Thursday, October 15, 2009




for Heidi Clow


I’m not looking for the foolsgold

of the body of God

or any other miscreance of reality

that people put their faith in like a cup.

The darkness can see further than I can

and there are stars I would rather avoid

for the way they bend the space around me

into a bag of skin plump with water

leaking out through nine holes

as if all we could do were only borrow

the ocean for awhile

and not hang on to it as if it were ours.

And time doesn’t belong to anyone

That’s why it’s so impersonal.

One life? One theme? What nonsense

when everyone’s the murmuring

of innumerable rivers

flowing into one another

like a bloodstream through the night.

Let the ghosts come and go as they please

without giving up your seat at the table

whatever fable is summoned

to dispossess you.

Remain free enough

to be unbounded by your freedom

to wear chains if you wish or nothing at all.

And don’t go around trying to pull legends

out of your ass or your skull

like swords out of the magic stone

that made you king

when the gates of the spirit

you can’t prove you have

swing on one post

like the crowns of the flowers

all along the royal roads

that lead everywhere but home again

because everything is deranged by our absence

and you might be the cause of a lot of things

but who can assess the effect

by consulting themselves

like an estranged mirror

that breaks at any suggestion

of what a human can do

to keep their exiles

from killing their refugees?

The gazelles of light

don’t come down to the river at night

like a protocol of the moon 

to drink from a polluted mirror

that’s been savaged

by the toxic watersheds of the dead

who malign every thought

of ever finding the grail

that might clarify all of this

that is your mind

with lead.

Bury the dead.

Don’t marry them.

They’re trying to mend fates of their own

like fishermen on a further shore

and you can stand as long as you want

at the gates of belief

with your hat in your hand

trying to understand

the mineral callousness

that unmarrows our bones,

unappeasable grief among gravestones,

and tears us out of our deepest intimacies

like the pages of a diary or leaves

on an early evening autumn wind

buffing the dusk with crows.

But the greater misgiving

is to mistake severance for the knife

of an implacable law

and descecrate

the ubiquitous dead

by judging that lost

that goes on making a living inside you

like a root of your own

turning dark matter into light

like Merlin

or Hermes the thrice-blessed

gone underground

to apprentice the dead

no saviour can raise

to the power of their own magic.

You can’t pour the universe

out of the universe

anymore than you can pour

your mind out of your mind.

Where’s it going to go

that isn’t it?

And where are you going to go

that isn’t you?

And how can there be

an inside and an outside

where things come and go

like the shadows of birds

on the autumn moon

and the way the protean shapes of things

keep on changing

and life goes on engendering itself

like an embryo with a mother in the making,

who isn’t giving birth to everyone all the time

in every cell of their being?

And when was one eye

ever the whole of your seeing?

And how do I know

I’m not what the dead

are going through right now

like an intersecting galaxy

with so much inner space

that the stars of the one

don’t get in the way of the stars of the other?

Apple-bloom on a dead branch

the faces we wear among one another

like shedding calendars of doom

gathered around the equinoctial gravestone

that takes the measure of our day and night

by aligning our shadows to the light.

What else are we

if not this occasion of breath

upon the great seas of awareness

that brings forth the world as we know it

only to suffer this dream of loss

when the bride takes back her mirror

like a receding tide

and we breathe out

and disappear?

And for centuries

in lonely, impoverished rooms,

and ghoulish restaurants late a night

and on our knees

before agonies of paint and wood

in houses of iron and stone,

and in the amazing cities

crawling with assassins

in the alleys of belief,

and in our desparate hearts

like cheat sheets

to an exam even God couldn’t pass

squarely under the eyes

of a dispassionate invigilator,

in prisons and madhouses and hospitals

in bitter palaces that have dried like India ink

in cancercamps and bombed out villages

and in the parking lots of deathwish shopping malls

we’ve been writing shit like this to ourselves for years

and still there is no end of the tears

we try to send out like roots and rain after the dead

who go on cracking like mirrors

listening to the sad advice

of orchards in an ice-storm.

So is it madly inconceivable

to long to inspire the dead so intensely

with the grace of a dark beatitude

that doesn’t hide its face

when the moon turns around

that we can sponsor their night journey

like migrating geese

as the Ojibway do every fall

with the magnanimity of our farewells?

Can’t we learn to say good-bye

as we have learned like heavy bells

and oarless empty lifeboats

that never leave shore

that there’s only the slightest hope of rescue

and instead of mourning

like wells in the rain

that have been cheated of water,

part the dark veils like fountains of light

and reveal the face

the dead wear like the moon

is still their own,

even if you must look

into your own eyes

like water into water

without sides

to see it?

Are the departures not as much

as the myriad beginnings of everything

as everything else always is

in this inseparable moment

without birth and death

that neither unifies or divides

the thresholds we abandoned like trees

for the rootless vagrancy

of our own two feet?

Every step of the way

we are estranged and greeted

by the road we make with our walking

until everywhere and nowhere

is home to the refugee

human life is.

There is no journey

you can come to the end of

like a snake that has swallowed its own tail

up to its head

until the swallowed

and the swallower

the eater and the eaten

the grass and the grazer

the living and the dead

life and death

are the same mouth

and hunger and fulfillment

creation and annihilation

are neither one nor two

but just the space that sustains us

like starbread cooling on the windowsills

of the afterlife of wheat

and on the vines

that have mingled

the earth and the night

and the light and the rain

into bloodlines that run like rivers

down the mountains of a map

into the boundless rosy-fingered sea

of the unborn generations of the wine.

Life consumes itself

to ensure that everything lives,

breaks itself like bread like death and gives

the farmer back to the wheat

under a new moon in familiar fields.

Life lives on life

like the worlds within worlds it takes

to create a god

who sacrifices

the whole of herself like a seed

in the solitude of her dark abundance

to keep what she sadly gives away

like a woman who died young

still gathering flowers

like Persephone and Heidi

to return every spring like an orchard

to the severity of the absence

that never stops waiting for her;

because the blossoms of the beginning

are the blossoms of the end

and yesterday and tomorrow

are the two eyes of now

that can see how the deserts

on the far side of the moon

return us to ourselves in tears

like the waters of life

as the great night sea nears.