Friday, February 5, 2010



for Aaron


I barely knew you

and you were gone.

Circumstance made you my son

then circumstance undid

what it had done.



It’s easy enough to tell yourself not to

but it’s harder than keeping faith

with a selfless religion

to stay true to your own decision.






for Jody


The important thing

is to stay ahead of the pain

like a debt you’ll pay tomorrow with your life

they’re calling for today.

Tips for survival:

Luck has nothing to do with intelligence.

Stupid will get you killed faster than evil.

The most dangerous assassins

conceal themselves under the eyelids

of those who say they love you best.

And as any bruised heart knows

there’s more power in an open palm

than there is in a fist

and the best way to get someone

to taste their own shit

is not to point to it.

A lot of opinions

is the frenzy of gnats in the sunset.

Silence walks like a tiger on soft paws.

Take a hint from the moon

who only bares her crescents twice a month

to show what’s she’s got up her sleeve

at the beginning and the end:

keep your claws retracted

like laws you haven’t enacted yet.

And never pass judgment on a friend.

A free mind is a godsend

but don’t measure your liberty in chains.

And if you feel the need

to attach yourself to someone

attach yourself to them

like the full moon to water when it rains.

Think with your heart.

Feel with your brains.

And don’t expect the Red Sea to part

into a thousand miraculous pirate-swept sea-lanes

just to let you get away because you’re special.

You turn a legend into a farce

the minute you start to believe in it. 

You can’t make a commercial for one

of the light that falls on everything alike

so don’t abuse your shining

like a fire eclipsed by its own soot.

Greenwood blows the most smoke

and gives the least heat.

Stay a jump ahead of yourself like a real star.

People might point to you and say your name

and write your story into the Pleiades

thinking they’re only a finger’s length away

from where you are

but cherish your darkness

like a secret you keep to yourself.

And remember when you transit zenith

everything you see in the sentient mirror

isn’t having an illicit affair with your eyes.

You should receive your life in every moment

like a constant surprise

if you want to stop aging,

if you want to grow up like the wise

who are always the first born of time

to inherit eternity

like a bloodline without a beginning

that leads to everyone as if they all bore

the creative likeness

of your closest ancestor

like Castor and Pollux in Gemini

like the history of your breath

in every gust of wind

that sows the dust

of countless generations

in the features of your face

as if everyone’s story were told by the same voice

in the same spontaneous tone

of all things passing away into fruition.

Don’t track a hovel of impoverished thought

into a palace of thoughtless intuition

and expect to be invited back.

Thirty chiefs of autumn

sit around every fireleaf

that’s ever fallen

telling stories about things that last

no one believes anymore.

All the reasons for yesterday

turn into today’s folklore

and if you’re trying to look into the future

from anywhere other than now

trying to separate the light from the darkness

like gold from its ore,

trying to anticipate the harvest before it’s sown,

you’re only prying the petals of flowers open

before they’re ready to bloom.

You’re just peeking under the eyelids

of the embryo of a new moon

as if you could crawl into the womb with it

to see what’s it’s dreaming

before it comes to light

as if you could get an angle on life

to take the shot

without sinking the table

or load the dice in your favour

with the third eyes of prophetic snakes.

Insolent with disobedience

you turn yourself into a slave,

but bound by duty

the great sea of awareness

is mastered by the sloppy salute

of any green recruit

passing in review like a wave.

The stars don’t need to convince anybody

they’re stars

and the flowers aren’t trying to be beautiful.

Live as if your death were already achieved

and lost in the shadows behind you.

Life flowers in the valleys of death

and if our beginnings weren’t

our ends are equal

and there’s an eternity of a chance

more than not

there’s a sequel

but live your afterlife now like water.

You can’t pour the universe out of the universe

anymore than your mindstream

can flow out of the sea of awareness

like blood from an irreparable wound

or a theme of unrequited love out of its music.

In what space you don’t already occupy

can you bury the corpse of all things

as if you could fit your boundless mind into anything

as if you could dig a blackhole deep enough

to bury God

as if there were ever anywhere to go in the first place

that wasn’t already in your face?

The delusions of a coward cast longer shadows

than the things they’re the images of.

There are dragons that know more about love

than the doves we send out looking for land

and who among sphinxes knows more than the sand

they come to in time like wisdom?

The mysteries are the mysteries.

They’re not looking for answers.

The meaning of life

is the life of meaning

as waves are the life of the sea

or even in late autumn

leaves are the life of the tree.

Let go of things as they do.

Blossom bear fruit and fall.

It’s not such a long way down to your roots.

Not long at all.

No further than the boots you’re walking in.

And if someone should ask you your name

say it like a constellation

that doesn’t shine its light on fame

though everyone sees it rising in the west,

not an inert all night marquee

with letters missing

that burned out like candles

that gazed too long

at their tiny tongue-tied celebrity

as if they were on a visionquest.

Sophocles said never to have been born is best

but he was just trying

to get the world off his chest through denial.

He was a bad guest with tragic manners at a great feast

who had forgotten

because he was born Greek

that life’s negation is its oldest affirmation

and what is lost in life is lost solely to those who seek.

Gratitude is the truest measure of wealth.

Squander yourself lavishly like an orchard in spring

knowing generosity is the spontaneous sign

of a spiritual being in good health

that doesn’t need money to prove she’s rich.

Let life adorn you in its robes and ashes

as if they were just so many cloaks of the moon

slipping from your shoulders

like petals in the starfields of space.

And don’t heed the blind fool

who calls for chandeliers

when she’s already got tears in her eyes

she’s been dancing to for years.

And remember this for the rest of your life

long after my tongue is a leaf

and my eyes are clouds on the wind:

once long before you were born

I asked how I could best return my life to the water

as clean as the reflection of the waterbird

that had just left it

and when the stars of Cancer

granted me you as my daughter

since then I’ve never needed to look

any further than their light in your eyes

for the answer.