Wednesday, November 12, 2008



If you have any doubt this is about you, don’t

because I’ve summoned snakefire

to tatoo it like an underground constellation

indelibly upon your eyes

and the small skies

you mark like full moons

and forthcoming events

in the calendar of your tears.

How many doctors can you cram in a womb

to get the baby right,

or critics in your head

to align your poem with the axial north

of what everyone else has said

as if inspiration came with a coward and a compass?

You want the roads to follow you.

You stand up like a shaky mast

at public readings,

holding your poems

like a fleet of immaculate sails

that never leave harbour,

hoping some continent drifting toward China

will eventually bump into you

and some cartographer with a publishing deadline

will eventually give you a name.

I don’t mean to set fire to your watercolours

or leave them out in the rain like leaves

or deny you’re a capital looking for a country to star in

or throw myself like junkmail

on the threshold of your overpriced jeans

but I hate the way you keep setting up prisms

at all your rainbow intersections

like traffic lights and rush hour cops

to direct the flow of your reds and greens.

Enlightenment doesn’t maintain a teacher.

The muses don’t hold auditions

and life isn’t the dress rehearsal of anything

that can be prompted in the spotlight of the moon for applause.

Poetry isn’t the slurred autograph

on the second edition of a suicide note

and I’ve seen how you press your mouth to common paper

as if it were a royal document, a lettre cachet

sent through a cultural attache

to assassinate your reader like a lover

but red wax isn’t the same as sealing your words in blood,

and lipstick on a white hanky

isn’t a rose petal

or even a real kiss

and just because you’re a bleeder

doesn’t prove you’re the surviving child of a murdered czar

or that your future’s as bright as a vampire

that just got a job as a teller at a bloodbank

because you don’t know how to die for anything.

You’ve never lived a lie intensely enough

to make you come true

and though you’ve watered the moon for ages

with the rootless shadows of your mirrors and mirages

nothing ever grew.