Tuesday, June 5, 2007


The deeper I look into this vastness

that doesn’t know me,

this abyss that reeks of time,

this space that contains the space that contains the stars,

to assess what I am and what I am not

and whether there’s a distinction to be made at all,

and why it should matter

this commingled vapour of dream and desire,

this jewel of blood and water

I hold up to the light of my own mind like the moon in eclipse,

this palatte of sky

that mixes my thoughts and emotions endlessly

in an attempt to paint an eye

that might recognize me

as the fruit of its own seeing,

so much feels like folly,

so much feels absurd,

the casual indictment

of an unknown sublimity

that follows me like a map

into the strictest deserts

where my flowing atones for its trespass

in a rootless stasis of salt.

Like a threshold

I am the infraction of a mode of obedience

that has always been true to me.

I am the flower of fire

and I am the dragonfly heretic

that burns therein

until the flames turn into wings,

and if I look deeply enough into myself,

I think I might come to know you, my otherness,

as if you were more intimate

than the water of my own blood and breath;

I think I might know if we labour in vain

against the unabatable seizures of death

to adorn each other in our solitude,

to live and know and enhance one another

as if the planet had only one pulse,

and we were all transplant recipients

of the same vital organ

of the same crucial, unknown donor that sustains us,

that our irreplicable uniqueness

is the myriad of one

that accords us each a face

that reflects the all in the all

like a sky

that fits itself to a drop of water like skin

that none might be made small,

that their fairest features

might be the nights and the days,

the stars, and the moon and the sun,

and the tears that fall to the roots of everyone,

and taste of tenderness, joy, remorse, and grief,

taste of long, lonely vigils at hopeless windows

that felt the smear of our reflections

sag with longing as the night wore on,

and the theatre closed

and the ripped tickets

blew down the abandoned streets like blossoms,

and the stars buzzed like allnight marquees

that featured our love, our violence, our fear and our despair

as we grew weary of the incalculable odds

of finding one open door

among the improbable gods who wouldn’t receive us.

I want to know that my life

is more than just mud that I’ve tracked into the house,

and when you turn around,

having tried the door,

and die like a candle in yourself,

and though I don’t know who I am,

where I’m going, what I’ve been

or what will become of us in the next scene,

when you turn around,

forfeiting yourself like a shadow

to the subsuming darkness that effaces you,

I want you to find me standing there

with the resolve of a sundial at midnight

and a bouquet of smiles

I stole from your garden;

and a heart that is astonished

like an impoverished whisper

on the road late at night

by the eloquence of your profusion.

If I have listened like a man

trying to overhear what he says in sleep,

or if I have awoken from the dream

only to find I’ve been following the footprints

of someone I left behind,

a sleuth of the wind

covering its own tracks

in an ocean of air,

and the only evidence of me

the forensic offerings

of the endless ongoing

of an inconclusive tide;

and all that can plead for me now

is a hung jury of sequestered stars,

and this silence that waits to be called like the night

away from its dark reverie

is my only character-witness, still,

no one can say

that the sin of being me was selfish,

that all the folly of a lifetime

wasn’t the spontaneous gesture

of a compassionate clown

who painted a tear under his eye

and a smile on his lips

as if the portrait he painted in joy and sorrow were yours,

as if the likeness that concealed his heart

to charm a child

were everyone’s.



The leaf is its own map

as the urgent light of the star to the west

of this lonely, dark, shadow-slashed road

is its own way home,

and the wind might blow where it will

and the radiance yearn in all directions

for a threshold as wide as the journey is long

so that everywhere their wandering

is the vagrant host of the home they’ve never left,

and I may well be like that,

but the way that takes me

is a different order of space

than the one you can be found and lost in.

The here of this place is forever now,

and the wind and the flowing stream

do not taste of the stars of the night before,

and when the roses and the orchids and the waterlilies burn,

and the sky catches flame

the blood releases its black horses,

and the heart cries out in its agony to no one at all

it’s not the weathervane

of a prophetic skull,

and every word

turns into a fish

looking for a lifeboat on the bottom,

and my thoughts are cast like nets

across the tides of my emotions

and the temple I loved in lieu of a goddess

turns out to be a shipwreck on the moon,

and I am no more the darling of my favourite delusions,

and if I catch anything

on the lure of a question

that presses through my flesh

like the silver hook of the moon,

I’m sure to throw it back dead.



Not even the repose of ashes

in these desolations of rock

that mourn the last bells

of their unwept metals.

And the reappearance of the full moon

above the sodden, black hills

too old to be shaken by a storm,

is not a greater wonder

than its shattered afterlife

under the falling chandeliers of the rain

confiding the beauty of their wholeness to the broken.

Is there any silver in the ore of the heart

I could pour out of the crucible of this igneous dream

to upgrade the lustre of its shining,

and like the moon,

conform it to my solitude?

I will not add my adage to the woods

in a cumbersome ceremony of expired tokens

and expect to redeem the goddess in her grove.

Until you scoop the moon like cool water

from the fires of your body

love is an abstract thing.

Patch whatever you will together

from the junkyards and fleamarkets

that have rummaged last autumn along the shore,

or open your heart like a grave-robber

and plunder your own remains,

however you bind it, it’s not

a chrysalis, a house of transformation

until something alive and propitious crawls in

and deep in the silence of the mutative dark

stirs the worm to long for the dragon

the moon confers on a cradle of wings.

All creation by man and Satan cursed

condemned to sip blood and snakeoil

as a cure for themselves

from the same long blue spoon of the sky,

though the one doesn’t make the day brighter

nor the other the night darker,

are we not bonded in our repudiation by the same interdict,

are we not mothered by the same hopelessness,

the moon melting on our tongue

like an unblessed wafer

that we might cry out in our delirium

that the fevered earth

we won like a bride by default

is the only fire of resurrection in our veins

and among these spires

that have been braced to impale us

to the grim predilictions

of havoc and chaos to come,

even if the silks of insight

are spun into needles

to afflict the night upon her like a wound,

even if the worst of sorrows are never terminal,

and life itself spurn us like a carcasse,

and prove the sternest of all denials,

and the evangelical fathers of war

beget the evangelical sons of war

to rape her like a holy book

and burn her like a poem,

even if fire should scream in its own burning,

and water die in a waste of itself,

and the stars and flowers

above and below us

wander aimlessly

through the infinite labyrinths of our derangement

and the cosmos unsheathe

the black crescent of chaos

to strike our heads off

like the beads of a broken rosary,

she who has come to our deserted beds

and like the lips of a well

lowered us into her depths

that we might drink from the mystery

of blue waterlilies blooming on the tars of hell

in a riot of unnamed constellations,

each the supple vagrant of its own myth,

compiled like a whisper of rain in the darkness,

untouched by the blighted word

that corrupts the stars above,

is, even in hell,

even in the rubble of this better world,

even in the crippled doorway

of the refugee heart

that carries the corpse of its daughter

like a bride of ashes across the threshold

of a house she will never enter,

of a future that appalls even the black art of the silence

to hold its tongue

like a headstone left speechless

on the precipice

of the inconceivable vastness of the grave,

the torn breath

that gapes like trust

in the eyes of a murdered child,

the inconsolable space left by the fallen petal

of the missing hour

at the round table

in the fable of the flower, she, forever, she,

she alone is the black rose in our blood,

the unsayable paramour of our thorns

that sheds herself like the moon

at the foot of the crosses

we have raised

to pin her lovers in the haloes of our gunsights,

and wash the gore of the world

off the horns of her poets like rain.



The object of our devotion

finally asks from us

the very eyes that dazzled us into obedience,

and leads us like a wind,

the last breath we’ll ever take,

in the guise of a woman

who beckons at the top of the stairwells and thermals

where the hawk wheels,

a spark of the sun,

to follow her down deeper into a darkness

that even the dead shun

like the deleted shadows of noon,

if I would be her perfect lover.

If I would be her perfect lover,

and the fever of my demon

not go mad looking for her

like water on the moon

to ease the fire, ease the fire

that blazes in my bones,

I must abdicate my consummation

in the intimate otherness of me

and forfeit my eyes

to the deathly absence of the sea

that has unmoored me like a wave.

If I would be her perfect lover

and lift the veil

to see the face she only shows the stars,

I must take myself down

like a torn sail in a storm

and let the current heave me where it will,

the lonely word whose endless sentence is a soul.

I must say her beauty,

I must root her flower in the starfields

and vanguish time from the garden;

if I would be her perfect lover,

I must enlarge my emptiness like space

to linger with the subtle fragrances

of the silks and auroras of her mind

that blow the stars around like dust

and pick the galaxies like dandelions

and raise them like suns above the streaming skylines of her hair

flowing out behind her, the wake of a waterbird

landing like a blossom, the moon, a wing-weary emotion

on the night sky

she keeps to herself

when she bathes alone in the milk of the undulant light

on the other side of her eyes.

If I would be her perfect lover,

and my heart, and my blood,

my mind and my spirit, my art,

this poem says I must

give up this busy corner in the passing world

where my voice

rows and rows

in the leaking lifeboat of an empty coffin

and the guitar in my arms

I’ve tuned to the furthest stars

who have looked the longest

and were the first to believe

their fire could live,

is a rudder on the wind;

if I would be her perfect lover I must leave

my constellation and my bleeding throne,

this courtyard of pleading gravestones

modelling for the dead they’ve made a trend of,

and taking off the polluted water-robe

I wore to my last coronation like an atmosphere,

breathe myself out,

the vapour of a dying candle,

and enter the darkness and the solitude and the silence,

slipping like the pollen of a many-petalled theme

into the alloy of a sweeter dream

than ever slept like honey

in the labyrinths of her hive.

If I would be her perfect lover,

I must not amass her private thresholds with my need

like autumns and autumns of junkmail

banked against her door,

nor implore her to patch like an oracular island

the wounded sails of my ongoing shipwreck

by threading my blood

through the needle in the eye of the siren

I came in on like an abandoned message in a bottle

allured by the tides of her song;

I must not wire myself like spam

and blow up like a holy war

vying for grace

and weighing her place like a feather

in the scales of an insurgent creed,

a star gone nova among the stars,

bury her alive and shining

in the black hole

of the afterlife I am.

If I would be her perfect lover,

if I would be her perfect lover,

if I would be her perfect lover

and old bones screech like owls of chalk across the night,

their talons sheathed

like the thorns and swords of the sun

behind the capes of her roses,

and the matador ungored

by the horns of her crescents

on the bull of the moon; if

old bones would blossom

and the dead branch leaf,

the crutch and the baton and the scuttled coffin

would marrow the dry wood

with the urgencies of the orchards again,

then I must heed the wine

and not the snake in the goblet

she pours out of me like music.

I must not labour in the occult mines

of her diamond infallibilities

like a floodlight

that makes everything blindingly clear,

if I would be her perfect lover

and see how she glows by her own light

in the darkness of her own depths

like a fish or a firefly or a vine

or the flame of a star

tending the brittle wicks of the blind

as if they were the tendrils of a supple candle

and not the black monks of a lifeless paradigm

that flares without light

like the hood of a cobra

that’s sloughed its last eclipse.

Remember, my heart, how thin the moon is

and not rub it away like white-gold

at the snap of a thumb and finger

but lay it down gently like a kiss on dark water

like the skin of an eye,

the flake of the watergilder,

the first precious breath of your longing

to shake the abyss of the darkness inside

like a white dove at a black window,

if you would be her perfect lover.

And you, my voice, you must become a journey

to what is far and out of reach,

and make boats and birds

of the worn-out shoes of your words

and learn to fly like the barefoot wind

with stars and wings at your heels,

and take down those old bells

that have withered on the bough like apples

and set the seed free from the corpse

and sing like the first of the dead

to sire the living. Not enough

to say your love; you must listen, deeply listen

to the silence within you

that burns like a flame

in the night crown of the lily

and draws you to it

like a gypsy out of the shadows

and know the thread of the candle is the length of a life

that binds the flesh to its own consumption

and you must enter wholly

into your own immolation like a star in the sun

or beg forever at the gates of the fire

like a snake for a mother tongue

that isn’t the rearing hiss

of a forsaken bliss,

if you would be her perfect lover.

And you, my body, are you not a flower

rooted in the greater wisdom of the devil

but decked out in the feathers

of an earthbound angel; sometimes

a great volcanic rose

that sheds its igneous petals like islands

and covers the villages on its slopes

under eyelids of ash like a dream

that won’t awake for eras

to the curiosity of the shovels that exhume the agony

of being buried alive in yourself like an underground fire

moving from root to root like frustrated desire?

What prophet could stand

at the door of your furnace

like a school janitor on a winter morning

and do anything more than add fire to fire

by admonishing your rage

with the strap of his tongue?

O you who have sustained me like a road, like blood,

and never asked where we were going,

who have endured me like a wound

beyond your healing for years,

and never left my bedside,

what an unacknowledged sage you have been

to temper the hot iron of all these celestial blades

that rise like the grass of heaven

out of these deserts and deserts of stars

at the mere whisper

of the shadow of the mahdi at noon

drawing the first crescent of the new moon from his scabbard;

what wisdom to temper the spirit

like a horse of blood

in the cool troughs

of hunger, desire, and sleep. You have been

water and air and bread on the moon for me,

and led me to the tree

I could sit under in the shade

of a woman in blossom

who smiled like the wile of the wine

in the hand of the stranger

who has worn my features

as I have his

like the inside of a face

turned toward its own light,

that’s never known a mirror.

What could I possibly say to you

who are the branch

of my eloquent leafing except

remember, remember,

when you ache with empires,

that all these worlds within worlds as all worlds must

will end like squalls of dust

at her threshold,

and when we’re colder than a windowpane

it will be her breath that moves us like a glacier to tears,

and on her windowsill

where we linger with the dead leaves of an unwatered art,

a patina of dark matter among the new lucidities,

new myths fleshing the bones of the constellations

they throw across the sky to prophecy

the things that shall be and the things that shall not,

it will be her finger that traces the words

that will scatter us again

like birds of the morning in a gust of light,

and it will be the sky that clings to her eye

that we will walk under like a figure in a dream

disembodied by the night

looking for any sign of ourselves

like faces we once lost to the stream

when we danced with her

under the chandeliers of the cherries

and she were the whole of our theme,

if you would be her perfect lover

and not just another king of quicksand

sinking on the throne of his own domain.

And as to the spirit, as to that ambidextrous sleight of the light

that gnashes its teeth

like lightning in a cloud

until it flame out like revelation

from the eye of God

and glimpse the ocean of its own vast features

in the merest scintillance of the furthest star

arcing like the tongue of a serpent of light

in the darkest depths of its own unscrutability;

who could say anything about its origins

that doesn’t drown the listener

in the widening wake of the wind?

Most of the world goes on like a secret;

and what do we ever know

but the little bit of ourselves

we overhear amid the clamour,

shadows through a keyhole,

people breaking like twigs on the pathway behind us?

But the secret of one is the spirit of all,

the same finger of silence held up to myriad lips,

so there’s no need to lament

we’re not in on it

when it’s the secret itself that leads us to see,

a firefly in a valley of mist,

that the best place to hide is out in the open

with everyone else. How many times, my spirit,

washed away in a dark tide

that’s never known an island,

have you come looking for me like a dolphin,

and found me

and nudged me back into the vine-covered lifeboat of the world?

Life is the mother of death

who gave up her own

in giving birth to it,

but you are unborn and unperishing

and your deepest joy is playing

freely alone in the world you array

like the nations of rocks and stars and willows

spread across the hills

where you bed for the night to dream

of the mornings that have yet to come upon you

like clarity to an uncertain lover.

What shadow of a star,

what radiance on the mindstream,

could spar with your flamboyance,

when you are the fire, you are the breath

that crazes my delusions like a poet

into this body of burnished gold

you have raised like lead

from the coffin of a seed long buried

in the fertile valleys of the book of the dead?

And yet and yet and yet

if I were to be her perfect lover,

you must not imperil the night

with deeper dangers and ordeals

than I have the courage to requite

when the daylily fails

and the light is breached in the wombs of my sails

and I wait for you like the premium

on all these returnable grails

to fill me again with the quest

for the coast of a spiritual rumour

that thrives and confides in itself like a woman

far to the west of the world’s disclaimer

there are no more continents to risk.

You, more than all, my fleetness, my caul,

the kite and comet of my fall to paradise

when you’re the voice in the fire

that speaks to me in tongues,

or scarfing the air with phantoms

from the eye of the sacred lake

whose holiest dream is the loneliest bird

of a free imagination, you must

seep like water at night through her roots

as she’s closed up in her flower

and summon the radiance of your lightning

to flash from her tears

when she mourns for herself in the night

like a lost earring,

if I would be her perfect lover.

If I would be her perfect lover,

you must not rise and abase yourself

like the suppliant sun and the sky

that touch their foreheads,

facing west,

to the earth she walks upon,

huddled like wildflowers in the dying light;

you must do this for me, my spirit, my starfeather,

you must weave the subtlest silk of your radiance

on the looms of the space that surrounds her

like the master spider behind a Persian rug

into a vision of life

where the beauty of things that must fly

doesn’t evaporate like a mirage of water

in a desert eye,

and the lie between the parentheses of the moon

has no fangs,

and the stars don’t burn underfoot,

and the allnight windows aren’t widows of glass,

and love isn’t the maiden voyage of a flagship

that lowers its pennant of blood on the bottom,

when the sea smashes its bottle against the scuttled prow.

You must befriend her solitude without intrusion,

you must be everywhere an open gate,

the wings of the crow and the dove

that are hinged to the days and nights of her passing,

and in everything, in the rock, in the rain,

in the small nugget of the bird

that beats like a heart in the dark,

there must be a whisper of stars,

the suggestion of another world

breathing in the shadows of the lanterns of this

like a door left ajar for the night,

where the dark lucidities

that hang their weary bells in the lost groves

of the shrines she’s fled

like divinity from its likeness,

by morning,

are the first words of the light

to begin these worlds within worlds anew,

if I would be her perfect lover,

and drawing myself out like a sword of water

from the wound of my oceanic view,

sucuumb like a wave on the shore of the island I belong to,

you must be, as you have been to me,

the earthly excellence that abides

in every starbound breath of what the world can mean

when the sails that enter the bay of the rose

like the leaves of a distant lover

are truer than green.