Friday, August 15, 2008


I drag on my cigarette

and pull the coffee up to my mouth

as if I were officiating at a sacrament

and it were some holy bell

extolling the black wine of the bean.

I am always more in the morning

than I will be again all day

and the light is creative until precisely noon

and I am at peace in the impersonal intimacy

of flowing along like a star or a man or a leaf

in this great dynamic that never goes anywhere outside itself

like a bloodstream, a mindstream, the nightstream

that flashes in the woods like the eyes of a beautiful woman,

and yet all these worlds within worlds move with it

as fluently as thought and feeling

in a mind that is not divided by decisions

or trying to locate itself like a constellation

on a starmap in the rain,

insanely fitting every drop

with the axis of a pin

to divine the source of the shining.

And it’s always been a mystery to me

how I can be so ignorant and all-seeing simultaneously

but what keeps me alive, breathing, beating, baffled and alert,

a gust of awareness, of wheeling air and images

in a moment of joy and dispersal

where the light touches the dirt like a lover

and the dirt rises,

is this infinite instance

of an inconceivable intelligence so intimately close

the flame leaps from the fire,

and the moon falls from its flower

like the petal of an hour that overslept

and the birds are swimming in the shadow-waters of the trees

like elegant, inexhaustible pens in ink

that leave no trace on the sky of anything

beyond what the mind can think

until it stops turning the days like the pages

of a journal only the wind keeps

like autumn leaves and mindless sages

and learns from the seed-mouth how to sing

of the abundance that flows from its undoing.

Stop trying to prune the rose with its own thorns.

You can’t put serpentfire out with water

or grasp a question by the neck

to milk the crescents of the moon for an antidote.

Would you put a bit in the mouth of the wave?

Would you uncoil your cravings like flypaper

to catch a star

then green it through the glass of a canning-jar?

Is the you of what you do

the you of who you are

or deep inside is there a blind jewel

that’s waiting for you to turn the light around

and give it eyes

so you can see through yourself

and stop trying to net fish with the moon’s reflection?

But if you think the answers will put the matter to rest,

get the world off your chest

like the shadow of the stone twin

that mimicked you into self-conciousness

and stalks you even now unseen

like a dog or the moon or eclipse of the blood

closing the mouths of the lilies that speak for the starmud,

you have not followed the questions

far enough into your life

where you have never been

to understand how little the answers really mean

when the ant moves the mountain

and the grass is green.

I stand in the furnace of the worlds like wax

and know the fury of the fire is everywhere at peace with itself,

and the only holy wars are lonely and creative.

As I am, as I am, as I am,

my singular appeal and pulse,

my homely simulacrum for the event I call me

when I knock like waves on my own door

to ask whose footprints line the shore

and only the moon’s face on a threshold of water

rises like the gentile coast of a skull

to say I don’t live here anymore.

You can’t wash the night off

by taking a bath in an eclipse

and there are darknesses so intensely clear

that colours would only pollute the brutal purity

of the eye that dispossessed them,

poured them out like a delirium of words and wine

that could no longer dumbfound the emptiness

with the enlightened delusion of being forsakenly me.

And to say whatever this is before me now is nothing

is wrong

and to say this darkness myriads into form

and lucidly fills the world with things

is wrong,

and it is not mind or death or dark matter

nor me nor you nor God nor the devil

and yet its utter stillness mountains into mushrooms and fountains

and the whole issue is apparent in every event

like the taste of salt and stars

in the mouth of an open wound.

Is your skull honoured by what it must contain,

is the stone you lay your head upon

appalled by what it props up

when its metals reveal

the swords and crowns

you’ve poppied with blood,

or is your head still cooling

like mystic bread on a windowsill

like the universe

straight from the ovens of hell

in a purgatorial breeze

your goodness defanged like a whip?

Or maybe you’re writing love poems

on the sails of a bonely ghost ship

to a lifeboat on the moon

bobbing in a sea of shadows?

Or the leaves at your door

who show up with maps to save you

don’t know what autumn is anymore

or how to follow the wind to the far shore

where the straw keeps faith with the grain

and the scarecrow is feathered with fire

and there is no distinction between joy and pain

and the stone dances as fleetly as moonlight

silvers the vein of the garden snail

that smears the slow stream of its going

across my radiant path

like the enlightened thought of a tiny brain.

Have we not already come again and again

to a place we have never existed,

is this not the effusive locus of every moment,

the inceptive finish of every breath we give back

to the sustaining intimacy of the unconceived

who nourish conception with their emptiness

and confide themselves like seeing to the seen

and shape space like water into eyes

deeper than a full eclipse of the moon?

You cannot fathom the strangeness of this moment you are,

you cannot assess the span of your being with wings

or appeal to a god like a bloodstream

you can pour yourself back into like wine

seeking tomorrow’s delirium with yesterday’s vine,

when the whole of creation is the merest suggestion of you

out to the furthest star

that puts itself out like a torch

in its own reflection of who you are.

You don’t have to study your eyes to see

or cultivate your features like a holy book to be.

Because there is no intention in the emptiness

there is no karma to redress

and nothing to bind or separate

and no witness to affirm or deny

and nothing to diminish or enlarge

and no wisdom in the waterlily

nor ignorance in the swamp,

and the clouds let go

and the chains lay hold

and the lead doesn’t taste of gold

but the union doesn’t differentiate

among its exquisite distinctions

and the old woman is not old

and the cripples run

and the road outpaces the racers

like a long finish line

and there are no fractures when everything is whole

and no god when everything is.



for Alysia

These migrant visitations of who I am

because I love you,

my unceasing creatrix,

my sole definition,

here in the fluctuant shadow-water

of the morning trees

where I remember your voice

in the words of your letter

like stars from the night before.

Out of nowhere you appear

and apply the moon

like a cool poultice to the heart

and things heal that were wounded

and in the vastness where I cannot find myself

I find you the rarest issue of the light

to ever restore me like a lost sky to its eyes

and for a few moments

I am home again among my own stars

and the world is as supple and clear and beautiful

as I have ever hoped it would be

because you are the voice in the shining

that I listen to visually

and everything I hear is light,

and everything I see

the blood-theme of a mystic insight

a muse beyond what any poet

could ever possibly mean.

Still, there’s joy in the words

and a tenderness that falls like a drop of wine

from the tine of the thorn

that releases the delirium of the rose

like music from a horn.

So I say it and mean it and be it and feel it

until the impersonal intimacy

of all those nights I was turned in a light

that could not look through me

flow away like starless diamonds in tears.

And it’s raining now on another morning

and since I last wrote this

a million things have mingled in the singing

as if all the drunks in the world

were suddenly one grape

held under the tongue of a single leaf

waiting to extoll the price of their night passage.

The birds glean the metal fields

of the radiators of the cars in the parking lot

for dragonflies

and I am astonished

at the alacrity of the adaptation

and the nascent symbiosis of sparrow and machine.

What distinction between a Ford and a hippopotamus?

And last night I used the moon

to erase the old outlines of the constellations

that had posted their stars like border-guards

and the immigrants came pouring through like Canada geese

and the next thing I know

I’m returning to you

down the fleet slopes of the world mountain

like water to the river it was taken from like eyes.

And I snuffed all the tongues of the serpents and candles

and let them flow away

into the darkness and silence

of their own concerns in the shadows

and I overturned all my thrones

like books with slipped discs

I don’t mean to come back to,

and took my own breath as a guide

and followed it out into the night

where you abide among the mountains.

And there are as many meanings

as there are leaves

but they’re not the fruit and the flower

and the line in the dirt I drew to configure a self

and dared no one to cross

the whole world transits with every step I take

and my one letter alphabet

has disintegrated into fireflies and birds

and there is so much more now I can’t say

than I couldn’t before

that not even existence

could do the talking for me

so I come to a station of the silence

where there’s no need to say

no way to say

how you shape and move me like space.

And I get up again this morning

not knowing who I might be now

and return like the moon to the well of this poem

to shed my face like a petal

that I might see you in the enhancing clarity

of having gone, gone, gone, wholly beyond

the beginning of everything before it happens.

And I don’t know why there’s a rose now

but there’s a black rose in the dark mirror

whose every eyelid is an eclipse

more revealing than the light

as I crawl out of the blood-tides of the night,

a new species adapting to the original medium

of its own inconceivability

and in this realm

if there were an attribute to be had

it would be you.

Night again

and the window is full of the world

and there’s an eloquence before words

when the mouthless void speaks without a language

and every period runs like a raindrop down into these sentences

trying to get to the roots of things

like a man weeping in a dream

as he weeds shadows on the moon

to clarify a flower in a desert that never blooms.

Or should I be looking for a spiritual vaccine

to inoculate myself against the light

by shooting stars?

I didn’t know how dark it was

until somebody lit a match

and I wasn’t lost until someone crossed a threshold,

nor evil, until the ladders made rungs of the snakes.

When I look into my own eyes

it’s like looking into a river

that keeps its secrets to itself

and things are neither unique nor non-existent

and if the world before me isn’t intentional

then I remember it’s not unintentional either

and ultimately I’m the chainmaster

that binds and unbinds my breath to being.

And maybe I’ve grown wise enough not to mean anything,

and self-reliant enough not to be anything

and clear enough not to see anything

in the theme of the mind mirror

that does and doesn’t look like me

and the things of the world

are a grammar of signs

that decipher us to ourselves like shadows

that gape like mouths without a voice

as we weigh the feather of our wills

against the mountain of our choice

on the pivot of every breath

and still can’t tell the difference

between a short and a long death;

and maybe it’s nothing like that at all,

maybe nothing but a madman looking down a well

into his own eyes

and what he sees is

all his constellations gusting into fireflies,

everything coming undone

like well-meaning lies

told by the partially wise

to the partially dumb

to cope with the delusion of a sublime error

by opening the dark gates of a new greed to everyone,

and maybe, maybe, maybe, the pulse of a ghost

is enough to go on beyond

the broken wishbone witchsticks

of our conceptual divining for water in hell,

and I am loyally abusive enough to manage it,

but there’s something about you, Alysia,

that streams through the context

of my own inconceivability like stars

and alerts me to an earthly sweetness in the dark

and returns the autumn mystic

grazing in the pastures of the western sun

to his sourceless source

like a white horse to the moon.

However deep and indelible, the eclipse,

however blinded by its own blazing, the insight,

or whenever I’m on the verge of perfecting my extinction

or rendering my solitude delusionally inviolable,

or trying to comfort my ghost like an echo

in the mass graves of the valley of dead bells

by exorcising myself from the cosmic mountain that shed them

like water off a dog’s back,

you have always found me without seeking

like the last thread on the loom that changes everything.

Blood. A pebble. Splash. A rose.

Or the light goes out and I can see again

and my eyes know the radiance of the dark jewel

they’re swimming through like fish is yours.

Things are the mental forms the senses wake

like waves and sails and islands

in a sea of turbulent awareness

to locate the mind in space

and make events out of their random collusion

that might be embedded in flesh and time and delusion like laws.

Everything’s arrayed in conceptual skin

by our own subjective projections

like the pages of a round book

and conciousness slices the onion thinner

than the gateless gate between inside and outside

and we take up arms against our own reflection in everything

and bug our own mouths with listening devices for signs

until every tremor of a blade of grass or grain of sand

is the indecipherable code of a mystic urgency

and we forget whose eyes are looking back at us like trees.

And sometimes I think conciousness

is the light on the helmet of a miner in the dark

labouring to silver its own suicide by exhuming the moon

from the mountain it’s buried under

but it’s hard to know whether awareness is a gift or a sacrifice

and the distinction is always a conception of the inconceivable

beyond me

and grateful for my ignorance

I return to the festive parity of my themeless being

at ease in the wonder of everything

as if I laid the world like my head in your lap.

And it seems at times that life lives us

like unrehearsable parts in a play

we cannot know the lines of

until they’ve been experienced

as what we most intimately mistake ourselves for

on stage and off.

But there’s a clarity

behind the curtain, behind the lights

neither intimate nor impersonal,

not witness, nor actor, nor understudy,

past, present and future,

the three personae of time,

not a mystery, not a fact, nor a paradigm,

nor the enlightened pop

of the moon like a waterlily on a bubble of wine

washing off her makeup on her sleeves.

I don’t know what it is

though it infuses me with awe and gratitude

for the unintentionality of its life

and the darkest of nightmirrors for the deepest assurance

that I am not anything but that

that engenders this

that seeking loses

and silence interdicts

the moment it speaks.

And, of course, the human body

is a bag of water with nine holes in it

that leaks and reeks like a waterlily in its own tumesence,

and its ruin, like the rose, daunts the unborn

into sipping unbeing from the uncreate,

as if existence were a fraud

or God threw the world like bad meat

down her own well one night

and ever since nothing’s ever been quite right,

but we’re the spontaneous issue of a void

that doesn’t claim parenthood

and every word we say is the name of our dark mother

and everything we see is the light in her eyes

when she invokes us like the dew

out of her abundance

like a moment, a wavelength, a thought

and covers our nakedness in stars and oceans

in mind and world and flesh

and let’s us wander freely

in the arraying of our emptiness.

All these things, forms, images

that come pouring out of the plenum-void,

that occur like a face

in the space of an immeasurable mirror

without testimony or witness

that nevertheless promotes the illusion

of I and you, and it, and they and we and him

and gives to everything

an identity and name and distinguishing characteristic

that let’s us touch and think and talk to one another,

what are they if not

the whole of creation playing by itself

and making us up like a life or a song as it goes along?

Until you let it live you like a child

wholly absorbed in delight

in luminous exaltation

with her own creation,

the myriad inflections of a jewel

dancing like supple fire on her own waters,

and the same sea of her own formless awareness

on every tongue of every wave of insight

that bows before her island throne

with news of another wonder,

you cannot know what life is,

you cannot know who you are and are not,

or how the sameness is not forsaken by the difference,

or the flight of its light

does not drown the star in sorrows

and wash it like a cinder

from the eye of its shining,

or the road you make with your own walking

is innocent of arrivals and departures

and is the same language spoken by everyone

before a word gets said.

Nor can you know these others

who people you along the way

like worlds within worlds

until you tweak the secret

of the dark clown who scowls

like an approaching storm over the mesmeric view

you keep hoping your life is,

and giving everything up

like dust and stars and leaves

and shadows on the stairs to the broom

that sweeps you through the gate

beyond thresholds

like a breath on a cold night

unlace your beginnings in the womb

like a gift you haven’t opened yet

and astounded by the generosity

of your original emptiness

let it live you like a prayer

that is constantly coming true,

until this is done like the morning

you cannot be wholly and truly you,

you cannot scoop cool water

from the moon in a mirage

without it tasting like tears,

you cannot clear the mountain from your throat

and include exclusion in the note,

your blood can’t change colour with the sky

or run with the world stream

like the last breath of a forgotten dream

that was inspired by the truth of a lie

and you’re not wheel and rudder enough

to keep from scuttling your heart

like a boat on a sealess moon

that’s all shadows and reefs and shore.

Until you don’t live here anymore

this is not your home, until

you return like a river or an exile

to your first unknowable address,

your roots can’t celebrate the light and the rain

by offering up a tree or a flower or a poem

that grows out of you again and again

until all your leaves and feathers have let go.

The child drops the ball

like a drop of midnight dew

from the grassblade of an exclamation mark

and opens its hands like the sky

to the intimate emptiness

that could hold a bird

without disturbing a feather.

So do I reach for you now

like the air reaches for the rain without grasping

when the mindmirrors have breathed out their last ghosts

and the moon shyly ripens

on the theme of her green branch among the leaves

and the stone mind holds back

what it had to say like silver,

and the mind stone

holds its tongue like a sword in a rock

and keeps the pain to itself

like the wounded throne of kings

and the darkness is tined and tinged with furtive whispers

as if it were talking to itself

to hear who might be listening.

So do I reach for you now

as if I could breathe

the subtleties of the blue luminosity

that saturates the night with the fragrance of your mystery in

and fill my lungs with light

and startle my weary heart with unwary delight.

And it’s been the better part of two weeks

since this poem started flowing

down from your mountain closer to the stars

into me like a new bloodstream

and the dry creekbeds of the echoless valley

that had abstained from answering me

were suddenly shocked into this pulse

that has sponsored my emptiness back into being.

And it’s certain I’ve said too much about too little

and too little about too much

and often mistaken the silence

for the eloquently unsaid

and maybe only the dead should speak for the living,

and everything of light

is just another blindfold

that goes looking for what it might be

before it can see

like the nights we walk out on ourselves for good

wishing we could,

but be all that as it wills and unwills,

the geese fly overhead through the darkness

like thoughts across the moon

growing a face as it rises

to advance its urgency through space

much as I have in this whose seeing

is the resonance of grace

that brought it into being

just as your eyes do me.

And there’s no doubt I haven’t said

what can’t be said,

that I’ve shed more petals

than light on the issue,

that I’ve pointed at the moon with smoke

and it’s pointed back at me with a hook

and we’ve both suspected the other a hoax

that might bring us together

if there were a backend on the joke

worth appending like the tail on the donkey

that looks into the well

and the well looks back.

And maybe what’s trying to say me to you

is not so much a revelation

as an unconcealing

and there are things in the silence

that there aren’t enough poets to say

and too many prophets in the pews to pray

and it’s always going to be this way.

And I’ve given up trying to corner time in the present

at a nexus of dimensions

that penetrate me like light

through a diamond voodoo doll.

No one’s ever been older or younger than now

and the flower in spring

and the leaf in the fall

are the same ageless continuum of beginnings

that indelibly flashes through us all

like no one’s dream

without a curtain-call

as if we were made up as the play went along.

And nothing’s ever deeply right or deeply wrong

whether the wind wears shoes or not

or the moon forgets one of her phases

or occasionally something takes our breath away

like non-existence

or gives it back like you,

the descent of a feather

brighter than light

in a darkness older than night.