Sunday, November 9, 2008




Saturday morning rain in Perth

and things seem as intimately far off and strange

as the new maps of water running down the windowpane.

No birds on the black boughs of the November trees

and black mirrors in the empty funeral home parking lot

and on the other side of me

the stalwart bloodbrick of a wet church

that looks better in the nicotine lingerie

and dusky seaspray

of a single yellow floodlight at night

that can’t get it up to be a lighthouse.

It would be a lie to say that I’m not in love

and happily alone, but I most wistfully am,

as I excuse myself for being me

and put myself off like the small death of another way

I could have taken to get back home, but didn’t.

November’s an orphanage after the last kid has left

and I’m sure there’s an ancient chthonic wisdom

under the duff and detritus

of all these slick, leechy leaves

that the earth has applied to herself like a poultice

to draw the violets and worms out in spring,

but right now my mouth is not a wound

with anything deep to say

about things too deep to be said

and there are memories of women and friends in my head

sleeping like keys in the bottom of a drawer

that I have saved for when the day comes

to open the flowers and doors

that I’ve forgotten,

all the soft sorrows that rime the radiance

of the halo around a black hole

haunted by these ghosts of light.

I am absorbed like tears in a tenderness of grey

and there’s more healing than thorn

in the cool aloe of the air

moist with a seance of emotions

that gust lightly around me

as if yesterday were merely a fragrance

hovering over an eye of wine

like the dust and smoke of today

that bottles its purity like water.

Sometimes love passes like a glacier over you

and there are runes and scars and striations on your skin

and lakes and craters and eyes the sky fills in

and the sun comes out like an exorcist

and you feel like you’ve been baptized in ice

or tucked into the crevice of a wailing wall

like a baby mammoth, or an unanswered prayer

and you try not to care

that you’re a freak of your own evolution

trying to clone yourself out of the museum into a zoo

and that all these people are staring at you

like a missing link between the parentheses of your tusks

that have unhinged you from the gate of time

you once swung on like your next breath,

and if you were asked about the extremes of mercy

you would say, without hesitation, death.

Sometimes it’s that hard to accept

that nothing that happens here, including death

is ever over, and that the absence of something or someone

doesn’t mean they’ve ceased to exist

like footprints that lead down to a river.

Because we all live the same beginningless beginning

that is the once and forever of this universe

even if it should call itself home occasionally like an eye,

we go on living and dying each other alone

like an extinct species always asking the time

when the moonlight burns like lime in a grave

and then, once more, absurdly never the same

riots of flying fish leap from every drop of rain

that remembers the passion of the wave

offering itself in the life of every moment

like a jewel thawing, or an icecap over the eye

or the opening of a brittle window

to be scoped out by the nightwind

that longs like a thief for the sea

to gather him up like one of its belongings.

But you can’t pour the universe out of the universe

where the whole is sustained by every part

anymore than you can empty the human heart

that is renewed by its own exhaustion like a tide.

Time is always prelude

and death has never known when

to take down its sail like a tree in the fall.

And because things are never the same twice

and the road back is not the road taken

the world and everyone in it

just as they are, have always been here.

Things don’t come and go

like migrating geese ascending southward out of a field,

or things fallen returning to their leaves

because there’s nowhere to come from

nowhere to go to

that isn’t now and here

as intimately far as it is impersonally near.

Ask almost anyone who they are

and they’ll look down a well in a mirage

to haul up their reflection on a wheel

and insist it’s real

when they ladle their face to their lips

like the moon on dark water.

Or they’ll tell you a story around an unending fire

where the shadows are always truer than the flames

and the most illuminating themes burn like stars without names.

Mind is space and there is

nowhere inside or outside of anything

that is closer or futher than anything else

because everything is mind as far as you can be.

So I can stand here in my lengthening shadow

like a long departure

turning into the wind like a sail or a sundial

as if I were the last of my species of eclipse

and life were merely the long, hard discipline

of unmastering the art

of saying hello to the living

and good-bye to the dead,

or turning the telescope around

and saying good-bye to the living,

hello to the dead as I please,

but I’d rather shed myself

like all these falling maps to anywhere

that once arrived like the fleets of the leaves like me

on the shores of this rootless tree

that doesn’t let go of things for its own survival

but lives in itself like a stranger come

to the opening gate of an endless arrival.

I let the birds come and go, the apples fall,

the stars build their webs in my crown,

and grow like a holy road I take as my own,

like geese passing overhead at night,

or the small birds that come to me like voices

a moment here then gone

who taught me that it’s always dawn

because there’s no end of the beginningless beginning

and it may be a green bough

or a dead branch

you hop up and down on like the hidden notes

of something you’re singing

on the rungs of these crazy snakes and ladders

that long like flesh and bone in the night

for things they can’t see anymore in the light,

or fish dying of thirst in a fathomless pond

or a fire putting itself out in its own eye

or someone dying and someone else asking why

and the whole of creation left alone at home

feeling it doesn’t belong under its own sky

like this Saturday morning rain in Perth

the day after your death

that falls like a loveletter too late upon the earth

or the harvest moon of a delinquent heart

above an untimely skeleton

that can’t decide whether its a tuning fork

or a witching wand

looking for answers like water

under every stone on the moon,

the way we cry for people we think are gone,

but green bough, dead branch, Luke, same song.