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The Only Way To Control Things

The only way to control things is with an open hand.
Water on rock
a fist can't do anything to stop the rain
that keeps washing its bloody knuckles
by kissing the raw red buds
of the pain-killing poppies clean.
Anger grows ashamed of itself
in the presence of unopposable compassion
just as planets are humbled by their atmospheres.
The soft supple things of life insist
and the hard brittle ones comply.
Bullies are the broken toys of wimps.
Power limps.
But space is an open hand.
Mass may shape it
but it teaches matter how to move
just as the sky converts its openness
into a cloud and a bird
or the silence nurtures
the embryo of a blue word
in the empty womb of the dark mother
like the echo of something that can't be said.

The only way to control things is with an open hand.
Not a posture of giving.
Not a posture of receiving.
Not a posture of greeting or farewell.
Not hanging on or letting go
but the single bridge they both make
when they're both at peace with the flow.
It's not the branch it's not the trunk
it's not the root it's not the fruit
but the open handedness of its leaves
that is a tree's consummate passion.
Isis tattoos her star on their palms
like sailors and sails
to keep them from drowning
and into the valleys of their open hands
that lie at the foot of their crook-backed mountains
the aloof stars risk the intimacy of fireflies
and fate flows down like tributaries into the mindstream
as life roots its wildflowers on both shores
as if there were no sides to the flowing
of our binary lifelines.

The only way to control things is with an open hand.
You cannot bind the knower to the knowing
as if time had to know where eternity was going
before anything could change.
X marks the spot where all maps are born
to lead you back to yourself
like a treasure you forgot to bury.
An open hand is a ploughed field ready for seed.
An open hand is the generosity that is inherent in need.
An open hand is and is not an open hand.
No hinges can define it
because it's not a two-faced Janus
standing in the doorway of a new year.
An open hand doesn't look forward.
And open hand doesn't look back.
What opens like a flower doesn't close like a door
and when a hand opens
it opens at the urging of a light within
that makes the light without
glow like the mother of wine.
An open hand isn't the writing on the wall.
Moses came down the mountain with a stone tablet
but an open hand makes
an avalanche of the ten commandments
and goes its own way without submission or regret
like a vine with a prehensile grip.

An open hand is the only way to control things
when things are out of control.
It isn't a day of yes followed by a night of no.
There's nothing divine or infernal about it.
An open hand is all that humans need to know
about their own nature
when they let their gods and demons go.
Nothing missing.
Nothing complete.
An open hand is enlightenment.
A fist puts a bad spin on ignorance.
An open hand is a book older than the Bible.
An open hand isn't a tool
or a new kind of stealth weapon.
An open hand isn't a weathervane
or a rudder in the wind
or one wing of a bird
with a secret twin.

An open hand is the only way to control things
without killing them for their own good.
An open hand does not say thou shalt not
or you should.
An open hand is not a white flag of surrender
a victory flag or a sloppy salute.
It's not the price tag you look at
when no one is looking
on a second-hand suit
you've been wearing out like a body for years.
An open hand isn't the hesitant offer of an uncertain friend
held out like a placebo that can't heal anything.
You might have fixed the palings
but you still haven't mended the fence.
An open hand is the way things feel when you're truly alive.
It's got nothing to do with how the fittest survive.
An open hand is the afterlife of a fist that died in defeat
trying to unseat an older power
that swallows it like a god
dissolves a cube of sugar in water
and finds it sweet to be absolved of the deed.
An open hand is a cup that could hold an ocean
but never overflows.
An open hand isn't a relic of the thorns
that pinned a butterfly messiah
to the webbed cross of a sacrilegious spider
or Ciceronian appendages nailed to a senate door
like a bill that didn't pass
or Che Guevara's hands cut off
by the people they laboured for like rebel fruit
that went against the grain of the tree
that poisoned everybody like a jackboot.
An open hand isn't a proposal for reform.
It's not the new norm.
It's not what not to do
when people are watching you
to see if you're the same as them.

An open hand is the only way to control things
when you don't know what to do
at the genetic crossroads
of cosmic and domestic things
that weigh on your mind
like the dirty laundry of evolution
piling up in the corners
like falling standards of confusion.
It doesn't question anything
so it never rejects an answer.
It doesn't pretend to be the sign
that beatifies its own suggestion.
An open hand isn't trying to make
a housewife of an iris
or trying to nail things down
to get a grip on things
like a man who knows how to suffer like a floor.
An open hand isn't something
worth living or dying for.
It won't save your life.
It won't take it.
It's not a lifeboat or an anchor.
Four fingers and a conductor for a thumb
don't make a choir of flesh
that will make the angels come like groupies
and just because
you've got runners on four bases
doesn't mean you can hit a home run
like the stand-in umpire
behind the home plate of your palm.
Four men out and one man on
and the thumb bunts to the outfield
in the last inning of a pre-fixed playoff game
that shaves the score like a pencil into points.
An open hand is the only way to disarm a fist
that buries the road you're on
like an improvised explosive device
timed to go off in your face like a hand grenade.
The only way to control things without controlling them
is with an open hand.
An open hand does not deny or affirm.
An open hand legislates like the light
and judges like the rain.
Five fingers are the roots of a hung jury.
Five syllables of an incommensurable life sentence.
An open hand isn't the servile agent of a wilful mind.
It doesn't do anyone's bidding.
It isn't the delta at the end of a long river
whose life flashes before its eyes
like an ancient civilization
as it disappears into the sea.
An open hand doesn't squat on the ground
like some denuded navel-gazer
who mistakes his belly-button for his third eye.
An open hand says as much to the deaf as the blind.

The only way to control things is with an open hand.
An open hand is the sign of a mind at rest
with what it doesn't understand.
An open hand isn't a contract with anything.
An open hand isn't a flatlining fist.
An open hand is a loveletter that doesn't insist
on being returned like a dove
that's just discovered land.
An open hand is the fairest image of a god
ever created in the likeness of a human.
An open hand is the omnidirectional threshold
of the homelessness we built
on a cornerstone of quicksand
like water moonlighting as a rose.
An open hand isn't celibate or promiscuous.
An open hand warms itself
around the cold fires of the stars
and tells tall tales about the constellations
of scars and callouses that have sprung up
like villages along its lifelines.

The only way to control things is with an open hand.
An open hand is a myth of origins
that ends where it begins.
An open hand makes no distinction
between matter and mind.
An open hand is the enlightened gesture
of a human who knows without grasping
what they don't understand
and welcomes without expectation
all those who cross over it like the floor
and pass under it like the roof
of a house without a door or a window
to keep anything in or out.
An open hand is as certain as doubt
it doesn't know what it's all about
but the only way to control things
when they're coming apart
and coming together
is with a hand
as open as an ample heart
that gets it by letting it go
one breath one death
one footstep one heartbeat
one spring one autumn
one hail and farewell after another.

The only way to control things is with an open hand.
An open hand rests in its power like the flower
the Buddha gave away to Ananda
as all he could and couldn't and wouldn't say.
Seekers look for starmaps to paradise
like the night looking for the day
that shines all around them
and blinds them.
But look as they may
an open hand is always the way that finds them.

The only way to control things is with an open hand
that binds us to the boundlessness
of letting go of who we are
like a star on the lam
that poured itself out like insight
to say to the night I am.
This is my hand.
It's open.

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