POEMS

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

"A Political Map of the Poet's Insides" and other poems

 

 

 

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 lrobpoet@sonic.net.

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)

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

Prologue

 

Seven hundred years ago

they came walking from Delhi,

seven hundred Sufi Saints,

and then another seven hundred,

at the request of the great

Master Nizamuddin.

 

Only God 

knows why.

They lived here,

and the valley 

still breathes

their Light.

 

Their heirs 

have erected

sublime shrines

to honor 

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.

Bright lights 
shockingly illumine
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
approaches
and stands before
the open crypt room.

I remember
having greeted him 
earlier in the courtyard,
his hand’s touch 
like that of a bird 
scarcely lighting
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 
mighty voice.

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.

My senses
are sharpened 
beyond measure.
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
silent prayers,
surveying the room 
of brown faces—
Islamic mystics
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 
sit drinking
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.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zar_Zari_Zar_Baksh

 

2. Sai Baba's Cave

I have long heard
of Sai Baba’s cave,
where he received
God-Realization from 
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 
given then.

My guide and I trudge 
up the steep hill
on the winding path.
I slip, and he
helps steady me.
We stop a moment
to rest.

Finally, we reach
a green iron gate,
pull it open,
and carefully
climb up 
into the cave.

We sit
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.

Meditating,
I keep seeing 
Zarzari as a great Eye
reaching down;
then Sai, holding out
his open palm, with ॐ
inscribed on it,
emitting a blinding Light;

and Merwan in that Light
approaching Sai, who 
expresses recognition
with his cry, “Parvardigar!”

We sit
in the very cave
where a human being
became God.
***
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.
http://www.lordmeher.org/rev/index.jsp?pageBase=page.jsp&nextPage=49

3. Bowing

Will I ever understand?
God is One
Yet we go round 
from shrine to shrine
bowing before
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
beseeching face
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.

I’m overwhelmed
with impressions
that I’ll remember
the rest of my life.
Women in burkas
walk down the street
in Khuldabad,
“City of Paradise,”
where the last 
of the shrines are.

Upthrust minarets
surround a dome—
a mosque like a miniature
Haggia Sofia. 

Shrines are everywhere.
Each one is striking.
In the streets, the usual 
Indian hubbub of shops, 
pedestrians, motorbikes.
An old turbaned man
comes toward me, 
his hand out.
How can I refuse?

But I’m becoming
fatigued
beyond measure.

We pay respects
at one last shrine,
and finally finish
our rounds.
Now we can drive
over to Ellora,
near the caves,
and feed 
the monkeys.

I have much
to contemplate!
***
This article lists a number of the Saints (or Perfect Ones) whose shrines we visited:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sufi_saints_of_Aurangabad