Forbidden Poetry

Four poems by psychotherapist Jennifer Welwood


Willing to experience aloneness,
I discover connection everywhere;
Turning to face my fear,
I meet the warrior who lives within;
Opening to my loss,
I gain the embrace of the universe;
Surrendering into emptiness,
I find fullness without end.

Each condition I flee from pursues me,
Each condition I welcome transforms me
And becomes itself transformed
Into its radiant jewel-like essence.
I bow to the one who has made it so,
Who has crafted this Master Game;
To play it is pure delight,
To honor its form true devotion,


My friends, let's grow up.
Let's stop pretending we don't know the deal here.
Or if we truly haven't noticed, let's wake up and notice.
Look: everything that can be lost, will be lost.
It's simple--how could we have missed it for so long?
Let's grieve our losses fully, like ripe human beings,
But please, let's not be so shocked by them.
Let's not act so betrayed,
As though life had broken her secret promise to us.
Impermanence is life's only promise to us,
And she keeps it with ruthless impeccability.
To a child she seems cruel, but she is only wild,
And her compassion is exquisitely precise:
Brilliantly penetrating, luminous with truth,
She strips away the unreal to show us the real.
This is the true ride -- let's give ourselves to it!
Let's stop making deals for a safe passage:
There isn't one anyway, and the cost is too high.
We are not children any more.
The true human adult gives everything for what cannot be lost.
Let's dance the wild dance of no hope!


You gave me a heart that ignites
In the passionate knowing of you,
And having burned in that heat
Is not drawn to lesser fires.

You gave me a mind that expands
To encounter your vastness,
And finds in those fathomless depths
Its own luminous nature.

You gave me a soul that won't rest
With any barrier to you,
Be it heavy and dense
Or gossamer as a veil.

You gave me an old structure
Made up of my history;
It is heavy and dense,
It is gossamer as a veil.

I meet it, allow it, explore it
And still it grinds on,
A machine that relentlessly churns out
Old patterns and tendencies.

I embrace it, dissolve it, release it --
Still it keeps reincarnating,
Rising up from some ancient template
Held deep in my bones.

I don't begrudge you your sense of humor,
Beloved trickster,
But I do wonder, now and then,
What you have in mind.

Did you make me to realize a freedom
I can't fully embody?
Do my heart and soul burn for a truth
That I can't fully live?

I commune with you in the heavens --
It's not hard to find you there;
But I need you down here,
In the marrow of my bones.

You can't turn away now -- stay here;
I will have this out with you.
You started something with me,
And now I want it finished.
Yes -- I will wrestle with you on this one,
Beloved torturer;
I will wrestle you all the way down
To the very ground

And not rest till I stand
With the soles of my feet upon you,
And not rest till I feel you infuse
My every cell.


My soul said to me, there is suffering,
And she led me into the dark lands,

Deep into the darkness without a light; She trained me in all the ardors
Of opening to the darkness,
And of waiting, without hope, in the darkest night.

My soul said to me, there is suffering,
And stripped away my robe of glory;
She stripped away my very flesh, and then my bones;
She said, feel deeply now into the emptiness,
Learn all it has to teach you,
But first abandon any dream of going home.

My soul said to me, you are opened now --
I have made your heart transparent;
She descended then, like a queen who claims her throne;
And she blazed forth with a radiance
That illumined all the darkness,
And I knew myself at last, and all was home.

My soul said to me, I am the light
That brings an end to suffering;
I am the mystic star that portends the mystic birth.
I enter matter to redeem her,
Falling down into the darkness;
Now I awaken in your heart and walk the earth.

My soul said to me, will you serve now?
I would make of you a vessel;
There is suffering, so many beings lost and alone.
In tears I answered, how can you ask me this,
As though I could refuse you,
As though my every cell were not your own.

My soul said to me, I will carry you,
For your journey is far from over,
But from here your every step belongs to me;
I will guide you and sustain you,
Transform you and act through you,
And not cease until every being is free.