Wednesday, October 28, 2009




for William Hugh Chatfield


You can see the world as aspect,

every form and characteristic,

every event of the done and not-done

and all that has not yet appeared

an occasion of your own mind,

a feature of yourself without an opposite

you can’t find room for in the mirror

when you want to take a good look at yourself

and all you can see is everything else

the stars and the sun and the moon

and the infinite spaces that never impede them

and the darkness that mothers it all into being,

all distinctions without distinction

sustained by the eye of a drop of water

hanging from a blade of stargrass,

the whole blazing chandelier of the heavens

contained in every single tear of light.

The same eye by which I see God

is the same eye by which she sees me.

Ask any lover. Tat vam asi. You are that.

You’re the suicide note

the nightshift waitress wrote in lipstick

smeared across her own face in the mirror

like an unfinished self-portrait of the world

done with the crayon of a bleeding snail.

You’re the green bough.

And you’re the dead branch.

And you’re the first syllable of the blossom

and the endless song of the bird

that can’t tell the difference between them.

You haven’t really seen a tree

until you realize you’re looking upon

one of your own emotions

rooted in starmud above and below,

shedding and revealing you like leaves.

And every autumn when Caesar arrives

don’t you go up in flames

like the library at Alexandria

consuming yourself like the works

of thousands of unknown lives

that will never know your name?

You can look as far as you want

through the glass lenses

and digital mirrors of a telescope

you can put your big ears

like sunflowers and stethoscopes

to the navel of the Big Bang

to hear the baby kicking

and wonder whose child it is,

but ultimately aren’t you as you are

the message in the bottle you’re looking for,

the firefly in the mason jar

that doesn’t appear on any maps

and the starfish that just washed up on shore

like a stray letter from a lost alphabet

that reveals that when you’re listening to the sea

out in space or here on earth

through a shell

you’re listening to the history

of your own voice upon the waters

of your own infinite being

wave after wave,

eyelid after eyelid

opening and closing,

awaking and dreaming the worlds

in the fiat lux, logos, and let there be light

of this theme of life

a breath in the night

inspired by the dark abundance

and bright vacancy of the mirror

that greets you face to face

star to star, word to word

or atom to atom

as all the playfully creative children

born of delight

to revel in the light

that is everywhere

and in the heart and tears of everything

the issue of the dark matter and the light

in all this blaze and bluff of being,

the mad genius of your own seeing.

You don’t need

to put glasses on a star

to know who you are

among their many myths of origin

when every page of the book

is looking back at you

with stars in their eyes

as the place where they begin.

What inside or outside to the mirror

or the eyes of the rain

running naked down the windowpane

that thinks they make fools of themselves

when they unspool their watersheds

like you when you cry out to yourself alone

like an embryo in a cosmic birthstone

into the many rivers

that flow through you

with all the jewels of the world

burning with life in the palms of their hands?

So you can see the world as aspect,

or you can stand alone in the world with everyone

and understand the one hasn’t just one

but an infinite number of opposites,

every atom a primordial monad

of chameleonic polarities

raising goose-bumps in space

when they blow upon the water

like the skin of a sleeping lover

and wake the world up.

Opposites long for opposites

like an old warrior longs for his enemies

or a priest for his god playing hard-to-get

or noli me tangere for Caesar’s I am

and the spaces between your thoughts

are starless wide moats of time

cluttered with corpses

like shellfish in a red tide

and I and the other

are forever Cain and his brother

having it out with spears and shovels

before a choosey God

who makes one the subject

and the other the object of his rod.

Hasn’t it ever struck you as funny

that so many people

don’t know who they are

until they’re identified at a crime scene

as either the perp or the victim?

Optical illusions of conciousness

when the water breaks the stick

like a wand that’s lost its magic

into two thresholds

at opposite ends of the house

where the darkness gathers its assassins

like shadows under the cloak of noon

and the sun shines at midnight

like a priest behind the door

and your own two feet

declare war upon each other.

You pull yourself up by your own bootstraps

and make ghettos of anything with roots

or come down on the fold like a herbicide,

or the angel of death in a parachute

every time you jump from heaven

for the thrill of the fall and the hunt

and the erotic eureka in the shriek of the kill.

Nature’s lone refugee,

a nomadic tribe in exile, 

your emotions move rootlessly

around your thoughts

like the prophetic skulls

of alien boundary stones

that can’t keep you out of the city.

Let he who is without sin throw the first stone,

and here’s the world laid out before you

like a dead Goliath.

And the only difference between you and the other

and always will be is

one man drinks from his hands

and the other from a skull.

Two windows in the same house

losing their vision

like a perjured witness

who’s changed the colour of her eyes

to speak the truth

with one hand on a holy book

where murder forgives its own crime

by calling the act divine

and the other held up to the wind

like the rosey trellis of long lifeline.

And I could go on for worlds like this

looking for mind with mind,

my flashlight with my flashlight

and already have for too long

but when one’s the guest

the other’s the host

and it’s easy to lose sight of the coast

when you’re only lighthouse is lightning.

But how can you ever

pour the universe out of the universe

or the mind out of the mind

like a wave out of a particle

or the grape out of the vine

when it’s the cup and it’s the wine

and it’s the delirium that drinks itself  beyond divine

looking into the void

as every god and human does

in their unimaginable freedom

like the possible meaning

of an impossibly meaningless life

where the loneliest of stars

shine by their own light

like fish in the depths of the darkness

and only the blind look up in surprise

and stare long and lovingly into their own eyes

like burned-out gods on the seventh day

knowing they just couldn’t see it

any other way?