It was his first encounter, an alliance in the womb.
A friend who brought him comfort in the placentary gloom.
In the silent, sloshy darkness, he was never one to fail.
The friend brought him his daily fix, he never had to wail.
At birth the severance was almost more than he could bare.
His happiness cut short, abandoned to another’s care.
He screamed for three long months, wouldn’t tolerate a hug.
His mother didn’t know that his first roommate was a thug.
The entrance into life was most abrupt in detox mode.
He had no way to tell them that his innards might explode.
But gradually he learned to tolerate the milky swill.
His appetite increased and he could always get his fill.
Then when he was twelve, something unexpected came.
He found his one-time buddy and now he had a name.
Welcome, welcome, friend, come into my life again.
I’ve always known that one day my lonesomeness would end.
That’s how he beckoned him, his mouth opened wide.
And so the thief came in with a cool, indifferent stride.
But little did he know that such a one could be his foe,
Could steal his precious brain, could annihilate his soul.
At first the friendship grew as he took the strong elixir.
His shyness disappeared and he became a social mixer.
His adolescent awkwardness, acute timidity,
Especially with girls, was changed to male virility.
Is there any other way to achieve agglutination?
Are there any other remedies for social restoration?
How charming one becomes, how attractive, how refined.
How sophisticated any group who knows just how to dine.
It became a lubricant that helped him get employed.
A tonic to enhance every relation he enjoyed.
And finally with its help he went out and got a wife.
His future looking bright, he was a winner in this life.
Yet lurking in the shadows, his destiny awaited.
His long lost pal a harbinger of anguish unabated
This friend was a magician, turned himself into a fiend
Then made of him a captive to a master harsh and mean.
Progenitor of accidents and other tragedies.
The culprit of so many fights, of base brutalities.
Ravager of nuptial bliss and family unity.
Extinguisher of life and of all tranquility.
Most difficult it is to put the villain on the run,
To banish him forever from a life he has undone.
Ones only hope, to turn to God, The Clement and the Kind
To beg of Him His mercy, drink deep the hallowed wine.
He struts right up to meet her, he knows the right maneuvers.
He’ll tell her she’s an angel, he’s an expert at this ruse.
He’ll talk about his prowess, he knows just how to move her.
But will she take the chance again of feeling she’s been used?
If he could look her in the eye, and let her know he cares.
But he can’t keep his eyes off the grapefruits ‘neath her sweater.
if he could ask her out to eat, the tab between them shared.
But no, it’s football night with the guys, there’s nothing better.
Although he has no palace, no kingdom or a queen
He’s feeling pretty special, wants to show the world his power
No matter what the contest, he’s pretty tough and can be mean.
Even if outnumbered, he’d be cool, not one to cower.
Never meek in manner, that’s for maids and secretaries.
He loves to boast about his sins and secret harlotries
Predictable in every way, his fascia never varies.
He’s the trumpet in the band that plays discordantly.
You say this charmer’s only to be found south of the border?
In sultry climes, well yes, but take another look around.
In academia, in industry, in the arts of highest order.
He’s everywhere in science and in politics abounds.
Say what’s the beef? Aren’t we all progressing here on Earth?
Well, true, of all achievers the majority are men.
But women get to tend the house, are privileged to give birth.
Can’t she just be satisfied with holding up her end?
If she ever had a thought, best keep it to herself.
And if she had a talent, better not to let it show.
If she had a special gift, best keep it on the shelf.
And if she had discovered truth, best not let others know.
The gentle gender always had to fight to be received.
Until most recently only a handful found a voice.
Elizabeth, Christina, Edna and the Emilys,
The critics said well done, but still the men are our first choice.
They were labeled as reclusive, the village oddity.
The spinster and the maiden aunt were little more than freaks.
They wrote incognita to hide from brazen mockery.
Unfruitful of the womb, their possibilities were bleak.
Then one fine Persian morning, out to change the paradigm,
She came, The Pure One, scholar, mystic poet and a teacher.
Her actions were magnanimous, her guidance was divine.
She set the modern stage with her unveiling of the future.
From her crown of accolades, the jewel of martyrdom she picked.
Her dawning light so blinding, it had to be suppressed.
She left the planet reeling, an unforeseen tectonic shift,
So altogether chastised, yet so completely blessed.
Following in her path a new creation would arise.
She would be educated, would be eager, unabated.
The weaker wing now functioning, would let the eagle fly.
Seeing herself an equal part, she’d never be dissuaded.
She donned the mail to battle in defense of her convictions.
She sent her sons to martyrdom, refused their souls to barter.
She traveled every continent, ignoring all restrictions.
She kissed the noose that silenced her and made of her a martyr.
She will contribute to the Plan and work wholeheartedly.
She will survive imprisonment, will live to lead anew.
She will cry out against the scourge of war and tyranny.
She will raise up the youth to know there’s nothing they can’t do.
So what does all of this portend for them that are less fair?
Don’t worry, they’re protected and nothing will they lose.
And if their attitudes remain archaic and unaware?
They’ll be forgiven, even loved by those they would abuse.
My garden is a gentle place, well ordered and attended.
Amidst the rough, chaotic space that lies beyond its walls.
To enter is to breath again, to rest the weary senses
From every bleak and battered sight, from grating, shrieking calls.
A place to contemplate how very tender life can be.
The budding of the seedling, the willingness of soil.
The birds and bees will eat their share, but always guarantee
That following the seasons end new flowers are in store.
If any day you find that incongruity is a burden.
Come into my garden, let your mind be rearranged.
A subtle breeze might whisper a secret to your soul.
You might encounter many things you thought would never change.
To His Ardent Lovers in the Land of Ta
In the land of Ta, well known to all, such wonders have transpired.
Great Cyrus was the conqueror and lord of the Near East.
Followed by Darius and the unsurpassed Persepolis.
Then came Avicenna, Omar Khayyam, and Rumi.
Shiraz brought forth the honored poets Hafiz and Sa’di.
Audacity, wisdom and aplomb sustained their laurels.
The ancient Persian glory was a feat beyond compare.
Yet rivalries wreaked havoc with their plotting and their snares.
On the heels of grandeur came foreseeable conclusion.
The mightiest of empires was reduced to an illusion.
But, God had other plans foretold by prophets long ago.
The day would come for Persia, singled out for special favor.
The Promised One would tread her soil, a native son, her savior.
She is the dayspring of His light in this new dispensation.
From which both earth and heaven will receive illumination.
Just when they might bring back the former glory of their nation,
The rulers turned upon their own, despotically repressive.
Intolerance and brutality would wax beyond excessive.
Ayatollah or Shah, they have disgraced their people’s honor.
How can Iran withstand it, all the shame that’s heaped upon her?
Through fire, sword and bullet, many thousands were to perish.
Their blood would drench the earth as they were hunted down like prey,
Yet these gazelles were willing game, refusing to take flight.
Sulayman Khan - you lit the candles sizzling in your flesh.
You lit our hearts forever, ardent lover of His light.
The episodes of slaughter are too many to recount.
At one time in Zanjan , at another in Nayriz,
Causing consternation and incomparable grief.
Again in Tabarsi, they chose heroically to fight.
We wish our fire to equal yours, oh lovers of His light.
And then again the seven most distinguished of Teheran.
Their conduct was impeccable, their virtue undisputed.
Steadfastness in their faith, no power on earth could have uprooted.
Being publically beheaded was an honor, not their blight.
Our challenge is to match you, ardent lovers of His light.
The tyrant of the land of Ya, so ruthless his aspersion,
He caused the lambs to be dismembered, butchered by the mob.
That which he wrought would make the angels cry with tears of blood.
Their story written with this crimson ink by the Pen of Might
We weep for you as well, oh ardent lovers of His light.
The zealots came to rule the land with blind denunciation
Their reasoning distorted, their grasp of truth sclerotic
Good was renamed evil, their morality chaotic.
Ten women from Shiraz were hanged, denied all litigation.
Their heinous crime was being involved with children’s education.
We cherish your example, ardent lovers of His light,
Witnessing your bravery the gallows shook with fright.
Your courage and your confidence have left us all astounded.
The phoenix from the ashes is a myth they’ve long forgotten.
But justice will arise again to leave them all confounded.
Then those brave souls who disappeared, members of the Assembly.
And then again another nine who knew full well their fate,
Executed without trial, indictments based on hate.
These true heralds won’t be hushed by caveats of spite.
In service we will vie with you, Oh lovers of His light.
All our brothers and our sisters who continue to endure
The blows, abuse, taunts and curses of a spent regime,
Have shown us how the fire just augments their golden sheen.
Their unwavering devotion, lights up this darksome night.
We long to follow in your steps, Oh lovers of His light.
Now the Friends who led the way are languishing in cages.
No ray to lift the gloom, no breeze dispels the suffocation.
Where malice creeps into the cells with threats of violation.
Each morning a new martyrdom, assures new desolation.
Twenty years of misery beyond imagination.
Yet their thoughts are purified of all rancor and of hate.
Clemency is second nature, from their lips not one complaint.
We supplicate before His throne, to send down unto you
The sweet musk-laden winds of His mercy and delight.
We’ll speak out in your defense, oh lovers of His light
May the land of nightingales and roses rise again.
Let the bonds be loosened, let the captive ones go free.
May they walk in flowing robes of grace and ecstasy.
Let the stealthy desperados be disarmed of fang and claw.
We salute you, ardent lovers in the Land of Ta.
To Louis Gregory
My childhood was a Disney dream, stardust in my eyes.
Sleeping through it all on a canopy bed of lies.
They said don’t look, you mustn’t see the color in our lives,
Not wanting to explain a taxing fact that they despised.
The schooling was the same, an avoidance of the truth.
Why burden with incongruities these aspiring youth?
Then one day on my own privileged back I felt the lash.
A soul awakening that stings and festers, does not pass.
What a privilege to be born in the land of the free.
To grow up with the best K-12 education guaranteed.
Vaccinations, transportation, supermarkets overflowing,
Non-stop sports and entertainment, our options ever growing.
Armed forces to protect us, our allies well aligned.
Freedom to express ourselves, our rights clearly defined.
Our precious liberty grants independence to pursue
Whatever dream, whichever means, the limitations few.
Freedom to ride a bus with my fellow man, but wait,
Freedom to burn that bus, the people still inside.
Freedom to worship as we please, but Dear God, what is this?
Freedom to let bullets fly, smoke out their gospel bliss.
Freedom to elect those who will keep the status quo.
Freedom to assure systemic evil is maintained.
Freedom to participate in markets that promote
The poverty that keeps one race efficiently enchained.
Freedom is a track that can be tricky and misleading.
If you lose your bearings you condemn yourself to lies.
If you choose the righteous path you could become the means
Of saving cataleptic souls from spiritual demise.
Only one among us had the vision to select
An untried jungle trail that led to full-scale liberty.
It’s the path we follow now, but still most timidly.
The standard-bearer, pioneer – Louis George Gregory.
You struggled to become an instrument of truth
Against all odds and chose the Blessed Beauty as your guide
Which left you quite alone, no friends on either side.
So few of your associates could comprehend your lack of pride.
Puzzled by your patience, your good humor, dignity,
Your unshakable conviction that there would be unity.
Hostility a foreign trait your noble stance precludes,
You urged them to examine their apartheid attitudes.
Marking unknown depths on a wild, tempestuous sea.
You proved yourself the touchstone of a new reality.
This vessel has no owner, no passengers aboard.
All are crew and must assure the ship gets safe to shore.
Not a question of our class or caste or even of our color.
Just one pigment now, that of the crimson heart we share.
You put your genuine concern for the welfare of your people
In a universal context, no small allegiance could compare.
So many years have passed and still we have not replied
Sufficiently, to remedy this aching, raw divide.
How to stop the flow of blood, allay the mutiny?
Black leaders to defuse our accountability?
We had a King who tried to lead us to a better dream.
We had a President so eloquent, refined and graced.
Yet there is no redemption, no matter who our leaders be.
No way to reconcile the past, it cannot be erased.
Like chattel they were bought and sold, enchained pitilessly
Then thousands lynched while roving mobs of terrorists went free.
Millions more entrapped in post-war revanchist rule.
How can we ever reconcile a history so cruel?
From oppressors, heartfelt tears, absolute humility,
So that the oppressed might pity us and grant us clemency.
Yet tears are not enough, a battle must be fought
For universal education, our oneness must be taught.
Interracial marriage must be the norm not the exception
Till families are fused by an intimate connection.
No distrust, no social rank, no cowardly rejection
Till neighborhoods can celebrate their multi-hued confection.
Our complacency is not the only thing we need to change.
Justice must be done, official privileges dismantled.
The bootstrap myth debunked, the safety nets replaced.
A system void of preferences will never be disgraced.
Louis, your example in every detail of your life
Was the way to move beyond, unite the races into one.
You even took a total opposite to be your wife.
You knew the answer to our plight was that His will be done.
Submission, not to any race or claimed supremacy,
But to the Master who Himself appointed you to be
The catalyst that would make us even as one soul.
To help us reach our destiny, world unity our goal.
To My Dear Habib
Five months ago for the last time on this earthly plane,
I basked in the attentions of your cherished company.
The anguish, that belied my calm demeanor, was exposed.
The last chance for my battered heart to share with you its woes.
As always, you were careful to protect my dignity.
It’s the Covenant, Habib, that vast, majestic ocean,
That lofty wall that looms unassailable before me.
And in my darkest hour of wavering devotion
The frightening force and rage that could throw me on the sand –
Gasping for the breath of life, deprived by my own hand.
We are birds of a feather, you and me, Habib.
Impatient, sometimes prematurely jumping from the nest,
To satisfy desires that could deliver us to death.
Yet you, kind friend, were always there, helping me to see,
That cows, and birds and fish are the lords of liberty.
We shared the same desire, to get the wagon rolling.
To push and shove and get it done, with full determination,
No obstacle could hinder if the mandate’s from above.
Seize the opportunities, the Guardian would approve.
He said we cannot vacillate, there is no time to lose.
The Divine Plan is our compass, on that we all agree.
The institutions there to help, but not to do our pleasure.
Not to wield approval, not to castigate.
Not to hamper us, but to set the tiller straight.
It has always been that way and always will it be.
But what of those, who like you and me, date back to earlier days,
When Plans once read were liable to myriad applications,
When parameters were open and the guidance less precise.
No borders on the map or any other limitations.
Cowboys in the wild, where only courage would suffice.
Now the guidance from the House must be our daily bread.
Read constantly or memorized, the message in our head.
Relatively speaking, the field of battle’s been compressed.
The targets more defined, but the labor is no less.
Transition is the reckoner, the apex of all tests.
Still, all ideas are welcome and enterprise well-favored,
Within the framework of the guidance, nothing to detain us.
Why then feel over-looked and sometimes even chastened?
It’s understood the old guard wants to serve, to have its say.
But how to keep short-sightedness from getting in the way?
Yes to new blood, yes to youth, to everything pursued.
Let’s be there to sustain them, to ensure their passage through.
It’s the "modus operandi" that God has always used.
The fallen leaves assure the saplings growth to greater heights.
Its evolution, undeterred. It cannot be disproved.
Shortly after your demise the House sent us a message.
They mentioned some heroic deeds – her Highness Martha Root –
But they also spoke so lovingly of other unsung heroes.
The admiration that they felt for ordinary folks,
The busy ants, the worker bees, the likes of you and me.
They spoke of those who for their Love were persecuted, jailed.
Those who took on prejudice and painful isolation.
Loneliness in foreign lands, an abundance of privation.
They spoke of those who cultivated the coming generations.
Those who till their last breath served and knew no hesitation.
The tears that filled my eyes, would’ve filled yours too.
It’s as if they knew our minds and saw the stark reality
Of our remaining years: the crumbling of confidence, the spent-up energy,
The waning aspirations, the injuries unhealed.
And all along we had assumed our secrets were concealed.
Those twilight secrets may be kept from everyone but us.
To know God is to know ourselves, to pin point our condition.
But, oh what courage it requires to shine the naked light
Into the corners of the soul, to face the work undone,
Lay bare the not so noble deeds, expose the hearts ambition.
But our ambitious efforts were no quixotic schemes.
Our highest motivation: to do our best for our Beloved.
Not to elevate ourselves, or promulgate our dreams,
No aspiring to self-renown, no finessing self-promotion.
But certainly, to register the depths of our devotion.
And if our footprint was to last, we’d have to forge ahead.
The path of high endeavor, the only one to tread.
If our ideas were not embraced, we’d go it all alone.
How could we let them go to waste? The warrior path we chose,
No lesser vision to impede us, no other will imposed.
Then through our tearful prayers come the stinging accusations.
Is it lack of interest or maybe lack of love? Are they over-looking
The battles that we’ve won? Is adherence to the Plan what’s gotten in the way?
Is their rejection envy, of everything we’ve done?
The lapses in our reasoning have filled us with dismay.
We are the steadfast, towering oaks, solid to the core,
Surrounded by the tender herbs and multi-colored flowers
That sway and bend in the gentle wind according to His will.
It’s you, Habib, who taught me that God’s gift in every age
Is a Messenger Who comes to bring the garden to fruition.
His gentle voice beseeching us to love Him and submit
To His command, for if the tree cannot produce this fruit,
It’s only fit for kindling and how sad it is to say,
That any feat of knowledge or accomplishment will vanish.
The fire will consume it and its ashes blow away.
Let not a lifetime of exertion blind us to the present,
Let not the fruits of our endeavors, wither on the vine,
God forbid the harvests of our days be turned to ashes,
Our efforts be forgotten, our acceptance be denied.
Let His mercy harbor us, His graciousness provide.
What irony, Habib, that our achievement most sublime
Is to bow down like a willow, our impotence confess.
To have a pristine heart, devoid of all desire.
To consecrate our will to His. He asks for nothing less.
Is there any higher goal to which we can aspire?
And if we do conform to the mystic algorithm,
If our movement and our stillness be attuned to its decree,
What destiny awaits us, having made this free decision?
We’re heading toward a state that even Darwin couldn’t see.
To a novel and elusive permutation: unity.
To The Children
Hello my little darlings, you always make my day.
So nice to see you altogether happily at play.
I’ve been so busy, haven’t had the time to come around.
What’s this? A new toy gun? Looks like an AK-47
Careful where you point it, you could mow some people down.
Do you still remember: O God guide me and protect me?
It was just a while ago, and if you say it every day,
Early in the morning, then you won’t forget that way.
You say you now have Netflix so it’s hard to get up early.
Aha, that’s why you’re half asleep, and why your eyes are blurry.
I brought you all some goodies, fruit bars with nuts and grain.
But what is that you’re eating? On your lips an orange stain.
I guess it must be Cheetos or some other packaged stuff.
(Good way to quench their appetites, and cost wise there’s a plus.
No veggies to prepare and they don’t put up a fuss).
So where is little Jimmy? He’s missing from the class.
You tell me he’s been sick –been diagnosed with cancer.
(So much research, so many lost, and still there is no answer.
That used to be an ailment of the older generation.
Good thing that everyone can get a health plan compensation).
You’re asking where he’ll go if he dies of this disease?
Oh honey, that’s a tough one, not a topic to discuss.
Heaven and the afterlife remain unknown to us.
Little children shouldn’t even think of such a thing.
And this should be a happy class, so now we’re going to sing.
Oh Tommy did I hear a word coming from your mouth?
That’s not allowed in class, you never heard it from your mama.
But you heard it on Youtube, South Park and Futurama?
(Such violence and vulgarity, but what are we to do?
Our freedom of expression is a right we mustn’t lose).
I’m passing out the drawings, I know you like to color.
What happened to the magic words? Let’s hear a please and thank you.
That’s courtesy, a virtue you can always put to use.
These days it’s out of fashion, but not difficult to learn,
Like sharing and being patient, which means waiting for your turn.
Alright kids it’s time to play. Which game do you like best?
You say your favorite game is Resident Evil number three?
I don’t know, it doesn’t sound cooperative to me.
And Game of Thrones is something else I wish you wouldn’t see.
Your cherub faces glued to blood and gore on the T.V.
I know it’s very popular, in fact it’s all the rage.
But I sometimes wonder what will happen to your little hearts.
Could they become desensitized at such a tender age?
Well, I won’t worry too much, cause I know you’re pretty smart.
And anyway there’re other shows to keep you all engaged.
O.K. kids the class is over. I hope you learn your prayer.
See you maybe next week or the next, I’ll let you know.
(I love to be with them, but have so many other chores).
Take care, don’t get too close to people you don’t know.
Avoid those sugary drinks and try to sleep a little more.
Yvonne, come sit beside me and tell how you’ve been.
Without your mom it’s really tough for Sissy and for you.
Those bruises on your face? An accidental fall?
Try to be more careful, the last class you had them too.
That was like a month ago. If you need help just call.
Look, here she comes to get you. Hello Sissy dear.
I need to talk to you as well. Yvonne, go out and play.
Last week by mistake I stumbled on BackPage.com
To my surprise, a girl who looked like you was on display.
Don’t cry dear, I promise not a word will I relay.
I know that lately things at home are lacking harmony.
But I’m not one to pry so I won’t investigate.
Each family is a unit, an independent entity.
No one will ever know and I’m sure that you’ll be wise.
I can’t believe how much you’ve grown, amazing how time flies.
God bless all these children and help them to be brave.
Let them find a shelter from torrential icy rain.
Protect these little birdies from the howling hurricane.
Deliver them from darkness, turn their anguish into rest,
Guide them to the garden, let Thy haven be their nest.
To The Greatest Holy Leaf
The kindness and compassion in your oceanic eyes
Enables me to indulge my presumptuous ambition.
Established on the seat of power, you hide your dazzling crown,
Allowing me to approach you with my fatuous petition.
If, one day, admitted unto your holy presence
I’d dare not speak a word, so I send this on ahead,
An impudent epistle to the off-spring of the King.
I wish to link myself to you, though piteous be the thread.
The day you left this earthly plane was the day that I was born.
Does that connect us in some way? A feeble, paltry bond.
For calendars are volatile, the sun and moon at odds.
Gregorian or Persian, they’d never correspond.
In my hemisphere the moon has always been ignored.
She often had to hide herself, the sun took center stage.
But now through high decree, the moon will have her say
The heavens will be synchronized, liquefying our days.
Still I must find a stronger tie to bind myself to you.
Perhaps the claim: "I suffered, too, the pain of separation,
The very thing that wakened me and brought me to His door".
But how can that be equal to your grief and desolation?
His earthly presence was the vernal warmth that held you high.
His loss was like the winter come abruptly to the rose.
And as I read the long list of your many other trials
I cannot find in my own life one comparable to those.
Enchained I’ve never been, nor exile have I known.
Nor have I breathed the poisonous air, the stench of violation.
Nor have I heard the screech of ravens, croaking of the crows,
That evil crew malodorous that bred contamination.
Of all the sufferings you were dealt, there’s not one I can share.
Perhaps Mahvash or Fariba, enchained so many years
Could claim a common bond, the right to sisterhood.
For that requires fortitude as well as countless tears.
What mystic bond unites us? I sense a faint connection.
Is it folly to imagine that there’s something else to share?
Our servitude perhaps, but what a foolish thought.
Your condition and your place leave nothing to compare.
Companion to the Peerless Branch, faithful, soaring pillar.
You sustained the Priceless Pearl, with ironclad resolution.
You helped us see his station and our duty to arise.
Nurturer of every soul and nascent institution.
Yet maybe there’s a quality that I might still acquire.
A feature of your blessed being which favors imitation.
Alas, the task ahead of me, titanic in its scope.
A myriad of attributes, beyond enumeration.
Finely tuned and sensitive, yet immersed in daily tasks.
In sacrifice a scholar, you knew everything of loss.
Long-suffering, but smiling through the worst of all ordeals.
Maid servant of Bahá, you circled round Him like a moth.
Your presence like the summer breeze, gentle and refreshing.
Your semblance like a placid lake, reflecting His good pleasure.
Your heart, crystal clear and radiant as the dawn.
Your life a gift of self-denial, devotion beyond measure.
Your embrace a refuge for the anguished and bereaved
Your leaf like quality a source of oxygen and shade.
To the workers in His Cause, a shelter from the storm,
A beacon of steadfastness, a bastion of faith.
Of all your lofty attributes and heavenly distinction
There is a quality of yours to which I most aspire.
Onerous to comprehend, impossible to fake,
Evanescence is a trait most difficult to acquire.
How to understand this ethereal enigma
Mystic is the adjective that first might come to mind
A gentle mist that vanishes as soon as it approaches
A presence that, while felt, is not easily defined.
Like vapor, which evaporates, leaving not a trace.
Yet vapor has been known to move ships across the sea
To span the continents, to mobilize regimes.
For the power of evanescence, a perfect simile.
The mirror or the glass could also serve as an example
Of this rarified condition, the evanescent quality.
A mirror facing upward will reflect the splendid sun,
Will channel down its heat and light most efficiently.
A window will permit us to look out and see the garden,
While letting all the light come in to brighten up our day.
The pane will protect us from the cold and windy blasts,
Will guard us from the interludes of unrelenting rain.
The soul is also apt as a metaphoric aid
Its essence is inscrutable, its presence a reflection.
Its manifold potential not readily detected.
Unrecognized by those who lack the power of perception.
Without desire, you seemed, to those of limited discernment,
Of slight import, a footnote in the larger panorama,
Never making show of your position or your rank, yet
Your overwhelming influence was central to the drama.
But how does one achieve such an elevated state?
Surrounded by the pounding message: "I’m the centerpiece."
Why do we gravitate to the focus of attention?
What is this tendency to make our prominence increase?
How do you dominate this mass of gas we call the self?
What is required to redirect our self-absorbed ambition?
The center you revolved around was vacant of all else.
He was your primal focus, your object of submission.
Unconcerned with legacy, you stood for what He willed.
With genuine humility, meekness, resignation,
You excluded from your lexicon the use of me and I.
You put to flight the insistent self, the ultimate consummation.
If these high goals are not achieved before this journey’s end
I entreat you to accept me, not as sister, affiliate or friend,
But as a handmaid at your feet, unworthy but redeemed.
To serve at your behest, ever beholden to the queen.
To Zhínús Kháhar Ján
With all the odds against you, you accomplished near perfection.
Being a woman and Baha’i, you outdid any man.
You reached the apex of attainment, highest honors given
By scientists and the intellectuals of Iran.
You studied well the land you loved and mapped it with precision.
The sky, its vast complexity was also your dominion.
The heavy clouds and distant spheres became yours hearts delight.
Till you yourself became a most resplendent meteorite.
Not only in your country but beyond you won acclaim.
The experts in most foreign lands would recognize your name.
How ironic, you that helped establish solar energy
Would be eclipsed by stormy clouds of hate and tyranny.
Not only did you outshine all the rest in civic duty
You also kept in equal balance service to the Faith.
Excellent administrator, Counsellor and friend.
You traveled to the overburdened, lift them up again.
Loving wife and mother, with Húshang a perfect team.
Together you transformed your house to take in refugees.
So many years you taught the children, guiding them aright
Helping to enkindle them as lovers of the light.
You wisely educated the women of your nation.
Raised them up to tolerate the taunts of the Ulama.
Their henchmen never caused even the slightest hesitation.
Your iron will assured that every battle would be won.
But paramount among your incomparable endeavors, you
Discovered what the scientists and poets have long pursued.
With everything against you, your pathway strewn with waste,
As you led your people forward, a smile never left your face.
When your beloved partner disappeared in the foray
Along with many other friends on that portentous day.
You said there is no sorrow, only gratitude and freedom
To protect in any way you could the faithful from the heathen.
After having lost your home, your family, high position
You said you needed nothing, you were wholly satisfied.
You felt serene and fortunate, full of dynamism.
You reached a state of happiness that none could modify.
You sacrificed your own desire to carry out His will.
Detached yourself from things acquired and worldly qualities.
For access to His threshold needs exact affinity.
The closer you approached the more intense your ecstasy.
So many things you taught us, of this world and of the next.
Prestige is just an instrument, a means to better service.
You left the dross and never feared the stigma of being poor.
You scorned the gold-filled coffers that the multitudes adore.
You knew the goal and freed yourself from vanities that bind.
You taught us to be unencumbered, to use our heart and mind.
It didn’t take a lifetime – you achieved it in your prime -
Nearness to your Lord which is the purpose of all time.
Reflections on Book 10
Lines connect and lines divide and other lines will guide,
The longest line being the one between the sea and sky.
One encompasses the other, allows reflection of its splendor,
Horizons ever changing, yet still the line remains.
Dichotomies that only Kukulkán could er’ combine.
Other, less expansive lines divide and necessarily so,
Not countries, races or religions, not even capabilities,
No longer time and space apart, they share new relativity.
Thermo lines do accurately distance frozen drops from vapor.
Lines keep separate crops from sheep, fact from fantasy,
Wakefulness from sleep, faith from unbelief. Heading toward the finish line
We hold our breath and cross the one that separates life from death.
He’s drawn a line in marriage, the bounty of a barrier
Which cannot be transgressed. Yet when two dots connect
Behold, a line is born, the family line that spawns a line of service,
Providentially, that leads us to the life-line of strong community.
Lines that connect turn into circles, triangles and squares,
Then spheres and cubes and pyramids, then prisms
Starbursts, solar systems, hosts of galaxies.
Non-Euclidean alignments come from plane geometry.
A simple path of service can evolve to myriad variations,
Yet from the modest start this path is never walked alone.
Two sources give us nerve, cast away our trepidation.
How else to find the courage to confront stellar complexities?
Friendship, two lines parallel that miraculously merge.
Not by fascination, circumstance or serendipity,
No quarry to capriciousness of preference and style.
Joined by strong affinities, they share resolve, love for the One
Who mercifully brought them together, allowed them both to see.
Friends become true lovers to the point of offering up their lives, one for the other,
And every subsequent encounter brings profound relief,
While parched of thirst to find the friend a wellspring of vitality,
Mutually sustaining, as waves of the sea, as blessed trees
Within the garden, bearing sun-kissed fruits of intimate amity.
The second source, delineated paths that guide the way
To new horizons, not confining lines to circumscribe.
These paths allow the different rhymes and rhythms to be tried.
For those who run, for those who walk, even those who stumble,
Pathways all-inclusive, giving guidance well defined.
Calculated lines of logical precision, beams of light enabling
Discovery of the unknown. The Greatest Architect designed
A master plan to implement, at every stage more intricate,
A challenge to the discipline of all creative minds.
Without intent or structure a zigzag pattern would appear.
Distracted and befuddled by quick-fix remedies, arbitrary rules,
Turbid calculations make us squander precious energy.
Still, clinging to the line, progress slow and wobbling, we’re learning
By degrees, less and less erratic our attempts to rectify, achieve
Economy of distance, geometric symmetry, algebraic integration,
Strategically applied, that lead us to the balance, to perfect harmony.
Sequence is a line, a linear design, grades to tug us higher,
Separate yet connected, from start to finish all combine
To guarantee advances, sustain the upward movement,
The outcome will be synergy, beyond what we’d imagined.
A simple line, a slender stem, within it a propelling pith,
Deceptively conceals the incomparable Baobab.
A mighty structure to sustain the branches, leaves, blossoms, fruit,
All in motion, upward striving, digging down of roots,
Following the impulse toward a consummate complexity.
The gentle gardener from the start prepares for steady growth,
Will guide it and accompany it until it stands alone.
The engendering of love, the prompting of desire
To serve, to aspire, singly and collectively, probing the unknown.
Lines of action drawn, the inner being synchronized with all activity,
Patterns will unfold. The three protagonists, the axel, spoke and wheel,
All rolling into action, but each of these newly conceived
With interplay unscripted, patiently, alert to see,
To reach the hidden destiny. Following the map
They find two road signs on display. One pronounces failure,
The other says success. They smile and take them down.
Proceeding on their way they come to other indicators:
Stop to rest, road in construction, landslide ahead, beware.
They battle with inertia, with surrendering to despair.
They focus on the task at hand, fight the interrupting urge.
This requires courage, coordination, flexibility.
They know the way is charted by the Infallible GPS,
Trust the journey leads to a world-wide connectivity.
Though arduous their travail, they finally reach the goal:
Community, but not the definition once implied.
One visit will suffice to astonish those who stroll
Down the streets connecting house to house, heart to heart.
Evidences everywhere of acts unprecedented
To accompany, to motivate, to integrate all elements,
To celebrate with jovial fete the neighbors’ victory.
The phoenix rises, herald of medullar permutation.
Dividing lines converge, the dream becomes reality.
The Age of Understanding
The Information Age is the outcome of technology,
Accomplishments beyond the most sophisticated dreams
Of philosophers, of sorcerers, of Andalusia kings,
Too busy conquering, then building new domains,
For knowledge seeking, not in vogue, an idle enterprise,
Previous to the stunning rule, the mandate of Islam.
The sinuous contrivances of clergy, east and west
Confused the faithful, formulating dark officialdom.
Thus science and the accretion of its culture globally
Came slowly through Crusaders, the taking of Toledo,
The Renaissance, the printing press, enabling the unauthorized
A common language to devise, consensus, methodology.
The Age of Understanding awaits inauguration.
Would the Information Age could lead us to envision
The ways and means to contemplate horizons far beyond
The dictates of a rigidly prescribed reductionism,
To grasp the relevance revealed from
Minutiae deciphered, not disconnected parts.
From the Hidden One, the Immeasurable, have come
The integral abettors of intelligent design,
Riding like an arrow on the wind, brisk and free,
The multiple and intricate, then artfully combine,
Yielding algorithms, codes in tidy panoply,
A blueprint both convenient and sublime.
We carry it within, in the nucleus of each cell,
Every organism rigged with threaded recipe
That carried us millenniums to shores of fruition,
Invertebrates to Einstein in the blinking of an eye.
Impossible this quantum leap devoid of volition,
Of decision to deliver the transcendent, sentient soul.
A fanfare over time of unbound creativity,
Building blocks arrayed in precise, unyielding order,
Mutations intervening in accordance with substantial need,
Apropos of climate, yet invariant through time,
Those dainty double helixes have prompted each and all,
Producing orchids, ostriches and clever human kind,
To occupy the realms reserved for consciousness and knowing,
The barriers being impassable, forbidden to the un-endowed.
Without the understanding of the logos that propels the seed,
Transcendence will continue as a fabled misconstrual,
The laden tree with luscious fruit, an unintended clemency.
Ignorance and knowledge will as always breed their kind.
Thus, lame donkeys carry us to unconfirmed conclusions,
A chain of reproduction from the factories of the blind.
As myriad codes envelop, information everywhere,
A maelstrom of computed files, statistics, figures, formulae.
Drowned in data, sucked into the void of turbid proposition,
Teetering on contingency, we sink into the abysm.
The human genotype, blessed with universal grammar,
Strives to comprehend, to find a common alphabet.
A paltry stock of two allowed few elements to thrive,
The secret to unfolding order skirting formulae.
The Source of Being then entered with the missing twenty-five,
The crucial combinations that equip the bird with wings.
No fortuitous encounter could enkindle such a thing.
Knowledge, understanding, two threads to be entwined
By nimble hands acquainted with exquisite tapestry,
Undaunted by the lattice work required to encompass
All elements, to clarify abstruse complexity,
Will bind the hearts and minds, a marriage meant to be.
Gleanings have been given of a language still unused,
A syntax now evolving from the gibberish of the crib,
An enzymatic modus operandi destined to abide,
To turn the disconnected sounds into a flowering symphony,
Syllables to sentences, a life pulse that potentially
Engenders prose or poetry, iambic flow or frantic rap.
The instrument extraordinaire, pointing toward particulars,
As well as generalities, with purpose and resolve,
Bound by lines, well-defined, in fixed morphology,
Adept at the complexity of sequences enmeshed
In vast variety, will bestow the understanding
We are bidden to wholeheartedly accept.
A conference infused with hallowed fragrances
Will foster comprehension beyond the quantum edge,
Where prized separate views ally in one united truth.
Submission is required, perseverance, longanimity
Severance, to merge, to purge the pride of erudition.
Humility and patience turn the guesswork into certainty.
To circumvent adversity, outsmart impediments,
A resolute battalion interlocks in joint decision:
They listen to each other, they think collectively,
As rays of the sun and waves of the sea, a solid wall,
Disengaged from all propensity, admitting ambiguities,
Awakened to reality, not as disparate, but one.
All the fonts of knowledge will be keenly scrutinized,
The test of truth at every turn untiringly applied
In the light of Revelation, liberating energies,
Bearing fruits of wiser deeds, collective enterprise.
The tender seed responds to conditions in the soil.
With purity of motive, with love and harmony,
A new creation germinates, proliferates and grows,
Ripens to maturity, an unimagined synthesis, decidedly
Superior the sum to every one of its component parts.
The reticent encouraged, the loquacious self-contained,
Every voice in unison agrees in universal tongue:
The dawning of the age of understanding has begun.
Darkness has beset us, neither science nor the intellect
Can ever dissipate the gloom.
A distant light, so alien
To our prognosis of perdition,
An orb of stellar luminance is winking at us, signaling
To navigate through heavy, blackened space that we may find
The natural panacea:
Flowering lotus, blooming cocoa bud, unfolding pod,
Our souls’ restoration.
New alignments cull from every faith and every race
The brilliance of their oneness.
Consonance has found its symbol, hope its oasis,
Prosperity its global enterprise, the imperiled bird its nest.
The Dawning-place of praises, where words convert to deeds,
Where worshipers, conventionally walled-in are now unloosed
From pious self-immersion,
Exult in fecund adoration, outwardly directed,
Engaging in activity beyond the fixed tradition.
In this forgotten spot each brought their own fist of soil
To fill the urn, the womb, which would produce a vibrant being.
They fertilized that hallowed ground and thus it was to be
Their rightful heritage, a revered legacy.
Stone by stone they reared the sacred fane*
No shuttered temple this,
But open-doored to every creed and every breath from heaven.*
Unfettered by myopic, bearded, self-ordained imperiousness.
An alien race now bow below the all-embracing dome.*
A structure of symmetric grace, crowned with tiles of clay,
Molded from the substance of its very own foundation,
A local and familiar aspect now reflected globally,
Nothing accidental, no placement arbitrary, the counter parts
Designed to complement the balanced field,
From all perspectives seen the same,
Beams that frame the assorted patterns
Connect at highest center where the light
Reveals His Greatest Name.
Within this new-found system,
Invariably symmetrical yet endlessly entangled,
Mirroring a single concept, continents, isles, vicinities,
Each element co-related, each willingly surrenders,
Transforming chains to freedom, want to assured prosperity,
Shame to glory, somber past to promised destiny,
Equal status guaranteed through vinculum of prayer,
In joint accord corralling forces of creative love,
Evolving to collective consciousness beyond all expertise.
A noble people arising from the bowels of oppression,
Capacious their capacity for joy and pain combined,
Exteriorized the beauty that inherently defines
The ones who strived to realize this point of adoration.
With elegance and dignity the Cauca men display
The joy of understanding, submission to their Lord.
The women with their plaited hair, entangled yet symmetric,
Artfully parade the crowning diadem of expended years
In steadfast dedication, elaborate preparation, freed by love.
Time will determine the extension of their labors,
While the emerging native forest weaves custodial canopies
Of cachimbo, tamarindo, chiminango, gualanday,
The natural world enhancing our grasp of the divine.
Service, adoration, now inseparably defined,
A nexus intertwining neighborhoods and families,
Dark forces dissipated for whole communities,
The Dawning-place, where synthesis of song and supplication
Will bind the hearts, will summon us and bid us enter in.
* Alfred Lord Tennyson