Where We Find Our Metaphors


Life is an empty page, waiting
for us to write something
magnificent, but mostly
we scribble little
To-Do Lists like poems of slaves
that somehow seem to mock
Our resolutions of

Not To Do Lists

This, That, or The Other thing
That we fear will make us fat, or old, or
Unemployed and broke:   I will not eat
this.   Do you tread with sweat
and target heart rate
some treadmill
of the ideal?

Do you obey
all the rules, even if
they creep their fingers
across your itching skin
like psychic

Or acknowledge and honor
the incensed poet, alchemist, magician,


the sadly scribbled pages
of lists, burn them

and in dark ink stir
a stream, a vapor of consciousness
rising like the lazy smoke of the finest hash
lingering in a glass chamber, waiting to be inhaled,
then exhaled as a tale of mystery
and surprise

Thriving in that dangerous

where poetic allusions
to flora and fauna
and every middle brow cliché, every mass market
To Do List, every “Shit Soup
For the Soul”

Holds no power to inhabit poetic
spaces, that only the quick shiver of
nirvana up the spine, healthy sips of fine wine,
and pure fucking hedonism speak to the creative spark
of life that dances like a mad pixie
behind the surface of things.  

Of the brutality, the discarded crunch
like the slipping disks in your spine that sound
like wino glass beneath feet clad
in handmade Italian leather shoes
next to syringes
and shit, speaking of a mythic
juxtaposition the yin and yang of pure
uncut bliss, The bliss that depends
on nothing external
yet still ironically thrives in rich
soil. . .it always


This inflation of the senses a middle finger
to the ascetics, the anemic dabblers in life,
the spiritual by-passers. . .

The ecstasy of the senses
a bubble of air in a diving bell
in which to descend a little deeper into the mystery
 and horror of our brief, beautiful existence, a sea

of experience , whether we choose to dip in
a tepid toe or dive with abandon for the secrets

held in rotting chests far beneath the black and violent

Whether you ever
lived or searched or swam
deep, regardless of freedom
or inhibition,
inevitably destined

to drown?
(Radiant Spleen 2018)


SF City Hall

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Seized By The Day

SF Coast


Seized By The Day 

Wintry summer morning, oh how I love
thee, San Francisco, as I rise like Ra
in my abode next to fragrant eucalyptus trees
somewhere between the ebb and flow
of the icy pacific spritzing
salt, and the hastily constructed towers
of silicon gold and greed.

How you feed my rhythms, temperament
and tastes.  Melancholy light, obscure silver sun
that glows deep in the belly like absinthe and opium
and poetry that slides across the page like butter
on hot pancakes or butter that slicks the surface
of whiskey tinted coffee.  The Bridge hangs invisible
beneath fog but I can feel it there, it’s mass
and gravity, like the sun moving through
my zodiac sign, whispering secrets,  life more precious

when lit by intentional rituals
of death,

no imperative anxiety or need to seize
the day when each day seizes you, binds you
in its mystery like a stern mistress who laughs
at your safe word,

and teases you
into creative ecstasy
with feathers and the restraint
of breath, pranayama, the awareness
of every inhale as a sacred gift of life, every exhale
an ecstatic surrender

to death, the magic

of dancing each night between the polarities
of inhale and exhale, those gates
on either side of all existence, and falling
finally into dreamless sleep, to wake
again into waking dreams,

waking and waking and waking.

–Radiant Spleen 2018


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Do you dream you’ve
money enough to flee
this crowded asylum,

To seed Utopia
in the stars while helpless
faces left behind vacantly
stare up

through virtual bars?

Bring with you
an artificial but awakening

Having  found
our terrestrial crib
has yielded little
to none, save

The raving theologies
of eschaton?

Run, Elon, Run!

Soon our cemetery
planet will silently spin
in its decaying orbit

Around a bright yellow
Sun that will carry on
as it already does,
shining in the dark
for nothing, and
for no one.

PJ Church, February 2018


Pictures Of The Week Photo Gallery Continue reading

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Soul Retrieval, Failed: A Fable


Sharp mountains piercing the sky at dawn, casting their distorted reflection across a lightly lapping lake; and I can hear the eerie sound of trumpet blasts from the peaks calling an ancient race of men to their morning rituals, sitting in the mouths of caves, their guttural mantras vibrate this reality into continued shape and existence.

In this aetheric realm I have cast myself into the body of a hawk and I fly low and fast across the water searching yet again for an essential part of myself long lost.  And when I finally spot a body floating, fly closer, knowledge of a secret murder discovered, awareness that the boy is My Self, fly right up to the corpse and gaze deeply into the long dead milky eye staring out from a fish-pecked face. My wings take me away, high into the sky, filled with the knowledge that there is likely no resuscitation or resurrection possible.

I gasp back into the mundane, into my physical body, a dusty room filled with the sculpted artifacts of endlessly questing ritual-art, knowing in my bones that I traumatically died as a child yet this fleshy body shambles on, an actor on auto-pilot simulating life, work, play, completely devoid of meaning and joy, the talent and face seen by the world nothing more than willful, stubborn necromancy.

Lake in Pokhara

Pokhara, Nepal, 2015

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Explore For the Sake of Exploration


“Explore” 9×12 Watercolor by PJ . Finished between my morning hatha class, and the restorative class I teach in the evening.

I mention this because the theme of my classes this week has been “Explore for the sake of exploration, not out of expectation of results, or for the destination.”

I saw a documentary this week with Neil deGrasse Tyson that looked at the space program, specifically manned space travel to the moon, and someday maybe Mars. It looked at how much trying to reach the moon did for our society, for science, for the advancement of human potential. And then. . .we Just. Stopped. Going.

Because our exploration was reactive. We were trying to beat the Russians. It was a matter of pride, and national defense. And once we did it for awhile, we just stopped.

This reminded me a lot of our practice of yoga. And we may start as reactive. Reacting to aging, or pain, or unhappiness, and we may have a goal. But it’s the journey, and the practice itself that is the reward. We might want to lose weight, or become healthier and happier, and that’s great, having goals is important, but when we become attached to the outcome as the motivator, it can easily become the very thing that derails us. Success can lead to boredom, and “failure” can lead to discouragement.

I find the same exact thing happens to me in every part of my life, including my creative life. When I’m stuck, it’s because invariably I’ve become attached to the result, and not the joy of exploring for the sake of what exploration brings to my life.

Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita, says to Lord Arjuna “Let your concern be with the action alone, and never the fruits of the action. Do not let the results of your action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction.” Having felt stuck in several places in my life recently, this message couldn’t have been more timely, or more helpful in getting me going again.

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The Bad Boys (and Girls) of Yoga

Thinking yogis are a bit weird is nothing new (from humble sadahkas to spooky siddhas.) Exhibit 1, this lovely excerpt from a 14th century Indian play, these are the lines the author put into the mouth of a tantric thaumaturge:

“I don’t know mantra from tantra,
nor meditation or anything about a teacher’s grace.
Instead, I drink cheap booze and enjoy some woman.
But I sure am going to liberation, since I got the Kula Path.
What’s more,
I took some horny slut and consecrated her my “holy wife.”
Sucking up booze and wolfing down red meat,
My “Holy Alms” are whatever I like to eat,
My bed is but a piece of human skin.
Say, who wouldn’t declare this the Kaula Religion
just about the most fun you can have?”
–Translation from David Gordon White, “Sinister Yogis”


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Dharana on Rock n Roll

The following poem is inspired by the 112 Dharana’s (meditations) described in the gorgeous versus of the Sri Vijnana Bhairava Tantra. This poem was composed on the flight home from Indonesia in November, where I rediscovered a part of myself that had been missing. The essential point of these tantras is that anything, really, can serve as a source of meditation leading you through that doorway into the inner luminosity residing beneath the surface of EVERYTHING.
Find first the stillness
in your breath
Feel its sweetness
in your throat
Hear your heartbeat
Can you conjure
rock n roll
from silence, feel
the pagan dance
that’s pulsing through
your veins?
And with this beat
look into infinite emptiness,
Visualize the album art
hinting at the blissful
music within you
then spill paint
like warm blood across
blank white canvas
evoking and invoking
the myriad
gods and creatures
as energies that spring
the step and sway
the hips in dance.
Start a new day, again
rising like the sun,
sitting in stillness
linking the radiance
of your breath
to the radiance
of the sun
the rock n roll
throbbing in your veins
Exhale your truth
tongue touching chin
with the roar
of lion’s breath.
Radiant Spleen 12-30-16
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