Tuesday, November 10, 2009




How far from who I thought I was I am.

A butterfly with paper wings

who mistook his cocoon for a fortune-cookie.

A gangster mystic who kills people into life.

Lighting it up and blowing it out it goes into action again.

A ghost in an asylum looking for his old inmates.

A demon condemned to do good against his will.

The nothing that makes everything bigger like zero.

A wheel that came off in the sixties.

The gift of a thorn in the lifeless palm of the moon.

The black hole just out of reach of my eyes.

A dispassionate gust of stars swept from the stairs.

A tiger tied to a stake like a judas-goat.

An unholy mountain of self

that comes down on me like an avalanche

everytime I think of developing it into a temple.

The lees in the eyes of the wine

that are the residue of many afterlives

that have lain down in me like leaves and cards

that have called my blood and bluff for good.

This urn of a heart

that has so gradually contracted

into the impervious mass

of a white dwarf 

that still burns with radiant aspirations

though all its habitable planets are long gone.

The long shot that chalks its tongue with words

and sometimes makes the play

like a jinxed prayer-wheel.

This strange unprotected way I feel

about being online alone with myself

in a chat room with a unknown virus.

The lamp that casts me like a shadow of the truth

to stand vigil over the corpse of the lie

I had to tell myself to make it through the night.

And how could I have imagined

all the deranged occasions of myself

when I wasn’t even invited

to sit down at the same table

with everyone else like salt?

And the sorrows I’ve borne on my back

like glaciers and heavy bells I’ve refused

to melt down into cannon

until they crushed me under their weight

like mastodons too overdressed for global warming;

how did they become the unmapped rivers

of my subconcious watershed

flowing in tears out of Eden

like the crib-death of my innocence?

A hydra-headed family tree of mirrors

that looks down upon me genetically

like a mutant constellation whose house

is a little too far from theirs

on the wrong side of the tracks

where the neighbourhood watch

keeps an eye out for me

in case I wander like a rogue planet

into one of their upscale zodiacs.

And I keep trying to suck the poison

out of the fang marks on the dice

I carved from a bone of the moon

like a man from Eve’s rib

to seven come eleven all the way home

like the arrow of the winged serpent

that keeps biting into my heels like lightning.

I’m one of the dead parachutes of Babylon

that got tired of hanging around like gardens

and jumped to my death from a dream

under the eyelid of an iris

that couldn’t hear Icarus scream

when he fell from the light

for exceeding the reasonable bounds

of the usual filament.

Not everything you steal from the gods

is worth the paper it’s written on

or finds an available market

and there’s no point in raking the ashes

for orchids of fire

when the phoenix is already flown

and the garden gone back to the wild on its own.

Intense heat; unusal sprouts

that have overgrown me like the jungle

the Mayan pyramids of Mirador

that once laid out scarlet carpets of blood

like red tides on the Gulf coast

as a sacrifice to a black sun

that only shone at midnight

through a crack in the skull of the moon

as it entered a full eclipse.

I never wanted the light

that fell upon me within and without

while I walked in it here on earth

to waste its genius upon me

like another uninspired mundane commission.

Let the garden grow as it will.

Let the light play with the water and earth

and express itself completely

in whatever weeds and flowers it brings forth.

How far from who I thought I was I am.

A space probe leaving the solar system

sending back pixels and beeps in infra-red

like postcards from the edge of nowhere

wondering if anyone ever receives them;

a Cepheid variable of intraterrestrial intuition

still waiting for the astronomers

to discover the earth under their eyelids

bends them over their telescopes

like wicks in the candle-flame

of a lamplighter

that sets the heavens ablaze

whenever the darkness proves reliable.

The ugly sister of discipline is persistence

and there are times

when I’m a pauper gnawing on rock

and times when I’m a master of water.

I am the father of a son and daughter

that have wandered off like moons

the open palm of my gravity

that once held them up to the night like pearls

to show what can come of a grain of sand

can no longer reach.

And it’s true

for those who say

they have no time for children

there are no flowers,

and for those who say

they have no time for flowers

there are no children

but for me the rose overflowed

its own thorns and scars

like a sudden haemorrage

when it woke up one morning

without eyelids

like the evicted window

of a view without a face.

And the waterbirds leave no trace

of who I was then in the mirror.

And the rest is Carthage

to the ghosts of salt

that won’t let the roses come near.

So I am this and this and this and this

that has come of that

like a chameleon

trying on lives

in the eye of a winter rainbow

as if the best the broken covenant

of my heretical nature could hope for

were a truce with the unforgiven.

How far from who I thought I was I am

like a hidden secret that wished to be known

and went off like the Big Bang

into the eleven demented dimensions of everything

that binds these worlds to me like a straitjacket

to protect me against myself

whenever I’m left alone at night

with nothing to be

in this wax museum of myself

that distorts the demons and angels

of my personal history

into the false security

of a grin on a death mask

that fits me perfectly like skin

as if no one to be,

nowhere to go, nothing to do

were any more or less of a face

than the one I’m in.

How far from who I thought I was I am

guessing my way into

one afterlife after another

without advice from anyone

like the first star to break against the sky

into a million directions

that all lead away from me

like light from a blind man

who makes up where he’s going

without knowing the way.

And even in the ashes

of these visionary ladders of fire

that once aspired to heaven

like a lifelong siege

that was lifted like an eyelid

to gaze upon the muted glory

of the brutal victory true clarity is,

I have eyes that are crueller than volcanic glass

twisted by the fire

when hell goes primeval

over the firstborn son of the seventh son

leaving his birthmark on things

like the broken seal of the human navel

that proves he’s illegitimate.

And when I’m not the heir

of these tainted jewels

I keep throwing before swine

who never stop eating long enough

to taste them,

I’m as hard-pressed

as an Arctic grape is for wine

or stone for the blood of a lifeline

that comes with a sword of its own

that isn’t pulled like iron out of the wounded ore

or another blade out of the scabbard

of a face-saving moon

for me to fall upon

though it’s not often easy to distinquish

whether I’m playing Russian roulette

or committing seppiku

when I take up arms against

the imperial tyranny of my polytheistic mirrors

in an unholy crusade of one for all

and all for one,

already knowing

the unconsolable loneliness of the outcome.

I have heard it said

by the crazy sages of a dark wisdom

the lucky day is when you discover it’s all one day

and I take that to mean this specious moment now

without a dawn or a sunset

a death or a birth,

a beginning or an end

where time doesn’t always live me like a friend

at the door of the house of a stranger

who’s never in whenever I call out

to tell me his name

like a rock through the looking glass

of an inverted telescope

or a bird through the homeless windowpane

that hides its face like the open sky

behind curtains that sway

like ghosts in the wind

summoned to these seances of myself

whenever I knock on the table

to prove I’m still in the room

with everyone I’ve ever been on the inside.

It’s as hard to tell the living from the dead

as it is to separate a mountain from its valley

or peel the moon’s reflection from the water

when everyone’s gathered

into a single lifeboat of a moment that doesn’t leak

or throw the dead overboard

because it contains the whole of the sea,

except the living tend to be more arrogant.

How many times have I passed a cemetery

and averted my eyes from the gravestones

for fear I’d read my name on one

and remember all those long laconic sunsets,

an intrigue of pink in a fatigued mustard yellow,

I lay there waiting for the solar-charged moonlights

the living had arranged so tenderly

like beatific fireflies among the withered flowers

to begin to glow like embers in ice

someone was breathing on.

How far from who I thought I was I am.

Eventually the glaciers move north

and all these striated gravestones

they leave behind like pottery shards

of Etruscan linear B

are thrown into a pot like an ostrakon

that drives death out into a wilderness of life

where it’s got to make a living of its own

selling ice-age insurance policies

scriven minutely on unmarrowed bone

that voids any contractual obligations to life

if life is not declared and annulled

as a prexisting condition.

I’m a planet with a fever of selves

wiping mirages off my forehead

that run down into the oases of my eyes

like acidic tears of heat

wrung from a raging furnace

like sweat from a rag.

I’m the shale of a cool nightstream

knapped like water

by the stone of the moon

into a Clovis point of a heart

that was buried

in a continental duststorm.

I am a nine-year-old bodybomb

who wears his innocence like a uniform

they passed out in heaven like skin

to every embryo they had their finger on

like a trigger.

Seth may bury Osiris’ body parts

in every quarter of the wind

but Horus the falcon-eyed

gathers them up again

to stop Isis the Queen of Heaven

from rummaging through her stars

like a widowed baglady pushing a deathcart

from one garbage bin to another.

I’m a holy man whose god died alone

when they clearcut the mountain

and all the bears moved into town

because the salmon couldn’t make

the leap of faith it takes to procreate.

I am seventy-one thousand species

and more among the undiscovered and unnamed

waiting like cures for incurables diseases

in the canopies and slashing root-wars

of burning jungles

on the homeless thresholds

and profit margins of extinction.

I am the indecent silence that mulls

the inconceivable atrocity

one human can inflict upon another

like a rosary of skulls

I’ve lost count of

like the ninety-nine names of God

the Stasi, the CIA, the KGB, Mossad and the Dina,

Paul Pot and the Egyptian secret police

kept files on

before they tortured him into confessing

he shed passports like a rose with no identity

they could spy on.

How far from who I thought I was I am

when the burning bush in the valley of Tuwa

puts words into my mouth

like a captured nation on TV

to prove I’m still alive and well

and newly enlightened

by the lightning rod and weathervane

of an angel-winged ideology

hanging its haloes on my horns

like the full moon on its thorns

in a game of show and tell.

Ah, Faustus, why this is hell

nor are we out of it.

Yet even that is not precisely true,

but if you’re going to sup with the devil

you better eat with a long spoon

and remember your god has two eyes:

His has only one that never cries

when all the lies come true

like miracles of their own making

that make me realize

when all is said and lived and done,

even in the mouth of a lizard

you can hear the birds singing,

the dragon howl in the dead tree,

the lion’s roar in the monkey’s skull,

the Big Bang in every molecule,

the Buddha in the body of a great fool,

or the crooked shepherd

fleeced in the innocence of the lamb.

You can be many things you don’t understand

but you can’t understand

anything you haven’t been already

or how do you know all the answers

to the echo of your name

when even the devil’s in denial

and the angels are tearing their hair out

like the open wounds 

of milkweed pods in the wind

that broke like the vows and wombs

of happy nuns who sinned to save themselves

just for you who came after

like a son of the sea

who had learned to walk on land

like a mountain

and intimately understand

like a rootless tree

whose voice was behind

the mask of black laughter

that rang throughout the valleys

of the promised land that didn’t keep its word

to the true man and woman turned away from the door

as if they didn’t live here anymore?

And as for all those younger selves

it took like steps of the way

to arrive at this impasse

and all those it will take to walk away,

so a stranger you haven’t met yet

can live on and on and on

seeking you,

I might suggest the first fruit

of the seed that opens its eye

like the present moment

to be and see you

sweeten the apple of delight

in the light of the infinite compassion

that roots you in the world

to feel the small wings of the stars

blowing on your face

like the lighthouse ghosts of the fireflies

that deepen your insight without warning

of who you’ll be in the morning

and who you will not

when you’re washed up on your own dark coasts

like someone you were and forgot.

Heart, body and mind.

Compassion and insight.

The grape on the vine.

The dragon poured out of the crucible of its own fire.

And if you dream your way deeply enough

into the watersheds of the divine

like a river following its own lifeline

to the sea ahead,

you’ll know that the colour of God’s eyes

when she summons you to clarity

like a madman mouthing moonlight in tongues

isn’t the purity of the conceptual waters

that spills out of your lungs like the sea

but the way she turns you into wine like a siren

whenever you show up like last year’s orchard

at the wedding of a bride to be

knowing you’re no one specifically

with an identity or forwarding address,

oudeis aneile peplon,

until you lift the shroud of yourself

from the new pearl of her face like a veil.

And see how every scale and blossom of yourself

you’ve ever shed on this shore of your being

is the last black sail to cross the threshold


like the dawn of the next horizon

as if a dove and a crow were sent out

to look for land like night and day

and couldn’t find a branch or a mountain to perch on.

Or a star to follow

or a wave or a wake

that knew the way back to the ark

or whether it docked in Turkey or Atlantis,

not one Gulfstream

in all these snakepits

and oceans in the eyes

of these hurricane roses

that has not led me astray in the spring

like a Gordian knot of life-themes

that untie themselves from the yoke,

unwind the strong rope

that binds me to my mind

into a million weak threads

all going their own separate ways

like the long rivers of Eden

over the cosmic precipice

of an optical illusion of self

that breaks them into billions of drops of water

that fall like tears for their eyes alone

into the radiant abyss of starfoam below

blowing and popping

these bubbles in Bedlam

that mask many lives

with the same face

like the infinite worlds in hyperspace

where everyone is true

and the lion does lie down with the lamb

that yesterday slew on the pious mountain.

And tomorrow like the today of this here and now

that lasts forever

will come before me

out these shapeshifting deserts of time

like a sphinx of joy and sorrow

and ask me riddles in an hourglass of sand

I can’t answer

about the three ages

that had to crawl and walk and hobble

across the mindscapes and lifespans

of countless, unknown humans

until the wind abducted them like water

and laid them out like stars and rivers on a map

where I was the only misdirection left

that had a clue

among so many true norths

the wind had never blown off course

how far from who I thought I was I am.











































How far from who I thought I was I am.