This book may shatter spiritual stereotypes
for many, releasing the beauty and freedom
of the Spirit!
Art Work by Vicki Shuck
Wild Sanity was first published in America in 1998. It has become a collector's item.
A second, expanded edition was published in 2003. It is even rarer.
To PURCHASE SECOND EDITION BOOK click here.
To PURCHASE CD of selected readings by Blake Steele with music and sound effects click here.
These excerpts from Wild Sanity's over 50 poems ©2003 Blake Steele,
may be freely used and reproduced.
Please give customary credit to the author.
For publishing rights please email HERE
All images are © 1998 by Vicki Shuck and can only be used with permission of the artist.
“The words of Blake Steele shine with energy and insight. He has the generosity of a
Naomi Shihab Nye
Richard Rohr. OFM
Author, Spiritual Director
Poems from Wild Sanity
A DISCLAIMER OF GOD FOR GOD
There is a dead way to think about God,
a way of oppressive connotations:
a baggage-ladened, bickering, constrictive way;
a gray way, all pinch-nosed and guilt-riddled,
of an angry old man in the skies
or the three prudish guys—the status quo
I would like for you to set all that aside,
if you can, and consider with me a second way:
a way of glacial freshness,
of deep belly laughter,
of love's naked longing,
of star-spattered vastness
and the eruptive white spume of whales—
of delirious songs of birds drunk on berries.
It is about the greatest freedom
the wildest abandonment in beauty!
and a light that melts you
every time you see it shine in a human eye.
It is about the repose of a rose garden
in a face you instantly love,
and the greatest fairy tale of sacrificial love
come true! It is a Voice
that captures your heart forever...
Or being electric with life!
like the wild Christ!
shaking your head in a dance,
refusing oppressive existence,
until you are brimming with life—
being crazy with love—
spinning in wild circles, singing
for no one—not even yourself!—
just because you must sing to say it
and move in it: the eternal spume,
the gurgle in the gut:
drunk and giddy—
angry and blatantly sober—
snapping the chains!
passionate and flaming,
thirsting and howling,
green and all growing,
falling and flowing,
forgiving and free
like a river.
When I mention the God name,
please know that I'm referring
to this second, more primal way.
WAKING THE SOUL
Would you wake up your soul?
Walk then somewhere, anywhere,
through a field, over a hill,
down a lane,
and touch the sky with your fingers...
Then turn to compliment the roses
for their dresses,
and the way they watch the ocean
all day with patience,
and how they love the summer garden's
when they, in black dresses,
drift in dreams of fragrance.
You are waking up to seek your soul
that hides somewhere in happiness
(a secret poet in an unpoetic age),
that dips its naked body
in pure colors and hides
in every color of the day;
that paints itself black,
like the Christ child's skin,
and runs wild and sacred in the night;
that, gray-eyed and innocent,
looks quietly upon you
in morning's light
waiting for you to sing
until all your sorrows are sung away
and you lean against a wall
and laugh at bird song,
and laugh at your hands and feet...
and laugh at children laughing,
and laugh at lover's awkward loving,
until your knees are buckling
as your soul slips through
and makes you.
Wandering the streets here
I can't find you.
I think you must be hiding
a thousand wild islands of lush herbs,
of goats and birds.
By night you travel
to pound your heart inside my ribs.
Sleep is a black flame
that burns holes in the universe
to let you slip through.
Your pure motion colors dreams,
your lines are mimicked
by grapes and lilies.
How can I find the door
which our shadows have closed?
Should I knock on a stone,
or on the face of a flower?
And who owns the key
only the wind
IF YOU HAVE NO REASON FOR JOY
If you have no reason for joy,
then dance because the sky is blue
and the growing grass is green.
Spin in thankfulness
because your lungs grow large
because the air caresses you
and lifts your hair,
because you have eyes to see
form and miraculous color,
because of water.
And if you can,
speak these words,
"I love you,"
unto the nothing you have always feared
and let nothing echo back,
"I love you,"
as light leaps up
in your bones.
ONE DAY, LOOK NO LONGER HERE
(Listen to reading from Wild Sanity CD)
the Song of Solomon
the book of Romans
up into itself.
Then the beautiful cathedrals
will fill with trees,
the baptismal bowl
will become a luminous lake,
the holy aisles will be flowered paths
and birds will be quickly
admitted to the choirs.
Then the simple pulpit
of a country church
will become a great stone
upon which is everlastingly
written these words:
Look no longer here,
for God is writing
with a lover's hand
upon the waters
of your heart.
HOLDING ME YOUNG
There is an island
that holds me young
in its ancient memories.
It still rocks me
as a child
in rosy pines
high on white cliffs
above the blue waters
of my dreams.
the island moves
upon a sea of stars.
Perhaps it sails
around the shadows
of the world
until it sinks
in vast gold seas
of the sun.
it has sailed small
in some woman's
until she opens them
MORE WRITING IN PREPARATION
When you arrive,
summer will blow in my windows
dressed in its carnation garments,
And that secret worm will shrink
before your luminous gaze
and fall from love's apple
into the dark.
You are the little sister
of those wild spices
that have grown upon the dry hills
of Provence since Roman times:
thyme, oregano, lavender,
to perfume your hair by day,
the smoke of sage-wood fires
soaking into your skin
if you should write a poem
the paper itself
would reek of summer.
ECHOES FROM THE BLUE BOY
Break nothing, tear nothing,
stifle nothing, efface nothing.
Let the whole round world
of blue air and green seas,
of stars and planets and countless waves
course through the embrace of two
Let honey flow from lip to lip
in words and kisses.
It is meant to be like this,
no gesture forbidden, all love-born
and breathing, pouring silver life
in shivers, in the shaken bells
of laughter, in the brightness
of eyes shining in eyes...
As summer fruit swells, gorged
with sunlight, and leaves shimmer
their own leaf-laughter in the breeze,
so our hearts are to be lush with life
and free to love with Love's wisdom:
that architect of rivers and the rhythms
THE COLORS OF GOD’S DREAM
The dream of love comes from clouds,
from the wild eyes of horses,
from the laughter of water falling.
It lives in simple houses, in stone sinks,
in wooden tables and chairs,
in loaves of bread, in dustpans and brooms,
in a bed of love where sunlight shines in the sheets.
Love is poetry,
a poetry that asks of us all the heart:
to drink the brew of heaven,
to pour out simple
shifting fragrances in words,
or colors, or the forms of things.
How rare is the soul who knows
how precious is the gift being offered.
The Great Love is everywhere,
enveloping us as oceans enwrap fish,
as sky holds birds and clouds—
yet how rare the soul
who can drink it in
and wake up
with passion to share
this poetry of life,
these colors of God’s dream.
MY RED HORSE WEARS TWO BELLS
My red horse wears two bells
upon his bridle.
He trots along under a turquoise sky,
happy as only a young horse can be
who stretches his energetic legs
and loves the wind in his eyes.
How beautiful the sky is.
How beautiful the woman is who carries
pink carnations next to her heart
as she walks along the road.
I pass her and leave her eyes laughing
with the light of my two silver bells.
Half my heart remains with her
though my horse has forgotten her
and dances joyously on.
Today, the trees seem ecstatically happy.
Perhaps it is as the psalmist foretold—
they are clapping, they are swaying,
they shimmy and clang!
They feel God…
If they could pull up their roots
they’d dance on them—I’m sure of it!
Because when I feel God—
all fresh and lissome,
frolicking in green—
my spirit shimmies, like those trees,
in an inspirational breath,
and I want to dance from an essential urge
bursting from my core!
To throw back my head and howl,
like those trees surge back:
clattering and trembling,
ecstatic and shimmering,
rattling with sky in the wind!
TO THE UNKNOWN LILLY
I hear your eyes are as blue as certain pools
hidden in the mountains of Southern Russia,
where old men drink blue vodka
and dance on their toes,
where old women still card wool,
and young women loose their long hair
that the cold northern winds might
fan it out to weave around them.
I hear there is a door in the bottom of your soul,
and that sometimes you so gather yourself
that you might drop back through
to stand naked in silver fountains
where you sing to gathering birds and other angels.
I hear that your hair is as yellow as wheat
in the black hills of the Dakotas
and that your soul has two rooms:
one gold as your hair
and one black as velvet on a casket.
I've been told that when you pass
from the gold room into the black
you carry two luminous pearls in your right hand
and that when you pass from the black to the gold
you carry two ebony seeds in your left.
I wonder what you would do if God asked you
to leave the world and tend sheep in the Pyrenees
until stars dropped from the skies
so that you might learn the holy language
of birds and sheep, brooks and breezes,
until you might, at last, as winter turns
your summer-gold hair white,
write one poem that would live forever
in the hearts of mankind?
And what if Christ just once, and ever so briefly,
touched the free, soft places
of your core with his fingers of fire
and caught your eyes with His
in an eternal embrace?
Would you then run away
from your beloved wild birds and deer
down to orphanages, death houses,
and other holy churches of encounter
just to gaze at His eyes once more in theirs?
PONDERING MY RETIREMENT
When I am old
I want to be an artist
who buries his fiery body in color
in the way a black mole
snuggles into mud.
I want to hunt
for green leaves in paint,
and burn canvas
with vermilion flame.
I want to splash a sky
with those roses
that birth the sun
day by day
and throw golden hair
over your face
with a huge sweep of brush.
I would paint your eyes blue
with my toes
and your shimmering smile
with a glob of paint
on my chin.
We shall laugh
you and I,
and run down
empty streets at night
leaving wet footprints
on the sides of walls.
THE HUGE HOT SPILL
They say that God is distant,
like a nun's tentative breathing
in the presence of a beautiful man.
But I say that God is hot and huge!
rolling in the lightning blue depths
of His own being.
Mostly, God moves cloud-like
through inner, spacious places of the human soul
at a rate too slow for mortal sense...
but sometimes, when the world
weighs too heavily upon Him,
and is felt as a passionate dream!
too full of fire and song to be contained
even in His own infinite expanses.
It is then that He spills over
the brim of His being
into our being,
to seize us
with His song.
The tomb was opened by slim white hands.
A beaten body shimmered.
Outside, guards were cursing for fear
while the Roman Centurion in his dark tent
suckled on the breast of a Hebrew whore.
Wise Innocence walked out
with daylight in His face,
with the full moon in His eyes,
and dying night became luminous
Before their cold, war-hardened eyes
He disappeared like dew
into the heat of God...
until Mary came,
the seven-deviled Mary
whom the Lord had loved,
and a gardener whispered, "Mary..."
No one else could speak her name
with such a quiet passion of love...
It was a serious war,
so the Child couldn't laugh yet,
but He showed her His torn wrists saying,
"See here what the darkness did."
And His eyes held the joke of it
and all the tragedies
of ten thousand years.
So she wept at the beauty
and ran to tell His disciples
to wake up.
THERE IS A RICHNESS OF VISION
(Listen to Reading from Wild Sanity CD)
as the heart softens, as the mind opens.
"Grow into a better vision," God seems to say,
"And, play in it!"
Jesus came. The man stood like a flame of God,
His eyes clear with the clarity of His own Spirit.
God shone through! Everybody saw it,
(though not all believed even then in the light.)
Still, grace and truth flooded out!
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is
is spontaneity of outflow."
So said St. Paul, though translators
missed the implications.
"And Wisdom played in the earth,"
was an old Jewish proverb.
Here wisdom stood as a full and free man:
He shone with the light that births and becomes
and bore His freedom like a lover should.
His words were to the souls and the spirit of the people
when He worked to illuminate the people.
But when He was alone, (I believe this in my heart),
He bellowed his words, and roared His words,
and rang and sang His words,
soaring them out to touch the stars,
until they fell back down like rain
to swallow up animals in the wilderness
with rich, honeyed light.
He spoke in the night to the fish of the darkened sea,
and their scales glistened with His voice.
Glimmering fish sang silently His silvery words
in the morning's first light
as they were gathered into nets.
And their words to the fishermen were,
"Sons of men, you are loved!"
Even as the fish were gutted
and thrown roughly on the decks,
the light of His voice still shown
in their pearl-like eyes.
Everything was then a flaming word
of this man's word
in a richness of vision which grew
as hearts softened, as minds opened.
And for those who could see it,
for a brief season,
all common things
shouted and danced!
THE WILD CHRIST
I surrender to an infinite Christ...
not a local, owned version,
but a spontaneous sanity of silence
who makes the Pleiades burn
in utterly pure flame:
who smears the orange chalk of the sun
all over the leaves and bodies of the trees;
who rides careening clouds, like gray ponies
prancing down wild rivers of wind;
who changes breezes into His angels
to whisper a spacious laugh of liberty;
who puts a silver moistness in dark valleys,
a seep between mountains
where the wild ones drink;
who cherishes birds
so passionately from the inside
they have to sing!;
who swells succulent grasses
for the white teeth of cattle;
who breathes life into a sullen bear
and sucks it out again
when those dark, simmering eyes
cease to burn;
who makes pear trees
drip slow, golden bodies
for the juice of the sun;
who seduces water into wine
in every grape of the world
to celebrate a perpetual wedding feast;
who makes the human heart
like a candle in meditation
to spout through it words
as sputters of flame in a wind—
to sing his own wonder
at the infinite plentitude
of Wisdom's everywhere wise,
spontaneous lush of being.
This is the wild Christ no one can tame!
This is the new,