Saturday, September 13, 2008


And these lines like the opening wake of a boat I’m not in.

Or is it the opening of an old wound unsealing itself like a loveletter?

Or the world held up to the lips of this fever like a spoon?

There are shadows in the valley of a scar

that sometimes mistake themselves for leaves

and turn their sewers into wine

and reel in the unmoving delirium of a black noon

when the hands of the clock disappear

into the cool centre of their turning

and time is sheathed like mercy in the darkness.

Suffering shadows my blood like a map

and so I look for joy in everything

as if my death were already achieved and behind me

and I could linger over the morning and end of everything

like a wet winter fog that doesn’t try to cling.

The tree outside the window in my writing room

is the axle of existence

and every ring of its heartwood

is the expanding wheel of the world,

as it is with every breath. But this is precisely where

I keep losing myself in the ineffable urns and ashes

of the unsayable beyond, not just of death,

but of all that life hasn’t been

to one who loved it like his only chance.

A firefly agitates the darkness more

than all the lightning of my awareness

when I consider the spectral vagrancy of my thought

calling to me like a hill to an unmoored lifeboat

to see if anyone survived the last sinking of the moon.

And my sorrows are bells of water that toll like the sea

for all the incredible dead who are buried in me

like marrow in the bone.

Which is to say no more than another

labouring under the weight of being human.

And I know of a lyrical clarity that’s free to sing what it wants,

that lifts the snake up with wings

and enfolds it in the infinite solitude of the sky

and lets it shine eyes beyond the reach of the light.

Here words jump like fish on the moon

and the dead branch is an orchard in bloom

and yesterday picks up its shoes and roads behind it

and there isn’t a shadow born of the light that can follow me

and tomorrow isn’t the ambassador of my next breath

arriving with urgent news

to wake up the dead

like a poppy or an ambulance in a nightmare.

Here the lucidities ripen like eyes with every eclipse

and the bright vacancy of the glaring moonskull

is broken like the bread of a dark abundance

that feasts in the seed of everything.

I watch the snowflakes fall randomly outside

and try to assess the chances

of finding the moon in an oyster,

remembering the unattainable has no threshold

to blunder my way across like spiritual junkmail.

The world is a drop of water flowing out of its own eye.

A squirrel natters and gnashes its annoyance

at my propinquity and for a moment

affirms that I exist by the intensity of its denial.

And it wasn’t just seas that the moon lost, not just seas,

but the sky that softened her stars as well.

The thought falls like a key on rock,

a fly at a winter windowpane,

forgetting what it once could open,

and I let it take its place at the table

like a ghost of salt that looks a lot like me

because we both mourn for the same lost sea,

born of the same bell. But let the starmud settle,

the dust compose what it will, thoughts fall

like the flightfeathers of passing birds

that do not stop to sing because my voices

echo in the cocoons of ten thousand transformations,

and who I was in the prelude that just walked past,

is now the likeness of my dissimilarity,

hobbling like a bridge on crutches downstream

or a disoriented pilgrim on the smokeroad to fire

as all the Gothic glaciers evaporate like churches.

Do you see how space conforms me like the wind

to the shapes of my own faceless emptiness

as I stand over the silence like a heron or a pen

waiting for fish that slip away like waves on the moon?

Madness or enlightenment? Asylum or shrine?

I have deepened my ignorance enough not to care.

My flesh, a wardrobe of ghosts.

My mind, the gesture of a star in the dirt.

My heart, blood on the thorn of the moon.

And still, my spirit cries out like an abyss

for the dead wasp on its back on the windowsill,

as if there were a will to my foolishness

tangled like wild morning glory

in the trellises of the constellations

where the great roses of the night

are enthroned in their bloodlines,

and do not acknowledge the passage of the small urgencies

that are dotted like periods at the end of their own sentences.

I accord the wasp, the squirrel, the tree,

full rights to my identity

in this agony of being,

this fellowship of suffering,

and with no more authority than the spontaneous value

a jest of compassion attributes to my clownish humanity

and the solitudes of anguish it must endure

to keep on approximating its life

like the long draw of the straw in a hurricane.

I have lived and wept long enough

not to trust any insight

that doesn’t feel the pain

growing eyes like a gate in the rain.

How have any of us not suffered

and cried out in our alienation

I am human, I am human,

as if our despair could voice

the violence of our relentless insignificance?

And when I say this, understand,

there isn’t anything it could possibly mean

if it doesn’t heal, if it doesn’t say

to the widow alone for the first night

or the scar of the moon in the window,

or the child savaged by atrocity

who was left torn and alone in the dark,

there is no one to whom we can plead,

no one who could hear

the scream of the hell

poured from your blood

like the iron voice of a misshapen bell,

no one who can unseed the life you’re rooted in,

no one, not even you, to know your need

for intimate fires in the ashpits of your stars

that suddenly flare up like flowers

to consume that which surpasses itself in wonder,

but when you’re wounded by the horsemen in the night

who trample you like a pulse, know this, I bleed

like the same resonance of ruptured atoms

and my harp is split like a wishbone

and my heart is the wilted lily, the failed parachute

of a sidereal haemmorage, and I

am darker than the eyelids of the gods

with anger that you should suffer so

and not know, not know

the delirium of the seed

that is buried in your wound

like the herb of the eclipse that lived you like enlightenment.

























for Alysia

And the day settles like a collapsing poppy, a parachute of blood,

and the turmoil and commotion of all the busy things
that have accomplished me for all these long accountable hours

dies down, settles its tongue on the ground like a leaf

whose eloquence couldn’t speak for the raving wind

that tore the world up like a first draft

and looped and noosed the powerlines

as if they were the hasty autograph of a final edition.

At my desk now in my small new writing room

where the windows open like a book

and I’m a human in a cube of light

under the constellations gambling with fate

by loading the negative space of the dice,

my thoughts turn like birds toward you

and there is great solace in the moment

that pours the starwater from your eyes

into the wounded fire that longs for you like a sky.

And all that is human about you, is human about me,

and all that is mystic, moon, and thief, all

that is woman in the valley of the wave,

and woman in the darkness that is older than men,

and your silence, and you like a black orchid

that no one sees growing in the shadow of your beauty,

and your third mode of knowing

that is neither thought nor feeling

but the way a lake knows the taste of the moon on sight,

all that and more than all the midnight suns can illumine,

your talent, your doubt, your pain, and all the shy joys

that you’ve been condemned to get away with,

and the breath that expires like an atmosphere

and the breath that infuses the lock like a key

and the breath that lights the inferno of the divine

and the one that snuffs it out

and devotes itself like a storm to a lightning rod,

are ingathered into me now like a tide in a bay on the moon

as if I were the emptiness of the envelope

and you were all the risks of the loveletter that is the sea.

As I think of you, the night grows a face, and it’s yours,

and your body and skin, moonlight

on the bare limbs of the young basswood trees,

and your eyes, the deepest seeing in the boundless darkness of me,

and your heart, the courage of a rose in winter,

and the vapour on the window of the enlightened spirit I write in,

your spirit thawing the glass to free the stars

and ease the tears of the mirrors that weep alone.

And this is the way you come to me,

seeping out of the rocks like a sword,

investing the silence with a meaning just out of reach

of the things you’ve left unsaid, and all the worlds

within worlds that are simultaneously us and not us,

a whisper of dust, when you walk me home alone like a road.

And the breath that gives the serpent wings

and incites the lamp of the dragon’s flame,

and the breath that blows glass lungs into an hourglass

in the womb of a furnace, and the breath

that abandoned the wick like the wind to its question,

more intimately mingled with my own, inside me and out,

than the roots of last night’s dream

when your hair silked my fingertips with knowing

and your lips were a language without laws.

How vividly I want these words to bleed for you

until they’re rooted in the soil of your solitude

like books and flowers and bone

that only you can open, and only when you’re alone

and the rain is full of distance and the moon is a cold stone

hurled at the wing of a passing bird,

and you’re accused by the inmates of affliction

of an illicit affair with freedom,

and there are evangelists like junkmail

on the thresholds of your genius

who threaten to love you if you recant,

and you wonder what love is and if it’s ever known you.

I want these words to exceed themselves

beyond anything they can be,

a cherry-tree carved in jade,

shedding real blossoms,

or a chandelier of fireflies hung up at a dance

high above the club-footed constellations

that follow their own painted feet across the floor.

And the breath that is a blue tincture of the night

that unlaces the day like the fragrance of a name,

and the breath that buries its dead on the moon,

and the breath that is a fire on shore to a ship at sea

pleading like a bell for landfall. Soon. Soon.

I want these words to convey more than the river can carry,

so they sink deeply to the bottom, the sediment of stars,

the veils of a dream settling over the shipwrecks

who were killed by the swordplay of their compasses;

I want these words to ink the indelibility of a spiritual tatoo

that looks like the nightsky when the scars have fallen away

and it’s done. I want these words to express what I meant

before they were said because they mean more unborn

than they do in the noon ray, eclipsed by our understanding.

And your breath that is my ocean and my atmosphere,

and the breath that is shocked like the wind

by the random beauty of asters and orchards.

And the breath that draws itself up like a bucket

from the well of its watershed depths

to pour the serpent out

like the ambivalent residue of a black wine.

And the breath of this poem and the next taken

to squander itself like oxygen in your blood,

light in your eyes. Love, where the waters of life flow

into a vastness that only the sea

and the unsayable passions of the night you are would dare.



And it’s been such a long time

since my heart were anything other

than a way of bobbing

to keep my head above water.

I stare at things until they scare me

because that’s the only time I feel

my blood and my head come together

wholly in the moment,

and I refuse to turn a grail quest into a hobby.

Like the moon I have been denuding myself for years

to know who I am, skin by skin, sky by sky,

believing the daughter of my mystic specificity is clarity.

I have been a thirsty fountain

and held my mouth open to the stars like rain,

and even without witness, without companion, in the dark

trusted the way of the seeing wherever it led,

trusted that it worked transformations in the nature of things,

trusted that if I looked deeply and eloquently

into the terrors, and sorrows, and joys of things,

the haemmorage of gold in the side of the mountain,

removed like a bullet, or the agony of the one-winged dragonfly

that spins in the dust like a wounded helicopter,

because these are how my humanity

keeps on happening, and there is no

inner or outer to hinge your door on in a dream

even when the rocks believe they’re awake,

nor any other evidence that I’m alive.

Each knows the world

by the colour and sound and touch and form of the other,

and if you’ve never seen how all the oceans

flow down into a single tear,

you’ve never really cried.

Who doesn’t look up at night

to see if they’re still shining?



for Trish

And isn’t it strange and wonderful

when I look up close, intimately at your image

shapeshifting through my mind,

hovering over the nightocean of my blood,

or turn it like a jewel in the morning light

to taste the wine you might be,

or the stars of this sky that overtakes me

with thousands of impossibly probable fates

that you should make my eyes flow like diamonds?

And I don’t really know what I’m doing here

standing at your skull-gates on the moon

wondering if anything like life or love will open

and what to do with all these thresholds

I’ve tracked up to your door like every step

of this long road I’ve taken like a man on a short chain,

but there are crucial intensities that have averaged me out like pain

and a light by which I know the light

that has led me here like a battered chalice

to see the waterlily emerge from her palace of starmud

like the moon in all her faces and phases at once.

And I think, if the light goes out in all directions radiantly,

the shadows must as well,

and I may be a bell,

but I don’t always know what I’m ringing for,

a fire-alarm, a church, a wedding charm,

a birth, a funeral, or the foundling

left gently in the night on the stairs.

And there are times when I swing

like a bucket of water in a burning doorway

and put myself out like a torch

as a last act of mercy to the light

to ease the pain of what I’m looking at

though it might not exist

for several lifetimes yet.

I doubt. I wonder. I hope and aspire

to an earthly excellence of grace and fire

that has made my life seem at times

one long, demonic exorcism of myself

so that less than little of nothing

I might be blessed

by one moment of affirming insight

that would get the world off my chest

and all these perjured files of a cold case

I shake against myself in court

like leaves against the evil tree that grew them.

I can’t recall the times I’ve exceeded myself

into some premature afterlife

I can’t wake up from the dream of being me

because I am too profoundly naive not to believe

that life is love and love is rare and noble and seeing

and has a heart that wills without force

the lightning and the fireflies

by which it finds its way along

this mystic bloodroad in glimpses

that will later grow into stars

and mythic constellations

that shine from the inside out

as you already do in me.

A child gives birth to a mother.

An old man kills death

and the trees are green again,

the clouds not at variance with the sky.

You are already a season deeper within me

than the reason why of anything

and I can feel you like a new sea on the moon

along all the astonished coasts of my body,

and there are lighthouses everywhere

humbled by your candles

that refuse to listen to their own warnings

because all my wrecks are rising

from their own ribs like birds

and you are the summer

that wines their voices like words.

You are the first whisper of a feather in aeons

to appall this abysmal impersonality

that won’t stuff me back into my sentimental heart

like fate back into a fortune-cookie

with the mystic intimacy of an enlightened thief

that steals my face with her eyes

and leaves a fingerprint

on the delirious mirror like the moon

for me to follow like a starmap through her labyrinth,

or a way of divining water, the grape through the vine.

I have never wanted what is not mine,

though the truth of that’s a little shabby,

and there are some women whose thresholds

are longer than the roads that lead up to them,

and some roads, looking back from the moon,

shorther than the hair on your shoulder,

but I am a way of my own

that no one else can follow,

and it’s as moot to me

as one river flowing into another

who leads who where.

You didn’t show up yesterday

and you didn’t call as you said you would

and the lean razor of the daymoon

cut the cord under the tongue of the day

and stole the solar obol of my passage

so that even the dead would not let me in,

and where, the day before,

your lightning enthralled the powerlines,

yesterday severed my spinal cord lengthwise

as if it were gutting a snake

to pull my partially digested heart out,

slowly appalled by the long severance of your silence

like a scream that can’t hear itself.

Romanticus interruptus, no doubt,

but I sit here this morning alone

before the grey radiance of this computer screen

with a full quorum of my usual folly,

and impeach myself like the burnt stake

I pulled out of this Cyclopean eye

like the thorn of the moon from the sky.

And I feel I mean nothing to anyone,

and I’m trying to be heroic about my whining,

and maybe it’s time I adjusted

to growing suspiciously old,

but honestly, I’m more baffled now

than I was when the rain was still a cloud

and knew nothing of roots or the reach of its powers.

A doodle of blood in the margins of the hours

I have studied myself for years

and taken copious notes

but when I go to say who I am

my mouth is an open book on the lawn

and everything I mean runs like ink

in a sudden shower,

and so washed clean of myself

I break new ground like the first draft

of an unknown flower,

and I don’t know if I’m a loveletter to the stars

or a flag of white surrender to the bees.

And then you call and I am uplifted again

like a coca leaf panicked into hot cocaine

when the sun comes out like a spoon,

and we get drunk all nightlong

falling into each others wells like the moon

as we wish for everything.

Unredemptive folly, what a fool of a man,

says the voice that watches events for a sign,

sawing through the green bough I’m singing on,

but the indictment is an old sling

with my skull in it

and there are no more mirrors or windows to shatter.

What heat if the fire were to reason

or think it’s burning a risk

and I were to lie and act as if

as if every breath you take,

every astonishing moment of your presence

doesn’t feather the ashes of the phoenix

in the palm of your hand

with fireflies and lightning

flashing through my darkness

with the mysterious beginnings of worlds within worlds,

each a glimpse of joy so deep

I am a delirium of terror

before the precarious gates of my own happiness

whenever I’m around you?

And when you leave

I know a greater fall than the first

when paradise uproots itself and jumps from me.

Do you understand? Just to think of you

turns me into a man more than the poet I used to be,

as I slough off this serpent skin of sky

that has long held me in the coils of its constellations

and rush like liberated stars into your ultimacy.



And if I refuse to be the kind of man

who walks around with his dick in his hand

like a starving baby bird

in the begging bowl

of a burning nest,

petitioning alms from impoverished women,

its mouth open to cloud after cloud of delusion,

and the fool still unconvinced

it’s not a witching wand or a sceptre,

does that make me more of a clown than you

whose blood rushs like an ambulance

to the emergency of every erection?

What kind of medicine man,

what kind of black magician

mistakes his penis for a voodoo doll

and sticks needles through it like women

and then bitches it hurts,

that all his feelings

lie shredded all around him

like a ticker-tape parade,

like the secret documents of a retreating embassy,

and then hauls himself like a hearse

to the courts of blame

and impeaches his own stars

before the fraudulent judiciary of his own curse,

claiming he was the victim of worse?

Hey, stud, it’s not a woman, or love, or even sex

that has unmastered you:

it’s that funky wand

between your legs

that keeps turning you into a toad

everytime you try to kiss the princess.



for Alysia

Among all that seems and appears and passes away,

among all the fears and sorrows, the longing and anger,

and all the ephemeral joys that nest in fire,

and the forms and the formlessness

in the myriadic upwelling of this human space

endlessly reconfiguring its own transformations

to the cornerstones of its quicksand constellations;

among all that is born and bleeds and heals

and breathes its life out like a last thread of smoke

from the candle of flesh that wore its face down to its heels,

and its eyes removed like grapepits from the wine of the seeing,

and its mind a black window no one looks through,

I have come to love you as no other.

Among the million elations of this radiant morning,

though the sun be ignorant of what it sets astir,

and the earth bask like a seed in the wound of the light,

not knowing what is about to flower;

though in this peerage of luminaries,

I am the darkest of all,

I have come to love you as no other

and all that’s bright in me is the thief of your shining.

I want you to know, you must know, how foolishly

I align these words like birds crazed by autumn

to write my love of you large in the mothertongue of the sky

that beads planets and skulls alike into rosaries

to count the names of the mystery that has embodied me

to let you know in blood and snow and apples and stars,

though in the vastness of this eternal night

my spirit be no more than a glow-worm in a canning jar,

or I be overwhelmed like Mercury in the morning light,

though you abide in fire, water, earth, and air,

and wear the rags and gowns and jewels

of these exuberant elements,

you must know how each morning,

vital breath on a delirious windowpane,

my life awakes in the nebular blaze of your being

as if it were the first star in the luster of a new medium

that singularly sustains it.

You are young and beautiful, radioactively creative,

and you have danced with the darkness

like the stars in the eyes of a black snake

and painted your own moon on its sloughed skin

and tatooed a black rose of blood on your heart with its own thorn

like the bruised blueprint of a new constellation

you’re adding to the zodiac

like a heretical house of lovers.

And I know you keep the moon close to your heart like a blade

to slash a new mouth in the black envelope of the night

that comes like a furious loveletter that refuses to open

the blue firegates of his blood

to the pilgrim whose passionate passage

is her holiest shrine,

all those crescents of the moon,

and the ease of their dangerous beginnings,

a way of winnowing thorns

when the wind came wearing horns

like the string of a bow to a notch in an arrow

or lightning in the grass to a sparrow.

But it’s the courage of your tenderness that prevails

like fireflies on an August night upstaging the stars

or a waterlily on the moon like faithful water

opening her petals like sails

to go in all directions at once

true to the exultation of her own radiance,

the elation of mystic waves on the high seas of her shining,

and the shadows of the bells in the valleys between them,

not the pain.

If you hurt for the right reasons suffering has its seasons, if not

it’s winter forever in the mouths of the furnaces

that broke like ice when their jaws dropped

and, birds in the chimney, their words never got out.

And your poetry knows this as well as I do

and my spirit is enhanced by the dance

of your transformative dragons

as you witch for water on the moon with an abandoned crucifix,

walking on dead seas that make your feet tremble like lifeboats

all the way out and back.

And you know how to feather the wind with wings

and there are flowers in the far, dusk-bound fields of your emotions

wilder than anything the light has ever seen before

that bloom like a whisper of fire only once

and then close their eyes like jewels

to dream of things the night could have said

when it tried to rob your grave like sapphires in your bed,

not knowing it takes more than a miner to raise the dead.

Yours is the blood of the ruby that wounds the thorn,

as you wield the sword of your sex in a lost cause

like a precarious herb of the moon

that kneels before the cripples of desire

and heals like fire.

This morning, raucous crows in the troubled trees,

and loose necklaces of Canada geese moving north,

and you’re five thousand miles beyond my fingertips

and your black and white picture, your face,

lies like the single blossom of the only spring that matters to me

beside the aging documentaries of the lies I wanted to be.

I look at your face. I imagine my lips on your skin,

and feel the lion lie down with the lamb of your flesh,

and my blood cooking paradise in the eye of the angel-spoon

you hold up to my lips like a tender of transformation

as I grow addicted to my own withdrawal,

swimming through mirrors, enthralled.

And I tell myself that five thousand miles is only a threshold away

and sixty years just a momentary footnote of clay

and the lucky day is when you discover it’s all one day,

as I zen the omission of my approach to slight the time

I haven’t spent with you, bound by blood to the earth.

I measure the eras like a pulse in the abyss of the unborn

and confide in a return address that is unlocatably now,

but there’s more enlightenment in longing to touch your hand,

a deeper satori in this darkness that shines like your eyes

than there is in the little of nothing that I understand,

as all the clarities I once preached to convert the windows

turn into upturned goblets in a cupboard, waiting for wine,

as the fever of an hourglass breaks like a bubble of sand,

and my desire for you, is the time.

The dead branch feels spring

like the ghost limb of a rootless amputee

and there’s an urgency of bees and the moon and the night

to set the orchards right as if every blossom of you,

every leaf, the fragrant preludes of your honey on the wind,

and the fire-eating roots of your underground choir,

were the mystic epiphany of an earthly desire

to proclaim the buddha of lust

with an offering of blood and dust

that wasn’t profaned by the giving of it.

Defects of meaning, let us lie in each others’ arms

and exploit the charms of seeming

while the world upgrades the morals of its alarms.

Here, now, I’m messing with your earlobes

and my hand on your thigh is full of risk

and I’m pushing buttons to find the right line

for a conference call to your mouth,

and there’s a tide of iron in my blood

that sways like a bell over your enchanted island

and waves and skies I’ve worn for years like hoods

on a scaffolding of bone

are shedding like swords and eclipses,

the horned petals that rose the thorns of the viper,

as I fulfill the prophecy of your wound

in a rush of blind avatars that bleed like stars.

How many nights have I wondered my way

into lying down beside you

just to shadow the dream of the fire

and touch your eyelid with the tip of a finger

as gently as a drop of water at the end of a blade of grass

as if to add a star of my own

like the seed of a new constellation to your night?---

this intimacy with you, always a bird shy of your coast,

the only way I knew I was alive

whenever the rain on the windows

began to paint my ghost,

and my spirit smudged its own honey

like smoke in a hive,

and you alone among shrines

that have scattered their gods like milkweed

were my only devotion, the ocean in the eye of the seed.

And the days intervene, and the nights pass

and my thoughts and feelings traverse the waste

like lamps and bells in a caravan crossing a desert of dead stars,

and I am not assured of much in life, and all my dreams

all my emergency flights, my backdoor transformations

are stuck in their cocoons like foodbanks waiting for wings.

And sometimes I feel like an apocryphal phase of the moon

waving good-bye like a fire on its upended stern

after it’s lowered its last lifeboat

and taken a dive in the ring like a punchy boxer.

I have my fears, my secret terrors, hours

that come like forensic interviews,

inquisitive scalpels that chill me to the bone

trying to unbarrow the facts like jewellry from a grave.

And the silence raves starkly and the nightwind rattles the windows

like a prisoner with his cup at the bars

and the hanged man at the end of his wick

wears the flame of his life like an executioner’s hood

before a cold gathering of jeering stars,

hoping his last words might open the gate on the cage

and free a few doves.

I fear the dark clarity of death’s liberated eloquence,

the lethal whisper of chafing shadows in the hall,

and I have been slashed by insights at the window

that would appall glass

as I winced at my mortality,

the shearing implacability of its transience,

and dared myself deeper into its darkness to see

if life were the gift of an unknown donor born to be undone

or merely a quirk of water impounded by the sun.

But I must go on; I must try to be and see and say

everything you mean to me

when even the road loses its own way

and every sky is burning like the sail of a ruined fleet

and you come to me like the night

in your gown of blackberrry blood

like the fragrance of forbidden jewels

on a breeze of light,

and I am uplifted by the mystery and beauty and guile

and feather of a smile, that is a woman.

You’re a perilous well with stars in your mouth

deep in my soul like water

that tastes of the light of life

to a man who has scarred the deserts on the moon.

You can ask any headstone of a planet

how lethal it is to expend a lifetime

waiting for life to turn around;

billions of years, and no skulls in the ground.

But you are worlds within worlds of eyes and awareness

spinning these lightning threads of life out of space

as you witch with a serpent’s tongue for fire

that burns like a waterlily in the afterlife of the urn

that dumps its ashes over gardens on the moon.

Do you understand; is it clear,

does it shine beyond meaning

where even the stars can’t go

that the immensity of this once is forever,

and the small realms of the distinctions that sever

are dwarfed to nothing by the abundance of this abyss

that ignites the whole of being with the delirium of a kiss

that never wakes the dreamer from the dream

of that kiss going on forever

like this waterclock of stars

that flows through the nights and mornings of our hearts like blood?

I have come to love you as no other

and though death may seed the starmud with coffins,

this hour and flower are supple with life

and time isn’t a hand on a knife

or the bud a brittle spearhead

as I explore the bays and shores of your face

as if my seeing were tides of a discerning sea

and your lips, an island,

and in every wave of me

urgent as the moon, you, pervasively, you

brighter than the fountain mind that arises inconceivably

to lavish itself like falling water on its own reflection,

and I know I can’t say this

but I’m going to try,

my voice a fly at the windowpane

among a profusion of stars,

a manic violin

playing variations on a scar

where every note is a razor

in a requiem that bleeds like tar

over the attrition of the holy from the human,

and you must hear this, you must

touch and taste and and see and be this

aspiration of breath in an echoless valley

to the apex of your mountain top

like a cloud of emodied light

that doesn’t smear the mirror in its passage.

Because I have come to love you like no other

and I want to squander birds on you in the morning

and root these words in your flesh like trees

and overturn the cornerstones of my knees

in a mystic demolition of shrines

that have turned their pages

like ripe moons on the vine

that unroll their red carpets of blood and wine

like the dark queens of rapture

that bind their captor

to the elixirs of ecstasy

that lace our annihilations

with lucidities in the lees of a sign

that even the beast of our darkest culpabilities

will eventually emerge like night from its lair and shine.

All week I’ve been failing myself to say what can’t be said

like a battered salmon leaping up the mindstream

that flows like the Milky Way, the Road of Ghosts,

the spume of these images kicked up like stars and dust along the way,

these gusts of seeing that settle lightly

like worlds on the leaves of the singing tree

that has tasted the lightning down to its roots,

just to mean as deeply as I can

who you are to me, knowing

not the wind, not a river, not

all the inflections of fire that love speaks

are voice and silence and awareness enough

to express why I live you this way

as if you were everything I ever had to say.

I shall pass. And you shall pass.

And there will come a day

when my hands can no longer feel water,

and these eyes that look upon your face now

as if the moon came like a blossom to the vine

will find their way like green stars

into the heart of the apple

or who knows, maybe even

tine the tears that run like rain

down the new glass in the nightwindowpane

waiting to be sweetened by the moon.

And here I go again, uplifted like a boy in a backalley

scuffing the world around like a rock one moment

and the next, a kite on a breeze that feels like you,

and the leaf of my tongue trying to say the tree,

the flame, the fire, the feather, the bird,

when I’m only a lonely letter scattered on the wind

and you’re the word that’s deep within.



All my emotions are in a back-alley

throwing dice up against a wall

as if they were consulting a starmap

to negotiate their groping way late at night

through a graveyard of constellations.

I am beyond the knowing and the going

of who I am because I keep happening faster to myself

than the light of the mind can illuminate.

Why wait for a fountain to give birth to a sundial,

when my being is my seeing, and it’s me that flows?

Everyone is struggling to be the exemption of themselves,

everyone is pleading for mercy and probation

from their angst, a spirit of fear,

things and events in the world that could harm them,

so they burrow into the earth

to gnaw on the roots of shadows

even as the moon cuts like a plough

through the darkness.

I’ve been out watching stars,

Mars in Cancer, and Venus, a bell of light

in the cold, predawn morning,

and my fingers, a keyboard of ice

that ache like the music of a frozen piano

and my heart stilled, whenever I look up,

by the infinite boundlessness and beauty

in the nave of an unfounded church

that is the vastness of the life within me

watching its own breath pearl into stars.

What more could I be

than a premonition in the dust,

a fable of water, and even that’s arrogance.

I have watched intensely, I have dared the doors

and the crowns of fire that adorn the dunce,

and risked more than I had to leave at the threshold

of eclipses that embraced me like skin

and learned there is no superlative for pain.



Aisha, life, friend of mine, I am thinking of you this morning

and a black rose petal, the eyelid of an eclipse,

drifts down through my mind like a lonely parachute

and I wonder what burns in that hidden heart of yours

where Isis grows the moon like a pearl.

You were always a night brighter than the fire

the shadow people sat around,

rejoicing in their spacey proportions,

your own cornerstone, you,

enthroned in your silence

as if you hadn’t happened yet.

And though I can never be your father,

and for awhile, you were my stepdaughter,

I am your friend, and in the bluing of the hills

from here to Toronto, my eyes, like a free atmosphere

lingering over these bells of earth, envelops you gently

in the musings of a morning full of light

as if you were the taste of stars deep within me

that never stop shining, even when noon

calls in its shadows in like markers.

I see you sitting by the phone, a girl,

wondering what you will say to your father in New Jersey

when he calls and if, waiting for calls and keyboards

that were promised but never came,

and the way you turned away into yourself

with the dignity of an island in the night

abandoned to its own constellations

and wouldn’t eat anything for a year but macaroni.

You whistled through childhood like an arrow

disciplined by the will you drew like a bow

to catch the eye of the target; and you hunted alone,

the enigmatic east of your own rituals

where the moon rose like a slender horn

and the stars felt like rain on the leaves of the trees

and your homelessness wasn’t the axis of a revolving threshold

and your heart, a furnace fuelled by diamonds

born like tears in the eyes that watched over your cradle of coal.

And I remember looking for cabbage-patch dolls in a panic at Christmas,

and that time up at Mississippi Station around the bonfire

when you took shape out of the night

and sat down beside me on a log in the glow of the burning

and I, who greeted you like a child, was smartly redressed

by an amazing young woman who asked me

if its gets any lonelier, and I said, yes, because

your question already knew the answer,

but added there were secret jewels in the solitude

that you will stub your life on

that can only be looked upon

by one alone with the Alone,

except for then, when I sat with you,

like two rivers at the sacred juncture of the witching wand

that trembled like water touched by a revelation,

and knew that you knew.



Afraid to be alive sometimes, not

anything horrific, but something

chronically unnerving in the air,

the slight trace of emotive plutonium,

a whisper of scales in the grass.

Most of my life I have laboured

to discover the importance of my inconsequence,

so I’m never certain of what it is I fear I might lose,

or is my survival merely the appendix of a habit

evolution is too booked to remove?

I’m fifty-nine, sixty soon, vigorously old,

and still fascinated by the subtleties of my lust,

the strange script it writes in the sand and the stars,

how often the needles of a viper have served

as my only compass in the incredible lostness,

or, more rarely, how the highest and the lowest

sprout from the snake like wings

until I cry the cinder of the dragon

out into more expansive skies

than can be sampled by my eyes

on the riverbank of my own cremation.

I love the suggestibility of words,

the auroral picture-music

that falls from the shoulders of the abyss,

but more, what they cannot, do not say.

I live among the fallen cornerstones of a mystery

that has accorded me breath and name enough

to know I am alive here on earth awhile

even if my heart rows like a lifeboat on the moon

toward the ubiquitous shore of its own boundlessness,

or a love-letter slipped under the door of an island like water.

And who am I to say it should be different,

when the clarity of what cannot be known

is brighter than that which can?

I breathe the world in and I breathe the world out

and everywhere my mystic specificity

is the whole of everything;

and when nothing is mine

I take a dark delight in the ageless intimacy

of celebrating the sacred unattainability of being anything,

and everything is inspiration, is the sea in the low place

receiving all her rivers without discrimination.

Of all the blessings that have been accorded me,

of all the days and nights that have amazed me into being,

this is the holiest heresy, the dark jewel in the eye of the light

that goes looking for it, illuminating worlds within worlds

like wildflowers and the maverick hubcaps of the moon

that have freed themselves of the wheel along the way.



A thousand years from now

who will remember me

once I’ve disappeared from this windowpane,

a vapour of breath with awareness,

a nebular stain on the clarity

that will wash its hands of me

like a scar of water that has clung too long?

I’m not trying to embalm

the elegaic content of these obvious sunsets in words,

and it’s hard to shake honey out of these mordant bells

that lie like duplicitous lifeboats to the gullible compasses and maps

that keep crashing like doves that don’t have the wingspan

to come back with news of land

to this museum of DNA, two of every kind,

I keep scuttling like an ark on the top of every wave.

And what is a grave if not an abandonned embassy

that didn’t have time to shred its dreaded secret?

And sometimes, when the emptiness and the silence

are beyond bearing,

I hold myself up like a passport at the panicked gates

that have made me an exile and a wounded threshold in my own home

and clamour like a continent

to be repatriated anywhere

that isn’t a country whose borders are stretched out like refugee lines.

But it’s a foolish wish.

And if there’s a dragon to slay,

I realize it’s only more shadows and swordplay,

and I think of the return of the rain lifted from the sea

and how the sea never feels anything is missing,

and everything is passage without arrival or departure

and how the arrow never leaves the hand of a good archer.

It’s human nature to understand,

a sacred mode of disobedience

to look into the eyes of our worst fears

even if it’s just to flare like a star without rescue

and scream out in light a moment against its own extinction.

But who or what or nothing is ever there to listen

as we go out like flies and stars in a toilet bowl?

And a love of laws is not the law of love

and there have been so many dragons

left out of the chrysales of their questions like answers

that the heart is not sustained by the impersonal blessing

of ubiquitous entropy in a long, lab coat

as the spirit longs for transformations

a star and a night beyond itself

that might astonish a human

with something enduringly human

like a next breath that can’t be smudged by death

or something drastic in the dust that remembers us

when we were stars

that thawed through the windowpane

as if we were looking through the lenses of our own eyes

to discover everything we live is how we die

and we’re always a plight and a plea away from knowing why.

Imagine, one night, looking up at the sky

and there were no death to raise the moon

like a calendar above your neck,

and everything you saw around you,

crows, kites, keys,

last year’s pine cones on this year’s trees,

were not denuded of their mystic specificity

in this mortal profusion of origins

that ends where it begins. Imagine,

one morning, not getting up from the dream

to pan the mindstream for the nugget of a skull

that might be gold, and the luster of the radiance

never grows old like the taste of the moon in your mouth.

Wouldn’t this onceness then be eternal,

and what I’m saying now, indelible

as the space that prompts the stars to shine?

Learning wisdom is learning the universe

as if it were your own face, on the inside,

and you were its only eyes,

disappearing from view so that all that remains is you.

Birth, a breathing in; death, a breathing out,

before the first and after the last, this pulse and suspiration,

muses around the wellspring, witches around the cauldron,

planets fluttering like moths

at the windows of the constellations. Like the moon

I pass my hand over like an eclipse as if it were my own skull,

I have been creatively maintained from the start by my own expiration.

Are there no orchards in the hearts of old women?

Are there no graves in the eyes of a child?