Monday, February 23, 2009



Watching diamonds evaporate

as they lose their edge

like my breath in winter

breaking into stars,

I am peopled by the trees enough

not to feel alone

but most of me

is a small intimacy

in an immense space

that doesn’t wear a face out in the cold

like a man stepping through his back door

late at night

to remind himself

how far away from home he is

when he looks up

like the secret threshold

of a rootless tree

and there’s nothing left to be

but what he is and isn’t,

a journey whose only return

is always a mode of leaving.

Death nothing is

devoid of a copulative

not pre-existent and waiting

for my blood to run out of verbs

and overturn the grail like a shotglass

when it’s tasted me down to the last drop

and it’s not the cup this time

but the wine that’s finally empty.

My body’s a snowman in spring

unspooling like a map

of unnamed rivers on Mars

and my mind is an indecipherable

encyclopedia of scars

written in a lost dialect of stars

by a dying civilization

encrypted in a dead language

like the meaning of life

when there’s no longer any life

in the eyes of the meaning.

There’s no salvation

in not lying to yourself about death

nor reward for the courage

to look at it clearly

like a beginning that knows where it ends.

Every life is lightning

in the lamp of the universe

that leaves nothing unrevealed,

whose dearest, most urgent substance is revelation.

I don’t need to perform surgery

on my eyes in the mirror

and remove my face like a cataract to see.

I don’t need to sink telescopes

like Atlantean wells in space

to know how far I’ve fallen from grace

looking for paradise under my feet

before death was lonely

and life was sweet.


Saturday, February 21, 2009



Independently the same as everyone else

like a word in an unfinished book

whether your name is in title case

or the merest of mentions

in the forensics of a footnote

micromanaging the scene of the crime,

you can always be together and alone

at this propitious nexus of time

because the sum of many is always one

and whatever road or ray or way you take or don’t take,

whether you blow the candle out

to better see the stars

or buff your own shining

like a breath on a mirror

eventually your solitude

will contract into your original unity

like a blackhole at the center of a clock without arms

and embrace everyone as the only way

to greet and meet yourself

on this long road to everywhere

that flows out of us like blood or time

or the return address of an unknown lover

and every step we take

is a threshold we’ve left behind.

It’s true, there are things to seek,

but why try to define your own becoming

like a scribe of the rain

trying to divine the eye of the well

as if water were blind and hiding

like your own proud tears

shining like the unvoiced sorrows

of the stars at your feet?

I can hear your orchards

crashing like chandeliers

from way over here

on the other side of your eyes

where the waterlilies don’t open like stars

to be seen

and the fleets of your constellations

have been washed up like ships

on the foreign shores of a dream

that’s about to wake you up.


Thursday, February 19, 2009



Waterclocking my way like a cloud

into a bigger sky

or trowelling away the stars

that cling to my bones

to get back to the unvarnished marrow

of my myriadic origins,

I realize I am as lost

as a rootless tree

or a voiceless echo

in a mausoleum of transformations

that didn’t wait for me to happen first.

So it’s anyone’s guess who I am now

and I’ve cleaned out all the oceans

of all possible life-forms

on the way to being me

to clarify the mirror

so I could see

but now, even the mirror

has run out of ontological notions.

But lately I’ve begun to suspect

that life isn’t motion or entropy,

neither still nor active,

not here now like me

nor coming to be,

not my next breath

nor a death that can’t be forsaken,

nor the space beyond these sexual opposites

engendered out of their own mutuality,

but the immensity of the godlessness that secures

my own unattainability,

and realizing the impossibility of being

I am no longer marginalized by existence.


Monday, February 16, 2009



Things I must do and don’t.

Things I shouldn’t, and do.

The world world wanders off by itself

like a periphrastic who’s who of a storm

that doesn’t make any difference

to anything I am

that is being generated spontaneously

like this morning

out of everything I am not.

I can feel the silence

honing its tongue on my solitude

like the sweet knife of the crescent moon

it found in the grass beside the mindstream

where I unfurled my blood last night

like the flag of a vagrant nation

in a bombed-out palace of water.

So I might be writing this to you

out of some delirious afterlife

I’ve woken up in

like the broken rosary of a waterclock

that no longer mistakes time

for the prime theme of my awareness,

but you can no more call me back

from my undoing

than you can the geese in the fall.

Not to trivialize the dream,

it’s the same way

I’ve approached women over the years

like an unruly desert wind

fiercely trying to score its heart

for a choir of stone-deaf sphinxes

that might turn into sirens worth listening to

as they lured me up onto their rocks

like the cornerstones of an Atlantean generation.

And wherever they kissed me

my pores were jewelled with eyes,

but in some, life before life,

you could taste the flavour of heaven,

before it had a past,

while in others,

life after life

followed me into the future

like a sequence of stations in hell,

each a more exquisite excruciation than the last.

But no one reflects on the innocence of the flowers

until the storm has passed

and the fields they once walked through together

when they were the only weather

have been torn and renewed.

Things done, things left undone.

Eventually you come to realize

that only the road moves on

making things up along the way

to keep it company

like the beginning of songs

it never finishes, like

me and you bound like a bridge

or a yoke over the oxen shoulders of the water

that reflects our dark opposites

in the weeping mirror

of the same mindstream

as effortlessly as it fields the stars

between the circular shores

of its long empty bowl.

The more abundant the silo

the deeper the echo

even when it’s full.

So there’s no need to run around

like the scythe of a crescent moon

trying to harvest mirages

or cut the throats of doves

before the snake-infested shrines

of the oracles that riddle our hearts

with symbolic wormholes

that keep digging deeper for water

wave after wave, word after word

like tongues and shovels

trying to excavate our own remains

from the deserts where we buried God

when we all lived happily together

in the same cramped grave

and there was nothing one to save

and no one who needed saving,

no bones of tomorrow

buried under the fires of today.

Things were that way once

when every chance we took was new.

And it’s not that the risks I take now

have grown blasé

or every urgency opens like a parachute

when I fly too close to the sun

or I’ve forgotten how to jump from the flat earth

like an unwanted child at birth.

Yesterday is not less than tomorrow

in the egalitarian boundlessness of the moment

that includes us in our own death

like the next breath

or the viewer in the view

or spring in a Babylon of fallen apples

that still sing like drunken bells

in a tavern of unsquired steeples

that have learned to get along like trees.

Autumn still slips its loveletters late at night

under the door like leaves with a calling,

and even under the eyes of the dice when they sleep

you are the still the dangerous dream

that is deeper than any afterlife

I could ever wake up from.


Sunday, February 15, 2009



Just listen to what’s going on inside of you

with your eyes if you can for one thought-moment

and you’ll hear the sound of chains

falling off everywhere like ripples of rain,

and there will be no insistence

on what you must be

in the black mirror

that envelopes you like night.

I’m making you up

even as you’re sitting here

telling me how real you are.

Real or unreal, you can’t

make a gate of one

without the other passing through.

I’m painting a picture of you

that you will never be

and it keeps changing in my mind

as if it had a life of its own

and could dream its own way

through the sleepwalking world

like a theme of reality

beyond enlightenment and delusion.

You can go on trying to prove or disprove who you are

like a waterwitch looking for wells in a mirror

at the crossroads of a weeping willow

but I’m resting easily on the moon

like an old meteor contaminated with life

drinking wine from my own skull

as if I had already stumbled across

the shoreless cup of my last afterlife

and had all the time in the world

to risk my own weather like the sea.

Or listen to what you have to say

like someone trying to stick

to an unstageable play

that’s on tour like a crosswalk

trying to see its name in lights.

Either way, it’s all right, it’s all right.

I’m not playing backgammon

with the tiger’s stripes

to clarify your delusion

or trying to pull thorns

like the first and last crescents of the moon

out of the wave-maned lion’s paws

to ease the pain of being you

like a tide that never reaches its own coasts

like a bird buffeted back by the wind

or confuse the joy of your extinction

when you’re not

sticking yourself like stars

to the flypaper of your own mystery

as if all that shining

all your firefly constellations

above and below your feet

were already the fossils and starmaps

of your invariably personal history.

It’s a slow boat

that looks to its wake

to determine where it’s going.

Life’s more of a stage than a play to me

and it isn’t just one play going on

it’s many plays simultaneously

and in the vastness of a space

without inside or outside

we hold all those voices

like the sky holds its stars and birds

or a single human heart

everyone who’s ever lived

without having to play all the parts

or master imperfectible arts

to put a smile on a tragic mask

or teach a fool to know what a fool is.

Just listen to the sky with your ears

and for the first time

you’ll recognize your own face

without a mirror

and the colour of your eyes

will be grace itself

and there will no end of the theme

that runs through all your dress rehearsals

like the understudy of a bloodstream

caught like a doe in a spotlight

who died of stagefright

when the only part she had to play

was the stage.


Sunday, February 8, 2009



Intimately bleak Saturday morning.

Dirty snow all over the ground

like fog that took itself too seriously,

like me at this desk here by a window in Perth

blurred and zoned out by the greyness of everything

as if all these soft forms saturated with space

and arrayed before me were just

more of the habits of life,

smoke from the hilltop watchfires

warning of another approaching desire

dipping its candles in a black mass.

I keep coming to these intersections of life

where any road’s as good as any other

and I stand in a moment of realized stillness

wanting to want something again,

for one direction to seem more urgent than the rest.

But I don’t mean to sound as if

I’m just a voice and a breath shy of the urn;

I’m not; I still burn, but the fire lives on nothing

and though I am forever transformed

into people it takes me a while to get to know,

I am never consumed.


Thursday, February 5, 2009



Every word turns away

shame-faced and a liar

when you try to say things so true

they could only be contaminated

by a mouth.

And the tree in your voice

may be its own guitar

and every flower of your breath

be rooted in stars like the wind,

and you can spend a whole lifetime

trying to say everything

as if words could exact living destinies

from the names on the scrolls of the dead

to save everyone, to save

everything that exists

from nothing

but when you’re done,

when the tree falls silent

and the bird has flown away,

everything, just as it is,

will still be left unsaid

and just as there is no likeness for the living

there will be no likeness for the dead.

It is the unsayability of the mystic theme

that runs through us like a road through a dream

or the poem in our bloodstream

that is the cosmological constant

that keeps on expressing us

like waves of its own water

though we go looking for ourselves

like empty cups

to fill the topics of our names

forgetting like the moon

that water is its own chalice.

Why kneel by the water like the moon

to drink from your own face

as if it tasted any different downstream

than it did when you were a cloud

high on the mountain

when you can taste

the facelessness of the sea in everything

if you drink deep enough?

And there are eyes full of wine

waiting to get drunk on you

that haven’t bloomed yet

and wells that your tears

are still falling through

like plumb-bobs and pennies

that haven’t reached bottom yet,

and deaths that are antiquely your own

you must rise from

like the hosts of the morning glory

to show the gaping bells of your irrefutable ghosts

it can be done.

Words have bad memories.

Words are troubled sleep and nightmares.

Words are dead trees in a winter swamp

that couldn’t wake a mosquito up.

Words are the ring of the gold on the countertop

that tells you it isn’t true.

Words are a snakepit of spraybombs

that go off like terrorists

on any average day

in the market-heart of the silence.

Words are wanted posters

nailing their own likenesses

to the crucifix of a telephone pole

to divert their detection like water

from the tines

and witching wands of the lightning

that seeks them out like humans alone in the open.

And if you try to say the unsayable

by smearing the view

with a new holy book

what have you said

that isn’t just more graffitti

scratched on God’s face,

or the vast scream of the dawn

just before you wake up from the dream

to discover you’re gone?

Words are the negative space

we use to delineate

the shapes of ourselves

when we talk ourselves

like water into fish,

like infinite, open-mouthed skies

that have winged their way into words

like autumn rain in the hearts of the waterbirds

that leave no trace behind.

Words are blind. And eyeless.

Words are boulders

in the throat of the impasse

when the mountain tries to speak

of things that last,

or mud in the stream of the valley

when it lowers its gaze like a poem

to whisper of things that pass.

Words turn the spell

on the sorcerer

and dangle him

like a participial puppet

from the strings

of his own grammar,

his own magic,

like stars in farcical cocoons

on the trophy-lines of his webs.

Why rummage through

the wardrobe of a wave

for something to cover your nakedness

when every time you go swimming

you can wear the sea?

Take a page out of the book of the stars

and keep words behind you

like seagulls in the wake of your shining

so by the time anyone can see you

that’s not who you are.

Words are living creatures,

words are all eyes and ears

as vivid and vital as yours

looking out from under the autumn leaves

like a flower pressed into a book

that gives it no meaning

that it didn’t have in the fields.

Ignorance doesn’t eclipse the light

and enlightenment doesn’t illuminate.

You may talk forever around it

but what’s the meaning of fire

or sit by the mindstream all night

making constellations of the fireflies

that come together like words

and there may be no separation

between the water

and the reflections of the stars

that ride it like long-legged spiders,

or between you and the earth

not so much difference

as a grass blade,

but what’s the meaning of water,

what’s the meaning of the earth under your feet,

what’s the meaning of that blade of grass?

Words speak for themselves,

not anything else.

Words are living voices

not harps in the throats of the dead.

A word is not a thought,

not an emotion,

not a stand-in for reality

not the verbal version

of the stem cells on your tongue,

or the eloquent fragrance of a brain

recruiting bees to chafe their pollen into honey.

You can spend a whole lifetime saying

and still not know what a word is,

a whole lifetime feeling

and not know what emotion is,

a whole lifetime thinking

and not know what a thought is.

Beyond appearances

that are not wholly

at the discretion of the depths,

nothing is the likeness of anything else

in the unity of their uniqueness,

the oneness of their oneness,

the mystic specificity

of many rivers

unspooling the mountain

to weave this infinite sea of awareness

into the myriad forms and tongues and waves of us

who take on minds and hang

like empty cups and water droplets

from the tip of a blade of star grass,

from our own hooked fingers,

the black crescents of the lunar triggers

that play Russian roulette with our heads,

and the dreams that fit us like skin

and the lean watercolours of our sweat

on form-fitted sheets

when our separation troubles us

like waves trying to say the unsayable sea

to islands that already flow

like clear diamonds

that have mastered the yoga of tears.

Everything’s like that

when things turn from solid to real.

Even these words.

Even in the fireflies

no one ever sees

deep in the well of the word,

even in the human heart,

the star, the rock, the tree,

in the smallest eye of water

that ever looked upon a summer sky,

the unsayable sea

of the whole of this multiverse

that sheds worlds like cool petals

from the sea mouths of the mind,

the life of everything

effortlessly exists

to explore its own weather

like water, to hold

its own life like a jewel

up to the light

and see everyone crowned

in a palace of water

whenever you say your name

to the stars

just to let them know

that you were here

as if you meant it.


Sunday, February 1, 2009



For some the world is always about to end, and for others, it never really begins. Two eyes of the same watershed. Both blind to their own lucidity, the ruse of unfathomable fish swimming through their own light like dreamers who never wake up. I recall an old Chinese poet sailing his poems like paperboats, blossoms of the moon, downstream to elaborate the impermanence of the wind. Exquisite felicity! No ignorance. No liberation. The eternal sky does not inhibit the flight of the white clouds. Nor the flower concern itself with the future of its seeds. Events in the abyss don’t succeed one another anymore than thoughts do and all those phases of the moon too infinite to name. The important thing is not to hang on to what you think you’ve understood. Not to uncoil your mind like chromosomic flypaper among the stars that swarm you like a window at night, or make webs of their constellations to gain something from their light. You will never be more than you are now. Why put make-up on a mirror or glue eyelashes to the moon? The good dreams and the bad dreams are both painted on space. But as long as you keep trying to sign your own face with indelible markers, joy will always be a catastrophe.