I just finished Turn Up the River, written as he was dying of cancer, published posthumously. It has some terrific poems in it, including this one:
On Why I Must Decline To Receive The Prayers You Say You Are Constantly Sending
Because first of all, I have a feeling that they didn’t cost you anything, and so I have to wonder: What is their actual market value? For you, is the prayer like a radar-guided projectile mounted on the hinged-together wings of several good intentions, propelled by the flawed translation of a Rumi poem? Anyway, my mailbox is already pretty much occupied for the season. At the beginning of May a big mother wren started moving in, one mouthful of straw and twig at a time. For three days she flew in and out, in and out and in, building a nest the size of a small soup bowl. Then she sat on her eggs for two weeks, cooing and fluffing to keep them warm. Then she was busy feeding her young. I think the heat passing through that mother’s body into her brood has already surpassed the endoplasmic vibrational voltage you’ve mentioned as a feature of the prayers you are sending me. I understand that you are doing your best to hoist yourself up toward a spiritual life, even if it is through the doorway of a kind of pretending. But if you really care, as you claim, please will you kindly sit down and work your shit out? Stop stealing reality from the world and replacing it with make-believe! The newspaper says that poorly aimed prayers are causing flat tires on I-25. The sandalwood incense blowing across the valley is already causing cab drivers a lot of allergies. So sit still and just look at the colors of the changing sky. And could you stop burning so many candles, please? My god, think how many hours and hours and hours — think of how hard those bees worked to make all that wax!