Saturday, April 3, 2010




for Alysia Bell because she asked me to

and Jesse James who gave me the cue


Not easy to love.

Not hard.

Effortless effort

on the downslope of a mountain

you never get over.

Love is empty.

Love is full.

Love is the moon.

Love always has two eyes

not one.

You can drive ten miles out into the country

and drop love off like a mangy homeless cat

but somehow it will always find its way back.

Love always fears what might not happen

like a great sin of omission

more than it takes courage from what has.

Love is poetry looking for a voice

among all these singing trees

worthy of what it wants to say and can’t

and love forgives all things but mediocrity.

Love isn’t just a gesture of enzymes

in a chemical pantomime

of the tragic and sublime.

It doesn’t wear its eyelids inside out.

It’s a featherweight more in the wind

than the wind can bear

and then it’s a black dwarf with radioactive hair.

Love has no colour no form no taste no texture no sound no smell

and yet it is more intimate

than a knife held up to your jugular vein

or the moon at your wrist

or the shock of the new rose in its first rain.

Love is an uninspired abstraction

the heart keeps on life support in vain

for violating the laws of its own absurdity.

One must believe Sisyphus was happy.

Love might not even need to know your name

before it starts searching through its history

for a return address

to add like a dove to a loveletter.

Love sees what it needs to keep itself alive.

Honey turns into the gold of the bee-hive

and love dips the tips of its spears in toxin

as if it always had a violent heart

and a fist like a bad ending to a good start.

Love isn’t wise or foolish

young or old

rich or poor.

Love doesn’t open like a flower

and close like a door.

And it isn’t the disease of more and more and more

walking under its own starless skies

because it hoards the light in its eyes.

Love is gentle compassionate generous wise.

It delights in squandering itself

on someone else’s happiness

like the rain is elated to return to its roots

like the memory of many gardens

that bloomed and perished on the moon

before the angels drove us out of Eden.

Whatever you can say about love in words

love says in blood

love says in sorrow and torment and jealousy

when love grows out of your head like snakes

love says in the abyss of the last kiss

you blow to your lover

as you’re waving good-bye

like an empty twenty-sixer of Fireball whiskey

as your car drives away drunk without anyone in it.

Love never knows what it is or was

or what it’s about to be.

A worm crawls into a chrysalis

like a straitjacket

and something more

than it was before

gets set free.

A grave-digger takes up gardening.

A dead composer steps down

from the lectern of his mountain

and the music of the spheres goes gypsy.

One lover drinks the last of the wine

and the little piggy that got none

grows tipsy.

Mad mad mad mad mad mad love is

to try to walk a straight line

like a drunk on a tightrope in a curved universe

that keeps changing shape as you pass

like a marble with mass in a roulette wheel

looking for an exit off the highway.

Love isn’t caught like a doe

in the glare of the sun on highbeam

and its comets aren’t roadkill.

Love is as much of a river in the beginning

as it is in the end

and you can sail all the paper-boats down it you want

like cherry blossoms and white peonies in full bloom

letting go like snow off the roof

or the eyelids of the moon

but it won’t make a drop of difference

if all you give back to the river

is a crack in a bitter cup of tears

that throws acid in the eyes of the water

and fills its ears with empty chatter

about who got done wrong

and who got off light.

Love might look for outlaws

who have remained true

to their disobedience

like a wanted poster the stars

have pinned like a constellation to the night

but love knows its own at first sight

by the scar of a smile

and the innocence of the wound

that bleeds in good faith

to save the world.

Love may hide for weeks

in its nebular confusion

but love can’t bluff its way out of what it seeks

like a blind gambler

rolling the dice like braille.

Love is a ship that sinks before it sets sail

but if you fall into it heart first

think of it as a black hole

that everything falls into

like starlight with vertigo

or in the first few startling moments

when your I.Q. scribbles

a quick suicide note on the mind-mirror

in black lipstick

and jumps

because love has rendered it deleriously stupid

try not to grow feathers all over the place

because you don’t need wings in space

and you have to fall to the end

if you want to crawl out.

Love can turn a butterfly into a worm

that turns into a butterfly and back again

but you’re never going to get anymore

than a housefly out of a maggot.

Love is a little house of transformation.

Waterlilies bloom in the moonlight

rooted in decay and stagnation

like beautiful bhodisattvas

and the hand-gestures of dancing dakinis

silvering their skin in the glow of their enlightenment.

Sometimes love comes like a stranger to the gate

that knows everyone

and asks to be let into the garden

but it’s late and no one’s home

so it picks up the cold stone of the moon

and breaks your window like a spell

on the dark side of the mirror

and you wake and fall in love

with everything you fear

and ride off into the sunset

like Venus on a white nightmare

clinging to the belief

like a Harley to an easy rider

that in every single petal of love

that flys off on its own far from the tree

you can taste the fruit of the whole orchard

and like a refugee that knows the wind has no borders

make the sky your home and native country.

Love is the elixir of whatever you suppose it is.

A sparrow builds its nest in the Buddha’s nose.

Love is the discipline of wizards

born of passion.

Love is the anachronistic whim

of a futuristic fashion

that caught on too late.

But you are young

and love has just discovered you

like a universal language

it will make its mother tongue

and open your mouth

and free your doves

like the voices of dragons

and the roaring blue lions

on the burning towers of Babylon.

Love makes a pauper head of state

and a prince goes begging

with an empty plate.

Love is not lust

but lust is seldom enough without it.

You can look at the Taj Mahals of the spirit

and see nothing but cock and balls

and that mysterious cleft

in the mountain of Venus

that leads to the underworld

as nothing but an empty wallet

or the eye of a needle

a rich man could pass through

easier than a caravan into paradise

and you could look at it that way I suppose

if you were a red-assed baboon

with your butt in the air

bent over trying to touch

your nose to your toes

and you wouldn’t be wholly right or wrong

but then again

even if you were

it would be hard to care

for someone

who only ever made it

to the bottom stair

of wherever they were.

Love may seem a game

of snakes and ladders

of mystical horses with wings

like Pegasus and Biraq

with prophets on them

ascending to the seventh heaven

where the angel Gabriel stands

naked in the light

as hell turns Paolo and Francesca

in a whirlwind of lovers

that reaped the night illicitly

under a full moon

but if love in you

is not the lifeblood of the light

that shines on everyone alike

as it does the eye and the rose

you’re just another one of love’s

puppet Pinocchios

dancing to the grey violins

of a quirky musical spider

trying to manipulate things

by pulling the strings of a dreamcatcher

as if love could follow anyone like a slave

that took her lead from a master.

But for those rare souls

the darkness of love has not blinded

by applying eclipses to their eyes like leechs

and making a poultice of the moon

to draw the wound out of its infection

love is the most cherished disaster

that could ever befall someone.

Jesus entrusts the holy grail to Judas

and Judas drinks his own blood from a skull.

There are many things in life

that could breezily delude us

like fireflies witching for water in a well

or an echo of stars in the voice of a bell.

But just knowing the words to love

isn’t the same as knowing the song

that can hit you like a high note at midnight

and shatter the stars like a bird

love sings to itself on its own.

Love is crazy wisdom.

Love walks alone with the Alone

into the inevitable darkness of so much light

that blazing seems a kind of blindness

until you learn to see

on the other side of your eyes

that solitude is the deepest intimacy

between lovers when they touch

and the black mirror when they’re apart

is the face in the mystery of the human heart.