Part 5 Contributors


Millicent Borges Accardi
Kim Addonizio
Marjorie R. Becker
Jacqueline Berger
John Brandi
James Cagney
Carol Moldaw
Kosrof Chantikian
Brendan Constantine
James Cushing
Kim Dower
David Garyan
Valentina Gnup
Troy Jollimore
Judy Juanita
Paul Lieber
Rick Lupert
Glenna Luschei
Sarah Maclay
Jim Natal
Judy Pacht
Connie Post
Jeremy Radin
Luis J. Rodriguez
Gary Soto
Cole Swensen
Arthur Sze
Charles Upton
Scott Wannberg (In Memoriam)

Part 1 Contributors

Rae Armantrout
Bart Edelman
David Garyan
Suzanne Lummis
Glenna Luschei
Bill Mohr
D. A. Powell
Amy Uyematsu
Paul Vangelisti
Charles Harper Webb
Bruce Willard
Gail Wronsky

Part 2 Contributors

Elena Karina Byrne
liz gonzález
Grant Hier
Lois P. Jones
Ron Koertge
Glenna Luschei
Rooja Mohassessy
Susan Rogers
Patty Seyburn
Maw Shein Win
Kim Shuck
Lynne Thompson
Carine Topal
Cecilia Woloch

Part 3 Contributors

Michelle Bitting
Laurel Ann Bogen
Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Lucille Lang Day
Corrinne Clegg Hales
Marsha De La O
Charles Jensen
Eloise Klein Healy
Glenna Luschei
Clint Margrave
Henry Morro
Alexis Rhone Fancher
Phil Taggart
David L. Ulin
Jonathan Yungkans
Lorene Zarou-Zouzounis

Part 4 Contributors

Tony Barnstone
Willis Barnstone
Ellen Bass
Christopher Buckley
Neeli Cherkovski
Boris Dralyuk
Alicia Elkort
Mary Fitzpatrick
Michael C. Ford
Kate Gale
Frank X. Gaspar
Dana Gioia
Shotsie Gorman
S.A. Griffin
Donna Hilbert
Brenda Hillman
Glenna Luschei
Phoebe MacAdams
devorah major
Clive Matson
K. Silem Mohammad
Rusty Morrison
Harry Northup
Holly Prado Northup - In Memoriam
Cathie Sandstrom
Shelley Scott - In Memoriam
Daniel Shapiro
Mike Sonksen
Pam Ward
Sholeh Wolpe
Gary Young
Mariano Zaro

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Click to enlarge picture Charles Upton
Charles Upton
Californian Poets Part 5: Six Poems
Charles Upton



Excerpt from The Wars of Love

In the Cave of the Heart shines a hot, interior Sun.
Sometimes it is veiled by leaden clouds,
Sometimes by a mist of dull, tarnished gold.
At times the clouds are a muddy olive color;
At other times, the color of dried blood.
But beyond the veils of despair and complacency,
Of shapeless intoxication and grim spiritual will
A find gold Sun is roaring with knowledge
Over an incandescent ocean, heaving in mountains of divine energy,
The tidal-waves of the Aeons: passing as we watch them
But eternal in the Core of radiance, before whose face
We rise, and pass, like voices. Whatever word is heard in that light
Stands like a pillar
Between earth and sky.

So now the Violet Fear and the White Fear.
Now the full Beast driven from the heart, rising in front of us,
And us knowing him.

Open Hell. Seal not the door where evil dwells.
Stir the banked coals, the immemorial anger, the mirror-bound suicides,
Lizards on a red cliff at dawn....they flex the sinews of their wings,
They take delight in their own beings....

I say all will be pressed into service.
I say all will be required to fight.
The passive, the coward, the innocent will be trampled down,
Unless locked in single combat with Antichrist
In mountain solitude and stillness.

Invoke, therefore, the war in your marrow;
Call on the fight you were born with, that enemy
Whose lie is cut and tooled, precisely,
To cover your single truth.
Pick targets. Each man is alone with all men
In this night of war. The conglomerate form of Death
Stands guard on each human door,
Solid to the bullet, and the chisel—like those cliffs in the Sinai
In which our skirmishers discovered, still living
The imprisoned forms of men!
The sky is roofed with machines now, a guarded perimeter to block out
     the angelic orders;
The earth is filled with the limbs of struggling giants, locked apart in
     separate mirrors, in cold branching corridors of time;
They are powers of creation chained in elemental caverns when the
      Human Form was planted on earth,
Because Man, when he fell, needed ground under his feet, the bedrock of
But we have forgotten God now, and the rock is unsteady; our
     foundations crack like parchment, they heave and shift like water;
The mechanical chatter of demons, the acid of shattered images are our
     gods and our protectors;
The wasp and the locust advise us; the spider and the scorpion guard our
Who knows this? Who has the courage not to worship
At the feet of his own destroyers?
Friends, I know you.
You are those scourged by what you see in the crackle and hiss of fire
That flowers in the rift of God. You have incontrovertible reason,
     proof to silence laughter.
You are the face of the Divine Humanity driven to the margins and
     borders of the Earth,
Weighted and crushed by the Trust, till you release the burden of your
     heavy word, to the pavement, to the center of the Earth if necessary
That the heart give up her dead;
You walk through the cities of the grave in the high mountains with food
     and intelligence for your people;
You open your throats to the Messengers to give them a living voice;
     saints take council beneath your ribs;
You offer your bodies to be the purgatory
Of souls you will never know.
You are those who in your hunger did not ask for food and so became
Who in thirst did not cry for water and so became rivers;
Who in nakedness did not flinch under shame, but suffered it, rejecting
     the cloth of the world,
And so became a city for all people, where no-one is refused
But only those who know how to place their foreheads on the dusty earth
Can enter.
You live in that Year
When each man and woman picks up their whole cross and walks,
In the terrible sunrise, down the burning road,
As the structure of common reality crashes all around us,
Torn free from the flesh of memory,
Stripped naked to Mercy,
Gone beyond Death—

The scythe reaps, the seed-heads fall
The harvest barn is hidden everywhere in the fire;
And the wedding-smoke rises,
Perfume of all love and murder,
Heroism, quite secret work
In the caverns of the heart,
Pounding the stone doors
Of those sacrificial priests
Who desecrate the Human Form to build the regime of Antichrist,
Gods of the New World Order,
Powers of frigid glamour, and insane false hope, and numb despair:
Pour fire against their sanctuary,
Against the Dragon
Against the Tower—
Glyphs of destiny, strung like nets
Through the charged structure of the thunderhead
Weave lightning into working knowledge,
Where the Living Truth sits mounted and armed
In the region of the Air, on the borders of the next world now shining
     into this one, in dream and vision more solid than a rock in the hand,

To overturn their altars, those blissful devotees, worshippers of
     despair incarnate
To whom Love is a torturing fire.
At the precise point where their pain and loss are most deeply denied,
In the mouth of their wisest wound these words are engraved
White fire cut on black fire on the
Skeletal plasm of their nerves:
And Love is what we wish them.
But how can they accept such a gift from the likes of us?
How can they even know their need?
They are inheritors of the whole world—we are nothing
But inheritors of the earth.


The horn of remembrance now cracks the shell
Encrusted on the heart for six thousand years,
Awakening the nations of the human dead
From their iron sleep. The people of the tombs arise and have their say

On the plains of Akhirah:

“We are those

Who lie slandered under the name of death.
We have incontrovertible reason,
Proof to silence laughter.
From palaces of torture,
From twenty terms in the grey, damp, infinite dusk
We raise our voices and salute you,
Who still sit laboring in your dream—
You living men and women, clothed as we were
In the sweetness and the dignity
Of human flesh. We are the strength of your arms and your loins,
The voice of your living memory.
Speak us, man! Tell our story.
We’ve been muttering too long in our ruined halls, those narrow beds,
The groves still barren of our voices;
We’ve lain too long in the seed-houses, the uneasy archives,
     the crucibles of sleep.
Beware! The dead are hungry for those who will not live;
The ones who die into a coward’s dream we consume;
We eat, and are not satisfied.
But as you remember Him, He will also remember us, in our chambers
     of darkness
Till the river of our endless dying flows East again,
Toward the rising sun.”

The Voice of the Primordial Adam

When I was a man, I had no Self but God;
Now I am the Self of every woman and every man,
One with all who walk the path of Nothing.
All those who have become Nothing before they die
Have no Self but I. I am the road the stars travel
Before the face of their Lord. I am a ladder seen in a dream;
Angels ascend and descend upon me;
My flesh is a highway of living intelligence.
When the seven seas rise like sap
Through the bark of the olive, changed into liquid light,
There I will stand, in neither the east nor the west.
When God summons the four winds back to His chamber,

Calling them each by its name,
I will be the body of that vast, returning sigh.

To visit God is to spend the night inside the Sun,
The Sun who hears and sees, without sleep.
So shed the world, and open the gates of dawn:
The Sun is about to rise for the last time,
Climbing the green balconies of Axis Mundi, the luminous steps,
Gathering in the fruit of what has been,
Storing away the seeds of what shall be,
Till it stands on the floor of high eternity, the Temple Mount
And prostrates itself before the throne
Of the Light which does not set.

Portrait of the Beloved

Versions of 23 of the Quatrains of Jalaluddin Rumi
based on the literal translations
of Ibrahim Gamard and A. G. Rawan Farhadi
rendered as potential English song lyrics

What is this sorrow grips me like the night?
Is it blind? Does it see me lost to light?
Earth shows my image, yet in heaven I'm free:
What hand can lift a star from off the sea?

Who claims the ever-living One has died—
The Sun of Hope is gone, his days are done?
Sun-killer climbed the roof and shut his eyes
Then cried out like a fool, “I've killed the Sun!”

Every day my heart drinks one new wine
Whose sweetness kills the taste of all wines past;
He first ferments love-sickness, that Winemaster
And then serves up oblivion at last.

Any one might have a friend or lover;
Anyone hold a job, or play a part;
Like the Prophet and his khalif in their cavern,
I'm with Him in the furnace of my heart!

That love from which my lifeless life takes life
A love so fine, so sweet, where does it live?
Is it from mortal flesh or from beyond it?
Or a glance that he, Tabriz’s Sun, might give?

O wounded heart, your cure has finally come;
Breathe easy now, your healing has been born;
A love who grants the wish of every lover
Has come into this world in human form.

To behold the beauty of the King, what joy!
My soul takes life from that exquisite face.
(In a dream I saw the black chains of His love—
What could it mean? That dream disturbs my peace.)

That musky Tatar curl is pure delight;
To hunt a prey like me, delightful sport.
In Spring, in early Spring, the world is sweet
Like sugar and candy holding hands—so right.

From your tall shape the cypress stole its grace,
The rose tore open its shirt when it saw your face!
For God’s sake, lift a mirror, then you’ll see:
“Not one like me, from end to end of space!”

Did the perfumed rose ever catch your scent? No, never.
Have the sun or stars ever seen your light? No, never.
“It’s night”, you say, “behold my darkened window.”
If you go, it’s night; but otherwise—No, never!

I found no peace, I died of shame, without you.
When I came to court I quit my life, without you.
Without you how can I break the grip of sorrow?
Choked with loss I cried tears of blood, without you.

“I'll tear my heart from your ground!” I say—but I can’t.
“I'll learn to breathe without you!”—but I can’t.
“I'll drive your longing from my heart!” I brag;
If I were man enough I'd do it—but I can’t.

I have no-one, only You—where can I turn?
No cure for this ravaged heart. Where can I turn?
“How long”, you ask, “will we whirl with the whirling stars?”
It’s the only trade I know. Where can I turn?

“You’ll get no help from me, my friend” he said;
“Just silly drunkenness and wine and laughter.
To kill sobriety and drive out reason
Is why God sent me down into this slaughter.”

I'll take the blame for you a hundred times.
If I break my pledge to you, I'll pay the price.
As long as I draw breath, I'll stand your blows,
Till the Day of Resurrection—this you know.

Your slap is sweeter than another's kiss;
Your wound is richer than another's gift;
Your cruelty, kinder than another's care;
Your insult, dearer than another's bliss.

If I fill the sky with groans, I am forgiven.
If I water the plains with tears, I am forgiven.
You are my soul; that's why I must pursue you—
And if soul follow self instead? I am forgiven.

The Water of Life—a drop from your shining face.
Of that world of light the Moon is just a trace.
“I want Moonlight, Moonlight, all night long!” I cried;
The night is your night-black curls—the Moon, your face.

O Friend, our friendship makes a mighty union;
Where you might walk, I’ll be the earth for you.
In the creed of lovers it’s a dark transgression
Through your eyes to see the world, but not see you.

I'm glad this passing world can't make me happy;
Drunk without wine—superb intoxication!
Why do I need to hear some other story
When endless blessings rise from my secret glory?

May the heart of Love never look upon this world.
What's worthy to be seen by Love, but Love?
The day I die I'll cast away these eyes
If, gazing on this world, they turned from Love;

This dying earth, how long to smell and taste it?
It’s time to meet that One of perfect grace.
In the mirror of His face I'll find myself;
In the mirror of my heart I'll see His face.

The fruit will set on the blossoming branch—some day.
The hungry hawk will seize the dove—some day.
His image comes and goes; when will it stay?
It will make its home inside your heart—some day.

Answering Gary Snyder

who said:
“I don’t ask
‘Why are we here?’ any more.”

I found my old whetstone
all covered with dust: flat, gray, dull
yet filled with sharpness.

We’re here so we can
see this swarming universe
with a human eye.

If we were not here
this universe would not
be here either—no still point
to this vast, turning world:

Many needs, many
maps and agendas, struggles,
but no clear Center.

Looking at our world,
if we did not see the Way
Things Are,
then there would be no Way.

Whatever exists,
even if it sees nothing itself
still “wants” to be seen;

Lichens, orange and green,
can’t see colors,
yet they put on a show of color
only our eye can catch;

Cats can’t pet each other,
but anyone who thinks that cats
weren’t made for petting
has never known them.

This, precisely, is why we are here:
so we can attend to the
shapes and motions of this world
with a clear, human, mind.

Studied leisure is
not an animal thing. It’s

Everybody else
is on the job, following programs,
meeting deadlines—
all except us.

The insanity of purpose
renounced, laid down, for one
     split second

And everything comes together
just as it was, like it already
     knew us.

To “renounce” simply means
not to mess with it—with life,
self-defense, survival;

We human beings intervene in the
     flow of things
harder than anybody—
yet nobody else

Can really let things be like we can,
turn them loose to breathe
and move, without us, in the
     free air—

And we sitting here, firm as a rock
only to witness them as they fly,
watch them orbiting the Northern
the unwobbling pivot
inside the human eye.

The seen universe
is gathered by the seer
into one Center,

into the first Stone
from which the stars were struck
like sparks in the night,

turning, in their flight
about the One who holds them
as both Eye and Sun.

Sharpen your seeing
along the fine grain of it,
you who take pains to
sit and attend—

Then you will see it.

The Ultimate Blackness

Written as if in the voice of God

Until you do My Will, I will oppress you.
You think you are being oppressed by the world and its disasters, but
     this is not so.
You imagine standing up to the world, changing the world, to escape
     from its relentless contraction and abasement,
But there is no escape in defiance—no escape from Me.

Next you imagine capitulating to the world and allowing it to destroy
Because who can stand in the face of those omnipotent disasters, that
     relentless sabotage and cunning?
But there is no escape in capitulation either, no escape from Me in
     sacrificing yourself
To the world you think you see.

Lastly, you imagine your own self to be the oppressor, and so dream
     of standing up to it and transforming it,
Of capitulating to it and being destroyed by it—
And yet there is no escape from Me in this either, because who but
     your own supremely oppressive self
Could dream such dreams?

No: Until you do My will alone, My oppression will never lift.
And what is that Will? It is obedience in contraction, obedience in
     abasement, obedience in annihilation.
It is renunciation of expectation, sacrifice of all imagined outcomes,
     the end of the cherished illusion of the self-determined self,
Of the one chosen and instructed and empowered by God,
The one who can turn even heroic obedience into the mask of rebellion.
Not that, not any “that” is your Lord,
But I alone.

I am there in the Blackness, in the Black Night of time—
In that chamber where the lines of your silhouette and the motion of
     your hand.
Appear nowhere at all.

Is there power somewhere in that ultimate weakness?
Is there healing in that sickness?
Is there Liberation in that cell of solitary confinement?
Is there Mercy in that dark night of the soul?
Really? Is this the question you would address to Me at the ultimate
Do you really expect Me to show you the outcome before the fact?
     Slip you a clue? Grant you a premature glance into the Secret?
     A hint of the true answers that were written down before the
     world was made? A glimpse of the Final Score?

Never. I will never do that because I am an honest Teacher and an
     impartial Grader of Tests.

Until you step into that final Night you will never know.
How can Knowledge walk free of the exhaustion of its endless
     translators and commentators and petitioners and betrayers
Until no-one remains to claim it?
I can give you no answer to the question you ask because you are
     that question:
The only way to ask it
     Is to step beyond the threshold.

What is God?

(The Dance of the Human Mind before the Unknowable;
the Dance of the Unknowable before the Human Mind)

My God, the Worshippers do not worship You,
    no matter how much they worship;
The Gnostics do not know You,
    no matter how much they know;
The People of Unity do not realize Your Unity,
    no matter how much they realize;
The Witnesses cannot describe you,
    no matter how much they witness….

~~ from the Munajat of Shaykh Ahmed al-‘Alawi

🙝 God is the Divinity, the only Being,
And equally the only One Who is Beyond Divinity and Beyond Being—
The Open Field—
The Infinite Ascent—
The endless ever-widening Vertical Path—
Elevation beyond Elevation—
Openness wider than Space—
Space more open and permeable than even the Quintessence—
Infinity expanding without end, widening beyond endlessness….
And also Depth beyond profundity, the Secret buried in the
     darkest heaviness of matter,
Coal crushed in the fist of the inner darkness till it becomes
     the Diamond of Absolute Vision.

IF the One without root
Really IS the One from which everything proceeds,
And to which everything returns,
Then It has no walls and no ceiling,
It opens out behind into the Infinite Expanse,
Into perfect Emptiness, Emptiness endlessly deepening without
     motion or passage,
Absolute Nothingness overflowing with Primordial Being,
Being eternally intensifying and concentrating like a star being
Till Fusion is initiated and Radiance begins,
A featureless void streaming with Light,
And Power,
And Self-Transcendence,
As its intrinsic Emptiness reaches ever greater depths of Annihilation,
As its primordial Blackness deepens,
And its Secret becomes sheathed ever more deeply in the seventy-
     thousand veils of light and darkness,
Which are its layers of dimensional existence—
Existence which, empty of Itself, does not even claim existence, but
     eternally surrenders it
To the ever-deepening invisibility of Its unknown Origin,
As Its intrinsic Perfection becomes always clearer and more sharply-
As Its primordial Annihilation grows more and more radiantly
Thunderous with the Power of its own Self-manifestation,
Spreading out like a nuclear shock-wave in ever-widening rings of
     Incandescent Truth,
Truth zealously intent on concentrating and condensing
So as to effortlessly become what It always was,
A Reality fully established on Its own foundation, secure beyond all
A Presence that never passes but only arrives,
That rests ever more deeply in its own perfect stillness,
Precisely by thrusting Itself always more powerfully into the eternal
     motionlessness of the Rock of Ages,
Which is absolute Immobility moving so swiftly that no scale can
     measure it—
Till in the core of Its perfect stillness It surpasses velocity itself,
     contracting itself,
Crushing itself together under the weight of Its own infinite pressure
Until It crystalizes into the shape
Of Eternity-beyond-Origin,
Into an ever-more-perfectly defined abyss of pure Being,
Of Being endlessly receding from us, plunging into Itself,
Concentrating Itself to the limit of absolute density and beyond,
A density which is inseparable from Its infinite expansion and attenuation,
An expansion that is simultaneously a withdrawal,
A shrinking into Itself past the borders of the Infinitesimal,
Past absolute dimensionlessness, till it surpasses non-existence itself,
Goes beyond even Its own infinite and intentional act
Of Self-transcendence—

And all this strictly by the fact
Of Its being no more nor less that what It is,
Which is simply THAT it is.

And OUT of It
Springs the tiny concentrated point of THIS SELF,
The infinitesimal puncture-wound that defines the whole Field,
Defines this borderless universe of Divine Self-Expression,
Encompassing every form either Necessary or Possible,
And every void between the Necessities
And every bridge between the Possibilities
And every Impossibility by which the transcendent Necessities are
All this in ever-widening echelons and immense branching hierarchical
     trees of Life and Knowledge,
Flowing always backward into the Power of Nothing that forms them and
     informs them,
With no intent but the will to be both perfectly Itself, and empty of Itself
Just so It can seed them,
And give them Life,
And carve and craft them out of nothing but the Truth of Its own nature,
Till it leads them out from the Night of Time so they can witness
     one another
In the Mahasangha of Universal Manifestation,
The Great Assembly of all the unique faces of the One—
The One Who creates them precisely by transcending them—
By shedding them like skins,
Then stepping cleanly apart from them—
Totally, instantaneously, beyond all intelligible motion,
Timeless as the lightning-flash.

THIS is why we see a God
Always looming out of His own Darkness,
Saguna Brahman out of Nirguna Brahman,
Allah out of Al-Dhat,
A Face to meet our faces.

He looks out through our eyes,
Peers deeply alongside us
Into the featureless void where we search for Him, endlessly, but never
     find Him—
Because it was He Who found us,
And founded us,
And named us,
And gave Himself a Name by which we could call Him,
And by the power of which He could also call us,
Call us back to Himself out of the wilderness of matter, energy,
     space, and time,
Back to the House where we were born,
Before there were ever tongues to speak or ears to listen,
Before there were ever ears to speak or tongues to listen.

And all the stars, and the galaxies, and the quasars, and the black holes,
And all the folds and twists and currents in the fine grain of spacetime
Are flowing backwards forever
Into the Name that eternally names them out into manifest existence,
And of which they themselves are the palpable echoes, the visible and
     audible names.
What He is speaking right Now,
In the Day of Existence
He is also listening to in the same Now,
In the Night of Non-existence.
We are nothing but words
Passing across His threshold
From Silence to Silence.

Who can name Him?
No vision takes Him in
But He takes in all vision.

Only He has the power
To speak his own Name….

But as for us—what might we be?
The truth is, we are that Name.
Therefore, seeing that a Name is something that is spoken
Rather than someone who speaks,
For us to speak our own true names is unbecoming—
It un-becomes us,
Takes us down into our separate components
Till finally it stores us away in the Barns of the Unseen,
In Eternal Night hungry for sunrise, and pregnant with it.
We are performing this act of unbecoming right now as we voice
     the single Name we share
With the One who first named us out into this wilderness,
Fading all the way back to the dimensionless Point where all
     existence hid itself in impenetrable Darkness
Before the Name was uttered.
This voice
Never dawned upon that Darkness,
These words
Were never said—
Which is precisely is why they will never pass away—because into
     what could they ever pass?
THAT is their warrant.
THAT is their proof.

So rest in the humming Darkness
Resounding with the
Voice of God.
HE ALONE is the One Who will say what needs to be said,
Explain what begs to be explained,
Obliterate what longs to be obliterated,
Annihilate the darkness of the Question in the light of the Answer.

This recitation is ended now.
Its tents are folded.
Midnight breaks over the earth
Of human speech.