SO FAR DOWN THIS ROAD
So far down this road without a destination
my childhood doesn’t recognize me anymore.
So far into this life I’ve never been outside of
I can speak to myself in a foreign language
that no one can understand
as if it were the ancient dream-grammar
of a past tense
that talked its way into the future.
So far into what I’ve become
the peduncle is lost in the ensuing phylum
and of all thought
I’m the first monkey
to look for its origins in an asylum.
The crow on an autumn branch in the white rain
laughs more than it ever did
at the specious foundations
of my ephemerid profundities
dropping like apples at my feet.
The minstrel warrior of the forlorn hope
I took up arms in a holy war of one
I was doomed to lose
like a sad generation of demons
who knew the wound would never close.
If heaven isn’t a club-med in a specific place
but saturates all of space
like mystically dark matter
then we’re all falling toward paradise
like particles and wavelengths of water.
Heaven may be the whole cup
and hell a crack in the wine
and earth the place you sober up
like a bad hangover from the divine
but it’s a party I walked out of aeons ago
more a stranger than when I came
like a manger without a sign
like a magus without a logo
to an inn that had been empty for years.
I don’t presume to teach people
what they already know.
Even hanging on
is going with the flow.
This is a delirious place
where the mysteries cut deep
and silence is the native tongue
God speaks to herself in.
So far down this mindstream
like a paper boat I made of a poem
and set aflame like an orchid of fire
to honour a poet
who said it right in China long before me,
I bloom on the water of a prophetic dream
true to the unpredictability
of a sleeping dragon
to wake from the brevity of oblivion
with the eyes of a narcoleptic chameleon.
what sorrow releases.
And thought might prick the lifelines
of an amniocentesis
and offer up my embryo like a thesis
on whether I should have been born or not,
but I drink from my own skull like the moon
when it’s full to the brim
above the starwheat in the Virgin’s hand
to the stealth of the wind that dropped me here
like a lone seed in a huge empty silo
I’m trying to stud like the Venus de Milo.
It’s not easy rooting in stone
like the invasive metal
of a sword that will make you
king of the waxing year.
Things just fall apart on their own
like grain from the chaff of a fickle harvest
that rose from the dead
like the bitter bread
of an abandoned homestead
that walked out on itself too soon.
But I’ve never been one to talk
about leaving it all behind
like some dark gate of the mind
I could pass through
like a unilluminated comet through space
to shine in the light of a star
that was alarmed at my approach
and blind to my passing.
I’m more at home in the dark
with a firefly and a chimney spark
rolling koans like constellations of loaded dice
as if they were two diabolical buddhas
in the backalleys of enlightenment
pushing their luck to the wall.
and I fall.
and they fall.
Readiness is all.
Ripeness is all.
Lear shakes his fist at Hamlet.
The blue harvest moon in total eclipse.
All loveletters die like a political pamphlets
up against a closed door.
So far into this cloud of unknowing
I have given up hoping
will ever become a star
and break into light in all directions
to show me where I’m going
I give up on myself like rain
and release my waterbird eyes
to fall wherever they might.
Readiness is spring.
Ripeness is fall.
Seven come eleven.
No one wins it all.
Two squared skulls
up against a crooked wall.
I shake the dice
and you call.
You shake the dice
and I call out to luck like a random goddess
to see if she still loves me
as she did once tomorrows ago
when I won everything back.
Whether you’re giddy with happy truths
or more profoundly belled by the sad facts
it’s scary at night in the spirit’s lost and found
when the lights go out
and no one’s around to look for anything.
Gardens of black umbrellas,
the wings of folded bats
stacked like unseasonal eclipses
that have lost the will to bloom
like flowers at a lavish funeral
for impoverished aristrocrats.
And courage isn’t a home
that’s all that easy to return to
when you’re out here on your own
like a lifeboat full of midnight on Mars.
So far along this long homeless road home
I have worn out my faithless friends like shoes
I took from the feet of the dead
to walk on ahead of myself
like a star with a jump on where it’s been.
Now even I don’t know what I mean
when the words say me
like some black benediction
over an unknown grave
as I mourn the roadkill
and try to bless the turkey-vultures.
Earth. Air. Water. Fire.
Four cultures that bury their dead differently
but all to the same end.
Who could have guessed
the angels that came to earth first
had the wingspan of loitering scavengers?
I give my soul up to the birds.
I give my eyes up to the sky.
I give my voice up to these words.
I give my mind up like water to water
light to light
darkness to darkness
to the star that has misled me this far
into this wilderness of myself
where I’m preaching stealth to shadows
and air to ride the wind.
I give my heart up
to the thorn that gored the rose
like a deep insight
into the nature of the moon’s
like two sides of the same face.
I give my will up to chance.
My blood to the conviction of the poppy it’s fire.
So far beyond my last event horizon
I’m never coming back this way again
what does it matter if the path
is crooked or straight?
I lay my tiny wisdom down like a hazelnut
on the track of the silver thought-train
to see if it can crack it like a koan.
I lay the mantle of my dynastic ignorance
over the shoulders of an avalanche like snow.
you love the valley
it will be the mountain
that sweeps you off your feet.
I give my imagination up like a black wine
that tastes a little like me
to the muses who bruised it
like the great night sea
they drank from my skull
whenever the moon was full.
Among so many sages
it was good to be a fool.
One by one the schools
dropped out of me
and settled like mud at the bottom
of a clarified way to see
that everything that passed through my head
like a shapeshifting cloud
was just water looking into water,
me looking into me with water for eyes.
Why be shocked
by the predictability of death
when it’s life that always comes as a surprise?
I may have been lame
in my approach to things
and limped my way like an iamb into wings
but I wanted to look down
from way up there
as if I were a star without strings
and be the way things are
when they shine down on nothing
until a nightbird in a far tree sings.
Carrying forth into the carrying forth
eternity might be the ghost
in the starmud of time that perishes
to give forever a meaning
but it’s this life now
that talks the talk
and walks the walk
of a human being.
I give my eyes up to the seeing.
So deeply lost upon myself
like an empty lifeboat drifting through
these veils and visions of things
that appear like sails in the fog a moment
and then evaporate into their nebularity,
I give my blessing to the waywardness
of the course
that took me the way I am.
I give up my pain
I give up my sorrow
I give up my love my joy my laughter
like orchids and ashes on the mindstream
that flows out of me like a waking dream
that doesn’t insist on seeing me here tomorrow.
But most of all
I give my gratitude
to the mystic vagrancy of the great solitude
I approached like a friend
on my way to nowhere like the sea
as if everything came to an end in me
like a life I couldn’t foresee.
Though I have mourned
life’s pre-emptive reverses
I have not scarred my lips with curses.
I have not tainted the well I drink from.
And nothing’s ever spoiled the bread I broke with others.
The feast is free
but it isn’t hunger or thirst
that makes us sisters and brothers
it’s the way we raise the cup to each other’s lips
like a lunar elixir to a solar eclipse
as if we knew we would pass
long before the darkness did
but still made the gesture anyway.
It’s the way we hope we know what we mean
when we say we love people we’ve never seen
as if they were everyone in particular
and love’s mute theme were helplessly gesticular.
You can’t keep what you won’t give away.
Life’s a long sleep before a short dream
that wakes you up far from home
beside the unknown road you’re on
that winds like smoke among the stars
whispering ghost stories around the flames
of their unbelievable fires.
By all means pursue what is true
but don’t forget
mercy has its liars too.
I give my life up
to the mystic specificity
of the medium that sustains it
like a wavelength of light
to a sea of dark matter.
And more than I could have ever lived
living alone together with everyone
crammed into the same planetary shoe
I give up all the vastness
of my awareness of the space within
and how far there is to go like light
before you can open
even a single flower of insight
to end your long winter night.
I give up space
like my place at the table
where I stood like a tower of salt.
I give my imagination up
like an underground cult
that gave its secrets away to everyone
like dark spots on the sun.
And whatever beginnings
are behind me now
like things I’ll never finish
I give my past and future up
to the omnipresence of time
in all I live today
as if something
were always coming my way
from lightyears beyond my eyes
like letters from home that never reach me
in time to call me back.
If I have shone among luminaries
like a firefly in an ice palace
of radiant chandeliers
that froze in their own tears
it was as a small lighthouse
on the coast of turbulent mirrors
that kept a nightline on.
I spent the gone on the going
and trusted the darkness
to keep things flowing along
like a river coming down a mountain
without knowing about the sea
that summoned me to the lowest place
like an unfathomable watershed
in every eye of the fountain
that cried out to the birds
in words that feather the dead
for their long flight through the mystery
I am I am I am
the future memory
of my own prophetic history
before I wrote it down
like the path I took on my way out of town.