NOT JUST THE NATIONS
Not just the nations
but the whole planet
is reaping and eating
a perverse harvest
of hot coffins for cool people
like the indigent fire
of the crematorium next door.
I don’t think the sky’s going to fall in
or accept every invitation
to the backyard barbecues
of all the apocalyptic chicken-littles who do,
but I do think the air’s
going to cramp around our fat throats
like merciless hands
when we’re dragged
to the chopping block
to be severed like the split ends
of a short circuit
that mistook itself for intelligence.
And as for our humanity.
Imagine. Two thousand years
and Christ is still being greeted
like extraterrestrial life
scrolling down from the sky
like a search engine with all the answers.
And there are spiritual snake-oil salesmen
pimping out the constellations
like hookers and websites
all along the Milky Way
only too happy to sway with the flute
of your weeping pleading and prayers
by taking you by the hand and the wallet upstairs
where sin begins your undoing
by teaching you how to fall
like something serpentine
in the gathering voice of the divine.
Fanged oracles with lightning tongues
like witching wands
looking for signs
in a tatoo parlour.
The amends doesn’t justify the ends
and eternity swallows its own tail
up to the head
and in a single, final gulp
But it’s as easy as water to see
that it’s always this moment
and this moment
is all you ever were, can, and will be
out to the furthest stars and beyond
and down to the frenzied nano-heart
of the tiniest gnat of an atom
trying to patch space
like a mad seamstress
in the sunset air
when the past isn’t missing
and the future isn’t yet to come.
And this moment
is not younger or older than that moment
because you can’t say where it ends or begins
and space is not volume enough to fill it
and time can’t root its theme in it
and old men don’t sit out
in the shade of the summer trees
as if they were washing
the dust and stars of the world off their feet
at the end of the long road
in unknown tides of deep thought
about what might endure
and what might not.
Isn’t it clear
after all these thousands of generations,
and the pyramids and the churches and the prophetic skulls
and the brides of the living who annul them,
that the only place you can live forever is now
in this very moment just as you are and aren’t
and that there’s only one flower in paradise
that blooms alone like the moon at night
and roots in your eyes forever?
Sometimes it burns the heart
to turn the jewel of being in the light
and taste the anguish of your own death in its fires
and feel the mute, bell-weight
of the moon under your tongue
like the unassessible agony
of the dead that endure
without a rite of passage
like roots deeper than truth,
the brevity of the living
in the old fountains of youth
that no one goes looking for anymore.
And it may be that death is merely a shadow
that’s wandered too far from home
as night comes on, and life
a little radiance in a huge darkness,
the last star of the morning
washed out of our eyes
by the light of the dawn.
But the masks you put on
like views of the world
to accessorize your feelings
never wear the same eyes twice.
And if you were to ask the nightstream
that flows by your feet
what it was looking for
it might answer
in an ancient dialect of water,
water, just as the mind
is a longing for mind
that pours out of itself
to search the worlds within worlds
that it creates as a sign of itself in its flowing
like lilies and willows along the bank of a river.
Everywhere in its shallows and falls and depths,
its passage is the threshold
of the homelessness
deep in the heart of all forms
that array their worlds for awhile
like stray concessions
to an inexhaustible longing
they know will never be fulfilled.
If you want to know
what my mind looks like
from the inside,
or yours, or hers or his
look at the world just as it is.
Scrape the faces you keep
painting on the mirror
hoping one day one might
accidentally mistake itself for you
and seduce you away
from the evolving agony
of not knowing who you are.
Let the paint flake away from your eyes
like autumn leaves
down to the heartwood
of the tree that has stood
like a many armed traffic cop
trying to redirect the wind
like a vagrant violin
and listen to your seeing like music.
Picture-music bluing the distant hills
like the secret emotions of angels
hovering over an unknown grave
they’ve kept coming back to for years
like the ghosts of unsummoned oceans
gathering in tears,
true to their hopelessness.