Saturday, October 23, 2010




The tragic bliss of having loved you

like a lost generation.

The farcical sorrow

of the one that was found

like the other shoe

of a crystal slipper that didn’t fit.

What was lost?

What was recovered?

Nothing’s lost until it asks where it’s going.

I was in love with the knower.

But you loved the knowing.

Everything was as it was.

Only the perishable growing.

Only the stars to clarify oblivion.

Only you telling me

like a leftover voice in my head

that’s been gathering dust in the attic

it’s one thing to do what you want to do

it’s another to do what you must.

It was only then

that I really understood your helplessness.

How weak you were.

How deeply enslaved you were

to adding a new link every day

to lengthen your chains

as a way of earning your freedom.

How far down the road did you get?

I haven’t gone anywhere since.

I let things come to me

so nothing’s ever the same anyway

whether I stay or go.

It’s still the same river

you can’t step into twice.

It’s still the same mindstream

watching the world flow by

like a starmap of fireflies high overhead.

I’ve got wounds that never wear the same scars twice

and get hurt worse

when they realize how rare it is

that a young scar ever listens to an old wound’s advice. 

I watch the moon slash her wrists over and over again

on her first and last crescents

and the shadows bleed out of me

across the seabeds of dead oceans

where the bride of suicides

trails her gown of seafoam

on the tides of adolescents

that never made it to shore.

I could never see life as intolerable

except as a form of self-disgust

however brutal it was

watching the seagulls swoop down on the baby turtles.

You changed like seasons of paint.

You wiped the moon off the window.

You disowned all your doors

as the whores of a saint

and rolled a stone back over your womb.

From now on things would be immaculate.

God would come down

and help you clean up your room like a desert.

Thorns for the main course.

And roses for dessert.

I tried to free you from your glass rapture

with lifelines of black lightning

that would thaw your chandeliers

and shatter the eyes in your face

like glaciers in an ice age

but you wanted to live forever

in a cold crevice of eternity

like a wooly Mammoth in an ice palace

with a thirty five thousand year old afterlife.

You felt a shift in the north pole

and followed your inclination

to fix everything in its place.

You found religion.

You found grace.

You made time stop

but you only widened the space between us.

That’s when I left the Sahara to its hermits

and what little water I had left

to the mirage of my wife

to look for something green

and obscene with life.



















My secret place down by the Tay River.

I deer-bed down among the atumn grasses

and last of the New England asters

half-lotus in cowboy boots

with a clear view of the stars

dancing on the water.

The waterlilies have perished.


And the moon at last crescent.

No one knows I’m here but me.

I’ve never come here with another.

A place where I talk to the universe alone

as if it existed

more personally

than the mere immensity

of a cosmic intelligence

super-saturating time and space.

Belief’s a bad habit of mine

and sometimes I want to be deceived

into believing someone’s listening

even when I know they aren’t

and that the worst always happens for the best

even though I know it doesn’t.

The sky’s a windowpane I can fly through

without breaking my neck on delusions

and the moon feels like a cool poultice on a hot wound.

I watch a spider repair its dreamcatcher

and say good luck.

And the stars don’t really give a damn

how they shine deep in my dark inner spaces.

Everything is so perfectly entranced with being itself

I wonder what it is about a human

that has to take time out like me

to reconsider what I’m doing here

wandering around on the earth

without any certain purpose

other than the ones I make up like poems

to spin bedtime stories out of my nightmares.

A birch leans out over the water

like a woman washing her hair in the river

and I sense there’s an inevitability about a tree

that isn’t like me.

I can’t find a fixed reality

to be in harmony with.

I have no doubt the rocks along the shore are getting it right

but with me conciousness is a light

that contradicts its own clarity

the moment it reveals itself.

There is no path to follow

no way to flow

no aspiration to fulfill

that isn’t pure folly.

Or just another way of running out of myself

like sand in an hourglass

piling up pyramids

until I’ve exhausted myself like Sisyphus

rolling stones uphill.

And then I’m overturned like an empty shotglass

to begin again

or just sit here by the river like an amphibian

and let the universe do what it wants to my brain

without assuming it wants to do anything

or that the damage hasn’t already been done.

A new way to be partially whole!

Flesh and blood with a mineral soul!

Prophetic tents full of snakeoil salesmen.

But I’ve never been tempted

by things I couldn’t give my heart to

and the curse of spiritual valium

is the same as it is on earth.

The withdrawal is as dangerous

as following the addiction

all the way through

to the emergency ward in heaven

that handed out the prescription in the first place.

It isn’t the soul of a butterfly I see

when I look the money-maggots in the mouth.

I’m not praying for an afterlife that’s worthy of me

as if anyone knew what that amounts to.

What would you suggest

for an agony of snakes in a bag of skin

that’s got nine holes in it?

The tears I’ve wept for the world

have all turned into serpents.

The tears I’ve wept for myself

watered the roots of a mirage

in a desert where the stars burn your eyes like sand

and turn your blood to glass.

I wonder if the birch knows

what’s passing it by.

If the river is its mindstream.

And then it comes to me

like a message in a bottle.

Maybe my sole purpose on earth is passage.

Maybe I’m just time looking for a reason for itself

to go on like a season that’s known by the way it changes

by always being estranged from itself.

Maybe I’m the more-than-me I can’t conceive of.

Maybe all these things seem self-possessed in their tranquility

because I’m a mess.

Maybe my being as fucked-up as I am

helps get them through it

and all my pain and turbulence

all my preposterous longings

to be well-meaning and beautiful

all the black elixirs of the ruthless mystery

I’ve drunk from my own skull

held up to the gods

like the begging bowl of the moon

when it’s full

just to see if the darkness tastes of light

the way a lump of coal foreshadows diamonds to come

after aeons of excruciating transformations

and if there’s more room for chaos on a calendar

than there is space in the scheme of things for thought.

But there I go again.

You see what I mean?

Fish jumping out of the stream at the stars

that lure them up out of their depths

like low-flying insects

to take one great leap into a new medium

out of themselves

like an arrow through the back of a bullseye of ripples

it didn’t know it was aiming at.

But things are getting too elaborate

and at this rate I’ll soon be speaking in voices

like some right-brained polyglot in a rapture of saying

going on like the Rosetta Stone

as if I weren’t sitting here alone

like the misbegotten seventh son of zero

trying to come to terms

with a formless reality

I keep stubbing my heart on.


Great wisdom for the further shore.

Gone! Gone! Gone!

Completely gone beyond.

Isn’t that what the Buddha said

in his secret place

when he went out of his head

trying to stare the world in the face

and all he could see was Venus in the dawn?

Desire and its afterbirth

at the beginning of nothing at all?

An insight into what’s unearthly about the eternal

or just the way the light’s bent by an atmosphere?

To those who can’t let go of things

and to those who cling to letting go

impermanence is suffering

and the only way to cure that

is to pour yourself out upon the earth

like the bitter cup of the moon

when she’s had enough of herself

and find peace

in the sweet potential of your emptiness

to be filled up again.

To sit here in a secret place

like I do

tangled in my human roots 

with waterlilies on my brain

strung out all the way from earth to Venus

like a chain of thought

severed in the distant past

we had resolved would never come between us.

Where is the peace?

Where does that flower bloom

that’s rooted in blood and starmud

if not in the solitude of a human heart

that’s wandered this far from home

along the shores of its longing to return?

Why does my heart argue

against the will of the world

like a salmon swimming upstream

on the downslope of a cosmic mountain?

I’m not trying to scheme my way out of

my dream of this

like someone who turns his back on his eyes.

I’m sick of lies.

I’m sick of universal truths.

I’m sick of how blithely everything obliges death

with every second breath.

I’m sick of the grailquest.

I’m sick of the hypocritical crusades.

I’m sick of Aztecs and Christians

with the blood of gods and children on their lips.

I’m sick of atheists who claim its lipstick.

The lightbulb in the well on the moon

to keep the water from freezing up

has gone out

and I’m sick of the way things don’t flow anymore

like a tide in a sea of shadows

like the road of ghosts

through the cold dark vacant interstellar spaces

of an enlightened lunatic with a creative abyss for a heart.

I’m sick of the bitter black ghost bread of my art

that tastes like the futility of burnt paper.

I’m sick of trying to understand

what isn’t understandable

about my own and human nature.

I’m sick of all these long incommensurable interminable questions

I’ve walked all the way to the end of time and again

only to return with an ambiguous answer

that’s rarely communicable through form.

In all humility

take the low place like the sea

and the sewage of the world runs down into me.

Take the high like the open sky

and the mountain turns into a mudslide.

The best is to be here right now as I am

with all my dilemmas answers contradictions insights questions and aspirations

all the paradoxical sorrows that have come

of my physical assurance that life is joy

and ultimate unity is bliss

without the oxymorons

and love’s a deeper insight into life than death

if only by a breath

and though why we’re here in the first place

is anyone’s good guess

intelligence is not the anti-Christ of chaos

but the genius of dark matter becoming aware of itself

like a hidden secret that wished to be known.

What is dark will appear light

if you surround it with something darker

like a star shining in daylight

no one notices

until the night reveals it.

The best is to be here right now as I am.






































like the mirror in a reflecting telescope




























Sunday, October 17, 2010




I did the kind of good a storm does.

I may have broken some tree limbs

and downed some powerlines along the way

but I cleared the air of its festering

and from top to bottom

we got down to the roots of things

like lightning and rain

like real radicals

free-basing the ideological ions

addicted to their brains

like razorblades.

O ya

I remember now

we were going to save the world from itself.

I gave up trying

when I realized

that if we did that

there would be no one left

to save the world from us.

Trying to justify yourself in retrospect

is like trying to exonerate a big hairdo

you wore back in the early seventies.

It can’t be done

except as a kind of dangerous chess

you play with yourself

and cheat.

It’s fun to play

with the lethal intensities

and swaggering immensities of yesterday

as if all those great sublimities that moved us

like fixed stars

had come down to earth

like the ashs of fireflies

in a snakepit of thought

poured out of tiny urns

the size of a human heart.

When I’ve got nothing else to do

and the moon bores me late at night with its looking

I run my tongue along the edge of your words

like old knives

I’ve kept like a collection of my favourite smiles

to see if they still know how to draw blood

and what that might still mean to my heart.

Maybe I should have fallen on them like swords

as you wanted me to

instead of reading them

like a delinquent boy

in front of a no trespassing sign.

Back in those days

my heart was a rock

and my mind

was a broken windowpane.

But I’m not one of those people

who long for the past

as if you could step into the same river twice.

Everyone forgets



is the mother of the muses.

Everyday the past

comes up with a new song

that surpasses the last like the future.

The ghost of tomorrow returns to its grave at dawn.

The past is just as spontaneously inspired

as the present

and makes it up as it goes along

thinking this is what it must be like

to live on and on and on

with your cosmic elbows

leaning on earthly windowsills

wondering what it might be like to die

and come back

reincarnated as a horizon

or a threshold.

But I don’t go back to the past

for the view

like a tourist passing through

his old neighbourhood

to see where he was born and died.

I don’t want a brass plague

for a birth certificate

and a postcard

from the edge of nowhere

for a passport

that lies about my record

for telling

what I mistake for the truth

to anyone who’ll listen.

I don’t want to fake my way into reality

the way they do in Zen.

I don’t want to begin again

like tomorrow’s has-been.

I’m not trying to convert the faithless

to my disbelief

like a tree preaching to a leaf

like a cross to a crucifixtion.

I’m not trying to pump my latest work of fiction

up into a universally inflatable religion

you can take on camping trips to the holy land.

I’m not sure

I’m even really trying to understand

the way things were way back then

when we didn’t need to.

Just something to do

when I’m watching the moon

float downstream

like the prophetic skull of Orpheus

all the way from Thrace to Mytilene in Lesbos.

If I look at it long enough

even through a dirty window

I can see a footloose waterlily

preening its feathers

like the swan of a loveletter

late in the autumn

to someone

who will pick it up out of the water

and wonder who it’s from

for the rest of their life

like I do

remembering you

as you are to me

now that all these lunar calendars

have shed their blossoms and leaves

and stand naked as the tree of knowledge

adding zeros to everything

like tree-rings in the heartwood

of my personal history.

I’ve never made a cliche

out of any muse of mine

whether she took me to bed or not.

If she infused me with inspiration

I didn’t abuse her

with a parting shot

like the afterthought

of an ignoble mind

or a paper phoenix

that couldn’t take the heat

when things got sweet and hot.

I come back

like an old wind to a funeral pyre

that blazed its way up to the stars

to see if anything

was left unburnt or unanswered

in the ashes of the scorched earth.

I rock the cradle awhile

like a manger in hell

that once gave birth

to a childless messiah.

I transcend my own innocence

and fall toward paradise

without asking to be forgiven.

Love hangs stars above us all

that take the fall

for the way our scars

demonize our open wounds for living.

I drink from my skull

to your memory

and then I drink to you

whoever you are now.

In a desert on the moon

in a sea of shadows

I drink in the darkness alone

like an open window

to let the birds out

as if they were the only words

I had left to say

about the passing years

to hide my crazy tears

like an atheist on a grailquest

who knows that life

is a mirage

of burning muse water

that tastes like broken mirrors.
















Friday, October 15, 2010




Apocalyptic hysteria of an endangered species

that’s run out of reasons for being.

The boy cries wolf.

The profiteers are scaring the chicken littles

into tea parties

like lifeboats in Boston harbour

sent out to rescue the vote

that doesn’t float

or carry the floor

when the sky’s falling in

and it’s the sharks that win

not the people.

Here comes that Nazi spawn again.

Here comes that millenial freakshow

that rants like a neo-Puritan

God just let out of the asylum

who stands against

gays Hispanics civil rights evolution

a woman’s right to choose

Muslims the minimum wage

education social security and medicine

and anyone who denies him the freedom

to carry guns in the classroom.

Most of us have evolved

from a small fish in the Cambrian explosion

that beaded vertebrae along a spinal cord

until it could walk upright like us

but his is a stake

that smells of burning flesh in Salem.

God I hate these black bitter voices

that keep cutting the heart

out of my words

like Aztecs

slaking the bloodthirst

of their cannibal gods

on top of their astronomical towers

in exchange for a cosmic power base.

I should be writing about

how much more beautiful the flowers are

at the end of autumn.

New England asters

and the odd delinquent rose

blooming like a tender afterthought

of what’s gone south

with the souls of the dead

in the urns of the Canada geese.

I should be at peace with the world

that’s eating me from the inside out.

At sixty-two

I should be wise and aloof and amused.

You’d think a man my age

should have turned the page by now

like a calendar

where all the full moons

have gone mad

and time is out of the picture

and space is out of its mind

like the rerun of an old double feature

that leaves you in doubt

if you really killed off 

the creature from the dark lagoon

or if it’s just waiting for a sequel.

Look how the flaming maples

burn from green

to yellow to orange to red

from the inside out

like a rainbow

like a sunset

like the phoenix in the sumac.

I should be throwing paintings and poems

like mystic blossoms

or a flight of black doves

on their funeral pyres

to sweeten their deaths

with stars on my breath

unspooling in the cold night air.

I should be out greeting

the new constellations

coming ashore

like a messenger that was sent ahead

like a friendly horizon

to show them the way 

into the palatial heart

of an impoverished human

looking up from the bestial floor

through a Taj Mahal of pines

at the whirling castle of Arianrod

in Corona Borealis

that stands on the headlands

of the dead Celts who went there

or the stargate in Orion

that aimed the pharoahs at their afterlife

like a gunsight on a pyramid.

I should be enraptured

by the mystic negligence

of just being me

alone in the world again

among the enlightened cast-offs

who weren’t included

in making a deathmask for the fire

that doesn’t look anything like the original.

I should have immensities on my brain

that prove my irrelevance

in the greater scheme of things

as if it were

of inestimable spiritual value

to know that.

I should be summoning the ghosts

of the humming birds

to a seance of summers

like the taste of honey and wine

in the lyrics of a leafless vine

that discovered its roots

in underground music

instead of listening

to the foreign policies

of xenophobic refugees

talking about bringing

new leadership and transparency

like Windex

to the windows of opportunity

that are open

to all of us equally

like a concentration camp

that cares about your point of view.

Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

Freedom’s out of work.

And someone’s got to pay

a scapegoat to the gods

on the altars of liberty

to give thanks

to Moloch and Mammon

the orthodox Christian way of all flesh:

gone on crusade

to beat infidels to death

in their own hometown

like Smith Falls come to Perth

like hooligans to hoodlums

with a big bloody red cross

that burns Jesus

the second time around

on the flammable crucifixes

of the pyromaniacs in the KKK

giving hate speeches

laced with lighters and flints

like Urban the Second

who forgave the worst filth

he could inspire in humans

from an infallible holy office

that was sure

with the help of God

their atrocities were pure.

The disease murdered its way

like a biblical plague on parade

all the way to Jerusalem

to wipe out the cure for itself

in the other fang of the snake

like an anti-dote to God

or compassion

charmed by reason

in the middle of an earthquake.

Horror never seems to age.

Nor the roses of blood

haemmoraging on the snow of this page.

Nature red in tooth and claw.

Maw. Maw. Maw.

There will be no peace

until the generals hearts are satisfied

and all the gains of war

are ruined by singing and dancing.

Alloys of Zen wisdom

that doesn’t carry a sword.

And I think I can do something

to change the world

with my puny little word?

I scream murder.

No one stops.

I scream injustice

and get beat up by the cops.

I say look at that

isn’t that beautiful

and people think I was born

a hundred years too late.

I say scrape something off your dinner plate

and give it to a starving kid.

If you’ve got the cure

I say give it to everyone for free.

I say put the risk back

in what you desecrate like children.

Be a real man.

Give them something to kill you with.

I say the milk of human kindness

is suckling

its own homegrown assassin

like the snake at Cleopatra’s tit.

And suicide is a big committment

I’m not prepared to make

at this juncture of my life

now I’m past the age

of dying for women

from dysfunctional families like mine.

Julaladin Rumi once wrote

if the drinking is bitter

turn yourself to wine.

But so far

all I’ve managed

is lava blood and water.

I say

I must be

a bad Sufi.

I say

the world is a bad place

with a lot of suffering

like an eternal flame

that just won’t go out

in the lamp of the human heart

hanging well out over the edge of the lifeboat

to see if it’s one of the survivors.

I’ve tried to give the light back

on the dark side of the mirror

like a face that was always turned away from me

like a life-preserver on the Titanic.

Turn a lotta sunshine baby

sweet fine thing?

I’ve tried to give it back in spades.

I’ve stood up to the schoolyard bullies

picking on my fat friend Larry Gamash

in the schoolyard

as if he didn’t have a right to be rescued.

I’ve jumped in.


Old pond.

Basho’s frog.

Fourteen year old German Jews in Auschwitz.

Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza.

Pakistan and Bangaladesh.

Victor Jara killed by Pinochet

and the Chilean junta.

Benjamin Chee Chee

hanging by his shirt

in a city jail in Ottawa

they will later turn into an arts court.

And this new holy war of one

between the haves and the have nots

trying to divide the baby like Solomon

I keep fighting within myself

knowing I’m never going to win.

The religious have as much right to sin

as a secular humanist has to commit a crime.

But we need a new word for both.

We need to give a new name to Evil.

We need to find a meme a gene a symbol

an image an icon

a new simulacrum

to designate

their extraordinary rate of growth.

We need to put a new nightshift on the truth

and work out a new logo

that forgets all about the beginning

and the word

that grew

from a little black farce

into a cosmic absurdity

that gushed

like an oil well in an hourglass at the end

of its haemmoragic output.

Turn prophecies into polls.

Turn your airmiles into lightyears

that can leave the planet.

Turn your past lives

into future shares

in a volatile market in Bagdhad.

Don’t be an anal volcano

disgorging the earth

like something that didn’t agree

with what the corporation ate yesterday.

Peace is pink.

Peace is Pepto-Bismal.

And there’s alway more

than meets the eye

in the two ply toilet-paper

the world wipes its ass with

like the Jensen high gloss

on a sixteen month wildlife calendar

where the wolf and the fox

and the lynx in the snow

don’t have a clue what year it is

but know that timing’s

the whole of the content

and there may be reasons you can’t ignore

but extinction isn’t the kind of thing

you can come prepared for.