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by Adam Shaw


Adam Shaw 2024

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In states of deep meditation

or despair

you may be visited

by beings made of celestial light


lying in bed at night

you may rise disembodied

and weightless

and travel through unencumbered space


but the greatest revelation

is recognition

of what is ordinary

and most close


Enter the mystery

of ordinary things

the wings of a fly

wind and the green leaves


flashing their silver bellies

through shifting filtered light

every instance of sound

and the sound of no sound


the seeing of the eye

which itself remains unseen

-a great hint!-

and the insistent breathing of everything 



a work of art

that doesn’t have hidden

in it, somewhere,

a dagger

is like a sun

that doesn’t burn

an Earth

that can’t turn and erupt, flood,

devastate, ruin, misplace

and ultimately make you cherish

what you have

just by being alive



Then when you turn your back

to the ocean to wave

at your lover

sitting on the sand

you call come in

but your words are nothing

swallowed by a crashing

curl of the moon

You’re standing where the waves

Are breaking and you’re pulled


tumbling outside of time

you taste metal



in silence

you let go.

I am going to drown.

And the peace is already there

Waiting for you. You embrace it.

You’re ready.

And suddenly you hear the rattling

of shells like cheap Balinese chimes

grinding of sand

human voices

and you come crashing down.



This was going to be the poem

in which I reveal

the ultimate meaning of everything. The poem

that made you remember

the placental texture of the womb

the umbilical breath

when you were a fish

the concentration of non differentiated

free floating awareness

into your genetic flesh

and how and why it happened


I was going to unravel

the fabric of celestial bodies

their composition and intelligence

and your relationship to stars stars stars

numberless as sand


In this poem I was going to show you

how life is so right and how

life is so wrong and why

as I reveal to you God’s plan

and why we suffer

and how to be free from suffering


I was going to take you to the source

of all rivers the source

of all beings the source

of light and awareness 

which is a single source

I was going to show you in this poem

how flowers

grow not merely from a seed

but even before the seed


I was going to take you to the wedding

and let you taste the wine

Jesus made from water

and I was going to show you how to

dance with everything

that arises

and everything that falls away


This was going to be that poem



If I can pick it up and dig a hole with it

it’s not art

if I can drive a nail into a wall

with it it’s not art

if I can feed a starving man and prolong his life

for a single day

or bandage a wound even as the blood seeps out

around the edges

if I can smoke it, fuck it, drink it

it’s not art

because art is useless

superfluous, essentially, vitally


and if it’s not useless

I have no use for it



and if you gave away


emptied your pockets

and walked

out the door trusting

your fate to the kindness

of strangers

where would you go


As you walked through the trained

and twisted vineyards

and past the yellow

fields of mustard

toward the unknown

could you find that faith

the size of a single seed

to move the mountains

that have blocked you

from your own heart

and be on your way?



you don’t know which room

it is but there is a room

that will be the last room

you are ever in

you may be in it now

In that room you might

remember in a flash

your entire life

in a flash!

and see all at once

all the time wasted

on trivialities

all the slights and insults

hurled, incubated, endured

all the clues acknowledged

yet ignored

all the opportunities for Peace

you walked by pursuing

something meaningless and transient

like sex or money or fame

or some small victory over

the agony of being disconnected

In that room you will see

you were never absent

never disconnected

and how ignoring the ever present

truth of your being

has occupied the major part

of your entire life

But it won’t matter

because in that flash

you will have let go

of everything

forgiven everything

associated with that person

who has stolen your life and is dying

on the bed

that imposter, that fiction

In that room as you rise

and leave that body

you held so dear

and abused so relentlessly

you will look down

and see it as no more than meat

meaningless now in the moment

of your departure


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If you’re hungry or need

a roof over your head god

forbid that your only skill

is to make music from words

like rubbing two sticks

together to make fire in a hurricane

with your name on it



My guru is the dirt

wedged into the sole

of my boot

and tracked through the house


It follows me everywhere!

my teachers are the birds

that won’t shut the fuck up

when I’m trying to concentrate


My grandmother’s hands

reach for me through the gnarled oak bark

and my dead brother is resurrected

in the pungent scent of new mown grass


Follow one thing

and you find all things


Stay in one place

and you find yourself everywhere



If I fall

let me fall like rain

into the ocean

transparent and spilt

from one

infinity into another


Release me from the grave

millstone of my mind

burning and bearded

with judgements about things I do not understand

And I do not understand anything


The voice, silence

the voice

of the Sirens

drunk with the madness of transience

or tether me to the mast

of the moment and let me be the Witness


Shatter me

like an apple

ripe with stars

and scatter me as a seed

into the heart

of everything that breathes


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