I DRAG ON MY CIGARETTE
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
and to say this darkness myriads into form
and lucidly fills the world with things
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.