Thursday, April 29, 2010




for Patrick Ennis


note: Willow is Patrick’s daughter, a two year old girl who has undergone

two heart transplant operations and recently

as a result of the second transplant contracted cancer.


Two years since your father told me

you had opened your eyes

and your name was Willow.

Good name. Willow. Wise. A muse.

A fountain and a wellspring

lucid with beautiful sorrows

you bring like secrets of water

from your life before

you were embodied in this one.

Do you remember

washing your hair in the stars

when you lingered by the shore

of your own mindstream

like the Swan in the Milky Way?

Two years since your father told me

you had given birth to him

who called to tell me he was a father

as I listened over the cellphone

to the fireflies and lightning in his voice

trying the fact on like different sizes of light.

Your father is angry and dark

and dresses in black

because he’s got a great heart

that’s radically eclipsed by injustice.

And he’s an original artist

who’s just discovered you

like a new colour

that sheds light upon light

when the sun shines at midnight.

In the vast dark brutally impersonal expanses of space

alone and within

he looks up at the stars

he once shot like heroin

and hangs on to you like a candle

realizing all their blazing

is just another kind of blindness

compared to the light you shed.

And all he had to do

from the very beginning

was see as far as the next human.

And since you lit him up like a star

above a magus with a bass guitar

he’s stopped booking one-night stands

in extra-terrestrial mangers.

He sings punk lullabies to you.

Your mother remains an enigma to me

though I have imagined many times

how she must feel

like the heavy blood-bells

of the poppies

poised midway

between a gypsy wedding

and a Calvinist funeral

when she stands over you

and watches you sleep

not knowing

if you can overcome death

all by yourself

deep in the watershed

of your dangerous beginnings.

Right from the start

you needed a new heart

and praise be to science

for compassionate machines

you got one

and lived like a robot

until they took one

from the life-giving dead

and fit it inside of you like a locket

with someone else’s picture in it.

And later they will give you another

when you’ve grown

and forever your blood

will be a red ribbon on a gift

from someone who sleeps

deep inside you

like a good fairy

dreaming under a stone

that she spreads her wings like dawn

from horizon to horizon

in every breath of you

you take for both

to live on past the morning.

And when you die

you will die in each other’s arms

like two crescents of the same moon

that can’t tell its beginnings from its ends

or who was the stranger

and who was the friend.

I haven’t kept in touch with the Buddha

but I’m going to the place

you’re coming from

as we pass each other like bridges

looking for the other side of things

as if there weren’t much of a difference.

Life isn’t our first innocence

and death won’t be our last.

And two years on earth

isn’t time enough to adumbrate

the original wisdom that belongs to all of us

however we lose our minds in the way of the world

looking for what can no more be lost

than light can be lost in space.

We may be many blossoms on your tree Willow

but we all wear the same face

and we all feel the same way

just as music can’t tell the difference

between the joy it shares with agony

or a requiem for the dead

that celebrates the living

from an epithalamion to the sun

that carries its orchard across the threshold

like cosmic seeds in tiny coffins

as if life were the only secret

death couldn’t keep to itself.

And stronger than the tree.

The seed.

That’s why you’ve made it through more

than most strong men could endure.

Every heartbeat has been a throw of the dice

that would terrify Caesar like a Rubicon

too wide to cross

but I can see the chalk on the sidewalk

and it isn’t the outline of a corpse

in a murdered mirror

but you playing hopscotch

with daisies on your socks

as you bend down on one wobbly leg

to pick up the new heart you threw ahead of you

before you jump to the next

like the square of the number one.

Old pond.

Frog jumps in.


Basho wrote that.

And when he buried his seven year old son:

You may have been a dewdrop

in this dewdrop of a world

but even so even so . . . .

And you will come to understand in time

like water in autumn

the thousands of beautiful ways

we have learned to cry here on earth

like lonely birdsong

for things we know nothing about.

The bitter apple of knowledge

ripens into poetry

like an old man

at his daughter’s wedding.

And the serpent looks on with a grin.

But you’re too young to have learned

how to fear your own freedom yet

like a bad bet against circumstances

no one controls.

The trolls haven’t gathered under your bridge

like hydro-bills

to exact the tolls

they demand of your parents

like parking lot fees at the hospital

when they go to see

after each surgery

if God slipped a loveletter

under their door this time

or an eviction notice

that kicks the house of life out of them.

Your father works hard

and your mother is Bethlehem.

And Herod’s doing a body count

of all the future assassins he’s overthrown

like the first born of the aboreal cribs

that give birth to birds and babies

and shamans in the treetops.

And when the wind blows

down will come baby

cradle and all

but you’ve already fallen from the tree

more than once

and featherlesss

managed somehow

to crawl back up into the nest

of a determined heart

that insists on growing wings.

Fly, Willow, Fly.

Let your hair down in the wind

that runs its fingers through it like music

that catches God’s attention quicker than prayer

and makes a more lasting impression.

And even though your father tells me now

the last heart they gave you

has bruised your blood with cancer

and you must fight for your life again

live, Willow, live

to count the rings around your heartwood

like the number of times

you were engaged to spring

before you eloped with the summer

like pale-faced blossoms on their way to Mexico.

Live among the things of the world

you can touch and see

and hear and taste and smell

and cast strange thoughts over

like a spell of fireflies in a wishing well

where the sad magicians dwell

who don’t believe

in the power of their magic

to transform the toad of the world

back into a prince who isn’t bitter

or pull waterlilies like doves

out of the sleeve of a swamp.

You’re the dark queen of dynastic dragons.

You Willow

with your little life

just as it is now

like the small breath

the tiny flame

of a dragon queen

keeping death at bay somehow

like a cosmic fire death can’t blow out.

How strong you must be

to have suffered so much

against the odds

of a body loaded in death’s favour

and what a prodigy of bravery

you must have been in another life

lingering in the shadows of this one  

that even your parents

have learned courage from you.

And already you are more powerful

than any of us

without even trying.

You learn without learning

and wiser than those

who think of learning

as a kind of repentence

for their ignorance

imposed upon themselves

like the fear of really knowing

they call the beginning of wisdom

even at two

you’re the clear eye of the storm

that offers the battered birds

sanctuary and composure.

And you’re the dangerous peace

that your parents

are trying to make with the world

that threatens what they love the most.

So fight, Willow, fight

to keep the light alive in the lamp.

Don’t let the night steal the moon from your window.

Live to know how much space

there is in a human heart

for sorrow and happiness

and how we light our hearth-fires

over the bones of our dead

who rise whole and unbroken as bread

to sustain us in their absence.

Live to know how forgiving the rain is

and how trusting the flowers

and how everything here

has learned to live

like a replay of their passing away

as the only means they have of staying.

Bloom among us Child

like a message in a bottle from God

that he’s still waiting to be rescued

rise up from the depths of your abyss

like the leviathan of a volcanic island

and let the birds bring you seeds

and the tides

wild coconuts.

Learn monkey and tree and star and stone

and how to tell time

by the Big Dipper and the Canada geese

and their return

and the number of times

the undetectable cricket in the grass

fiddles with his legs like the hands of a clock

who’s learned to play the violin badly

and how the further you look out into space

from some isolated farmer’s field

on a night in the autumn

the less you feel alone

as you turn toward home.

Love, Willow, love

like a feather loves the wind

like the sea loves its weather

like a star loves the darkness it’s shining in

like a dream loves the bed of flesh it’s lying in

like the blood loves the heart

like a station on its way

and the mind loves the grape and the vine

it perceives in the eye of the wine

before the arising of signs

has anything to say about why.

Be sky, Willow, and moon,

be water and mountains

that weep like young streams

peaking  on stars like clouds at night

that sweeten their sorrows in the valleys

like pregnant bells of light

planting orchards

planning weddings.

Draw your knees up under you chin

as you did when you were an embryo

and sit on the stone of the world

like a habitable planet of your own

that’s less coffin than cocoon

and lost like a child

in the lucidity of wonder

share with the dragonflies and frogs

those long silent thoughts that go on forever

like sunsets and radio waves

about what we’re all doing here together

as if all we’ve ever had to belong to

were each other

as we all belong to you somehow

and that’s more than enough of an answer for now.

































































































Tuesday, April 27, 2010




Some journeys end like rivers

in Nilotic deltas of frayed nerves

rooting in seabeds on the moon

who dream of distant waters

but sleep with intimate shadows.

Some journeys just sit down

by the side of the road

among the white sweet clover

and never get up again

and their shoes go on without them.

All journeys eventually perish

in their own beginnings

like water and blood and light.

If you’re lucky you might meet

love coming the other way

and stop and stare at each other

as a place to stay for the night

but everyone’s gone by the morning.

The best traveler has no plans

is an old Sufi insight

and then there are those

who get around like starmaps for the blind.

And though I was certain when I was young

that I knew where I was going

growing older I realized

I wasn’t the boulder

I was the flowing

and I stopped trying to take care of things

that get on well enough by themselves.

What does the wind know of blossoms and seeds

as if one were a used up beauty

a spent breath

and the other had a rendezvous

with the afterlife of a flower

like a tiny coffin

moonlighting as a locket by night?

Water doesn’t need a guide

when it’s in the mountains

or a shepherd when it’s in the valleys.

It doesn’t need to know where it’s gone before it goes.

Every journey is a pilgrimage

that wends its way to a holy shrine

in a back alley somewhere

you’ve followed like a lifeline

on the palm of your hand

all the way down to the base of your thumb

hooking rides all along the highway

as far as the next town.

If Chaucer were alive today

he’d be driving cab by now.

He’d know how to get around in London

without jacking up his fares.

Some journeys can go on for light-years.

Some are just quick slides down the banister

to the bottom of the stairs.

Lost in a dark forest on your thirty-third birthday

or limping horseless along the grail-ways

as if the world were the pebble in your shoe

blue angels on your shoulder

trying to fly you into a soft landing 

and a serpent at your feet

driving you out of Eden

into your infinite homelessness

like a universe with nothing but stars for a GPS

the way things go

sometimes no is the only shortcut to yes

when yes stops short of forever.

Sometimes the journey feels like a flying carpet

under the Buddha’s behind

but it isn’t the Buddha that moves

it’s his mind.

And the saddest delusion

I’ve ever encountered along the way

I shook like a star that was following me

in the wrong direction 

were all these people who seek the divine

by looking forward to

what they’re leaving behind.

Do the blind lead those with eyes

like a vine leads grapes to wine?

Some journeys wobble like a drunk

walking a straight line

like small planets with vertigo

pulled in opposite directions

by massive sinkholes in space

posing as the marble cornerstones

of the freewheeling allnight casinos

double-dealing the light

in a game of cosmic roulette.

But space gives time as good as it gets

and the spiders don’t stop to ask the fish

how to improve their nets

or teach the moon to weave.

Some journeys don’t give a shit

and some believe they’ve got a trump up their sleeve

like a god they can pull out in the nick of time

at the end of it all

like Christopher Columbus making landfall at dusk

like the sun going down over the wrong continent

looking for a northwest passage

through the isthmus of Panama

like an interloper groping another man’s wife.

Seven times down

eight times up

such is life

when it’s as legless

as an inflated Bhodidarma punching doll

that’s just taken a right cross in the ring

when the vertical’s empowered by the horizontal

and the full lotus you mistook for a vehicle

that would carry you all the way to the end of the line 

turns out to be just another kind of chair

circling a north star that doesn’t go anywhere

like a circumpolar constellation

that’s never made hajj to the Kaaba

to square the circle.

But don’t feel sorry for Queen Cassiopoea.

Some journeys die like salt in the desert.

Not every river’s trying to make it to the sea.

And then there are people who take the high road

and walk for years over water fire and stars

and only ever make it as far as who they are

when they discover how their blood

has led them in circles like the rain

heartened by the new start

of the way they came.

























































Sunday, April 25, 2010




Writing to you is like writing to summer.

I see a stalk of wheat with a small drop

of Eleusinian ergot on it

calling me to its mysteries.

I see you stumping through the B.C. wilderness

in your mud-tugging boots

planting trees like the old Rinzai masters of Japan

for the sheer enlightenment of it.

I wonder if you have an Aussie accent

now that you’re back from down under.

Do the birds sing differently?

They’re fixing the roads here in Perth.

I’m delivering pizzas

in a labyrinth of Minoan backhoes.

And I still write and paint every morning before work.

My brain is a tossed paisley salad

and my heart is an orgy of blue.

I don’t spend a lot of time

trying not to grow old

knowing now is forever anyway

but things flash across my mind sometimes

like sabres of ice that make my blood cruel and cold.

I’m trying not to regret my childhood

and there are times when I can even manage

to throw a few sweetcakes into the snakepit

without asking the priestess

to take her prophecies back

now that I’ve made everyone of them come true.

Your crystal sends its regards

and asks me to remind you in its absence

not to be baffled by your happiness

when it comes upon you

and not to be too certain when it doesn’t.

Sometimes in the afternoon

between deliveries

I get a chance

to sit in the backyard

among blue and white flowers

and read Zen in the sun like an enlightened eclipse

that’s ready to split the difference

between reality and delusion

like one wave from another

like Solomon’s baby

knowing they’re both from the same dark mother.

I don’t add extra shadows to things

by giving them meanings they don’t deserve

and even when I indulge an old habit

for the sake of long friendship

my meanings are birds

that don’t perch anywhere for long.

Tree means tree.

Star means star.

Water means water.

Rock means rock.

It’s clear.

This is what here means.

Now I picture you in tight blue jeans.

And lust brings a smile to my face that’s sweeter than grace.

And my body thanks you from afar

for the solar flare and the blue star

that burns the gold out of the crude ore of the Virgin.

Zodiacally speaking, of course.

And for months now I’ve been trying

to remember everything I’ve ever known about Aquarians.

In all ten directions the universe is one horse.

They’re so spaced out beyond the orders of time

kept by the strict lords of the prevailing paradigm

they’re all open gates and no fence.

They’re the cambium

the growing edge

the unhewn brides of spring

that move in with strange guests

like compasses without any wests.

They don’t need any signposts.

They use the trees for direction.

They drive the weathervanes crazy.

And the wind sits down

on a moss-covered stone

underneath an oak-tree on a hill 

and holds its head in its hand like the earth

and says I just don’t know anymore

what things are coming to

or which way to go

now everything moves in a groove of its own

like homegrown music without a shepherd moon.

You can come like an equinox

with all the tuning forks you want

you can crotch hazel into witching wands

and loop your way through a maze

of celestial equators and ecliptics

and dupe the lost into believing they’re round

but an Aquarian will include you like a lost and found

in the most profound mystery of herself

like the secret history of water.

And you will lose yourself

like an intimacy in your homelessness

as she pours herself out of her deepest abyss

like tea among friends

and bows to the flowers.

Blue is the bravest colour.

It’s got way more courage than common-sense

to hear the jealous yellows tell it.

And midnight blue is galaxies beyond

Rembrandt’s mystic browns.

Brown never looks up.

It’s earthbound.

It’s background.

But blue is the sea and the sky

wearing each other’s skin like water

tatooed by the stars of the magnificent other

that doesn’t make the distinction.

And whether it’s starless or not

blue is a deep-sky Aquarian

with blackholes like wishing wells

that time forgot to close

like the eyelids of death

when the dream turned inward

like the light of life

to the deep dreamless sleep

of its dark unknown eyeless origins.

And if time doesn’t go soft on you

or south with the geese and the swans

it will harden you into an artist

whose ashes are diamonds

footloose and lucidly peerless

in the mirrors of the waters

you scatter them on like dancers.

I think of you as blue and gold

with a black star brighter

than a midnight sun in the middle

that shows the way to the heretic

who knows her only sacrilege is solitude.

To lock horns with you

would be to lock horns with the moon.

I would rather be your faithful matador

and gather up all my swords

like the stone sunbeams of Amun Re

and carry them down by the armful to the bridge at night

and devote them to the starlit waters

like loveletters to Isis

when she’s going through a crisis

and needs a sexy friend with a red cape

that doesn’t burn scarlet women

like Joan of Arc

in the fires of the poppies

he lights around their feet

to prove they’re not martyred by the sun

whenever their blood blooms

all around them like the flames

of gypsy fires that have lost their fear of strangers.

Some things just transcend themselves spontaneously

like forest fires and birthday candles you can’t blow out.

No one needs to know what they’re talking about

when they have no doubt

nothing they know makes any sense

and it isn’t the long run

but the present moment

that makes all the difference.

And I don’t think time heals much

or that ashes pray for salvation from the fire

like a stay of execution from the rain.

Pain means pain.

It’s got nothing against anybody

though we try to appropriate it

like an enemy outside ourselves

we deceive ourselves into believing

can be slain

without slaying the slayer.

People might eat the hearts out of their noble corpses

and call it prayer

and wonder why it’s as dead here

as it is everywhere

but it’s only a sleight of the eye

that makes the vastness of being here

seem so petty sometimes.

When the pearl doesn’t outgrow the grain of sand

that’s getting it together like the moon

suffering opens its mouth like a wound

and gives birth to a miscarriage of language.

You see how it is with me these days?

I pay the rent

and hang myself out to dry in the backyard

like sunny laundry

to prove to the neighbours

I’m not walking skinless through the world

though I am

but just like them

I tan.

There’s no inside or out to me anymore.

Walls are just the flip-side of doors.

I notice how the light on the new leaves

seems to shine within

like the luminous green

of salt in a fire

and I start tripping on the connections

between chlorophyl and chlorine

and how one little twisted syllable

can mean so much

when you’re this far out of touch

with the conventional run of things

like a moon-boat on the mindstream

of a frequent flyer.

Even as a child among peers

they said I would go mad one day.

That was what my highschool graduation yearbook

prophecied as my most likely future.

Most likely to become a mad scientist mad teacher mad poet mad.

And so I have.

As my way of not disappointing anyone.

I went down with the ship like a good captain

when the daffodils came up

like periscopes in the desert

and torpedoed the moon.

And if now I walk under them

like lamp-posts with you

that bloom at night

down a long lonely street

with no one in sight for parsecs

as we did that night we both staggered drunk

holding each up other up down Drummond Street

who’s to say the delight I feel

is any less real

than being a weathervane of events

I can’t control

like a traffic cop at an intersection

where directions aren’t horizontal

and not all wrecks

despise the accidental.

The hollyhocks are cocking their elephant ears

at the base of a derelict antenna

and erratic white butterflies

are learning to sail like rudders

and I’m sitting here between pizzas

thinking about you

like one of nature’s elementals

before things took on their shapes and names

like picture-frames with nothing in them.

The scent of patchouli oil you wore

the last time we embraced in the doorway

flirts like a ghost with the flowers.

Words have no identity of their own

except to have none

like mirrors

so they can reflect everything

in their emptiness

and call that their true nature.

People are closer than water

though they give each wave and ripple a name

as they rise and fall like thrones of the sea

who are ruled by what they fool themselves

into thinking they are and rule over.

So be it.

Delusion too is as crucial to enlightenment

as play is to a child.

It’s just a game you can finish

when you wake up in the morning

and life perishes into life

light into light

like stars in the sun.

One is the only opposite of one when you’re alone.

It’s hard to keep company with zero.

When it isn’t unbearably lonely

it’s too drastic.

True solitude isn’t monastic.

And it’s not like the world

is some kind of sleazy cosmetic

or greasy facepaint you can wash off in the mirror

like the exaggerated tear

of a clown with a homely flower

that never made it like honey with the bees.

There are small ecstasies

going on in the shadow-crossed grass

practising persistence and patience everywhere

like a virtue even the sidewalks can’t suppress.

There’s more power in a blade of grass

than there is in a sword

and though there is a valley

and though there is a mountain

an up and a down to the fountain

they all use the same voice

to echo the bird that flys through them.

And there are incomparable lucidities of night

that surpass even the deepest insight

of light looking into a darkness

in which there’s nothing

nothing at all to illuminate

because existence hasn’t arrived yet

and there’s not a lot for the light to do.

There are eclipses like ladies in waiting

that have never disrobed the moon.

And the truth has no eyes.

It’s never seen the dandelions.

So I’ve sat all afternoon here with you

and watched the ants from a bird’s eye view

like Egyptians heaping up the sand

into tiny pyramids all around me

like a disinterred thing without an afterlife

that would only prove impossible to bury.

The tulips open their scarlet goblets like mouths

to French-kiss the sun

and there’s a large fat black crow

on the leafless branch above me

telling me things I already know

that will keep coming back to haunt me

like all these years on the run

as if my next breath were always behind me

but I think of you

I think of men and women

I think of God or the lack thereof

and time and death and life and truth

darkness light and love

all the usual stuff

and I’m so grateful God

isn’t bound to the truth like her word

and made a liar out of herself

more magnificent than anything I’ve ever heard

the moment she created the world.

Birds are perching in my roots.

My branches are witching for water.

Salmon are jumping in the starstreams.

And though it’s late in the afternoon

and I haven’t delivered anything for hours

I can already hear Aquarius tuning up to the fireflies

trying to stay in the same key as the flowers.























































Thursday, April 22, 2010




I’m not looking for something holy in my indifference

that could pass for an absent angel.

And I don’t imagine a heaven that’s waiting for me

because of anything I’ve done or didn’t do.

I don’t draw inferences out of the shadows

of the white hyacinth’s

mantled tower of blossoming nuns

and I’m as tolerant as the new bees

trying to break in the pulse of the sun

flower by flower

like an unknown power

that seeks them out like gold-dust in a river

that flows from a secret watershed

obsessed with fountains.

I’m fireflies in the valley.

I’m stars in the mountains.

And whether I’m at peace with my existence or not

or I’m just the eye of a passing storm the sky forgot

like a last look over the shoulders of the hills

with selective memories

my brain cells are jammed 

like cradles of warm milk and honey

that know nothing of paradise in the womb

or the original home we kill each other over

like poppies on an ancestral tomb

that makes death holier than life.

I sit here like a bench

that hasn’t been upended

in the temples of the money-changers

who fear that every stranger they meet

is another mad messiah

about to knock them off their feet

for selling doves like sacrificial meat

to a god that doesn’t eat.

And I watch the hearses being washed

in the parking lot across the way

like the funeral horses of yesterday

being plumed like waves

to draw another deathcart

like a labour of love to our graves.

And it occurs to me

that the great sea of awareness

may well be an orchard with angels for sails

perched like birds on the powerlines

of our musical event horizons

worn out like old thresholds of the tide

with our comings and goings

and the arcane originality of thought

is already a dead species among the Burgess Shales

that evolution quotes from profusely

like a double-feature of what’s to come

but even this oceanic vision of life

the angels haven’t learned to sail well yet

is still just one blossom among many others

that lay their swords down on the water like the moon

surrendering for everyone.

I watch the worlds within worlds within me

pass through spaces

where they’re as true everywhere

as birds are here.

And I’m alive in everyone of them somehow

as if they were all aspects of a single mind

that lives me as it lives the flower and the rock

as it lives everyone and everything

like a star that only appears where it isn’t.

Life is like that.

Knowledge is like that.

The whole of sentient existence is like that

from the carbon-hearted sun down

to the silicon-brained grain of sand

that wears the moon like a pearl through its tongue.

Created in the image of ineffable life

means there’s nothing within or without

whether you’re full of doubt

trying to break yourself open like a koan

or dreaming you’re awake

that isn’t you’re own simulacrum.

But it’s not like a mirror

reflecting the likeness of everything

that comes before it like a dumb show

or a shadowy pantomime.

The mirror looks through your eyes creatively

and divines a simile for itself

in everything it sees

as if existence were mysteriously human

in the way it imagines a world that isn’t.





















In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward.

In the sacred grove

where no birds sing

I stand like a homely word

a knot of flesh and blood in the heartwood

a divining rod at a fork in the river

hoping I might mean something

green and forgiving again.

It’s easier than it was before

I thought the stars had their reasons

to let go of things

not leaf by leaf

but whole seasons at a time.

It’s easier than it was before

I thought suffering was rooted in compassion

to see how the moonlight falls like lime upon the dead.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward.

There is no stone that holds

the keepsake of a magic sword by the blade.

There is no sleeve of darkness with a lucky card

you can pull out like an afterlife in Orion

to avoid losing everything.

I can draw a perfect circle

in one quick Zen gesture of the brush

and not worry about whether

I’m centered by the flow or not.

I lived on the wild side once

before I was caught by my freedom

in a crossfire of slave-hunting stars.

Now I take more pride in my smile

than I do in my scars

because I get away with more

keeping joy ajar like a door

than I do manning a war

that was lost a long time ago.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward

and happiness is a dangerous myth

that comes and goes like an itinerant religion.

And it baffles my captors completely

that I can wash them off

like the dark matter of a universe in chains

that has neatly adapted its genes

to the chromosomes of my afterbirth

as if it were the first course of the last supper

before I descended into hell

like an air-raid warning

over Sodom and Gomorrah

that didn’t take its own advice

to get out and not look back.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward

and fire doesn’t cook coal into diamonds

hard won from the darkness

like enlightenment from ore.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward

and the damned know better than anyone

who took a short-cut across the bridge

as if the river had a third side for suicides

however you fling yourself down

like a challenge and a protest on the ground

you’re still just an improvised explosive device

planted in paradise.

It’s easier than it was before

to turn myself in like a lamp to the night

for questioning the way I made my own way

in the company of gypsy fireflies

that laughed at the stars like old friends

sharing the same fire.

It’s easier to render unto Caesar

that which was never his

than it is to make amends

for the things I didn’t do

because that’s just the way it is

when the fire burns without ambition.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward

and the moon doesn’t collect silver

like rings from the dead

and there’s no raven on your windowsill

that makes the glass sweat with dread

like a bad child in a quaint nightmare.

The plough and the sword

are two phases of the same moon

that wound the flesh like soil

that is bound by toil to the seed.

False gods are worshipped in the fields

and the scarecrows bleed.

It’s easier than it was before

I gave up pacing tomorrow

in a race with today

as if I had a plan to take the lead

in a last kick toward the finish line

to leave things behind by letting them pass

like the retrograde motion of Mars

as the earth overtakes it on an inside track

doubling back on itself unawares

like the snakes and ladders of helical stairs

at the end of their beginnings.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward

and in the bleak pages

the black shales

of a forbidden holy book

that embellishes its kells like scars

no one looks for their descendants

in the fossils of the fleet-footed stars

that erase themselves like waterbirds

when they discover

how one word is lonelier than another

as you approach perfection

with nothing to talk about.

In the shadow of the crow’s wing

the night is not a reward

for those who have escaped detection

like the blackhole of a universal appetite

leaner than the light of the leftover halo

that couldn’t get its head around things

when it was discovered like lost earrings

it was just another zero in the rain

trying to avoid the blame

for its sin of omission.












































Tuesday, April 20, 2010




As long as pyramids

have gazed upon their own reflections in sand

I’ve waited for an afterlife among the stars

that didn’t pull its roots up from here

and forgetting how sweet it was among the flowers

disappear like grass from the Sahara.

And the gates to wherever I’m going

keep opening and closing like the wings of a bird

that’s never going to get off the ground.

Things go round and round like life and death

as if they were one kitten chasing its own tail

and jumping straight up in the air like a hair-do at its own shadow.

I give water back to the river.

I give the air back my breath.

It was always this way

long before I was born.

You give back what was given to you

like a secret whispered in your ear

that was never meant for anyone but you to hear

your own voice in the sound of the night

giving itself back to the silence

that clarifies everything

by not trying to.

Life isn’t something you make your way through.

Life isn’t something that comes back on you

like a wave that’s lost its footing.

Life is as motherless as space

that bears all things within itself

like forms in time.

Cling to life and you’ll lose your hold.

Let go of it and you’ll endure like a cornerstone.

Be time and you’ll never grow old.

Act your age and you’re still just a cheap thrill to eternity.

It’s easier to forget what you never understood

than it is to remember you’re insane

but if you go around seeking compassion and lucidity

as if they were things you had to learn

that means you have none

and everyone’s in pain.

Going with the flow

you sit still on your flying carpet

and your mind moves like the wind beneath you.

Digging your heels in like a horse with spurs

and a burr under its saddle

the unbroken stallion

spreads its wings among the stars

and your mind doesn’t give an inch.

Wisdom isn’t in the way you see things.

It’s in the way you don’t.

If you stop bringing your own eyes

to the things you’re looking at

they’ll give you their own to see them by.

If you don’t bring your own ears to the listening

it’s easy to know what the stars are talking about.

If you don’t bring a mind like a headmaster

to everything that makes a fool of you in life

when you try to understand life

as if it were a school you had to excel in

you can see clearly that life isn’t a discipline.

There’s nothing to win.

There’s nothing to lose.

What you reject now

you will later accept.

And you can read

the palm of your hand

and cast your fortune

by placing a bet on the running of rivers

but true lifelines are always perfect circles of rain

no two ever the same

as they progress the way they came.

So who can ever be ahead

and who can ever be left behind?

The dark watersheds of the mind

don’t hold their fountains up like trophies.

Don’t say a word at the beginning of creation

like a talkative god

who knows too many names for things

and you can feel life

giving birth to life within you

moment by moment

like the muse

of her own inexhaustible inspiration.

The wise man sits like a dunce in the corner

as the fool lectures on folly

and more hatred

has been perpetrated by the good

in the name of love

than the bad who haven’t heard the word

and turned an echo into a calling

and said nothing.

If I jump toward paradise

tell me quick

is that rising or falling?

And if I shine out in all directions

like an autumn water star

that blooms among the lilies

that coronate their own reflections

one crown up

and one crown down

is that the sky using the water for a mirror

or water peering into the sky?

And which of all the ways the light takes is wrong?

If you think of yourself as a thing

then you must wait to be illuminated.

But when reality stops being solid

and everything turns to space and time

where is there any darkness within you that’s blind?

Where is there any face in the night

even in despair

even in delusion

even in anger and longing and grief

even on the terminal rows of disbelief

hoping for a reprieve from that it once despised like proof

that isn’t the moon-face of an enlightened mind

dressing up for Halloween?

Why look for the meaning of life outside yourself

like a vampire looking for a grail

when it’s the theme of blood in your body

that writes its holy book in braille

so you can read in the dark

when the light fails

tall tales of your own spiritual insight

and how hard it is to understand

that there’s nothing to stand on?

Gravity might hang on awhile

like a rejected lover

to what space lets go of cavalierly

and that’s clearly how earth got to be

the round cornerstone of stability

that mothered us into being

like hot spin on the q-ball of a long shot

that swept the elemental table like a floor.

But we’re still just a little chalk and English on a blackboard

that hasn’t been completely rubbed out

by the writing on the wall.

And we sit here like buddhas in the abyss

listening for echoes even before we call

trying to see the stars before the arising of signs

and grasp true things without mouths

like a language that’s never been spoken

to anyone who’s learned to speak.

May it dawn upon us all

sooner than yesterday

like blind lightning

rooted in the birth of time

in this first and last moment of the universe

that we are the homeless lost and found

of everything we seek.