Wednesday, April 8, 2009


The night me when the shadows

get to advance on their own

without the handwriting of the light

to divide them

moves deeper alone

into the boundless intimacy

within and without

of a yielding abyss

where you can always tell time

by the smoke of burning leaves

and everything, even the most banal,

is charged with a sense of secrecy

like an injured bell.

The spooling and uncoiling of the nightstreams

follow their own life-themes through the darkness

like distant train whistles in the rain

or geese returning in the spring high overhead.

And I am tempered by the sorrow of my own abeyance

like a window that’s been true to too many eyes

who’ve never known beauty

without longing and lies.

And the ashes are not old

and the fire is not new

and nothing is abandoned

like a ghost with a point of view.

The fountain returns

to the watersheds of its awareness

and I’m walking on the stars that schooled me

like a truant road to read maps between the life-lines

on the palm of my hand.

No beginning, no end,

I don’t think of the wind

as a streetcleaner

and vaster than the sublime

and I am what happens to time.




The old world that is always here

because it is always passing

is everywhere confronted

by its own malignant children

ferociously abusing their legacy.

Genocidal Israelis whose hatred rains down

like jellyfish tentacles of white phosphorus

on the heads of the children of Gaza,

lethal Medusas of snakefire

falling like some paranoid, old-testament vengeance,

Dead Sea deep in blood and corpses,

spin their own atocities into

press-worthy innocence,

and declare the collateral coffins

of their obscene abomination

a closed investigation.

The hysteria of nations is written in bones

and the short-term memory-cards of their cellphones

downloading indictable albums

of slaughtered children.

And I still can’t believe it,

Beshir, the bowling-ball Butcher of Sudan,

a plague in the form of a man,

leeching and cauterizing

the open wound he has gouged

in the eyes, the heart, the flesh of Darfur,

indicted for killing, rape, torture, starvation,

indicted for squandering the lives of millions,

can you believe it, after all

the Palestinians have suffered,

after all the death and wounding the Iraqis and Afghanis

have learned to live around and through,

and the grief, the irreconcilable grief

that even a god hesitates to answer,

this corpse-tree of a man

hung with the bodies

of hundreds of thousands of people

like his self-appointed medals

until even murder begins to feel ridiculous,

this blood-brained clown of catastrophe

embraced by the Arab Summit!

And even though these things I say are true,

it’s hard to be a North American these days,

even when you are speaking the truth

without feeling hypocritical cold-sores

all over your own lips

as your blood thickens

trying to congeal the haemmorage of Iraq,

knowing you’ve been spoiled by war-movies.

If you eat enough eventually you’ll starve the world,

and yesterday’s captains of industry

will turn into the hydra-headed cartels

of the decapitating narcoeconomics of Mexico

and North American pharmaceuticals

warring over the Land of the Lotus-Eaters

for a market share,

not to mention the undead

who are eaten alive by the golden maggots

of our own egg-laying banks

who will never turn into butterflies.

An elitely-educated Canadian

with health-care,

I’ve written books about it all,

I’ve tatooed my voice

with the Holocaust, Palestine, Chile, Oka,

I once compiled an encyclopedia

of twentieth century genocides,

just to scream murder

when I saw murder being done

trying to transform

the alchemical empathy and compassion

of my mystic hermetical mind,

Hermes Trismegistus,

looking for seed-words like the wind

it could plant in flesh and blood

like cool herbs on the agony of a burn.

This is how I know

my mother lives within me,

and more, how I strive Sisypheanly

with the guilt of being born poor

in a prosperous country

while so many others

have been denied the chance.

And I suspect,

for the last half-century,

I’ve been trying to prove against proof,

answering my B.C. upstream salmon-nature,

my humanity isn’t just another mode of rabies

in a rainbow-coloured straitjacket,

that words might still have the power

to move atoms like spiritual streetsigns,

to jump from one opposite to the other,

either way, like a bridge

and see that it stands on both,

straddling both banks of the lifestream,

above and below. Passage. And if words

are only the scent of smoke

to someone lost in the woods deep at night,

isn’t that enough reason to go on burning,

flaring like a match in autumn under the leaves,

or brick by brick, building a lighthouse

that could hold itself up

like a candle to the stars

and illuminate them all

by reading the writing on the wall?

Our ends are a kind of amends

our beginnings make

for existence

if the whole of our common concern

is not to love the all

in the each of one another

for our own sake.

You’re not a saint

if you put your hand in the fire

and it doesn’t burn,

and you’re not a sinner

if it does.

And that’s all interesting enough,

and it feels clarifying and affirmative to say it

as if I were mouthing flowers like a field

that echo sidereally

through the caves of the sky

and in the deepest wells of my longing

where the strangers come to drink

there were real water

in this mindstream

that flows unseen through the night

like a homeless light

weeping over them like words

as if words could turn into rain.

But no more than your eyes

have an agenda

of what they intend to see

does your brain urge you purposively

to become what you must be;

nor having any purpose,

evolve you randomly.

And so you move like water

through all the stations of the sky

through progressively rarer mediums

of time and space and spirit and blood,

imagination and thought,

all waves of the same sea of awareness

until you are all sails and no wind

on the dark side of the moon,

a lightning-rod in the Sahara

trying to conjure clouds

above an empty tent.

And though you can’t explain the event,

by the occasional grace

of something you never meant,

or could foresee happening,

you cry out in the wholeness

of your insignificance

to ease someone else’s pain

and drop by drop

even here where I am now

it begins to rain.

And that’s all that keeps me going

when I look upon the prevalence of human peversity

through a lifetime of anger and sadness and unknowing,

and ask if there’s anything left to be

that isn’t hypocritical or desecrated,

and think that it’s a terrible arrogance

in an abyss of ignorance beyond me

to console my life with a meaning

that wasn’t just another leaf on the stream

or the coils of a serpent with ideas

that wanted to swallow the planet whole

when the silence in my mouth

tastes like the acrid frequency

of a child’s star-shattering scream.

And how easy it would be

to bluff my way out of this world

into another where I don’t exist

unless I’ve got my hands over my eyes

while everyone’s running to hide,

but I remember a moment so now

it was timeless a long time ago

by the side of a backwoods road

that could have led me anywhere

when I saw the clean leaves

and the matted wildflowers

and the grass of the fields

shining in the golden light of sunset

over the abandoned ark of a farm

after the storm.