The TAT Forum: a spiritual magazine of essays, poems and humor.

April 2009

A Poetry Issue

This Month's Contents: The Question by Uma Tasc | Two Poems by Heather Saunders | A Poem by Augie Monge | The Barn's Coming Down by Gerry Forwell | The Naked Soul by The Spoon | Willing by David Scoma | What Longing Feels Like by Corina Bardasuc | Life is Strange by Bob Harwood | Video - Rumi read by Coleman Barks | A Song of Parting by Thomas Whitmire

Editor's Note
by Shawn Nevins

TAT Forum Editors Pen Thanks to Dave Weimer's turn at the editor's post last month, it feels like it's been awhile since I sat down to fill this box with a few words. First, a couple of matters of "business." If you aren't on our distribution list, then you probably don't know about the recently released book Beyond Mind, Beyond Death. It contains some of the best selections from seven years of the TAT Forum, illustrated with black and white photographs. I encourage you to show your support for this work by ordering a copy from your local bookseller or at Amazon.com. Also, consider adding your opinion to the Amazon.com ratings which will help generate interest in the book. Second, don't forget about the upcoming TAT weekend intensive (see link at the top of the page) -- a chance to meet a number of Forum contributors and get closer to the ground from which this magazine arises.

Now on to the poetry issue. Writing and reading poetry are equal challenges; each involving reaching with our feeling and seeking the mirror of all selves within our self. To all you writers, thank you. If you don't see your submission this issue, don't worry, we will feature more reader-submitted poems in future issues. To all you readers, thank you for visiting.

The Question
by Uma Tasc

Once upon a time,
there was a little girl
who used to ask:
where is God, where is God? by Jim Wright, see more at modernseers.org/urku/

Nuns at school just answered:
please, no jokes darling,
no jokes here
in the house of Lord

But the girl grew up
and seriously struggled
to find herself in a certain cage
where no jokes allowed were

After an oneiric Path
in which she had put the whole heart
she happened to find a zen master
and began to laugh, and cry...

The master said: nothing should happen
and she enjoyed her way
in the midst of thoughts
and no thoughts...

With no single clue
she followed asking
Where is God,
Where is God?

And then one day
when she was talking to a friend,
she suddenly saw
the questions, the nuns, the struggle, the path
the master, the world, the feelings, thoughts and
no thoughts...
All of that was itself the house of Lord,
as she had never been lost,
as there was no answer
there was just this little question looping
on and on...
And just to see that was the key
for that never existing cage
which today it is called
and well known as
life itself, this, home.

Two poems by Heather Saunders

Throw mud at the wall
What sticks?
What doesn't?

Instead of noticing what the viewer notices,
Notice the viewer noticing.

The world invites me in
Silence begs me to stay
It says "sit with me awhile".
I love it here, where silence feels enormous.

Day tucks into night
Light softens and mellows
Effortless moves effort aside
Drama dissolves
Transitions of light to dark,
Sound to silence,
Movement to stillness
Within and without
Emptiness everywhere.

A Poem by Augie Monge

Space so empty undisturbed
Galaxies don't touch it
are barely heard
It points to something
that can't be seen
It is; we are
It isn't; we aren't.

The Barn's Coming Down
by Gerry Forwell

Hey God, are you there?
I know, I know, you are always there.
Funny, no matter where I go, there You are.
Anyway, the barn's coming down today.
I've been picking away at it for awhile now.
First the windows then the doors.
Had Ephraim's boys over to get the roof off.
You remember Ephraim, he helped Dad build it all those years ago.
Oh, I helped too, had my own little hammer, thought I did my share,
but you know who did the real work.
chuang's moon I loved that barn, the way it smelled, the way it creaked,
the way the light came in slants through the cracks.
Used to run my finger through the dust specks in those shafts of light.
Milked my first cow in that barn. Remember how Opie, my dog, would grab the cat,
drag her over, set her down, then sit on her, watching me milk, so he wouldn't
have to put his bum on the cold cement floor?
God, we had so much fun in that hay mow, jumping and fighting.
Remember when Tom Neufeld cracked his head open on a beam, misjudging a jump
from the upper mow? 27 stitches, blood everywhere,
I thought for sure he was going to die.
Well of course you remember, you let him miss those baler tines by inches.
We worked hard in this barn too, throwing in bales, stacking,
the sweat glistening on our young hard bodies, bits of straw in our hair,
sticking to us, scratchy, itchy.
And oh, what about that afternoon with Charlotte Hauck, my God, that was an afternoon
of discoveries and miracles for both of us. I believe your name got mentioned
several times that afternoon. I'm sure you didn't mind.
I also remember the time I sat in the corner of the top mow for two days
when Butch left to go out West without saying goodbye after his fight with Dad.
I thought I'd never see him again.
Dad, Dad, well, you know. He showed me how to do things, how to fix things,
how to be patient. I had my first beer with Dad in this barn when I was only 11.
Just him and me. Just being with each other.
I threw that old axe right through the north wall the day Dad was killed
in that stupid accident. Was that really necessary? Yah, I know.

Anyway, the barn is coming down.
I've got the boards off all round and the wind blows through. Feels good.
I can see a long way. I've been able to watch the sun set all the way down
to the ground for the first time.

I thought deconstruction was supposed to be so much faster, so much easier
than construction but it's not. It's harder.
Ephaim's son, Abraham, said he and his mennonite buddies could have the timbers
down in an afternoon but I told him no, I wanted to do it myself.
Some things you have to do yourself.
I got ropes and spikes everwhere and now I'm just sitting here quietly.

Are you still there God? I know, I know.
You know, God, that barn is me and I am that barn.
I loved that barn dearly. Still do in a way. But she's gotta go.
I'm going to be able to see all the way to eternity…
I'm going to be able to see Chuang's moon.

The Naked Soul
by The Spoon

My Soul stands alone.

My Self makes its way in the world.
With my shield, I protect the weak.
With my sword, I attack the strong.
I move, faster and faster
I shout, louder and louder
I am, more and more.
I become.

But my Soul.
My Soul stands alone, naked before God.
Without Sword, without shield.
For what can harm the Soul, but the Self?
Slower and slower, quieter and quieter.
I am, less and less.
I cease to be.

by David Scoma

Who is willing to look at the being without turning away, and continue to stand there unflinching? Not moving a muscle, or turning to excuses, as their identification with ego is being gutted, piece by piece?

Who among the masses will show resolve in the story - resolve enough to approach this immolation with bravery and with a firm resolve.

A resolve so strong that it is willing to look directly at the ego, directly at the patterns, directly at the life being lived without blinding their own eyes to what is seen.

To the darkness - bubbled up and then (typically) separated - pushed back down, ignored, given the back seat.

Who is willing to no longer play into the separation of seemingly good and seemingly bad?

Who has had their fill with the false identity and the faulty identifications to such a degree, that they are willing to drop each and every poltergeist no matter how much it screams?

Who is willing to stand in place and accept the brand? The brand on the body and the mind and the psyche that were never yours to begin with? The branding, the pain, the intensity virtually the only way to rid you of that lie and awaken you to the truth that you are not that lump, that battlefield of contradictions, that horror story with no happy ending in sight?

Who is willing to stand in that inferno - no matter how scorching the fire?

Story, no doubt. You, a bit player. But resolve in the story - as it arises - is music to the universe.

The surrendered resolve of the entity in the narrative is the soundtrack the universe desires. The hymn to be playing in the background as IT takes you on a guided tour of the Heart of Darkness.

Who is willing?

And how can this be accomplished?

It is always accomplished - through death and rebirth.

No matter how quick and painless.

No matter how drawn out and torturous.

How can the entity allow it to be accomplished in either scenario?

How, exactly, is that done?

By signing the warrant, with the universe as notary - the warrant for the demolition of your image.

Of your supposed identity.

And then by bravely standing by as the mute but willing witness at your very own execution.

Who is willing?

What Longing Feels Like
by Corina Bardasuc

The fragile love that longing feels like
Is upon me.
Thin like a thread strung out across
A plain.
It feels like this: bottomless hole that nothing ever fills
At least, nothing I touched, or smelled, or
Played with.
It is none of these things: flowers, clouds, birds, men
Fine words and hollow thoughts that
Come and go
Now and again.
And yet, all of those things are very much reminders
That somewhere
It exists.
That object of my longing.
And all the myriad of things that it is not
A painful indication that I
Have not found it
And its elusive nature is more fickle
A woman.
This longing
Will outlast me.

Life is Strange
by Bob Harwood

Sometimes when I least expect it,
I have to quit work
And go for a walk.
It's odd,
by Chris Dalrymple With all these people counting on me,
And expecting me to be productive,
To find myself
Leaving my desk
Going out the door
And walking into the street
With no destination in mind.
It's strange, I think,
To be wandering off like this,
Looking at things,
Like a piece of old cardboard,
Or a hubcap,
Or an empty beer bottle by the curb.
With all these people
Trying to reach me on the phone
It's a little weird to find myself missing in action.
I don't intend to do it, of course,
But one minute I'm sitting there working
And the next minute
I'm three blocks away
Watching a fleecy white cloud,
Or listening to a bird,
Or feeling the sun on my face,
Or the rain soaking my shirt
(I never remember to bring an umbrella).
It's queer,
With all these people counting on me,
To be standing under the old bridge down the street
Listening to horns honk
And the footsteps of people rushing by.
I hate to be such a big disappointment,
But sometimes
Something I don't understand starts calling my name.
I'm sorry to be such a failure,
But I think I'm hopeless.
The roots of a tree have caught my attention
And it looks like I'm going to be here awhile.

Video: Rumi read by Coleman Barks

If you don't see a video clip above, then go directly to YouTube.

A Song of Parting
by Thomas Whitmire

Those we love, in their blesséd form, like this form,
are meant for dust,
and all of history is written in dust
and beautiful skin gathers age
and breaks my heart.
And I know that all of this and none of this shall turn to dust
and all the dust shall blow away
and all the wind shall grow calm
and my love shall be by my side,
our faces turning into polished mirrors,
washed by a wave forever breaking…


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