APPARITIONS OF THE MUSE
Apparitions of the muse
hanging her stars
from the end of my nose
like an exotic fragrance of night
more revealing than the light.
There. That’s mine.
The constellation of the donkey,
and there beside it, do you see
that red-haired star
blazing like a woman with a carrot?
I’ve followed that star for fifty years
always a mountain away from the valley
like a passionate Sisyphus
rolling the earth up a hill like a stone
happy with my own absurdity,
happy to go mad for her sake alone.
Elixirs of moonlight
mingled with strange waters
and I drank until I drowned
in the ferocity of my own delirium
like a myth that’s forgotten
which stars it belongs to.
I’ve never been much of a martyr
and bored with lies
I’ve always been two hells shy of a messiah
but I have fallen on the thorns of the moon
more than once
after my long descent
down the burning ladders
of God’s last word on the matter,
so there’s no splinter of the true cross
to needle the issue
like a compass or a crucifix.
And it still puzzles me
why it’s always my blood
that rushes to the end of my dick
like a volunteer army
but it’s always somebody else’s flag
that gets raised above the rubble.
Pyrrhic victories at best
when I’m not feeling cursed or blessed
by any kind of mystic meaning
convincing me I can firewalk
barefoot on stars
when I can’t even get
this blue pebble of a planet
out of my heart like a shoe.
But even letting go of all their leaves
like loveletters home and refugees
the trees can only go so far
as the wind and streams will let them.
And then there’s a darkness that doesn’t taste of stars.
And decisions that cut like the smiles of broken mirrors.
And turmoil in the snakepits of desire
that are thrown like angry acids
in the eyes of the seers
who saint the rain with their sorrows
like old calendars of crossed-out tomorrows
playing x’s and o’s with the moon.
It’s a freak of enlightenment
to turn love into a discipline
inspiration into a law
and godless wonder into superstitious awe.
So I listen and say nothing,
see and don’t reveal,
understand but never think I know
the gates that pass through me
when you call to the wild geese in the fall
and I am startled by the loneliness of the answer.
I’ve seen you in the nightstream down the mountain,
the river and the sea
that sits below the salt
at her own table,
and I still suspect it was you
that turned my bitter tears
into the brittle chandeliers
that fell like ice-storms in a fountain
to silence the voices of the mirrors
the birds kept flying into
like windows at war with the sky.
I was out of the egg.
I was out of my mind at last
like a gift I didn’t deserve
and the universe was full of your absence
because you were the embodiment of my longing,
the darkness in the light
that stood aloof from the meaning of everything
as if your only proof were your eyes
and that were enough
to answer the empty skies with stars.
You may put on flesh and blood
and in your human proportions confess
you don’t believe this,
but you can never be attained,
never be embraced
never be contained
by any avatar of who you are
because like space in all directions
you are limitless
and even time is consumed
in the root fires that grabbed you by the ankle
and pulled you underground
to dress a goddess of light
in the nocturnal jewels of the dead.
And it is not a perogative of the beatifically born
to be demonically wrong,
but I have heard the skulls in the song
that allures the unwary sailors
to the lunar horns of your fishbone harps
to smash them on the rocks
as if you took a tragic delight
in the sheer delinquency of your power
to arouse and extinguish desire.
Anyone can come up
with a meaning for life
but you are the muse
of meaning itself
the meaning of meaning
when anyone asks
without expecting an answer.
What woman that I’ve loved
like a river reaching the sea
have you not been
over these long, intense years
of radiant tenderness
and creative commotion
and an ominous darkness out over the ocean
when the moon turned around
like a bride in bed
and revealed the far side
she kept to herself like stars?
And it’s still a shock and a marvel to me
when you disappear into the air
like a breath someone neglected to take
when it bloomed on the window.
I don’t doubt your capacity to devastate
and I have the urns and the burns
and the ashes to prove it
and know on a whim of your arrogance
you could leave the phoenix out in the cold
and douse the dragon like a torch
in your fire-proof waters.
But lately, out of the flesh,
I look for you behind the eyes
of every woman I meet
and it’s rare that I find one
whose blood and passions
you’ve worn as your own,
whose mind is a jewel of yours
that flows like a star sapphire
down a dark mirror
older than the meaning of life
that relflects you in the light of a black sun.
And I know enough not to ask
about those lockets of blood
you hang like thorns
around the neck of your mystic rose
like the first and last crescents of the moon.
I opened one once to see
whose picture you carried inside
like a butterfly you were working on
or a loveletter in a bottle you never sent
and I’m still not certain
I was demon enough
to survive the miracles
you released upon me
like a hive of angry angels
but I came to know
what the loss of heaven meant
when I ran from the garden
through the closing gates
of your wishbone,
on the short end.