ALWAYS THIS SERIOUS SIDE TO ME
Always this serious side to me
I think I inherited from my mother
because she worried about everything
and things were always worse than she thought.
Life is prematurely older on the dark side of the moon.
There’s a better view of the stars
but sometimes as Rilke says
the heaviness of life
is heavier than the weight of things.
But one man’s carillon is another man’s death bell
and most people suffer a deficiency of joy
that if left too long attended
can prove lethal.
despite my innate trust of my own sex
because my mother believed
when she was angry
she had to keep her life in trunks
in the basement
waiting for a day that never came
to live it
because all men were violent sex-addicted drunks.
Meaning my father.
I’m grateful that the man I’ve come to be
hasn’t tried to amend the passions of the boy
that are as much alive in me now as then.
The stars are even more beautiful
when you’re looking through a broken window.
The outside comes in.
And the inside gets out.
I’ve tried to evolve my way out of
the legacy of the abyss
my father left me like an astronomical catastrophe
way back in the Permian of my childhood.
I’m more mammal now than reptile.
I’m born from a womb not an egg.
My mother made me warm-blooded.
And it was growing up
without a nightlight in the darkness
in a hostile environment
that first made me think.
And more importantly feel.
It can be dangerous to get in the way
of people who are trying to ruin themselves.
The self-condemned see people
as the dandruff of the world
they keep brushing off their shoulders
in contempt of those
who have chosen to go on living.
There’s a ferocious messiah
inside every suicide
that’s dying to get out
but he’s tongue-tied
when it comes to bearing witness to oblivion.
The orthodoxy of great pain
thinks of joy as a heretic
and burns it at the stake
to make an example of its innocence.
I learned to shut up to keep from being converted.
I still think that was wise.
A kind of proto-Zen way
a star in the blazing noon
in the world
not of it.
White dwarfs and mini blackholes
abusing their habitable planets
like the refuse of a solar system.
They bent space into twisted children.
And I don’t know if I’m one of them or not
because experience has taught me
there’s nothing more gullible than thought
and I’ve never been much for long
that didn’t delude me into believing
there were islands in the abyss
I could crawl out of
like a creature from the sea
into a new medium
where I could remake myself.
Where I could build myself
a little house of transformation
out of the fossils of my past
pressed like dead flowers
between the shales of the moon.
Where I could build
a small chrysalis in a slum
and go in a bitter spider
and come out a honey-bee.
But it’s degrading to turn a demon
into a domestic
and live with integrity.
I couldn’t quite get the knack
of dumbing down
to someone else’s best.
There was no room for solitude in the nest.
So I jumped back into the same old snakepit
and on the way down
the highest and the lowest came together
and I discovered I had wings.
I was an oxymoron.
I was a serpent who could fly.
I was a dragon o yes
but was I wise?
Could I express the fire in my eyes
without burning my mouth?
Could I make the rain come?
Could I swallow the moon whole
and regurgitate it like an ostrich egg
without shedding my skin
or turning into the afterlife
of a flightless embryo?
Was I a true eclipse
or merely a shadow of myself
that grew longer as the years past?
Was I the double feature
of the creature from my childhood
that crawled out of the dark lagoon
like a freak of nature
that had savagely matured?
Soon the questions lost their appeal to me
and I sluffed off both delusion and reality
like two straitjackets of skin
that couldn’t keep it together anymore.
I pulled them both like twin hinge pins
from the same door.
And just walked out of the house Jack built
into the open like a bird
who preferred branches to rafters
and everywhere it landed
was at home in its homelessness.
The moment you realize
delusion and reality
are not opposite sides of the mirror.
It’s like this.
The water doesn’t follow the path
the moon lays out for the waves
that scatter the light like petals
all the way back to the horizon.
There isn’t a step you can take
that isn’t a homecoming.
There isn’t a threshold in the world
you can call your own.
Same grammar of the wind
trashing the first drafts of the leaves
like outdated starmaps nobody reads.