Third Space


Third space is where we can question and explore what it means to dissolve the boundaries that normally separate the spheres of literacy consciousness, a discipline like dressage, poetry narrative.
I put up drafts and listen for the breeze at dawn. Here I am . . .

































































































































The Sound of Love

A morning’s remembrance wanders love’s back alleys
for souls stuck in dead-ends of loneliness
or stormy broken hearts battering brick walls.
Is it possible a soft poem gently delivered
in floating love petals can make a vessel of peace?

The series of letters shape something like red rose,
honey wine, out of mind, chance of a lifetime;
but these are nothing really without the tone
that sets the music right, that lights the darkness.
This plumbs to the lost treasure, the hidden secret.

Finding it’s easy. Just search the depths of the chest.
Its opening takes more--like every single moment.
Drop by precious blood drop is numbered and known.
Know that and the tone, the song that keys the lock
Falls right into place.

1/26 Ogden; remade 6/2/07



Reach through your eyes into the mist,
deeply so the scent of wild rose, thyme,
and the earth-tremors like a lost train
transport our body-soul where mind
has already disappeared; the stillness
makes an intricate webwork laddering
our journey, drawing the calligraphy
of ancient language symbols, sacred
moments of our prophetic past, tissues
of what’s become labeled body parts,
indivisible from soul stuff, dreams,
music made of angelic movements:
we’re all God here!
Go ahead and breathe, reach, reach further

Joseph Na'im McCaleb ©2007



“This is what the deep soul is,
our interpreter said of radiance,
of the streamers of colored lights
splashing sweetness, griefs wash,
polishing sand to pure gold grains.

“This!” I wonder what Rumi had seen
when he recited love songs of God
for travelers in search of that lode,
oceans and centuries away—Listen
for the reed flute, for that field beyond—

“That’s it!” the riding teacher called,
hard to be heard over hooves pounding,
above crescendoing hearts thudding
until and on until even amid that racket
of living, even racing, we get it: “This!”

“This!” in a small heartdrop, a flickered
smile in the guide’s rapid eye movement,
the sudden scent of rose in a room crowded,
a persistent shoulder pain that’s finally meant:
Bow your head to your heart. This, then THIS!

poem by Joseph Na'im McCaleb ©2007
drafted Jan 22 in Ogden, UT; rev. May 13, 2007

Washing by Hand

If I lean close against this frosty window edge
trusting to a shiver of glass against a six-floor fall,
the snow-covered, angelic-winged mountain range
fills my sight, transporting my heart—Allah!

If I lean into those no less visible hands
when seen through trial after trial for holding
up my fast-falling heart that surely shards
would be but for Love beyond our best loving,

Then this worry too must, of course, wash
until even those mountain peaks glow far beneath.

poem by Joseph Na'im McCaleb ©2007
drafted Jan 21 in Ogden, UT; rev. May 13, 2007


One-of-a-Kind Roots

It’s said, “Trees grow to the sun,”
But most of them tend to go straight up
Where the sun seldom if ever makes a bull's-eye.
They’re not exactly perpendicular to the lay of the land
But neither were they set by a level.
Like everything else, this all has to do with gravity,
I suppose. What do you make of it?
Some defy the rules and grow parallel to the ground,
But those seem most prone to fall in a storm.

You’ve probably guessed. I’m looking for direction,
Confirmation, alignment with nature;
Wondering how to feel true in the gravity of God.
The storm-weathered oaks attune one that way.
I guess that’s why I like standing with straight folks,
Straight in the old sense of fitting in with nature
Rather than checking out the lay of the land, the fad;
Why back home, you work to get called “a character;”
Walk your own talk. This way has one-of-a kind roots
That seriously search, plumbing for the source of it all.

poem by Joseph Na'im McCaleb ©2007



The lore of the West, that gravitational draw, gathered Mark Twain from a lifetime of piloting riverboats and constellated his magnetic particles around Roaring Camp and the raucous tales amid San Francisco Bay prospectors until his own gold mined into the discernment of character making in the belly floating down adolescent America. This sifting of precious gems from the sand grains distinguishes generative learning, the living of the authentic, sanctifying authorship, the composing of a telling life.

Take, for example, recent riding lessons. The time before last filtered through my sieve in many revisionings, retelling itself because there had been one of those shivers of deep knowing when gold particles coalesce, bits that have somehow been scattered from the crown to hoof edges, to the meeting of spine and seat bones, to heels longing to drop into that place allowing the massive body of the sixteen-hand horse to collect right into the closed outside hand. That was the point, more or less, of that one lesson, and, too, the summation of the previous decade of them: that all these particles of power, horse and human, scattered almost beyond being potential, collect right in the palm of the hand, when all the body is held rightly.

And this framed the next lesson into a distilled refrain: don’t follow the horse--ask the horse to ride to you. How’s the line go from the old peace song: “How many times must the . . . before the . . .? The answer my friend . . .” Well, how many times does one need to hear, “Ask the horse of power to ride to you,” instead of going from pole to pole, from yelling at it to forcing (consciously or not) the animal to take the lead? And all the particles of right power get scattered between, for as long as we’re living in bodies of this world, perhaps. Sad, isn’t it.

But this kind of slow, long disciplined learning and living doesn’t have to be sad. In the work and play of riding a magnificent six-year old warmblood mare, the reward for remembering to ask again and again, softly, after each realization that the edge of consciousness has again slipped from the vitalizing balance point is huge. The immediate rippling together of all that luminescence swirling in such visceral glory—Aaahhh! It’s as if that power has gathered, nestled right into one’s palm, gently. This must be but a slight taste of what it means to disappear, annihilated in the hand of God.

Painting by Lauren Mathews. Prose poem by Joseph Na'im McCaleb ©2007


In Honor of the Utility Player

The name enshrined in Halls of Fame--
Ruth, Aaron, Dimaggio, Mantle, Maris,
Those line-ups etched in memory; or a line:
"Ask not . . .” or “To thine own self be true”--

May obscure his; but perhaps like misfortune
(Which may also serve as God’s reminder)
“The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”
Turn our heads from tinsel to undiscovered gold;

And, you know, when I’ve asked schoolkids
To name their hero, the winner isn’t marque
Nor bestseller, but hearthside close to home—
For hearts respond to love: It’s teacher, Dad, Mom.

So look in the mirror further than for Cover Girl.
Find the pure light, beloved. See the Hand of God.
Al-Batin , the Hidden One; Az-Zahir, the Revealed.

Photo and poem by Joseph Na'im McCaleb ©2007


Would Somebody Tell Me

So the one whose back was up in anger
And wouldn’t work with any stupid horse
Other than his own who’s far away from here
Must have wondered why four or five of us
Including the trainer persisted forever
In trying to get that mare who balked,
Who adamantly refused, to cross river-sand.
There wasn’t even a real bridge, no waters!
But just part of a crate flat on the ground.
What in tarnation does it matter? Who cares!
Isn’t it just stupid anyway—why are we
Here! Doing this! Would somebody tell me.

If Love is the answer, as all religions say,
Or God is, however that ultimate source is named,
What’s this to do with that? Well, it’s the story
Of all things coming from one place and returning.
It’s about being separated from home and longing,
About having to work at turning fear, nonsense
Like stepping on noisy, hollow-sounding wood,
Inches above the earth, a small space to cross.
It’s making this into trust, and meeting together.
When the two become one is simply miraculous.
This is love, of course; it’s what it’s all about:
The marriage, family; and this too is riding right.

Photo and poem by Joseph Na'im McCaleb ©2007


Why Winter Returns

This week the residues of winter finally melted,
And the first flowers of spring began their adornments
Playing on the face of the earth in the warm breeze.

Then almost without warning, skies went steel grey
Returning snow’s covers. In season, this is the awe
Of beauty with power, pause, and grace like none other.

But this sudden reversal seemed strange, a going back,
Remembering the missed, forgotten, second chance
For the key, the letter, number or name, the reason—

Why are we going into this spring? What great wish
Or work has not yet been nurtured enough for birth?
What incredible vision wants to be born of truth?

Beneath this redoubled blanket that’s holding in us
Must be the almost unbelievable budding fire of peace
Waiting our readied labor. Surrender into its release!

Photo and poem by Joseph Na'im McCaleb ©2007


Winter Sets

We're sensing winter's ending
And almost every living thing
Is sighing in relief.

For it was the coldest February
Any of us carry in memory,
Except perhaps the ancient oaks.

Even the flurry this morning
Lets us shiver as from fingers
Tickling more than freezing.

Yesterday the squirrels were tumbling,
The pileated , clown clothed, was acting
Already more silly for spring.

The snow-drops boast first blooming
And forsythia are blushing--
We're all so full of love!

For winter's ending its season.
Praise God for the seasons;
Pray God she returns.

Photo and poem by Joseph Na'im McCaleb ©2007

Full-Spectrum Crystal

Why is it, on this closest side of the expanse,
Here the winter-yellowed grass stubble,
In the finally sun-warmed, most unshaded space,
This has again been re-enveloped in frigid snow?
For a month Mercury’s hovered way below norms;
And we too hunkered down searching for fire,
For fire enough to slide not into gloomy hibernation.

Let's look again: the beauty of snow lining branches,
An opposite of shadow with its shifting layer across
The top in white, not dark. This is extraordinary:
The slowing time, uncoloring grounds, reshapings,
Disclosing unseen tracks, differing our orientations.
So that even after sixty years, I still get to ask:
Who am I? And where am I finally going?

Snow comes on harder now, but still gentled.
Why? Because, just because it’s snow’s nature
To wrap insistently outside the nature we’ve known.
So that water gets reshaped gracefully solid,
And light gets held a bit into full-spectrum crystal.
This is like the evidence of things hoped for,
Like unconditional love, like being beloved of God.

Photo and poem by Joseph Na'im McCaleb ©2007

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Last Updated: June 2, 2007

 ©2007 dochorsetales