Saturday, October 3, 2009




Softened by the spirit of the elegant day,

saturated colours and the bluing of shapes

in the distant mist,

homogenous grey sky

and the last green leaves of the sumac

consumed in their own fires

(that’s enough of a local habitation and a name)

there’s a sweetness in the choirs of the ashes

that fall everywhere like feathers

from the passage of my emotions

as I consider the course of my life

like the tenderness of smoke

unspooling from a blue hill

I’ve been driving down

this snakey dirt road

forever on and on and on toward

without really knowing who lives at the end of it

or even if there’s an end of it

or a door and a threshold and a fire

that speaks the same language I do

when I’m alone with all my voices

like a stream through a grove in the night

easier than a god

about which ones I listen to.

Some are suggestive and alluring

and others are bristled with bleach

to scrub the stars from the sky

like constellations of erotic graffiti

that have composed their hunting magic

one image over the other

under the bridge

of the concrete Neanderthals

who were squandered on evolution.

And voices as mournful

as the ghosts of distant trains

wailing through the night

like mammoths sinking through tar,

and voices that are tongue-tied

by the single syllables of the fireflies

that suddenly tine the darkness,

the tintinabula of light,

with mantras no one can play

who hasn’t sat down to drink

with a broken heart.

And there are disciplined voices,

moons in the mirror,

the subtle shepherds of an art

that’s older than gravity

that try to master me

like an unforgiving medium

that wants to pull the donkey around with a cart

and shape me into forms I could not have imagined

until I stepped out of them like water.

And in the night

voices that come carrying their themes

like refugees with all they own on their backs,

exiled voices that were blown like passports

far from the tree that struck them like flags

and wrang them out like blood and hatred

upon the boundless earth

like the rorschats of haemmoraging maps

to long for a life they can’t return to

once the metal is free of the stone.

A curious lack of children’s voices,

but sometimes at night alone in the woods

in a place I’m not sure I’m supposed to be,

I can hear a child crying like a well

that’s been forgotten

under the duff of the leaves

but I know the pain goes too deep

to make anything better

and the voice is too well smothered

to go witching for it like a watershed

with a lantern.

And I pass on

like a worthless prophecy in a bottle

looking for the right island to be found on

because I am so lost

in the poignant intimacy

and impersonal immensity of the sorrow

I feel when innocence dies

God herself can’t look me in the eyes

without lying.

And voices that once belonged to people

now scattered like leaves

that show up now and again

to ask for mail

that might have a return address,

then disappointed as a foreign language

turn back to look for fossils in the window

of the life they once knew.

When I was young

and knew I would be again tomorrow

and the future was not freaked by fear

of what happened yesterday

I was taught to look for my voice

as if it were the holy grail

of a mellifluous elixir

that could rain in the throat of an hourglass.

I was taught to look for the holy one

like the gold word of the living bell

that would transform

the dead embryos

that were slain like musical notes

in the womb of the lead guitar

by Herodian extremes of jealousy

into infant harps

in the arms of all the sirens

I had knocked up.

But one voice for all

like a speaker of the house

who has the final say?

I’ve never known

what I’m listening to inside

where the world expresses itself freely

without consulting me

as to what I can and cannot hear

because as many as the stars

as it takes to sweeten a universe

or cells it has taken

to write their epitaphs like graffitti

on the evolving sentence of my dna

growing longer as the sun goes down,

are the myriad voices

in every single word

I’ve ever overheard

in these cemeteries

laid out like Latin grammar

where every grave-marker

is a Rosetta stone

whispering in the shadows with Egypt

about how estranged everything

has become over the years

since the death of their afterlife.

One voice I like

that still comes like a sad mother

to a garden-gate on the dark side of the moon

and asks in a whisper like a candle in a skull

if I’ve seen any sign of her lost son,

is the childless widow of compassion

who was once a dancing virgin

who could empty a heart like an urn on the wind

and fill it again with ghosts from the fire

she taught to sing in the choir.

And if she is aware

of the depths of her suffering

she has never made me the measure

of the night in her eyes

or the dark, starless, seas

that break over a heart I cannot fathom.

She is the crone-mother of the mystery

that is the moon

when she throws her light like grief

or a biblical passage of thorns

over the shoulders of the hills

that have died at her feet

like soldiers of the black rose

who have deepened their repose in death

waiting for Jerusalem

to turn over its stones with a spade

and discover the lunar foundations

of the original watershed

on which it was laid.

And angry, crazy voices

that smash into my windows

like kamikaze crows

suddenly hurled out of the void,

voices like acids

distempered from the grapes of hell

religiously splashed in the eyes

of an adolescent schoolgirl

like the black adder of the antidote

to her spontaneous baptism in the light,

flawed voices that haven’t spoken in years

to the broken mirrors

that cut my face like winter rain

whenever I look into them

like tainted wells

on the map of a well known mirage.

Voices that make me boil in the bone

like the marrow

of sexually frustrated volcanoes

magmatic with apocalyptic effusions

of the creative madness of God

when he tempers his fire in the sea

and cools his sword in the scabbards

of life-bound islands

waiting for the first approach

of the seed-bearing birds

that come like thousands and thousands of words.

Voices that coach the sirens

of the tone-deaf ambulance

to sing instead of scream,

to open their mouths wide like a wound

and hit the high notes of the silence

that mothers the dream that is dying.

And the tender voices

that smile indulgently like flowers

whenever they catch me looking at them

as if I were lying to myself again

about who was ultimately responsible

for the pain I have embodied to live

the joy of not knowing

the unestimable worth

of what it is I give back

in the act of being

this indeterminate simulacrum of me

and not fearing that it might be nothing.