Saturday, December 13, 2008



for Jesse

Light upon light, darkness within darkness,

both are inherently blind

to the creative radiance

that opens our eyes like leaves on a tree

so that everyone can see

what they can’t.

But the mind can’t find or lose itself.

The light doesn’t illuminate itself.

The darkness can’t hide from itself.

Think of how many worlds

you can throw down

the black hole in the waterjewel

of your green eye

like moons and pennies and stars

into a wishing well

you can drink from with the morning glory

and still, after all these years

that absence isn’t full.

That’s what makes you an artist,

that’s what makes you the embodiment

of an enormous longing

to express the form of an unattainable identity

that burns without the shadow of a star

in the unwitnessed fires of its own clarity,

that’s what makes you want to make seas of your tears

and wash yourself off the beach

like a watercolour of the dawn

into the depths

where you can be more intensely

all the strange, wonderful, terrible

mystically specific things you are

when you glow by yourself in the dark.

Don’t underestimate the power

of your own most intimate vulnerability

to pull the sword out of the moonstone

or crack it like a blade of grass.

The petty look for company outside themselves

but the great, when they’re lonely,

expand their solitude to include everything.

That’s why the universe keeps getting bigger

and angelic flowers

like paintings and poems and lovers

keeping blooming like moons

along the long, dark, radiant way

we keep rising like the dead in spring

or pale fire in the lifeboat of a flower

from our own demonic roots.

The wines of love and compassion

move like blood

through the vines of hell

and the moon removes itself like a thorn

from the thumb of a bell

that keeps letting you in

like a thief into heaven

through your own back door

because the discipline of a great artist

poet, lover, human

is learning to wield the fire

of the dragon who ate the moon

and summoned the rain

out of its own eclipse

like a sword of white lightning

in the innocent hands

of the heretic who cleft the tree

like a wound in the hoof of a holy war

because it’s never been won before

by anyone who couldn’t inspire water

to catch fire

like stars in a mirror

without putting themselves out.

Ultimately, what’s it all about?

It’s sometimes hard to tell

that the loyal hookers in heaven

are the most reliable muses of hell

and for every demon that jumps from grace

the whole choir rises like phoenix fire

from the aging pyres of autumn

to take its place

like the emotion on the face

of the new moon

when she recovers herself

like a lost ocean

among familiar avatars

when the flesh turns to stars

and your afterlife isn’t just

the long conversation

you meant to sit down

and have with yourself

at a seance of scars.

There are surer signs of life

than can be found off the coast

of a storm drain

where the leaves and the loveletters

wonder who was written in vain

but I know you better

than the pulse of the rain

on the eyelid of a ghost.

You’re Jesse Eden James.

You’re that artist who woke up

like water on Mars

to green the dream with your eyes

long before anyone else

even realized you were a planet

and there was someone original in the garden

the apple wouldn’t condemn

and the snake couldn’t pardon

for knowing how to flow

like a sword through fire

and when you tempered your heat in diamonds,

like light through the valleys

that run like wounds

along the blade of the moon

in a full eclipse,

not harden the petals

of the black rose you’ve thorned

with the haloes and horns of the mystic metals

that adorn you like the crescents of night

out over the secret seas

that rise and fall

like radiant asides of the moon

whispered between parentheses

as the constellation of the green stars

that crown the rosehips

with jesters’ caps

burns its starmaps

and puts a finger like a lighthouse to your lips

as it rises like a waterbird

jewelled by the moon

from the sacred groves

of sunken ships.