Friday, February 26, 2010




for Layla


The blonde shock of wild sea grass from New Brunswick.

At first I thought it was your hair.

And tiny beads of iridescent peacock seeds

as small as the myriad hopes of a poppy

she’ll come again

that fell out of the envelope

into my coffee

as a muse of patchouli oil

inspired the air like an Egyptian temple

tending to the rites of Isis

when the moon’s in the nymph phase

of her ancient seduction.

And a drawing of a rainbow phoenix

in the form of a flower

and a money-order for five hundred dollars

to paint violet horns

on the black inverted star

with its plinths open like legs

giving birth to helical vines and snakes.

A symbolic tatoo

that means you

that will hang like a flag from your spine

down your back

as a sign of whose country it is

should anyone ever get lost.

You’re right.

You can’t draw butterflies.

But your darkness intrigues.

Your light is true to its star.

Space bends around you like water.

And there’s not a chained tree

in the whole of your wilderness.

The gates of your rivers are open and free

as the salmon who jump them

conjured out of the sea

by the siren who sings to them

like a journey of things to come

at the end of the long way home.

Love breathes life into death

and even on the fly

love is the prime circumstance of now.

And I feel the gold of your harvest in every seed.

And there’s no scarecrow with a sword

trying to defeat the ploughshare

it was born from

like the moon as it moves

like a white horse

through a wounded valley

looking for its lost rider

somewhere out there like the wind.

I’ve been blinded by squalls of stars before

the sphinx blew in my face

and I have felt my eyes

evaporate in the blazing

of certain fireflies

who could read the braille of my face

like elegant fingertips of light

deciphering the writing on the wall.

And I’ve lived through it all like space

whether I was a celestial snakepit of passion

with a mouse for a heart

or I was blowing kisses

like the petals of bruised flowers

into the grave of an enlightened starfish

passing by in a deathcart.

And sometimes the geni gets his wish

by rubbing the lamp on the inside

and asking the night to need him

like water needs a fish

like fire needs a tree

like air needs a bird

like earth an unpoached elephant.

I’m not a species bent on martyrdom

to any cause lesser than the love

I aspire to

and I won’t burn my eyes

on insincere candles at a black mass

or the votive fires of delusional crucifixtions

that yearn without conviction

for a better infancy in their afterlife.

Things have been tough

but I still go to bed at night

with the door wide open

as hope to folly

to catch a thief

that might put the moon back

she stole from my window

like the coin from my mouth

I had hoped would pay for my passage.

And I’ve been given up

like the sea gives up its dead

like the ghosts of old cliches

to the voice of a new medium

and I’ve discovered

that love isn’t the forensic history

of a mystery that can be cracked by the truth.

It’s apocalyptic lightyears beyond both

like a prophecy

uttered in the secrecy of your solitude

that can only be overheard

with your eyes.

And there is no age in it

no youth that leaves the stage

a wiser happier skeleton

no shrines to spring

no pyres of autumn.

It isn’t the beginning or end of anything

that wanders in a world of forms

like a road with all the answers

to questions it never stops to ask.

Love isn’t a lost cause

looking for someone to take a risk.

And it isn’t the silence

it isn’t the singing

it isn’t the longing

to be pulled out like the lucky straw

in a random draw among exiles

to decide who should go first.

It isn’t a thumb in a plum pie.

It isn’t the kiss that lifted the curse.

Or a lifeboat on the moon

that overturns like a blessing

that only makes matters worse.

And it would be unforgivably spacious of me

though I have loved long and intensely

to say what love is

when it wings its own immensity

like a nightbird of blood

that sheds its hood

to fly among the stars

like a fire feathering its own solitude.

But if I were to say anything

I would say

love might be a mighty sword

drawn from a dark ore

tempered in secret waters on the moon

enfolded like time in space

like a worldly loveletter

in a cosmic envelope

with a return address by the sea

that keeps faith with its prey

by giving its word to life

it’s not the expedience of the slayer

or the obedience of the slain

not the exaltation of joy in death

or the mystic terror there is in birth

that calls the lightning down

to make the weathervane crow at midnight:

I have tasted the light on my tongue

like the tine of a new direction.

A dragon sheds it skin

like the ashes of a spent fire.

And the serpents of desire

dance to the flutes

of a lyrical resurrection

like words that take

their meaning from us

when love’s the native language,

the grammar, the muse, the voice, the silence

the playfully profound way the picture-music

hides like a Rosetta stone

that doesn’t want to be found

like a key to the meaning of everything

when we’re what it’s trying to say.