Saturday, February 20, 2010




Driving the same road years later without you.

Looking at those things,

the boulder in the fork of the tree

like a giant slingshot

or the head of a baby

coming out backwards

between its mother’s legs,

all the endless explanations you had

for how and why things got here

now nothing but voiceless mutes in your absence.

But absence is too kind a word

to intimate the subtler death I feel

drawing its sharper knife across my jugular

like the Sanskrit word for conciousness

as if severance were the compassionate side of vacancy.

There’s nothing impaled on the dead trees

except for the occassional empty heron’s nest

thrust through the icebound beaver pond

where we used to slow down to spot beavers

but it’s still humped by as many lodges as it ever was

and the road’s still not out of danger.

I’m much more of a stranger now

than I was then

to all these things that go on without us

as if they had never been cherished by us in passage

as roadside shrines along the way

like the collapsing one room schoolhouse

abandoned like the empty envelope

of a lost loveletter

that left nothing to say in return but the silence.

I’m out of place in this era of my life

I’m passing through like a ghost

with more answers about the afterlife of the outcome

that became of me and you

than there are sad questions to ask them

and my solitude is deepened

by a seance of one

and I’m so weary of wounded secrets

talking in their sleep about having no regrets

they survived everything

I’m praying like a dream with no luck

for a life I can wake up from.

The lightning-struck pines

we named the Three Sisters

no longer recognize me

and the gate on the cow-pasture

where they still stand

like stone-walled gorgons

is hanging by a hinge.

And the farm that was paradise awhile

before we jumped

where we lived among sunflowers

listening to the honeybees in the locust trees

and painting ten hours a day in the fields

for months at a time

further and further from home

until we got lost one night together in the woods

and were retroactively enlightened

by the dangers of finding our way back

like wary animals among animals;

the farm is a graveyard of backhoes now

and there are people in it

overliving us like a field gone back to bush.

I don’t grieve our separation.

I know all the hairs we split to go our separate ways.

You couldn’t be famous in my shadow

and I couldn’t be anonymous in yours.

There were no Sufis

whirling in a gust of weathervanes

when the weather turned against us.

Just the vertigo of not knowing what way to go

but knowing you must

or go under.

Everything was blind.

Everything was a sign.

I didn’t know if I could make it through

another new beginning

and younger

you couldn’t wait.

So I left the gate open

and one night you closed it behind you for good.

I wanted you to be the first to leave

because I knew more about the deserts to come

so for months after

I just sat there alone

like a dead lightbulb in a dry housewell

sucking on my phallic thumb

knowing there was nothing left to keep warm

and waiting for my new teeth to come in.

I practised the brutal discipline

of being me on my own

when I doubted I had the courage

to bluff my way through the changes

as the abyss put on flesh

and walked around as if it were me

trying on avatars that couldn’t save me

from the emptiness that embodied them.

I miss you sometimes

but less and less often over the years

though there’s still more iron than rust in my tears

and I try with better and better results

I still can’t quite forget

you put my heart like a rose through surgery

without an anaesthetic

and there are still dry petals of blood

you amputated like eyelids

snagged like tiny flags

you never honoured

furled around the thorns.

I still can’t lawyer my way

through the innocence of your atrocities

as if the moon had fallen on its own horns.

Maybe you were too crazy

to know what you were doing

and you couldn’t help yourself

as time and compassion would see it.

But whatever gets said or doesn’t

things were just as dead

when they went to your head

as they were when they tried to flee it.

And I wasn’t enough of an asylum to know why

my prophetic skull lied to me

like a bad alibi

everytime I excused my murder

in the name of your homocidal youth

as if unconditional love meant being martyred

by the loveless proof of the godless truth

you had made a mistake

and it was too late to correct the heretic

that went up in Renaissance flames

fed by Botticellian picture-frames

at the Bonfire of the Vanities.

You were a Napoleon airtight

that burned so hot

there was never any soot on your window.

My demons were martyred

for insanities they couldn’t conceive

ever believing in,

but you were true to your deceptions

and I was blacklisted by the secret police

that tormented your paranoid perfections

with false confessions I never made.

And that’s the way things have stayed

for the last twelve years on the record

like the striations of a retreating ice-age

that clawed at the rocks

to keep from flowing out of itself

like many weak threads from one strong rope

over the edge of the known universe

where the mindstream doesn’t need

a lonely lamp and light in the darkness

to follow its own course

back to the sea of night it sprang from.

But what’s saddest of all to me

driving through this used landscape

that used to be the way home

through all kinds of weather

remembering the innocence

of what we hoped for from each other and life

is knowing the abysmal disappointment that would follow

as if time didn’t flow

it just evaporated.

It’s demeaning to the spirit of life

to wish you knew then

what you say you know now

as if you always wanted to begin at the end

without ever crossing a threshold.

So I don’t wish for anything more

than what is given me moment by moment

knowing what can’t be taken away

is already forsaken

but that’s not a reason to repent,

that’s not a season of lament

that’s just the way things are.

There’s always a full moon

buried in every scar

like a harvest of starwheat

we leave for the birds

like ghosts in the garden to reap.