Saturday, October 10, 2009




Driving up to Maberly for cheap cigarettes

at the Two Eagles Trading Post

across the highway from Silver Lake,

frost of the night

mist of the morning lifting

in the blaze of the sun

in the bleach-blue sky

that wheels the reds and oranges,

and the wild, canary, grosbeak yellows

into their complementary hue,

I can’t really see the autumn

until my blood stops thinning itself down

to peer through the lenses

of the watercolours in my eyes

and flowing, deeper, darker

turns into fire and paint

and dancing on the funeral pyre

of my last unknown masterpiece

instead of trying to walk on stars,

celebrates the crazy wildness of my solitude

by elaborating a world

I can almost forgive

as I brush myself

off the shoulders of the hills in passing

like a thread of smoke,

a parrot of ash,

a glaze of Prussian blue,

and cry like an arsonist

in an old-growth wilderness

that the trees don’t wait for me to burn.

There is a void, an abyss, an emptiness

that wears a human face

in the presence of things everywhere

that are reflected back

in the black mirror of space

as the mystically specific features

of every mineral, plant, and animal

I’ve ever been.

I’m not just a figure in a landscape

I am the whole of the scene

and even in the shadows

that don’t feel like me,

that are sometimes horrid and strange,

intensities of separation in faces

that have fallen far from the tree,

I am the child in the darkness

rooted in a fever of fear

that is slowly learning to trust me.

And it’s been like this for years

though memory is just another way

of quoting yourself

more comprehensively

through the tears

that keep turning up

like Desdemona in autumn

to audition for the play

by drowning for real.

Have you seen October sumac

set its wings afire?

I wrote that in my twenties

sitting down on the curb

with Ben Jonson

watching the house burn,

writing odes

to Vulcan’s acumen as an editor.

If you summon a phoenix

a phoenix will come

like an aspiring passion

for enlightenment

that will shake you like ashes

out of the Buddha’s sleeve

where you’ve been hiding

from a world you didn’t conceive

and doesn’t believe

in abiding with anyone

longer than it takes to say good-bye.

Now you’re alone in the darkness

with yourself as the only witness

down to your last match

like a tiny lighthouse

looking for a lifeboat

lost like a voice in the fog

and you strike your head against the rocks

like one of the black eggs of music

a phoenix lays in a nest of ashes

and suddenly the autumn flares all around you

like the sum of all sums

in a womb of sacred fire

that immolates you into being

the light in the night

of your own unborn, unperishing clarity.

Go ask the star, the candle, the maple-tree

setting fire to the roof

of the abandoned roadside fruit-stand

with its vagrant leaves

whose light their light is the child of

and how it is they all have the same eyes as you

when you don’t bind yourself

like a nun to a cross

or a blind man in the mirror

to a match that has gone out

like the swords in the hands

of the flammable angels

who burnt paradise to the ground

so they could be doused

like the torches of autumn

in the retrospective lakes of their own tears

and know what it is

to die into yourself

like a god or a human

or a leaf of fire

like the torn page

of a calendar

on the mindstream

that makes its way

through the placenta of the full moon

all the way to everyone of us

like water through a dream

of things to come

that come of us

who are the magnanimous hosts

of our own transience.

Fountains of words

from a golden mouth

for the ghosts and the birds

that are always heading south

or like me, west,

up highway seven,

a shadow at the wheel of a sundial

or the spirit of an Ojibway outcast

set free from his burial hut

after ten years in isolation

without a cigarette 

flying with the geese

who carry the souls of the dead

toward whatever afterlife they want

as if their futures were already forgiven.

Forgiven for having outlived

whoever we are

like the light of the stars

that go out in the wells of our eyes

so that we can see,

or the small search-parties of the fireflies

who won’t stop looking for us

like a postmark

we left like a homeless fingerprint

on the lost address

of the last constellation

of the transcendent myth

we were born under

like a loveletter to everyone

written on the leaves of autumn

in passion and paint,

blood and pain,

in the cursive script

of every artery and vein

that throws its books and maps in the fire

like the posthumous effects

of an old affair.

And sheds us like the apple

of an expiring art

that seeds

the myriad keyholes of the heart

with peeping toms

that lower their zeniths

on the star-crossed thresholds

before the promiscuous doors

of the moon-horned virgins

who wait like owls in the trees

for the x-rated version

of their venereal hagiographies

to be martyred into movies.

And as I said to myself only yesterday

life has a good eye

and anyone can say it and see it

in every detail of the passing scene

like water trying to hang on to its roots

but when the lense of the air

is angled for fire

like the third eye

of a deciduous choir

then it’s one thing to see it

but it’s altogether

a much more dangerously creative affair

even among the inane mundanities

when it takes more than the truth

and less than a lie

to be it.