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by Steve Vinay Gunther



This too is love

I give you a box 

It’s a strange sort of a gift

yet its what I have

bits of broken mirror

momentos of pleasure 

and acknowledgements of pain

locks of hair

and well worn maps

its messy and its 

what I have

theres a lid within a lid

and if you open it 

you will find secrets

exposed to the wind

and the hail

the box a sock

turn it inside out

everything falls to the ground

that doesn’t matter

now the invisible writing

appears messages from

beyond the seas and

from deep volcanos

look its getting hot

catching flames

burning up

sweep up the ashes

they are black of course

sooty, they get on your fingers

ah, but did you see the breeze

did you catch a glimpse

something else stirs in the ashes

is this love?

oh the clichéd egg

yet theres no mistaking

the bird now standing

perhaps a black swan

is this love?

you notice the swan

has scars its

not at all perfect

swan love what is this?

ok now the swan is a man

hey, its me!

higgldy piggldy

not so graceful

I offer you a box

you open it

in old script the paper says


you hold it up, and it turns into 

a butterfly

beautiful but ungrounded

now turns into a tree

suddlenly getting old

ah, this is love

sheltering branches

some broken off

and lightning damage

blackened ends and hollows

and stability and solidity

deep roots

holding to the earth

with a profound tenacity

yes, this too is love




The Default Man

None left standing

so the referee declares

you are the winner by default

the only one to complete the marathon

the last survivor of the war

somehow you have the ability

to be irradiated with deadly spores

and not die

perhaps you are undead

perhaps its only your ghost

we see perhaps it’s a trick

and you will fall by the wayside

like the rest

but for now you can take

the winners crown because

you survived

you hung in there

no special talent required

no great speed or 

masterful hand eye coordination

your prize is for simply lasting

outlasting the rest

you will be celebrated 

simply because you are


a hanger onner

theres no choice

because theres no one left 

to choose from

so congratulations

all you had to do is

keep plodding

and remember

it’s the tortoise who 

wins the 





Its all a story

the truth the truth

out with the truth

its all good

its completely disasterous

everything will work out

in the end

in the best of 

all possible worlds

its all decay and ruin

and the sky is definitely


so why do I hurt so much

is this just a story

what a stupid plot

and how does it end

is the pain part of the story

is the story part of the pain

whats real and what

made up and

is this world my creation

along with everyone and

everything in it

or is there something solid

madness is not

knowing whats real

and whats imagination

and if its all in my

imagination then

can I change the nightmare

into something more pleasant

perhaps its true the truth

is completely relative and

the only true truth is

something right here

and right now that

cant be seen or heard

or touched and is

beyond all stories

even stories about the

untouchable and even

the worst stories and

even the best stories

just constructions

the dance of maya

a dream or nightmare

it’s all about the dreamer

its all about the dreamer



His desire wakes him.


Desire, such a strange thing 

hard to stop and admire 

turn in the hand 

it squirms 

wants to leap out and 

seek out its own destruction 

it resists careful scientific examination 

it wants only movement 

and the quicker the better.


He is slightly bemused by this 

part of his being that has its own intelligence 

and its own blindness 

slightly amused 

slightly overawed 

slightly afraid.


His desire wants to drive him 

wants to take the reigns; 

ancient images of horses, 

spiritual allegories 

warnings as to not letting them 

have their heads 

warnings to put discriminating judgement 

in the drivers seat.


He can feel those horses 

stamping their feet 

raring to go 

such energy 

a powerhouse 

wanting to move.


Too much philosophising 

too much reflection 

too much restraint 

they grow restless 


want a good run.


Even as they are directed 

on that road less travelled 

their eyes roam 

they are intensely distracted 

their attention elsewhere 

they want to break loose 

charge down the soft mossy glen 

gambol in the seasonal spring 

absorbed only in 

the excitement of the moment.


But what else is there 

apart from this moment? 

An internal debate loosens 

the horseman's grip slightly 

the horses pick up on the uncertainty 

strain even more enthusiastically.


Who knows where he will end up: 

shangri la, 

or maybe in a ditch; 

but wherever he is 

the stars always twinkle 

behind the firmament, 

sometimes you can only see them at night. 




For a minute I release myself 

from probity 

from responsibility 

from pre-meditation 

from sensibleness 

and respectability


For a minute I release myself 

from being in control 

from directing my life 

from careful steps


For a minute I abandon myself 

to sheer surrender 

to pure unalloyed joy 

to melting, melting, melting


For a minute i release myself 

into falling through space and time 

into dark and unknown territory 

into sheer and total exhilaration


For a minute I accept 

total lavisciousness 

total decadence 

total raw earth


I grab the red ochre in my hands 

smear it over my body 

become part of the world of rhythm 

the world of hypnotic rhythm 

the beat of life 

the beat of the heart 

the beat of my drumming blood


For a minute 

I am lost 

I am totally lost 

I am blissfully lost


For this minute 

In this moment 






An aching heart 

my friend says 

means opening


Aha, room for something new 

pain which feels almost-good


I long for something 

I think I know 

I think I don't know 

something more 

something to touch my soul 

and sing a true note


But not too soon either 

for the space must increase some yet 

or else the new cannot fully emerge 

longing so delicious


Longing and fulfilment 

Ýact as if they are not 

Ýidentical twins


My friend says 

our teacups should always be empty 

as soon as we think they're filled, spill them


Mine is spilled, the emptiness rattles 

years, calls out 

damn this creative void


Fantasies of supersaturated happiness 

wonít leave 

mundane or spiritual longing 

the two dance together 

and eye each other off in 

jealous competition


The bird on the branch is slightly confused.


The heart is not. 







down down down 

to a place 

too deep to return from 

too far from my fear 

too close to my core



down down down 

free floating 

panic alternates 

with surrender 

to this moment 

to this pure pure pure 

wordless world



down down down 

despite myself 

in spite of myself 

caution itself let go 

the safety catch 

and there is nothing to do 

but enjoy the fall



down down down 

not to sin 

nor to an irreconcilable place 

of wrong 

but to an irredeemable place 

of perfection 

of joy 

of human redemption



down down down 

into love 

into the hypnotic spell 

into the intoxicating scent 

into total total total 




down down down 

again and again 

I let go a little more 

each time 

become helpless 

in the face of 

such sweetness 

such valuing 

such unalloyed delight



down down down 

as into a profound sleep 

as into a miraculous dream 

as into all my dreams 

as into all my longing 

as into every hope 




down down down 

to a hidden treasure 

revealed before 

my astonished eyes 

my eyes drink 

my being drinks 

I become that treasure



down down down 

till I lose sense 

of direction 

till my tears meet 

my smile 

till I am joyfully 





And at that moment, 

find myself. 





A soft rain is falling 

falling around me 

my clothes are soaked 

I don't care 

the dampness on my face 

feels good 

feels good 

come down rain 

come down 

touch my soul 

run down my nose 

down my chin 

envelop me so that 

I feel nothing but wetness 

nothing but wetness 

cold and warm and wet and 

be my companion 

my pores are thirsty 

to breathe the mist 

my body is water 

my soul is water 

my mind is at sea 

obscured by sheets 

of rain of rain 

a fire burns in my 

chest evaporating 

the water cold 

my skin is cold 

my heart beating fast 

like the hearth fire 

fanned by a blast 

from the open door 

the door is open 

and rain blows in 

my house 

threatening the fire 

pooling on the floor 

wrecking the carpet 

I don't care 

let it all get wet 

open all the windows 

let the rain in 

let the rain in 

let it soak the bed 

let it get on the books 

let it ruin the lounge 

let the wind blow over 

everything so neatly arranged 

so neatly arranged 

let it make a mess 

and the fire sputters 

and complains 

but it won't go out 

it just rages more valiantly 

fanned by the wind 

throwing itself around 

in the hearth 

no danger to the rain 

and when the morning comes 

and the mist is lifting 

and its clear 

the fire only a few coals 

the house damp 

then I walk outside 

filled with the sweet morning air 

then I walk outside 

my heart wide open 

my heart wide open 

my heart wide open 





My garden is overgrown 

mostly weeds 

mostly nutgrass, 

that tenacious survivor 

the pushy blade 

that takes over everything else 

my garden is overgrown 

a few straggling vegetables 

drowned in a sea of weeds 

and some leftover tomato plants 

which hardly show much fruit 

my garden is overgrown 

a few herbs to be picked 

keep on going 

keep me coming back 

my feelings of sadness 

at the failure of my efforts 

against the forces of nature 

a tragedy for me 

means nothing at all emotionally 

to the balance of growing things 

out there in my garden 

my garden is overgrown 

my life is in disarray 

failure means letting the weeds take over 

but weeds are my own judgement 

its just air and sunlight and water 

doing its thing, just like 

its always done 

no longer have I the illusion 

of control 

my garden is overgrown 

its raining and the weeds 

are just multiplying 

and I watch 

sadly, resignedly 

its good sometimes 

to let go of what has been 








to my self 

I finish climbing 

this endless ladder 


I sit atop and 

admire the view 

its taken a lifetime 

to catch my breath 

suddenly I know 

about who I am 

and what went wrong 

I can trace the fault lines 

in the valley 

the history of pain 

laid out like 

burnt out stumps 

and the way the 

lovers keep missing 

each other 

now the whole scene 

is revealed in one sweep of the eye 

where I am is no longer 

clouded in mist 

the vista takes my breath away 

with fear 

my heart pounds with excitement 

I am completely free 

in this moment 

and alone 

the curse and 

blessing of 

being human 

I draw breath and 

embrace my fate 






like through butter 

my melting 


like blood dripping 

on the floor 

my sadness 

leaks out 

dropping into 


void of dreams 

darkness comforts me 

deep cold waters 

clutch ancient memories 

go down 

plumb the depths 

while rises slowly 


a readiness 

a quiescent flame 

ready to light 

the stars 





Jail visit


Visitors to the prisoners, 

prospective tourists to another planet 

gradually fill the waiting room.


Each face has its own untold story 

lives intertwined with the accused 

caught in the same net 

even though freedom 

apparently belongs to these ones 

on the outside


You can tell the crims, the ex-cons, 

those who have done their time. 

Its not just the tatts 

or the hairstyle 

its something about them 

the aura of the adventurer who returns 

to tell the tale 

of experiences and suffering 

that ordinary folk can only imagine 

or read about; 

they have an aura of knowing 

of power 

of fearlessness because they have faced 

and been swallowed 

and they are still breathing; 

and they have an aura of sadness 

deeply hidden 

the irredeemable memories 

of the brutality 

of a system that dispenses everything 

except blind justice 

and extracts everything 

except the repentance that releases.


And the wives and girlfriends 

you can tell them too 

stressed beyond their capacity 

some overweight 

some underweight 

the weight is in their hearts 

theyíre doing time as well; 

they bring a corner of sunshine 

of warmth 

of glimpses of intimacy 


of sex just out of reach 

in their skimpy outfits 

of responsibility eschewed 

in their clinging babies 

and their wild sad children.


And the mothers and fathers 

dressed in ordinary conservative tones 

looking sombre 

the prodigal son 

blood stronger than 

anger or sadness; 

and you can tell the new parents of crims 

by their discomfort in this setting 

their quiet, humbled, awkward, respectability; 

and you can tell the world-weary parents of 

sons who have been here before 

or been here a long time 

they have the look of those 

who know and have endured suffering 

and who have not been crushed 

and who have been crushed many times.


And you can tell the mates 

the ones who werenít caught 

the ones who might yet be 

sorry for their mate 

and relieved its him not me 

and slightly admiring 

and slightly fearful 

and ready to joke 

and wink 

and slightly in awe 

of one who has taken the initiation 

and proved his manhood.


And they are all waiting 

emotions barely acknowledged 

strain at the chest 

questions of philosophy barely formulated 

strain to be answered 

but no one comes forward 

to catch the tears 

and no one volunteers 

to explain why. 





Jack Spratt reigns 

the hero of all america 

while the new antichrist 

is fat 

is sodium 

is cholesterol 

the holy imprimatur 

placed on neatly packaged foods 


this item is blessed 

No fat 

No sodium 

No cholesterol 

the magic words that differentiate 

safe from unsafe 

good from evil 

Spratt from his fat ugly wife 

for fat is very ugly 

harshly apparent in 

the shadow of America which 

eats away the woman-soul 

and is visible everywhere 

even where fat is invisible 

it is noticed 

like an apparition 

and everywhere they 

are afraid 

and they listen to 

the holy edicts of the 

magazines and ads 

they are listening to everyone 

but their own selves 

but their own bodies 

they eagerly await instructions 

they eagerly discuss 

ounces of fat 

this ideology that extracts 

pounds of flesh 

uncaring whether 

the spirit within 

lives or dies 

and dietary pleasure 

is an oxymoron 

because pain equals no gain 

sensual delight 

is measured out mathematically 

sin is secularised 

calibrated by calories 

and thinner is holier 

no wonder the shadow of anorexia 

no wonder the shadow of bulimia 

no wonder this most obese country 

on the planet where 

substance is traded for 

lack of substance 

and the crowd in panic 

runs for the exits which 

promise physical perfection 

forever and ever 

give us this day 

our daily fat free 

low sodium 

no cholesterol 







© Seteve Vinay Gunther 2012