[B]eing calm in body, calm also your passions, desire and pleasure and anger and grief and the twelve portions of death. In this way, taking control of yourself, you will summon the divine to you, and truly it will come, that which is everywhere and nowhere.


[A]urum nostrum non est aurum vulgi.
          —De Alchimia2


     I fell for your amor fati,
your love of fate what made me stay
when, on those cold nights, we both strayed
from embrace toward death’s flame then

     awaiting us without shame, sent,
I suppose, in retribution
for some crime, some offense, obscured
by our wanting to be burned like

     phœnix feathers against the heat
of our fathers, absent except
for presence sent over broken
horizons to shatter homes in

     the form of foul weather, clouds with
pouting bouts of tantrums tearing
open our flood’s gates, inundating
with shards of light surfaces

     of this porcelain life behind
which our faces hide out of sight
their telling lines the lies of these
masks tighten in the arms of vice,

     after my climb, how your way of
defining success denied its
reward, each injustice doubly
returned by your sour words I learned


     moulded hard the cruel, clay world
you view as having thrown your heart
away, but marbles are just balls
of dirt spit polishes, earth and

     water and fire and breath project,
true death is to die to others’
expectations of what is best
and resurrect your inmost Self

     in a spirit of respect and
astonishment, knowing firsthand
refreshment and lively waters,
thirsting for wisdom and nothing

     else, going on rolling toward
a more important now since hoped-
for tomorrows never come, no,
not without being earned any-

     how, sweetens the blow, even now,
as below, so above, having
had enough, perhaps too much, go
toward what no normal mortal

     artifice can touch, art which is
eternal, more nuanced than mere
brush or chisel can accomplish,
but what every artist must,


     the art of sculpting one’s truest
Self in whose own hidden golden
gifts he can truly trust, invest
instead in consciousness, not in

     technology, for worship of
tools makes foolish those tools used by
them, sudden death a fate delayed
yet still inevitable for

     men whose pride lies to them, resting
uncomfortable on what things
they have made, bedroom burials
never fail to leave feeling so

     ungrounded those most in need of
rest from this strange competition’s
endless anguish, conversation
does more for the world and the soul

     than your most recent purchase, so
listen and stop buying into
its forced illusion, stop fearing
silence, that cult of escapism

     your so-called culture thrives hard on
the way vultures do on sighing
carcasses, easy targets, your
highways drive home the pointlessness


     of noise only blind violence
survives, find then, as I have since,
in Agastya’s ashram, in his
hermitage, at the edge of your

     town, in the forest on the slopes
of those mountains whose foothills men
fear to travel, meaning too near
to the humble to tempt them to

     the unfathomable trouble
of going the extra mile, in
the warmth of his words I returned
to the source and was in each verse

     rebirthed, encouraged by the sage
of sages, that ageless master
of all arts over whose crafts he
is the most masterful, he who

     can do what for even the gods
is impossible, awed and full,
I learned compassion, the missing
quintessence reconciling as

     any magician with it in
his arsenal does discordant
opposites, their overlap not
always obvious, the act by


     which mountains can be tricked, set up,
moved, and levelled so that sun, moon,
planets, and men can pass over
them, stars witnessing sorcerer

     and apprentice in action, mage
conjuring feigned contentedness
drinking in as we both did then
the whole sea, all the ocean in

     its overflowing entirety,
balancing things, quelled bursts quenching
unquenchable thirsts with mythic
drinks, thinking in thoughtful drams of

     exploded dams cleansing until
understanding reprimands fools
and eventually sinks in,
healing with hints of harmony,

     symbols inked within by needles
of experience, dripping pricks
instinctual and practical,
actual, powerful, what this

     pot-bellied guru, this Hindu
Hermes Trismegistus, from his
heart’s deepest parts, its depth of
love for those of us on the move


     from innocence at last lost, from
lingering burdensome hurt, on
toward being fully restored,
fully matured, imparted and

     still imparts ever since, is an
ancient alchemy occasioned
for warriors whose course, at once
spiritual & material,

     calls them to causes at war with
the superficial, lessons
which prepared me for another
gold than that false hope the vulgar

     sacrifice their lives all fighting
over, treasure in the form of
my eternal friend through whom our
companionship, which at one time

     did seem so doomed, had us both so
damned confused, began to transmute
its grief to renewed belief in
being more who we are without

     recourse to the discouraging
debt ransomed by an illusion
demanding we do what cannot
be undone, accomplish total,


     irreversible destruction
by denying damage its most
valuable truth, to go whole,
all the way within, even when

     broken, and emerge renewed, to
face our shadows, crude and gross, and
improve without too much show those
reflections of us Medusa

     knows no shield can withhold from view,
anger subtler after lustre
fogs for it to slow what pain fades,
stranger now how hearts turn from stone,

     live, wander from cages of ribs,
unchain their sinews, fit again
into palms instead of fists, press
against the flesh of breasts rushes

     of renewed pulse your absence lets
fill with surging renaissances
this victory of mine over
needing to always be pleasing

     someone else eases for once by
vanquishing its myth, captive no
more to your disrespect, how one
pilgrimage opens eyes none see.

1Zosimos of Panopolis, to Theosebeia, in his Final Quittance, as translated and quoted by Garth Fowden in The Egyptian Hermes, published at Princeton by Princeton University Press in 1986; page 122.
2One of the most famous and frequently quoted alchemical maxims, often misattributed to Gerhard Dorn, if at all ever even attributed by subsequent authors, its meaning in English is “Our gold is not the gold of others,” or “Our gold is not the gold of the vulgar,” and it first appeared in print, anonymously so, in the chapter, section, and paragraph «VI. Liber, dictus Scala Philosophorum: Septimus gradus est & dicitur Cibatio: Anima est aurum» in the second edition of that collection of early treatises on the mysterious subject, De Alchimia: Opuscula Complura Veterum Philosophorum, published at Frankfurt by Cyriacus Jacob in 1550; page 124.