Journey from here to HERE now online for browsing!
"The Beloved's constant call of love functions as a reliable compass in these poems." from a review by Eric Solibakke
read Journey from here to HERE (publ. August, 2013) via Google Drive Viewer
Journey from here to HERE also has its own website with reviews, publication history, etc.
Autobiography in Song (written 2011, revised 2019)
Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Doris Day,
Glenn Miller (posthumously)
presided over my birth,
Dad spiffy in his uniform,
just back from the War
Next, home sick in 3rd grade,
radio left on, luxuriating in my parents´ bed
playing "Oh, Donna", and that pop version of
"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes"
and Orbison´s "Only the Lonely"
Though the name Orbison was still years away,
and "All of a Sudden, My Heart Sings".
Soon it was Elvis Time!
Did I see him on Ed Sullivan? Don’t know.
New names learned from older boys
at school & summer camp
who'd gone to shows downtown,
Bill Haley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis.
“Jerry Lewis has started singing &
using his middle name?” I wondered,
too shy to ask.
And those car-wreck romance songs,
on to junior high, and naming one girl,
in my own thoughts, "Runaround Sue.”
Mind helpless to weed out the tripe
from the True Music: "Soldier Boy",
"Leader of the Pack"—
"or lose you, to a summer love!"
That minor mod never far
away, in real life, either!
Were talking Ike and Tina,
The Four Tops, the Temptations,
Smoky, the Supremes, and dozens more,
And then the next wave was British!
Sounds were being unchained.
THE POETRY WAS STARTING,
though these guys often sported
dorky outfits on TV:
"Five O´Clock World", singing of death
In life; and "her voice was soft & good, her eyes
were clear & bright...BUT SHE´S NOT THERE!”
One Saturday morning,
When I was sixteen or so
and it was still a thrill
to drive anywhere, I took the car
to Famous-Barr Dept Store.
Alone & free in the store,
an inner magnet shot me to the book section
where I read a TIME cover story
about a young songwriter
named Bob Dylan.
Not a singer, mind you!
He was the secret guy, like Carole King a little later,
whom you never heard much about
but who wrote the songs other people sang—
like "Blowin´ in the Wind" and "Mr. Tambourine Man."
He´d never be known as a singer,
he had a voice like a frog, the writer said,
And a few weeks before or after that
In a friend’s car on a Spring Friday after school,
cruisin´ through Clayton, four of us following four girls
who turned in to the parking lot of that same Famous-Barr.
We made a sharp screechy turn in there too.
They had a head start, they didn´t even know
we were behind them! By the time we´d parked
they´d disappeared inside, and as we
pushed through those heavy glass doors
through the foyer and onto the bright linoleum aisle
past the cosmetics section,
there was a little display,
with four heads, each bobbing on
a little plastic arm that moved them electrically,
heads with hair a good deal longer than ours,
and they were singing, or the machine was singing
with strange chords and harmonies,
"I wanna hold your..." well, you know the rest.
Hypnotic! Pulling me! I wanted to stop
and listen, but we wanted to find those girls.
But as we walked by, what came into my head was
"These guys are gonna be BIG!"
OK, fast forward
to college, fall of ´66.
"Cherish" by the Association. Some kind of
lavish, artificial cake of a song
that always made me want to puke,
that played every half hour it seemed.
About as artificial as the Northwestern campus
where I was emotionally stranded.
Oh, and "Kind of a Drag" (the Buckinghams,
A Chicago group) and Bob Kuban from my home town St. Louis
Had a big one...then those silly Turtles, I Can´t See Me Loving
Nobody But You, and Paul Revere, & the Monkeys,
but this was the wrapping paper for our lives.
But in the Spring,
AH, in the Spring—Sergeant Pepper
came wafting into the dorm,
everyone was talking about it
as I walked up the steps that Friday.
What had happened to those boys
from Famous-Barr, it was for us
to find out!
burst open like seed pods
the next year! My friend Steve
had a girl friend who thought she was Grace Slick
and after I heard her sing
"Don´t You Want Somebody to Love" (which I did!)
she was so attractive in my mind
I called her up, couldn´t help it
but Steve found out and kind of shamed me with that.
I was still inside myself then, waiting to be born.
And there was Mr. Dylan!
TIME Magazine was wrong!
One person heard
a voice like a frog;
the voice of the soul!
One weekend in the Spring of ´67
everyone was saying Dylan was holed up in an SF hotel room
with the man whose new album
had a painting on the back of a naked girl,
wrists bound in chains, beseeching
from a Joan of Arc fire, Leonard Cohen,
who sang his way into millions of hearts, as well.
Now it´s 2019 I’m 71 years old!
Musically I’ve been blessed this life.
copyright 2019 by Max Reif
Every Day Music (2006) now online for browsing!
EVERY DAY MUSIC is a chapbook of 20 poems, many of them celebrating the beauty of God "in the world" and particularly, in Nature.
Read Every Day Music via Google Drive Viewer.
A few poems published in THE MINDFUL WORD (2013)
I like this little collection of 4 poems, as a mini-intro to what I do.
Excerpts from my book Journey from here to HERE (THE MINDFUL WORD, 2013)
Erica Roberts of THE MINDFUL WORD did a lovely selection of several excerpts from this book, mostly composed of devotional poems to Meher Baba. I am also fond of all the ones she chose to
feature. The journal did this series of excerpts, along with an introduction describing my original connecting with Baba, instead of a review...always a valid choice, I think, in trying to give
readers an authentic "taste" of a book.
excerpts: Journey from Here to HERE
"The Uses of Beauty" ( a poem-poster)
This poem is one of the most dear to have come from my pen, because it traces and simultaneously enshrines my experience of beauty in this life. I'm happy to say it was published by my friend
Larry Robinson in his poem-a-day mailing which appears on the Sonoma County, CA "WACCOBB" website. I've been deeply touched to have quite a few of my poems featured on Larry's wonderful,
heart-centered poem-a-day mailing list over the past eight or so years. To join this wonderful group, and receive a poem-of-the-Heart via email each day, write email@example.com.
I worked on "The Uses of Beauty" for more than a decade, and the version in this poster is one I did a few further refinements on, later.
"The Uses of Beauty"
A mini-collection of seventeen poems from Larry Robinson's poem-a-day mailings
I really like most of these "The Past" is another particular favorite which appears here. My hat is off to anyone who can keep a commitment to do ANYTHING regularly over many years...my recently
passed-on friend Margaret Miller, who hosted the once-a-month poetry group I attend faithfully for some fifteen years...and Larry, who come Heaven or High Water, always sends out a poem unless he
is on retreat or on an extended trek out of the country! Maybe in some lifetime I will be able to be a rock of such responsible stewardship!
16 Poems, 2008-14, which appeared on the Poem for the day from Larry Robinson mailing list
4 poems from THE MINDFUL WORD: "The Difference Between Happiness and Contentment," "Blessed Afternoon", "White Guy in an Asian Supermarket", "Cities"
thanks again to my friends at THE MINDFUL WORD. I esp like the last two poems in this batch. "Cities" was written under a great deal of psychic pressure early one morning in the dining room of
the Denver Hilton, in around '83, after a long walk. Those poems written under pressure can be the real keepers, sometimes!
read 4 Poems by Max Reif
POEMS BY MAX REIF: Fragile, Shooting the Sky, For Peter Robinson, Indiana Revelation (from The Mindful Word, 2014)
read Poems by Max Reif
Poems from The Seattle Star
"To a Visionary Whose Name I'll Never Know" from "A Year of Being Here", 3/8/15
THE VALLEY OF THE SAINTS: a poem in four parts
written near Khuldabad, India in August, 2016
Seven hundred years ago
they came walking from Delhi,
seven hundred Sufi Saints,
and then another seven hundred,
at the request of the great
They lived here,
and the valley
some of them.
It is all
a Song of Love;
and in the hills
and valley at this
green time of year,
Nature sings along.
a Wikipedia article describes a bit of the history of the
Valley, and gives links to some of the main figures involved.
1. Arti At the Shrine of Zarzari Zarbaksh
Great clouds of incense smoke
waft from the bier room,
in which someone
is chanting loudly.
vast swaths of
green and white marble.
Brown faces, caps, dhotis,
beards. Kind eyes.
“Time for a Sufi song,”
my guide says.
A man with full beard,
long robe and cap
and stands before
the open crypt room.
having greeted him
earlier in the courtyard,
his hand’s touch
like that of a bird
on the ground.
Now, as he begins singing,
standing here like
a great eagle, somehow,
even angels fall silent.
We stand behind him,
a line of men,
repeating his chants
in a strong male chorus
that becomes another
Later I ask my guide,
“What is the title
of that magnificent
leader of the Sufi singing?”
and he replies, “Beggar.
He just came and asked
if he could do odd jobs.”
New world of sharp angles.
Everything impossibly brilliant!
Arches outlined green and gold.
The domes, perfect;
ice cream scoops for God.
In the little room
where we paid respects.
I felt a lightening,
a rush of the heart.
Now my host goes
and prays with
the Moslem men
I sit where I am
offering my own
surveying the room
of brown faces—
chanting Allahu Akbar.
Briefly I wonder,:
“Is an American safe here?”
But everyone so far
has been friendly.
I speak to one or two
who inquire of me:
“I came to India for Meher Baba.”
“Ah, Meher Baba,” one says.
“My uncle has a shop in Ahmednagar!”
“Ah,” says another.
“My father saw Meher Baba here!”
Coming down the steps
afterward, my guide and I
pass the little flower bazaar.
Across the lane
some of his friends
at a chai shop,
and we join them.
more info on Zarzari Zarbaksh, who lived 700 years ago, but still inspires his small local group of devotees to great mystical fervor! He is best known in Meher Baba circles for having been Master of Sai Baba of Shirdi. This will be footnoted in Part 3.
2. Sai Baba's Cave
I have long heard
of Sai Baba’s cave,
where he received
Zarzari, who lived
700 years earlier.
It is said that Sai
had served him
so perfectly then
that he earned Godhood.
Only God knows
why it was not
My guide and I trudge
up the steep hill
on the winding path.
I slip, and he
helps steady me.
We stop a moment
Finally, we reach
a green iron gate,
pull it open,
into the cave.
on the earthen floor
facing a prayer rug
and a wall hanging.
I close my eyes
in this spot
where God once reached down
and turned Sai Baba into Light,
so that he could become
Qutub-e-Irshad of the age,
the age when the Five
undertook their Great Work
of bringing down the Ancient One.
I keep seeing
Zarzari as a great Eye
then Sai, holding out
his open palm, with ॐ
inscribed on it,
emitting a blinding Light;
and Merwan in that Light
approaching Sai, who
with his cry, “Parvardigar!”
in the very cave
where a human being
Sai Baba of Shirdi, with his luminous eyes, remains the best-known modern spiritual figure in India. His photo or a painting of him can be seen on taxicabs, trucks, small temples, and elsewhere all over India. Going from Mumbai to Meherabad, my driver and I passed a large contingent of devotees walking around 150 miles on pilgrimage to Shirdi. Here is the account from LORD MEHER of the Enlightenment (God-Realization) of Sai Baba at the behest of his Master, Zarzari, who had lived so long ago--a VERY unusual phenomenon, because usually only another Perfect Master in the body can bestow this Gift.
Will I ever understand?
God is One
Yet we go round
from shrine to shrine
Sufi Saints and Mogul Emperors,
each with magnificent domed shrine.
At each place, we buy offerings
of flowers and perfume.
At each place, a welcomer
reminds us of the Donations Box,
and I put in rupees.
I’ve run out of small notes
and have only 50s and 100s left.
I give a 50 or 100 to beggars
outside as well: a man
with stumps for feet,
a woman whose desperately
I just don’t feel I can pass by.
And in each shrine there is
another man, often a blind man,
who tells us about another Saint;
the main Saint’s brother
or mother-in-law, or son,
buried in a separate little area.
The speaker ends his talk with,
“I am a poor man.”
I give him, too, 100 rupees.
I’m beginning to feel
I don’t know what I’m doing.
I came to pay respects
to someone who was
Master to a Master
of my Master,
but he came to this valley
with hundreds of others.
A lineage of the great
Chistis, among others,
lived in this area.
At each place I’m told
names that run
to sentence length.
How can I comprehend
that 700 years ago
these men truly were
God’s Ligh on Earth?
I don’t recognize many
of the names.
I bow and bow,
each time bowing
to Meher Baba,
saying His Name.
I don’t want
to insult my guide,
who has been kind.
and rather flexible.
He’s only 23, but his care
for me here is that
of a mature man.
that I’ll remember
the rest of my life.
Women in burkas
walk down the street
“City of Paradise,”
where the last
of the shrines are.
surround a dome—
a mosque like a miniature
Shrines are everywhere.
Each one is striking.
In the streets, the usual
Indian hubbub of shops,
An old turbaned man
comes toward me,
his hand out.
How can I refuse?
But I’m becoming
We pay respects
at one last shrine,
and finally finish
Now we can drive
over to Ellora,
near the caves,
I have much
This article lists a number of the Saints (or Perfect Ones) whose shrines we visited: