A poem by Donny Lee Duke
Photos without attribution were shot by Donny, and all except #9 were shot with a Vivo X60 Pro
A poem by Donny Lee Duke
Photos without attribution were shot by Donny, and all except #9 were shot with a Vivo X60 Pro
You might be interested in my Cold War military service where I didn’t go to war, but I did go to infantry and airborne school at Ft. Benning, dropped out of the Ranger Indoctrination Program at Hunter Army Airfield. got a state side swap to Texas and rode with the then 1st Cavalry Horse Platoon (now a detachment), was an Indian Wars costumed guest with that platoon at President Reagan’s inaugural ball, after being on a runaway wagon through part of Washington before the parade, which I also rode in, as a muleskinner/swamper, was in the 6th ACCB (helicopter brigade) in their Pathfinder section (now a platoon) where I did a lot of jumping, static line jumps, a some at 5 and 6000 feet, was the Soldier of the Year of III Corps and Foot Hood in 1981, and then I went Special Forces but only did one ‘mission’, parachuting with my team into West Germany with a tactical nuke we had to put in place, a practice mission (it would bear explaining that 3 others and I from my team, 331, pulled security for the nuke team, 334, and so it was a one-shot deal). After teaching summer camp at West Point, a duty of SF, I got an honorable discharge as a sergeant E-5.
Sounds great, but what’s missing? The heart of all that, the military payload.
Have you ever heard the term military healing? We know we need cops; we just need the whole cop thing to be healed so police keep us safe and not hurt or kill anybody, unless they absolutely have to to keep us safe, having tried their best to keep the person they’re policing safe. Many people are right now trying to define what that police healing would look and sound like. But what about the military? Can you be opposed to war but still support the institution that carries it out? If you hold your humanity close, put that before your own sweet self, and by humanity I mean not the group but that higher part in you that does not act like an animal, is never a beast, you just want to end war and not prepare for it, but let’s be real about this: if we didn’t have a strong defense our humanity would be in danger of being wiped out. Okay, so how to be a beast and at the same time wear your humanity, if not on your sleeve, then at least in the restraint of your hands and in the feel of your heart?
I think I can answer that. The book I’m introducing is a genuine book of healing, military healing. Reading it, you’d understand the military would be reluctant to want you to.
All to do with an interview.
Round to the streets,
it’s easy for me
I’m a poet.
Throw me aside, will yah?
The link to the PDF on this blog:
An American Story, The Service Reflections of Donny Duke
[Although formatted to fit your screen, the poem was originally written in 2014. It’s in the form of a dialogue with multiple speakers: the poet, his divine, various people in the audience, including children, and even a hostile being. Paying attention to punctuation and listening to the poem read, the voices dramatized, play key roles in interpreting it.]
I see my result in the image of tomorrow,
sacrifices for these guys,
sacrifices for children made.
I see a little ahead of us now.
Oh my God,
an image I see,
the sound and the fury of a group called
a rigid belief system.
They deny my answer.
It gains ground instead.
Be useful with my hair.
That’s why I got an office.
Most of the new modem here is for this:
yoga transitions wrong.
It doesn’t recognize itself when the change occurs.
Yoga’s a half light,
an image to see.
Yoga at least fields the answer.
Union becomes possible.
A new light on yoga,
a new inspiration on yoga:
Can you come back in about fifteen minutes?
They ask my choice.
Your native place, your country?
I hope for your sake as well
it lasts the dream.
Now, the politics has religion.
Doves, a page for arms spending.
It’s a powerful dove now.
I hold you open to everyone.
You don’t know the religion of the Spirit
American box office,
you’ll allow it
a ten minute jury.
You want a letter hold it down.
Art has business
in imaging ideas.
A new idea
is what we’re looking for.
We’ve got an opening in pictures.
I superstorm that’s fine.
While we’re ahead,
let’s crack divinity’s TV.
It is an image in a notebook
that you write while you’re asleep.
It has what you need.
I’m awareness of God.
You can’t buy that in a bookstore,
nor paint it on a friend.
It’s a personal journey.
I’ll be going down
to the bare minimum.
From there I hope to image this story.
Tagging the program
in the front of my house.
Put your finger on us.
Ah ha, that touched my hand.
We’re neighbors you see.
If I understand your meaning right
we are a collective body.
That’s our building process
We can image out thought a new reality.
We could do that
instead of who we hate.
Coconut in my big ouch here,
the rumors of war hate fashioned.
We create its dream,
These are primitive seekers,
but we must understand them.
They need to know they’re safe.
Their belief system is their protection
We hear them regard.
We guard our forefather’s knowledge.
We hope to gain by its creed what our forefathers lost,
the right way to live.
We are a ship at anchor in an empty port.
We image reality
by what we see.
There has no greater value
a living scene.
It is solid fact not symbol wrought,
and God in his heaven sits the same.
We image a pupil
who doesn’t listen.
I kinda knew that in the morning.
I stopped vision.
It was drowned by the world.
Hey man what happened?
If you don’t finish it tomorrow…
I put a poem where God lived in me.
The solid confines of matter’s image
can so easily
hide the Unseen from view.
Is there a land bridge here?
I’m happy to see one,
it’s my son,
my little girl.
If I could put their ship in the water on just the right course,
they’ll put together this image
and pilgrim our voyage.
It’s a hope for tomorrow for a future today.
These are my children.
I give them right of way.
I think we image our house here.
It’s got healing window
all our fans said.
Don’t worry about me.
Just do your homework:
know what to believe.
I’m not surprised.
Here was fine.
We leave our souls numbered on.
This was a glad space in a bright heart,
infinity held sway.
He organized his room.
What we put?
What we do?
He made soldiers on stacks of bibles
and passed them out to the world.
He cleaned the inside of things,
rejecting old business.
He heard his Stranger call
and wrote it down.
He aloned to himself,
coming into contact with his own world.
His speech betrayed not the things he saw.
He flashed a light of kindness in his arm’s reach.
It was a banquet now.
What did you catch one of those twenty-four hour things?
This was no question posed by the night.
You gathered a liver to your hero.
If it lasts,
Your guarantee for the future.
Can we come in from the cold now?
Okay UK say okay.
His private door gave lesson.
This was no ordinary show.
they looked in on him,
but Sri Aurobindo figured the ticket
and granted this place:
you’re an overmental movement
take it easy,
Higher than the moon
who put their soul?
He hoped in dream’s pocket.
It was a large measure.
His house they used him
and looked not within.
This was his point of friction with the world.
Constant assault the children were.
He had anger
that he could not hide.
We draw him before
that station-house settled.
you have to play on it.
We opposite a six.
Is that good measure?
It’s the right issue today.
What I was tested’s the fact
I can be a father,
whether or not it works.
You have to believe it works.
I’ve said your damn lesson.
Now image reality,
a top of the head see.
Do you get my copycat?
I’m not sitting next to wrong.
I’m sitting next to you.
Can we habitat this truth?
Man, this is our dwelling place.
It has to do with a song.
It only hits you,
you open your eyes.
The Spirit is alive in matter,
and the Spirit stays.
Matter is his habitat but not his standing ground.
Daddy, can I have a digital watch
that tells the time
Here we pause for a word from our sponsor:
the world removes sickness
will be an eternal image;
homeopathic made cure.
A substantiality review,
measure that in heartbeats.
May you grow bigger than yourself.
So many passengers,
they don’t want a heart strong.
It will have to be something that we do together.
Individuals prepare the field.
You’ll have a rough time sitting there
absorbed in your television set
just a protection
from getting lost in the movie.
you gotta wear it.
Do I make myself clear or not?
Can I sleep in your bed tonight?
Now do you believe me?
I will challenge you in the deepest part of your laugh.
Hello my associate
you don’t usually say.
Head bothering you?
I have said a window
opportunity set up.
You’re staring at the wall.
You’d have to see beyond it
to understand what I said.
It would mean
an integral yoga.
Even the masters
couldn’t gather these clothes.
They just never put ‘em on.
You’ll have to step out even,
Catch my airplane winnebago?
The Spirit is free
in all this
I had trouble with that one.
Fix your feet high.
That’s an asana everybody has trouble with.
Yoga will work.
Throw a leg over this movie:
here in the world.
You’d have to catch the plane,
give it your understanding.
The body is carved by it in silence,
To be totally honest I walked to it
one box at a time.
It was the heart that provided the key.
Once it knew
it was on its way,
the change arrived.
listen to you.
So you don’t have to worry.
That was decent.
That was not about arguing.
it showed me something.
The mind, the heart, the body all integrated,
Definitely another subject
(I don’t think so)
the soul is their point of order.
Fits right here.
We begin with an understanding
opening the top of the head
or the heart window
They will solve each other
if we bring them together right.
I’d like to show you something.
We play music
one measure at a time.
This airs out the difficulty
I’m, I’m good,
This is a substantiality review.
Hear this music?
Boy hears it now.
The public awhile.
Execute this thing.
That’ll take it
off the ground.
We open our opera,
a whole like twenty-eight pages.
What’s a matter sweetheart?
Daddy I don’t want to leave you.
We’ll have to have faith
the Mother said.
She’s the one holding it together,
our family arrangement.
I have these children.
Remove the cover.
What do you see?
You’re their daddy.
the front of it.
that really appealed to me.
I lesson in longevity.
Where do you put your scorecard?
There’s really a house.
I want to print it out:
are lessons in love.
You don’t want to mess with them.
I give you
A story’s been told
We nowhere near mirror
the calm flexibility that
we in our divinity will show,
as we stand transformed,
not just stuck on the rafters.
Where will this evolve?
It’s in our daily room,
where we spend our lives holding cares.
Is my rifle here?
What dense energy is that?
It’s what shoots answers,
will not let us see the way out.
Go ask people,
and they figure it out:
if we do get up there,
anything, anything at all,
I have to do it,
I’ve got to get my courage out.
I’m about the idea change.
A body without a beard,
without one iota of fashion together wrong,
if I’m rewriting I’m writing to version fad.
I’m shouting your opinion.
Think that rewrite’s bad?
Flexibility’s good practice.
We are so swayed by our opinions.
no matter how sharpened,
might be more narrow than life.
Can you average that?
Bout time you come in.
It’s actually better
to let the truth unfold
instead of proclaiming it.
We evolve here.
You have my answer.
Now that’s actually what it is,
across the railroad tracks.
It’s where you see disease.
I’m not that far.
Look how close I am to you,
in your intimacy kitchen,
your bathing and sleeping with
your own concerns.
Where is the line crossed?
Now call for intimacy with me.
What makes you so mad?
I would ask for an associate’s degree.
How many times does justice hate?
Would it be that that hate’s carried over from someplace else,
a little road in you?
It’s not there whispers hate.
We’re not talking
out in the open –
You have ways to avoid that stuff.
What drew these lines?
Hear so many cross.
It’s not a perfect world for me anymore.
Doesn’t have to go.
Trying to tell a river.
our eyes and see it.
Then what’s the story?
We can be clean.
I don’t think so.
It’s not that easy.
Oh come on,
top notch of this group,
who knows it?
But tell me,
did you name to the air conditioner five minutes,
just one time?
You make me worry.
Let’s guilt them and them.
Wow, you have society’s hold up here.
do any justice?
By hidden cost:
we are not permitted to evolve.
Where does the dust settle?
I’m fighting your window,
and it doesn’t open.
Okay, this and with hate:
very shot behind.
Now touch those teeth together,
and we’ve spoken aloud.
I had to get my stuff out of the way
so you got yours.
Hey man this thing’s got director over me.
Could be a wonderful person.
You can change.
I’m tryin’ to get you off the ground.
It’s not better
if said person doesn’t come to see you again.
That touch blisters along.
like who would’ve thought it.
Come on, heart walk strong.
On your way too.
All from eyes
they’ll have knowledge back.
Give them muscle on clean,
what I give clean.
Lemmie get this straight:
wounding sword heals?
Over the end that’s burned.
in our little house
Count how many times the Word gets used.
The average person is comin’ round.
That’s a New York
giving a better New York.
That’s your higher count.
I’ve given you right music,
the corrected story.
It leads up to American
(oh I got here),
the American dream.
Find that equipped
once we get electricity.
We’d save the energy
where our body’s the worst fade:
Not in here
some rafter said.
Before we close the door
to bodily existence,
we would have made divine matter’s robe.
We would be together by the way.
Think about it.
Decide to get to home plate –
to move and get the temple.
Why are you there?
It can be held again.
It can be found.
I found my soul.
Boys safe –
I feel sorrow.
Get your wrong TV tuned folks –
get God on your plate.
I’m tryin’ to slide you an angle on the classical guitar,
once it got posted,
the body’s freedom.
I’m measuring an ambush this morning –
You can’t do it marshal,
shoot me in front of God and everybody.
(Make sure Nancy’s resistance is in the place that she wants;
she may resist letting go.)
I keep reading the title of our narrative.
But Bob misses,
play hide and seek.
That’s a camera
charged with think tank.
follow the list of the dawn.
Now that you’ve come up with,
you’re the unbelievable:
Albert Einstein the very next day is pointed out as saying:
a special case with special officers,
they couldn’t track it down,
a locked up.
I rank in it,
well self-giving lists.
The world is watching.
makes its sense.
our little corner of life’s room.
It’s what we splash on our faces
to get the stories out.
You would contradict this song.
That’s the mystery.
And we look at an iceberg,
it roses from the ground.
Underneath it stalls in light.
A brief ocean
has rounded in our ears
of a larger see than ours.
Alimony this payment
to that stuff in us
at noontide’s sing.
I’ve rounded poetry.
You hear the contradiction?
It’s a blistery see
with what ails yah,
of a state of being
laughing at the stars.
It’s a transaction
between you and sight
that calls all what you don’t see
I measure my life by it
one poem at a time,
a poet in my room
attended by verse itself.
You are my audience
lines of poetry.
What people there
the contradictory note,
the flowers of which I speak.
A few days ago this line from the muse came to me in the morning.
I want struggles to be light.
You can definitely play around with multiple interpretations of a line like this because of the different meanings for the word ‘light’. One interpretation jumps out right away if you take ‘light’ in the sense of something being not heavy or not dark in color. Read this way the line is saying that I want a lighter load of struggles. There’s no doubt I feel that way often, and I’m sure most people reading this can relate to that sentiment. Another idea though along these lines has to do with my belief that what really makes struggles and pain so dark and heavy is this consciousness we live in which is a state of identification with this mind and body. But as many spiritual teachers have said throughout the ages, if you can enter into a consciousness where you’re identified with the divine, or oneness or whatever you want to call it then you realize that this mind and body isn’t you, is more like a shirt you’ve put on, and you don’t take what happens to them so seriously anymore. Then, even though life’s challenges are still there, they’ve lost their heaviness, and you no longer suffer from them. You deal with them from a state of Light or Knowledge and not a state of Ignorance. Hand in hand with that idea is a complementary take on the line where ‘light’ means spiritual illumination. This gives the sense to me of struggles being spiritually illumined and transmuted.
Another interpretation that occurred to me takes ‘light’ in the sense of a ‘means of igniting something’ as in “Hey buddy, you got a light?”. It’s a less obvious reading of the line and one that probably wouldn’t have occurred to me if I hadn’t been thinking a lot about something I’d read in the Mother’s Questions and Answers a few days before. I’ll share the quote first before I get into the interpretation.
Quite naturally we ask ourselves what this secret is, towards which pain leads us. For a superficial and imperfect understanding, one could believe that it is pain which the soul is seeking. Nothing of the kind. The very nature of the soul is divine Delight, constant, unvarying, unconditioned, ecstatic; but it is true that if one can face suffering with courage, endurance, an unshakable faith in the divine Grace, if one can, instead of shunning suffering when it comes, enter into it with this will, this aspiration to go through it and find the luminous truth, the unvarying delight which is at the core of all things, the door of pain is often more direct, more immediate than that of satisfaction or contentment.1
So like the Mother says here I think the line could be interpreted in the sense of changing my attitude so that struggles and pain become more a means of advancing on the spiritual path, more a means of igniting my aspiration to go through them in order to reach that ‘unvarying delight’ than something that holds me back when I have resistance to the pain or depression about the pain. Backing up this idea, I feel, is an experience I had with Medhanada’s Eternity Game two nights before I received this line and a few hours after I’d read the above quote from the Mother. That quote is part of a longer passage where she says a number of things one of which is “When pain comes, it comes to teach us something.”2 As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, probably my biggest difficulty is contending with the constant chronic pain in my back and knees. So that night after reading the Mother’s words I asked the Eternity Game, “What’s the purpose of this pain?” The card I drew was ‘Dwarf’.
In the Eternity Game this card represents the mental being, and as you can see its aspects are ‘Quest’, ‘Next Step’ and ‘Intelligence’. Medhananda gives detailed commentary on all the cards in the game, but he also gives short one sentence descriptions. The short one he gives for the ‘Dwarf’ card is ‘advance, take the next step.’3 I took this as confirmation that I have to try and take the mental attitude the Mother recommends towards the pain so it becomes more a means of progress. I should point out that for me the fact that my reading of the Mother’s words was followed by synchronicities with both the Eternity Game and my own inner guidance in just a matter of a few days stresses the need for this change in attitude. It’s not easy to do, and to truly surrender this pain is something I’ve been aspiring for for a while. Hopefully this will help me to take the ‘next step’ with that.
So that’s my take on things. Please feel free to share other ideas in the comments!
This morning my friend Janet’s long ordeal with cancer finally came to an end. The last time I saw her a few days ago in hospice I read her a passage from Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri about the soul. I share it here as a tribute to her but also for the benefit of the reader. It’s long but well worth the time to read.
A being stood immortal in transience,
Deathless dallying with momentary things,
In whose wide eyes of tranquil happiness
Which pity and sorrow could not abrogate
Infinity turned its gaze on finite shapes:
Observer of the silent steps of the hours,
Eternity upheld the minute’s acts
And the passing scenes of the Everlasting’s play.
In the mystery of its selecting will,
In the Divine Comedy a participant,
The Spirit’s conscious representative,
God’s delegate in our humanity,
Comrade of the universe, the Transcendent’s ray,
She had come into the mortal body’s room
To play at ball with Time and Circumstance.
A joy in the world her master movement here,
The passion of the game lighted her eyes:
A smile on her lips welcomed earth’s bliss and grief,
A laugh was her return to pleasure and pain.
All things she saw as a masquerade of Truth
Disguised in the costumes of Ignorance,
Crossing the years to immortality;
All she could front with the strong spirit’s peace.
But since she knows the toil of mind and life
As a mother feels and shares her children’s lives,
She puts forth a small portion of herself,
A being no bigger than the thumb of man
Into a hidden region of the heart
To face the pang and to forget the bliss,
To share the suffering and endure earth’s wounds
And labour mid the labour of the stars.
This in us laughs and weeps, suffers the stroke,
Exults in victory, struggles for the crown;
Identified with the mind and body and life,
It takes on itself their anguish and defeat,
Bleeds with Fate’s whips and hangs upon the cross,
Yet is the unwounded and immortal self
Supporting the actor in the human scene.
Through this she sends us her glory and her powers,
Pushes to wisdom’s heights, through misery’s gulfs;
She gives us strength to do our daily task
And sympathy that partakes of others’ grief
And the little strength we have to help our race,
We who must fill the role of the universe
Acting itself out in a slight human shape
And on our shoulders carry the struggling world.
This is in us the godhead small and marred;
In this human portion of divinity
She seats the greatness of the Soul in Time
To uplift from light to light, from power to power,
Till on a heavenly peak it stands, a king.
In body weak, in its heart an invincible might,
It climbs stumbling, held up by an unseen hand,
A toiling spirit in a mortal shape.
Here in this chamber of flame and light they met;
They looked upon each other, knew themselves,
The secret deity and its human part,
The calm immortal and the struggling soul.
Then with a magic transformation’s speed
They rushed into each other and grew one.
From Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri pgs 526-527