MY EGO OFF
My ego off campaigning somewhere
wrapped in the bunting of its shadows
like a vampire, an eclipse, or a bat
gone out like a black hole
or a lightbulb on the ceiling,
I’ve got time to be inconspicuously left
with the playful intimacy
of my own absurdities
and the crazy wisdom
of playing strip poker with the stars.
It’s good to lose your skin sometimes
like a night you don’t want to remember
or a soothsayer holding all the wrong cards
like constellations that have been marked.
It’s how to get naked with the universe
when everyone else is embroidering a straitjacket.
Most people think that clarity has eyes
but I know it sees through me like the starless water
that everything is born from.
Ask almost anyone what they believe these days
and they’ll start quoting page two of their tatoos
like violent mandalas of scripture
mining the road to goodness and light
with explosives swaddled in mangers.
A new religion of sword swallowers
but I won’t dip my blade in wine or blood
and receive it from anyone’s hand
like the distempered steel of a consecrated wafer
or the body parts of a cynical holy war
that defeats its own people like roadkill.
The root of the word, religion, means to bind
like ligaments and lutes
or rosaries and chains
the pain to the wound and the wound
like the scar of a mouth that can’t sing to everything.
I’ve been falling for years like the autumn leaves
and coming up trees again
like a winning poker hand
or a butterfly that’s learned to lay traps for the spider
and the worst I’ve known of hell
is a woman who fell so far from grace
she went skinny-dipping in a midnight lake
like the eye of God
with her clothes on.
And as for paradise
I’ve been a pilgrim too long
to descrate my shrines with arrival
and I’m not in the habit of looking up to things
that are under my feet like stars
as the moon unfolds like a parachute
and I’m walking like water on Mars.