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Sparks from the Flame
by Alan Harris


To all seekers:
May these sparks be tiny glimpses
of a larger, purer Flame.

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(Click on any divider between selections to return here.)

America the Beautiful Revisited
Another Sonnet to Another Spring
Aphorisms from "Poor Al's Almanack"
Claire de Lune
Columbus Day, 1980
Crack the Sky
February Dreams
Flower in Vase
Haiku Poems
Making a Tree
Night Thoughts
Random Thoughts
Seed Thoughts

Flower in Vase

This budding daffodil contains
A universe in birth:
Each molecule a galaxy,
Each quark a tiny earth.

And what we call our universe,
All matter, time, and space,
May be a single atom of
A macrocosmic vase.

Thus up and down the scale of size
Throughout Infinity,
Both "small" and "large" are limitless
And join Eternity.

Great men have puzzled over God
To place Him in their plan,
As Primal Cause, or Sourceless Source,
Or vast Omniscient Man.

But God can never be confined
Within a man-made phrase;
He hides behind unnumbered veils
Impossible to raise.

And yet we see His evidence
In every time and place--
Behind each seed and universe,
Within each flower and vase.

Inside our inmost soul of souls,
If we can meditate,
We find a spark of light divine
And feel it radiate.

While nowhere, and yet everywhere,
Our God resides within;
Though still and small, His guiding voice
Transcends life's noisy din.

To hear His voice and understand,
Then fearlessly obey,
Is that which mystics, martyrs, saints,
And wise men call "The Way."

Consider every universe
And every point in space
As God in God in God in God,
As vase in flower in vase.

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A vibrating soul
Sends up a tentative tentacle
And feels the Divine Touch.

The trinity of clay,
Body and heart and mind,
Joins the Trinity of Spirit,
Will and Wisdom and Soul,
As the one knowing the One.

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Seed Thoughts

Part 1: Genesis
Seven soft planets
   bloom on the trellis of space
      like sunlit roses.

Budding daffodil,
   yellow universe in birth,
      flows deeply toward light.

Forest dawn reveals
   acres of acorns dormant
      beneath parent oaks.

Virgin mountain bears
   seven bouquets of roses
      under Father Sky.

Fohat plants a tree
   of apples laden with seeds
      to orchard an earth.

Breeze of Creation
   swirls sparks from sleeping embers;
      monads dance alive.

Seven pearls glisten,
   lucid on a stringless string,
      linking space with space.
Part 2: Activity
Brooding dove in nest
   warms empty eggs to fullness,
      cooing compassion.

Honeybees from hives,
   inhaling sublime nectar,
      breathe sweet hexagons.

Colony of ants,
   thoughts darting, busy, working--
      mind in miniature.

Moon-struck timber wolves
   howl their mantras mournfully
      from far-off mountains.

Caged lion pacing,
   fretful of the iron bars,
      under silent sun.

Midnight crickets sing
   in synchronous symphony
      to unknown baton.

Spider in moonlight,
   spinning fragile microcosm,
      reflects Reflection.
Part 3: Consummation
Orb of eye twinkling
   with golden glint of grandness--
      spark becoming star.

Pool-reflected Self,
   diffused by breeze-churned ripples,
      returns to deep calm.

Mountaintop vision
   reveals a whispering valley
      where all is in place.

Mind relaxing walls,
   manyness softly merging
      until one dream dreams.

Ark of human souls,
   riding silent in dark waves,
      bound for Pralaya.

Black night sky, speckled
   with blazing bonfires of gods,
      murmurs cosmic OM.

Voice of the Silence,
   throbbing through hushed city night,
      chanting "Peace, peace, peace...."

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Another Sonnet to Another Spring

Young Aries climbs the virgin vernal sky
And tickles winter's seeds until they burst
In bright-green chlorophyllous flame, well-nursed
By throbs of heat and chill, of wet and dry.
Earth breathes her gentle procreative sigh
Into a billion billion eggs, her first
Prolific breath of love since blizzards cursed
In Capricorn and cold clouds choked the sky.

When hungry lungs inhale spring's balmy breath
And birds sing out "Rebirth!" from every tree,
Our souls trade withered shrouds of icy death
For flowing robes of immortality.
We read in every birth a crisp new page
Of Nature's Scripture, passed from age to age.

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The blue-black plate of sky
Teeters on a point of zenith
Like a juggler's disc
Twirling on a stick.
Intrepid owls (2)
Interrogate the
Intruding moon
Until splashjangling
Dawn splits
Night blue into
A billion oranges
Molded into a smolder.
Up comes the sane sun
Wheeling the lunatic
Moon on ahead and
Tumbles it off the brink
Of spinning sky,
To be caught by the
Juggler and thrown up
There perhaps again.

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Pierce with pointed mind through veils of falsity
   Toward evanescent Truth.

Smile through hard frowns
   Toward patient Joy.

Pray through frozen images
   Toward warm Oneness.

Love through burning hatreds
   Toward brilliant cool Light.

When Light floods the heart,
   No veil can block,
   No frown can discourage,
   No image can conceal,
   No hatred can destroy.

The proper moment is now.
The proper place is here.
The proper act is giving.
The proper feeling is love.

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America the Beautiful Revisited

America, while breathing gaseous skies,
Converts her amber waves of grain to gold.
She logs her mountains' purple majesty
And risks her fruited plains in futures sold.

How could the selfless pilgrims have foreseen
The fiscal dust their sturdy feet would raise?
When did their quest for freedom of belief
Become obsessed with how much interest pays?

The early heroes' hearts were filled with fire,
Replaced of late by nuclear doomsday fear.
When greed fails in these days to get its way,
Then hired generals flatten all that's dear.

Those patriot dreamers failed to forecast years
Of lotteries and bets on football games,
Nor could they know what poverty and fears
Would lurk in cities bearing brave men's names.

America! My poor America!
Thy crown of brotherhood is hard to see.
Thy god is Gold; thy goodness yields to law,
And lawyers fight from fee to shining fee.

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Random Thoughts

A human is a handshake between spirit and matter.

If faith can move mountains, just imagine what knowledge can do.

A magnet can convert a piece of steel into another magnet,
but what made the magnet a magnet?

If we could just trust the universe to know what it is doing,
we would have more joy and less fear.

Money is the essence of matter; it never leaves the earth.

The universe is a great magnet teaching us little pins to act like it.

A loving thought is as deep as the night sky.

The "Great Books of the Western World" are like newspapers next to the Book of Life.

When wealth speaks, greed listens.

Computers can be mirrors in which we admire our minds and forget our souls.

We crawl through life like caterpillars, fearing the final cocoon that alone leads
to freedom and glory.

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Making a Tree

"Make us a tree," said the master.

"We have no wood, no leaves," despaired the pupil.

"Plant a seed," said the master.

"We have no tree to make a seed," despaired the pupil.

"Search for a tree," said the master.

"We live in a desert," despaired the pupil.

"Go to a forest," said the master.

"We would have to bid farewell," despaired the pupil.

"Farewell," said the master.

"Farewell, Master; I am leaving," declared the pupil.

"Then stay," said the master with a gentle smile,
     "for if you are leaving, your branches will
     soon bear seeds."

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Crack the Sky

I cracked the sky
And all the stars fell
Into a pool
Like egg yolks.

I threw the crescent moon
Like a boomerang
But it returned
To its distance.

I pried the earth loose
From the sun
But gravity broke my lever
And the earth stayed.

So I just fixed
A star omelet
And ate the universe.
At least something worked.

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How potent is the silent voice within the heart--
like roses screaming quietly
     at the top of their scents.
Our inner self turns a valve here,
     flips a switch there,
rechannels a thought, all undetected,
guiding the mind with commands never heard by ears.

We inhale a vital force sent up from the sun,
full of planetary power, star strength,
     universal unity.
We exhale such love as we can muster from our
     little microverse,
radiating peace into nearest air
     and farthest galaxies.

We breathe our relentless ripples
     onto shimmering oceans of spirit.
Each star hears our silence.
Our mental voice imprints itself
     on a forgetless tablet of inner space,
indelible as a baby's first cry.

When we listen, the cold wind carries
     the moan of mother earth
and the rising moon reflects
     the sighs of setting sun.
Those who hear the universe
     humming its silent symphony
learn to love each lento chord.

Strum my heart, you silent waves of love,
with your tuneful touch,
and help me sing the song of space
in the sanctum of my skull.

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Down, down a humming spiral I float
to an undark land that lies about me among unshadows.
I reach out a hand that I don't have, to grope, to touch,
and I feel nothing but soft everything.

Without ears I hear the soft multi-mumblehum
of a misty shore stretching into windless, waveless, waterless distance
where the surf pounds once every eon in a grand, spray-filled creation
within whose star-foam we humanly manifest.

Here I feel the peaceful pulse of Most Inner Underatom
beaming benevolence up through the tree that is we
and feeding our Adam-atoms a feast
of electric apples that never touch the ground.

I see every-you around me and in me.
Here is where you-I find sustenance beyond all paychecks.
Notice this gentle light from no visible sun.
Look at that tiny root leading upwards to a budding planet.

Rising up the humming spiral again, I hear little taps
of what most people call reality.
It is raining on the roof
and the cat needs to be fed.

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Claire de Lune

Uncle Bill's piano rolls mellowly along,
Touching dim moods and whispering old warmth.
In its ethereal arc outside the window
The full moon is smooth and slow.

As Uncle Bill's fingers coax the keys
His cigar in the heavy green ashtray
Emits a flimsy plume of fragrance.
The smoke, like Debussy's essence,
Rises straight up and flutters a bit
Before it disappears.

Aunt Martha's supper dishes
Clatter a counterpoint in the sink.

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Columbus Day, 1980

There are no poems now.

Now there is a hypnotic hum,
A purr of the practical.

I could have written about
The soft tomblike canyon
We walked in today.

I could have captured three chipmunks
In a verbal cage somehow.

There could have been quaint failures
At describing gold-plated trees.

Irony might have jailed the camera-clicking
Kid-scolders bepeopling the park.

A childish whoop reverberating
     from the bottom of the canyon
Could have lingered at the end of the poem.

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February Dreams

February seeds silently recall all,
As if winter's death were a silky dream,
And the influx of the new sun's warmth
Were the spark and flash of remembrance.

March will bring the quickening sprouts,
April the lush early growth,
May the flowering of procreation--
And then February dreams will fade away.

How many memories must there be
When seeds reclaim their hold on warming soil?
How many seeds are there? How many lives?
In the stillness of my heart I hear: "One."

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Night Thoughts

Sleepless tonight inside my skin and bones,
I feel that life must be a cruel curse--
Begun with squall, cut off with pain and groans,
A little joke told by the universe.

Why am I here? What accident of fate
Breathed life into this form I occupy?
What kind of God would bother to create
A fragile human life, then let it die?

A voice within my heart says, "Mend your ways,
And light inside your consciousness will gleam.
Your bleakness, like the earth, delays dawn's rays,
But love and hope will end your desperate dream.

"Depression fills agnosticism's night,
But soon your soul must rise and follow light."

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Haiku Poems

To a Reading by Alan Harris

Western glow fading--
   decrescendo of songbirds--
      stars surprise the eye.

Peach blossoms unfold
   new petals without hurry,
      knowing the sun waits.

My body is still;
   pilots must fly in airplanes
      and birds must use wings.

Feathers up for sleep,
   sparrows on wires chirp farewell
      to the dimming day.

Near tilted tombstones
   arthritic black oak branches
      finger the cold sky.

Seen through train windows,
   trees, like commuters, rush toward
      where they've always been.

Up through city trees
   a steeple stabs the blue sky
      with its metal cross.

Windswept blades of grass
   lightly brush the abbey wall;
      monks seek light within.

Opening lotus,
   pure white in morning sunlight--
      suddenly, a fly.

Gray old man shimmers
   far ahead on the blacktop
      with his red gas can.

Uplifted tree roots
   protect a torn nest of wrens
      barren of feathers.

A soggy songbook
   floats among twelve frogs singing
      greenly in the pond.

A brief breeze pivots
   over ballerina toe
      then swishes away.

Leaden clouds rumble,
   falling down loud steps of storm;
      pounds of sky come down.

Speckled night whirls on,
   a slow, hypnotizing wheel
      around Polaris.

Green groan of ocean
   releasing flimsy gray clouds
      to the moving moon.

Weak of bone, old men
   listen to the wail of trains
      far in the distance.

Each star's faint twinkle
   is a holy statement sent
      for all eyes to hear.

Brutal ocean's roar
   tames to glimmering dewdrops
      on frail gossamers.

Raging tiger eyes
   shine out from jungle shadows,
      rubies on velvet.

Pulses of green life
   gently release tulip blooms
      from tight, aching buds.

Above moving night
   from her crescent-shaped ladle
      the moon pours silver.

The wren's prism throat
   casts up a rainbow of sound
      over summer grass.

Warm southerly breeze,
   scented by May-bloomed lilacs,
      breathes early heaven.

Roaring punch-presses
   stamp out bright dangling earrings
      for delicate ears.

In my dream I hear
   spiders strumming their cobwebs
      under humming trees.

Sudden silence is
   pregnant with eons of sounds
      waiting to be heard.

The listening sun
   paints a coat of life on earth
      by way of reply.

Love's pure silver flame
   gives each innermost spirit
      invisible warmth.

Silent cathedral,
   every stone a work of love,
      embraces the Christ.

This cricket-filled night
   gives forth undulating sounds--
      dark respiration.

Heavy bumblebee,
   magnetized upward by air,
      masters gravity.

In twilight far off
   a mother calls for her child--
      two eternal notes.

Crescendos of light
   build an eastern harmony
      from solar rhythm.

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Aphorisms from "Poor Al's Almanack"

Love of looks is love with hooks.

The man who lends has many friends, but he who shares has fewer cares.

Help a friend, a friend to keep; help a foe, a heaven to reap.

A sharp tongue cuts itself.

The best-laid plans of mice and men too often work.

Dirty hands, clean soul.

A kindly word soars like a bird.

A gift inquired after is a gift not given.

This year's harvest is next year's seed.

Give and live; keep and weep.

An ounce of good will is worth a pound of prevention.

When truth needs a voice, silence lies.

The man who builds his own throne rules over a desert.

Greed is a weed that will harden your garden.

Undeserved praise is like a hair in your milk.

If we could "take it with us," heaven would be an awful clutter.

Her anxiety about life's end makes her piety seem like pretend.

Friends bend where fakes break.

Every face is a picture gallery.

Heaven's mansions are prefabbed on earth.

Love and gravitation keep the universe interesting.

The best comeback is a blank look.

The shallower the brook, the more it babbles.

See with the heart--it never needs glasses.

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