Saturday, March 27, 2010




I have succeeded in common but failed alone.

Experience? The sum of all my mistakes.

What kind of authority is that to quote

as if wisdom were just a matter

of throwing in the sword

or snatching victory like food

from the mouth of defeat?

Just because you’re arrogant about your humility

must I be humble about my arrogance?

What haven’t I given to the poor

that hasn’t been stolen by the rich?

I let go of bitter things

just to sweeten the ripening

but there is no second innocence in decay

and I knew a lot more yesterday than I do today.

Where you stop is where you start

and I suppose my death

has already been achieved

as many times behind me

as it will be tomorrows from now

when the vast nights

of these foreshortened days

live through me again

like a road we’ve all walked down before

as if we were in pain and didn’t know where to go.

Gratefully I was born too stupid to be a cynic

or maybe I’m just stubborn enough to wait

for things to regenerate all on their own

or perhaps I’ve gone a gate too far

but it gets harder and harder to say

where things end and begin

when even the elements of my body

have already been through three lifetimes of a star.

Is this Bethlehem or Armageddon?

I’m a flash flood in a waterclock of blood

and how many eras of shining must have gone into

making these two little beads of water I use for eyes

that keep running down my cheek

as if it wasn’t enough just to see

you had to feel to find what you seek.

I’m as old as any apple tree

that measures its lifespan in seeds.

I’m an old old monkey

who looks back up at the trees he just left

and wonders if he took the right step

or if he’s just losing his prehensile grip.

I try to do my time standing up

but sometimes I feel as if the universe

ground the two lenses of my eyes

like Spinoza in his attic room

and put them together like a telescope

just to get a good look at itself through me

as it scanned the immeasurable uber-stellar spaces within

for signs of intelligent life.

But there’s no return address

for an echo in a blackhole

that’s lost its voice to the night

and no light to write an answer back.

I keep sending myself off

like a starmap in a bottle of water

trying to get a fix on my location

somewhere in this island universe

and bring Ovid on the coast of the Black Sea in Tomis

writing his Tristes among the Sarmatians

home from exile at last.

But the universe is still too Augustan

for that to come to pass

and everytime I light a candle

to see where I am

it’s at a black mass

of dark matter and energy off the scale

of anything I could assess.

But it occurs to me now and again

as the strong rope is unwoven

by Penelope the moon

into the frayed lifelines of this weak string

I’m growing like space away from everything.

And what was at my fingertips yesterday

like sunlight on the frets of the waves

that squandered themselves like music coming ashore

is today the evening din of a few dim stars

sitting like bass clefs and birds

or clinging like overdue apples

long into November

to the five senses of my sway-backed powerlines

lingering like the longer wavelengths of my star-crossed staves.

All the blue light of my mornings

has shifted to the red of night

as I dream like calcium in an iron bed

and beat the stardust out of the constellations

that have lain under the windows of my room for lightyears

like flying carpets on a clothesline

the wind wants back. 

Who said you couldn’t exceed

the speed of light

when every seer knows

space and time are faster than insight

and it isn’t the water

it’s your mind that flows through the abyss

like a lost starstream through a great emptiness

naming everything anew

like things it left at home?

A star doesn’t make a farce of its legend

by believing in its own light.

It stays ahead of its shining

as if it were an endless night beyond

the arising of signs

so no one can say for sure where it is

when they point to it for direction.

There’s nothing terminal about death.

It’s just a course correction.