inter mixed with tyrannosaurus bone dust and
Powder from George Washington’s wig and Jefferson’s
Slippers flopping on the White House floors two centuries ago
Conglomerating in us as continual interchange

As recollections of human history represented in us
By our personal history our individual collections of
Undigested impressions warping us into neurosis
Like dust settling on ledges on brain cells like ourselves
Settling on graveyards haunted by mists and
Butterflies grasshoppers and widows mourning
Planted daisies now rising from our own dust

Bee seeming to float through air landing on flowers
Collecting dust-like pollen sweetening our tongues
Not knowing how to speak the truth being blocked
By our beliefs fantasies reactions contradictions
We find ourselves floating on a speck of dust wafted
Cloud-ward causing fearful contractions within us
Then settling us back down to mother earth

Where celestial vibrations still pulse within our bodies
Constituting a sense of awakening even rebirth
Into the ordinary experiences of daily life
We become aware of ourselves as walking contradictions
Perceiving our dull manifestations as food feeding
Reverberations within our bodies illuminating
Mind and feeling intensifying perceptions

Gathering gently in a body within our bodies
Aligning all seven aspects of our being into
A sense of unity which turns out to be ourselves
Now animating us in the direction of rebirth
No escape to ascent or descent we are here
As replicas of the entire universe compressed
Into this expanding experience of ourselves contained

Something like dust but much finer descends
Continually but – mostly – passes through us unperceived
Yet there is a gathering in solar plexus questioning
Through sensations our immediate state of being
At the same time – like a magnet – along an axis
That animates us toward a movement back into life

So walking to the mailbox fantasies filter into
This cranium seeking to sever connection to the
New growth of being now gasping for air within us
Yet cloud formations and hawk’s cry summon an attention
Which awakens in us lighting a non-mental intelligence
Pulsing subtly throughout our bodies like music
Reminding us that we exist as much more than thought

But what is this pulsing which is much more than thought
Occupying enlivening our bodies challenging our thinking
To yield to dust off its beliefs and receive instruction
As we sort through bills junk mail and recalls for
The brand new car which had seemed so perfect until now
Dust gathering in our valleys of reaction in the
Hollowness as awareness of finer vibrations lost

Except that a glimpse of our sewer of delusion
Brings us back to the body within the trunk of our body
Reconnecting through alignment descent with ascent
As the devil is reabsorbed into God

And what appears as ignorance revitalizes more than ourselves
Bringing an awakening to the crux of the present moment
The sensation that all life is in this present moment

As this brief taste of perfection is shattered a shock
Coming from across the table as our spouse butters toast
While inappropriately dreaming of a visit to Disneyland
But we somehow manage to swallow whole that impression
Of ourselves shocked by what we’ve known all along of our spouse
Shattering our delusions of ourselves as reasonable beings
As capable of fending off delusions of ourselves

Even more subtle dust-like atoms of understanding
Swirl down through us igniting delicate sensations
As finally our greedy thoughts yield to – without attention –
Definitions defining an enlivening transformation of what
We’d thought was an enlightened state of beings but which
Was just a single tentative step toward experiencing
An opening in the direction of further openings

While not understanding what it is that touches us
We appreciate the gentle sense of relaxation of convictions
That have imprisoned us since childhood since first
Blinkingly perceiving paisley dust motes captivating wonder
Bottling it through some adult’s definition of dust
But now we need no explanations receiving this gift
As liberating sensations vibrating through us

And still life awaits beckons even dusting off its allurements
We have to find a way to forage for sustenance as we
Continue to witness an ever lighter sensation within us
Until through some coincidence we notice we’ve become
Dense enough to have forgotten our finer existence
Which stark inner confession stirs anew within us
An appreciation of the larger world sifting through us

Willow weep for me willow weep for me softly sighing
Limbs declining softly sighing as the morning dew escapes
Delicate impressions entering us from nature from
Surrounding world we’ve yet to perceive
Yet something within the center of ourselves absorbs
Impressions of the slightest fluttering of each leaf

As subtle pulsations awaken a new sense of self

A certain subtlety enters from a single sip of Scottish ale
As from a recognition of the fakery of
My interpretation of each action or thought
Appearing before a very fine attention suffusing me
Through an off balanced relaxation taking in tensions
Dust invisibly settling around me on clothes and skin
Which each gesture revitalizes into being

A certain relaxation traveling through my forest of tensions
Like a cloud of knowing from head to chest and below
Explanations like rattlesnakes lurking along the way
Letting go giving way to tightening which seen relaxes
Into an expansion from midsection through limbs
As something new descends through head and unlike dust
Does not settle but circulates like red blood cells

As a lack of expectation reveals an aim beckoning
Not from elsewhere but from within myself uniting
Fingertips within this resonating coating of skin
As dust continues to fall on everything even myself
A use for everything is found peach skin to pit
We become fragments of God walking through the universe

Activating conscience as consciousness
As a wondering enters in as to how we can
Embody this state as we move through our lives
Facing our forgetfulness our weak cravings to be
Respected even admired we recognize our need
To bear our failings as the food to feed our new being
Letting go of ascent allowing descent to settle in

Dust on lampshades dust in carpet on window sills
Vacuuming up patiently emptying bag in garbage
Death and rebirth and death and rebirth blossoming
Finer and finer dust always descending through us
We lose our way but by yielding to this loss
Sense an awakening as this descent is welcomed
By a thirst arising throughout uniting all


Author: poetryfest

Submit your Poetry to the Festival. Three Options: 1) To post. 2) To have performed by an actor 3) To be made into a film.

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