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“Thomas said to him, ‘Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you’re like.’
 Jesus replied, ‘I’m not your teacher. Because you’ve drunk, you’ve become intoxicated from the bubbling spring I’ve tended.’”
    ~ Gospel of Thomas, verse 13

As a child
I knew a way into meditation
I never forgot
He came into my visions sometimes
Over the years
And one day asked:

Who do you love?
There are no limits
   at least not while I’m in this state where you’ve caught me
   though sometimes
   like with demanding people
   poison ivy
   faceless corporations striving to influence me
   it can be a boundless stretch

Would you go to hell for the sake of one you love?
Yes, since there are no limits —
   is there a reason I’d need to go?

Would you go to hell for me?
Well I can see you must be tired of being nailed to that tree
   imagine what may happen if through giving myself I could pull you off
   I know the place well
   I’ve been there
   of course
   I love you, man
   and I’ll do whatever you need
   relationship is a two-way street after all

He handed me the contract
I signed it in my blood
He might as well have partaken of my body too
For I descended straight to hell
   and knew again what it was to be consumed
   from then on
   I’d welcome knowing
The hell of reliving leaving everything behind
   keeping close the memory of the rich dark soil of the place I was born
   the memory of nurture
   held distant
   from the time I was a child
The hell of being an outcast
   stranded in somebody else’s town
   resenting those who’d dragged me
   till they and all around resented back
   holding myself away from everyone who might’ve cared
   to prevent their being hit by more spitballs rocks or insults
   getting their physical bones broken or displaced
   like mine were
   as I learned to know and appreciate the aspects of me
   that can never be broken
   to see with broadened vision
   what can’t be injured
The hell of observing my habit of holding myself away
   for their protection
   and for mine
   outlive its usefulness by a boundless stretch
   with me
   holding onto it
The hell of experiencing all the suffering I ever caused
   unable even to say I’m sorry
   because the time to do that came and went
   without me
The hell of recognizing every confusion of others
   agonizingly slowly
   while I’m a bit too late too unusual too far out
   of the picture
   to make a difference
   and there are many confusions
The hell of watching the incompetent doctors make her dwindle
   to eighty pounds
   half what she’d weighed a few months earlier
   having to steal her from them
   from her mother
   from that death grip
   while she couldn’t eat
   forced to learn more subtle healing arts myself
   for lack of any sensible alternative
   buying an extra fridge to hold enough vegetables to keep
   giving her juice
   the only nutrition she could stomach
   convincing her to hold my vision
   gained from my long experience in this hell or that
   of the part of her that can’t waste away
   a tenuous vision of her recovery
   body and soul
   a vision of her subcutaneous fat regrowing
   cell by cell
   only over years
   of precarious mindfulness
   that never quite finds its end
The hell of raising our awareness together
   rather than all the children she wanted
   maybe it was all that juice
   only to reach the revelation
   that we faced the devils of her family and mine
   steel-clawed rodents and classic red dudes with pointed tails from my side
   whirling crones and depressed loafing cadavers from her side
   as I drag them out of our home one by one
   and surround it with ash
   the last devil’s face must of course
   remain stuck inside the front door
   irrevocably cast into it whether we smash plead or bless
   his bulging eyes glancing back and forth over his wicked grin
   I show him to friends who don’t even meditate yet
   see him plainly with awe
   formed in fine detail from the very grain of the wood
   watching everything we do as the months go by
   until I walk into the room one morning and he’s gone
   even though it’s the same door
   he’s not to be seen anymore
   still when we sold that home the buyers’ first act
   having never been told about our devils
   was front door replacement

Doesn’t hell take many forms
Can’t the many hells cold or hot
All have fires
Our fires
Burning away dross
Bestowing subtle gifts
Clear soul vision
Things laid bare that would be hidden
So they can be experienced fully
From here I see things differently
Things that boundlessly stretch
A crazed imagination
Made real
At some level
What’s altogether serious?

Will those of sufficient imagination experience hell
When their consciousness always can be somewhere else
Remaining stuck in a place and time
Growing neither older nor wiser
Until imagination itself is captivated
But how
Maybe a moment of introspection doubt shame realization grace
Maybe someone abandoned
Maybe a missed opportunity
Maybe a blind chance now
Maybe the world
Maybe a friend
Or maybe just maybe
Other unknown powers that meddle with our fate

Beginning last night in my meditation
A devil entering the vision
Barging right in with the wind
   that comes blasting across Monterey Bay and up this hill
His enormous profile towering dark red above me
Blanketing me in the pitch blackness of immense shadow
    laid all over and around me
The sense that I’m a tiny powerless nothing
   impinging upon me
The definite feeling of being touched by bitter cold
That feeling of doom
Goads my laughter
As I say
   just look at you
   you try to make this big impression on me because you’re weak
As I bring warm healing energy into myself
Filling me
Until it spills from the palms of my hands
   see how with a boundless stretch I reach one hand beneath you
   to support your warty feet
   and another
   over your shiny horned head
   lightly press you like an accordion down to my size
   you’re almost playable
   like a fine instrument
   a beautiful solo
   or is it a duet
   surely not a trio a grand trine a trinity
   now why not have a seat in that chair
   come on
   you’re resisting
   what a piece of work you are
   or pieces
   here’s the core of you relaxed in the chair
   or at least a lot of you
   but there’s the big dark red towering husk you left standing over me
   the piece you wouldn’t let me play
   maybe your problem is that your pieces are all scattered
   you’re like Jesus
   who has so many people calling his name with no reason
   who wouldn’t tire
   of being asked to show up in traffic and at every football game
   he never had to explain why he doesn’t like his name
   called in vain
   the answer’s plain
   others may be rewarded for their worship
   you my fork-tongued friend are rewarded for my gift of myself
   of my love and total respect for you, man
   that’s how you came to spend this quality time with me
   and isn’t it nice to have someone talking sense with you for once?
He looks at me with big round eyes
In silence
Probably wants to lower those horns charge gore me in the gut
   it’s useless big guy who are we kidding
   you’re pure spirit
   I’m embodied
   think I don’t know the difference between the realms?
   do a real convincing job and I might get a tummyache
   just for you
   curable with a stirred sip of slippery elm powder
   or perhaps a few drops of warmed pau d’arco tincture in my teacup
   but more likely you’d only get hung up in my shirt
   I’d have to pull it off and shake you out of it
   right there over your chair
   and if you fell out upside down I could always leave you
   humiliated that way
   with your shiny dark red head pinned by your horns into the seat
   and your scaly stick legs hooked over the back
   watching me like you used to from the door
   you might stay that way as long as you like
   why should I mind
   I’d sit there and mingle with you now and then
   because like I said I love you, man
   why intimidate or manipulate anyone
   why bother
   why not just collect yourself
   maybe hang out in a jazz club
   or dance to the Pacific Avenue didgeridoo players
   you’d be too cool
   what, have you got nothing to say?
Yeah I got something:
   did Jesus ever thank you for cuttin’ that backroom deal with him
   the deal with the blood and all?
Thank me?
   you’ve got it all wrong
   I thanked him for the opportunity to have conversations like this
   with the likes of you
You’re pullin’ my leg
I really did thank him
   with all my heart
   for he’d given me a true gift
   and then he told me
   thanks always returns

Thanks always returns

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