It means unspeakable mystery. It means, too extreme to be expressed. It means, indefinable. Yes, that’s right. My next book is 100 pages and 10,000 words about the indescribable. Ready to get your copy? But wait! There’s more. It’s a book of contemplative poems. Alrighty, then… bulk orders are being accepted today (yes, that’s sarcasm).
What the ineffable was I thinking?!
Remember the Rolling Stones song, “If I could stick my pen in my heart and spill it all over the stage, would it satisfy ya? Would it slide on by ya? Would you think the boy is strange? Ain’t he strange?” I know what these lyrics mean now. I guess you could say I stuck a pen in my heart, and these words spilled out.
Whispers of the Ineffable is a collection of sixty-three poems written over eight years compiled in three interrelated sections. The flow takes the reader on a journey beginning with the everyday-ordinary like reeds, waves, a crayfish, friends, some dreadlocks, and sitting in a tavern alone. It almost sounds like a good ol’ country song, doesn’t it? Yes, part one is tame but… wait for it.
In part two, you’ll stumble through the pages in a contemplative stupor, supping from the crucible of human suffering. Yikes! Okay, that’s a bit melodramatic. The center section passes through the veil of a dark night where I wrestled my own shadow side. Maybe you’ve tasted a bit of this dark night too?
In part three, everything comes full circle. You’ll fall back into the embrace of Great Love where mysteries become unthinkably clear. Just this. It is as it is. Although, Whispers is the last book I expected to follow 2020’s Wisdom of the Animals, it’s the book that showed up. And when the universe sends you a creative muse, you gotta listen. “Would you think the boy is strange? Ain’t he strange?”
Here’s some fun trivia about the cover that most people won’t know. I took the photo on Labor Day weekend 2010 in Pentwater, Michigan during a family camping trip. From left-to-right, the first two kids are my nieces, Livie and Hannah Maat. The next person in the foreground is my daughter, Carlie. The fourth person in the background is Hannah’s friend. I thought this photo was perfect for a few reasons. First, I own it (keeping it real). Second, it captures a beautiful family moment and personal memories I treasure. Beyond this, the image represents something deeper. A wide range of cross-cultural mystics use the metaphor of the divine as the ocean. If we forget for a moment that it’s Lake Michigan, this photo perfectly illustrates the divine-as-ocean metaphor… and our heart’s pure delight in dashing to be fully immersed in the Boundless Beautiful One. Not bad, eh?
What kind of poems?
There once was a man from Nantucket… No, no, no. Sorry. Not even close. The writing style follows in the footsteps of the great mystics (Rumi, Kabir, St. Francis) and many modern poets (like Mary Oliver). I call it contemplative free flow. To be clear: I’m not claiming to be either, just following my own intuition and heart space.
Want a taste? Alrighty, but understand it’s difficult to pick one poem that represents the full scope of the work. Each poem is quite different, particularly within each section. That in mind, here’s a little edited excerpt from my favorite poem, The River of Woljeongsa Temple, written in 2015 while visiting South Korea:
The water glides down the mountain, like liquid pixies dancing, laughing, playing, twirling around bends.
Lapping along long logs, popping over buried stones.
The river invites my hand. Open palm, I allow fingers to fall and feel her cool embrace. Back and forth, she massages each finger, closer and gentler than any lover, more intimate than I have known.
I take what she offers, bringing her to my lips, face, and hair. Soothing and cooling, I go back again and again,
until my skin and hair have soaked her in,
becoming part of me.
We sit together in silence.
The moment flickers. She whispers, “Goodbye....”
If you like this, wait until you read the full version and see how it ends. The conclusion is my favorite part of writing poetry. I love the surprise ending that pulls everything together. I’m not sure where this style comes from, but nearly all my poems have closure; like ending a song in the key it’s written. I’m often pleasantly surprised to see how it ends and what it has to say to me. Btw, I rarely edit. The poems are about 95 percent of the original words; I affectionately call it taking divine dictation. “Would you think the boy is strange?”
You’re first, after me.
As much as I hope you love my new book, Whispers of the Ineffable, I’ll trust you with this admission: I wrote it for me. My good friend (and marvelous book designer) Tim Powers likes to remind me, “Art is for the artist.” He says our job is to create what we’re called to create. Then, if desired, share it with the world. Once shared, the world decides what to do with it. Love it. Hate it. Ignore it. Whatever. That’s Tim for you, and he’s right. I’ve created and shared these words from my heart space; spilled them all over the stage. Do with them what you will and, I’m okay if you think this boy is strange. In fact, I wrote a poem about it.
A certain kind of bird.
If you’re still reading, maybe it’s because we’re birds of the same feather. Maybe deep calls to deep, resonating somewhere within and without. If so, and you’d like to secure a copy from the first printing, send me an email at email@example.com. I expect the first copies to arrive in late-to-mid-October. The retail price is $17.99, but the pre-intro offer will be $15 with free shipping and a personal inscription. I’d love to share how you can receive one of the first books off the press. You’ll find it’s more than just ineffable, it’s on the threshold of the unspeakable. Ain’t that strange?!
Peace out, friends!
Questions or comments about this or any of my other work? Feel free to post a message or reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.