Sunday, May 2, 2010




In the last moment of a life

that won’t come again

what could I say to myself as an excuse

for dying without having lived?

Isn’t that what makes each life

of inestimable worth?

That it’s only once?

What could I say to myself as an excuse

for living as if I were already the ghost

of someone more vital than me?

If I lived like a morgue

with the sky pulled up over my face

what conjunction of planets and stars

could ever revive me

by rolling their stones

away from my tomb?

How many make their way to the grave

without ever having been born

again and again and again

wave after wave

life after life

far out at sea

in the breathless realms of the mystery

that we are here to wonder

who we are

and might be

and whatever happened

to who we were yesterday.

One leaf experiences

the whole of autumn when it falls.

And you can hold the whole sea

in a single drop of water

on the tip of your tongue

like the flower on a blade of stargrass

or let it run like a tear down your cheek.

And the absence within you

of everything you’re missing

grows bigger the longer you seek.

What could I say to myself as an excuse

if I didn’t live as if my death

were already achieved behind me

like a bridge up ahead in the distance

I’ve already crossed?

As long as anyone sees

a near and a far side to the mindstream

they’re still a shore-hugger in a drunk sailor’s dream.

They’re drowning in dirt.

They’re swimming through stone.

They overturn a lifeboat and call it a home.

They refuse to go along with things like quicksand

trying to take a stand against water.

Their whole life flashes before their eyes

like the first twelve pages of a novel

they never finished

because they didn’t know how to begin

at the end of things.

They didn’t know how to live

like autumn in the spring

and spring in the dead of winter.

They never invited death to their wedding.

So life doesn’t show up at their funerals.










































Things recede back into the silence

like a tide back into itself

that will come forth again

like blood through the back door

of a house no one lives in anymore.

And the ghosts linger like return addresses

with nowhere to go

except where they’ve already been.

And there’s always an elephant in the dark

I can only know in part

by the trunk or the tail

and I know the darkness is trying to help

but it keeps giving me starmaps in braille

I have to burn

to see my way around.

And the wind forsakes my passage like a sail.

And I can hear the squeaky fanbelt

of the pigeon at my window

like a gray angel

in a sudden flurry of wings

but it never leaves a message

that means anything to me.

I keep trying to throw a light on clarity

but clarity doesn’t reveal itself

to the lucid or the blind

and what’s the point of looking

for your mind with your mind?

I shed my leaves on the themes of the present

like a forgiving autumn

and I can’t remember a time

when there wasn’t as much before me

as there was behind

whatever my age was.

How old is space?

And when did the lifelines

on the palms of my hands

move up to my face

like the frayed deltas of long rivers

flowing from the corners of my eyes?

I look at myself in the darkest mirror I can find

and it’s easy to see that it’s my passport

but the face is forged.

It’s the right country

but the wrong civilization.

All the right stars in the wrong constellation.

And death hasn’t convinced me yet

that it’s yoke is a bridge to the other side

and as often as not

I’m as bored to death as Spinoza’s ox

grinding its merciless platitudes

like stone lenses for near-sighted skies

but as far as I can see into the dark

death is nothing but a boorish predictability

and it’s life that always comes as a surprise.

If your roots are in heaven

your trees are walking on their heads

and the egg-cups of their broken crowns

are overthrown like empty shot glasses

after the birds have flown from your branches

like dust before a broom.

You’re sweeping stars off the stairs

when it’s as obvious as clouds

you’re upside-down.

Better to root in the wind like birds

and let your scales turn back into feathers

and realize the eagle with the serpent in its claws

are the god and the dragon of the same gene pool

enjoined by evolving laws

to raise the lowest to the highest

as if you were helping someone

get back on their feet.

And if you’ve got a bone

to pick with existence

over the little bit of red meat you are

like a leftover at a lion’s feast

crack yourself open like a koan

or a fortune-cookie.

The marrow’s sweet

and the lions are fat.

And no one’s going to deny you that.












































My roots torn out of bliss

like a weed from Eden

it’s as obvious as enlightenment

that I’m a that and you’re a this

and consciousness is the fiery archangel

that keeps us apart

like two edges of the same sword

that cuts both ways like the moon.

And when I consider the divine irrelevance

of why I’m not very happy these days

of why the sun shines but nothing grows

I’m as abject as midnight

looking for myself in the shadows

like something I threw away.

Born into this world

to make a home among strangers

the doors we leave open behind us

like a book we mean to come back to one day

to see how it all ends

close gently after us

like the eyelids of wounded flowers

that died in the night

as if all the lonely thresholds

we had to cross to get here

we crossed like dust on the wind.

Even when the cathedrals

come down from their towers

like the rubble of their aspirations

and abase themselves to pray

at the foot of their own foundations

the stars turn as deaf

as ostrakons and machine-guns

to the pleading of exiles

trying to turn the night around

like the seeds of Eden in a fallen apple

from a rootless tree

that walks like a human

down a long road of its own

into the unkempt garden of the world.