Sunday, December 28, 2008



A red drop of rain

every once and awhile

among billions of silver tears

and I can tell someone

who knows how to love

by the way they cry

not water or lace or diamonds

but blood. Or,

as the old Sufi says,

it’s just another lover’s tale.

And there’s nothing

but lipstick on the mirror

where your lips used to be

and it’s colder than kissing a ghost.

And I remember how, now

that’s it’s of no consequence to confess,

you always wanted to be the lifeboat

so I always had to be the S.O.S.

that made you feel needed.

You never liked me

when I was strong

so I broke it all down

to be loved,

and mastered your heart

by perfecting the art

of being unworthy of it.


Saturday, December 27, 2008



You’re lonely

and you think it’s because

you’re not understood

in a small town

where extraordinarily ordinary people

go about the business of living

without expecting glorious results.

You show up catastrophically

on my doorstep

at three in the morning

and ask if I’ll let you in like a wound

that has slashed you open like a mouth

and you know I won’t turn you away.

You don’t know what to do with your beauty

and neither do I

without a prelude to the encounter

and so you ask me how to live.

I turn myself inside out

looking for loose change

in the pockets of a dream

to drop into the begging bowl of the silence

and sliced by the insight

of a master in medieval Japan

tell you every step of the way

should crush the head of the question.

You think I am immediate and wise

and for the moment it’s a useful delusion

as I look into the reasonable facsimiles of light

that are posing as your eyes

and see a painful young woman

trying to sail like a swan through her first eclipse.

I dodge the euphoric arrows

that randomly fly

from your toxological lips

and try not to get sucked into

thinking of you as a wishbone with hips

and outrunning the flashflood of the effusion

turn my attention back to your confusion.

The moon is in my window.

A muse has come

to ask for inspiration.

Water asks the fire how to flow

but what you really want to know

what you truly want to learn

is how to burn.

You’re trying to pull the moon

like a hot sword out of a cold stone

to kill your lover over and over and over again

like a wasp on a brain

trying to sting itself into honey.

If you weren’t so beautiful,

you’d be funny

but I make the appropriate concessions

and listen to your accusations

like the intimate confessions

of a promiscuous nun

who’s never slept with anyone.

I listen quietly and tenderly

to the chafing of the restless snakes

in your angry abyss

gathering myself up like visionary rain

above the cauldron of a distant, cosmic ocean

to fall like a cooling kiss

on the flaring heads of the igneous.

I milk the fangs of the moon

into experimental antidotes

and no fool around matcheads and cobras

summon the wind like an ambulance on standby

to immunize me against the toxicity

of your insistence

I’m your private school.

Morgana la Fey at Merlin High,

eager to learn, eager to deepen her darkness.

You want me to teach your eyes to flow

through a labyrinth of underground dreams

you’ve tunnelled through your pain like a blind mole

waiting for moonlight to wash you out

of all your crazy bloodstreams.

If you can’t live with the one you love

the way you long to

appealing to oblivious gods

maybe you can kill them into it.

If you’re hurt so deeply

you can no longer feel your heart,

maybe there’s an art

that can be mastered

to do it so discretely

the blood that unspools on the blade

prefers the wounded poppy of their death

that stalks them like a bloodclot in a rose

to the lonely craving of their next breath

to feel the edge again

that addicts them like the moon

to another hit on a battered vein.

I can hear what you’re thinking,

I can see what you feel through my fingers.

I know you haven’t come to heal

or put your hand in the hand of another

that isn’t folded like a secret loveletter

of Damascene steel

ghouled by jewels of blood.

I can peel the eclipse from your eyes

like an executioner’s hood

and fill the darkness

with the music of diamonds

falling like rain from their crowns of coal.

I can look into your eyes

like the lies you wanted everyone to believe in

and make them come true.

I can teach you to hunt like a magician

in the twenty-first century

and dropping your halo down to your feet

encircle you in the dark clarity

of an inviolable sanctuary

with gates of golden horn

that swing open like the moon

between the wingspan of her crescents.

Or I can turn a word like a stone

and set the angels free

like petrified bone

amazed by the new lucidity

that remarrows it like the clone

of a woman no one can be

until she returns the sword to herself

she lay down like the moon

surrendering to the sea

in a holy war

that cut the throats of the waves

and made widows of the sacred tides

she concealed like the secret insurgency

of her own dark urgency.

But since you asked

and the flower is already

half-unmasked by the morning

and the truth is only a voice away

from revealing itself,

and the hour scratches at the door

like a cat to be let in,

I will tell you

what the good and foolish never learn:

If you want to burn

like fire on the water

without going out

like a flame unwicked by the wind

that sins against it like a veil

it knots with nets of doubt

to gill the moon like shale,

you have to teach your demons how to sail.




Two roads diverged in a tongue of fire

and I rode the snake as the middle way

all the way up my spine

to the cold palace of the north star

that had gone out like the candles

of the old powers

that used to brighten

the dark towers of a free mind

to see if I could light it up again

by coiling myself like the fuse

of the last supernova

that will ever go off like a brain

to fire the darkness up again

like a dragon before rain

wounded by the lightning spears

of his own injurious stars.

I’m as sure as Sisyphus about things

and it’s difficult to always tell

whether I’m a fire-wielding snake with wings

or meatloaf in an eagle’s claw

ascending beak to jaw

into the heavens

like the farce of some cosmic law

that follows all my sevens like snake-eyes

whenever I blow on the dice

and pray for illuminated elevens.

My blood is tainted with the night.

My blood is an iron rooster

that crows at dusk

like a blind weathervane

in all directions

trying to wake the wind up

by breathing into the mouth of its cave

this fire that burns like a voice in a furnace.

No one likes a real dragon,

their eyes are too intense,

and few have mastered the grammar

to read their scales like books

that were revealed in a dream

long before the world woke up

to its own lies

and needed shallower eyes to see.

They move like the bell and bulk

of an irreversible solitude

swinging on a chain of thorns

that snarls like a saw at the root of things.

But the scourge of the sage is an enlightenment

that will find you like a jewel in the ashes

and pick you up and hold you in the light

of its own shining

like an eye darker than the night

you’ve been busily mining

with the pick-ax of the moon

in the slagheaps of a leftover ghost.

And you will hear

the distant ocean of being

roaring in your own ear

when you put your skull up to it

like the only shell you’re going to find

on this bitch of a moon

and listen to what still lives within.

So many waves with eyes and faces, its true,

and so many suns in so many drops of dew

and the constellations that arise

like stories and rumours about you

aren’t fixed; they’re beads of mercury

that bled out of a haemmoraging thermometer

when you drowned like a lifeboat

on the way to rescue yourself

in the squall of a your last dreamfever.

It’s true, there are so many ways

to become confused

about a clarity

that has no confusion or clarity in it

and feel like the crumb of a dream

that scratches your third eye into tears

hoping to wash yourself out of the seeing

so you can receive the whole world

with all its death and suffering and beauty

with all its sorrow and desire and longing

and the radiance of its aspirations

with all the terrible generosity of the abundance

that it unjustly squanders on some

even as it uses the ribs of a child

that are showing through

like crescent moons

as a calendar of famine,

so you can embrace

the world without distinction

in the midst of all its compassion and brutality

as all that’s left of you

after the great extinction.


Sunday, December 21, 2008



My emotions are exiles in the wilderness

making cornerstones out of their bones

and my brain is a brittle loaf

of black, unleavened matter

I tried to break to feed the masses

but they have no appetite for night.

My body is a museum of foods

that people have forgotten how to eat

as the grave holds out its hand

for another charitable donation to the foodbank

that waits on manna from heaven

when it isn’t raining vipers.

I don’t know who the fuck I am.

I’m just this man who keeps happening

a blink out of time with his pulse

like a white guy in a black jazz band

who thinks he plays like everyone else.




Don’t give a damn. Sit here chain-smoking cigarettes, out of the box, wondering whatever became of me. Poetically-somnolent, stars encrusted in the corners of my eyes, as if they’d been out all night, panning for gold. Effulgent morning light making the dirt on the windows glow, but that’s the light’s business as mine is just sitting here letting things go if they want to. Keeping a coffee cup full. Wine of the bean. My favourite liquid eclipse. And this ghost of smoke, my affable familiar. Sometimes my solitude appalls me and I assume a multiplicity of forms just to keep from being alone, but this morning, I am refreshingly irrelevant throughout my own, unknown universe. I’m not a holdout in a holy war that doesn’t know it’s over. All that blood. All those poppies. Not everything washes off in the grave. And if I save your life, am I responsible for it? And if I don’t? Who will save mine? And when’s the last time you saw anyone rushing to the rescue of a lighthouse? Or swimming out against a rip tide of stars to save a drowning lifeboat? As the man said about enlightenment: all the gains of war are ruined by singing and dancing. It’s kind of cute. But I can think of darker joys than those that are derived like music out of defeat. And I am not idiot enough this morning to start dancing.


Saturday, December 20, 2008



Most of my male friends

are addicted to but terrified of women.

Leaves on the wind,

they bitch like amateur sailors

about the sirens on the rocks

who overturned them

when their balls

weren’t ballast enough

to right the way the mast

they tied themselves to

was leaning into the song.

Wounded and groaning

on stretchers they’ve made of their sails,

as if all the radiance of the passion

had been snorted through counterfeit bills

and they were the only ones lied to

by the black holes

that roamed their blood like dragons

who lived on fire

before the lights went out for good

and the poppy’s flare for passion

turned out to be a flash in the pan

as the moon arrived like an ambulance,

an usher of blood,

to revive the urgency

like a junkie

who had o.d.’d

on his own meaning.

They come to me

like younger versions of an old vice

as if their hearts were gored

like the petals of a rose

on the horns of the moon

that tore them up like a loveletter

written in the scarlet alphabet

of a harlot’s blood

like lipstick on a mirror

when they looked into the lies

in her inebriated eyes

and kissed their own reflection.

They talk like prosecuting attorneys

about their scars as if the moon

would never again change phases

and pimping themselves up like king cobras

with a flare for the ladies

they suddenly die of stage fright

like the sexual flutes of snakecharmers

thrust into the spotlight of talent night in a snakepit

that hisses them off the stage.

I’m older, and people suppose

my passions are ashes by now

and my skull an urn

in the house of the dead

and if I burn, I burn

like a nightlight in a morgue

or a slow glacier unthawing

the lockets of the mammoths

that died in me like a species

when love was older and colder than it is now.

They imagine I’m wise

and the fool has been murdered enough in me

that there are starmaps in my eyes

that aren’t rigged like dice

when they ask without asking

for my advice.

So I stand there,

aloof from their presumptions

like a windmill in their way

and let them tilt at everything I say

like furious Don Quixotes poking poison pins

into the eyes of the black effigy

they wound to burn the butterfly

that put wings on their worms.

I listen to a litany

of arrogance, delusion, hatred, pain,

jealousy, fear, lies, violence, hope, despair,

confusion, willfulness, longing, lust

regret and vengeance,

as love rages like a mad miner

stricken by fool’s gold

to gouge out

the treacherous likeness

on the dark side

of the two-faced moon

they once adored like an asylum.

If I were a biologist I would say

the peduncle goes looking for itself

in the ensuing phylum

to avert extinction


after all it promised to die for.

And it makes me wonder

if people just fall in love with each other

to have someone to cry for

who can hold them up

like a sprinker on a lawn

and pimp their pillows

like pink flamingoes

when love is over, when love is gone

and the hose is left flailing helplessly

like a serpent caught by the tail.

This one the wounded mahdi,

the hidden imam

waiting to return

to his private holy war against women

like a full eclipse of the moon

arming himself with antidotes

and sacred toxins

to ambush another oasis

and that one swearing celibacy

in a hole in a desert

he shares with snakes and scorpions

that come and go like fevers

inflamed by the visions

of the tumescent obscenities

he spies through his keyhole of flesh

and aches religiously to desecrate.

And there are assassins in the shadows

making love as if

they’d taken out contracts on each other

and the one who shoots first is the worst

and the other, an angry necrophiliac

rejected by a corpse

that was killed by his jealousy.

And there are wasps

who burrow into the cheeks

of love’s apple

like words with stingers

waiting for someone to bite.

Unresolved pain hones itself into spite

and goes hooking for swans

with sybillant throats

in the moonlight

and looking for the meaning of it all

is like trying to figure out

what the fuck to say

over your own grave.

One set out searching for a northwest passage

and wound up marooned on an island

littered with the stones

of reckless lighthouses

who didn’t heed their own warnings

like red skies in the morning

and that one drowned

in his own sphericity

when he was thrown overboard

by a sadder theory

but it wasn’t the sea

that was unworthy of the sailor

though he says it was a woman

who let him down.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008



Isn’t it a wonder that surpasseth understanding

that we’re here as we are

this very moment

to wonder at all

and curious the way the whole affair

seems to take its tail in its mouth

and try to eat itself all the way up to

and including the head

like the last morsel on the moonplate

or the mind trying to discern itself

like a star apart from mind?

The eclipse eats the moon.

The snake swallows the egg.

A dragon sprouts wings.

And I’m not talking about these things

as if there’s a way things happen

because I know if you go looking too intensely

for the way things happen

you’ll miss the happenings.

You’ll live a shadow life.

You’ll put your thinking before the living

and cling to the morning grass

like hungry ghosts

afraid to invert the hourglass

and pour out of themselves like water

by living before they think

by trusting the mountain

doesn’t lie to the sea

and it doesn’t take much effort to be

this constant flowing over into yourself

as if even the clocks

that scared the pyramids

weren’t time enough

not to be swept away.

It takes a happy fool

to see beauty in the snow

when there’s mud in the looking glass

and blood on the ice,

and all the stars

are stern with distance

and he’s a shadow alone with his breath

and there are cracks in the diamonds

he couldn’t detect

under the cataracts of thin ice

he keeps breaking through like a mirror

to get the real low-down on his own reflection

when he washes it off like paint.

And you would need to be

as unbrave as an enlightened man

to try and understand

why we keep amusing our own delusions

with bad imitations of the real

that don’t express the way we truly feel

when there is no star, no light, no stage

and no one in the darkness listening.

Sometimes a doodle in the margins of life,

sometimes scribbled like a bloodstream

on the edge of a knife

that leaves a fingerprint on the moon

I can’t identify.

And sometimes my third eye

is the loneliest colour of night

and even the stars lose themselves

in the darkness that overwhelms me

after the lightning-strike

of an intrusive insight.

I am numbed by the terrible clarity

that rips through the heartwood

like a scalpel of light

through a diamond

and the wound is an abyss

I can’t stitch together again

with the myths of old constellations

that are swept up like sparks in the ashes

of my phoenix brain

isolated in the cosmic furnace

of a pain so cold it burns

like a spear of ice through a heart

not god enough to thaw it.








Tuesday, December 16, 2008



Winter wind thrashing the pines

like a mad guitarist

who only knows the single chord of himself.

The trees relent to resist the power

and shake the rain off

like dogs that have finished swimming.

Dirty window. Snow slumped

over the roots of everything

like a waiting crocus

in the bulb of itself

brewing its violets.

I look at the roiling sky

and my heart stews it like a bedsheet

to disinfect it of old passions

that once stained it like the moon.

First you suffer the pain of the loss,

and then, worse, the loss of the pain.

There’s a grammar for language

and an intuitive logic of metaphor

that is the grammar of poems and dreams,

and math may be the unlimited ally of matter,

and the law hold auditions

to discover who’s right and wrong,

and thoughts may arise

like the untethered kites and testflights

of new constellations

that keeping crashing and burning

like windfalls of fireflies

and enlightened chandeliers,

and even an embryo has HOX genes

to tell it where to put the eyes

above the nose and the mouth

in the long sentence it is growing

like Canada geese heading south in the fall,

but I’ve never discovered,

and I’ve been looking for years,

any order or path to my life

that wasn’t a journey

without origin or destination

more subtle and supple and insubstantial

than the wind, or the moon’s reflection

on the microdroplets of my cold, winter breath.

I’ve bluffed and improvised

and lied and guessed

and dared and jumped

like Basho’s frog into the old pond

of the world---Splash!---all the days of my life,

like a man who doesn’t know

if he’s got a parachute on.

I’ve been drowning in stars

that filled my lungs with light

until I could learn to breathe in the radiance

of the life that flashed before my eyes

like the snakefire of a lightning bolt

liberating fireflies from their halos

so they could wear the horns of the galaxies.

For one deluded moment there

I actually thought I was doing some good,

but it wasn’t long before I discovered

I had to remove the intention

before I could.

Now the flowers bloom

all around me by themselves

and I rain whenever I feel

the lonely bells of the sea

have ripened enough within me to fall

and I see what the rain sees

and later, if it’s summer,

the clean flowers

and the wet bees.


Sunday, December 14, 2008



If there’s fire in your diamond

and there is, sometimes people

will turn their hearts into fire hydrants

and come running to put it out

as if fire were their worst emergency.

What the fools don’t know is

that when the diamonds get hot enough

they flow like liberated mirrors

through the dry creekbeds

longing like oases in a desert of stars

for the next flashflood of light.

And they taste of eyes

that have looked at the moon a long time,

and ravens of coal

that were jewelled by their clarity

deep in the igneous snakepit of oceans

that move creatively under us

trying to make the pieces fit

like the continental plates

of a shattered skull

that has mellowed into a jigsaw puzzle.

Listen to me, babies; listen now.

This is a school of rogue stars,

sabres of light that flash like fire

off the windows of your waterjewel

like translucent insights at a glance

that add themselves like eyes to the shining.

Return what you see to the seer

and everything will become

exquisitely clear.


Saturday, December 13, 2008



for Jesse

Light upon light, darkness within darkness,

both are inherently blind

to the creative radiance

that opens our eyes like leaves on a tree

so that everyone can see

what they can’t.

But the mind can’t find or lose itself.

The light doesn’t illuminate itself.

The darkness can’t hide from itself.

Think of how many worlds

you can throw down

the black hole in the waterjewel

of your green eye

like moons and pennies and stars

into a wishing well

you can drink from with the morning glory

and still, after all these years

that absence isn’t full.

That’s what makes you an artist,

that’s what makes you the embodiment

of an enormous longing

to express the form of an unattainable identity

that burns without the shadow of a star

in the unwitnessed fires of its own clarity,

that’s what makes you want to make seas of your tears

and wash yourself off the beach

like a watercolour of the dawn

into the depths

where you can be more intensely

all the strange, wonderful, terrible

mystically specific things you are

when you glow by yourself in the dark.

Don’t underestimate the power

of your own most intimate vulnerability

to pull the sword out of the moonstone

or crack it like a blade of grass.

The petty look for company outside themselves

but the great, when they’re lonely,

expand their solitude to include everything.

That’s why the universe keeps getting bigger

and angelic flowers

like paintings and poems and lovers

keeping blooming like moons

along the long, dark, radiant way

we keep rising like the dead in spring

or pale fire in the lifeboat of a flower

from our own demonic roots.

The wines of love and compassion

move like blood

through the vines of hell

and the moon removes itself like a thorn

from the thumb of a bell

that keeps letting you in

like a thief into heaven

through your own back door

because the discipline of a great artist

poet, lover, human

is learning to wield the fire

of the dragon who ate the moon

and summoned the rain

out of its own eclipse

like a sword of white lightning

in the innocent hands

of the heretic who cleft the tree

like a wound in the hoof of a holy war

because it’s never been won before

by anyone who couldn’t inspire water

to catch fire

like stars in a mirror

without putting themselves out.

Ultimately, what’s it all about?

It’s sometimes hard to tell

that the loyal hookers in heaven

are the most reliable muses of hell

and for every demon that jumps from grace

the whole choir rises like phoenix fire

from the aging pyres of autumn

to take its place

like the emotion on the face

of the new moon

when she recovers herself

like a lost ocean

among familiar avatars

when the flesh turns to stars

and your afterlife isn’t just

the long conversation

you meant to sit down

and have with yourself

at a seance of scars.

There are surer signs of life

than can be found off the coast

of a storm drain

where the leaves and the loveletters

wonder who was written in vain

but I know you better

than the pulse of the rain

on the eyelid of a ghost.

You’re Jesse Eden James.

You’re that artist who woke up

like water on Mars

to green the dream with your eyes

long before anyone else

even realized you were a planet

and there was someone original in the garden

the apple wouldn’t condemn

and the snake couldn’t pardon

for knowing how to flow

like a sword through fire

and when you tempered your heat in diamonds,

like light through the valleys

that run like wounds

along the blade of the moon

in a full eclipse,

not harden the petals

of the black rose you’ve thorned

with the haloes and horns of the mystic metals

that adorn you like the crescents of night

out over the secret seas

that rise and fall

like radiant asides of the moon

whispered between parentheses

as the constellation of the green stars

that crown the rosehips

with jesters’ caps

burns its starmaps

and puts a finger like a lighthouse to your lips

as it rises like a waterbird

jewelled by the moon

from the sacred groves

of sunken ships.



Tuesday, December 9, 2008



As you get older you begin

to look at your face more and more

as some kind of leftover on the curb of the mirror

that hasn’t quite finished eating.

But no more than you can keep

the snow from melting

or a candle from weeping

its way out of the light

without improving the darkness,

is there anything you can do

to change your mugshot posted on the moon

even if the last crescent

should suggest itself like a scalpel.

If I look at myself now

through the eyes of an earlier phase

that appears like the ghost

of a young man at the window

or some blossom that has fallen away

like a lover

I realize I have been shaken out

like a starmap from the shining

and there are constellations of black holes

like moles peeping through the paper like skin.

My face is the cover of a racy novel

in a public lending library

that has been taken out too many times

and thumbed to death like a rose

that’s indifferent to its own orgasm

and my eyes have weakened like stars

that fall short of the lightyears that it takes

to make it across the titanic abyss

of my expanding brain.

And for all the lifetime

I have stood like a prophet

on the mountain of my nose

like a lightning rod on a mystic peak

waiting to talk to God,

my granite commandment

that guides me like a rudder through stone

when I come down like an avalanche

of sacred tablets,

has been broken three times in a parking lot,

getting knocked down for something

that everyone’s forgot,

but I once stood up for like a blood clot.

And I remember once when my lip

was parted by a punch like the Red sea

that has since scarred up

like a little ravine on the moon.

Now I finger the cracks and the lines

of the dried-up creekbed

that no longer dreams

of the freshwater streams

that once ran like furious flashfloods

through the alleys of death

into the gleaming suburbs

of the promised land.

I return like the afterlife

of a lost language

to read my own hieroglyphics

to find out how I was finally overthrown

like a sandstorm that has blown itself out

in three languages on a worn stone

that deciphers me like a face.

What does the wind see

when it looks for its own reflection

over the water? And who is the me

that has taken my place in the mirror

and exhumes me like a dynasty

of lonely, palatial tombs

to grin like a mummy

packed like a leather suitcase

under glass

as if time had no class

and they were checking passengers at the stargate

for anyone without I.D.

who looks like me.

But I don’t think of time as a thief.

The tree just outgrows its own wanted posters

and lets go of them like blossoms

and orchard moons

that fall away from the bough

like pilgrims along the road

returning home

after circumabulating

the kissing stone in the shrine of the fruit

that contains the tree all over again.

I don’t think the blossoms were fake

or that the fruit falls for my sake

or there’s some kind of reservation

I can make in the years ahead

not to line up with the dead

as if it could serve any function

to indulge a personal compuction to endure,

though I’ve never really been

very brave about these things.

So there it is, the full moon of my face

and the smudge of my eyes and my mouth

and hair like smoke that’s drifting away

and how much strangeness there is

in the illimitable intimacy

I have with the reflection

I’ve stared into for years now

like a slow fire

or a perilous apple

and how little say I’ve had in the changes

that have bound me like a stone to the flames.

I look at my face like a distant planet

I’m trying to discover life on

under all that ice and darkness like water

that tastes of my beginnings

and I look through both ends of the scope

and one eye dwarfs me like a black hole

and the other reads me

like a message in a bottle

I wrote in blood and wine

and sent out like a dove

or a loveletter on the vine

I could not hope to see again

knowing the new moon is born blind

with teeth like sundials

breaking through the gums of the hills

like an inflammation of the dawn

and I will live on and on and on

as everything but me

and like a sailor at sea in the morning

who is still astonished

by the profusion of light

that ends the night

and peering deeply into his own eyes

that evaporate with the stars

like birds from cracked bells

turns into the oncoming squalls,

grateful for the warning.


Sunday, December 7, 2008



You can look out over your life like the sea

even in a dewdrop, just like the moon

in a single drop of water, in a tear,

in every bead of a broken rosary,

and you still really won’t know

what you’re looking at

from above and below

when you turn to go

and the light leaks out of that jewel

and the stars evaporate like mist in the morning.

The most intimate example of myself is me

so I lean back sometimes

and array the years like the wingspan

of the wheeling word

that hones its eyes like diamonds

and scans the abysmal realms that surround it

for any tree to land in

but it seems I was born before gravity

and what is most profound

when it is lived wholly

often makes the greatest fool of me.

What strikes me more and more frequently

as I grow older though

is how in the space of one breath

the clarity of the mystery

can reveal itself

like a feature on the face of God

and the next

the mystery of the clarity is us.

And the only lifeboats of hope

that are still afloat

on this starless nightslick of a sea

are my eyes like fish in the depths

and stars in the watchful skies.

But I haven’t looked for salvation in the seeing

and I’ve always been too much of a shapeshifter

to linger over constellations like plans

for the reform of my being.

Besides, enlightenment and delusion

might concede a slight difference

in the enticement of lures

but they both fish with the same hook

and the crescent moon is left dangling

in her own dead seas

like a queen that got bumped by a rook.

What have I learned?

I had to become a very sophisticated savage

to survive these visionary ordeals

that brain me like an ambush

when I stick to any path that isn’t my own walking.

And when you stop to listen to the toads along the way

it’s important not to let them talk you out of yourself

or take what they say too seriously.

Like the choir in a church I’m passing

late in the night

like a different fate

I walk by curiously.


Saturday, December 6, 2008



I once knew a door-to-door buddha

who thought of nothing as the space left

by everything he had lost

and grew so exquisitely refined

he hung himself in a keyhole

with a piece of nirvanically-flavoured dental floss.

We change in ways we never thought we would.

So right now

you are not especially beautiful

and I am not particularly wise or good.

Yesterday, the moon. And today

this egg in a snakepit

debating scales and feathers

as I try to swallow my own tail

up to and including my head

to see if I can disappear

like the tatoo of the dragon

born in the burning mirror

the mercy of the fire sloughs like skin.

Now there’s a scar in the sky

where my face used to be

and the crystal skull I’m drinking from

looks uncannily like me

before I left home like a grave

that wasn’t deep enough to dream in

of all the things I never became.

Right candle. Wrong flame, perhaps,

but I had to make the starmaps up as I went along

like the words to something you sing alone

when your heart’s on fire

and the dead are still flesh and bone.

It was never enough just to see the visions

I wanted to see the eye that saw them,

the black jewel that shone in all directions

like the unwitnessed clarity of the dark light

that engenders the light we go by

and I resolved like diamond

that if I couldn’t be a petty fool like other people

then I would exact my revenge

by aspiring to be a great one.

But that work is done, and now

there’s nothing left of me to be

that isn’t creatively giving and free

so that when I’m listening to your confession

I don’t appoint a jury of fireflies

and call the court into session

as we all rise like the tears in your eyes

asking to be forgiven.

I don’t turn my blood into a flowchart

and point to the north star

like the axis of the evidence

that everything turns on.

I listen to your lies inventively

as your chandeliers crash

like trees and constellations

in an ice-storm all around you

and remembering I once put

the ripples in your earrings

like an apple that fell into the river,

I grow human and warm,

I assume a kinder, more fictitious form

and remove the moon from your eye like a sliver.




Not much to say to anyone

that I haven’t said before

and what I’m listening to

is unwound in my widening wake

like the threads of a song

I once lived through and through and through.

Nothing is true. Nothing is false.

And there’s no witness to anything

so it’s impossible to be anyone else.

Spent a hundred dollars on birdfeeders

but outside the window, no bird.

I’m not building a stage in a stadium

to make an appearance

among my own thoughts

like an encouraging word.

If I am not yet wholly insane

then there still might be a slight chance

that I am perfectly absurd.

And everything I’ve ever said

has been the orphan of a lost voice

winging its way like an echo through a dark valley

that wakes up like a wound

that thought it was dead

and flashes through my head

like rain on the heiroglyphs of a dry creekbed.

But right now

I’m not looking for my own footprints

in the starmud that walked this way

a million years ago

when I lifted myself up off my own ass

to check out what was moving in the high grass.

Things pass. The monkey grows old

making up reasons

and the plack of conciousness

hardens like granite

around the jewel of life

that keeps flowing away like water

whether you drown in your own fever

in the inflammation of the city

or expire like the last tear of the third eye

of an exhausted mirage in a mystic desert

that’s forgotten how to cry.


Friday, December 5, 2008



The enormous significance of a little moment

recollected years later more vividly

than the details of the original event

and yet I still don’t know what it means

to remember you sitting stoned in the windowframe

of that old Victorian head-house high on the hill,

in a slip you wore like moonlight,

strapped with a thirty-eight under your armpit

complaining at my approach you didn’t know anyone

who was worth shooting

as you smiled at me like a dangerous idea

whose time had not yet come.

I still don’t know whose avatar you were,

though, for awhile, you were the muse of my revolution

as we wore lust out like a parachute

plunging into each other

as if all we were

were endless space and atmosphere and falling

in that A-framed attic where the candles pooled

like the paint on your easel

and I’d fall asleep wholly gratified

with your breath like the sea in my ear.

I wrote four hundred poems for you

and gave you the only copies

as if they were the shedding blossoms

of your own private orchard on the moon

just to prove that my love had no signature.

You were always certain of things in a way

I could never be,

and if I was a lost well in a desert

puzzled by the strange stars that were reflected in me,

you were the dark watershed

that fired up the radiant themes of the night

like a furnace that burned like a prophet

to clarify the dead

like the fine print of a fateful conversation

you hung over my head like a new constellation.

You wanted to feed and teach

the children of Africa

but you wound up

working on a kibbutz

and to this day I still wonder

when the seeds you carried with you

like pilgrims into the promised land

turned into bullets?

When did the ploughshares

turn into swords

that would spill blood

for a few, stupid, ghostly words

that were vampiric abstractions

devoid of flesh?

When did you embed yourself

like a mine in the starmud

and wait like a toad for rain

to wash you out of your creekbed

into a flash flood;

when did the amaranthus who bled for love

throw all that imperial passion off like a robe

and let it fall to the floor

in gouts of blood?

Did you think you could fill the table

for the hungry and unable

by killing the people

who ate Africa down to its diamonds?

And did you expect me

to receive you like a hero

when you got back from making a difference?

You talked a lot about manifestations

of economic autonomy

in underdeveloped nations

that had more reasons than rations

to drink blood like wine,

but you never mentioned the harvest,

you never mentioned the burnt vine

or the scorched earth of the child

that was anointed with gasoline

and cremated with her straw dolls in bed

until all that was left of her flesh

broke like black, bitter bread

in the mouth of the militant multitudes

who had come, like you,

to liberate the starving with food,

but the only thing she received

in the way of loaves and fishes from your hand

that freed and filled her was death.

And then you went on to better things

like a guest lecturer

with a new book and a slideshow

on the academic, cocktail circuit

revelling in the unambiguous celebrity

of someone who had been there and done that

like fat in the fire.

Been a long time since I last thought of you

like a scar I had almost forgotten,

but never, since that day I left,

with compassion or desire.

And even now when I recall

how we never hurt anyone

making love all night long

in that tiny apartment above the sea

where the sun would lay its sword down on the waves,

and I stand in your doorway again

and think about knocking

I remember the thief

who wanted to give something back

and made a fact of her belief

by stuffing North America into her knapsack

and thumbing all the way across Europe to Tel Aviv

blooded her abstractions by killing a child

to prove what she didn’t believe.