Sunday, January 18, 2009



Scattering black sunflower seed

like the eyes of words

out over the snow

for the squirrels.

Birds watching

high above the page

for an entrance on stage.

Food and empathic renewal,

fuel and the ferocity of life

a softer knife than the ice

because of my sweeping generosity.

I like to thaw things,

turn the brittle supple,

swords into the blades

of the wild irises

that burn like hydrogen

beside the stream,

snowmen that flow

out of themselves

like candles

until all that’s left

are the stones they relied on for eyes.

Stones have their clarities

but seeing

is a very subtle kind of water

that knows reality is not solid

and the light of a single firefly

is hot enough

to melt the planet.

And then like early spring in Perth

when the snow goes

it’s November all over again.

I see everyone alone with themselves,

sad intimates of the shadows

that forsake them like evolution

the moment they cry out

like leaves on the stream to endure.

Maybe it’s one medium to the next

as we’re transformed

by ever more rarefied spaces

that denude us like light from our ions

into luminous bodies with auroral faces

that open like one-night enlightened lilies in the starmud,

or maybe it’s just the death-leap

of the next apple into the bottomless abyss

of a darkness deeper than death is aware of itself.

Conjoined again in the primordial atom

would we feel the same snakepit

of self-rejection

and begin the universe again

by cracking out of the cosmic glain

like serpents with wings in the trees

oxymoronically bound

to the fires above

and the waters below?

Or does one universe pour into another

like a waterclock of insight

that flows on forever

like a snake or a river

through the length of itself

like one inexhaustible thought

with its tail in its mouth?

If so, there’s nothing to know

because the whole and the all of everything

is in every seed I throw to the squirrels,

like the universe in these grains of sand

quick with life

that look back at me warily

like an unspoken rosary

of black-eyed pearls.

Worlds within worlds.

But if there’s nothing discrete

about a mind that can’t be defined

then why the distinction in the first place

and why these fingertips, these eyes, this face

that keeps on trying to see itself like the moon

from the water’s point of view

as if the urgency of the tides in the mirror

were the brides and the oceans

of its own lost emotions, reflected?

There’s more to feeding squirrels

than I suspected.




If compassion is not

the fruit of your understanding

your tree is rootless and flawed

however beautiful the blossoms are.

And your eyes may be as lustrous

as polished stones

you’ve buffed like the moon on water

but there’s nothing inside

and gold doesn’t pour like dawn

from the dark ore of your suffering

when you cry.

If a child is shot in Gaza

and you don’t bleed

for the evil seed in her head

as you would your own

then only the dead will sow your field

and you will gnaw the hard bread

of your own gravestone

like a book you should have read.

If compassion is not

the fruit of your understanding

however much is illuminated

by the rarity of your perception,

the lamp you go by

is still not ripe,

you’re still a green apple

on the bough

in autumn.

The tongue is a shovel

and knowledge is soil

and you can use it

to dig a grave for your brother

or prepare a garden

as it was meant to do

and your words can flower

into fruit and bread

at the eastern doors of the dead

who will raise the sun up to their lips

and drink from it like a cup,

but if all your heart can do with blood

is jewel the eloquence of the blind

with lucid insights

then your siloes are nothing

but the empty thunder

of lightning without rain

and you will reap the sand like the scythe

of a crescent moon

that’s never tasted grain.

And you may be a glutton,

you may stuff yourself day and night

like the liver of a goose

with spiritual insight

and squat like a rotund buddha on a tatami mat

squirming through the wormholes of your mind

to the other side of the universe

or knock like a xylophone

on the door of the last chakra

above your skull

like an embassy

you seek sanctuary in

but if you can’t feel

the fangs of starvation

that withers a child

in the arms of her mother in Darfur

who gave birth to a lily

that will die like a bat

because the dark matter

in your cosmic frame of reference is fat,

then the advancing flame of your snakefire

is just another lethal candle

for all the charm of the choir

you can’t train not to bite you.

If compassion is not

the fruit of your understanding

you will be disgorged

by the wiser serpents of life

like a black hole turned inside out

and thrown from the back of the truck

like the corpse of a sack of flour

in a refugee camp

and your blood will spoil

like the unused oil in a lamp

that never threw a light on anything.

You have a mouth,

but you won’t scream murder,

you won’t scream genocide

when you know what’s being done.

You have a nose

but you pin it like a clothespeg

to a a breezy clothesline

to sweeten your dirty laundry

by washing out the stink of the corpses.

You have eyes

but you keep them shut

to paint pictures on your windows

from the inside

to see what you want to see

in your house of warped mirrors

and if you should cry to look good

in front of the camera

you’re prompted by a gland of TV tears

to cologne the air with cliches

that smell like the petals that fell

like the machetes of Uganda.

Rock-bands making radical money

whining about nothing,

wanna be killer bees

trying to make their honey sting

inside the hive of a contract

with plug and play guitars

and fireworks that swarm the stars

like chimney-sparks from Auschwitz.

You have ears.

But they’re dead shells

and the sea you once listened for as a child

has been poured out of them

like living water

so you can’t hear

your daughter

being raped in the Congo,

or the scream of the boy

who died like a toy-soldier

when the Hannibal hearts

of the cannibal generals

played war-games with his life.

If compassion is not

the fruit of your understanding

you will lick your heart

like a lump of coal

you tore out of your own chest,

trying to taste the diamonds,

and you will know what it means

when the eyelids of the light

close in upon you

like a starless night

that undoes the seams

of your wasteband constellations

like the stitches and staples

it uses to sew the children

back together

in a patchwork comforter of wounds

it will lay over your head

like a sky for the dead

all reds and gangrenes

as the faces of the children rise

one by one like ghoulish moons

and apple blossoms

to stain your death

with their foolish dreams.