This yogi in his dhoti in Benares

stood on one leg.

One outstretched palm kept ice from melting

while the other fried an egg

Wearing nothing but a turban and a mandala

he dwelt in a Frigidaire

eight months chewing a ginseng root.

They don’t need air.

They are not dependent on the variables

that generally maintain us.

They show the autonomic nervous system who is boss.

A yogi can suck water up his anus.

swallow Kleenex and pull it out his nose.

A woman with a yogi for a lover

said he never came too soon,

yet sitting in his lotus with his thoughts on God

could spurt all afternoon.

I never met a lady yogi, but I hear they menstruate

when they please.

A yogi never laughs without deciding,

nor does he sneeze.

He makes his heart beat fast or slow, depending

on mind, not glands.

his hiccups, sweat and pupil sizes

obey commands.

He farts at will and never apologizes.


As a boy I tried to suck my belly under

ribs till I saw my spine.

Though I never tried a rope or cobra, I played

my ocarina for some twine.

I pounded blunt ten penny nails through plywood

and would have lain on it, no doubt,

if I could have got my weight all in one motion 

evenly stretched out.

I wiggled my ears and pursed my sphincters,

crossing my eyes.

In school I sat with a stony gaze, engaged

in internal exercise.

But I surrendered as I aged

to the voluntary and involuntary

as discrete domains,

with uncontrollable regret enduring

riot in my veins,

incontinently wishing I could master

that skill or art

that could predict, if not manipulate,

the weather of my heart.

And yet my effort is no more to strengthen,

but to subdue my will,

to go through ego’s mirror and be whole.

Still you may see me sitting very still,

straining to throw off the mind’s control.


[from PUBLIC DOMAIN JUDSON JEROME published by Trunk Press, Hancock, Maryland, 1977.]