Saturday, October 18, 2008



for Alysia

I look at you

and you are the indiscrete genius of night

that makes the muses burn like diamonds in my eyes

and there’s a depth to the longing that awes me

and the silence of something eternal

almost a wound

that wants to be elaborated in words

that have never moved among the living like lies that can heal.

It’s mercurially redundant to try to be real

but every poet’s a holy clown

packed into the darkness of a sacred cannon

cocked to go off like the beginning of the universe

because it’s easier than dying all the time.

And now that I’ve declared my intention

who could take me seriously?

See what I mean? I’m always

an inconceivable intimacy beyond myself

as if the flowing threshold of this long road I’ve taken like a lamp in a high wind

doesn’t want to know what’s going on at home

as if the shining wanted to outrun any news of the star

and it was cooler in these shadows with you.

Bright, clear, blue autumn morning in Perth,

and you in Kamloops, three hours behind

and mountains away, asleep.

It’s as important to know where you are sometimes

as it is to know what hour it is,

plant the lightning, see what blooms,

go panning for stars at noon, get up

and trampling your teachers under your feet,

declare yourself like the heresy you’ve always been for once.

I look at you

and I’m the understudy

for a random constellation of autumn

no one’s ever identified

and the last waterlilies to open my eyes like enlightenment

fly off like wild waterbirds without a trace

to destinations of their own

and what I am left to see by is you

and you are a siren and three sphinxes beyond the light

and I’m one of the things that come out at night

all stars and Mars and mushrooms.

But you’re the mystic hallucinogen,

the tree on the moon sipping from its own dark grail,

the face behind the phases and veils

that’s always turned away like a valley

that doesn’t want to show you its scars.

When I’m with you like this on the nether side

I don’t have to look into your eyes

to know what season it is

because everything I muse I might be

sheds me like a calendar,

shakes me out like birds

from the rootless tree I am

and every thought of you is a winged seed

that doesn’t know where I’ll land.

The moon blooms in the soil it’s planted in

and I’m a windfall of forbidden fruit

as my blood slides through me like a snake

and my haloes are playing ringette with my horns.

How I wish I weren’t wise enough to know

the universe is an open hand

and I can’t possess you

except in flight

when I listen deeply to the sorrows

that sing like nightbirds in your eyes.

I look at you

and my voice starts speaking in tongues

about what my spirit is whispering to my body

in a secret language of wells

and you’re the firespear of a wound to the heart

that never wants to be healed or holy.

Right now I’m in a large, dark, abandoned theatre,

an abyss lonelier than my last soliloquy

making a gracious bow to all these empty seats

left speechless by my final word

as if I weren’t the end of anything,

and you come upon me like the encore

of one hand clapping

and my love of you is held over by popular demand for another night.

I look at you

and you’re a vamp and a sybil and a sorceress

and I’m coiled like the python around your arm

that knows how dangerous prophecy can be

until it comes true

and there’s nothing left to ask of the gods

when they answer me like this with these revelations of you

that make the world seem by comparison

just another sudden flashback of a junkie

shooting the afterlives of the ghosts

that buff the jewel of his seeing

eclipse after eclipse

until the filament burns out

and the weathervane tells the lightning where to strike.

It’s not a real poem

if one wave waits upon another like a conclusion

to sweep all the others away

or one breath waits upon another

like the stranger at the gate

who shows up like a lover

you didn’t know you had,

to stop and say good-bye.

It’s just the neon bloodlight

of another electric motel muse

painting the moon like her toenails after sex

if the sea doesn’t take down all your sails

and untie you from the mast

and smash you like a lifeboat up against the rocks

and snuff the star you steer by like a kite

to hear what the sirens are singing

when a man grows tired of listening to himself.

I look at you

and you are a theme of light

that runs like a bloodstream through my life

when there aren’t enough eclipses to cover my eyes

or stars over Bethlehem to follow.

I look at you

and the Taj Mahal turns into Atlantis

and sinks like butter into its own melting

and I’m left facing you like a compass in all directions,

the meteoritic kissing stone in a Kaaba of quicksand,

cast out of myself like the long shadow of a desert nation,

an exile of water

that’s learned how to bloom

like a nightbird on a dead branch

in a garden on the moon.

I look at you

and the silver leaks like a broken thermometer

from all my mirrors and mirages

like poems I haven’t begun,

things I haven’t done,

men I’ll never be,

knowing how close the river is to the sea

when time takes its own pulse like a bell

and concludes its only prognosis is incurably me.

I look at you,

I look at your mouth and your eyes,

the sweep and fall of your hair,

and I look under the loveletter of your skin

where all these stars begin

like a planet reading the new constellations that come up dancing

over the horizons of these skies you keep sending me

like photos exposed to the eyes and fires and furies of love,

these horizons that keep bending me like the earth toward you

as if I were an ark or an apple,

or a star that could run down your windowpane

a finger a breath a feather

or a drop of luminous rain

like the eye of the needle

or the buddha letting go

or me

when it’s imperative to let you know

that through all these passages and tiny deaths

as even now, I can taste your eyes in everything I see,

in the soft stars flowering in the hair of the willow

like the elder illuminati of the wild asters

when I live like a river with you in the spring

and in the full moon under my tongue

that is always you in the autumn when I die

like a happy bird disappearing into a generous sky.