“Are you Christian Shanti?”



“I’m not Christian”

“you mean you don’t believe in God?

…then, what are you?”

“I have a lot to say about that.”

but at this time I’ll be anything.

all religions are the same.

all rituals are the same.

all languages are the same.

all traditions are the same.

Look closely.

feel deeply.

forget the form,

immerse yourself in the essence.

it’s all the same.

I pray for my god

and your God will hear me.

Pray to your Mighty One

and we all listen.

Speak with the creator

and we all become into the same.

Am I Christian?

is Matthew a Saint? Is Peter?

who is Mary?

what about the baby?

is Allah a vowel?

two syllables?

is He a sound?

is it “uuuuu…”

or is it “aoum”?

Am I a Jew?

Do Gypsies have a religion?

do they just steal and create music,

the envy of all traditions?

Had I stepped on the Taurus Mountains

many times before?

did I dance on fire in Rajasthan?

was my best friend a Mongolian wild horse

that tamed me?

Is Allah my brother?

What about the calendars?

the Gregorian

Aztec or Mexica?

the time frames?

the mind games?

Did I first speak Sanskrit

or Roman letters gathered my tongue

into Latin memory

as marble sprung from

my hands into sculptures

I fathom?

Was it Turkic

or Rumanich

did I fiddle

or waltz my way

down the Bering Strait?

Did I laugh with Buddha

as we spoke Chinese?

or did I remove the nails

from The Cross?

I remember dancing for all the deities

before they were conceived.

There were many of us.

we made their altars

out of mud

and brick

we gathered stones

huge stones

light ones

that then became heavy with time.

people wonder

how we got them there

they were ten fold our size.

We burned herbs

as gifts for the wind

sweet smells

for the atoms to breathe

dense smoke

where the cells could bounce

like dance

a joy

for us to know.

The deities flew in

from the four corners

all birds migrating and none

all animals four legged with

and without tails

And now

as missiles fly

bullets trespass

as blood pools

cover dry lands,

since religion

is invented

there’s a reason

for the demented

to bully…

…all other

are mere ‘peace loving fools’.

Yes, I am Christian

I am Muslim

and Jewish

my blood is pure gypsy

I’m part Indian you know

from this land

and East land

I’m Hindu


Apparently sikh

and pagan,

jain and orthodox

when I wander I’m a savage

like a leaf

a flushing river

a branch in the forest for ever

I’m anything that worships life

and the living

I’m all for all organisms


the wind in the wood flute

the beat in the drum

a ripple in the water

Your god if you need me

I’ll listen

and through me, all gods will listen

and through you, all gods are breathing

and through us, life is registering

in its stones

on its land

in the wind

inside its waters

in every molecule

life is registering

the unwavering love

we all feel for our gods

life is listening

it’s all the same

any language

any color

is mere form

only living in the name of life

is true believing

Life is listening

that’s what I believe in.


As per a question from Clara Khudaversian November 29th, 2003, Montreal, Canada.

[First published in untitled, poems by shanti kumari johnson, Gyldan Edge Publishing LLC, 2005.]



shanti kumari johnson lives and works in Chicago.