IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBT
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.