Tuesday, June 23, 2009

His Pure Tones, Why I Follow You

Two streams of practice. In my life music is a practice. That is a step beyond the technical. It is also a step beyond the claims that music speaks an emotional language. Music speaks a spiritual language, or it can, and it always does for any who are open in spiritual ways to music. His Pure Tones is a poem about this musical practice.

His Pure Tones

Oiled skin, sweated sheen-
It's the effort of the strikes
He makes repeatedly, drum
Then gong, drum then gong,
Steady, precise hits. Both sound
Long low notes that shake
The heart, crack the bones
Of thought.

I am stretched apart
In the open air
Of his sacred work,
Of his blessed gift, his pure
Tones: they sever me.

January 18, 2009 11:44 AM

By the way, I am not sure how to manage the blog in this regard...there is a tabulature command that I don't know. In my word processor, the "I am stretched apart" line should be tabbed in to signal it is actually part of the "Of thought" line even though it begins the second verse.

The second stream of practice is almost as old in my life. The Way is the English euphemism for Tao. I have never been in deep Taoist practice, neither in the martial arts nor in the institutional practices. But I have been devoted to the philosophy, especially as it manifests in I Ching. This practice began in 1969. It went somewhere. John Blofeld once wrote about this practice that at some point a devotee would leave it behind as an active practice, having received permission in some way to do so. I seem to have reached this point. I have indeed grown old on the Way.

Why I Follow You

Remember the Way.
It curves round the old straight path
Left from other times,
Other places, needs.

You've grown old upon the Way,
As have I who love
Your shining eyes,
Your pure song, your graceful walk,
Why I follow you.

We'll soon reach the willows
Weaving in the warm wise wind.

January 18, 2009 2:52 PM


  1. I make drums :)

    Love gongs...

    and when I fall by the 'way' side, I know it, yet still I fall, just manage to keep one foot on some days, others...I am cement, well at least chewing gum :)



  2. Michelle, way cool, making drums.
    Love you back

  3. Aw, the second one is lovely. (Being a Taoism lover, I especially liked the capital W on the Way. ;)

  4. I never meant to fall in love;
    I kept my heart apart, separate
    as I looked to him patiently,
    expectantly as any good student
    looks upon a teacher.

    But then he began to weave his sound,
    reaching low, pulling notes
    from the dark sacred soul of the earth
    herself, pulling high, reaching notes
    of the swallows, of the hawks
    in their long slow circle
    of the hot summer sky.

    I never meant to fall in love;
    but it came, pulled out
    tendril by red-slick tendril,
    with the force of the conjurer-surgeon
    calling out a swollen appendix without
    a single cut
    and so I laid it
    on the ground at his feet.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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