Tuesday, December 9, 2008



As you get older you begin

to look at your face more and more

as some kind of leftover on the curb of the mirror

that hasn’t quite finished eating.

But no more than you can keep

the snow from melting

or a candle from weeping

its way out of the light

without improving the darkness,

is there anything you can do

to change your mugshot posted on the moon

even if the last crescent

should suggest itself like a scalpel.

If I look at myself now

through the eyes of an earlier phase

that appears like the ghost

of a young man at the window

or some blossom that has fallen away

like a lover

I realize I have been shaken out

like a starmap from the shining

and there are constellations of black holes

like moles peeping through the paper like skin.

My face is the cover of a racy novel

in a public lending library

that has been taken out too many times

and thumbed to death like a rose

that’s indifferent to its own orgasm

and my eyes have weakened like stars

that fall short of the lightyears that it takes

to make it across the titanic abyss

of my expanding brain.

And for all the lifetime

I have stood like a prophet

on the mountain of my nose

like a lightning rod on a mystic peak

waiting to talk to God,

my granite commandment

that guides me like a rudder through stone

when I come down like an avalanche

of sacred tablets,

has been broken three times in a parking lot,

getting knocked down for something

that everyone’s forgot,

but I once stood up for like a blood clot.

And I remember once when my lip

was parted by a punch like the Red sea

that has since scarred up

like a little ravine on the moon.

Now I finger the cracks and the lines

of the dried-up creekbed

that no longer dreams

of the freshwater streams

that once ran like furious flashfloods

through the alleys of death

into the gleaming suburbs

of the promised land.

I return like the afterlife

of a lost language

to read my own hieroglyphics

to find out how I was finally overthrown

like a sandstorm that has blown itself out

in three languages on a worn stone

that deciphers me like a face.

What does the wind see

when it looks for its own reflection

over the water? And who is the me

that has taken my place in the mirror

and exhumes me like a dynasty

of lonely, palatial tombs

to grin like a mummy

packed like a leather suitcase

under glass

as if time had no class

and they were checking passengers at the stargate

for anyone without I.D.

who looks like me.

But I don’t think of time as a thief.

The tree just outgrows its own wanted posters

and lets go of them like blossoms

and orchard moons

that fall away from the bough

like pilgrims along the road

returning home

after circumabulating

the kissing stone in the shrine of the fruit

that contains the tree all over again.

I don’t think the blossoms were fake

or that the fruit falls for my sake

or there’s some kind of reservation

I can make in the years ahead

not to line up with the dead

as if it could serve any function

to indulge a personal compuction to endure,

though I’ve never really been

very brave about these things.

So there it is, the full moon of my face

and the smudge of my eyes and my mouth

and hair like smoke that’s drifting away

and how much strangeness there is

in the illimitable intimacy

I have with the reflection

I’ve stared into for years now

like a slow fire

or a perilous apple

and how little say I’ve had in the changes

that have bound me like a stone to the flames.

I look at my face like a distant planet

I’m trying to discover life on

under all that ice and darkness like water

that tastes of my beginnings

and I look through both ends of the scope

and one eye dwarfs me like a black hole

and the other reads me

like a message in a bottle

I wrote in blood and wine

and sent out like a dove

or a loveletter on the vine

I could not hope to see again

knowing the new moon is born blind

with teeth like sundials

breaking through the gums of the hills

like an inflammation of the dawn

and I will live on and on and on

as everything but me

and like a sailor at sea in the morning

who is still astonished

by the profusion of light

that ends the night

and peering deeply into his own eyes

that evaporate with the stars

like birds from cracked bells

turns into the oncoming squalls,

grateful for the warning.