Saturday, August 29, 2009




Not the sum of all your yesterdays

and more than all of your tomorrows

could ever dream of being,

not a negligible, small thing,

nor great beyond proportion,

you inhabit your own mystery

like a godess who feels like a stranger

in her own universe,

trying to get the hang of it

like the slang of a foreign language

that won’t let her across the border

without picture i.d.

You long for something

and immediately summon

everything that’s missing

in the spirit’s lost and found,

no life, no answer, no sound,

no lamp in the hand of the nightwatchman

flashing like the moon

through your broken windows.

It’s impossible to pick the berry

from the thorn of yourself

as a first drop of blood

gathers like an eye

at the tip of your wounded finger

and even if you did manage

to raise it like a kiss to your lips,

is it sweet, is it bitter,

or does love taste like the sea?

That simulacrum you call yourself

may be a work of art,

an amazement of mirrors

that dance like water

when you enhance the night

like a lonely heart

with the grace of your reflection,

but even the moon

can get in your eye sometimes

and smear the view with hot tears

for all you might have been

before you broke your brushes

like crutches

at the foot of your masterpiece.

Dogen Zenji said

in the middle of the thirteenth century

just a moment ago in medieval Japan:

When the truth doesn’t fill your body and mind

you always feel as if you’ve had enough,

but when the truth does fill your body and mind,

you always feel as if something were missing.

That’s a jewel that’s worth turning in the night.

That’s the dark heart

that summons you into the mystery

like an intimacy beyond

your own personal history.

Why waste your time

trying to find out

how many demons

can dance on the heads of the pins

in the heart of a voodoo doll,

or angels, if you’re a better liar?

You’re just trying to imagine a heaven

without fire

and ashes that rise like doves

from the chimneys of Auschwitz.

Is it any wonder then

that every moon you eat

like an unhappy fortune-cookie

tastes like an eclipse?

And I’ve never known

whether you’re trying to improve

the standing of the world

in your person

or your person

in the standing of the world

when you turn heads

like a sphinx in the rain

that never looks anyone’s way.

But if you were to look deeply

into the nature of any grain of sand

it would make the pyramids

look like mere child’s play,

the first alphabet blocks

of a desert with something to say to the stars

high overhead and so very very, intimately far away

like the small bells of longing

that bruise the heart of a lost child

who knows that no one

is coming to look for her

who can see

through anyone’s eyes but their own

what it means to be alive in the world alone.




















Monday, August 24, 2009




I see your leaf of fire

still burning on the Tay River

like an autumn of falling maps

that have come to the end of their lifelines.

Now the trees of Perth read their own shadows

like the wake of impossible journeys

that slip through their leafless masts

like wind and water and stars.

But you have outgrown them

like a lifeboat

beyond the reach of their tears.

And the romantic in you is not dead

and the outlaw thrives

and you are still enthralled

by the dark honey

that flows from the cosmic hives

of the illuminati on the nightshift.

And I see you’ve stopped throwing

your firstborn off a cliff

without a parachute.

And I can still hear the distant thunder

of the dice you roll

like the bones of a sphinx

when you gamble with the Book of Changes.

Your solitude like your beauty

is still the single star

of an alluring beautitude

in a black mirror

that shows the night its face.

And deep, deep within yourself

you remain the sole keeper

of the dark mass of the universe

you’re refining in your furnace-heart

like the ore of the light.

And I can see how the ocean

still endures its own weather

in the green of your eyes.

Experience has its grazers

and its predators, too,

and some farm their lives

and some try to train their sheep to hunt,

but you still know how to go for the jugular

on the neck of a wounded guitar

you’ve brought down

like a fleeing gazelle from behind.

You eat experience

and leave small remnants of the heart

for the scavengers to find.

And I can tell by the tone of your voice

that pain has added its ambiguous vowel

to your vocabulary

and there’s blood on the crescents of the moon

that have torn the sail

of many arrivals and departures

as you came and went

in all your phases

like a calendar of scars.

And what a delight

after all these years

to see you’re still playing pool

with your stars,

breaking balls

and taking the long shot,

chalking your stick on a skull.

And there’s that demon of night again

that black rose in a crown of thorns

that’s sometimes so sad and alone

in the incomprehensible vastness of things

when emotions silver the stone

like lost earrings

more than once I have thought of you

as the last of a species

of fallen angels

left to stand guard alone

like a dolmen on the moon

over the only grave that would receive them

when Valhalla put down its sword.

And yet how easily you give yourself away

like generous bread

to the outcasts

who still gather at your firegate

as if the moon were a soft-hearted oven

they couldn’t burn their fingers on.

You say you’re afraid of decaying,

you say you’re overwhelmed.

Thieves are boosting the stars

in your downtown windows

and everyone’s trying to ditch their scars

like the accent of a foreign language

that died like water on Mars

when the sirens lost their voice

to the wind that passed like a sailor.

And money and art

are an eye of oil in the ocean

that can’t find anyway out of the mix

of the fluid labyrinth

that chokes you in its coils

except by seeing it out to the end

like an unwanted loveletter

you don’t know where to send.

So let the river take it like a leaf

or a black candle

the corner of a starmap

that gave up looking for life

on the bright side of everything

when the mirror was smeared

by the silver trail of a snail

that was amazed to find itself

blazing away

like the tail of an anonymous comet

at the heart of a cosmic scandal

as it trespassed across the glass eye

of an indicted telescope

that bore false witness to the shining.

You can’t tinker rings

out of what the maggots are mining

and much to the surprise

of their afterlife

they’ll never turn into butterflies.

Who looks for exposure

like a blackmailed photo in their eyes

when you know, as you do,

how to burn like dawn in a diamond

without a feather of light

to take your measure

in those scales

you always tip toward life?

The dew on the grass is not the same thing

as the little gram-masters of Gore Street

watering their pound,

and the stars that shine down

on everyone and everything alike

can’t be railed by a razor on a mirror

because they’re not trying

to make an impression on the night

by snorting the light

until their shadows can see

what life looks like

in all its futility and madness 

through the eyes of the rain

looking in through a hospital window

like small children in deep pain

they can’t do anything about.

But when the lights go out

there are intensities

that can be pursued

like dolphins in the oceanic moonlight

tides beyond the tidal-pools of the obvious

cluttered like lost keys

and broken shells

that think they still speak for the sea

at the bottom of their museum drawers.

The fools go looking for a vein

like cables to jumpstart the stars

between one battery heart and another

and end up cooking in their own acids

but there are lightning rods

beyond these jaded polarities

that have looked into the darkness

and seen things in a flash of insight

that have made mystics of the weathervanes

and settled once and for all

the chronic conceptual wars

between our mirrors and our windowpanes

that keep upgrading their armies

to lay siege to our mud-walled brains.

It takes more courage

to be some people than others

and even more, sometimes, not to be;

but who’s got a word

for the dark clarity

of the unspeakable genius it takes

to make a Jesse?



































fish bring their own lamps in the depths















Monday, August 17, 2009




I have not forgotten you.

You have a long half-life

and time isn’t alchemist enough

to turn so much gold back into lead.

It’s just that when I think of you

I bloom like an empty box

sliced at its corners

by an exacto-knife of pain

and my mind weeps like a wounded jewel.

A gust of stars like the dust of the road

I can’t rub out of my eyes,

a garden on the moon

that’s never known a gate,

a wishbone of rivers

served up on a silver plate,

I keep seeing you in everything

as if I were certain now

that spring isn’t the past or future of fall.

I remember you like an exile

remembers a country

he left like an open door

when he stepped out into the night

like light from a lamp

that wasn’t a home

he could return to anymore.

You punctuated the equilibrium

of my hasty evolution

and I’ve lost count of the transformations

I’ve been through

guided by your eyes.

Coercively young,

subversively old,

mending the night

like a black sail

with the same thorn of the moon

that tore it 

on the shores of my marooned desires,

I endure myself like the sea

that aches with the music of sunken guitars

pressing the soiled strings of their spinal cords

against the frets of their scars so sadly

that every thought, every feeling

is a last flash of life in a receding tide

that left the bride

behind her veils

in port.



















Ahhh, man

some mornings I get up

and I’m so weary of being me again

with the same old Gordian knot of dilemmas

waiting for the black sword

of an abrupt awakening

to cleave this hibernating ball

of hydra-headed entanglements

down the third extreme of the middle.

Cooler than a French executioner

with the night still over my head like a hood

and the ax of the moon

descending on the nape

of the swanning hills,

I would rather endure one death

that kills me into life

than suffer a thousand looping transformations

like a Swiss army knife in a snakepit

or the fossil of my last breath

still on display to the curious,

fighting for its life in an incubator.

There are nights when I can hear the fire singing

about its homelessness to the stars alone

and days that hang like heavy bells

over a long, secular holiday

as one truth swallows another in the silence

of the smeared windows

that elaborate my view of things

even as I weigh the moon in my hand like a rock.

One moment I’m jamming with the celestial spheres

and the next I’m being tuned like the spinal cord

of a one-eyed guitar

to the fangs of a live snake

with perfect pitch

and everything is snapping and hissing

like a downed powerline that’s lost its keys.

I still extol love and compassion

like the radicals of a lost war

strewing flowers on their roots,

but these days underground

I suspect that my darkness is faster than light

as I plant the quicksand cornerstone

of my pyramidal heart

like an improvised explosive device

in the road I take every morning

like a blind schizophrenic

groping his way on his knees to Damascus,

trying to bring empathy

to a convention of lonely exceptions.

And if I’ve got any faith left

when I look out on the atrocity of the world

like a dungheap covered in blow

it’s the merest of plausibilities,

graffitti on the gravestone

of someone I don’t want to know.

Walking alone on a dusty road

in the fields beyond Perth

as the gravel crunches underfoot

like seashells and skulls,

to taste the ripe stars

on their wild, summer vines,

and feel the eyes that are watching me

like alarmed snails and furtive leaves on my skin,

I realize I will always be

this stranger at the gate

of someone who lives within

who’s never been troubled by anger and hate,

or the abysmal sorrows of love

or distinguished the true from the false

the sick from the whole,

the petty from the great,

or the indifference of life

to the passion of the martyrs

cashing in on their bones

like loaded dice

at the foot of a crooked cross.

He’s never tinkered

with the engine of his actions

hoping to improve his performance,

No lumps of coal like bad memories

disturb the radiance

of his diamond skull

and when he thinks

he thinks like light on water

and even at the bottom

of a sea of shadows

he’s a magus of stars

in the munificent stillness

of his own improbable depths.

He knows how the jewels of clarity

can suddenly open

like eyes in a grave

that are not used to the light

that washes over them

wave upon wave

like the wings of transporting angels,

but he stays where he is for the night

to keep his word to the morning

like the birds of the earth

who wait for the sun

to turn them

like a dead language

into his native tongue.

As for me, my voice

lays out a starmap of black holes to avoid

like a last ray of light

trying to measure its own height

above these sudden event horizons

on the wrong side of town

when the stars I go slumming with

want to get down.

He talks knowledgably with the stars

about what’s beyond the light

but my spiritual life

is bemused in the shadows

like an eye in the night

that peers through the mystery

of the darkness that bounds it

like the personal history

of the ambiguous human

it would rather keep to itself

than give itself away like the fireflies

of a wayward constellation

that wandered off the reservation

like a nation with myths of its own.

All my prophets greet the day

like star-nosed moles in the light

as if they were just getting off

the graveyard shift

of an underground mine

where they’re chipping away

at the ore of the dead

like a motherlode of marrow

and were too tired

to have anything much to say

about why some mornings

ride in plumed chariots

through wild galas of triumph as he does

successfully back from his dream campaign,

and I’m always running

to catch up to the parade

like a clown in a wheelbarrow

throwing out rubber bullets, 

decked out like a float from the slum

that looks like a public coffin

with some shit on the side

about a better tomorrow.








































Tuesday, August 11, 2009




You think life is something

that is happening to you

from the outside

like upcoming events

posted like leaves on the wind

because you think your skin

is where you end

and the world begins

but to the wind

you’re just another sail

that thinks it knows where it’s going.

What’s the point of trying to mend

all those constellations

you’ve torn on the thorns of the moon

with a mouthful of pins

you keep sticking into yourself

to make someone else hurt

like a Barbie doll playing with voodoo?

What kind of magic

keeps getting caught up

in the weird starmaps and crazy webs

of the spells you try to cast over me

like toxic revelations of what it’s like

to see the world through the eyes

of a spider on acid

who thinks she’s the queen of the honey bees?

But it’s not the flowers

that fuel your delusion

of the occult powers

of a born-again schizophrenic

that keeps trying to carry me

like Rasputin’s cat in a burlap bag

down to the same river

you rescued Moses from.

You want to be the only wand left

in a snakepit of lesser magicians

when the pharoah asks for proof

you’re on a divine mission

to lead your people out of Egypt

by cleaving a sea of red shadows on the moon

to run like holy blood from a demonic wound.

That novella of facts without a theme

you’ve been working on for years

is just another interpretation

of an anonymous dream

that ended up on your desk

like dirty pictures of someone

blowing the whistle on their own life.

Your acutely annotated confessions

are always sins of omission,

waivers of space,

fevers of grace,

breaking news

that your life,

that franchise

of discounted miracles,

is finally in remission.

And I’m beginning to think,

and maybe I should be flattered, 

that I was the only sin you could find

that was worthy for a while

of the severities of your redemption.

Where else would you look for a cure

if not in the heart of the disease,

but why put your own eyes out

to heal the mirror?

Why heave yourself ashore

like a tidal wave

over some unsuspecting island

just to wash your hands of me

when the sea closed

like an eyelid over Atlantis months ago

to dream the afterlife of a different death

that didn’t foul my last breath

with the sterile purity

of listening to you

make your rounds

like the moon in reverse

in the halls of the terminal nightward

where Lucifer never rings for the nurse?