NOT EASY TO LOVE
for Alysia Bell because she asked me to
and Jesse James who gave me the cue
Not easy to love.
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
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
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
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
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
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.