Sunday, November 23, 2008



I can remember you screaming

like a shattered crackhouse window

something obscene to the last john on death row

you railed like a comet in passing.

Your mind was a mirror

that had suffered one too many exorcisms

not to weep on the dark side

like an exhausted eclipse

when you cracked like a wishbone for the boys

and I could never imagine

what you said to yourself

when you picked yourself up after them like toys

they had forgotten they had wished for.

When you pulled the shower curtain closed

like a bruise on a nun

were you in a cloister or a confessional

or are there other vows

that can only be broken by a professional?

You were all gates to everyone

but no matter how many they passed through

they never made it as far as the garden.

But I can remember one night with you

before we both grew up through the concrete

when the angel with the flaming sword

blew herself out like a candle

and there was more to the beginning

than just a word.

Everything sprang up like mushrooms

and in every one

I could taste you like the moon.

And San Francisco in the sixties

showed us both what the world could have been like

if it had been created by a woman

but it was you alone

in the silence of our mystic complicity

that revealed what could be revealed

of your plans for paradise.

Are you in it now?

Are you dabbling your toes

in the salmon-enchanted rivers of the dawn

or leaping over the obvious rainbows upstream

to heal your urgency in the sacred pools of Goldstream

as if the sea depended on it?

The last time I saw you

the drugs had made you so thin

you looked like a ladder going down into a deep hole

and there were no demons or angels on it rungs

and the stars in your eyes had turned their dancefloors

into the heads of tiny pins and celestial syringes

at the other end of the telescope that makes things small.

And then the ferry pulled away from the wharf like a planet

and left me standing dwarfed in its wake

and I remembered you, so unafraid and golden

insisting I push you higher and higher

with every return of the swing

as if you couldn’t do anything

without coming full circle,

and then you jumped like a stone from a sling

or a comet from its dark halo

and I saw the moon fall out of your ring

like an opal, like an eye

and by October when you left for Mexico,

the little we had of a belated childhood was over.

I wanted to call and tell you

I still loved you like that summer

you turned, and laughed, and raised your shirt

and showed me your breasts at the end of the walkway

like something of you

you wanted me to remember.

And I do. God knows I do, by the way I hurt

like a road you didn’t take

or the face you kept hidden for my sake

that still keeps on using me like tears

when you asked me in jest

but listened for the answer like a bell

if after all these years

I would still die for you

and for a few hours one afternoon

you were Josie again, happy and vain and glorious,

whenever I answered yes

and there was no chain in hell

that could bind you like a swing or a well

to the pendulous clockwork deathcart axles and oxen of anything

and no pain in the silence that followed the news of your death

when I said it again

and true as a comet to its calling

or the map of a star to its falling through fire,

you streamed out forever like your hair in an exaltation of glee

lacing summer stars through the darkest places in me

screaming, higher, Patrick, higher,

push me higher than I’ve ever been

as if I could pick up where you had left off

like a kite on the wing

a girl on a swing

and the world was not dirty and mean.