THE QUIET MADNESS
The quiet madness on the other side of despair.
The sad pride of one who knows it’s useless to care
but still lets compassion trivialize his attention.
Even if you knew what human beings are doing
walking around on earth
that doesn’t mean the truth would exalt you.
There’s always a danger of losing your eyes
when you go looking for origins.
Go ask Tiresias.
The blessings and the curses are copulating snakes.
To see the furthest extremes of your nakedness
you must go the last part of the way blind as a prophecy
that has no intention of coming true.
You must enter the abyss
like a threshold without a doorway.
Washing your eyes clean of everything they’ve seen
is like trying to sweep mirages out of a desert.
Illusions don’t leave watermarks on the sphinx.
Nothing adheres to the seeing
like a sticky view of what appears to be passing.
You’re looking through one eye into a vast room
on the other side of the keyholes of your thoughts
hoping to see something that might unlock the door
when all along you’ve been kneeling before it
like a key in adoration.
Ask all these constellations above your head
ask all these chandeliers of dancing water
how it fucks the palace up
whenever you pauperize yourself
and go begging for chump change from the servants.
It’s disobedience in a heretic to stay within bounds.
Dumber than a muse with writer’s block
you cut a curl like a flame of hair from your fire
and lay it in a locket of ice
like the tiny coffin of all you once cherished
that perished like planets in the blaze of your shining.
And, yes, you can blow your eyes out like candles
but no one’s going to know about it
for at least a thousand years back on earth
because it takes that long for your light to get here
that’s how far you are into the night,
that’s how thick the window is between you
and the last time you’ve seen us
going down like Venus after the sun
only to come up again like Lucifer before it.
I know a madness that would put your sanity to shame.
I know a freedom that I don’t drag behind me in chains.
I know how love dies from death to death
as if it were still breathing in the reeds of the mindstream
like a goldfish in the undercover waters of the moon
when its eyes are in full eclipse.
I have watched the unborn take their first breath
like the unlikeliest of flowers to have found their way here
and I have sat in a circle of prophetic skulls
and said nothing that wasn’t the wonder of fools
who didn’t recognize their own voices in the echo.
I know of edges so sharp
they’re still waiting for swords
that must be folded like space to hold them.
And I know the bluntness of murderously compassionate guillotines
coming down on the nape of my neck
like the square of the hypoteneuse
of a wrong-angled triangle
with more than a hundred and eighty degrees.
I know how the murderers defend my liberties.
I have seen enough of myself and others in the world
to grieve for the dirt we will be buried in
and I have collapsed to my knees
on the long roads of the loneliest of my friendless sorrows
and forgiven all my tardy tomorrows
for not meeting me halfway today.
How many times have I slumped down this world mountain
like an avalanche with the corpse on my back
of someone sent to rescue me from myself?
I’ve canned enough stars and fireflies
to make it through the long dark winter ahead alone.
I’ll be warm enough before my own fires
reliving the ghosts of my unsanctioned desires
and the moon will still glow like the promise of gold
in the unmarrowed ore of the bone I’m gnawing on.
And I will not let the futility of my life make me lazy.
I will not dishonour this feast of earthly delights
by cringing like a dog under the table
snatching at scraps
and snarling like an ungrateful guest
when I know like a rat in a mystic silo
no one’s above or below or under the salt
anymore than the stars rise up and sit down in the same place
or the eyes that look at them
look at them with the same eyes in the same face twice.
Late at night I won’t listen to the wind
scratching at my windows like bad advice I won’t let in.
And if I’ve taught a few angels along the way
to look more deeply into sin than their eyes have ever been
it was the last mercy of a forbidden darkness
that taught them to mean what they mean by themselves.
Snow White thawed right there in front of all her elves
like a candle in the ice palaces of her desperate perfection.
And if I have done good
it has always been as a demon condemned to do good
in a surrealistic kind of afterlife
no one’s ever lived their way through before
without running their blood like blackwater
through the underground rivers and lifelines of their disinherited descendents
like a backdoor for the tradesmen of paradise.
And I will not let the slightest itch of the righteous
pervert my passion
for burning so ferociously in my own fires
I am purified for life after life after life
by the kind of clarity that condemns the saved.
I want to set a fine example
of what the human species has to aspire to
as soon as I come down from the trees.
I have met all the blackholes of my goals in life
like a firefly in the mouth of a dragon of space
that went out like the last lighthouse at landsend
candling its light over a body in an allnight morgue.
And I know how hard and long and single-mindedly
you must lie to yourself to keep moving on
to be all that you can be
to the blind star-nosed moles
burrowing through your celebrity
like magi and maggots grubbing for the body parts
of spent messiahs as long extinct
as the elephant in the room.
And even after everything fits
like a swan clearing its throat under the sink
and everything’s flowing again
like a dervish of words down the drain
of another unsatisfied black hole,
I’ve still thought of my failure to bloom
like a newsflash from an undiscovered star
as a more graceful exit
through the emergency doors of doom
than those who panic like musical chairs to take their seats
in the vast theatre of things that rarely matter.
Now there’s another Lincoln you can stick like a feather
in the stovepipe of the Mad Hatter
trying to get out like a bird
proclaiming the unique rightness of his anguished freedom
to a confederacy of the absurd
that listens to everything he has to say
like the sheet music for Old Swanny
in the ashes of a choir on horseback
riding like a posse to the rescue
of everything they’ve ever understood is worth killing for
to keep their white face from being stained
by the blackface of their purer part
that sings like Al Jolsen in the spotlight of an eclipse to his mother
who isn’t in the audience.
He calls to the mountain to ask his people to let him go
hoping the fleetness of his voice is an absolute of light
that can outpace the relativity of its own echo
looking for answers in the valley below
like the dejected polls of early election returns.
It’s one of the more amusing of the persistent anomalies
that constitute the patently absurd way
a human learns
that my questions have always been
worthier of being heard
than anything I’ve ever answered
about why I keep on setting the bird free
like the last of all the things
I ever expected to go south on me
like the wings of a fruitless tree.
Uprooted by a lightning strike
from a fulminating squall of hell
that welded the crack in my liberty bell
a scar stronger than the original wound I suffered
like a rose on the thorn of the bull
the moon sent like a meaning she meant to gore me
when I waved myself in front of her like an eclipse
trying to get her not to ignore me
like a court-jester jousting in the shadows of the midnight sun
with his own lunacy,
I still find it the greater pain to lose
what can’t be attained
than I do to lose what I have.
And what is this cosmic storm of emotion
that I sometimes think I am
when I’m lonely enough to look for a sign of myself
in the ashes of the forest-fire
that renewed my sacred groves
by killing them back into life
at the slash of a lightning insight
but a small commotion of thought-waves
I live like a teapot of the local weather
rising and falling on a vast ocean of awareness
you can’t pour into any cup
without it overflowing
the mind that would drink it all up in a single gulp
just to get back to the homier illusion
of being an island paradise
in a lunar sea of sidereal quicksand
like a medium I understand
only the mad are monkey enough to master
how to stand up in like a human
looking at all those stars eye to eye
light into light
darkness into darkness
proud of his work
and exalted by what it was defeated by.