April 24, 2017

Dane Cervine

THE GURU

When police broke into his room
at the famous Oregon ashram
after reports of guns, abuse, political threats,
he sighed: At last, I don’t have to pretend to be enlightened.
Put down the hashish, turned off the video player,
surrendered. Movies and drugs

his constant companion for years
when not lauded as God by his devotees,
waving from one of his many Rolls-Royces
during afternoon drives along the ashram roads,
or moving silky among women
in ecstatic Kundalini dances,
reaching beneath their purple robes
to caress the nipples on their breasts,
raise them to heaven. I had all his books,

was seduced by his message that life was easy
if you let it be. When my Berkeley girlfriend turned up
in a purple robe with the guru’s little face
dangling from the wooden beads around her neck,
I surrendered too because I wanted to still sleep with her.
And believe him, about life’s mysterious ease.
But it didn’t last,

the girlfriend nor the guru. Years later,
grappling with lost bliss, I wondered what went wrong.
He was a good guru, she was a good lover.
At what point, when you’re somebody’s god,
do you begin poisoning the town well, bring in machine guns,
just beg the police to end it all.

from Rattle #55, Spring 2017
Tribute to Civil Servants

[download audio]

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Dane Cervine: “I worked for three decades as a therapist and director in the county mental health system in California, much of it as Chief of Children’s Mental Health in Santa Cruz where I was responsible for a ‘system of care’ that linked services with probation, child welfare, substance abuse services, and education. Like the ancient Chinese bureaucrats who balanced administrative life with poetry and the arts, I’ve always relied on each to balance the other in my own professional career. At times, I’ve written and published poems with an overt focus on issues that have arisen during the course of my civil service, as well as included client poems and stories in my annual report to the board of supervisors, and the state of California. Often though, it is simply a way to work out of both hemispheres in my brain—bring a bit of lyricism to civil service, and a bit of social justice and mental health awareness to my poetry.” (website)