Saturday, June 9, 2007


I endorse other people’s attempts to love;

never my own,

accounting myself unloveable:

some perversity of childhood

that wants to square the moon,

an infernal-heretical aspect

too convivial with the blind watchman

at the nightgate

that has never been closed to anyone.

Long ago somehow I entered

like a black star on a pilgrimage

to the ancient shrines of the waterlilies,

hoping their ubiquitous openess

reserved a stair for my tribute

as well as that of the brighter lights

gathered more conventionally

into their tribal constellations.

I don’t know what fate I betoken,

but I must be the illegitimate son

of some kind of shining

or what are all these roses

that drowned like eclipses

doing in my blood,

pleading with me

to sever the threads

that sewed their eyelids shut

with a virgin needle?

I don’t know what women see

when they look at me

but I always feel like an oasis on the moon

on the dark side in the beginning

before heaven ruins everything

with the mythically-inflated protocol

of a pygmy on a dragon-throne

when I look at them.

Sometimes I’m bitter,

remembering all the beautiful mundanities

that were later transformed

into visionary terrors,

the indelible eternities

in a smear of lipstick on a kleenex

rumpled like an unseasonal lotus

on the kitchen table after she left,

the endearing love-letters that were folded

like the severing steel of a Damascene sword.

I can’t remember how many times

I cut my throat on the moon

before I learned to sing to myself in the dark

like a bird born without wings

or fought in the immaculate solitude

of my own igneous depths

not to loose faith with the dream in the wine

I drank like my own reflection

from an iron flower.

Too changed by the struggle

to claim I endured,

and fool I may be,

or irrelevantly listed among the ignorant,

but I still can’t concede

that joy is the preface

to a biography of scars

that aren’t worth the torment

of the delirium

that inks these fangs of light with life.

The mind is its own experience.

There is no self

to adjudicate the arraying of the world.

Is love any different?



Licking the blood off my claws

in a dark lair,

sharper than the dilated pupils

of an hypodermic snake,

I have answered for myself

like lightning answers the whispering rain.

Let the moon fall like an ax

on the napes of the distant hills,

or the constellations

that fall away eventually

like warped boards from the sky

rise delinquently.

I have transformed

the ox of understanding in my heart

into a bull that will no longer

be morally goaded

into grinding the corn of the villagers.

I wear their blood on my horn

like a red flag

and everywhere

their matadors lie wounded

among the blades and unpetalled plinths

of a shining that tastes

of an unprohecied eclipse.

The trouble with understanding

is that it gives birth to itself incommensurably

like a repeating decimal;

it breeds dilemmas that need to be understood.

Why replicate the matter

like some overworked gene

until you are nauseous with immortality

when one thrust of a horn, a fang, a claw,

the truth,

resolves the issue?

Civilization, morality, manners

are just scabbards,

however encrusted with jewels and philosophies

that sheath the sword of life

whose edges aren’t paginated like a book.

Sometimes there’s more mercy and clarity

in drawing the sword like a baton

than there is in a symphony of duelling scalpels.

Is it better to go deaf

when you’ve heard too much, blind

when you’ve seen enough?

Who blows out the flame to save their eyes

or cuts out their tongue as a retraction?

I am not the cornerstone

of a hospital for wounded delusions

nor the internal afflictions

that scar your afterlife

like cracks in the plaster of paradise.

And I can’t tell you who I am

because I don’t know.

Only a fool

would stop the river

to ask it if it flows.

How long has it been

since you’ve looked at your face

on the waters of a dream

and not seen the reflection of a scheme?

Haven’t you noticed those secrets

that won’t share your eyes with anyone else,

those things you’ve known since childhood

like the pets you buried in silence and lies

are wearing you for a disguise?




for Alysia

A subtle trick of the light

this tenderness in the dark

that felt like you last night,

the soft approach of your presence again

like waterbirds or distant smoke

feathering the flames and shadows of their wings

to answer me like the summons of a grove

in a high field,

to adorn me like a tree

whose finest fruit

is the heart that takes shelter in it

at the end of its long flight.

One pulse, one lifetime of knocking

on how many doors


just as you’re turning to walk away forever

one finally opens

like a star

or the last flower of autumn,

or your last letter.

Last night and this morning,

there arises an urgency of joy within me

that has made me shed my skin like an oilslick

and bloom like water

in the lucid upwelling

of a spirit that tastes of stars.

Every flower

is the promise of a bird to the wind

and every word has its seasons,

and the human voice very seldom more

than the trembling of grass in the rain,

and only the orchids have ears

that can hear the shadows,

and I am panicked by how little

I can say

and how much I want to express

these moments of you I keep discovering

under the sodden leaves

of last year’s passions and books.

If I could pull on a thread of air

to unravel the sky

and show you the stars that never age

bathing naked in their own light,

renewing their vows

to shine down on everything alike,

I would show you how

everywhere you walk in me

you are a garden without a gate,

a lifeboat of light

in the mystic dark

on a sea of love that thrives

with the creative eclipses and auroras of life

lifting this voice of stars

like morning veils from an unnamed lake.

I would show you a boy alone

trying to be brave about his fears

as he listens like a nightbird

to the approaching echoes

of an unknown eternity

growing louder in his bones.

You could watch him

fold his poems into paper-boats

and sail them across the eye of water

that opens all its eyelids at once like waves

on the resevoir of tears he never shed,

strange lilies born on the moon.

And from the shore of a neighbouring island

you could observe the wind and the gulls

performing their traditional sword-dance

with the warrior lighthouse of his deepest truth,

knowing the most he will ever illuminate

is the ultimate bluff of his own mind in endless space.

So dark and unknown and forever

the abyss that embraces

this firefly of life

that thinks it’s a star

in the infinite folds of its boundlessness.

There is no form to the mind

we can worship like a faithful god

except the masks of the moment

even as they’re peeled away

to reveal the face of our own mortality.

And who could count

the faces of the goddess

that blow like Japanese plum tree blossoms

along the road that continually leads us back

to a place we’ve never and always been?

Do you see how these drafts of awareness

weave these subtle webs of light

that are spun and torn

like river reeds in the star-riddled mindstream

on their own thorns

and how the moonlight

catches the fish at the bottom

with the flash of its silver hook?

And at times

it’s the undiscoverable north

of the lonely pathos of being human

that makes me feel

there are so many places I go

that are so abandoned and mine

that no one can find me,

so forsaken of every hint of me

that it’s enough of a lantern in these barrens

to make out your face in the distance,

trying to look for me

like the moon peering over the hills

into her own lost reflection.

Or I feel the night

pressing its lips against mine

and know it’s you.

I’ve never seen the goblet that holds it

but for two years now

I have been drunk on your wine

like a man with room to celebrate,

passionately singing

under the healing willow

that pours itself out like you.

When your love whispers to me

it’s always the flavour of space

and I am astonished by what I see

in a glimpse of the lightning

in the iris of your eye.

Your letters have arrived

like the petals of a hidden rose

shedding itself like the phases of the moon

on dark waters

and I have bent and tenderly kissed each

that I might be the grain of sand

that pearls the night in the eyes

of your most beautiful dreams.

And like the rain

that roots the stars,

cuttings of light it took

from an intimate language

older than anything I could ever mean

in my book of windows,

when you weep

it’s not salt and water

but the light itself

that wells up and runs from my eyes

to flint your tears with marvels of protean fire

whose very ashes

are the constituent bliss of a world

and whose chief joy

is to surpass its own understanding

as I do on this ladder of thresholds

I lean against the highest walls

in a sudden siege of unbesiegable heaven

every time I hear from you.



for the muse

The secret of your beauty told

would be to understand God.

To know you as you are

would be an eternal beginning.

And the pain that I have suffered

pursuing you through everything

though you were everywhere like space,

is the dark ecstasy

of following my own blood back

to your heart.

Late autumn now

and even the fires of the leaves

have conceded to the deeper dream

of the serpent that sleeps in the root,

having burnt their books.

I have grown old

trying to substantiate shadows,

wearing these tatters of light like skin.

And the solitude

is the holy apprentice of time,

but I have mastered

the excruciating discipline

of remaining true,

though I perished in the transformation,

to the eloquent folly

of loving you

like a tongueless bell

that no word has ever sounded

in the abyss of the silence.

To encounter you

is to long for life

like an empty boat

drifting toward a voice in the fog.

Infinite the times

I’ve said I do

and you wore the world for a wedding-dress,

and every poem I’ve ever written,

the lifting of one of your veils.



If you know how to live

you can live more in the name of a little

than you can in the name of much.

The autumn windfall of the great tree

first aspired in the seed

whose ultimate achievement was always itself.

When the world stops being solid

and turns real,

when space thaws

and the glass tears you shed

like chandeliers

of fanatical water

are restored like jewels to a crown,

stars to the afterlife of a legend,

you can walk on the holy book

of the fallen leaves

without giving offense,

you can rise in the morning

like a throne for the homeless.

I have overcome the illusion

of knowing who I am

and when I look at the better part

of the sixty years behind me,

they’re a maze of gates

I left open

when I wandered out of the yard forever.

Now I don’t know

who this is, or where, or when

and there’s a big keyhole in space

where my face used to be

and even my blood flows and unwinds

as if it were being washed away in the rain.

I’ve always felt

there was a flower or a planet within me

trying to bloom,

an opalescent effulgence of light

urging me more expansively into the open

until I disappear like a bird

into the abyss

without beginning and end

that drives the stars

beyond their thresholds of shining

to turn their wands of light upon themselves

and open their eyes like waterlilies

to the mystery of their own radiance.

Sometimes just being here

is so much of nothing

I am silently astounded

by the dark abundance of the emptiness.

The hearing is not in the ear,

the seeing is not in the eye,

and the saying is not in the voice,

and whether you take

wine or water or fire for a guide,

you will never find your spirit

in this leaking bag of a body

until you blow out the lantern

of the nightwatchman

who keeps looking for you like a thief.



Not to be practical, not

to mean, be, do,

no more than the wind

to insist upon itself, to

move like the wind,

like a disembodied intelligence

over the mindfields

practising the twin disciplines

of light and rain,

scattering the mystic pollen

of intuitive seeds

that bloom like roseate fire

in the shadowless gardens of the abyss

arranging the cosmos like a wild bouquet

in the blood vase of the human heart.

To remind us

we’re not fireflies or stars

stuck on a chromosome

of intellectual flypaper,

a buzzing that will stop,

but a passion of native iron

in the arms of alien oxygen,

urged into creative consummation

by carbon.

Free as water, free as God

the night she put the universe on

like make-up

to attend to the beginning of everything

with a cosmic effloresence of fireworks,

to speak for the stones, the stars, the trees,

to say them into being,

to say us, to whisper us

into the enormity of her solitude,

the inconceivability of her darkness,

a secret she couldn’t keep anymore.

Experience is a child playing,

not function, not a job, not a career.

What’s practical about singing alone

because the mysterious nightbird

has come like a blossom of joy

to the bough of the tree in winter?

Or must dancing have a use,

music be enchained to the stone ear of utility?

Bleeding isn’t very practical either

but how would you ever know

you were a rose scarred by your own thorns

if you didn’t?

Sooner renounce the sweetness

of the star-flavoured summer night air

or teach the wind a compass and a map,

the sky to consult a control tower

than try to grind the stars of poetry

with a stone and an ox

into a function and a fee.

The wages of poetry are always a gift

that takes the recipient by surprise

with the beauty of its subtlety

and a coin as true as the moon.

Who asks to be paid

to dance alone with God?

And even the abyss

has provided you with a world

like a passport to anywhere you want to go.

Among the birds and the leaves

flowing along with this pilgrimage of stars

to shrines that are older than knowing,

if the sun or the moon

should open your voice like a flower

in the deep woods

to hear you singing in the light,

and you are urged into poetry

through a gate as open as the cosmos,

and you discover colours have echoes

and the notes of your song

are a palatte of gardens,

and everything you paint with your picture-music

is the portrait of someone you’re becoming

until you look like everyone

from the inside out,

every passion

the longing of a planet

to burn with life,

and the deepest watershed of your humanity

is itself

the fountain

where the goddess drinks from her own reflection,

and you understand

that the word in the morning

is the word at the end of the day,

and that the life that adorns your body within

is the wine of the worlds

in a cup of clay

encrusted with stars

and you are the delirium the dream seeks,

the lightning and lucidity of the dark sage

your roots consult like a storm,

would you then look upon the first crescent of the moon

and try to fix it to a plough,

would you look forever

into the wells of now

like the eyes of a lover

who combs out the tresses of the willow like the wind

as if he played the whole of the night

on the blue guitar of your heart,

would you renounce the music as impractical?

To walk through this world aware,

with a spear of moonlight through your heart

like a poet, to feel

everything a human can feel

and have the courage and the art

to sing

the joys and sorrows,

the gardens and intimate hells alike

with compassion and understanding,

even when you often don’t understand

because the shadow of the world

eclipses your eyes,

or the windows are saturated with pain,

to be able to do that, to be that

is beyond assessing

because there is no intention to life

or the running of the river

or the unspooling of a poem

that conceives of its seeing as progress.

What the eye writes

on these pages of percipient sky

that reflect the world to a focus as us

is not a reality in advance

of the dream that shadows it.



When I’m alone

I want to be with someone,

and when I am with someone,

I’m twice as alone.

My unhappiness

is a snake-pit

I dangle my heart over

like a mouse by the tail

and when joy does show up,

a butterfly with resplendent wings,

it slowly adapts its palette

to the slag and soot and oilslicks

of the black orchard

shedding its petals everywhere

like micro-eclipses in hell.

And all the poems

I gathered like asters

from the autumn starfields,

all these skies that opened above me

as I walked down a long road alone

in darkness and light,

obedient to the wind and the shadows

that whispered move on, move on

beyond the journey and the arrival,

are merely a leaf,

a tatoo on the back

of a serpent of water

sliding downstream

like rain like mind in search of a course

that isn’t the cracked map

of last year’s dessicated creekbed.

My body is scarred; my heart

a voodoo doll

pierced by a thousand fangs

as it burns like a bee

in a rose of heretical fire

for refusing to turn my honey into venom

or conform to any magic but its own.

And there is no heaven

to appeal to as a last resort.

I endure what I endure

for the dignity

of my indefensible humanity,

knowing the pain

that sometimes turns my nerves

into stand-ins for the lightning

that keeps crackling my cosmic egg

like the paint of my last masterpiece,

also schools my blood like the wine

I pour out joyously

into the empty goblet of the mystery

whenever I host the moon.

Life is neither fair nor unfair

and the seeing, a vision, a poem

is always a bird

born and breaking free of your eyes

opening like a threshold

like a flower

like a crack of lightning,

like the world that hangs,

a veil of water,

from the ends of your eyelashs now.

Love is great, love is much, maybe all,

and the being here incomparable,

and the mystery always

whispering in a field beyond its own compass,

and the wind that tastes of birds,

and the light that tastes of flowers,

and the fountains of darkness

where God washes the stars off her face,

will always urge the extinguished branch

of an astonished pen

to blossom into a poet.

Are the dead any less creative

than the living?

If they don’t come from anywhere

how can you ask where they go?

If everything is the unborn energy

of a dancing god

with worlds in her blood

how can even a blade of grass perish?

This world, this life,

this ungraspable now of awareness

is the passion of a goddess, not a passing thought.

Beyond this riot of blessing and anathema,

this racket of loss and acquisition,

of birth and murder,

there is a silence

deeper than the space

between breaths,

an abyss without longing

that knows you from within

as the fire knows the flame,

or a woman,

the haste of her lover.

If you think you know something,

cast the thought down

as you would a venomous serpent

or let it strike;

even the poisons

can unspool you like wine

in this delirium of life.

And isn’t it more than could have been asked for

just to be here

under a sky

spun finer than the silk of diamonds,

breathing the stars in and out

like trees?

I have been silently and eloquently

stupefied by the wonder

all my life;

and urgently moved to explore

the great ocean of awareness

that intrigued me to experience myself

as the world,

I put to sea with a leaf for a sail.

We must become

more intimate with our vastness, learn

to listen to the whisper

that has always been us

in our own depths.

We have depleted our preludes of awe;

the spirit slags in the pitmines

of our complacent arrogance.

Our own creations

amaze and lull us away

from the sustaining abundance

of what was given spontaneously.

What do we know?

Why water?

Why stars?

Who is it that asks the question?

The fluid continuum of the mystery

is a waterclock

and every receptacle, an era.

And science can advance the shadows of life,

but the answers eventually fall like leaves

and no one knows how to account

for the stars that root in the duff.

What each of us sees

when we see deeper than blood

over the course of a lifetime

are the eyes of the goddess

when she looks at us.

What we are is our own creation;

curse and blessing alike.

You created heaven.

You created hell.

Experience is just the metal

shaped on the anvil of our hearts

into edges that kill like life,

the plough drawn from the stone,

not the sword,

or blades behind the door

that wound like serpents.

You can enlighten or eclipse

the iron in the ore

by pouring it

into a heart or a bullet.

You can make a nail

and build a house

or crucify a teacher.